Watered down and Surpassing the teacher

This is from an email I sent to a Korean Martial Arts List I'm on (The Dojang on http://www.martialartsresource.com/, you can get the complete unedited message from their archives)

A quote from an earlier message...

> That, to me, is why this forum and others like it are SO important and why
> we owe our loyalty, respect and diligence to those masters and their kwans
> who pass down all we can absorb.

Ray responded.....

> I've always felt it important to look up to our instructors and to
> honor them, but to also strive to surpass them. This view may threaten some,
> but if we don't take things to the next level then what future is there
> for the martial arts.

A quote I like from one of my seniors Master Don Richardson of Flagstaff AZ

"You don't honor your instructors by being like them -- you honor them by learning to be better than they are. To be faster, stronger, ...better. That is what truly honors your instructors".

He said that to someone who was in the habit of doing their forms too slow. When he suggested going faster, she responded by saying "I honor my instructors by doing them how they taught me". He turned it around by pointing out that excellent students is the reward of excellent instruction. I think he makes an excellent point.

Another analogy is something that Bruce Lee taught. If someone points to the moon, you don't put your focus on the finger -- you put your focus on the moon. Instructors are like people pointing to the moon. It's not that they want you to be like them -- it's that they want you to aspire to be even greater than they are.

As you look at more and more capable students you see them progressing toward the path of perfection, but none of them obtain it. But the progression suggests where out in the distance perfection lies....

Erik Kluzek, Dec/1/2005

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