The minutes ticked on as I sat outside of the principal’s office, waiting for someone to ask me why I was there. I was prepared for the question; I had, in fact, placed a bookmark into my worn Korean-English dictionary and marked the page where I’d written my answer in careful letters.
Hello, my name is Tae Yun Kim. I want to teach your students martial arts.
But no one had asked. Every afternoon for the last several weeks, I had taken a seat and waited for an invitation to speak, to no avail. At just over twenty, I was tiny and thin — at a glance, I almost looked like one of the students walking through the schools’ halls. But aside from a few odd glances, no one spoke to me. Yet, day in and out, I returned with my dictionary in hand, preparing for the day that someone would invite me inside.
It took a month. Finally, a curious administrator asked me what I was doing, and I finally had a chance to explain.
The principal was skeptical, at first. He told me that the school couldn’t pay me, that they didn’t want students to hurt themselves, that there was no martial arts course in place.
“That’s okay,” I told him, “I’ll volunteer, and martial arts will teach your students discipline.”
After some time, he agreed.
Persistence, I’ve learned, is often the key to success. After the first few days of waiting, some might have given up or assumed the answer was no — but because I committed myself, I was able to achieve both acceptance and opportunities beyond measure.
Having the chance to teach brought me joy, because all I wanted to do was share my skills in martial arts. Back then, I was barely into my twenties and had just made the journey from my village in rural Korea to Vermont. Teaching was my dream — and I had struggled for years to study martial arts, facing abuse in a profoundly repressive patriarchal culture. I’d become Korea’s very first female grandmaster but was rejected as a teacher because of my gender. I wanted to teach, as I had been taught, and help others break free of their fears and circumstances — I just needed the chance.
That day, in that office, was my chance. It’s been decades since that day, but I still remember it. Since then, I’ve moved on to establish my own school, hundreds of miles away. I’ve taught thousands of students, built a tech company, and risen far above where my elders thought I would — all because of persistence.
Here’s what I’ve learned over the years.
If You Don’t Ask, You Guarantee Rejection
Many people abide by unnecessarily strict rules, so boxed in by their fears of seeming impolite or overly forward that they wall themselves off from opportunities. Another person might have been intimidated or embarrassed by the idea of sitting outside of a principal’s office for a month — but taking a risk on that embarrassment helped me make an enormous step forward in my career. I don’t regret it, and I wouldn’t even if the answer was a firm rejection.
You are only ever guaranteed to fail if you refuse to try in the first place. The worst that someone can say when you pursue an opportunity is “no” — and even then, you may be able to make connections or find information that will help you achieve your goals another way.
Don’t let fear keep you from pursuing your dreams.
Rejection Isn’t Always Permanent — Or Even Negative.
When I landed in Vermont, I had just $300 to my name and was living in a trailer park. There, it didn’t matter what I’d given to become a martial arts Grandmaster, or even that I was one. My only career option was to clean toilets for money. Some might have seen those circumstances as a low point, or become discouraged.
I’ll be honest — there were times that it was terrible. Some nights, I had little but bone broth to eat. But I viewed each hard night as a stepping stone for something greater. I was being paid to scrub toilets, which constituted a significant step up from doing it for free for family members. It was honorable work, and I knew that it would give me the financial platform I needed to move onto my next success.
Persistence doesn’t always mean reaching for your furthest goal after a few days — or even months — of effort. Instead, it means being thankful for small steps and maintaining a determined spirit against adversity.
Harsh Words Should Motivate, Not Deter, You
It wasn’t always easy being a Korean woman in 1960s America. Back in my village, I had been reviled for being female and uninterested in gender norms. In America, I was rejected for the color of my skin, my broken English, my poverty, and my gender. It was hard; I was constantly demeaned, faced slurs, and even risked physical abuse. When I finally scraped together the money to rent studio space for a martial arts school, arsonists burned it to the ground.
Each setback was demoralizing and frustrating; however, I knew that I had to reset my perspective. So, after someone demeaned me or my dreams, I would respond — “Okay, I see you. You motivate me. I will prove you wrong.”
And I did.
There are always going to be people who step on your dreams. You’ll hear it from your competitors, enemies, friends, family. Even well-meant advice can be hurtful. You can be put down, made to think that you won’t accomplish anything — but you need to bear through it. Let criticism inform and motivate your efforts, not crush them.
Persistence is key.
Your thoughts create reality. Sure, you say. This is not a new concept. Obviously, we are affected by the constant barrage of internal and external influences we endure on a daily basis. Marketing companies alone spend hours each day figuring out how to expose us to thoughts that drive us to purchasing their products.
If thoughts didn’t matter, these ads and their advertisers wouldn’t exist.
That’s why we all need to understand how truly powerful this idea is: Whatever we think about consciously and subconsciously manifests in our daily life.
In other words, what we focus on grows bigger in our daily lives, and what we ignore grows smaller.
This concept applies to everything, including all the negative, self-limiting, and doubting thoughts that hold us back, as well as the confident, determined, supportive thoughts that propel us into positive action.
While you may give thought to what you eat on a daily basis, making sure it’s healthy and good f or you, do you do the same with your thoughts?
Remember, it takes vigilance to examine and if necessary, to remove the thoughts that run through our minds. And yet, how successful could anyone be with an inner dialogue that repeats “you can’t do it.” Ask any successful person and they’ll tell you the same thing: while they may have had that voice in their head, they chose not to listen to it.
Next time you are standing in front of a mirror, take a few minutes to look at yourself. I mean really look at yourself. While you’re there, quiet your mind and listen to the thoughts that come next. Don’t be discouraged if you hear nothing, or have trouble quieting your mind. You may even find that you have a hard time looking at yourself. This is a form of meditation and it takes practice and patience.
Here is an excerpt from my book, SEVEN STEPS TO INNER POWER. As you read through this, think about what it means to let go of dangerous attitudes and activities that cause us pain and suffering.
Now let's look at another dimension of sacrifice - letting go of attitudes that block our progress. Letting go of attitudes is just as essential as letting go of unhealthy activities or saying goodbye to people who hinder our progress. In fact, unless you let go of certain attitudes, your physical letting go won't last very long. This concept is related to the inner power step of purity. When you let go of an attitude that is sabotaging who you want to be, you are also purifying your world of a habit pattern that has kept you hostage to limited thinking and limited living.
It's a common misconception that most of our attachments center on objects or people. The truth is that our attitudes and feelings about objects are more binding than the objects themselves. For example, we may become attached to an object, person, or situation (even if we complain about it) because we like feeling comfortable, we fear change, and we don't have the courage to take initiative on our own. Maybe we stay with a domineering boyfriend, girlfriend, or employer, even though doing so is keeping us stuck in a rut. In cases like these, fear is the real attachment, not the person.
If suddenly those people are removed from our lives but we still have not let go of our fundamental fears and have not developed the strength to stand up for ourselves, we'll just become attached to the next domineering boyfriend or girlfriend or employer that comes along - and continue to complain about them. That's because the thoughts we keep in our mind rule over us as long as we allow them to stay there, and they continue to produce the same results.
Great Grandmaster Tae Yun Kim offers Private Classes in California and Oregon!
Jung SuWon Martial Art Academy provides many different programs! Great Grandmaster Tae Yun Kim and Master Instructors offer private classes in both California and Oregon. These classes are very popular in the surrounding cities like Medford, Oregon; Applegate, Oregon; Jacksonville, Oregon; Central Point, Oregon; Grants Pass, Oregon, and Fremont, California; Milpitas, California; San Jose, California; Cupertino, Silicon Valley California; and more!
What is a Private Class?
It is a one-on-one session for students who want to further their training by focusing on a specific technique, form or sparring. Private classes are designed so that the student will receive immediate feedback and advice on how to improve, which helps accelerates the students training. One private class is equivalent to about a week’s worth of regular classes because of the student-teacher ratio.
One of the students who recently took private classes shares how she learned to better visualize her target. Before, she was striking with her techniques aimlessly, now she is exercising the power of visualization with every technique that she does and it’s helping her to direct her energy toward her target or goal. Her focus at work and home has improved, she can see her goals clearly and she knows how to achieve them.
Why is visualization important? Dr. Tae Yun Kim writes in one of her books, Seven Steps to Inner Power, “Visualization is the process of forming a mental image.” and “It is an immaterial activity that takes form first as a mental image, then as a material image.” So, as students focus on their physical techniques, they are also visualizing their goals. “No matter what goals you are aiming for in your life, visualization is an essential tool to achieving them.” Dr. Kim’s words are based on nearly 70 years of experience and application.
Learn more about visualization! Can you visualize your goal and your dreams? Are you ready to make it happen? You can gain many insights and lessons through private classes offered at Jung SuWon!
Here is an excerpt from my book, SEVEN STEPS TO INNER POWER. As you read through this, think about times when you may have felt your Silent Master.
Waiting quietly within you is a presence, a force, a state of consciousness that gives you the power to harmonize and change discordant situations, the power to create and to achieve goals. It gives you the power to experience peace and joy regardless of the circumstances around you - the power to be who you really are. In Jung SuWon, we refer to this presence within as the Silent Master or Silent Master Consciousness.
When you tap into the consciousness of the Silent Master within, you begin to take control of your life. You may have been drifting through life before; now you are driving through life and toward your goals. You experience a new sense of freedom, creativity, purpose, and peace of mind. You find yourself glad to be alive every day for the sheer pleasure of experiencing life - of experiencing yourself.
The keys from the art of Jung SuWon that you'll explore here will help you awaken to this powerful presence within and empower you to recognize and express the qualities of your Silent Master in your daily life. As you open to your true potential in this way, you'll discover more of your beauty, your strength, and your courage.
At the core of the philosophy I teach are six truths about your Silent Master. I call them "Silent Master images" and you'll understand why when you read the section on visualization, or, as I call it, "future memory." In essence, these images describe who you truly are and the awesome power you have within you now to shape your life. As you move through this book, you'll learn much more about these foundational concepts and how to put them into action in your life. Here I'll simply touch on these truths to give you a brief introduction to them. For now, think of each one as a seed-thought designed to blossom into a practical understanding of your true being and power as you contemplate "Who am I?" Give yourself complete freedom and permission to fall in love with who you are and you are becoming.
Here is an excerpt from my book, SEVEN STEPS TO INNER POWER, where I discuss the real you waiting to be unleashed:
Moving from a limited sense of self to tapping into the power of your unlimited self does require a change, and change can be frightening. If you want to live up to your full power and potential, however, you will have to change. When we've been sleeping in the dark, our eyes are used to the darkness. So when someone suddenly draws back the curtain and the daylight comes flooding in, don't we pull the covers over our head and moan, "Close that curtain! You're hurting my eyes!" The bright light causes discomfort at first, even pain, but that feeling eventually goes away. In the same way, your limited self may be accustomed to living in comfortable darkness. If you are willing to experience the initial discomfort that the light brings, you will soon grow accustomed to the brightness and see a whole new world illumined by the light.
As you open to a new way of seeing and being, new opportunities will come. Yes, challenges will come your way too - challenges within and without. That is part of life's journey. Yet, as we learn in the martial arts and as you'll see examples of in this book, you can use a force coming your way to your benefit. You can learn to ride the wave of those challenges to create greater growth, mastery, and overcoming. In fact, it is in facing those challenges that you will learn the most about yourself.
The way of the warrior on the path to inner power is to realize who you are in truth and to demonstrate it, a process of evolution that continues throughout your life. The work of the warrior is joyous and every encounter is an adventure. As a warrior, you know that the obstacles and limitations you confront are destined to fall because they were never a part of your real self.
No matter what challenges arise, you are never alone. Your inner strength is waiting for you right now. Your courage and creativity are waiting for you Your excitement and dedication and discipline are waiting for you. All these qualities and more are part of your support team, waiting to be unleashed. I know you may not be used to feeling that these qualities are a part of you, and you might have some fear about what your life will be like when you step out of your comfort zone. But I promise you that you will love the sense of freedom, peace, and purpose that comes when you meet who you really are. Are you ready to experience the real you?
Here is an excerpt from my book, SEVEN STEPS TO INNER POWER, where I discuss the topic of Mistakes.
Making Mistakes is Essential to Progress
Willingness to learn from mistakes is the backbone of all progress. How many mistakes do you think Alexander Graham Bell made in inventing the first telephone that connected one room in his house to another? Now technology allows us to see the person we’re speaking with on the other side of the globe. How many mistakes did the engineers make while developing this technology? Who cares? The object is to succeed, not to count your mistakes.
Mistakes are part of the natural process of striving to make constant improvements in your life. Mistakes are essential to your progress. If fact, without mistakes, you can't be successful. The minute you decide to work toward achieving a goal that is important to you, you will make mistakes. How did we humans get the idea that to be perfect we couldn’t make mistakes? Never making a mistake does not make us perfect. Never repeating a mistake after we learn from it is as perfect as we need to be.
In the face of a mistake, stay motivated and remind yourself that is is part of your path to success - that making mistakes is essential because it helps you to become better and better as you practice. Imagine the freedom you’ll feel when you don’t have to worry about defending or hiding your mistakes. Experience the increased energy that comes from this freedom! Welcome your mistakes into your consciousness as your friends and teachers.
If you do that are are determined to learn from mistakes, you will also gain a precious gift: wisdom. There is a big difference between knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge is something you gain by looking up information on the internet, in an encyclopedia, or in books or other resources. Wisdom, however, comes from experience. You don't gain wisdom by reading or absorbing informaiton; you only gain it thorugh experience. When I interview applicants for a job at one of my businesses, I always look at how much real-world experience they have and what hardships and challenges they have had to face and overcome. I find that those who are willing to learn from mistakes and take on new challenges develop a resiliency and inner strength that gives them the edge on the job and in their personal lives.
Fear of Making Mistakes is Mental Laziness
Part of our fear of mistakes is pure laziness. What’s the worst thing that will happen if you make a mistake? You will have to abandon that course of action and take another, which means, in short, a lot of work. It means you will have to think of another course of action. You may have to be creative. You may have to expend energy in thinking, evaluating, planning. You may have to resist emotions such as despair, futility, rejection, and fear.
If you are mentally lazy, making mistakes will be one of the best excuses you have for giving up, for deciding that maybe your goal isn’t so important after all. What a senseless waste that would be. Why expect so little out of life and out of yourself?
Mistakes are not harmful in and of themselves. What is harmful is our attitude toward mistakes. If you are willing to make mistakes, look at them, regard them as feedback, and keep right on making them until you achieve your goal, you have the right attitude. You won’t purposely make mistakes, of course. But because you are challenging yourself, you will be aware that mistakes are a natural part of the process. Having the right attitude toward mistakes, the right view of them, will give you the freedom to pursue your goals with confidence, with minimum distraction, and with your success securely focused in your mind. When you find yourself joyfully moving from one situation to another, using mistakes for learning, growing, and improving, you will know that your Silent Master is beginning to operate in your life.
Here is an excerpt from my book, SEVEN STEPS TO INNER POWER, where I discuss the topic of how to free our minds from limitations:
While the art of Jung SuWon includes a physical form, it is more than a martial art. It goes far beyond the hard martial art forms that are strictly of foot and fist, and it is not a sport. Jung SuWon embraces principles and practices that help you develop your whole being - body, mind, and spirit. Its mental and spiritual aspects are not separate from its physical form.
Let me give you a quick example. In the martial arts, powerful kicks and punches are worthless unless they are properly directed at an appropriate target with the necessary mental focus. In other words, physical strength is only as good as mental strength. All the physical strength in the world will not help if your mind is full of fear. As students practice, they identify what weaknesses are holding them back. They learn to fight to free themselves from those limitations so they can express their innate power. As they cultivate determination, confidence, and strength in practicing martial arts, they also apply those same qualities to the challenges in their daily lives. They are learning to free themselves from whatever is holding their dreams and their future hostage.
The same principles hold true for you in your everyday life. You must learn to conquer fear and weakness within you before you can overcome any foe or obstacle outside of yourself. You must fight for your freedom. Thus, the purpose of the art of Jung SuWon is to give you practical tools to free yourself from limiting, self-defeating states of mind.
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