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.
Last month, I had the opportunity to celebrate my 73rd birthday with my family and so many close friends!
In my life, this is only the 3rd time I’ve celebrated my birthday. Being considered a curse and bad luck as I grew up, no one wanted to celebrate that! As I started my life in America, I didn’t pay any attention to my birthday coming and going.
My students would always approach me to suggest we throw a big birthday party. I usually would tell them no. Some years, we would hold dinners at homeless and recovery shelters. I’d rather spend the time helping others. My life has been so richly blessed by God, my desire is to only help others.
Thank you to all my friends who flew in from overseas! It was wonderful catching up with everyone! I look forward to seeing everyone again soon!
Time is going by so fast! Take a moment to tell your family, your significant other – anyone you appreciate – tell them you love them. Don’t be stingy with your love! Love is one benefit that isn’t taxed!
May God Bless You All!
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 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.
In my book, Seven Steps to Inner Power:
When you have a goal that is a priority, and when you commit your total loyalty to this cause, you will undoubtedly make decisions about competing priorities in your life.
Remember the example of preparing to train for a marathon race? Attending every party in town could not be an equal priority to working out every day. One or the other must be chosen, the other sacrificed.
When your Silent Master gives you a desire, It will never ask you to sacrifice something you need. That is contrary to Its nature of love. When you find yourself at a crossroads and you must make a choice, look closely to see if the so called sacrifice is really a loss. Usually, the things we give up to achieve a goal are no longer needed or are unworthy of keeping. If you give up laziness to keep your workout schedule, is that a loss? If you give up fear while learning something new, is that a loss? If you give up smoking to train for the race, is that a loss?
When we discussed increase and decrease with the yin-yang symbol, we said that every decrease (the black yin area) carries with it the seed of some new increase (the white dot in the black). Decrease is destined to turn into increase. So, even a real sacrifice is not ever really a loss. It is preparation for a new condition.
Many times it appears we are forced into a crossroads situation and we have to make a choice, a sacrifice. Sometimes, however, we can freely and willingly sacrifice certain states of mind to make room for the new.
The word “sacrifice” is derived from the Latin words sacer, meaning holy, and facer, meaning “to make.” Sacrifice means “to make holy.” So, when you sacrifice your weaknesses, fears, and limitations, you’re actually loving yourself, making yourself holy by expressing your truth and purity This is a joyful, expanding process, no matter how painful it may appear on the surface.
Sacrifice leads to patience."
Here is an excerpt from my book, Seven Steps to Inner Power:
"Loyalty is a supreme act of love. Suppose you had a friend who gave you money when you were out of work, gave you a place to live when you had no home, saved your life when you were in trouble, told you to call anytime you needed help. Is this friend worthy of your loyalty? If one day this person asked you for your support, wouldn’t you gladly give it, even if it involved some kind of sacrifice on your part? Most likely, you would do anything you could for this friend. Your loyalty would know no bounds.
If this is what you would do for a friend, how about your Self? What are you willing to do for it? Aren’t you deserving of your own loyalty? How much loyalty are you willing to show your Silent Master, the infinite part of you constantly standing ready, like a friend, to give you everything?
Your Silent Master knows Its worth and value, knows It deserves all your love, energy, support—and loyalty. It knows It is truth, purity, and love—your truth, purity, and love. Thus, loyalty to your Silent Master is putting your real self forward with confidence, conviction, determination, purpose, power, and love. Show your loyalty! And as you do, you move as One with your Silent Master.
Loyalty leads to Sacrifice."
Here is an excerpt from my book, Seven Steps to Inner Power:
Why does love lead to loyalty?
Love is its own reward. The wonderful feeling of love generated from expressing your real self naturally leads you to value your real self even more. Then, the more you value your real self, the more you love. This momentum of love is the essence of loyalty, so loyalty is the result of perpetuating, reinforcing, and expressing your real self by loving it.
And how do you love yourself? By being your real self. There is no greater way to love your real self than by being It. That is loyalty.
Here’s an interesting thought you may not be aware of. The word “loyal” is derived from the Latin word legalis, which means “legal.” Thus, loyal includes the meaning of legal, which means “bound by law.” So, when you are loyal to your real self, when you are loyal to true and pure ideas about yourself, you invite the law of manifestation to operate and bring forth your real self. Loyalty is an act of acknowledging this law, an act of recognizing that whatever you are mentally loyal to is bound to take form.
Loyalty, then, is a lot like gratitude because they are both acts of recognizing or acknowledging an idea. Whatever you’re loyal to, you recognize. Whatever you recognize, you think about. Whatever you think recognize, you think about. Whatever you think about, you manifest.
If you act with your body and mind as one, if you know the truth about yourself, if you express purity and love, you have done much to achieve your goal. It is at this point you must exercise loyalty to your cause so you bring your vision to completion, so you do not give up, turn back, regress, or undermine yourself."
Here is an excerpt from my book, Seven Steps to Inner Power:
"Experiencing gratitude is a simple way to connect with the love imparted to you and every idea in the universe. The direct experience of the consciousness of love is gratitude. Gratitude is the process of recognizing what is true. Gratitude is an act of awareness. Without awareness, there is no recognition of anything and, therefore, no love of anything.
I’ll give you a small example of what I mean. Once I was driving west along the highway into a magnificent sunset. The entire sky was seemingly on fire with flames amazingly bright, burning colors: purple, orange, red, yellow, blue, pink. I’d never seen so many colors in one place. Finding my vision restricted by the car windows, I pulled over and got out so I could have a full view of this incredible sunset. After a few moments I began to notice cars rushing by. Some were filled with people talking to each other, in another a man was using his car phone, in another someone was trying to read a paper while keeping one eye on the road. I was puzzled because not everyone was aware of the magnificent sight in front of them. Most people seemed distracted in one way or another.
I was reminded of the power of gratitude. The feelings I experienced with the sunset—the great peace, joy, appreciation, and love that welled up—seemed to exist only for me at that moment. Of course, this sunset offered the opportunity for wonderful feelings to everyone else driving on this road as well, but only those who were willing to acknowledge the sunset, to make a conscious recognition of its presence, would feel the impact of its beauty. That is gratitude. Gratitude is the act of recognizing an idea or a quality; and when you do so, you identify with it."
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