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. 

How can we be authentic to our true self?

On our paths to self-discovery, we make goals, set milestones and keep track of our progress.  It's a continual calibration, as simply setting a goal isn't enough.  Forward movement requires making choices that support our goals.

 

You and you alone have to choose what you will be loyal too.  We know all too well how easy it is to get distracted, and to go back to an old habit "just this once".  We each have to decide what is truly important to us, and sometimes, we have to face rough truths.  That piece of chocolate cake may seem like it's just what you need in the moment, but is it truly more important than a goal of cutting back on sweets?  The answer is "Yes" if you do end up giving in to the cake.

 

 

However, you also discovered a weakness, which you now can consciously take steps to address.  Help yourself out!  If you stay up too late at night looking at your phone, stop complaining about how little sleep you get.  Make the conscious decision to leave your phone in another room at night.  If the phone is right by your bed, you'll be tempted to look at it.  Build up your inner strength and determination so that you can keep your phone next to you without giving in to looking at it.

 

 

 

 

 

What is essential throughout any journey towards accomplishing a goal is DO NOT GIVE UP!  If you eat that chocolate cake, own up to what you did, and then recalibrate your actions to be inline with your goals.  Also take a moment to truly reflect on how that deviation made you feel?  Did the cake address the desire you felt before you ate it?  Did it live up to the hype?  Did you end up in a sugar-induced stupor?  Perhaps you want to cut back on video games or watching TV - give yourself a chance to really find out what it feels like, don't assume that you will always want to keep on doing the same exact things you are doing now.

 

 

Keep getting back to your goals, no matter how far off track you might feel.  Keep your mind open to new and creative ways to accomplish what you want as you progress through this beautiful life we've been given.

 

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!

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.

Visit me online at my school, Jung SuWon or on YouTube

Enjoy some of these recent articles published in ParabolaMedium and Silicon Valley Talk

I'm so excited and honored to be this year's Grand Marshal for the 45th anniversary of the LA Korean Festival!  If you are in the area, I would love to meet you!

Here is an excerpt from my book, SEVEN STEPS TO INNER POWER.  As you read through this, think about what it means to be one of a kind.  Does this help to shed any clarity on your life goals?    

Your Silent Master is your real self, your original self.  It expresses itself through your thinking, through true ideas and thoughts in your mind.  It is your eternal Selfhood that exists apart from your brain (which is a sensory processor only) and the personality traits imposed on you from your environment.

I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to live by the truth that you are one of a kind.  As a child in training under my martial arts master, I would be in tears as I told him how my family was treating me - how they were pounding negative messages into my ears every day, telling me I was no good, I was bad luck, I was a tomboy, I was a curse, I was a disaster, I was never going to be happy, I could never be a martial artist and I was crazy to even think like that.

one of a kind tae yun kim

No matter how much I wanted to get angry and fight when I heard those words, my master would say to me: "Just remember: You are one of a kind.  You are not your mother and you are not your grandmother.  Do not let their opinions or judgments or ideas affect who you can be, because you are not them.  You are unique.  Your mother has copied her lifestyle from your grandmother, as she was taught to do.  You say you want to become a practitioner of the martial arts - even a teacher.  No woman has ever done that.  So you need to accept that you are one of a kind and acknowledge it.  You need to believe that's who you are before you can convince anyone else."  He encouraged me to affirm that truth over and over.

Now it is my turn to tell you:  I know who you are. Now you have to know who you are.  You are one of a kind.  You are not just someone's son or daughter, brother or sister, mother or father.  You're not just an employee or manager at such and such a company.  We've all heard about people who lose their job or break up with their boyfriend or girlfriend and then lash out violently at others or even want to commit suicide because they believe their life is now finished.  Have you ever felt that way yourself?  Remember, your job, your relationships, what other people say about you is not who you are.  If someone doesn't appreciate who you are, you are still one of a kind with unlimited opportunity and potential.  No one can take that away from you - unless you allow them to.

Visit me online at my school, Jung SuWon or on YouTube

Enjoy some of these recent articles published in ParabolaMedium and Silicon Valley Talk

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 critical of others or yourself.  Did holding those feelings help the situation?  

As you become aware of the energy and emotions you want to cleanse from your world, take care not to get caught up criticizing yourself for the trait you want to eliminate.  Please don't get down on yourself for having doubts or being impatient or angry.  The fact that you are noticing these tendencies means that you are doing something - you are engaged in your life.  As I said earlier, look at these weaknesses clinically.

When you are driving down a dusty road on a hot day and your car becomes coated in dust, you don't label it as right or wrong.  You accept that this is something that just happens, and you make a mental note to get the car washed the next time you are in town.  When you're in a car and it starts raining, you notice that your windshield is getting wet and then you turn on your windshield wipers so you can drive safely.  You don't curse the rain and say, "Why is this stupid water getting on my windshield and all over my car?"

It doesn't really matter how you feel about the rain.  Maybe you have been experiencing a severe drought where you live and so you welcome the downpour, or maybe you've had drenching floods lately and you don't want to see another drop of rain.  Regardless of how you feel, you have to deal with what's happening at the moment.  Getting frustrated and bringing in emotions doesn't help.  In order to move forward, you have to stay in balance, be positive, and take appropriate action.

Life is a journey, and in the same way that you experience rough weather at times, so you'll experience fear or doubt or jealousy.  That's okay.  See these attitudes for what they are and, because you know they are holding you back, set about replacing them with confidence in yourself, gratitude for what you have, and excitement to be alive with a new day of opportunity before you.

Visit me online at my school, Jung SuWon or on Vimeo

Enjoy some of these recent articles published in Psychology TodayInspireNation and Parabola

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?

Visit me online at my school, Jung SuWon or on Vimeo

Enjoy some of these recent articles published in Psychology TodayInspireNation and Parabola

Here is an excerpt from my book, SEVEN STEPS TO INNER POWER, where I discuss capturing the positive momentum:

If you find yourself growing more and more uncomfortable with your negative emotions, if they are annoying distractions to the little flame of peace and well-being starting to glow within you, if yo   u find yourself wanting to nurture even the smallest, most quiet feeling of self-appreciation, if you find yourself wanting, really wanting, to be happy within yourself, you are feeling your Silent Master.  You have already met each other.  Now you can know that this little manifestation of real feeling is destined to unfold into the whole consciousness of love, peace, harmony, and creative power.

All you need to do is harness this unfolding power, hold on to it, and let it grow.  Then consciously work to replace your negative emotional patterns with feelings that support your goal, whatever it may be.  Have you heard that nothing succeeds like success?  That is so.  Every positive feeling expands and creates more positive feelings.  Capture this momentum.

Remember, "Your Silent Master expresses completeness, fulfillment, harmony, peace, Joy, and love and imparts these qualities to everything it creates."   Because your Silent Master is the consciousness of love, and because you are your Silent Mater, love yourself!  Lift yourself out of your negative emotional patterns with determination and total commitment.

Visit me online at my school, Jung SuWon or on Vimeo

Check out some of these recent articles published in Psychology Today and Parabola

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