September's arrival brings many things: cold weather, pumpkin spice, and most importantly, Year Two of GSH Elite Martial Arts!
First, let's look back on Year One:
One school. Two inaugural Grand Champions. Two Crystal Bridges events. Three disciplines. Four staff members. Four new black belts. Six testings. Twelve inaugural Global Champion titles. 40+ students. 100+ competition medals. One million kihaps, smiles, and push-ups. One billion gallons of blood, sweat, and tears. The love and loyalty we've received over the first year has been no short of overwhelming; we hope we have returned your kindness and fulfilled our promises to our GSH family.
But enough about the past! Here's our look on the coming year:
Mr. Bredehoeft and Mr. Lopez are determined to continue fostering the camaraderie and respect we've created within our walls. When asked to elaborate, Mr. Lopez recalled the friendship and trust our students have placed in each other—"I wanted to make a team, but got a family instead". Mr. Bredehoeft is also anticipating his Fourth Degree Black Belt testing next year at Globals!
Miss Lee's goal for the year is to be a positive influence on her students, particularly young girls still learning life skills like confidence and self-worth. This is also the year she is working towards becoming a Certified Instructor with the rest of her colleagues, as well as testing for her Fourth Degree alongside Mr. Bredehoeft!
Finally, Mr. Lee will uphold the mission he created even before GSH came to fruition—building better black belts and keeping the spirit of martial arts in NWA. As GSH breaks out further into the region, Mr. Lee strives to remain rooted in his teaching methods, no matter how many students pass through our doors. "We don't chase belts. We earn them."
While our staff believe our first year ended in success, our goals still stretch towards the sky! Although we are GSH's instructors, we always remain students and train alongside our own. We never stop learning and hope this concept of constant betterment is passed onto the next Black Belts.
To our GSH family, thank you for taking a chance and believing in Mr. Lee's dream. To Facebook friends and passerby, we appreciate your support. To the ones hesitant to approach us, it's never too late to try us out! Help us achieve our goals, and we can help you achieve yours!
Here's to a successful and prosperous Year Two!
Content Warning: Mentions of bullying and violence.
Chances are, you or someone you know has been bullied before. The lucky few that haven't may have experienced the act on TV, in movies, or covered in a video game. While these artificial acts are based on true events, they may be overly fake, or worse, underplayed. Bullying is not a joke; it is a real event that can heavily influence a child negatively for many years of their lifetime.
According to stopbullying.gov, about one in five children ages 12–18 experience some form of bullying across the nation in a given year. While being physically larger than them was a common thought across this survey (40%), a whopping 56% of the group believed that their bully had the ability to influence other students' perception of them.
The truth is, bullying is not limited to broken bones and bruises; bullying is just as much mental as it is physical. No one wants it to happen, but it does anyway.
So how can we help influence the generations coming up?
Here at GSH, we don't focus on throwing punches. Conversely, we emphasize self-defense and ways to protect ourselves should we get in a dangerous situation. All of our students, no matter what age they are, know well that the first line of self-defense is our voice! A majority of violent incidents are directed at timid individuals who can't speak up for themselves, whether it's in school or the workplace. Instilling confidence in vocals helps lead to confidence in other aspects, such as high self-esteem and public speaking improvement.
After the vocals come the physical defense. This cycle, our students are practicing the break fall, a safer way to fall back-first onto the ground without breaking arms and concussions. Not only do we teach how to fall, but how to safely stand up and get away from the danger. Physical techniques such as kicks are only displayed as a last resort to distance from the bully. Again, no offensive behaviors. Our goal is not to harm the other person, but to protect ourselves.
At the end of the day, one martial arts school can't eradicate bullying off the face of the planet. The most we can do as instructors and role models is to demonstrate proper self-defense and display positive life skills. That way, people of all ages can learn to be better people, one way or another!
How do you help better the community?
This past week was a big one for the staff team. GSH's parent organization, GTMA, held their second annual Global Celebration all last week, which included Rank Testing and Midterms, a stunning Master's Ceremony, and of course the daunting Tournament of Champions on Saturday. A full agenda of events meant being constantly on the move and on our toes--nothing was going unnoticed by us.
Of course, TOC went better than any of us could ever ask for. Twelve Global Championship titles came home--all eight of our competitors got to stand on the podium at least once this weekend. Out of less than fifteen Grand Championship jackets awarded Saturday evening, GSH Elite Martial Arts won TWO back. Most importantly, all four of the GSH staff members are now Global Champions!
It was a sparkling, star-studded weekend. All those grueling days of practice and conditioning paid off in the end in some way. And yes, we took plenty of time to celebrate and live in the moment.
But... now what? It's been three days since those medals were placed around our necks, and the magic has worn off. What's left to do other than start the long drive home, the laundry, catch up on sleep?
We go to class the next day.
Yes, when one achieves a goal, celebrations are appreciated and even needed. There is a line, however, between being sincerely proud of oneself and being overly egotistical. A good martial artist (and even a good person!) remembers that even after a big win, they can always improve on themselves. They know that they won't be able to ride that high forever. There will be a time where there is nothing left to do but leave that milestone behind and continue on.
"There is always someone better than you." A good martial artist takes this statement, absorbs it, and keeps training. That gold medal might have been a lucky win--perhaps their greatest competitor failed to step onto the mat that day. The other route to take would be to take the statement, absorb it, and step down in defeat. But GSH does not give up; there is always another tournament to chase, another goal to reach, another mountain to climb.
What choice will we make as a school, a team, individuals? The answer should be clear to you.
Now, what choice will YOU make?
Oftentimes on TV or social media we see declarations of shiny new vehicles or tech equipment, inexpensive and lavish price tags alike. These posts and commercials are dipped in gold and wrapped in nice ribbon to sell not just a product, but a mindset as well: if your wallet can bear the emptying, you can make all your dreams come true!
But what does "owning" something entail? Does putting love and labor into it count, or does it just mean footing the bill?
What those lucky owners and advertisement companies don't mention is the work these new toys require to maintain. Sure, running your luxury vehicle through the car wash every once in a while and maybe even vacuuming the seats is easy enough, but what about the rest of the work? Will their precious baby still mean as much to them when maintenance is more expensive than its monthly insurance payments?
One May weekend, Mr. Lee made an offhanded observation about our school's windows--as beautiful as they are spanning floor-to-ceiling, they tend to get quite dirty over time. After many Walmart runs without success, a squeegee was finally acquired in the beginning of June and Mr. Lopez got to scrubbing until the exterior glass was crystal-clear and glistening. Our windows looked just like how they looked when we first moved in to start our small business, if not better. Brand-new.
Ownership, Mr. Lee said one night after this ordeal, is taking responsibility for the things in your possession in every state it is; clean or dirty, new or old, etc. We hold the power to travel the easy route and keep the glass dusty, or grit our teeth and clean the dirt off of it. While keeping what we own clean is harder than staying complacent, working hard yields better rewards. Clean house? Happy homeowner! Clean Taekwondo school windows? A more positive impression on passerby and members alike. Plus, it leaves us less work to do later!
Everyday, we at GSH are learning how to better teach our students while bettering ourselves at the same time. This idea of ownership helps us take pride in our school both as instructors and as people. We hope our efforts show and our community can learn this important life lesson as well!