It can be said that learning martial arts is learning courage. Courage is bravery in the face of fear. You do the right thing even when it is hard or scary. Students who stand before the class leading in a form show courage, and so do students who answer in class. The board you are asked to break at a test is often times more of a test of your courage than your strength in technique. Martial artists are called to be courageous in some way every day.
When you are courageous, you don't give up. When you refuse to quit you are able to surge forward in life. This is one of the valuable lessons of the path to black belt and is also represented by the mountains in the San Kil Tang Soo Do logo.
You try new things; taking risks in the process. Learning to take conscious, calculated risks is part of our school curriculum. We believe taking risks is the path to true learning and success. Successful athletes know that risk-taking and learning from losses, setbacks, and mistakes are the only way to significantly improve sports performance. Babe Ruth was the champion home run hitter, but he struck out 1,333 times during his best season. Nothing is gained without risk, and even a risk with less than successful results can be a powerful learning activity.
Being courageous you admit mistakes. This helps develop character and build up mental strength to go uphill instead of downhill in life.
Courage is the strength in your heart. It takes courage to face a strong punch, kick, or throw, whether in the dojang or in self-defense. Of course, the real courage we are trying to exhibit is the courage to do the right thing, even when it is scary or unpopular. It can be much harder to calm an angry person or coach a misguided teenager than to block a front kick, but as martial artists it is our responsibility to do the right things, even when they are difficult.
Kwan Jang Nim Sgro once described yong gi to me as the ability to take the nervous energy churning inside (those butterflies you often feel in your stomach) and directing it outwards. By doing so you improve your ability to overcome challenges.
In the words of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1933), “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”