“When I reached thirty I looked back on my past. The previous victories were not due to my having mastered strategy. Perhaps it was natural ability, or the order of heaven, or that other schools’ strategy was inferior. After that I studied morning and evening searching for the principle, and came to realise the Way of strategy when I was fifty. Since then I have lived without following any particular Way. Thus with the virtue of strategy I practise many arts and abilities — all things with no teacher. To write this book I did not use the law of Buddha or the teachings of Confucius, neither old war chronicles nor books on martial tactics.” – Musashi
“My movement is equivalent to this. I seek to find the principles of all movements and attempt to make them mine. This is the reason why I am not limited to one movement. Rather, I strive to express everything freely. This is the inspiration I learned from Yu Dayou.” – DK Yoo
Q. From track-and-field to dance to meditation, how integral is the study outside of martial arts impactful to your study and practice of martial arts?
DK: Every movement and scholarship that exist in this whole world, is the medium that allows us to improve ourselves. We shouldn’t lock our minds into the preconceptions of people, culture and society. The more you open your heart, the more you will be able to acquire. Do not let any bias imprison your mind, so that you can see the very truth in everything.
“There is surely nothing other than the single purpose of the present moment. A man’s whole life is a succession of moment after moment. There will be nothing else to do, and nothing else to pursue. Live being true to the single purpose of the moment.” -Hagakure
Q. Your entire philosophy of movement is seemingly built upon the movement in the moment, being in the moment and accessing your body in the moment – no before, no after. No desired result. Just the NOW. Please expand on the importance of the single moment both in martial arts and philosophy.
DK: We are living our lives breaking down the past, the present, and the future. The interview that I am doing here right now is in the present and soon will be the past. Also, I am thinking about the next interview that is going to happen in the future. We intentionally make a distinction between the past and the future for the present. While being in the present moment, the past and the future do arise. Therefore, the utmost matter is the ‘NOW’, focusing on the now moment.
Focus on ‘NOW’ whatever you do, wherever you are. Do not lock yourself in the past or expect the future. Just let yourself be in the present moment. This is the philosophy I hold on to.
Q. Please expand on the concept of self-confidence, self-belief and how beneficial both meditation and martial arts can be to improve both?
DK: We should be the creators for self-confidence and self-belief. Someone who is full of confidence and has a strong self conviction is never obsessed with the results, yet does one’s best dutifully. Of course, he might be criticized by other people in the process of his success. Socrates once had to meet with harsh condemnation, as well Jesus. Nevertheless, they never stopped asserting their own conviction. This is how those with self-confidence and self-belief take action. Their action is never influenced by any criticism because they have a firm faith in themselves. If you meditate, or have a strong religious belief, you will also have a solid belief in yourself and self-confidence. Thus, meditation and religion are mightily important.
Q. You carry yourself as a leader and have amassed thousands of followers; please expand on your interpretation and style of leadership.
DK: A leader should be able to be held accountable for his or her action. A lot of people like to follow a leader and hope to become like him or her. This is why a leader should always try hard to watch their words and actions in order to be an example for others.
Because of my position I am often approached by people who say that they love me and want to be like me. I feel I want to be an example for them so, I never want to let myself be idle from learning, exercising, and meditating.
From my perspective, a leader has an impact on people. I try to connect with people and suggest that they should believe in themselves and should not give up on achieving their goals. Nowadays, many people tend to give up and underrate themselves. I am also a very ordinary person. However, I try hard every single day and that persistence eventually pays off so much so that numerous people now recognize me and like me. This is the major point of what I would love to share with others. If you become a person with great social influence, you should be able to lead people to exercise influence towards a good deed. This is what a leader stands for, I believe. A person, who is willing to draw other people’s potential abilities towards positive direction and effort, is a leader.
Q. Martial arts is nothing if not an academic journey of self. Please explain the importance of always continuing to learn, improve, reflect and grow.
DK: I would say, there are mainly two aspects of movements in martial arts. One is the movement for protecting oneself in an emergency situation and the other one is for exercising self-discipline. Nowadays, of course, it is true that martial arts have been declining in popularity and being targets of a lot of criticism and derision due to the rising popularity of MMA(Mixed martial arts). However, we can learn self-discipline, courtesy, and even how to improve in our human relationships through martial arts. It is too hasty to make a conclusion of defining martial arts as a biased facet of physical fighting. Embedded in the power of martial arts is, ineffably, a great potential impact more than we can possibly imagine. Thus, personally, I sincerely hope people understand martial arts as learning self-discipline and courtesy and something more than just fighting methods and survival tools.
Q. Now traveling internationally via martial arts, please expand on what seeing the world (through martial arts) has taught you.
DK: Since a lot of seminars are held internationally, I’ve visited many countries and met numerous people. For example, those doing different kinds of martial arts, doctors, entrepreneurs, politicians, and people who were completely devoted to completely different sports fields from what I do. But I became good friends with all of them by sharing my knowledge and movements and there also have been so many things that I could learn from them. I always believe that martial arts contain more than just fighting. Because making friends with martial arts allows you to learn and share so much more than just martial arts. Let us be friends with martial arts and share each other’s knowledge to break our limit without speaking ill of one another. Then it will broaden our thoughts and our horizons.
Q. You end most posts with “Become friends with martial arts.” Please expand on the importance of love, friendship and community within martial arts and how bushido can and does promote peace, camaraderie and collaboration.
DK: As has previously been explained, we can make friends through martial arts. In fact, a lot of martial arts seemingly have different movements, but they are pretty much alike. The only slight difference is the methods of movement and training. We can evolve ours through sharing methods with one another.
Then we can not only grow, but also compete against each other. This will again lead us to be bound to go beyond our limits. Therefore, becoming friends with martial arts will let us prosper together.
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