With tears streaming down his cheeks he uttered the words, “You saved my life!”
As we both sat in my office and with me sitting in my chair behind my desk, I was somewhat puzzled and confused. The back story is that a couple days earlier, my students and I, along with their parents decided to be a force for good in our community, so we hosted 18 homeless residents of the Broward Outreach Center at our martial arts academy for a Luke 14 Dinner. The Luke 14 Dinner comes from a story in the Bible that talks about when you host a dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or your rich neighbors because they can invite you back. When you host a dinner, you should invite the poor, the lame, the maimed and the blind. For this, you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you but your blessing will come later.
With a curious look on my face, I asked John, “how did I do that?” Keep in mind that I spent almost ten years of my life as a police officer, and I had saved quite a few lives in my career but John’s gratitude felt different. There was a deep level of genuineness and sincerity in his words.
As the tears continued to parade down his cheeks, he replied, “on the night of your dinner, I was ready to commit suicide. I was at my lowest point ever, I felt hopeless, I couldn’t believe that my life had gotten this bad, I was ready to end it all. Then one of the guys in my room heard that you were looking for anyone to come to your dinner. I really didn’t want to go but he insisted, so I thought to myself let me go. I’ll end my life when I get back.”
I sat in my chair with goose bumps on my arms. John went on to say that the dinner was so wonderful and that my students, their parents and I, made them feel so special. Furthermore the combination of knowing that people cared, along with the inspirational message on HOPE (that he said he tattooed on his heart) was the only reason he is alive today.
What does this have to do with martial arts?
It has everything to do with martial arts! In our Student Creed, it says:
As part of my martial arts training, I will strive to learn Patience and Self-control. I will conduct myself with Integrity and Loyalty. I will Respect those around me. I will show Kindness and Humility in both word and deed.
Showing respect, kindness and humility in both word and deed is exactly what we strive to create in our Black Belt Leaders. I want them to be a force for good in our community. Black Belt Leaders can have an enormous impact on the world around them and as martial arts instructors most of us strive to teach more than simply punching and kicking. Our desire is for our students to become a force for good. Through community outreach and giving back to our communities, our students learn that true power isn’t about being able to brake 5 bricks with a palm strike. It’s about learning how to use the force within you to positively change someone else’s life around you.