Note:  This is a paper I wrote in College for my Freshman English Class roughly 8 years ago.  The subject was supposed to be regarding my chosen career path.  Many of the technicalities have evolved, but the paper still stands as a declaration of my philosophy, and it also stands to show how much (or little) my line of thought and philosophy have changed over the years.

“Do” Cover Letter

Disclaimer:  I hate re-writes.  I prefer to write it right the first time and if I need to revisit the subject, I will either write an entirely new article or perhaps a continuation or sequel.  That being said, this paper is not so much a revision of my Biomechanics paper, but more a continuation.  FYI, ‘Do’ translates from both Korean and Japanese as ‘The Way’, so you understand the title.  It’s pronounced like ‘dough’.  Now, on to the cover letter…

I began with my career paper and took a completely different path.  The paper originally was about what career I want to follow, and what it is.  This paper, however, is more about what I want to accomplish in my life, and how.  Unlike my career paper, I spent very little time dealing with technicalities, and considerably more went into abstracts and concepts, though I still cite several examples, though some of the examples were slightly embellished to avoid naming people.  I spent less time referring to what I’ve read and more on what I’ve experienced.  The two references I did use were from two books that had a very deep impact on my way of life.

Rather than lengthening the paper, I tried to keep it shorter.  Pardon my saying but the outline was a pain in the @$$.  I don’t pre-write, as it only hinders me.  I just sit in front of the keyboard and start typing.  When I finish, I go back and sort out the pieces.  I did go out of my way to match the introduction and conclusion:  the intro tells the what, while the conclusion clarifies the how and why.

In conclusion, this was the hardest paper I’ve ever had to write.  Usually, I either ramble about technical issues or take a surreal approach to writing, but this time I took a topic that I’m passionate about and poured out my soul onto the paper without a hint of jest.

Scott Gray

—————————————————————————————————–

“Do” Outline

 

  1. Intro: The What
  2. Theory
    1. Technical Stuff
    2. Rationalization
    3. The Core of the Matter
  3. Education
    1. Confusion
    2. Discovery
  4. Practice
    1. Communication
    2. Results
  5. Conclusion: The How

—————————————————————————————————–

 

“Do”

Scott Gray

Freshman English I

Patterson

22 April. 2004

 

Being a twenty-something working dad, head instructor for three martial arts programs, and a full time college student is pretty tough.  When I voice comments to this affect, most people ask, “What are you going to college for?”  I tell them ‘Biomechanics’.  This sounds impressive, but it is not really the truth.  I’m going to school because I’m going to change the world.

When I say biomechanics, it means a precise science of the body’s motion.  But when I say biomechanics, I really mean martial arts.  In learning the science of biomechanics, it will deeply enhance my knowledge and ability in martial arts, making me not only a more efficient technician, but also a more effective teacher.  This is how I will change the world.

The better I become in performing the martial arts, the more students I will attract.  The better I become at teaching, the more students I will retain and the more I will be able to teach them.  Out of the many students that I have and will have, only a handful will learn the real martial arts, rather than just the moves, and of those, a select few will go on to teach others, restarting the cycle for a new generation of students.

By the ‘real martial arts’, I mean all of the traditions, virtues, philosophies, morals, perspectives, approaches, and mannerisms that the arts are based on.  I do not teach people how to fight; I teach them how to be people.  Every class I teach starts and ends with an oath that promises to ‘be a champion of freedom and justice’.  It contains words like respect, and then is immediately followed by the recitation of six tenants, which are as follows: Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self Control, Indomitable Spirit, and Victory.  I try to impress upon my students, most of whom range from ages five to twelve, that these are not just words. I go to great pains to make sure they understand them and know how to apply them to everyday life.

To most kids, words like the tenants I just mentioned, along with honor and respect, are just things that adults say, expecting everyone to know what they mean.  A year or two ago, I fell into a mischievous mood and told my students to go find out what honor meant.  I told them they could ask anyone they wanted (parents, schoolteachers, etc.) except for the black belts at the school.  For a moment I almost felt guilty when one of the students asked his parent, who squirmed and evaded the question.  Like I said, I almost felt guilty.  Sadly, only one of my students came back with anything resembling a reasonable answer.  This student was only six at the time, but he is one of the brightest students I’ve had.

Teaching a child the meaning of honor has been one of my greatest challenges.  When you try to teach a child, you rapidly learn just how much you don’t know.  Such was the case on this topic, so I set out to learn myself.  As the old story goes, ‘When the student is ready, the Master will appear.’  And so it did, in the form of an old college buddy.  Several years earlier when we had met at school and the topic of martial arts came up, he forced a book on me that his Sensei had forced on him before that.  He said something to the effect of, “You probably won’t appreciate this now, but you will someday.”  The book sat on my shelf collecting dust for the next five years until the aforementioned discussion of honor came about.  I dusted the book off, checked the table of contents, and jumped straight to the section of the book about honor, which probably filled over a third of the book.  When I was done I finally had words to put to the concepts I was already familiar with, and I have since almost worn that section of the book out. (Morgan)

The discussion of honor brings more tenants to it, as the bushido (Japanese: Way of the Warrior) cites three primary tenants: Obligation, Justice, and Courage.  At least once a month I sit each of my classes down to have a long lecture on one of the topics I have mentioned.  Sometimes it is a discussion of honor.  Sometimes I quiz the students on the actual meaning and interpretation of the tenants, or how they flow together.  Most often, it is a lecture on how and why to avoid confrontations.

I spend at least two days and three nights a week teaching classes to at least five different groups ranging from my Little Dragons (four to five year olds) to my after school kids, on to my street combat oriented adults.  Countless hours are spent forging these children and adults into living, breathing weapons, the youngest and frailest capable of feats that would make most ‘normal’ people either cringe or ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ in amazement.  Rarely, however, do I have parents come up and tell me that their child has developed an amazing ability to fly through the air or break stuff.  It’s usually more along the lines of one of the following:  “My child’s baseball coach still can’t get over my child saying ‘Yes Sir’ every time he tells him to do something,” “My child’s grades have doubled since he/she started taking class,” or even “My child broke the record for the 100 yard dash at his school.”  The last was in reference to one of my favorite students, who is autistic.  He’s been training under me less than a year and he has already gone from last place to second place in the Special Olympics.  More importantly, his communications skills have improved immeasurably and he has made friends.  More than friends, actually.  Children such as this student often are forced to endure ridicule with few people to defend them, but he now has a small army of ‘brothers’ that would take up for him at the first askance look. One down, a few billion to go.

Musashi wrote, “To master the sword, learn the guitar.  To master the empty hand, learn carpentry.”  In both cases, he cites that the path to improve your ability to destroy lies in the learning of how to create.  Similarly, I have adopted this philosophy in as much that in order to master peace, you must learn to fight.  I mentioned earlier that at the beginning and end of each class may students recite an oath, which I recite with them.  The last line states: “I will build a more peaceful world.”  So this is how I’m changing the world: one student at a time. (Kaufman)

—————————————————————————————————–

“Do” Works Cited

 

Forrest E. Morgan.  Living the Martial Way: A Manual for the Way a Modern Warrior Should Think.  Barricade Books, 1992.

Steven F. Kaufman.  The Martial Artist’s Book of Five Rings: The Definitive Interpretation of Miyamoto Musashi’s Classic Book of Strategy.   May, 1994.

Share