Recently while attending a martial arts event in Washington, DC, I took the opportunity to do something that I’ve had on my bucket list for quite some time: View the actual Declaration of Independence. Evidently, I wasn’t the only one whose bucket list included this experience. The line was long, and I barely got in in time before they closed the doors.
What was most shocking about finally getting to enter the rotunda was discovering that there wasn’t just one “Declaration of Independence.” There were several. I never knew this. And I know that, like many other things, these details are not taught in our general history classes.
“Now, why didn’t they tell us that?” I asked myself. I was under the impression, like many Americans, that Thomas Jefferson just whipped out a quill and some paper, and an hour or so later said, “There you go.”
Nothing could have been farther from the truth. There were changes … lots of changes! Eighty-six changes, to be exact! What Thomas Jefferson had originally written was so different by the time Continental Congress got through with it, that it’s said that he stormed off in disgust.
To me, knowing this is an important part of history. It shows that sometimes you’re going to have to bend a little in order for the greater good to be accomplished. Being rather outspoken myself, this reminds me that even if I have to storm off, it’s better to hold my tongue and do so than to delay the needs of the many that need to be met.
I must admit that one of my biggest pet peeves as an instructor is dealing with students who approach me to show me a different way that another instructor is teaching a particular technique. It’s usually on YouTube, and it’s usually followed up with, “That’s not the way you taught us.”
I’m not a cold person, but I can be pushed. And this is one of those buttons that will get me real frigid.
“Who’s your teacher, that guy or me?” I’ll ask.
“Well, you are, ma’am,” is the usual response.
“Well, then do it the way your teacher taught you,” I conclude.
The truth is, there could possibly be 86 different ways to do the form that I am personally teaching. Some of those differences might even be in my own federation. But there’s a bigger picture that we as instructors know that we must strive to attain.
So, what if my fist originates from under the arm and your fist originates from the side of the waist? Do we really want to squabble over it and cause delay to our greater purpose? I know that my fellow instructors would certainly answer “no” in agreement on that one.
As a writer, I can relate to Thomas Jefferson. When you pour your soul into something you write, it’s very disheartening to see someone censor or change something that you feel so deeply about. And the majority of people who read the final edit will never even know.
But I’m glad this founding father let the issue go, even if it was 86 times. And I hope that if I’m doing a particular form or block differently than my other martial arts brothers and sisters out there, that they, too, will understand that there is a bigger picture in mind.
In the end, the greater good of meeting the needs of the many must always remain the bigger picture.
You can contact Master Karen Eden at [email protected]
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