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Three Questions for An-shu

An-shu, what first got you interested in the martial arts?

SKH: I wanted to be able to make there be peace when others chose violence and cruelty. As a small child in the 1950s, I remember seeing other children bullied and abused by bigger, meaner children. I was not comfortable with the thought of being vulnerable at the hands of cruel people where my natural kindness, intelligence, and articulateness would be of no help.

What was the most significant event in your training?

SKH: In 50 years of training, there have been many significant events, but I remember one that awakened a realization that learning and growth were endless. I was a new first degree black belt in karate in 1970, and was training as a guest at a different school. I threw my best black belt kick at a hanging bag, and was proud of the impact it made. The little Korean teacher nodded politely said something about his kick being “different” and then threw a simple front kick that blew the bag back so violently it jerked on the tether chain. I was mortified. I was supposed to be a black belt, but my kick was pathetic compared to his. From that moment I have never been satisfied with any title, or degree, or idea that I was “already good.” From that moment I was hooked by a constant search for never-ending advancement.

What do you consider the most important lesson you can give a student?

SKH: Personal development can only happen if we are willing to develop. We have to be willing to look at our lives honestly. We must bravely identify and accept those areas where we need growth. This kind of brave honesty is very difficult for many students. They want to play in areas where they have some strength, and avoid facing up to weaknesses. Be willing to look honestly, and then find a teacher who cares enough to help you build and grow. Sounds obvious, but I have had experiences where a student was embarrassed to face the area where growth was needed, and out of a need to save face, ended up making the teacher “wrong” for offering lessons that would have helped build strength.

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