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John Ruggerberg is an award winning educator  and coach, as well as an experienced black belt with over two decades of training in Tae Kwon Do, Judo and Ju Jitsu. At the 2003
Minnesota Genbu-Kai banquet, Demura Shihan presented him with an award recognizing his service to the community. The following article is taken from the text of his remarks.   

Right: John Ruggerberg speaks following receipt of award from Demura Shihan

Why should martial artists be concerned with their character development? Isn't it enough that practitioners be able to perform correct techniques and are capable of defending themselves and others? The reasons that people take up the martial arts are as varied as the people themselves: conditioning, friendship, ego, self-confidence, competence, fear, self-esteem, peer group, etc. Meeting any or all of these needs would be enough to more than justify the sacrifices made by most students. However, implicit in the tenets of many of the martial arts, is a belief that there is more to this than physical competence. In fact, some have suggested that the martial artist without a philosophy or conscience is a thug. Being a martial artist is work that is aimed at the soul. If practices were only about speed, stamina, focus and power, then what we do would fit in the category of pastime, hobby, diversion or sport.

There has been research done on universally held values - ones that cross cultures, times and
circumstances and the ones that are held in the highest regard have been found to be: respect,
responsibility, love, truthfulness, fairness, freedom, unity and tolerance. These eight guideposts are at the very core of the social definition of humanity.

So how does this come about in the school? What does it look like? Lessons have goals and purpose - a place where they are headed. Perhaps we should consider this: "when planning good instruction, we should be planning for the 'good' it will do." What positives will come from this experience? Will the student learn emotional self-control - the heart of what it means to be self-disciplined? Is there ample opportunity to meet challenges with perseverance rather than stopping short when things become difficult for the student or trying for the instructor? One of the greatest strengths that one can have is to be drawn to that which is difficult. Therefore all that we do that encourages people to try, to have faith, even if the outcome looks doubtful, builds that reservoir of will power to continue even if things do not work this time. Indomita

(Continued on page 4)

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