The Power of Thank You

As a black belt martial artist, I recently had the opportunity to be a guest judge for a teenager’s black belt test. It was a cold, misty day in Seattle, and the test was held outside. It started at 7 a.m., at a high school track where the 19-year-old ran three miles and did his first set of 50 push ups.

His test continued with meditation for an hour, and I arrived right after that.

His spirits were high, and he was smiling as he began to perform his techniques. Kicks, throws, board breaking, and brick breaking. My job was to grade 1,200 kicks. It was inspirational to see this teen’s spirit remain high as he moved from technique to technique throughout the day.

By the time the grand finale – brick-breaking – took place, it was late in the afternoon. The teen was tired. And when he dropped his body weight to meet the brick, it broke. The crowd went wild.

It was an honor for me to be part of such a momentous occasion. I remembered the blood, sweat, and tears that went into achieving my first black belt. This student had been training for nine long years. I decided to give him a watch to commemorate his achievement. It was a watch that my Taekwondo grandmaster had given me before I visited Korea, the birthplace of my sport.

I received a hand-written thank you note in the mail the following week. I was really touched by the sentiment. In addition to saying thank you for the watch, this young man thanked me for my time, for encouraging and supporting him during this recent high point in his martial arts journey.

I’m a strong believer in sending thank you notes. This recent one hangs on my bulletin board where I can reflect on a wonderful celebration and appreciate those two beautiful words—thank you!

“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” -Bruce Lee

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