Friday, September 23, 2011

Your Response Shows Your Integrity

By Chris Landis, white belt

In researching the word “integrity”, you will find words such as honest, trustworthy, reliable etc. All of these words are nothing without the word consistency. Without being consistently honest, consistently trustworthy and consistently reliable your integrity becomes questionable.

As a pediatric critical care nurse my coworkers need to be able to trust myself and my abilities. I need to maintain integrity in my actions so that my teammates can not only trust my actions, but be able to anticipate them.

Unfortunately we are humans and we make mistakes. While your mistakes don’t test your integrity, your response to them does. One of the most recent drives in the healthcare industry for quality improvement is self-reporting medication errors. While none of us want to make mistakes, much less admit them, we do make mistakes and our reaction to them needs to be one that is honest and reliable. In order to make improvements, each mistake needs to be studied and all of the potential sources of errors need to be identified. With the critical and intense nature of the care we provide, errors would be easy to sweep under the rug, and with the majority of them being insignificant and inconsequential, it’s tempting. But it’s a slippery slope, and it has to be realized. When you and your coworkers have enough integrity to be able to consistently and reliably self-report their errors, improvements can be made.

Healthy, Stress-Free Vacation

By Alice Meyung, 4th dan

Have you ever measured yourself up against the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale?  On the stress scale, Holmes and Rahe rate major life events with a number of points.  If any of the events on the list has happened to you in the last year of your life, you give yourself the allotted amount of points.

On the adult scale, the total number of points accrued at the end of the test determines your potential to become ill due to the toll stress takes on your body.  If an adult scores over 300 points, they are considered at high risk for stress-induced illness.  If an adult scores between 150-299 points, they have a moderate risk of becoming ill (about 30% less than those who score over 300 points).  If an adult scores under 150 points, they only have a slight risk of getting ill.  For the past year of my life (2011), I scored 249 points.  The year before (2010), I scored a whopping 416 points (I graduated from college and moved several times).  Yet, in the past two years, I have been sick less than any other period in my life time.  My secret:  healthy breaks and stress-free travel!

Even though vacations score 12 points on the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, I think properly planned travel can serve as a yearly bliss station—a place for recuperation and reflection.  Travel is also one of the most valuable tools in teaching us about ourselves and our reactions, which can help us deal properly with stress in future situations.

Pre-planning a vacation well can certainly take a large amount of stress off our shoulders when we arrive at our destination. But the number one thing to plan on no matter where you are?  Expect the unexpected.  Your plans WILL be foiled at some point.  You WILL lose something or forget something along the way.  You WILL be stressed out!  But you are preparing yourself to deal with stress in the real world by learning the Art of the Planned and Unplanned on your vacation.  Some of the best places I've ended up (a park in Madrid), some of the nicest people I've met (an Irish woman who pulled my family out of a car accident in Scotland), and some of the coolest things I've ever seen (a three-toed sloth) have been unplanned.  Sitting back and going with the flow can sometimes be hard in day-to-day life, but learning to relinquish control while traveling and seeing where you end up is a perfect way to practice.

Whether alone or with a large group, travelling teaches us a lot about ourselves.  When by myself, it is easy to gain better understanding of my likes and dislikes since I have the luxury of choosing to do whatever I want whenever I want.  When with a group, you have to stay with the group and be an active participant in order to get the most out of your travels.  Other people can expose you to and teach you about new things; your travelling companion might encourage you to try a new food or to go zip lining in the jungle when you normally wouldn't!  Learning to open yourself up to new situations and learning how to travel and work with other people can allow you to more readily accept new challenges or opportunities you might face in the workplace, at school, or in your social life.  The Stress Scale has a lot to do with how we handle new situations and change.  If we are self-aware enough to see how changes or surprises affect us on travels, then we can apply our self-awareness to life changes.

When the CTI Black Belt Team traveled to New Zealand in ‘07, we were fogged in and ended up staying there for several more days.  This experience turned out fantastically and reminded me that the unexpected can be such a treat sometimes if we embrace it.  By accepting change and making the most of it, we will be better equipped to deal with the stress it might bring.

Vacations and travel can teach us so much about ourselves and others.  It is a great way to fulfill our first Aim and Goal:  Learn about the mind, body, our culture, and the culture of others.   In short, travel is one of the truest forms of creating “internationally minded” individuals.  Operating with international mindfulness works on several levels, but one key point of an internationally minded individual is their ability to cope with rapid change.  Learning how to let go and relax is also something that should carry over from your vacation into your everyday life.  Taking mini mental vacations is key for me in strengthening my immune system and fighting off stress.  

Vacations are worth the twelve points on the Stress Scale.  It’s like an investment—you have to spend a few points to get a few back.  You might be stressed while planning and during the actual travel, but you are arming yourself with a tool (the capacity to accept change and the ability to relax) that will help you fight stress for the rest of your life.  Also, in my opinion, there is no better way to reclaim 50 points of stress than kicking it with the CTI Black Belt Team on one of their World Tours!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Managing Anger

By Eileen Lindner, brown belt

Anger can be a very destructive emotion.  Even holding onto anger without acting on it can be harmful.  Holding onto anger builds resentment & can lead to more anger.  Being angry when defending yourself or others can cause more problems than expected.  Acting out of anger can lead to overreacting, harming someone, or being injured.  Anger clouds judgment, so taking the time, seconds even, to evaluate where the response you are feeling is coming from can avoid difficult consequences.  Ho shin, the concept of self control, then self defense, is invaluable in evaluating our feelings before acting.  Being in control of yourself means not acting out of the emotion of the moment; but rather being aware of the emotion and thinking and then deciding upon an action.  Feeling anger is natural in many instances and understanding when anger is an appropriate response takes experience.

Black Belt Breaking a Board
Feeling angry usually leads to excess energy, the fight or flight response of biology, so managing that anger can primarily take a physical form.  But physical anger management alone will not improve self control.  Managing anger by channeling it into a positive outlet, for me, involves talking, praying and exercising.  Taekwondo is an excellent way for me to relieve stress that can cause anger to erupt unnecessarily.  Taekwondo takes much concentration, since I am absorbing so much new information that has to be processed physically.  Taking that time to connect my brain and body has made me more aware of both.  Managing anger, especially recurring instances with a particular situation, is made more effective by talking about it.  It can be especially helpful to talk to the person you are angry with; but that can be very difficult.

Learning to deal with emotional responses takes a lot of energy and experience.  Anger is one of the more difficult emotions to master; but having a set way of dealing with it – through physical activity & discussion- makes a great difference.  Channeling that anger into more intense workouts, more concentration at work, or deeper connections with people takes focus; but is the most positive outcome.

Friday, September 2, 2011


Black Belt Team Hotel in Germany
By Eric Evans, 1st dan

Perfection.  It is something we all strive for in some aspect of our life, but never seem to achieve.  Just when you reach the summit of a goal, you realize there is another hill to climb.  It is the continual drive that moves us to better ourselves and those around us.

From the moment we are born, everything we do requires practice.  We are not born knowing how to crawl, walk or run.  The same is true with MSK Taekwondo.  We must first gain knowledge, then practice.  But it not enough to just practice, it must be perfect practice.  As we grow in  Moo Sul Kwan Taekwondo, our definition of perfection, or what is good enough for our current ability, will change.  A front kick performed as a white belt has key features that must be understood and attempted thousands of times. As the student progresses, the little items become apparent.  It is no longer good enough to just kick above our heads, we must now focus on an imaginary target in addition to foot position, knee position, balance and a dozen other items.

The number of aspects a student could focus on in one front kick is astounding. So how do we achieve perfection, when there seems to be something we can continually perfect?  A front kick must be broken down into smaller, more manageable goals.  It may start with eye position or balance with a bent knee in the supporting leg. After these aspects are honed, a student could examine knee position, rubbing the knees together and bringing the kicking knee high above the belt before releasing a snappy front kick.

Whatever the move, we must follow a few general guidelines when practicing:

1. Gain the knowledge of what the move is suppose to look like.

2. Examine where the move could be broken up into smaller more manageable goals..

3. Start slow at first then gradually increase speed as confidence and a repeatable result increase.

4. When learning advanced moves such as the step spinning or jump spinning round house; start with the basics, a round house from a sparring stance.

5. Take the time to examine your effort. What went well? What needs to be improved?

6. Have patience. It has been said that it takes 10,000 hours of dedicated effort to master anything.

7. Practice Perfectly, this does not mean the move will be perfect every time, it does mean that you use every opportunity to improve what has already been done before.