It is such an amazing asset to understand how people have their own versions and perspectives of everything. I experience this daily with my family, my students and their parents.

At the last Black Belt qualification exam, I had a difficult time making students understand that there is only one way to do push-ups and that it is the only correct way; not my way, their way or what has become hearsay.

Even knowing that the instructions were to touch the side of face, stomach and thighs to the mat, students still continued to constantly come up with their own variations on how to carry the actions out; even creating their own versions of what the side of the face, stomach, thighs and mat actually were. They even decided to create their own version of what touching actually meant!

At the time, I wondered how understanding this simple push-ups exercise and the concept which it represented could change the quality of our lives. I called them natural laws and wanted my students to understand the importance of the phrase. I wondered what would happen if each of us stopped having our own versions of honesty, honor and integrity and took those same words at their literal, face value?

In the same regard, it’s humorous how some students and their parents have their own versions of our tuition rates, policies and regulations. It’s even more amusing to me to observe how they try to get away with these versions; and sometimes they do, at least in their own minds.

I am unsure of their understanding, but I do know that when I talk to them about natural laws concepts and how we not only have our versions of them but also constantly defend our versions, I come to the realization that this was also my own qualification exam; I go through many challenging experiences on a daily basis.

But none are as powerful as when I have the opportunity to practice what I say. I know the hardest thing for me is acknowledging natural laws, respecting them and obeying them as much as humanly possible. I know that I do not have to like them and they do not have to like me, but the fact is that they still operate the same, regardless of my being aware of them or not.

One of the most difficult conversations I have with myself occurs when I listen to my feelings as I’m making a decision. The majority of the time I catch myself making decisions based purely on how I feel. However, these days, I am beginning to understand what I have been trying to teach all these years; it doesn’t matter how I feel about something as long as it is the right thing to do. And what I mean by the right is the way that is determined with natural principles and universal laws.

Perhaps I am just beginning to understand how these laws work after all these years? Maybe after teaching the art of self-defense for so long, I have become my own worst enemy and have to protect myself. But the true enemy is the failure to realize the realities of martial arts training: consistency, persistence, loyalty, and lots of practice.

And as with every single one of us, I need to practice more.