In 2006 I traveled to Germany with a friend of mine for the FIFA World Cup. That trip was an amazing 10 day party during the final week of the World Cup and one of the greatest experiences of my life.
What made things even more exciting was that Germany (the host country) was in the semi-final and was still in contention to win. No one there cared about who you were, what you looked like or what your political views were. All they cared about is what country’s colors you were wearing.
It was an amazing sight to see as people came together under a common goal. What was even more shocking was the collective devastation I witnessed in the semi-final game when Italy dealt a crushing loss to Germany by dropping two goals on them in the last two minutes of overtime.
It was as if the whole country sank about three inches. The week long party had gone silent. Millions of people were devastated. Men were sitting on the street curb sobbing their eyes out!
Millions of people were also going crazy – celebrating an amazing win down in Italy (and some in the streets of Germany as well).
As this year’s World Cup kicks off, it got me thinking about how there are very few moments in life when people come together and interact with each other regardless of race, religion, ethnicity or social background.
You see fleeting moments of this on a large scale. You saw an enormous swelling of national pride in the U.S. after 9/11 and you see it in sports when 100,000 people packed into a stadium rabidly cheer because of a touchdown or goal. Or when 20,000 people in a basketball arena simultaneously all jump from their seats because of a game winning shot. In these moments, no one cares about who is next to them, about what religion they are or what their political views are.
So we know that it is possible for us, as human beings to get over our differences. Unfortunately, it only seems to happen as a reaction to something rather than us proactively creating that kind of environment and making that happen.
We live in a world where we are constantly reminded of what divides us. It’s up to us to create environments and activities that bring us together. As an ITF Taekwon-Do instructor you are in a critical position for the development of such an environment.
Why is this? Because the idea of bringing people together is woven into the philosophy of Taekwon-Do. In Volume 1 of the encyclopedia Gen. Choi “set forth the following philosophy and guidelines which will be the cornerstone of Taekwon-Do and by which all serious students of this art are encouraged to live.”
There were nine of those guidelines, and number five was:
“Be a willing teacher to anyone regardless of religion, race or ideology.”
We can all sit around waiting for politicians, business leaders, sports figures or celebrities to do or say something to make a difference in our lives…
You can take it upon yourself to make that difference.
By intentionally becoming a successful instructor and spreading ITF Taekwon-Do to as many people as you can where you are, you will also be creating students and environments where people can come together, building a more peaceful world.
About the Author:
Mr. Karstadt is the founder of 1 TKD Consulting and owns the longest running ITF Taekwon-Do school in Arizona, Karstadt Taekwon-Do in Phoenix, AZ with his father Master David Karstadt. He has been training since 1984, earned his Black Belt at the age of 8 and is currently an internationally renown intstructor teaching the culture, discipline, leadership and business skills of Taekwon-Do in classes and seminars to Instructors around the world. He has been a member of eight U.S. Taekwon-Do Teams and has traveled to 14 different countries competing in Taekwon-Do. He has won numerous medals at the World Championships and in international competition, most notably winning the 2004 World Championships in South Korea with two gold medals and the Men’s Team All Around Trophy. Mr. Karstadt currently resides in uptown Phoenix, Arizona with his wife and three children. Mr. Karstadt can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org