The First Rule of Martial Arts – A personal story of the meaning of respect

Within this photo is demonstrated a clear example of respect. It is of a student showing great respect to his elders and his teachers, and they showing great respect to him with the awarding of his black belt. As martial artists we have a great appreciation for this moment.
But I will share a personal story as to what this image means to me. Each person in the photo holds a significant position in my world and also my deepest respect. The respect falls upon each of them for different reasons, which speaks to the multi-faceted aspects of the meaning of respect.
First, within the image is Grandmaster Soon Tae Yang. He is the Founder and President of the International Kung Jung Mu Sul Federation. My respect for him goes far beyond my appreciation of his knowledge, which is vast. Instead, I have great respect for his dedication to what would have been a dying martial arts style. Without him Kung Jung Mu Sul would have ceased to exist as a living, breathing martial arts style. He dedicated his life to bring to us what we practice now and accept as a way of life. Additionally, he is my teacher’s teacher, as well as on occasion my own teacher, and I have gotten to know Grandmaster Yang on a personal level over the years. I can tell you that he is a man of integrity and of strong character.
Second, in the background of the photo is Master Charles Dudley. His martial arts background is extensive, long, and notable. He is, in my opinion, a direct disciple of Grandmaster Yang. I respect him as one of my teachers in the martial arts and in life (which are one and the same for me). I also respect him as a man of deep conviction, passion, compassion, and a high level of morals and ethics that is rarely seen among modern men. I look to him as a mentor and as an older, guiding brother. He has given me everything I asked for to achieve my goals in life and more.
Third, the young man receiving the black belt in this photo is Mr. Christian Salisbury. The photo was taken when he received his 2nd Dan in the art of Kung Jung Mu Sul. I am, among others, one of his teachers. I consider him the first student I guided to the achievement of his 1st Dan black belt. This is a fact that almost did not occur but for his dedication despite many obstacles confronting him at that time. But he listened, he learned, he trained, and he overcame. I have great respect for him as one of my students who did not give up when things got hard, something we rarely see in young men of his age. He is now an applicant for the United States military services academies, and I expect he will one day be a leader of men.
All three men represent a triumvirate relative to respect in my mind. My teacher’s teacher, and the founder of our federation; my teacher and my older brother in the martial way; my student and a living example of my immense joy of teaching life skills to the next generation. The relationship I hold with each would not have been possible without the constant and deep practice of mutual and unwavering respect we all share among one another as martial artists and as human beings.
Respect is the keystone within the arch of humanity. Without it there is no doorway leading to a life of peace, happiness, and success.
Robert Hill
Kung Jung Mu Sul of Texas

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