I do not want to foresee the future. I am concerned with taking care of the present. God has given me no control over the moment following. – Mahatma Gandhi
Once or twice a month, on a Wednesday night, I take a martial arts class from Grandmaster Choi at his school in Louisville, Kentucky. Grandmaster Choi, a ninth degree black belt from South Korea, is my instructor’s instructor. He began his martial arts training at age eight in 1958 at the original Chung Do Kwan institute under Grandmaster Won Kuk Lee, and now, in his early 60’s, is still very capable of doing, with excellence, what he teaches. Grandmaster Choi, an incredibly insightful man, has essentially dedicated his entire life to learning and teaching Traditional Tae Kwon Do. In 1966, at age 18, he was awarded a gold medal for a board breaking technique by South Korean president Park, Chung Hee. Grandmaster went on to become the personal body guard for President Park and the chief hand to hand combat instructor for the South Korean army’s special forces. As a part of political negotiations between South Korea and China, Grandmaster was also chosen to instruct at the Republic of China Military Police School, as well. In 1976 as a fifth degree master instructor and after a decade of teaching military professionals, Grandmaster Choi was given the opportunity to come to the United States and become the instructor for the Louisville, Kentucky branch of the World Tae Kwon Do Association. In 1995 Grandmaster Choi separated from the World Tae Kwon Do Association because of ideological differences and formed his own, local organization here in the Louisville area, the Traditional Tae Kwon Do Chung Do Kwan Association, in an effort to keep the eleven branch schools under his tutelage training in a traditional way. In 2004 he was tested in South Korea at Kukkiwon for the highest rank in Tae Kwon Do, ninth degree black belt.
Along with the physical training that I have received in martial arts, I have also learned a great deal about various types of martial and non-martial philosophies. Some of these philosophies are very formal, such as traditional and contemporary Buddhist and Confucian thought, but a great deal of the philosophical training I have learned through martial arts has been the insights of Grandmaster Choi and the other master instructors I have become acquainted with. One of the things he does at the end of each class is ask a random student what day it is and what day tomorrow is. New students will inevitably give him either the day of the week or the day of the month. Grandmaster, though, just smiles and then asks a different student till he gets the answers he is looking for. These are Grandmaster Choi’s Days of the week
- Marvelous Monday
- Terrific Tuesday
- Wonderful Wednesday
- Thrilling Thursday
- Fantastic Friday
- Super Saturday
- Spectacular Sunday
When first presented with these little sayings that Grandmaster has for each of the days of the week, most people are amused slightly but forget about it immediately afterwards. It’s just part of the routine of the class, possible one that people will often roll their eyes at. I never gave it much thought until about a year ago or so, when I was having a particularly bad day, I took a class on one of those Wednesday nights. As luck would have it, Grandmaster asked me what day it was. I quickly regurgitated the answer, Wonderful Wednesday, and then it hit me why Grandmaster does this. He is trying to remind his students that every day is a gift.
It is very easy to take things for granted sometimes. We often do not pay much attention to life or the world around us or recognize the present moment until something is going wrong. Then we fixate on that unpleasant moment until it passes and then we somehow lose the present again as we give our attention to other things. If you have had a bad day today, I am sure you are acutely aware of it. But how many good days have you failed to recognize?
Everyday has so much potential in it and there is so much beauty in this world. Sure, sometimes you are going to have hurdles or obstacles in this life. Sometimes things are not going to go the way you want and sometimes you are going to get sick or sad. Someday, you are even going to die. It is very easy to get caught up in our woes, trivial matters, or in how we perceive what happened in the past or what will happen in the future, but life happens today. Each day is inherently good, but we often lose sight of that because, for many of us, the only time we are present is when this present moment is unpleasant.
There is nothing particularly sacred about Grandmaster Choi’s approach to giving the days of the week nicknames, but it is a great tool to stay mindful that today is a blessed day that we should be aware of. If you have any tricks that you use to stay mindful and grateful for the present, I would love to hear from you. Hit me up either here or on Facebook, Google+, or Twitter. Today is Marvelous Monday. I hope your day, whenever you might read this, is a great day, as well.
The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it. – Thich Nhat Hanh