Yesterday I was fortunate enough to witness a once in a lifetime event. It wasn't so much the demonstration of martial arts skill, although I was impressed with that. And it wasn't even the overall feel of the performance itself, which was electric. What made yesterday so special to me is the world got a chance to glimpse into the heart of a Master.
Most of you know I have been training in TaeKwonDo for twelve years now. It is a discipline which sings to my spirit and allows me to show others what they might achieve through perseverance. But I didn't walk into my school on that first day knowing what I was doing. It took a bit of courage for a middle aged, overweight, scared-of-the world, single mom to step out on the mats as a white belt. The most intimidating thing for me was the fact the instructor leading the class was a skinny 17 year old. Mr. Hargis might have looked like just a kid, but he had the confidence and skill of a seasoned professional.
Truth be told, Mr. Hargis scared me to death. Not because he was mean or aggressive or cocky. It was the fact he seemed so sure of himself and his ability to take charge of his surroundings. He might have looked like just another kid to some people, but after that first class I KNEW I would follow that man wherever he might lead me in my martial arts journey.
The true heart of a Master is by the life they lead, by the code of ethics they hold close to their heart and their willingness to share their gift with the world around them. Mr. Hargis is a humble man. One who does not put much weight on the importance of belt rank achieved at testings, but rather measures his students by the strength of their character. He doesn't even allow his own students to call him by his rightful title of "master". He is simply Mr. Hargis to everyone. He leads by example and I consider myself fortunate to be counted as a friend in his inner circle.
I don't think Mr. Hargis realizes how many lives he has touched over the years, not just my own. He may not realize how he took one middle aged, overweight, scared-of-the-world, single mom and quite literally gave her life back to her through his compassion, understanding, and mentoring nature. He believed in my ability, even as a white belt, long before I could believe in it myself. And he was there to hold my boards when I went for my Fourth Degree Black Belt testing last October. There has not been one moment during these past twelve years when I haven't been challenged to be the best I can be...both in martial arts skill and as a person.
To give one's life in the service of others is one of the most selfless acts a person can do and in Mr. Hargis' case, it gives all those who come in contact with him a glimpse into the heart of a Master...