Through the decades in America Martial Arts have had several cultural highs and lows. In the 70s with icons like Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris dominating the scene, and Jackie Chan starting out, Martial Arts were the talk of the nation. Then the following few decades popularity, and cool factor, started to take a creeping decline, and eventual leveling in popularity. However, that leveling soon began to spike due to the popularity of MMA and its most popular promotion(UFC).

Prior to MMA gaining worldwide acclaim, I started my martial arts journey. I spent the overwhelming majority of my development years studying Tae Kwon Do Jidokwan. It set an influence on my life through how I see things, and approach people and situations. So today, I’ll be going over how that has influenced my leadership style!

Leading By Example

The classes at the dojang I attended weren’t geared for anyone that needed their hands held through teaching. Instruction was strict, but fair and honest. With respect to that, learning something new always started with being provided a live example by a senior student and/or acting teacher. Living by the synonymous mottos “Do as I do”, and “Follow my example”, respectively.

When I’m the head of a team and/or project, I always make sure my team understands that I’m not asking more than what I’m willing to do myself. In fact, I’m often asking for less. I believe that people innately if they are of good intentions, will willingly overproduce for someone they see is willing to produce for them. So far, haven’t been proven wrong… Thankfully!

Effective Use Of Time

A typical class would last anywhere between 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours, on the weekends somewhat regularly it would extend longer. However, when it came time to take a test, that same class could be condensed into under 40 minutes. We would do the same exact moves and forms, in the same number of attempts, and in the same sequence. I was always baffled by this, even though I was doing this.

That taught me time is linear, nothing can be done to change it or roll it back. However, we do have control over how we manage it and what we’re able to accomplish within it.

Details Matter

Precision, complete accuracy, and purposefulness. Those were the goals of every movement done within the dojang. Wasted energy and effort were viewed as a negative, and missing an opportunity to put more effort into a purposeful action. This applies to my leadership by aiming to be as direct as possible in communication, and direction. Obviously, not everyone will take kindly to this style, however, I have found it to be the most effective in producing results.

Focus On The Message, Not The Communication Style

Going in hand in hand with being direct, ensuring that you don’t get your emotions caught up in the delivery is critical. My instructors never had ill intent, but to those unfamiliar, the way they would talk could come off as abrasive. It was a lot of times loud, passionate, and assertive. If you were somebody that was easily emotionally invested in how something is said to you, as opposed to what is being said to you, then you wouldn’t last.

From that, I learned how to effectively give and receive feedback. In my leadership, I do feel that people need to know the cold hard truth. How else will they learn and grow?