Tony Esposito

Editorial Director
Grace A. Luppino

Art & Production Director
David Griffith

Technical Advisor.
Anup Keswani

Illustration & Photography
Tom Brenner
Jim Herity
Julie Nightingale

Posted: Late Autumn 2001

Fight With Courage

For many years, we Americans have been fortunate enough to enjoy a sense of peace and prosperity on our soil. As a society, we have the opportunity to enjoy the freedom to travel within our country and abroad. We cherish our freedom of speech, the right to worship the faith of our choice and the right to peaceably assemble. We enjoy a legal system that guarantees us the right to trial by a jury of our peers, the right to legal representation and the right to remain silent. Our freedom to be creative has helped us make great advances in architecture, science, literature, medicine, technology, arts and entertainment. Despite the many differences among us, we manage to arrive at civilized resolutions. More importantly, we have been fortunate enough to enjoy the simple act of going about our daily lives in relative peace.

On September 11th, our sense of peace and security was shattered as we helplessly watched terrorists attack our country, our people and our way of life. In the days that followed, we were shocked to learn that the enemy was living among us. Terrorist how-to-manuals submitted as evidence in the trial of the first World Trade Center attack, which happened back in 1993, instructed these assassins on how to blend into our society so they could stealthily plot to destroy us and our way of life. Unfortunately, we have learned that a terrorist network exists throughout the world and one of its main goals is to destroy the United States. Despite recent efforts of law enforcement to arrest potential terrorists remaining in our midst, it is a monumental task with many cracks and crevices through which evil may escape. Our Attorney General has even warned us that future terrorists attacks on American soil are imminent. Despite the creation of the Office of Homeland Security, our free society still makes us vulnerable. The events of September 11th have changed us forever.

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The purpose of this editorial is not to depress you. We are martial artists and it is not in our tradition to cower in fear. Instead, we want to share with you how we have dealt with this tragedy and how the foundations of our martial art traditions have helped us remain strong. On September 11th, we were in the dojo as the news unfolded. As we watched the coverage, we prayed for an end to attacks and the safety of many of our students who worked in the World Trade Center and surrounding area. Fortunately, none of our students were killed, but some narrowly escaped with their lives. For several weeks after the attacks, the school remained very quiet. Our student body, as well as our staff was in shock and in mourning. As we came to terms with the tragedy, we returned to the dojo.

Our mental attitude, developed over the years of training, helped us cope with the tragedy. Students returned to class with new resolve and enthusiasm. New students now come through our doors daily, with the knowledge that they may gain something special here that will help them through this difficult time. Many of us initially enrolled in a martial art school for the purpose of learning self defense or fitness. As the philosophical aspect of our training deepened, we noticed that the virtues we cultivated in the dojo, also serve us in our daily lives. During these times when the terrorists want to strike fear in our hearts, the martial arts help us cultivate the one virtue that will help revive our spirit ... courage. We cultivate courage because it is the very essence upon which our tradition of martial arts was built.

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One of the foundational arts of the Calasanz System is Okinawan Goju Ryu. In 1609, the Japanese warlords sent the Satsuma samurai warriors to invade the island of Okinawa. Weapons were banned on this island and anyone caught possessing them would be severely punished. The Okinawans met in secret under cover of night and developed the art of empty hand combat. The Okinawans opposed the occupation of their island with the only weapons they had at their disposal ... their hands and feet. When all you have as a weapon is your own body, fighting becomes a very personal act. There is no weapon between you and your opponent. What you need to survive is the heart of the warrior. It is courage that permeates the heart of a warrior.

Courage helps us get in touch with our physical essence and our survival instincts, something that we as a civilized, privileged nation have not had to take a look at in many years. Courage prevailed when the passengers of United Airlines Flight 93 thwarted a possible 4th suicide attack aimed at either the White House or the US Capitol. Once the plane had been taken over by terrorists, passengers called their loved ones and learned of the suicide attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. They decided to take action in the face of extreme danger. They stormed the cockpit, preventing the terrorists from realizing their plot. The plane crashed in rural Pennsylvania and as a result, this heroic act prevented the loss of many lives.

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After the September 11th attacks, a captain on United Flight 564 instructed passengers to fight back against potential terrorists. He told them to distract and throw the terrorists off balance by pelting them with pillows, books, magazines, seat cushions, eye glasses and shoes. They were then instructed to throw a blanket over the terrorist and wrestle him to the ground. Courage prevailed in the days that followed as American passengers took control of a mentally ill man who tried to storm the cockpit of another plane.

This new age of terror demands that we become more physical, more alert and more courageous. In times of crisis, martial arts training helps us reclaim the ability to protect ourselves and remain calm during stressful times. It also helps us gain a sense of heightened awareness so that we can be the eyes and ears of law enforcement. Martial artists have been doing this for ages, playing the "what if ..." game. It doesn't mean being paranoid and walking around in fear, it means being aware of your surroundings. With the threat of other attacks, we don't know when, where or how these cowards will strike next. Keep up your guard and report any suspicious activity to the proper authorities immediately. Be alert in crowded areas, airplanes, trains, buses, subways. Pursue the martial arts, not only as a means of learning self defense and gaining physical fitness, but as a philosophy which creates the mental attitude to withstand the challenges ahead.

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We recommend a martial art system that teaches a simple direct approach to self-defense and emphasizes basic techniques that could be realistically used to save your life. Choose a system that stresses lots of repetition of basic techniques. This will help the body develop muscle memory where your reaction is automatic and leads to instant response to an attack. During a confrontation, the adrenaline rush causes you to experience tunnel vision, loss of fine motor skills, hearing is compromised and it is hard to access a repertoire of endless techniques. You are better off knowing a few good techniques and have a good understanding of the vital areas to strike on the human body. Hit hard, hit fast and do some serious damage.

What will you do if there is no 911 to call? Now is the time that we take responsibility for our own safety. We urge all American men, women and children to pursue martial arts training. We are now in the position where we must be prepared to defend ourselves, our families, our country and our way of life. The one thing the terrorists forgot when they viciously attacked us is the rights and freedoms we Americans enjoy did not come without a price. While they want us to cower in fear, they forget that this is not the American Way. We fought with courage to acquire our way of life and we will fight with courage to preserve it.

Yours in Martial Spirit,

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