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How was an ancient form of Korean martial art spread all across the world? And what can you learn from this for your business or non-profit?

In this Brilliance Nugget, I will give you an example of how knowledge has been and continues to be transferred in Tang Soo Do, a traditional Korean Martial Art I have been training for more than six years now. Let’s take a quick peek at what we can glean from the story of the World Tang Soo Do Association that benefits your business or non-profit. I think you will see how powerful this story is for YOU.

A Quick Introduction

  1. The roots
    • 2000-year-old ancient form of Korean martial arts
  2. Before 1945
    • Ebbs and flows in the practice and development due to politics & economics
  3. 1945
    • Korean independence
    • Tang Soo Do most popular name
    • Politicians renamed it to Tae Kwon Do (Tang Soo Do sounded too Chinese)
  4. 1968
    • Master Jae Chul Shin came to the U.S.A. as the U. S. representative for the Korean Tang Soo Do Association
    • Formed the U. S. Tang Soo Do Federation
    • Created worldwide popularity
  5. 1982
    • U. S. Tang Soo Do Federation was reformed as World Tang Soo Do Association (WTSDA)
    • Founder: Grandmaster Jae Chul Shin
  6. 1982 – Today
    • Grandmaster Jae Chul Shin was at the helm for 30 years (until his death in 1912)
    • WTSDA has over 100,000 members in 36 countries
    • Grandmasters William Strong and Robert E. Beoudoin joined the top leadership team

Why Is This Story Important To YOU?

First off, consider that during ancient history, the knowledge of martial arts was passed on from person to person. The first complete martial arts book was only written in 1790 AD (“Muye Dobo Tonji”). That means up until that date there was no written documentation at all.

Let’s take a big leap forward to more modern times.

  1. Grandmaster Jae Chul Shin’s vision with theformation of the World Tang Soo Do Association was to maintain this traditional art and its associated values. His vision was to train people all over the world in a consistent manner (!). He realized that to achieve that the aassociation needed a rigorous training SYSTEM.
  2. As part of this effort he wrote several extensive, quite explicit manuals WTSDA studios all over the world use as reference guide. Whenever we are not sure how exactly a particular move is to be executed, we go back to this reference.
  3. The WTSDA also produced two DVDs with a) all its martial arts forms shown step-by-step and more in real time, and b) the same for all “one-steps” (hand, foot and self-defense techniques.
  4. Grandmaster Shin also wrote a biography called “One more time.”
  5. The written and visual materials support the in-person instruction which is extensive and takes many years.
  6. The is a system for succession in leadership:
    • Tang Soo Do practioners pay close attention to the values the art is based upon – it is not viewed as a sport.
    • As trainees go up in rank they are expected to becomes teachers themseves and take on a growing amount of leadership.
    • Discipline and respect are integral to Tang Soo Do.

The Conclusion Of The Story

The worldwide spread of Tang Soo Do via the WTSDA would not have been possible without Grandmaster Shin’s focus on creating the training system which combines immortal documents (books, videos) and a rigorous process for passing on how to practice this knowledge.

The Important Takeaway

What does this mean to your company or non-profit?

  1. Most organizations have NOT documented even their most critical processes, workflows, and thought processes.
  2. Furthermore, the turnover of people in our modern organizations is MUCH greater than it was historically, or even a decade or two ago.
  3. Relying on person-to-person training alone puts the sustainability and success of any organization at huge risk.

I don’t think I put myself on a limb here when I say:

Tang Soo Do would not have made it from its ancient roots to even 1790 had it not been for the fact that in those times people didn’t move around the way we do today. Besides the level of discipline that is expected in martial arts is far greater than what we see in most businesses or non-profits.

I’m Curious

I invite you – actually URGE you – to look at:

  • How well are your most critical processes, workflows, expertises, thought processes and wisdoms documented? I lump all that into the term “brilliance.” In other words: How well is you “brilliance” documented, made transferrable and protected from loss?
  • What would happen if a key person suddenly left (for whatever reason)?
  • What if several people left at once (trsut me, this has happened)?
  • Where would be a good place for you to start making improvements?

Live Brilliantly,

Dr. Stephie

P.S.: I appreciate you commenting and sharing this Brilliance Nugget with others. Thank you!

Stephie Althouse

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