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A Wedding, a Black Belt, and Lessons in Grit: A Journey Spanning Two Decades

The article serves as a touching tribute to the power of mentorship, community, and personal development.


This past weekend offered a soulful blend of nostalgia and inspiration as I attended the wedding of a former student, Michael. Having known Michael and his family for nearly 23 years, the event felt like a sentimental chapter in a long, unfolding narrative.


Martial Arts and Life Lessons: The Backstory

Michael first entered my martial arts academy at the tender age of 5. His sister Elisabeth joined us soon after, at age 4. Both trained diligently until they left for university, earning 2nd degree black belts along the way. They were more than just students; they were integral to the academy's development, taking on roles as assistant instructors when we opened our doors 10 years ago.


Then and Now: A Moment to Cherish

Fast forward to the wedding day. My wife and I were warmly greeted by Michael and Elisabeth's parents, Dave and Elimmen. Their gratitude for the role I played in their children's lives was humbling. Michael is now a lawyer, and Elisabeth is well on her way to becoming one, and is currently employed at Queen's Business School.

As the church filled with the joyful chatter of guests, my eyes caught Michael's visage. It transported me back to his 5-year-old self, who once cried at the threshold of the martial arts studio, torn between familiar comforts and the great unknown. The emotion on his face as he waited for his bride, Leah, was just as poignant, but now tinted with a mature understanding of love and commitment.


Unplanned Wisdom: Grit in Marriage

During the reception, I found myself unexpectedly stepping up to the podium. What followed was an impromptu speech drawing on the life lessons we share at Jung Do Academy.

"Marriage takes grit," I began, and the audience nodded in agreement. I proceeded to discuss Angela Duckworth's equation for grit: Talent x Hard Work = Skills, and Skill x Hard Work = Success. The formula highlights how hard work factors in twice, magnifying its significance.


RAVE-ing and Grit: A New Perspective

After sharing the eqution for grit, I introduced the concept of RAVE-ing as a crucial part of this hard work. Recognizing the role our spouses play, Appreciating them, Valuing their contributions, and Embracing who they are, forms the kind of work that builds a gritty relationship, filled with Passion, Purpose, and Perseverance.


Reflections and Anticipations

The event left me pondering about my children, their futures, and the mentors who will inevitably shape their lives. Just as I had seen Michael grow from a timid 5-year-old to a confident, loving husband, I yearned for the day I could witness similar transitions in my own children and thank those who have contributed to shaping who they have become.


A Toast to Journeys and Destinations

Congratulations, Michael. You’ve exemplified grit in every sphere of life, from the dojo to the bar exam, and to the altar. Witnessing this transformative journey has been a privilege and a source of immense pride.


Here's to life's milestones, the lessons we carry with us, and the grit required to traverse the distance in between. 🥂

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