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We at The Karate School really don't use the term master for ourselves, nor do we allow our students to call us master. There is only one Master, and that is God.

Honor Where Honor Is Due

I do believe that the goal of martial arts training is to "master" the subject material, to "master" the control of our bodies, and to "master" our minds. Unfortunately, after more than 30 years of training and teaching, I still have not "mastered" any of these, in the sense that I am not flawless in these areas. I believe there is a distinction between being so good at your craft that others see you as having mastered the craft, as opposed to being called or referred to on a regular basis as Master. Is it possible to be good, even exceptional at your art? Yes. Is it possible for a select few people to be so much better at the arts than others as to be condsidered "masters" of the arts? Yes, I think that could be the case. But to be constantly referred to as Master implies that that individual is in control of another person's life, actions, even the direction of their thoughts. This place should only be held by the God of the universe, the Creator of life itself. So we reserve our honoring of our Master for Him.

Mastercraftsman, or Master?

I know that most in the martial arts community regularly use the term Master to refer to their instructors. I know that for many practitioners the role of their instructor has become a role in which that individual does in fact guide and direct many aspects of their lives, including having a great influence on how they think about life. In Kenpo we use the term Sifu, which itself is a title that I have found would really only be appropriately used towards myself by a very small group of my senior students. (But that would be a good subject for further discussion later.) My thinking is that however influential our instructors might be in our lives, we should reserve the TITLE, or the NAME of Master to God alone. My instructor, Sifu Richard "Huk" Planas, is in my opinion, the greatest mind in the art of Kenpo alive today. He truly is a mastercraftsman, not only in Kenpo, but in the arts in general. He actually prefers to be called Sifu, or if he knows you well, just "Huk", a nickname Mr. Parker gave him many, many years ago. My point here is that if I insisted on always referring to Sifu Planas as Master, he then begins to take that role in my life. And although I have enjoyed many deep philosophical discussions with him over the years, there are areas where our thoughts are quite different. In those areas where we differ, although Sifu's opinions matter to me and I consider them thoughtfully, I do not feel the need to conform my beliefs to his simply because of his role in my life. On the other hand, when I become aware of how God feels about the issues of life, my efforts are to bring my thoughts and beliefs into conformity with His, because He is God, and obviously I am not.

Many masters, one Master

I hope that you will consider these thoughts on this subject in the same way that I consider my instructor's thoughts on the issues of life and the arts. And I pray that you would seek God through His Son Jesus, the Christ, and not just consider His thoughts and intentions for your life, but that you would begin to conform your will to His. For He is truly good, and He loves you, and He desires to be your Master. Your thoughts of God might be that he would be a cruel or oppressive Master, but I assure you that is not the case. Consider the words of Jesus in Matthew 11:29,30 "Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Well, I commend you for your dillegence if you've followed my thoughts this far down the page. I hope you understand where I am coming from on this issue. And if you disagree, well then, I guess we'll have to fight!! (Ha Ha) To the Master be the glory, and keep on kickin'! 

~ David Calhoun