Integrity: A Shield for Good Character

When Gen. Choi, Hong-hi listed the tenets of the ITF®, he put Courtesy as number one and placed Integrity next to it. Perseverance, Self Control and Indomitable Spirit follow, in that order. Courtesy is first because it, by it’s innate meaning, tempers the other tenets.

​Integrity follows Courtesy because living by the code of Integrity shields or protects character and uplifts Courtesy. Honesty in purpose, conduct, speaking, and motive produces a life of Integrity and good character; ie., an impeccable reputation. Sought daily, it is not easy and requires diligence until it becomes habitual. It is a good code to follow and pursue whether one is a Martial Artist or not.

​​Maintaining integrity is critical for ones reputation, their name, their business, their family’s future endeavors and their organizations favorable recognition and function. The practice of this high ideal is paramount not only for growth of the Martial Arts but for the acknowledgement that they are a worthwhile pursuit. Integrity protects all of these.

​For an individuals’ or instructors’ character and or an organizations’ reputation to be wrongfully attacked or maligned is an attempt to harm or destroy their integrity and all that its’ value bestows.

​Unfortunately, it seems not all persons involved in the Martial Arts world, whether in depth or on the fringe, either understands these principles – rules of action – or cares to follow them. They consider the ‘grinding of their own axe’ more important than the bigger picture of honesty and accepting the reasons behind the turn of events in their personal spheres that prompted their malicious behavior or comments.

​If a person thinks they have a legitimate concern, it is important that they are absolutely accurate with the facts and have completely validated their sources’ information as impeccable before publishing reports or articles about an individual or organization. To take partial uncorroborated statements not fully investigated nor verified by additional sources (also shown to be true in every aspect) and putting them in the wind of cyber-space public world view is grievously unjust at the least and potentially destructive at worst.

​Has such an occurrence happened in the Martial Arts world? Sadly, yes; and, all too often, done out of malice because of a bruised ego. Someone either didn’t get promoted to the rank they wanted or wasn’t admitted to an organization they desired to join. So the person “bad mouths” the organization or instructor rather than seeking to comply with the instructors’ or organizations’ requirements.

​If a person believes they have a case of unfair or prejudicial treatment by an instructor or organization, there are ways to professionally and politely address the perceived offense. Publishing innuendos, unsubstantiated accusations and disparaging remarks about someone or their organization on the web, Facebook, Twitter, etc., are not the ways. To attempt a ‘pay back’ over a perceived wrong in such a manner is cowardly and childish. If anything, ‘for those in the know,’ such action tends to put a large dampener and doubt on the credibility of the published remarks and, to the astute observer, raises questions regarding the motive(s) for the malignment. Sometimes such statements do not even relate to or hint at the root cause or issue that generated the publication. The true context behind the reason is not mentioned because it would have no bearing on the accusation or would reveal the whole article as pointless but for it’s malicious intent.

​If an aggrieved individual has a valid case, they can address the issue in several respectable ways. One is by written communication (yes – snail mail) with the aggrieved party stating the facts of the situation or their request with copies of pertinent documents as proof. This “old fashioned” method maintains a comfortable privacy in which to negotiate the issue while allowing time for thoughtful consideration between replies. The internet is not necessarily that secure and somethings are better solved privately.

​Sometimes a phone call politely spoken, honestly seeking equitable results, resolves matters pleasantly with a good outcome in both party’s eyes. In both written attempts to clarify an issue and phone conversations, the persons involved must be complete honest without guile or pretense. At some point ‘truth will out,’ in any event.

​If neither written communication nor a telephone call resolves the problem, then a face to face visit may be the way, even if it means traveling long distances to make it happen. A meeting face to face explaining the grievance or inquiring about the reason for an occurrence or action, decision or requirement of an instructor or organization is honorable. It is instructive and has the potential for an equitable solution, providing both parties are forthright and desire truth. There might be a reasonable explanation for why something happened or didn’t happen.

​The result from any of these methods of communication may or may not be the desired outcome of the aggrieved individual. Additional mature measures or meetings with a mediator may be needed. At some point, however, the aggrieved individual will have to accept the outcome, even if they don’t like it and move on in some other venue to accomplish their goal. At the end of the day, the process will have at least clarified the issue while precipitating an open dialog between the parties. It will have allowed the aggrieved individual to have shown themselves to be an honorable, reasonable adult rather than a rumor monger, childish whiner or malicious gossip.

​It takes resolve to be forthright in approaching or contacting someone to correct an issue. If that issue or situation is righteous, the courage will be there. All too often, however, the perceived problem lacks merit nor has any basis in fact; ergo, the malicious attack on cyber space making statements and innuendos not even related to the original issue and sometimes directed against the wrong party. The person or persons making the attacks takes the cowardly approach and tosses out malevolent accusations using the internet as their weapon. It’s a way of attempting to inflict damage from behind the scenes.

​For the wrongfully accused, the maligned instructor or ridiculed organization, not dignifying the attack with a response is sometimes the best recourse. It all depends on what was stated and whether it’s fall out is serious enough to merit legal action and all the involvement that such a response entails. Consulting an attorney or wise council will help to determine the prudent thing to do.

​The motive for a false and malicious attack is to raise doubts regarding an instructor’s expertise and reputation or an organization’s credibility in the minds of their respective students or members – the ultimate goal being to cause the students to quit and members to resign. The attacker wants a reaction. The more the thing is “talked about,” the more exposure of the false information and unsubstantiated statements; thus, the more potential damage to the victim before the truth is revealed. The “flap” in and of itself could cause some students or members to leave because the whole thing is viewed as instability and volatility: too much drama.

​So, depending on qualified advice, the less said the better. What goes around, comes around and the small minded, self-absorbed accuser eventually winds up “running their ship aground” to quote my Dad.

​In the meantime, for those under a malicious unfounded attack, Keep Shining: persist in what has made your respected, good reputation. Continue being and doing that which has caused others to seek out your knowledge and insight. The good you do and positive influence in the lives you and your organization touch will long outlast and surpass the uncorroborated, malicious attack. Nothing succeeds like success: nothing protects good character and reputation nor silences unfounded maliciousness so soundly as the unmitigated truth; ie., Integrity.

Pil Sung
Gwen F. Hall Sa Seong

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