The Black Belt Hall of Famer explains why patience, speed, timing, power, balance, flexibility and posture are so important inside and outside the training hall.

Over the years, taekwondo pioneer and Black Belt Hall of Fame member Jhoon Rhee has taken a hard look at who succeeds in the martial arts community and who doesn’t, and he’s come up with a list of the seven qualities of a champion. As you study the attributes, you’ll find that they apply as much to life in general as they do to the martial arts.


1. Patience

It keeps you out of trouble, Jhoon Rhee says. “And it helps you maintain consistency in business and avoid overreacting to rumors and unsound ideas.”

“Patience is needed to persevere until you reach your goals,” he adds. As such, it’s vital for success in competition.

The patient fighter doesn’t just charge his opponent, attacking at random and exposing himself to a counter. Rather, he waits until his opponent makes a mistake and engages when victory can be ensured.

2. Speed

When your punches and kicks are fast, you’re more likely to score, Jhoon Rhee says. Speed also endows your techniques with more power, making it tough for your opponent to evade or block them. Mentally, speed refers to quick thinking for fast problem solving, which comes from reading books.

“You don’t solve most problems with one idea; you need three to four pieces of related information,” Rhee says.

Speed also facilitates the quick understanding of market changes, which martial arts professionals must always stay in tune with, he adds.

3. Timing

This is necessary to ensure success in most endeavors, Jhoon Rhee says. For example, when you spar, you must time your techniques so they’ll hit the target and take advantage of opportunities as soon as they present themselves. Similarly, competitors in musical forms must have good timing so their moves correspond to the music.

“Timing is also about being punctual when teaching your classes, showing up for your training sessions or delivering your products on time — all of which help you maintain a good reputation,” he explains. 

4. Power

“Power is knowledge,” Jhoon Rhee says. “If you have knowledge, you won’t make mistakes that can get you hit, like dropping your hands, getting distracted or allowing someone to lure you into a trap.”

Knowledge is what keeps you from overreacting and making ill-advised changes to a program that already works for you — changes that could cause stress to you and those around you, Rhee adds.

5. Balance

It’s crucial in all aspects of life, yet it’s an elusive quality for most people, Jhoon Rhee says. “To be a champion of life, you must cultivate basic values — knowledge in the mind, strength in the body and honesty in the heart — and strive to keep them in balance,” he advises.

“In the ring, you stay in balance by having a good offense and defense; and in business, always balance your financial statements.”

6. Flexibility 

It represents open-mindedness and adaptability, which allow you to take action when you must make a change in your life, Jhoon Rhee says. It also enables you to work well with a variety of people in different circumstances and resolve problems through compromise and negotiation.

Physically, a flexible body means you can turn your hands and feet into weapons while minimizing the risk of injury, he says.

7. Posture

Good posture helps you have a straight spine and enables you to build better muscle tone — both of which are keys to having a healthy body, Jhoon Rhee says.

The concept also works as a metaphor for a martial artist who flies straight into competition and competes within the rules, never allowing politics or peer pressure to lead him away from honesty and fairness. 

“Good posture is being straight and positive in character and developing business integrity where people can put their trust in you, knowing that they can always depend on you,” Rhee says.

About the author: Floyd Burk is senior adviser to Independent Karate Schools of America.

Introducing Martial Arts School Listings on Black Belt Mag!
Sign Up Now To Be One Of The First School Listed In Our Database.
SUBSCRIBE TO BLACKBELT MAGAZINE TODAY!
Don't miss a single issue of the worlds largest magazine of martial arts.
Photo Courtesy: Dawson Holt via Instagram

The 2021 Diamond Nationals took place on October 8th and 9th, the first time the prestigious event has been hosted since 2019. World class competitors gathered in Minneapolis, Minnesota to test their skills in forms, weapons, point sparring, and more.

In the early 2010's, Ken Warner (otherwise known as ZenInc on YouTube) always shared his "Top Five" on Facebook after major sport karate events. Reflecting on these posts has inspired me to write a top five article of my own for the Diamond Nationals, and I plan to continue writing these articles after each tournament I attend. Special thanks to Ken Warner for his contributions to documenting sport karate history. Without further ado, here is Jackson's Five for the Diamond Nationals.

Keep Reading Show less

UFC Fight Night results, highlights: Marvin Vettori survives wild brawl with Paulo Costa to take decision win

In a match-up of elite middleweights contested at light heavyweight, Marvin Vettori outfought Paulo Costa over five rounds to take a unanimous decision at UFC Fight Night 196 Saturday in Las Vegas. Originally scheduled for 186 pounds, Costa announced he weighed 211 on Wednesday and wouldn't even be trying to make 186 so the bout was reset for 195 pounds. But when Costa said that was still no good, the UFC and the Nevada Athletic Commission gave him his way as Vettori agreed to fight at 205.
Keep Reading Show less
Asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases of the airways of the lungs. In developed countries it affects 7- 10 % of population, and it has got an increasing tendency. In 2014, around 300 million people globally had asthma, mostly in North America and Europe and with lowest rate in Africa.
Keep Reading Show less