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.

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The UFC returned to American network television for the first time in more than two years Saturday on ABC while former featherweight champion Max Holloway returned to his winning ways following two straight losses, earning a unanimous decision over Calvin Kattar in Abu Dhabi. Holloway showed he still has plenty left as a fighter dominating Kattar from the opening bell of the main event with a mix of punches and low kicks.

It appeared as if the former champion might stop his opponent in the fourth round landing a series of vicious body blows followed by hard elbows to the head as a bloodied Kattar sagged against the fence. But Kattar somehow survived managing to keep himself upright through the fifth stanza as well, only to lose a lopsided decision. After dropping his title to Alexander Volkanovski and then losing a controversial rematch, Holloway may have put himself in position for one more crack at the championship following Saturday's impressive performance.

The Legendary Black Belt Magazine Hall of Fame has never before been documented in a single location. Now, you can learn about all the icons that have achieved one of the greatest honors in all of martial arts.

Black Belt Magazine is proud to announce the NEW Member Profiles feature for the Hall of Fame. At the time of this article, the online records account for every inductee from the inaugural year of 1968 all the way through 1990 (upwards of 200 martial artists). The page will be updated continuously and will include every inductee through 2020 in the near future. For now, you can enjoy images and facts about the legendary members for each induction they received before 1991. Take advantage of this never-before-seen opportunity to learn about many of the martial artists who contributed to the lifestyle, culture, and community that every martial artist experiences today.

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