The ART of leadership

This excerpt is from grandmaster lee’s leadership training manual. Written by his disciples and black belts, this manual is an invaluable tool to understand the art of leadership!

“Does it give you a thrill to think of others looking up to you, breathlessly awaiting your slightest (but ever-wise) decision, or leaping to carry out your least black belt command? if so, you may have the necessary instincts to command a flock of sheep, or to hold determined sway over a band of cutthroats (each of whom will of course, be merely biding his time until he can cut your throat and grab your position).

Yours will be, however, essentially a one-man operation. You will be able to accomplish little through others. Most of your time will probably be sent grumbling over your staff’s incompetence or stupidity, in mediating their petty squabbles, and in settling endless private grievances.

Your staff and students will be incompetent, no doubt. You will have discouraged competence in them as a threat to your dictatorship. They will quite possibly be stupid as well. Who, blessed with any intelligence, would remain for more than a few weeks in the condition of mindless obedience that you impose? Inevitably they will quarrel, for you will have reduced them to positions of insignificance not only in your eyes, but also in their own. They will wither in your presence and follow fearfully in your wake and spend all of their energy focused on you rather than any job that needs doing. They will dwell endlessly on their petty grievances, whether real or imagined, simply because you have never held before them any black belt vision that might have lifted them out of themselves.

To many, leadership implies authority. On the contrary, a black belt master has no need to wave his position before his staff and students. He wins support and loyalty by focusing all of his energy into the development of the staff and to the betterment of the school. Learned from watching them that the focus is always on the “we” and never on the “me”. The effective leader realizes his obligation is not to himself, but to those he serves. And yes, leadership is an act of service – to one’s position, to one’s predecessors, and to one’s followers. In other words, the rank of the black belt master or the belt the master wears is trivial when compared to the purpose of his position.

In the spirit of the service of a true bok-fu-do leader, a black belt shouldn’t see himself as above those he guides. Ihough more enlightened and self-aware, a black belt is never more important than his student or follower. Franklin roosevelt once said it simply, “a good leader can’t get too far ahead of his followers.” The fact is, to be the kind of leader that can evoke a positive transformation in a student, one must be willing to work with people, not above them.

Keep in mind, the followers of today are the leaders of tomorrow. To berate a student or to spurn his ambitions could mean compromising the quality of future leaders. Mark twain once said, “keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” As leaders, our responsibility is to help our students find the greatness within them. Often we know it’s there, but they don’t; deriding a subordinate can only compound the situation.

The key here is humility. Humility to the effective black belt master should be second nature; it is a sign of strength, one that denotes self-assuredness, not weakness. to boast of one’s accomplishments is counterintuitive to this sentiment of humility. Rather, remain secure in the knowledge of your inner peace that exists from having put your full effort in the task at hand, and let your actions do the talking. Humility means seeing everything as it is, with none of the emotional overtones of wishing that it be anything more. A job done is simply a job done. The black belt sees the reward in the camaraderie and collaboration developed within the group he leads – not in the applause or acclaim.”

This is another amazing story. I understand it is a couple years old, but the concept is timeless.


Warm Up:

2 times

10 Roll Back

10 Silverman squats

Inchworms Up and Down Mat

Broad Jumps Up and Down Mat

Straight Leg Kicks Up and Down Mat


4 Rounds for time

800M Run

3 Handstand Push Ups

6 Pull Ups (if no pull up bar sub with push up rows)

9 Horse Stance Squats with medicine ball throw (15lbs – men/10lbs – women)

Warm Down:

5 minutes on the foam roller for quads and hips