• Shihan Kendall

The Duke Rides Quietly Into Town

“We confide in our strength, without boasting of it. We respect that of others, without fearing it.”

-Thomas Jefferson

Take a moment, and think of an individual – real or fictional – that to you, embodies real strength. Someone you would want with you if things went bad, someone of courage and ability and character, who will both do things right and do the right thing.

I’m willing to bet that whoever comes to mind for you, he or she is not a trash talker. They don’t try to dominate or intimidate the people around them. They are almost certainly very polite. And – I’m sure – they never go out of their way to draw attention to the very qualities that bring them to your mind when you think about strength.

Superman and Wonder Woman, while perhaps a bit of a flamboyant in their choice of work clothes, aren’t braggers. In fact, they choose boring and unassuming alter egos. John Wayne or Gary Cooper never went riding into town shooting their guns up in the air. That kind of show of force came from the bad guys who would soon be sent high-tailing it out of town like the lily-livered yellow-bellies that they were.

These pop-culture icons are a reflection of what we intuitively know: that real strength is quiet strength. Boastful shows of force and attempts at intimidating others are symptoms of insecurity. Showing respect to others – even potential rivals – isn’t a sign of fear. Even our youngest martial artists know this. It’s no accident that the first two ingredients for “Black Belt Excellence”, according to our Student Creed, are “modesty” and “courtesy.”

So as we continue to build strength in ourselves, in our children, in our communities and in our nation, let’s remember the words of our third President and founding father. Loud displays of strength are inauthentic. Quiet strength is unmistakable.


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