Chief Instructor: Sifu John C. Loupos - Since 1968


by Sifu John Loupos

It seems that success is always a popular topic for discussion, particularly in a culture such as ours where success is supposedly so accessible for anyone with enough initiative to reach out and grab it. But despite the presumption that success is widely available, and just as widely achieved, I'm reflective about just what it means to be successful. Two things I'm quite sure of are, 1/ Most people have given very little heartfelt thought to what success really means for them and, 2/ You won't have to look far before you find someone who is willing to sell you a little success.

Certainly, there are different kinds of success; success in business, success in school or sports, success at personal relationships, success at achieving one's goals, short term or long. Then there is the more amorphous concept of being successful in life. Regardless of how you qualify success, it is a truism that some people are more successful than others. We are not all equally successful.

I've come to a conclusion that the two main keys to success are the aforementioned initiative and, just as importantly, having resources available to yourself or, more to the point, being resourceful. (Note: some people are content to see if they get lucky but I don't put much stock in luck.) Resources are important because they represent options. And the more options you have the more opportunities there will be for you to exercise your initiative in matters of concern to you or for your advancement toward whatever goals you have in mind for your own personal success.

Resources also can vary widely. Resources can include money, or skills, or training, or perhaps even just access to others who possess whatever resources you yourself might be lacking. Of all these different resources I regard knowledge as being the most valuable as knowledge is the resource least dependent on external circumstances. And of all the different kinds of knowledge there is one kind which I regard as valuable above all others. This is knowledge of yourself, self-knowledge.

Self-knowledge itself can be a marketable commodity to the extent that people who know themselves tend to be possessing of socially and economically desirable qualities or traits; integrity and sincerity, communication and leadership skills, clarity of thought and action, etc. In this sense knowledge of oneself almost assures that one will be sought after by others who may be less gifted in these realms.

That said, there is one other aspect to self-knowledge which renders it distinct from all other forms of knowledge or resources. Self-knowledge, beyond being merely a means to achieving success, can by itself be regarded as success in its purest form. When you think about it, all those other forms of success are just a means to an end, that end being a feeling of security and personal fulfillment in whatever way security and personal fulfillment have meaning for you. This is another way of saying that success should add meaning to your life. For many people success itself never does. But self-knowledge, is by definition, meaningful on a deeply personal level, and therefore a form of success onto itself.

Your training at martial arts, whether it be Kung Fu or Tai Chi can, under the right circumstances, function effectively as a road to your own self-knowledge, providing you choose to use it so. When you train at martial arts you have a choice. You can train your body, or you can train your mind and your body. In the first case you'll certainly obtain benefit by becoming healthier and stronger. But by approaching your training in a more integrated fashion, by focusing on your mind and body, by constantly questioning, as well as challenging, the different aspects of yourself, that's how you can begin to acquire self-knowledge. And by so doing, your training at Kung Fu or Tai Chi can help you along the road to success of the most meaningful kind.

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