The 5th Attitude of Tang Soo Do is “practice basic techniques all the time.”
In July, 1961, 38 members of the Green Bay Packers football team gathered for the first day of training camp. The previous season ended with a 4th quarter, heart-wrenching defeat when the Packers squandered their lead and lost the NFL Championship to the Philadelphia Eagles.
As you might imagine, the Packers had been dwelling on this brutal loss for the entire off-season. Finally, training camp had arrived and it was time to get back to work. The players were eager to forge on and up their game to the next level. They would start working on the details that would help them win back the recklessly lost championship.
Their coach, Vince Lombardi, had a different idea. He took nothing for granted. He began a tradition of starting from scratch, assuming that the players were blank slates who carried over no knowledge from the year before. He began with the most elemental statement of all. “Gentlemen,” he said, holding a brown, oblong piece of leather filled with air in his right hand, “this is a football.”
Lombardi was coaching a group of three dozen professional athletes who, just a few months ago, had been within minutes of winning the biggest game of the year – the Super Bowl. And still, Lombardi started from the basics.
Lombardi’s meticulous practice of the basics continued throughout training camp. Each player learned anew how to block and tackle. They took up the playbook and started from the inside cover. At one point, Pro Bowl wide receiver, Max McGee, jokingly commented, “Uh, Coach, could you slow down a little? You’re going too fast for us.” Lombardi reportedly cracked a smile, but he continued his dedication to the basics. He believed practicing the basics, that which everyone else took for granted, would produce the best team in the league. Six months later, the Green Bay Packers beat the New York Giants 37-0 to win the 1962 NFL Championship.
The Apostle Peter tells us “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk [the basics of the faith], that by it you may grow up into salvation–if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good (1 Peter 2:2–3). As Christians grow in maturity we need to return regularly to the basics of the Gospel: God created us to worship and obey him; Humanity disobeyed (sinned) alienating us from God. God, through Christ, provides the means of redemption and reconciliation. We learn anew what it means to worship and obey. Christians can grow in knowledge of all types of esoteric topics, but the basics of the faith keep the rest in proper order. Through keeping the basics at the forefront of Christian thought and practice, we fulfill Jesus’ words, “he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation [the basics] on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built” (Luke 6:48).