The eighth attitude of Tang Soo Do definitely requires some commentary. When we are told not to be overly ambitious, does that mean we should not work toward a goal? Ambition means to have a strong desire for something, to strive after, or to identify something as your personal goal. That doesn’t sound bad at all. If your goal is to earn your black belt, you will have to put in the effort and commitment to achieve that goal. If you are working toward an educational degree, time, solitude, deep thinking, reading, and writing are required. These are expected and necessary hurdles. They assist in the learning process while imbedding the information into our long term memory.
The thrust of this Tang Soo Do attitude is to evaluate the why and the wisdom of your motivation. If you have injured your knee, do you need to practice jumping and arial kicks for three hours? Probably not, but you could practice your hand techniques and their connection to your hips. As one instructor told a class I was in, “you must listen to your body.” We also need to train and condition our bodies to perform in graceful, fluid movement. To become a black belt and a master in Tang Soo Do, you have to learn to master the physical aspects of you body.
Still, if your goal in training is hurt someone else, or to become the “best” martial artist you can without regard for anyone else, then your ambition is wrong. For example, the men of Babel said, “let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves” (Gen 11:4). Their ambition was to be great and remembered, but in doing so, they were acting in direct contradiction the instruction given by God. God said to “be fruitful . . . and fill the earth” (Gen 9:1). He did not tell them to congregate and build a population center (i.e. a city). He said to fill the earth.
We avoid being overly ambitious through seeking the accomplishment of a goal by doing the right thing for the right reason in the right way. The Apostle Paul wrote to his protege, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed” (2 Tim 2:15). And Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matt 5:6).
Be ambitious! But, do not let your ambition serve as a justification to break the rules or take short cuts. Processes exist for reasons, and sometimes those processes require time, persistence, and patience. Be ambitious to be righteous and godly. Paul also wrote, “I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil 1:6).