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When I first started training with Grand Master Song he told me that he teaches teachers. It took me some time to understand what he meant by that. It means, among other things, that teaching people only how to fight is insufficient, and that teaching people why fighting is sometimes necessary leads to greater skill, understanding and character development. From this perspective, the martial art becomes a form of conflict resolution, and each art he teaches – aikido, tae kwon do, pentjak silat, tai chi – is a different facet of that central idea. Grand Master Song also teaches that while martial arts training will certainly make students better at self-defence, the deeper and more important purpose of the training is to come to know oneself and experience personal growth. To do this, he teaches balance. If you are quick to judge, he will teach you to first observe without judgment; if you are shy, he will lead you towards self-confidence; if you are arrogant or vain, he will emphasize humility and respect for others. In mastering ourselves, he teaches, we come to feel compassion for others. I have certainly found training with Master Song to be a worthwhile experience, and would not hesitate to recommend his school to anyone.

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