The Plan

Thomas Jefferson (I think, you never know who said what on the internet)

Be grateful for all you have, but don’t be afraid to discover what else you want and how to make it happen. People are scared of change, the unknown, and failure. At some point, you might say “Screw it, I’m going to try anyway.” Then you make plans.

A lot of things don’t go as planned and that’s okay if you can adapt. Having said that, here’s my plan for the 5YP.

Step 1: Decide to apply – check

Applying for the 5YP was the most difficult decision I’ve ever had to make. With a lot of thought and support, I took a huge Leap of Faith. It’s like university in that you’re committing yourself to an education, but also very different because of the opportunities that can (and many more that can’t) be created from having endured the program. The lifestyle at the Center is not one that most people would choose.

This isn’t about fulfilling a childhood fantasy of practicing martial arts on a mountain. If that were the case, I’d be out of my mind because I have a lot of things going against me. The harsh reality is: it’s difficult to make a career out of martial arts.

You have to be serious. You have to be even more serious if you want to commit yourself to the 5YP. You don’t need a Retreat Center or the 5YP to make a career out of martial arts. Why do it? Why not stay within society and balance your life with a career (a “regular” job and martial arts job), friends, family, 2.5 kids, and other things you can do near a city? You have to have valid reasons for being in the program and you’ve got to show that in your application.

ah, this is the life
from “Three Monks” (三個和尚)

I had many hours of conversations with friends and I came up with lists of pros and cons. The cons were especially important because you want to think of everything that could possibly go wrong in order to think of solutions to those potential problems. Once you do this, your confidence grows.

Step 2: Make a plan – check / perpetually in progress

Determine obstacles and strategies to overcome them. They boil down to: 1) convincing people that I’m a good candidate and 2) finding methods of obtaining financial support.

Be creative. Write down all your ideas and suggestions from others. Something that sounds crazy might give you ideas for a realistic approach. Good ideas can come from mediocre ones.

The Plan was 12 pages, but my notes and advice from friends were well over 30 pages.

Step 3: Application – check

My application was submitted in November.

Step 4: Spread the word – ongoing

Whether I’m in the 5YP or not, my goal is to spread martial arts to the world. Up until now, my contributions have been teaching classes, performing at demos, and writing this blog. Now, I want to launch a campaign to reach more people and to find sponsors. I don’t like being in the spotlight, but it’s something I have to get used to and I’m working on it. I want to be comfortable doing anything. Not just comfortable, but also be good at it.

I have two main goals for my campaign: 1) Raise public interest in martial arts. 2) Help fund tuition costs.

What I want people to understand is that I’m not asking for a donation.

There are many causes that strive to alleviate human, animal, and environmental suffering. I have a lot to be thankful for, and I am in the position to give. I want to make a trade with you. More on this later.

Step 5: Prepare by training and learning new skills – ongoing

The challenges in training are making time for it, finding new ways to push yourself, having good partners to work with, and avoiding injuries.

The road to becoming a martial arts professional has provided me opportunities to: teach, develop a curriculum, coach Demo Team, coordinate demos, perform lion dance, drum, emcee, try media production (film, edit, photography), design website layout and write content, edit and write for a newsletter, design fliers and brochures, promote/market, and deal with people.

It’s good to get a taste for different disciplines and I like the variety, but I’ll be mediocre at best unless I invest more time into developing those skills.

Photo by: Chi-Sun Chan

Skills to learn and improve on (working list):

  • animal husbandry
  • art – graphic design, media production
  • business – finance, managing people, marketing
  • communications – communicating with different types of people in different roles; promoting a cause; writing scripts, articles, blogs, newsletters, books
  • cooking for 10+ hungry people who train all day
  • gardening
  • teaching
  • thinking – analytical, critical, innovative, problem solving
  • time management
  • web – blogging, website design

Steps 6-8: Acceptance, survival, and graduation

It’s going to be hard, but I want to do more than survive. Let’s say “thrive” instead.

Early on, I wondered: “What the heck am I doing? I need a campaign manager. In what order do I do what? Will this actually work?” Eventually, things started to fall in place and I made each move when it felt like it was time. I still don’t know exactly what I’m doing, but I’m taking things in stride.

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