Monday, July 11, 2011

The Athlete's Pledge

Last month, while on vacation in Maui, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting and observing Master Paul Main, owner and founder of Ohana Martial Arts in Kahului. Master Main is extremely decorated as a martial artist (I won't even begin to list the numerous belts he owns... would be a VERY long post) and he is also the #1 ranked 50-and-over International Martial Arts Council point fighting champion. To put it lightly and in lay terms, this guy is one badass!

What impressed me the most is Master Main's teaching and coaching abilities. He has been awarded the IMAC Coach of the Year in 2006 and Ohana Martial Arts was named School of the Year in 2006 as well. He has mentored over 80 World Champions in just 7 years of participating in IMAC competitions.

When I asked Master Main what his secret of success was, he replied, "Eliminate laziness, ignorance, and negativity." One of the tools used to accomplish this at Ohana Martial Arts is with the pledge the students say before every training session. It is a powerful tool to focus the students for the day's lessons but also provides a form of goal-oriented affirmation. It is brilliant!

Here is Master Main's pledge:
I will always develop myself in a positive manner,
and obey the tenants of Tae Kwon Do:
Self Control,
Indomitable Spirit.
We are a black belt school.
We are dedicated.
We are motivated.
We are on a quest to be our best!

When I heard this, it reminded me of The Prayer of the Sportsman, written by Berton Brayley and used by Knute Rockne:
Dear Lord, in the battle that goes on through life,
I ask but a field that is fair,
A chance that is equal with all in the strife,
A courage to strive and to dare:
And if I should win, let it be by the code
With my faith and my honor held high;
And if I should lose, let me stand by the road
And cheer as the winners go by.

And Lord, may my shouts be ungrudging and clear,
A tribute that comes from the heart,
And let me not cherish a snarl or a sneer
Or play any sniveling part;
Let me take off my hat to the warriors who strode
To victory splendid and high;
Yes, teach me to stand by the side of the road
And cheer as the winners go by.

For those of you who are Nebraska Football fans, you'll recognize some of the prayer above! The modified version Nebraska uses today is:
Dear Lord, In the battles we go through in life,
We ask for a chance that's fair.
A chance to equal all our stripes.
A chance to do or dare.

If we should win,
Let it be by the code:
With faith and honor held high.

And if we should lose,
Let us stand by the road
and cheer as the winners go by.

Day by day!!
We get better and better!!
A team that can't be beat!!
Won't be beat!!!

These are ideas that you can incorporate into your own teams. This is a fantastic way to set a positive tone and mindset for your athletes while reaffirming goals. It brings focus and attention to the task at hand in a productive manner.


  1. Paul is certainly dedicated. I am so proud to have him as part of our extended family. Watching him with his students is truly watching a master. I am so glad you could finally meet.

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