Recently, I attended a memorial service for one of the kung fu greats, Grandmaster Josephus Colvin, famously known as Kung Fu Joe.

Sitting there in the brown folding chairs, scrunched elbow-to-elbow with my kung fu family inside the sparsely decorated Hawkins Community Center, the one word that kept coming to my mind was passion.  If Kung Fu Joe had to be described in one word, passionate would have to be it.

I’ve never met a man more passionate about kung fu. Whereas I can discuss the Fu for hours without ceasing, Kung Fu Joe could talk for days. Even the officiating pastor, also a close friend to Joe, shared with us how Joe constantly spoke of kung fu, even up until hours before his sudden death. That’s amazing but I totally get it.

Since 1982, not twenty-four hours have passed without me thinking of kung fu. No, I don’t understand it, but perhaps the one descriptive word that can, is passion. How else do you explain that when Sifus Cheng, Hughes, and I get together, even over a long weekend, and still feel that we ran out of time to discuss and share everything we’d intended to about kung fu.  And if Grandmaster Fogg is with us, oh man, I feel there’s never enough time. You also see this level of committed passion during the Olympics.

An avid fan of the Games, I love reading and hearing the stories of the athletes as they push themselves to greatness. Can you imagine training eight to twelve hours per day, 365 days per year for four years, only to compete in a single event that lasts maybe thirty-seconds? Talk about being focused and passionate about your sport! I heard a story of a track and field competitor say that he hadn’t watched television or eaten at a fast-food restaurant in over two years due to his strict training regimen and diet. No movies, no going to parties, nothing but working, training, eating, and sleeping. And what about our military, the great men and women who are so passionate about their country that they sacrifice everything, train to become the absolute best defenders of our great nation.  They are the personification of passion in action.

Unbelievable? Not really. Not when you understand it.

As for the teacher in me, it’s very gratifying to see this passion transfer to my students.

A few weekends back, seven Tyler Kung Fu students tested for black level, a first in our history to have that many attend one test. Talk about passion! These seven individuals, Sierra, DeWalch, Shawn, Jimmy, Jake, Sam, and Kelli, ages 16 to 60, trained their tails off for twelve long months leading up to the test, and though many sacrifices, they were loving every minute of it. So much so, that immediately following that Saturday crucible, though bruised, bleeding, and exhausted, the Significant-Seven, (after a few more tests I can change their name to Magnificent Seven)  posed for their post-test picture and then began mapping out a training plan for next year’s Black One test!

So ask yourself. What are you passionate about? And then what can you do with that passion to change the world around you?