wpe2.jpg (7414 bytes)

David Fung Sang was born July 31st 1986 in Miami, Florida. When he was about 6 years old, he started training at the University Karate Center. His mother got him started in karate because she thought David would enjoy the lessons, and that the training would be healthy for him physically and mentally.

David’s brother, Robert, who is 23 years old, is the person David looks up to most. He said one of the reasons he looks up to his brother is because he is very knowledgeable. David currently goes to St. Gregory’s and is in the 8th grade. In school, he enjoys doing math. He hasn’t really thought about what he wants to do when he grows up, but says that he might like to become a math teacher.

In his free time, David likes to play computer games, such as Final Fantasy 8 and Starcraft, which he also teaches to his friends; along with surfing the net for websites about computer games and music. David’s favorite types of music are Heavy Metal and Rock. Some of his favorite bands are Metallica, Offspring, Creed, and Lenny Kravitz. He also enjoys playing sports in his free time such as football and basketball. David especially likes Action movies and High Suspense movies such as the "Matrix" and "6th Sense".

One thing that David believes is that people shouldn’t try to be something that they’re not, and to let people like you for who you are. David has a lot of confidence and says that even if he could, he wouldn’t change anything about himself.

David started the Martial Arts here at the Karate School at age 6 and is still here, working hard at his Karate training at age 13. He hopes to test soon for his 1st Kyu (highest rank of Brown Belt) which will put him in line for his Black Belt test some time next year.

The 3 Qualities of Black Belt Excellence

One of the reasons Martial Arts training beings so much satisfaction is that it teaches a way to look at things as well as a way to do things. To be sure, a complete training program involves all the technical moves you’ll need to advance through your training. On the other hand, a true Martial Artist cannot expect to make much progress without changes in character to complement physical training. The development of strong character has come to be known as Black Belt Excellence.


What, then, are the qualities associated with Black Belt Excellence? Let’s begin with a familiar (though rare) character trait: Courage. You may think of courage as daring, or the ability to do things that people find scary or dangerous. Some dictionaries even define courage as "the ability to disregard fear." Courage within the definition of Black Belt Excellence is something else entirely. It is the capacity to overcome fear. It’s one thing to pretend you’re not afraid of something (to "disregard" it), it’s quite another thing to face a frightening situation and do what you can to surpass the fear. For instance, it takes real courage to tell somebody you don’t want to do the wrong thing, even though it’s considered "cool".

Self Control

Another quality of Black Belt Excellence is Self-control. Self-control is the ability to stay on top of your emotions when it might be tempting to get mad or frustrated. When you lose control of your emotions, you give power to your opponent. Even when you’re so mad you can barely hold yourself back, remember that losing Self-control is exactly what your opponent hopes you will do. Real Self-control is a sign that you are the only one who decides how to react.


Finally, Black Belt Excellence includes the essential quality of Respect. Respect is the attribute by which you honor yourself and demonstrate that you honor your opponent. Bowing to your opponent, and treating a weaker opponent with compassion are two ways to demonstrate respect. You’ve probably already noticed that respect is partly about how you treat others. Being respectful will earn you the respect of others, and will help you to develop a lasting respect for yourself. You may have also noticed that the three attributes of Black Belt Excellence are related. For example, it takes courage to maintain self-control. And at times it takes self-control to show respect for your opponent. This is why we say that Black Belt Excellence is about the development of character. When you achieve Black Belt Excellence, you’ve built a foundation that’s made a solid mixture of Courage, Self-control, and Respect.


A Meeting with a Remarkable Young Man

At the end of September I traveled to Hawaii as the ISKA Commissioner for a kickboxing show. Following the event I had the chance to chat with Ernie Reyes Jr. over dinner. I first met Ernie when he was competing as an eleven year old in the Adult Black Belt Forms division at the Battle of Atlanta. Now in his mid twenties he has grown into a fine young martial artist, and more important, a fine young man. Throughout our wide ranging conversation several things were noticeable that distinguish Ernie from so many other people I meet and speak with. His eyes indicate an alertness and presence of mind that is uncommon. He was also able to keep his attention on a subject during discussion, and return to that subject following interruptions by waiters and others who came to service our table during the meal. This kind of focussed attention is rare.

Ernie Reyes Jr. has been involved in martial arts all of his life. His father, Ernie Reyes Sr. is the head of the large West Coast Karate Organization, so that Ernie grew up in the Dojo. Ernie Jr. made his name as an actor on the successful TV series Sidekicks and in movies like Red Sonja with Arnold Schwartznegger, Surf Ninjas with Leslie Nielsen, The Last Electric Knight and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Despite his success in movies he remains a martial artist at heart. While he strives to improve daily on his acting skills he also continues with his martial arts training, and in fact, had taken a class in Tai Chi while in Hawaii because he had heard of a master instructor there that interested him.

What Ernie Reyes has, that so many others unfortunately lack, is a clarity of mind and a thirst for knowledge that is impressive in one so young. He is an excellent example of what a young martial artist can be, and living proof that a drug-free lifestyle on a quest for personal growth and development can yield impressive results.

c1999 Sensei Robert Heale Mason