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The Fox and the Stork

BLOG - Grandmaster Gedo Chang


I believe everyone is familiar with Aesop’s Fables -- there is a story about a fox and a stork in Aesop’s Fables. One day, the fox invited the stork to dinner. The dinner menu was soup. However, the soup was served in a very wide and shallow dish. The fox easily ate the delicious soup, but the stork could not enjoy the soup – he could only wet his beak, because his beak was too long! So the stork did not enjoy the dinner and felt very uncomfortable. The stork thanked the fox anyway, and promised to invite the fox to dinner in return.
A few days later, the stork invited the fox to dinner. The dinner menu was fish. However, the fish was served in a long jar, a jar with a long neck. The stork could put his long beak into the jar and enjoy the fish, but the fox could not put his snout into the jar – he could only lick the top of the jar! So this time, the fox was the one that was hungry and uncomfortable. The stork had taken revenge of the fox for his previous bad manners.
Jonathan Swift, known as the author of Gulliver’s Travels, once said, “Good manners is the art of making those people easy with whom we converse. Whoever makes the fewest people uneasy is the best bred in the room.” Manners is behavior based upon etiquette. Etiquette is the expression of respect and love and consideration for others.
Emily Post, well known as the author of the 20th century book, Etiquette, wrote in her 1st edition of Etiquette – “Consideration of the rights and feelings of others is not merely a rule for behavior in public, but the very foundation upon which social life is built.”
An ancient Greek philosopher, Callon, said, “To become strong is to become more merciful.” Mercy is the understanding, forgiveness, respect and consideration for others. In other words, it means love! You are getting stronger and more confident through the hapkido discipline. It does not mean that you should control and dominate by physical force! It means the ability to control your ego very well.

Ego is our thought, emotion, and the five physical senses.
Sigmund Freud said that our ego is motivated to act based upon the pleasure principle, so it is very impulsive and egoistic. Under this state, you always put yourself ahead of, and above, others. It is impossible to understand, forgive, respect and consider others. What I mean is, you lack etiquette.
Therefore, if there is someone who treats you without etiquette, it means they do not love you. Then we become doubtful with suspicion, and we will try to separate from, or avoid, those people. We become anxious -- this is called stress and suffering.
A very famous Italian philosopher of the 16th century, Giordano Bruno, said, “If not for love, then no need to seek truth.” The fact that they don’t know the truth means suffering. In martial arts training, one common philosophy is “Ye Si Ye Jong”. It means that your martial arts training starts with etiquette, and ends with etiquette. Your strength and techniques without etiquette is nothing but rude arrogance, and very dangerous behavior in society.
For example, when a three-year-old child plays with a knife, he or she will naturally cut himself and shed blood. However, if the same knife is given to a chef, he will produce delicious food for everyone to enjoy! So, we do not like people without etiquette. Instead, we love people with good manners.
As martial artists, we should always repent and reconsider our attitude. We should ask ourselves, are we making others comfortable or not?

Thank you very much.
Grand Master Gedo Chang

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