Self-Discipline and the Seven Tenets

How do the Seven Tenets and Five Codes of the World Tang Soo Do Association relate to self-discipline?

“Without self-discipline, success is impossible.” -Lou Holtz

“You are nothing without discipline.” – Mike Tyson

Self-discipline is the act of choosing to do what you should do versus what you’d like to do. For example, if you have school homework, bills to pay, or chores to finish, do you choose to complete that task immediately, or do you watch tv, play a video game, or goof around first? If you have self-discipline, you prioritize your homework, bills, chores, etc. over having fun.  As a karate student, you develop self-discipline and start making better choices.  The World Tang Soo Do Association’s Seven Tenets and Five Codes further help students by giving them a road map to live their lives at its fullest potential.

Seven Tenets of Tang Soo Do




Respect & Obedience



Indomitable Spirit


Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching.  For example, if your teacher sends you alone to the classroom to grab something, do you take a piece of candy from his/her desk without permission? No.  A person with integrity wouldn’t do anything that would endanger others’ belief in their honesty.  The teacher wouldn’t have sent you if they didn’t feel like you were honest.  Integrity takes self-discipline.  You may want the candy, but you choose to not take it.

You also need self-discipline to stay true to yourself, especially in the face of your opinions, thoughts, and actions being unpopular.  Do you back pedal on your true feelings, just because others don’t like them?  As Alexander Hamilton said, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for everything.”  Or, you give the impression that you’re an honest person, but you truly aren’t when others aren’t around.  For example, you tell others that you only eat healthy or don’t do illicit drugs, but in the security of your home, you nosh on junk and smoke dope.  Clearly you don’t have self-discipline and you’re disingenuous about your image.  Be true to yourself.

Having concentration is to stay focused on the task at hand.  At Middleburg Martial Arts and Ripple Effect, we teach our students the 4 Ways of Focus or Concentration – “focus with my mind, focus with my eyes, focus with my ears, and focus with my body.”  It takes self-discipline to stay focused.  For example, in a classroom, students have many distractions.  The chattering of students, the ticking of the clock, thoughts of home, lunch, and after-school activities, class toys, handheld devices, the temptation of other webpages, etc.  It takes the development of self-discipline to stay on task with our assignments and listening to the teacher.

Concentration and focus also put our minds in a certain state.  As Master Lappin reminds us “what you focus on, expands.” What do you have running through your mind? Positive or negative thoughts and feelings.  It is so easy to allow negative thoughts to take control of our mind.  It takes self-discipline to push away the negativity and replace them with positive self-talk. You need to concentrate on how you’re going to succeed in life, not on how you’re going to screw up or fail. Use your self-discipline to concentrate on your future success and it will come. Also use that positivity to be a ‘good finder’ versus finding all the faults surrounding you.  Who and what situation could you uplift as a result?

To be a future Black Belt and a success in life is to perseverance.  Don’t give up when life puts roadblocks in your way.  “Champions are willing to do what others aren’t willing to do.”  It takes self-discipline to push through obstacles and difficult situations.  If we allow hurdles to stop us on a regular basis we’ll never achieve our goals.  And god forbid we allow that to become a habit.  Even further, it takes even more self-discipline to keep going when you’re tired and hurt.  Muhammad Ali said “I don’t start counting my sit-ups until they start to hurt.  Because that’s when they really count.” It’s when you’re on the verge of giving up or failing that persevering is the most important, and when the greatest wins will occur.

Respect and obedience go hand in hand.  You can’t have one without the other.  We must respect our parents, bosses, elders, and leaders.  With that respect, you must obey them as well.  You show your respect with your obedience, and your disobedience shows your disrespect.   Self-discipline, or the lack of it, will reveal to others whether you have respect.  We will not always like or approve what our parents, bosses, elders, and leaders tell or will us to do.  It is self-discipline to obey even when we don’t want to that will keep us on track of proving our respect.

Self-control of our emotions and actions will keep us out of trouble and keep us on the road to success.  And just like respect and obedience, self-control and self-discipline go hand in hand.  There will be many times in your life that losing control feels justified. How often have you been taken advantage of, misused, abused, humiliated, etc.?  Will losing control make the situation any better?  Probably never and probably worse.  However, if we allow ‘cool heads’ to prevail and under-react versus overreacting, not only can we deescalate the situation, but we might even solve it.  it takes self-discipline to retain control of yourself, and it won’t leave you with regret.

Humility is a modest opinion or estimate of one’s own importance or rank.  Bragging about yourself doesn’t look good and probably won’t make you any friends.  We don’t need to be arrogant to be respected and for others to know how awesome you are.  It takes self-discipline to keep our ego in check; some more than others.  As future Black Belts, our goal is to serve others.  It’s hard to serve others when you feel that you’re above them.  In addition, you need to be humble and disciplined enough to follow through with your promises and agreements. Why let others down just because you couldn’t be bothered to keep your word? Always follow through with your commitments.  They may lead you on your road to success.

The ultimate assurance of success is an indomitable spirit.  A Japanese proverb tells us “fall down 7 times, get up 8.” Be the person who doesn’t give up no matter how many times you fail.  You can’t be a Black Belt unless you learn from your mistakes.  It takes time and effort, i.e. self-discipline, to look and act like a Black Belt.  You won’t perfect that spinning jump kick unless you ‘fail’ a thousand times before.  Do you decide you’ll never ride a bike again just because you fell off a few times?  It’s easier to fail and give up.  Dig down deep for your self-discipline and indomitable spirit to move forward even in the face to adversity.  Successful people are those who bounce back from their mistakes and figure out how to do it better and greater next time. has been selected the nation’s #1 martial arts school in Jacksonville, FL since it was started!

The school is located at 2360 Blanding Blvd. Middleburg, FL 32068.  Middleburg Martial Arts teaches Tang Soo Do based on the systems developed by Grandmaster Shin and the World Tang Soo Do Association.  For more information, visit:

Middleburg Martial Arts starts lessons at age 4 and puts strong emphasis on character and success skill development, including: focus, discipline, respect, confidence, leadership, and more!

Middleburg Martial Arts Adult Karate training is a complete adult fitness and conditioning program for adults who want to lose weight, get and stay in shape, or learn self-defense in a supportive environment.

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About Master Jan Lappin: 5th degree Master Jan Lappin, a Middleburg resident, founded Middleburg Martial Arts in 2001.  She has a background in and a degree in Psychology from University of Florida.  She has been teaching martial arts since the 70’s.  and recently published her book on the Leadership curriculum taught at Middleburg Martial Arts.  You can find it on Amazon.

2nd location in Fleming Island, FL: 4th degree Master Rachael Macy founded their affiliate school, Ripple Effect Martial Arts located at 1851 Golden Eagle Way, Unit 44, Fleming Island, FL 32003.  For more information, visit:

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