Making a difference in the lives of the children and adults who come to United Martial Arts Centers (UMAC) Briarcliff for physical training has always been part Master Chris Berlow's mission, but mental training is also a big portion of what the Tae Kwon Do instructor wants his students to embrace.
His latest book, It's Not About the Belt, shares his philosophy for living life as a person, not just a martial artist.
Patch: You are a business owner and successful Tae Kwon Do master, as well as a published author. Why did you decide to make writing an extension of your career?
CB: I have always wanted to spread martial arts values to an extended audience. I feel that so many people could be happier if they chose to follow the martial arts mindset. After training for just about 30 years and having extensive experience of overcoming numerous challenges and maintaining a positive attitude in the process, I thought it could benefit everyone. There are many stories that are dear to my heart that others could benefit from so I wanted a venue to share.
Patch: When did you decide to pen "It's Not About the Belt?"
CB: I started this project about eight years ago. A good friend, Master Paul Melella and I were meeting together and were discussing how we could expand our reach to those outside our martial arts schools. We have been making a tremendous impact on our students so how do impact others. We googled seminar companies and they said that we needed to write a book. That night, I went home and started writing. Fortune has it that we formed Empowered Mastery and I co-authored YOU Have Infinite Power and have been expanding the reach. After the YHIP book was done, I continued to work on It's Not about the Belt. I then had it edited by a professional writer to make it sound better, and many years later, it is complete.
Patch: What has been your creative process in bringing the book to fruition?
CB: At first, I started writing about the five tenets of Taekwondo; (Perseverance, Self-Control, Indomitable Spirit, Integrity, Respect) and started adding in personal stories of when I had demonstrated or witnessed those values. Then we added some other topics that I felt was crucial to the development of a Martial Arts Mindset and packaged it for a finished project. After reading the book again before the final release, I was extremely pleased with the finished product.
Patch: How has your experience in the industry shaped the message you want to share through the book?
CB: Great question: When I came to this community, my school became an instant success. I often wondered why but through this book, I realized the answer. There is no other activity for children or adults that I know of that encompasses mind, body and spiritual development. Martial Art Students physically train hard and challenge their bodies, developing an atmosphere of respect, discipline and self-control so they could have a peaceful loving mind thru meditation and other meditative training. I have been teaching Taekwondo for over 25 years and have committed my life to teaching students and families to develop a martial arts mindset. Working with children and adults teaching them to accomplish challenges that they never thought they could. To encourage them to try a little harder, kick a little higher and challenge them to constantly strive to improve themselves.
Patch: Who should read "It's Not About the Belt?" and what do you want your readers to get out of it?
CB: I would say that children from 10-years-old through adults could benefit from this book. The stories and lessons are taught in this book are designed to educate the readers on how to apply martial arts values to their daily lives. It is a simple process that everyone could put into action. Therefore, if there is anyone in the community who would like to live happier and healthier, this book is for you!
Patch: Can you sum up the philosophy you want to convey through the book?
CB: Yes, instilling the tenets of Taekwondo and supporting values to help the readers develop the confidence and belief that they could accomplish anything they set their mind to. To help children and adults both develop the self-discipline to achieve their goals, dreams and aspirations To look at problems as challenges and turning those challenges into an opportunity. To develop a positive mental attitude and becoming a good finder looking for the positive in all situations. This is what we would like to convey through It's Not about the Belt.
Patch: Is there anything else you would like to add?
CB: Yes, I am grateful for all of the support and guidance that I have received in creating this book. Without the teachings of my teachers and mentors, the opportunities to teach my students and clients, the support of my family and a great publisher, edit and design team, this book would not have been possible. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you all!
"It's Not About the Belt" is available on Amazon.com for $9.95. For every copy of the book sold on Wednesday, Dec. 19, Berlow will donate $1 of the proceeds to the Leukemia & Lympoma Society. For more information, check out Berlow's Patch blog and the book's website.