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Thomas Clifford’s Martial Arts

We Have A Date With Destiny

We Have A Date With Destiny

Posted: October 10, 2019

Dear Friend,


I trust this blog finds you well. 

Are you sincerely living a life of joy, humility, and gratitude? 

My mentor, John Cokinos, asks me that question quite often. 

If not, are you prepared to make the necessary changes that will bring you the fulfillment that you desire and deserve? 

Obviously, everyone wants a rich and rewarding life. 

But it’s easier to desire than it is to acquire. 

Let’s peel the onion a bit, and go a little deeper. 

Because I don’t know your story, I’ll share some of mine. 

Do you know the difference between like and love? 

My dad asked me that when I was 11 years old. 

He didn’t like my answer. 

I repeated something that I heard my older brother and his friends said, and it almost cost me a few teeth. 

My father said, “Like is a preference. Love is a process.”

He then gave me a few examples. 

Truthfully, I didn’t really get it. 

But over the next couple of years it became clear. 

This may come as a shock to you, but I am often (far too often) very unlikeable. 

My attitude, behavior, and character caused my father a lot of frustration and perhaps some embarrassment. 

Yet, he continued to demonstrate his absolute love for me, no matter how unlikeable I was. 

Interestingly, when I perceived my dad’s unyielding love, my erroneous behavior of often improved. 

As a result, I became easier to like. 

He didn’t allow his preference to interfere with the responsibility of parenting - which is a very difficult and demanding process. 

My first Martial Arts instructor, Master R. Prett, taught me the same lesson. 

His application of these concepts pertained to things, rather than people. 

Master Prett loved training and teaching, even when he didn’t like it. 

He subordinated his preferences to the principles of the process of becoming proficient. 

It’s easy to practice the aspects of the Martial Arts that you like. 

Focusing on your inadequacies, deficiencies, and flaws, isn’t much fun. 

However, if you give time and effort to your weaknesses, you can convert them to strengths. 

You must love the things which you aspire and expect to excel at. 

Shihan Bob Kirschbaum is my Sempai in the Martial Arts, and more importantly, my senior in life. 

He threw his hat in the ring, and took on a tremendous responsibly in my father’s absence. 

My dad died in 1994, and as a result, my 3 children only know him through pictures and the stories I’ve told them. 

Grandpa Bob’s influence on our lives is immeasurable. 

What stands out in the context of this discussion, is his uncanny capacity for loving places.

Grandpa Bob has inspired us to love the places where we invest our time. 

The lake, frozen solid in the winter or suitable for swimming in summer, is always a paradise because of how he experiences it. 

The Dojo, the treehouse, the dining room table - all become sanctuaries for living, learning, laughing, and loving - because he knows his legacy will echo in eternity. 

Grandpa Bob tells us stories about the Grand Canyon, and I often wonder if when I finally make the journey, it will be as fantastic as his descriptions. 

He would tell me that I will find whatever I am looking for, and the limits of my discoveries are only a failure to search earnestly.

You don’t have to like tending to the garden. 

But if you fail to love the garden with; good seed, soil, sunlight, water, and diligent weeding, you will like it even less. 

Remarkably, if you are willing to pay the price with love initially, you will often like the process eventually. 

Why is this important?

According to all of these wise men, we have an obligation to leave people, places, and things, better than we find them. 

Master Prett often spoke of our date with destiny. 

He would say, “Death can be delayed, but it will not be denied.” 

My father occasionally asked me, “How do you want to be remembered?”

“Will your family and friends remember you for what you got, or for what you gave?” 

“Are they going to say that you were helpful or hurtful?”

All four of these men share a fundamental philosophy about the perceptions of the people in our lives. 

Although my dad, Master Prett, Grandpa Bob, and Mr. Cokinos, have never told me their answer to the following age old question, I am certain of their answer. 

Is it better to be loved or feared? 

It is best to be trusted. 

When you are trusted, people will love you or fear you, appropriately, accordingly and accurately, and abundantly. 

So, are you living a life of joy, humility, and gratitude? 

I trust that you are. 

I look forward to seeing you and your family in class at the Dojo. 



Thomas Clifford 




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