Janelle: You're listening to "Staying in the Game, A Plum Dragon Herbs Podcast" where we have conversations about mindset and techniques for staying at the top of your game. I'm your host, Janelle Leatherwood. Today we will be speaking with Master Jeff Webb, who is a six degree and the chief instructor of the National Ving Tsun Organization. A former private student of Grand Master Leung Ting, Dai-Sifu Webb has studied martial arts for over 37 years in the USA, Europe, and also in Hong Kong. He's based in Austin, Texas, where he instructs martial arts, defensive tactics, and firearms. A sought after instructor, he has been popular on the national seminar circuit for more than 20 years. And he has authored a number of articles over the years in addition to his recent book, "The Empty Cup," which is geared towards helping martial arts students stay in the game. Welcome to the show today.

Jeff: Good morning. How are you?

Janelle: I'm doing great. Thank you. Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule. I understand that you also have a side job. You want to tell us a little bit about that as well?

Jeff: Yes, absolutely. So I'm a veteran of the US Air Force. And most people in the military are into martial arts and they're also into firearms. So when I'm not teaching martial arts on the side, I work part time at a gun range here in Texas. I'm a safety officer, which means I keep people from pointing guns at other people. Yesterday, I had another one pointed at me. So it becomes a common thing. I'm a safety officer. I'm an NRA certified instructor on rifle, pistol and shotgun. And I'm a licensed to carry instructor here in Texas as well for people that want to get their concealed carry or license to carry. Yeah, so I do that a couple of times a week. And my primary thing is I teach. I teach martial arts. I teach weaponless defense for an army buddy of mine who runs a security guard company for the folks to get their what's called a level three security guard here in Texas, so they can carry a gun. They actually have to have three hours of weaponless non-firearms defensive tactics. And so I teach that as well. And I teach Kung Fu weaponless defense and how to shoot people.

Janelle: Oh, my goodness. Okay.

Jeff: How not to get shot actually.

Janelle: Yeah.

Jeff: That's one of the things we...a lot of people have a misconception. I am a Texan born raised and people have the conception that, "Well, you know, people in Texas are gun happy." And the fact is, is when I teach license to carry, one of the things we cover is nonviolent dispute resolution. You really do not want to have to pull out a gun and shoot somebody. I always tell people with martial arts, if you get in a fistfight, someone's going to get hit and hurt. If you get into a fight with edged weapons, a knife, somebody is going to get cut. And when you bring firearms into the equation, it's even worse. I mean, somebody is going to get shot and probably going to lose their life. And the repercussions for that are a lot worse than if you...if you use your martial arts to defend yourself, that doesn't go before a grand jury in the state of Texas. If you use a firearm, you need an attorney definitely. But yeah, that's what I do on the side.

Janelle: Okay. So when you said you had a gun pointed at you yesterday, was that like an aggressive thing or were you teaching somebody?

Jeff: Oh, no. I don't know if I want to say I've been pretty lucky or they've been pretty lucky. It's never been an aggressive thing. I've been working at this particular gun range for almost four years. And you get people of all...it's like martial arts, you get some people in your class that they've never done anything before and you get guys in there and ladies as well that have trained for 15 or 20 years that know their way around. Firearms, the same thing. At a gun range you get people in there and they'll sign the waiver up front and say, "Oh, yeah, I know how to shoot," and then they'll get back there and they have a rental gun and when they take it out of the little bin that they carry it back in, you can tell when they look at it like they've never seen a gun before, that they don't know what they're doing.

And these guys yesterday, two gentlemen, said they knew what they were doing, get back there, they asked me for some help. I showed them how to load it and that sort of thing. The guy didn't know how to unload it. So he turned around to...

Janelle: Oh, my goodness.

Jeff: ...ask me and in the process pointed the gun at me. Fortunately, I've been doing Ving Tsun for several decades and I'm pretty quick. And believe me when someone points a gun at you, you can move a lot quicker than you think. So I rushed forward, I grabbed the gun, I pointed downrange and scolded the guy. And it was not a malicious thing.

Same thing in martial arts if...I teach Kung Fu which comes from China and folks that are not familiar with the intricacies of Eastern culture may come in and do the wrong thing or say the wrong thing or whatever, just because they're unfamiliar with the cultural requirements or norms. Same thing with firearms. People may not be familiar with the proper safety procedures and that's my job is to teach them that. And I'm in one piece today...

Janelle: Oh, that's good.

Jeff: ...so that's a blessing.

Janelle: Oh, my goodness. Yeah, that sounds pretty crazy. Well, now you've been on the national seminar circuit you said for more than 20 years.

Jeff: Yes.

Janelle: Tell me a little bit about that.

Jeff: Well, the National Ving Tsun Organization is my own organization. I broke with my former instructor Grandmaster Leung Ting. I broke with him back in 2007. And that's been 13 years ago. Prior to that, I had been teaching for his organization and doing seminars around the country and also in Canada. So essentially, how it works is Taekwondo, for example, there's Taekwondo all over the place. It grew very, very rapidly. You've got a lot of high level people. Jiu Jitsu the same thing. But with the Chinese arts, historically here in the US, the Chinese were very kind of guarded. Even when Bruce Lee taught, he got into some trouble because he was teaching Caucasians, African Americans, non-Chinese people. So Kung Fu has always been, at least in 20, 30, 40 years ago, a lot harder to come across.

And so on Ving Tsun, we've got groups of people all over the country, different links and organizations and basically they don't live near a high ranked instructor so they invite a high ranked instructor out. And so what I'm going to do, in fact, this weekend, I'll be in Boston. My student out there, he's a fourth degree under me. I'll fly out there Thursday. I'll teach private lessons to one of his assistants on Thursday night. Friday morning, he'll show up at the hotel room. We'll train for four or five hours privately. And then Friday evening, I'll teach a seminar at his school and then all day Saturday. And basically I teach a group seminar, I correct his students, I conduct testing for the people that are ready to rank up. That gives him an avenue for advanced training and gives him also a chance to have me do a quality check on his own students and keep everyone progressing and learning. Because unfortunately there's not a high level Ving Tsun person in every city. But that works to my benefit because I get invited to visit a bunch of nice places.

Janelle: And how would you say that your philosophy of teaching this may be different from other instructors?

Jeff: Well, I have a kind of a unique perspective. I studied here under Grandmaster Leung Ting and it was the same thing. He's my Shifu. My Kung Fu father. So my Shifu would come to the U.S. He started coming in the early '80s. He would do the same thing. He would do a seminar. They do some in the Bay Area on the West Coast, Montana, he'd hit Texas, he'd hit New York, and then he was off to Europe. And the folks that were studying over here, my seniors, my older Kung Fu brothers, they were trying to learn the system, become better, be able to teach their own students kind of move up and rank, that sort of thing. And so when I started over here, it was not really very well organized. And the standard of instruction in the U.S. unfortunately was not that great.

But the best thing that happened to me was enlisting in the U.S. Air Force. I got sent to Germany and the European Organization under Grandmaster Leung Ting. It was quite a bit older, quite a bit more established. And the gentleman that runs that, he's a grandmaster, now Grandmaster Keith Kernspecht. He was a very experienced martial artist as well as instructor. He held black belts in judo, Jiu Jitsu, several styles of karate, Taekwondo. He was an educator himself as well. So he was very versed in teaching theory. And the European Organization was, literally, decades ahead of us skill wise of us guys here in the U.S.

So I studied under here in the American organization. And then I went to Europe. And when I was stationed in Germany, I trained. I went to every class I could. I attended weekend seminars, everything that was in my area. I would even travel. So I did a lot of training. And in that three and a half years that I was stationed in Germany, it had a real impact of my training because the Europeans took the same system of Leung Ting. But every good instructor develops their own kind of view of the system and comes up with some good drills and things. So I have a lot of the European influence. And then after that, I also studied privately with my own shifu for many years one on one. And so I have what I feel was the best of the Asian approach to how Ving Tsun should be taught in a more traditional way and the European approach, which is the best in the Western world. So I kind of merged the two in my own organization.

Janelle: How would you say your guiding philosophy and work has affected you in other parts of life?

Jeff: Well, Ving Tsun is something...it's a system of martial arts where it doesn't rely on, "You have to be big. You have to be strong." It's the technique. It's being precise about what you're doing. It's paying attention to the details. That's something that I've gotten from Ving Tsun that has carried over into other areas of my life. Anything that you do, I want to do it properly. I want to dot the I's and cross the T's because things just tend to work better that way. So, studying Ving Tsun, the general philosophy, a Ving Tsun is about honing your technique and keeping it precise is something I've tried to take over to other areas of my personal life. And I think it's served me well. It really it gives one a direction. It gives you a chance to improve and focus on who you are as a person and how you live your life. But with the same amount of precision and focus on doing it well.

Janelle: Yeah. What would you say some of your students have said about, "Oh, man, when you taught me that, I've never heard that before." What are some of those things that you've pointed out for them that have been really helpful?

Jeff: Not so much things I guess that people haven't heard before. But one of the things that I always stress to my students and this is something a lot of my colleagues in Kung Fu will say. Definitely Kung Fu is a numbers game. It's about repetition. It's about doing something over and over and over and over. And the thing that makes you better skill wise than the person next to you in class is how many more repetitions of something you've done. So the issue is, is you have to have that repetition. But as an instructor, I have to find ways to give the students that repetition without it being boring. But there's no way around it.

Tiger Woods, how did he get good? Swinging that golf club thousands and thousands of times. Michael Jordan, how did he get good at free throws? He was probably there in the gym, midnight, late at night. Everyone else is gone, he's just sitting there sinking baskets. There's no way around having to do the hard work. Actually it's a very egalitarian thing. It doesn't matter if you're rich or poor, if you're skinny or fat, if you're the most talented guy in the class or if you're the clumsiest person in the school. It's all about the number of repetitions that need to be done to get you to where you need to be. And nothing stops you from doing that except your own mindset.

Janelle: Yeah, that's really good because anyone can do that if they're willing to put in the time and effort.

Jeff: Absolutely.

Janelle: So what other advice do you give to people that you're coaching?

Jeff: And it's the beginning of the year, it's January, February, so you get all the New Year's resolution folks that come in and sign up and we usually get a wave of people. I stress to them, "when you start something, see it through." When I lived in Germany, I'm fairly fluent, a little rusty but fairly fluent in German still. And there's a saying in Germany, "Aller anfang ist schwer," which means the beginning is always hard. And anything you do if you go to a new job, you're going to take piano lessons, you're going to study martial arts, anything you're going to do the beginning is always naturally is the hardest period, and you have to stick with it. If you'll just see it through and, like I said, it's a numbers game, just put in your time.

You know, get in, come in two days a week, three days a week, whatever it is you train, and just do what you're supposed to do and let some time go by. And when that time goes by things start working themselves out if you've done your due diligence and put in your repetitions. So unfortunately, the New Year's resolution crowd at this time of the year, we're going to have out of every 10 people that signs up, there will probably be one person that sticks with it, 3 or 4 years, 5 years, long enough to get like their first level first degree, that sort of thing. As an instructor, it's really disheartening. So many people join anything, martial arts or whatever, thinking that it's going to be easy because I've seen it on TV or the movies, and then they find out, "Wow, yeah, there's really some real work involved." And those folks tend to fall by the wayside. But I can tell you, the people that stay and the people that train anything, they're the people that become the experts. The experts are just the people that just decided not to quit. I'm sorry, we got cut off for a minute there.

Janelle: Oh, yeah. Yeah, I think I heard you said...

Jeff: Did you get the last part?

Janelle: Repeat that last part.

Jeff: The people that become the experts are the people that basically just never quit. They stuck with it.

Janelle: Right. And they're willing to accept that it may take some hard work.

Jeff: Sure. It's a lifelong journey. It's not a destination. Yeah.

Janelle: Right. So what do you feel like is the most rewarding part of it after you've put in some of the work?

Jeff: You mean on the student side or as an instructor for myself?

Janelle: I guess both but I'm thinking more from a student perspective. What are some of those rewards that they get from working hard at it?

Jeff: Well, from the student perspective, first off, Kung Fu is a physical activity. They become stronger, they become more flexible. Their reflexes are improved. When you standing in stances and throwing punches and doing kicks and doing things like that, grappling with people as opposed to sitting in front of a computer at work typing all day, you're going to develop physically. It's just going to happen. It's you do the work your body will develop. It's kind of designed that way. But then there's also the mental and spiritual and, let's say, the emotional aspects of it.

I remember when I was in the Air Force, you've got a commander you've got to answer to. You've got a mission to accomplish and deadlines. And there were some rough days and stuff like that. And you get to the end of the day, and you as an individual have to make that decision. "Yeah, I'm kind of tired. Yeah, it's been a rough day. Am I going to train?" You have to make that decision.

And the people that go, "Well, now I'm just going to go home and sleep this one off," those are people that don't get ahead. I had so many occasions where it's like, "Oh, it was a really rough day," or whatever. And I was like, "Yeah, I just need to go home." But then I thought, "I'm in Germany. I have a chance to train here in the European Ving Tsun Organization, the EWTO, under Grandmaster Keith Kernspecht. And I have an opportunity to train and get some great Ving Tsun and when I get out of the Air Force, bring it back to the States." And that was the thing that motivated me when I didn't feel like training to get my butt in there and train. And the beauty of it is, is after you train, you feel better anyway. Right?

Physically, you're working out, you're sweating, your body is producing endorphins, you're going to feel better. When you're focusing on perfecting a technique or trying to do something that requires some coordination, you have to kind of work at it. Your focus is on that to the exclusion of all these other things in your life, the dog eating your homework and this and that and the boss yelling and whatever is going on. When you focus on your technique, you're excluding all these other things and giving yourself really a mental break, giving your brain a break. And you leave at the end of a class, physically and mentally feeling better than when you went in.

I'm just going to say, "If you have the flu, don't show up to my class." We're not saying, "Show up if you're like seriously ill." But people get fatigued and they get tension and restlessness and things like this. And a lot of these things if you jump in and do some martial arts, go into your class train for an hour, two hours, you'll come out feeling better.

Janelle: Yeah, I know. Nobody ever finishes a workout and says, "Oh, I wish I hadn't done that. That was too hard." You get a sense of satisfaction that you did it and it keeps you going further in other parts of your life. It's kind of funny I remember...

Jeff: Well, I'm sorry, go ahead.

Janelle: Oh, I was just gonna say I remember hearing that even just making your bed in the morning has lasting effects for the rest of the day because it just it gives you that sense that you've accomplished something starts your day off right and then you have the motivation to keep going and do another productive thing.

Jeff: Well, it's funny you mentioned that because I do that every day and it's something that stuck with me from the military. And I saw a YouTube video there was a Navy Admiral, and he's a navy seal. And he did a speech down here in Austin at the University of Texas, a commencement speech. And he started off talking about getting up in the morning and making your bed. And he said, "It may seem like a mundane thing, what does it matter?" He goes, "But it's the one thing you start your day off with, that you make a routine that you stick to. That helps build your discipline, your self-discipline, your sticktoitiveness." And he goes, "It sets a course for success for the rest of the day. And when you go home at night," he said, "at least there's a made bed to get into." So yeah, I totally believe in that. And that's what we did when I was in the military.

The martial arts and the military, there are a lot of similarities like martial art and military art. There are things that you have to do, things that are required. You're put through a regiment of training. And by being put in a, let's say, put under a framework of discipline or someone's making you do something through time and habit, you develop self-discipline and you're able to do that for yourself. So that's one of the takeaways that you get from martial arts that is really a good thing.

Janelle: Right. What do you do, though, for someone who's just like, "You know what? I keep working at it. It's not getting easier. Things aren't going well." Like how do you help people to, as our podcast theme is, stay in the game?

Jeff: Okay. So when I first came back to the States, I got out of the Air Force in late '95, came back, started getting my group together and teaching. I decided early on I had a three-point criteria for the students. If they wanted to progress, they wanted to move up in rank, what am I looking for? And I call it the three A's: attendance, ability, and attitude. Attendance is the...it's like going to public school. If you don't show up there, they're going to call the truancy officer and they're going to come looking for you. Attendance is the basic thing. If you expect to achieve anything in any endeavor, you have to be there. You have to show up for the game first off. If you do, the second A comes into play, ability.

If you train regularly, if you're doing pushups, if you're doing sit-ups, if you're pushing weights, if you're throwing thousands, thousands of kicks, the ability is going to come one way or the other. It is going to come if you put your heart into it and you've done the numbers. So I look for people that have good attendance. If they have good attendance, generally they're going to develop. The ability is going to come with time. But the third one is the most important is attitude. It's having a proper attitude towards their instructor, towards their classmates, even the proper mindset, let's say, is part of their attitude, their mindset, their attitude towards themselves and their dedication, their training, that's the most important.

When I was in the Air Force, I was just an enlisted person. I worked in a computer facility that facilitated war planning and that sort of thing. I wasn't a special ops guy, but I liked to watch these shows about Air Force para jumpers and Air Force combat controllers and navy seals. And I've got a few guys in my school, former Army Rangers. And if you any of those guys that went through one of those special ops schools, they'll tell you, "Yeah, it was physically enduring but the thing that got people through it at the end of the day, the guys that had the right mindset were the ones that were able to deal with it and achieve. And the ones that didn't have the right mindset, were the ones that were ringing the bell and clocking out." And I totally believe that in martial arts too. It's 100% correct.

Janelle: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And I'm sure that you give some of that advice in your book that I wanted you to talk about. So "the Empty Cup," which is available on Amazon.

Jeff: Yes, it is.

Janelle: And some of the comments are that you teach people that we can all continue to improve and we can find joy from martial arts training. What are some other lessons that you feel you're focusing on in this book?

Jeff: I'm sorry, can you repeat?

Janelle: What are some of the other lessons on mindset and achievement that you're focusing on in that book?

Jeff: Okay. The book is broken down into eight chapters. And it is by design, it's a shorter book. It's one of these books that you could sit down and read in one sitting, couple hours, that sort of thing. So the first chapter shares the same name as the title of the book, "The Empty Cup," which is a parable that's pretty well known in martial arts, and deals essentially with being an empty cup, being an open vessel, open to any new knowledge that's coming in. There's all sorts of variations of the story but the parable generally runs, there's a young person seeking knowledge, experience. He goes to an elderly sage, comes in, the sage brings him in. They sit down to have some tea, and he's asking the sage for knowledge, but he's spending the majority of his time telling the sage what he already knows and how good he is and how he does this and how he does that.

So he's not really open. He's already kind of full. He's full of himself I guess you could say in a modern term. He's kind of full of himself. And so the sage is pouring him some tea. And the sage fills his cup and then keeps pouring and the cup fills and it spills over onto this young guy. The young guy gets upset and stop talking about himself and he kind of yells at the sage, "Hey, what are you doing? Can't you see my cup is already full?" And the sage goes, "I can see it. Why can't you?" And it's kinda one of those pithy little stories that, you know, I look at it this way... We talked earlier about my firearms experience and the things I do. I work with a couple of guys that they were cops, two brothers. They're retired gentlemen, now. They work there. They were cops in L.A. back in the '70s and '80s. Each one of these guys has in real life six or seven actual gun battles under their belt and they're still alive.

And so I am the expert on Ving Tsun but I am not as much of an expert on those kind of situations and firearms as these guys are. They gotten more about firearms than most people know. So when I go to them, I don't go to them, "I'm Jeff Webb. I'm a Ving Tsun Master." I go to them, "Hi, what am I doing wrong when I'm shooting? Look at my target, here's where the shots are going. How can I get better? Anything you say for me to do to change what I'm doing or to make my technique better, I'll do." So that's the approach I take. One has to be willing. If you do want to progress, if you do want to be good, you have to have an empty cup. Same thing when I teach the security guards. When they come in, these guys, you know, half the people are ex-military or ex-law enforcement and they're just wanting to get a security guard job on the side to make a little extra money.

And then you get a bunch of other people who have very...I mean, no exposure to martial arts weaponless defense or anything. And I always tell those folks, "For you guys that have experience, you know, we've got three hours. The state regulates how long I'm supposed to teach you. And we have three hours for me to give you whatever I can. If you find one thing that works for you, then take it into your...put it in your repertoire." But I say to all the students, "Be open minded. Don't come in that you know everything. Come in open to anything because if you come in with a closed mind, you're automatically blocking out information and knowledge that could be useful to you. You're disregarding it beforehand." So that's the first chapter.

The other chapters deal with things like focus, patience, having trust for your instructor and their training method. Looking at the training from the right perspective, of course having humility and not letting your ego control what you're doing. Let your work ethic, your hard work, control what you're doing. And then of course, the very last of the chapters, as we said, it's about hard work. Is literally you can have the best teacher on the planet, but it takes a great teacher and it takes a hard working student, you can't have just one. You have to have both. And so your instructor may be the best instructor on the planet, but he can show you but you're the one that has to do the actual hard work. You're the one that has to put in those repetitions. Yeah.

Janelle: So I love that because it doesn't mean you have to be the smartest or the most talented, you just have to be teachable. And anyone can succeed if they have a teachable attitude and are willing to put in the work.

Jeff: Right. Right. Absolutely. And back to the, the gun range thing, we have people come in the gun range who are retired military, retired law enforcement, or people that are just civilians that have been shooting their entire lives. And they'll say they point the gun the wrong direction or something happens and we have to say, "Hey, make sure you keep it pointed in a safe direction." And the people that are the most experienced and the best at what they do say, "Oh, I'm very sorry, if you see me doing anything wrong, if I point it the wrong way or whatever, you just let me know." And then you have the other extreme, the people that they may be new to it, but they don't want anyone telling them what to do.

It's like, well, the more advanced people just like in martial arts, the more advanced you get, the more humble you should be, the more you realize that you don't know. Bruce Lee had that saying one time and he said something to the effect that before he started training in martial arts, a punch was just a punch. And then after he trained for a few years in martial arts, then a punch became something else that was this thing this, the special thing. But then after he had trained a very long time he came back full circle to realizing the punch is just a punch. And the more advanced you get in martial arts, you should have a more open view towards other martial artists and learning things.

And as a teacher, if you're a master, the learning should never stop. And for me, I love learning more. I learn through teaching. I have a number of students right now that are assistant instructors. They're getting ready for their second levels working on their third degree, third level. And all of these guys have just started working on the wooden dummy form. So it's like, "Well, how many people have you taught wooden dummy form to of the higher programs?" So I made a joke to some of my older students. I'm like, "Well, your first students aren't your best work." You know, as a like, I guess I don't have kids but I'm sure as a parent, my dad would tell you, I'm not his best to work. My two younger brothers are probably. He did a lot better with them along the way. Right?

Janelle: There's truth to that.

Jeff: Yeah. So you know, when you're an instructor, it's the same thing. If you've taught an advanced program that you may know but you've taught it to one person for the first time, you're probably not the best at relaying that information. But years and years go by and when it's the 30th, 40th, 50th, 60th person that you've taught that information to not only are you better at conveying it, but you see things. I mean, one of my students asked a question about the dummy the other day and in the process of me trying to correct him and explain what I needed to explain to him, I came to realization and I've been doing this for decades. So that is what gives me satisfaction. I love seeing students progress. I've had students come in who had been bullied and been pushed around.

I think of one gentleman in particular, he didn't talk a lot about it but it was very clear he grew up in a very abusive home. His father was obviously very physically abusive to him. And when he would work or spar with other people, he was very timid. And he trained with me all the way up to his fourth degree. He trained with me for 10, 12 years. Well, no, that's 12 or 14 years. And when someone would do something in class or throw an attack, boom, he'll jump right in and do it and it helped him heal something that had been done to him in the past, that self confidence that he needed. And for me as an instructor, that's what I get the most joy out of is, is seeing people progress, seeing them grow.

Janelle: I think from a student's perspective too if they see that their teacher, their instructor is still willing to learn, then it's inspiring and motivating. Not just like, "Oh, this guy thinks he knows it all." So I think it helps you to be a better teacher as well when you have that lifelong goal of learning that it's never ending.

Jeff: True. Right. I definitely agree with that. I remember when I was a lot younger, print media is dead these days, but when I was a kid I used to buy "Black Belt" and "Inside Kung Fu" magazine and these things and I remember seeing a news story in there about Chuck Norris. And he had started training Gracie Jiu Jitsu with the Machado brothers. And much like you said, I saw that and I thought, "Wow, that's Chuck Norris and now he's trying to learn jujitsu and he's studying under these guys," and I as a martial artist I thought that was impressive that he really is this kind of humble person. He really is this open minded person. And, yeah, it impressed me. So I agree with you a hundred percent. It's inspiring to see your teacher willing to explore and change things and learn and develop things and learn more. Absolutely.

Janelle: So, if you're willing to share, I'd like to know what are some of your greatest lessons that you've learned either successes or failures in life?

Jeff: One thing that my instructor Grandmaster Leung Ting, one thing he said at a seminar really stuck with me. Someone asked him a question, he gave an answer, I'll elaborate on it. I was younger when this took place. And it didn't resonate with me as much then as it does now that I'm older. And I'm talking about like 20 years ago. I just turned 49 so I was probably...I wasn't even 30 then. Someone asked him a question at a seminar. We have the training and then afterwards people can ask him questions. And someone asked him, he said, "Well, you're a grandmaster and you trained with Grandmaster Yet Man and you fought in tournaments and you've taught all over the world, you traveled and you've taught Special Forces, people and police, and all of this, you've taught champions. What is the most important thing that you ever learned?"

And everyone goes to an advanced instructor or something and they want that one nugget, "What's the most important nugget of knowledge there is to have?" And I was very curious as to how he was going to answer this because, yeah, I wanted to know, too. And it was very interesting. He said, "The most important thing I learned is that sometimes you lose." And I thought, "How profound." And the older I've gotten, things happen in life and stuff like that, you experience things. Everything. Relationships and growing a business and the ups and downs of life and stuff like that. And he's right, the most important lesson you can learn is that sometimes you do lose and it's how you handle that and get beyond it is what makes you into the person that you're going to be. It's facing it with confidence and determination that, "Okay, I'm faced with a rough situation," or, "Okay, I fought in this tournament and I got beat."

Well, Chuck Norris got beat fighting tournaments. So I remember there was I read an article about this one fighter, Tony Tulleners, I think was the gentleman's name, some guy fighting back in the '60s. And the article said the guy Chuck Norris couldn't beat. Chuck Norris, everyone loves him. He's a champion. Everyone looks up to him. I've read his bio. I've looked up to him since I was a kid. But, hey, everyone gets beat or defeated or they lose something somewhere at some time in their life. It's how you handle that is what makes the difference. So, yeah, so that's something I learned from my instructor. And that's something that I've repeated that to students. I'll say, "What's one of the most important things you learn?" Well, sometimes you do lose and you have to deal with it in a productive way.

Janelle: Yeah, and I think it's key being defeated in an event or one circumstance in life shouldn't lead you to feel like defeated all together.

Jeff: Sure, sure. Can I dovetail into that for just a second?

Janelle: Yeah.

Jeff: So my mother, God, love her, she's in her 70s, she has raised horses her entire life. She's still out there at 75 messing with horses.

Janell: That's awesome.

Jeff: And she can tell you, "You take a horse. And until you break that horse, saddle break it, you put the saddle on it, you ride it and it gets used to." It has to figure out. You're not getting off and it better get used to having a person on it. It's called breaking the horse. And basically, somebody has to saddle this crazy horse, get on it and ride it . And it'll buck and it'll throw and it will try to get you off. But you have to break that horse before it becomes learnable and can achieve its full potential as a racehorse or as anything. And that's exactly the same thing we as humans... Sometimes we have to reach that stage where we're broken, we're defeated or whatever before we learn some of the most valuable lessons. And I think that that's really what my instructor was trying to impart. And it's totally true. I mean, my experience I can tell you it's true.

Janelle: Yeah. Well, tell me what are some other projects that are going to follow this book that you wrote, "The Empty Cup?"

Jeff: I'm glad you asked. When I first started writing, "The Empty Cup," and I was putting the idea past some of my assistant instructors, one of them and he's an older gentleman, he's actually the oldest guy in my school. He's 76. Very interesting fellow. He was a private student of Jhoon Rhee. For folks who don't know Jhoon Rhee, Jhoon Rhee is one of the first gentleman that brought Taekwondo to America back in the in the 60s. And so this guy his name is Harry, Harry Londo, very wise gentlemen. And he goes... I'm his Shifu. He goes, "You know, when people write books, you should write them in threes. You know, everyone likes threes. Like look at the 'Star Wars' movie, there's 'Star Wars' and 'Empire Strikes Back,' 'Return the Jedi,' and 'The Lord of the Rings,' there's three movies, everything's in threes."

And so he asked me, "If you write "the Empty Cup," do you have thoughts on writing a sequel and maybe a third one?" And in fact, I do and I did. And the second book, which is the follow up to "The Empty Cup" is entitled, "The Broken Rice Bowl." And while "The Empty Cup" is geared primarily towards students, although it's good for folks of all ranks, would love to read it. It's really a good read. "The Broken Rice Bowl" is geared specifically towards assistant instructors, instructors, and people that are running martial arts schools and martial arts organizations. And so just as "The Empty Cup" comes from a parable, the term "Broken Rice Bowl" comes from Chinese culture.

So the rice bowl is the way that you feed yourself. Everyone has their own little rice bowl and you serve from the big dish into your rice bowl and then you feed yourself from your rice bowl. So in Chinese culture, the rice bowl is analogous to the way you put food on the table, the way you make money, your career, your business, that sort of thing. And so much so that, for example, if you have a government job in China, it's called you have an iron rice bowl. If you work for the government, you've got government benefits and you're connected and you've got people that know people. So that's called an iron rice bowl. Well, if you break your rice bowl, breaking your rice bowl means you destroy your means of sustaining yourself and your family and your income and that sort of thing. And this book is geared towards again instructors because I've studied here in the USA, I've studied in Europe, also went to Hong Kong. And while I was there, I trained with my own Shifu. I trained with some other masters in that organization while I was over there. I wanted to touch hands with as many people as I could. I had a lot of good experiences learning from some instructors and I've had a few that were bad, and I've had some that were extremely bad. And a lot of them had to do with not the instructors level of skill, but going back to who that person is on the inside. Just because someone is skillful, it doesn't mean that they're a saint. You watch "The Karate Kid," Mr. Miyagi is very skilled and he's also a nice guy. But you look in the same movie and you've got Chris, the copper Chi instructor, he's very skilled but he's a bad guy. And I've experienced both in all the years I've been training.

I've had training with people that I really have respect for and learned a lot from and had people that I would never go to another seminar with them again, not because they didn't have anything to share of value, just how they treated people, who they were. So there are mistakes that instructors can make. And some of them are unintentional. Others are just that's who that person is. And so in "The Broken Rice Bowl," I go through and I outline some of these mistakes that I've seen that caused instructors to break their rice bowl, to limit or destroy their own careers simply because of the way that they teach, the way that they treat people.

Janelle: Right, right.

Jeff: So that's the natural follow up to, "The Empty Cup." And then as for the third book, well, I've got some ideas on that, but I'm still throwing them around. Nothing has solidified to the point where I want to announce anything. So I'm still working on that.

Janelle: Well, you're committed now.

Jeff: I am now, yes. I guess if people hear this, they're going to be asking for it. But that's good. That's good. That means I'm accountable to your listeners if someone wants to read the book and I'm accountable to get that out and give them something to enjoy.

Janelle: Well, and let us know right now how can our listeners get in touch with you or find out more about what you're up to?

Jeff: You can go to our website, which is www.nationalvt.com. So we spell Ving Tsun the way they spell it in Hong Kong, which is V-I-N-G T-S-U-N. So it's nationalvt.com. And from there, you can find out how to contact organizations, send us an email, give us a phone call. And if it relates to my books as well, I put together a blog that's out there and it's The Empty Cup Blog. And so it's through WordPress. And to be honest with you, I don't remember the URL off the top of my head. But I can get that to you guys as well. And I haven't done as much work on that as to the holidays come up and things get busy. But it's meant to be something to kind of supplement the books that I'm writing, add some additional thoughts and that sort of thing.

Janelle: Right, right. Well, what we do is we'll post show notes after this podcast and we can have links to those sites that you mentioned. So, yeah, that would be great.

Jeff: That would be perfect. Okay.

Janelle: I appreciate your time and you coming and sharing your thoughts with us. It's been really insightful and I hope our listeners will get in touch with you and find out more great tips.

Jeff: Great. Well, Janelle, thank you so much for your time. I appreciate it.

Janelle: Thank you. Have a great day.

Jeff: You too.

Janelle: To learn more from Dai-Sifu Jeff, be sure to visit us at plumdragonherbs.com. We will post show notes, transcripts and ways to connect with him. And if you liked what you heard today, we hope you'll send us some love back by subscribing to our show on YouTube, iTunes, or wherever you like to listen, and leave us a comment. We've got a lot of great shows lined up and we hope you'll stick with us. Until next time.