Create Your Own “New Normal”


After our father passed away, well-meaning family and friends were pretty vocal about what my older brother and I should expect to be the “new normal” in our household. Instead of allowing ourselves to suffer both emotionally and financially, my brother and I took matters into our own hands, and both got jobs to help support Mom. Together, we created our own “new normal.”

Later, as I approached high school graduation, my “normal” was supposed to be that I was going to be a dentist. I decided that I wanted to play trumpet instead. Everyone around me told me I either couldn’t do it or shouldn’t do it. My guidance counselor actually told me I was “too smart to go into music.” Of course, I went on to get a scholarship to college for music, and did just fine with it. 

Naturally, people had the same reaction when this trumpet player decided to open a martial arts school. I don’t have to tell you how that worked out. 

People are always going to try and give their two cents about what they think is “normal.” And how you should respond to it. Some will even criticize anything you do that deviates from their version of that.

But, that kind of thinking absolutely kills growth. John McNeece, the cruise ship designer once said, “if Henry Ford canvassed people on whether or not he should build a motor car, they’d probably tell him what they really wanted was a faster horse.”

Black belts are not “normal” people. Black belts are people with vision. They train for decades (four, in my case) to not be normal, but rather to be above normal. Grand Master Park is the exact opposite of normal. 

As I am looking at our state government’s guidelines to reopen the school post-COVID, I keep running into the same phrase: “The New Normal.”

Be ready for the new normal.”

Get used to the new normal.”

In this instance, the “new normal” seems to be the way that well-meaning policy makers, leaders, and elected officials think that “normal” is going to look like for me, my school, or my students, once we are able to reopen.

But, as you’re learning, I am who I am because I make my own normal. I encourage my students to do the same. Will we institute safe practices to ensure the health and well-being of everyone who enters our dojang? Of course! Will we turn off our critical thinking and get in line for the “new normal?” I don’t think so. We will remain self-determined. We will continue to band together as a school body to inspire, encourage, and challenge each other toward excellence in whatever ways we are able to, safely.

You don’t have to be a black belt to create your own normal. You simply need to decide what you are going to do with this incredible gift we’ve been handed, a chance to pause and adjust your course toward the most productive and positive version of yourself.

For us, this has always been about what it’s about,  becoming. Not even a global pandemic can stop us from this pursuit.

If that’s the “new normal,” I’m all for it. 



Master Gorino’s Tae Kwon-Do offers a trial program for individuals and families in Buffalo, NY and the surrounding areas that allows you to get a feel for the different classes, meet our instructors, and experience our dojang. It’s a great way to see if Tae Kwon-Do is right for you. To learn more or to sign up, register online or call (716) 836-KICK (5425) and a member of our team will follow up with you on next steps. We look forward to helping you achieve your goals. Pil-Sung!


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