Win or Learn


Win or Learn

The mantra at our dojang is: “Pil-Sung.” It is a Korean phrase that we interpret to mean: “Certain victory through indomitable spirit and courage.” We yell it at the end of each  class, and during handshakes.

What this means to us is that with everything we do in life, we either win or we learn. To illustrate this, let me take you back to the day I lost everything.

I went to college at Berklee College of Music in Boston. After rehearsal one day, I returned to my apartment to find that there had been an explosion in the building which completely decimated it. I lost everything. All of my possessions, except for my trumpet and the clothes on my back, were destroyed. Unfortunately, this included my dog at the time as well.

The fire should have been the worst thing that ever happened to me. And, at first, it sure felt that way. But, in the aftermath of this disaster, I learned lessons that I still use and teach to this day.

Losing all of my belongings forced me to declutter my life and to re-prioritize what I needed vs. what I wanted. And this was way before Marie Kondo.

My friends let me crash with them for weeks at a time while I saved money to get a new apartment. I was able to learn about and bond with people I may have never had the chance to, otherwise.

To earn the money that I needed, I began taking more and more trumpet-playing gigs. This allowed me to expand my musical horizons, and gain experience playing with people whom I never would have thought of.

The Red Cross was “kind” enough to give me $25 for food, and another $25 for clothes. That doesn’t get you very far, especially in Boston. So, in turn, I learned to be thrifty and smart with money.

I also gained an overall appreciation for life and started seeing things through a much more positive lens. This was absolutely a tragedy. But, for some reason, I never really saw it as that.

Victory is often boring because you rarely learn from it. Defeat teaches you how to get better, stronger, quicker, etc. Defeat forces you to dig deeper for positivity, and teaches you both appreciation for and humility toward winning.

I once overheard a student from our dojang reflecting after losing a tournament. “Aww man, I lost,” he said. “But, I ended up making friends with the guy.”

That’s “Pil-Sung.”

When facing important moments in their lives, people tend to say to one another: “good luck.” At our dojang, we say: “good skill.” We know that luck has very little to do with the outcome of a situation. It is skill that determines how the things that happen to us ultimately affect us.

And developing a “Pil-Sung” attitude is one of the most valuable skills one can ever possess.



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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