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Transcendence Day

Updated: Nov 11, 2023

November 9, 2022 is the first named Tumfo Tu holiday of Transcendence Day. It commemorates the passing of Grand Master Kajana in 2021 and the ascension of the current Denver First Dans and Black Belts. For Tumfo Tu, it is a day of tremendous meaning. One thing Grand Master Kajana often said to his students was that “You’re fantastic, you just don’t know it yet.” He always invited us to transcend what we have become to develop into more of what we are. In Tumfo Tu, we have a saying: “Growth is in decrease.” To become more of what we are, we must strip away the things we take ahold of and assign to the concept of “me.”

How do you answer the question “Who are you?” You probably begin with your name and occupation. You might throw in some hobbies and aspirations. Your name was assigned to you, and you did not come out of the womb knowing about the occupation you now hold. Your aspirations and hobbies came from learning about the world around you and what you gravitated toward. None of these are essentially you. Nothing outside of you can tell you who you are.

There are few honors that can rival that of ascending to the rank of Black Belt in Tumfo Tu. In general, Black Belts are known for having great skill and deep knowledge of their discipline. In Tumfo Tu, it is a little different. Black Belts are indeed adept and deeply knowledgeable, but their power lies in their knowledge of themselves. Most skills in Tumfo Tu are taught in the first few ranks. A Black Belt hardly knows any more blows or techniques than a more junior color belt. Learning how to apply those skills powerfully and in any context requires extensive internal conditioning. Black Belts reach this level by primarily by spending time learning themselves, on and off the floor. This involves introspection, meditation, and constantly forcing themselves to operate in situations that are unfamiliar and uncomfortable. Black Belts do not reach that level until they have met themselves. They know who they are.

Grand Master Kajana had lived this way for decades. In his journey of self, he cultivated a transcendent power. Power is often associated with youth; his power transcended youth and old age. Power is associated with health; even on his weakest day, he was able to summon his faculties and stand to face his sharpest students. The power of knowing yourself transcends being young or old, healthy or frail, and strong or weak. Grand Master Kajana often noted that Masters of old often did not reach their crowning achievements until being older where they were forced to rely on this power. In Tumfo Tu, we court this power as a way of life.

This first Transcendence Day, let us rededicate ourselves to becoming everything we were intended to be. Let us push ourselves in uncomfortable places, practice quieting ourselves, and walk together on the path to meet ourselves.

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