The Words of the Panzer Family
In January 1983, when the New England director for CARP, Mr. Fujii, announced that Dr. Seuk was going to come to Boston to give a "Unificationism and Martial Arts" program, we didn't really know what to expect.
A few CARP members from our region had studied Wonhwa-do with Dr. Seuk at the Seminary. Kasia Fisher and Eijiro Kusakari had black belts and were already teaching Wonhwa-do at Boston University and at Harvard. But how could we motivate people to come to what was to be billed as a "Unificationism and Martial Arts" event? We could envision 50, perhaps 100, people coming; but Dr. Seuk wanted a thousand. One thousand? Even Eldridge Cleaver, who is a famous international figure, had attracted crowds of only three to four hundred when he spoke at Harvard and Boston Universities last semester. One thousand to see Dr. Joon Ho Seuk -- who's heard of him? Grandmaster of what? Wonhwa-what? The Way of Harmony? What's that, and how does it connect to Unification Principle?
Days and days passed trying to find a location. Where to hold it? Harvard or Boston University? A gymnasium or an auditorium? Which evening? A weekday evening seemed best, but the only available evenings were Friday and Sunday. Neither seemed at all desirable. Friday night is party night for students, and nobody is on campus on Sunday, right?
We made several overtures to a drama club at Boston University (BU) to relocate a Thursday rehearsal so we could use the auditorium. When that failed, we petitioned the BU Athletic Department to cancel intramural sports on Thursday night, but to no avail. Dr. Seuk even flew in from Houston to plead with BU leadership.
To complicate things, the Boston weather began alternating between near blizzard conditions and teasing moments of cold sunshine. The cruel cold Boston weather, dangerous icy roads and snowbound lanes -- would they kill our program?
Only Sunday, February 13, was available at the Sargent Gymnasium, and that was less than two weeks away. Finally, Dr. Seuk decided. "Sunday. We'll have it on Sunday the 13th at the Sargent Gymnasium."
Mr. Fujii had the task of uniting more than 50 brothers and sisters from our region and others, including Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, and CARP MFT. It was amazing how many of us could cram into our small house, with closets converted into bedrooms. Very few of us knew anything about martial arts and had no idea how it was connected to the teaching of "Unificationism."
Wednesday we spent in discussion and practice-selling. That evening, several of us ventured out and sold nine tickets, at $2.00 each. Thursday was the first full day of campaigning. That morning one team pledged to sell 300 per day and another 400 per day. It was cold that day, so cold that it was difficult to get people to stop and talk. Ticket sales that day totaled 17.
That night Mr. Fujii reported to Dr. Seuk, who suggested that we begin mass leafleting. The next day, team leaders went out with their members. Results improved slightly; teams averaged 15-20 tickets each.
To build spirit, at 3:00 Sunday morning we drove to Plymouth Rock, where the Pilgrim Fathers landed in 1620, and prayed for 40 minutes huddled in teams on the jetty which extended out in the harbor. We prepared for the new week, making signs and sandwich boards.
That night the blizzard descended, covering our posters, blocking the streets, closing schools. Things looked bleak. Mr. Fujii described how in Japan he had challenged his shyness by preaching in the subways, and suggested we go there to sell tickets, since subways were the only shelters from the elements. That night the testimonies had a new excitement, subway selling to captive audiences.
Team leaders continued to pledge new challenges, but on Tuesday one team sold only five tickets and another managed only eight. Mr. Fujii gave us a thorough scolding, and as indemnity, one tram went back out to sell until after midnight.
Wednesday morning, the Wonhwa-do team was asked to sell tickets rather than practice. We were shocked. How could they perform without practicing? Yet, they united with this direction and, in fact, sold the highest number of tickets. Carrying the Wonhwa-do spirit beyond the practice room, they made a breakthrough on the streets.
The team that had sold only eight tickets the day before set a record of 58, bringing the day's total to 160. Dr. Seuk arrived with many new suggestions for contacting community, civic and school organizations.
We had already sent out a mailing to professors, martial arts groups and high schools, but response had been small. However, with these new areas of contact, we started receiving requests for complimentary tickets from YMCA's, high schools, athletic teachers and drug rehabilitation leaders, totaling nearly 1,000.
All the brothers and sisters were now dressing in Wonhwa-do ghis with belts of various colors (over several layers of clothing). The spirit was focused and determined, no matter how much the frozen feet and hands protested. On Thursday we sold more than 150 tickets. Other CARP leaders arrived and joined us on the streets.
At one point, Dr. Seuk asked, "Shouldn't we just give out the rest of the tickets for free, since we have sold enough tickets to fill only half the hall?" But the response from the brothers and sisters was strong: NO! These tickets are too precious just to give away... it would be an admission of defeat... if people really want to come they will be willing to buy tickets.
On Sunday we went to the gymnasium early to set up. Dr. Seuk asked us to lay out carpets in case there was an overflow crowd, since the bleachers could hold only 1,300 people. \that confidence!
Late in the afternoon, people began arriving -- high school students, families with little children, college students. By 6:00 p.m., there were lines. Finally starting to worry about lack of space, we brought the carpets from the center's prayer and lecture rooms. At 7:30, almost 1,000 people were present. In spite of everything, God had worked.
An air of seriousness and inspiration underlay the various feats of physical skill and strength by our black-belt brothers and sisters. We were all so proud of them performing before such a large audience. Not everything went absolutely smoothly, however. Ichinori, one of the brothers from the East Garden staff, was supposed to break a baseball bat with a shin-kick. He gave several shouts before kicking the bat, but it refused to break. Three times he tried; the audience must have felt the pain of each kick. On the fourth attempt, the bat broke, and the whole audience sighed in relief.
In another memorable episode, Eijiro Kusakari of Boston CARP was to jump over ten people and kick two boards in half. From the audience, a black sister the size of two or three normal people insisted upon joining the line. On the first try, Eijiro failed to clear the last person. When someone asked the fat sister to leave the line, Eijiro ran up and demanded that she be allowed to remain. The audience was delighted by his heart and his willingness to challenge. Finally, he cleared the line and broke the board.
Just before Dr. Seuk's speech, the overhead lights were lowered and two colored spotlights shone on Diane Peronis and Jerry Servito in the martial art ballet. The audience became entranced by the kicks and leaps set to music, as Diane and Jerry acted out the story of a warrior who rises from near defeat to overcome the foe, with the help of his God.
On this foundation, Dr. Seuk arose and spoke boldly about the need for a new thought that could unify mankind and proclaim Father as the one great teacher man has been looking for. He presented the spirit of Wonhwa-do as but one fruit of the spiritual power embodied in Unificationism. On a campus which has seen much opposition to our movement, people were respectful and attentive, even though the contents of the speech must have surprised those who expected only a martial arts event.
The program closed with self-defense demonstrations by Kasia Fisher, who warded off attacks from all directions. This drew a particularly enthusiastic response, possibly since Boston has suffered persistent problems of rape and other violent crimes.
After the program, about 70 guests asked for copies of Dr. Seuk's speech, and many were eager to meet the black-belt brothers and sisters, to learn from them or discuss self-defense techniques. Almost 100 signed up for Wonhwa-do classes. The crowd freely mingled with our family members, Dr. Seuk and the exhibition team for at least an hour. One high school athletic director who had brought 20 of his students suggested that we start a class in the community school.
The following day, we gathered at the Boston Unification Church center for a day of testimonies and reflections. The BU student newspaper, which had been attacking CARP year after year, ran a front-page article on the event, quoting faithfully from Dr. Seuk's speech and one sister's insights about the Blessing. It contained not one negative comment.
About 20 people, ranging from 6 to 40 years of age, now attend new Wonhwa-do classes three times a week at the Boston center. Eijiro and Kasia continue to teach at Harvard and BU. Several Wonhwa-do students have come to the CARP center for Principle lectures.
The leader of a drug rehabilitation center, who brought some ex-drug users to the demonstration, invited Eijiro and Kasia to visit his center. There they testified how Father's teaching of Unificationism and Wonhwa-do had changed their lives, giving them confidence to overcome their limitations and live for others. Some young people expressed interest in attending classes. A basket of fruit was presented to Kasia and Eijiro in appreciation for their visit.
The second "Unificationism and Martial Arts" program took place in Berkeley, California on March 7. An estimated 1,500 people attended the outdoor event at Sproul Plaza, famous setting of many radical demonstrations in the 1960's. Instead of blizzards, severe rainstorms accompanied the Berkeley campaign.
We are hopeful that future programs will be even more successful in attracting large numbers of people to see and understand one of the fruits of Unificationism. We envision Wonhwa-do as one way to raise up the young people of America in a spirit of self- mastery and service to others.