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7 Ancient Secrets to a Great Life

by Jim Langlas

Age Range: 10 - 14

Pub Date: April 1st, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-57542-388-3
Publisher: Free Spirit

This guide to building character with a Korean martial arts focus is unusual but not completely successful.  

Langlas draws inspiration from the Hwarangdo, ancient Korean warriors whose ideals became a philosophical basis for Taekwondo. Seven principles form a code of honor: courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, indomitable spirit, community service and love. By embodying these principles, teens can become warriors: people who are successful, happy members of society. Each of the principles and its fundamentals are explained clearly in simple, encouraging prose. The "Room for Reflection" sidebars create opportunities to apply what's being taught. The teen voices in the "Voice of a Warrior" and "A Story from the Warrior's Path" interpolations, however, feel more like writing-prompt responses than authentic expression. What lets down the work is the framing device in which wise Master Yi teaches his students each of the principles. Zen-sounding homilies like "The life of possessions is not always the life of having" and examples drawn from a Hwarangdo mindset might lead to eye rolls.

If teens are willing to overlook the clichés, they will gain appreciation for the warrior's path. However, this work will probably be most useful for martial arts instructors and teachers as a way to discuss character. (afterword, index) (Nonfiction. 10-14)