Mind, spirit, body connection key to martial arts, life successes

  • Published
  • By Debbie Aragon
  • 55th Wing Public Affairs
The relationship between the mind, body and spirit to overall health and happiness is well documented -- just stop by any library or bookstore self-help section and you'll see volumes on the subject.

For one Offutt warrior, the understanding of that connection started early and not by simply cracking a book.

Tech. Sgt. Michael Munyon is a 55th Security Forces Squadron elite guard member and martial arts master. Growing up in a poor neighborhood in Grand Rapids, Mich., where violence was a normal part of everyday life, the sergeant said he can remember being chased home by several children who wanted to bully him.

"Older kids (about ages 11 to 13) would start fights for no real reason," he said.

The noncommissioned officer recalled watching a girl getting beaten by an older man two houses down from where he lived and it scared him, he said.

It was at this time that his mother decided to enroll the then 5-year-old in martial arts.
In 1979, "kids in martial arts weren't as common as today," he said.

As time progressed, he went from a young child learning the basics to a man being promoted in rank within martial arts, specifically Taekwondo, and understood how "people react physically, mentally and spiritually to the training."

The earliest record of the practice of Taekwondo dates back to 50 B.C., according to the World Martial Arts Academy, and operated under five codes of human conduct.

Modern day Taekwondo has 11 "commandments" or tenets, according to the academy, including loyalty to country, respect your brothers and sisters, respect your parents, never take life unjustly, indomitable spirit and finish what you begin.

"Growing up I lived in a single parent home," Sergeant Munyon said, "... the martial arts instilled what's known as the tenets of Taekwondo ... this really helped in boosting my self-discipline. I never drank (alcohol while) underage, never did drugs, and peer pressure really never got to me. I was the owner of my own destiny."

Martial arts also gave him functional muscle tone and propelled his flexibility to a high level, he said.

Sergeant Munyon currently holds a 5th degree black belt in Taekwondo and a 2nd degree black belt in Hapkido, another form of Korean martial arts, and was recently inducted into the Masters Hall of Fame.

The hall of fame organization, composed of martial arts masters and grandmasters, selects a small number of people for induction each year after they meet specific criteria for nomination.

"Earning a spot in the Masters Hall of Fame is like a dream come true," Sergeant Munyon said. "I was inducted with world famous people such as Don 'The Dragon' Wilson, Eric Lee, Jeff Speakman, David Carradine (the actor from the television series Kung-Fu) and founder of Gracie Jujitsu.

"To be considered among the ranks of such highly respected and famous people is a humbling experience and honor," he said.

With his love for the sport and high ranking in martial arts, joining the Air Force's security forces career field seemed like the perfect match, Sergeant Munyon said.

"I thought my training would better suit me as a security policeman," he said.

"As a security forces member it's very important that I live the warrior ethos way of life," he said. "This is true with my fitness, discipline and ability to defend myself and my fellow (security forces members) both stateside and overseas."

Today, in addition to teaching Krav Maga, the Israeli system of self defense and fighting, to Offutt security forces personnel, Sergeant Munyon teaches children and adults at an Omaha dojang, or Korean martial arts center. He's a national and international martial arts instructor in Taekwondo and Hapkido.

"One of the benefits of teaching kids is that I get the opportunity to help build character and confidence, and teach them self-defense which may one day save them from a bad situation," he said.

"The martial arts are a place where people can break barriers both physically and mentally," Sergeant Munyon added. "It's a place where you honestly get to know yourself."

Physical and mental training allows people to become stronger, lowers stress, increases confidence, improves physical fitness, teaches another culture and allows people to master self-defense, the sergeant said.

"Many people have hobbies like basketball and other sports," he said, "but they will never become professional basketball players in the NBA ... anyone can become a professional martial artist."