May 23, 2024


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HOW TO TEACH WISDOM: THE WAY OF THE SAGE Grandmaster Michael McGann, Hanshi

Grandmaster Michael McGann, Hanshi
Soke: Keichu Hoshin Jitsu Ryu
Soke: Wa No Michi Ryu

As martial artists we strive to gain wisdom from our teachers as they show us the path that lies before us. As a sensei (teacher) it is my privilege and obligation to share my nuggets of knowledge with my students who hopefully apply that knowledge until it grows into gems of wisdom which when internalized becomes understanding.

As a Christian martial artist, my ultimate Sensei is God, creator of all that was, is and is to come. Each of us have our own belief systems and I respect you and your choices. It is not my goal to debate theology in this article but to share knowledge and wisdom to benefit all mankind. I can only share from my Christian viewpoint–and fifty plus years in the martial arts–on how to obtain wisdom from my ultimate Sensei.

Where can one go to learn to be wise? Tricky question because wisdom is more caught than taught, more practiced than studied. The Bible writers knew this and couched their highest teachings on becoming wise in easily remembered sayings. The following verses will help you on your path to cultivate a lifetime pursuit of wisdom.


  1. RESPECT FOR GOD: Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. (Proverbs 9:10)
    A man can be a philosopher, scientist or gain knowledge, proficiency and excellence any number of ways. But without a relationship of honor and respect for God, he is like a man trying to make beautiful music on a violin without a bow.
  2. AN INQUIRING MIND: Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still. (Proverbs 9: 9) A wise man or woman knows how to receive instruction and gain valuable knowledge from it. Even negative instruction contains nuggets of self-knowledge advancing the man who considers carefully rather than becoming defensive. It was my Sensei, Dr Karl W. Marx Sr, who imparted this to me in his typical Cajun accent, “Son, you know that a tomato is a fruit, that is knowledge. Not putting it in a fruit salad is wisdom.”
  3. SOUND JUDGMENT [Wisdom calls out] counsel and sound judgment are mine; I have understanding and power. By me kings reign and rulers make laws that are just. (Proverbs 8:14)
    Counsel and sound judgment bring power. Who is more powerful the king or his trusted adviser? The king may sign the order, but the adviser sways his thinking. The important point is that the people are served with justice.
  4. PASSION FOR WISDOM [Wisdom calls out] I love those who love me and those who seek me find me. (Proverbs 8:17)
    Wisdom is more discovered than learned. Gaining wisdom is a worthy passion. Be the explorer always looking for more.
  5. COMMON SENSE I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence; I possess knowledge and discretion. (Proverbs 8:12)
    Prudence is not a word we use and value nearly enough. It means wise in handling practical matters, exercising good judgment or common sense. Careful in conduct, circumspect, discreet. Ah, the gentle simplicity of a man or woman who manages one’s own affairs well. Cultivating wisdom isn’t rocket science. Common sense isn’t common, it’s rare and highly respected. But, who can find it?


If you are wise your wisdom will reward you (Proverbs 9:12)
Wisdom can take a lifetime to attain but eventually you become so wise in considered speech and thoughtful responses that those around you notice your wisdom and you have favor. Even if it takes years to come to that place where others find comfort and safety in your wise contributions to their lives, you are now able to be trusted. It is not forced or put on and can be very simple. But there is really power.

Wisdom is more precious than rubies and nothing you desire can compare with her. (Proverbs 8:11)
You take wisdom with you into all areas of life. It brings richness and value to your life and to others around you that pales the luster of precious gems.

    Whoever fails to mind me [wisdom] harms himself. (Proverbs 8:36)
    Opportunities to observe, listen and thereby gain wisdom are all around you every day. The observant student mines these for gems of understanding of human nature—good and bad. Easy to miss them when we are too caught up in ourselves and our petty plans and schemes to notice. Once the moment for gaining wisdom has been missed, it is gone forever. How sad the person destined to repeat the mistakes of the past for refusing to learn the lesson the first time.

Listen to my [wisdom’s] instruction and be wise do not ignore it. (Proverbs 8:33)
The temptation is to ignore instruction and choose one’s own course. But beware of the false power of a self-reliant and arrogant attitude. Keep your heart quiet and learn in humility.
Here is a powerful and short prayer you can use every day:
Lord, let your wisdom be displayed in my every action. Amen


HORACE: Force without wisdom falls of its own weight

THE BIBLE: Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man. (Luke 2:52)

CONFUCIUS: By three methods we may learn wisdom: first by reflection, which is the noblest; second by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.

About the author: Soke Michael McGann is the Founder of Wa No Michi Ryu Karate and a 7 times world champion. He is a highly decorated Veteran of the US Army Rangers and a true Warrior Scholar. You can friend him at He is the USA Director of the World Martial Arts Congress Education Committee.