A native Washingtonian, author Abdur-Rahim Muhammad is a graduate of Hampton University and the University of the District of Columbia. Muhammad began his Martial Arts training in 1970 and continues to teach in the traditional manner so highly emphasized by all his instructors with the motto, “learn kindness, learn justice, and then learn kung fu.”
Sifu (which means teacher/father) Muhammad has trained and led teams to compete in tournaments throughout Asia. In 1995, he founded the Hung Tao Choy Mei Leadership Institute on historic U Street in Northwest Washington, D.C., living his purpose during a time when the streets were littered with drugs and crime.
His most recent book, Dragonz Rizing: Reclaiming My Time After Wandering Through the Valley, is a story of self-discovery. The title is inspired by U.S. Congresswoman Maxine Waters, the ranking Democrat of the House of Representatives Financial Services Committee. During a committee hearing held on July 27, 2017, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin testified about the State of the International Financial System. Congresswoman Waters and the Democratic committee members had sent a letter to the Secretary inquiring about President Trump’s financial ties to Russia. When she asked why his office had not responded, instead of answering her question Secretary Mnuchin began complimenting the congresswoman on her years of service, a veiled attempt at running out the clock.
The 14-term congresswoman responded to the sophomoric attempt to distract her by redirecting the Secretary to her question repeating a procedural request to the Committee Chairman, “Reclaiming my time!” She repeated her request every time the Secretary attempted to stretch or obfuscate the answer to her question.
Exasperated by the repeated rallying cry, instead of responding to the Congresswoman, Secretary Mnuchin directed a question to the Chairman: “Mr. Chairman, I thought when you read the rules, you acknowledged that I shouldn’t be interrupted.” Congresswoman Waters addressed him directly, “What he failed to tell you was when you’re on my time, I can reclaim it.”
Congresswoman Waters refused to be diminished, ignored, or marginalized. She played by the procedural rules of the House of Representatives. In an era personified by reckless abandonment of rules and civility, this dignified woman insisted on being heard and respected, and her questions addressed. She reclaimed her time.
“Reclaiming my time” became a rallying cry for anyone whose time has been wasted by prejudice, injustice, and ignorance. Reclaiming my time is symbolic of taking power back. For the past 23 years, I have reclaimed my time through each child whose life I have touched. I have reclaimed my time by ensuring that the children that I work with have an enhanced sense of self and the life skills needed to succeed despite their current circumstances.
Says Sifu Muhammad: “Dragonz Rizing: Reclaiming My Time After Wandering Through the Valley is my story of discovery. Similar to many of my students and teachers, I have walked through the valley seeking meaning and purpose. The power of the valley, however, is knowing that every valley must be surrounded by high places. While seeds of self-awareness were planted at Hampton University, it was only after I began listening closely to my spiritual mentor Minister Kamal Majeid, from the Muslim Temple in Boston and going deeper into my practice of Martial Arts that I could recognize the questions I needed to ask of myself to set me on the path of carving out a life of meaning and purpose. The Martial Arts provided the focus and determination to continue to dig deeper into history and, while exploring the history of Jow Ga, I also discovered the importance of my own family history, which I had too long overlooked. My personal family’s history connected me to events and people that shaped the city where I was born and the country where I live —and even more so, the person that I have become.
No more wandering. I found my path towards fulfilling my destiny.”
WALA volunteer attorney, Manual Cordovez assisted in the successful publishing of Dragonz Rizing: Reclaiming My Time After Wandering Through the Valley. See his Feature for the rest of the story. https://waladc.org/featured-members/member/manuel-cordovez