February 2011 Archives

Tough to Teach Intensity and Focus

I have been a Tang Soo Do practitioner for the past 12yrs. and it truly has been a wonderful journey. Though, I still continue to learn nuances and place a heavy emphasis on the basics, the fervor was at its highest when I was preparing for 1st Dan (1st blackbelt).

I'm not sure that I'll ever be able to teach the ferocity and intensity I experienced as I prepared for my examination. I was very excited to stand before the late Jae Joon Kim and demonstrate precision and discipline.  These days I do more coaching, observation and teaching. The youngsters do not seem to understand how to exhibit power and purpose in their techniques.

While I understand the virtues of patience, at times it can become a challenge to stay calm and not get annoyed with the kids. It is difficult to watch them as they wander through the motions of their hyungs. My criticism is particularly directed at the 1st Gups as they will eventually test for 1st Dan.  I typically stress that the hyung (basic form) isn't a dance but a fight against a would be adversary. The Sang Dan Mahkee (high block) is not done with a limp wrist.

Interestingly, while these children struggle through one or possibly two classes per week in preparation for their Dan examination, I trained at different schools, some which were not related to my system (ie Tamashi Dojo) . Yes, I remember vividly going to these schools as a visiting practitioner to receive extra training in preparation for my Dan testing. Often this extra training came in the form of sparring at both Tamashi Dojo (Friday Fight Night) and Metro Karate.  It really was the height of my training. When I'd had enough training in Detroit, I'd go to Canton and train with Greg Boliard at Mu Sa Kwan. Well, if that was not enough I would work out when I returned home to B'klyn with Tessa Gordon of Pure Energy Martial Arts. As an aside I worked out on an invitation at United Tae Kwon Do in Detroit.
Though I am Tang Soo Do practitioner, I did enjoy working out at both Pure Energy and United Tae Kwon Do despite the fact their systems were Tae Kwon Do, as the training was quite intense. 

The point is preparation for your Dan exam should be humbling, exciting, difficult, focused and extremely intense. You _cannot_ simply walk through the motions. You would be doing yourself a disservice. It really is difficult to teach intensity and focus, especially to children. I suppose this is why minimum age requirements always comes into question when talking about black belt readiness. No one tests if they have deficiencies. Perhaps I need to remember that they are teenagers. However, I am reminded that we had some intense teens and they were focused. Sigh, a Master's work is never done.

Mama Egypt

Great Sphinx of Giza

Image by Jorge-11 via Flickr

It's surreal to see the unrest in Egypt. Actually, I visited the country almost 20yrs ago as military serviceman. In fact, I have fond memories of the coastal city Hurghada, as I spent most of my time there while in Egypt. The red snapper was excellent and the people were extremely friendly. One particular episode, weighs heavy on my mind. I recall having dinner in a local cafe with some fellow shipmates. For whatever reason, I had run out of Egyptian pounds. The meal was actually 20 pounds and I only had something like 15 pounds. Ordinarily, not having enough money to settle the bill is a recipe for disaster. Get out the latex gloves and bust some suds or run for the nearest ATM. Quite the contrary, the restaurant host simply paid the difference and was gracious in doing so. Obviously, I will never forget this generosity. Very refreshing and quite rare indeed. 

I also had the opportunity to visit Cairo and the Pyramids of Giza. A site to behold, and one that is truly a world wonder. If you find true engineering to be godly work, then you will appreciate these pyramids. I traveled to the bottom and one of our tour guides presented me with a Quran for safekeeping.  A very humbling experience.  While I know that the present day inhabitants of Egypt are not the indigenous people, I felt very at home in Egypt. Regardless, whether they knew I was a US serviceman or tourist I could see they generally wanted me to enjoy my stay in their country. While in Cairo, I got a chance to walk the streets and experience urban North African style.  I even talked to people about the Six-Day War, a great education for me to put it mildly. The Cairo Museum had a treasure trove of artifacts that I really wished I had been able to photograph.

Fast forward to the unrest you see on the major and minor media outlets, very sad. It is amazing that a people who have been forced to sacrifice, will eventually be forced to unite and prepare for a bloody revolution to gain freedom.  I sure hope the Americans let the Egyptian people decide the outcome. If you're unaware of the how all this occurred check out Wikileaks and an assortment of other documents in the wilds of the InterWeb.

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This page is an archive of entries from February 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

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