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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.

Seminar and testing was quite good, despite the fact that the number of attendees continues to dwindle due to a very difficult economy. In fact, we only rented half of the training hall for our activities. It was strange not having the entire room for the seminar. Subsequently, the workout was not as strenuous, as there was far less distance to cover. I seem to recall the blisters that grew on the balls of my feet from last seminar, as the carpet is not very forgiving. I came prepared with athletic tape, but after a few minutes into the seminar I ripped off the tape because it felt very uncomfortable and the tape was actually pinching me. In retrospect, I didn't actually need it as we were not traversing the entire training hall. So, my feet were pleased that we did not use the entire space.

I arrived about 11.30a, so that I could stretch and get warm. Seminar and testing is quite a long day. Kwan Jang Nim brought someone who I mistakenly thought to be his brother Nam (whom I have never met), but apparently it was another family member. Perhaps nephew or cousin. This gentleman did not stick around for seminar or testing, so I gather he may live in the area and was just dropping by to say hello.

Though we had a smaller group, it was good to see some of the old faces. The groups which come from Western MI and Dayton OH are becoming regulars. It is good to see the consistency in their participation. As I have stated previously, our federation will only get stronger by having new gups attend seminar so that we can continue to spread the word of Tang Soo Do!
We probably had roughly nineteen seminar participants and six people testing for Dan.

The seminar began with hand techniques Ha Dan (lower part), Choong Dan (middle part), and Sang Dan (Upper part) basics. Our federation President, Grandmaster Saul Kim stressed the importance of understanding the application of each. We lined up using the width or shortest distance of the dojang (East to West) to run some of our basics. I had to be careful not to end up in the spectators laps, as I do tend to take long strides. Spectators were lined the adjacent side of the dojang, so that we could add more seating.

Grandmaster Kim made it a point to thoroughly dissect Bassai, as it is one of our most complex forms. When it is executed correctly, it also one of our most beautiful. He specifically wanted everyone to understand that Bassai is one of our animal forms, it resembles to cobra snake. In fact, the double fisted strike imitates the fangs of the snake.
We also spent a fair amount of time with Naihanchi forms, as they are the third set of animal forms that are taught in our system. Naihanchi represents the horse, as the all three forms are done in horseback or keema jase. Emphasis was made on the fact that people will execute the forms differently, but the application is still the same. Perhaps a departure from years past? Basically most of the practitioners in our federation execute forms in a very similar manner, only with slight modifications. These days Grandmaster Kim seems open to subtle modifications.

There was some light sparring during the seminar, and we spent time on focus drills. That is, yup chakee or side kicks to an open area on your partner. Because we had such light attendance and dearth of higher ranking gups, I was paired with a very small student. My kicks would clear his head quite easily, so I was forced to modify the height of the techniques. Overall the seminar was enjoyable and quite useful. Good spirit all around.

The Dan testing ran a bit long, as I was one of last students testing. I was paired with a someone testing for 2nd Dan. We sat for awhile, so I did get a bit stiff. The hard floor isn't very forgiving. Once we were called to begin our exam, it did move rather swiftly.
I made one mistake, well maybe two. I'd forgotten the Korean term for "reverse", thus I did not execute some basics correctly. When I was asked to execute a flying side kick (Yi Dan Yup Cha Kee) I didn't break on the boards on first try. This has never happened in on any of my exams. Of course I did break both boards on the second try. I will post the breaks and some pics of the exam as an update to this entry.

I was quite happy to done with the exam, as the day is quite a long one. It is remarkable that I have been training for roughly 11yrs. 4th Dan is an achievement indeed. I will wear the next rank with honor and pride. I will continue to spread the word of Tang Soo Do where ever I train.

Tang Soo!!

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Tomorrow our school holds it's bi-annual seminar and Dan (black belt) testing. I am humbly honored to participate in the exam. I will be attempting to earn my 4th Dan. It has been three years since my last testing. Needless to say, I have been looking forward to this day for quite awhile. I still remember when I began studying this traditional Korean martial art of Tang Soo Do, roughly 11yrs ago.
My journey has been a blessing, as it has helped me balance humility with achievement. It is unlikely that I will test again in this system, as the cost of the exams at the senior Dan levels are quite expensive. Moreover, I do not believe that I will remain in SE MI. for another four years. I suppose time will tell.

I do expect a very long day, as the seminar begins at noon and will normally run 2.5 - 3hrs. After a 15min recess, the Dan examination commences. I do plan to take some photos and will share them at the usual places.

Tang Soo!

It's Seminar Time Again - Tang Soo ! (Revisited)

Our semi-annual seminar took place in October, but I simply couldn't find the time to discuss it in any detail. Each time I attend seminar, I have to take stock in the messages I receive from Grandmaster Saul Kim. He usually begins each workout with some pithy philosophical teachings. After seminar I asked him about the example and he indicated that these are classical Chinese Dao philosophy
I was particularly struck by the "cat and mouse" reference. He suggested that we must choose a life role. Obviously these were not his exact words, but merely my interpretation of the message.

Some people will chose to play the cat, that is one who seeks to be the aggressor or pushes the issue. Skillful, cunning, and very often fraught with peril. These Cats are very adventurous but are not always rewarded with a meal as a by-product of risk. On the hand, if you choose to play the role of a mouse... Well life is very different. Taking no risks, the mouse must always watch its back for it could easily become the meal of an aggressive cat.

The mouse is also very hungry but typically never gets enough to eat because it is forever nervous and fearful of death. Actually, there is another position which is even more precarious than that of the mouse or cat. This would be those that take no position or simply play the fence. Why is this so dangerous and careless? Well, consider the fact that indecisiveness never tends to advance any cause. In many cases people become unrecognizable or simply dismissed because they skate through live not willing to establish a role for themselves. Hell at least a mouse understands its direction or stage in life :-)

Yes, I really enjoyed this lesson. Once this brief lesson was shared we spent the next 1.5 - 2hrs working on hand techniques. Lots of punches, ridge hand strikes and sudos. We emphasized hip rotation and using the elbow for reverse strikes while the lead fist attacks. There was also much instruction in striking will stepping backwards. Tang Soo Do is a system of no retreat, but deception is quite advantageous.

2.5hrs into the seminar, I realized that I should begin taping my feet as I never seem to be able to avoid aggravating blisters on the balls of my feet. The carpet in the dojang is not very forgiving..

Well the next seminar will take place in March or April. I expect to have more to share.

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It's Seminar Time Again - Tang Soo !

It has been awhile since I talked about my martial arts training. To be clear, I am still working out, but not nearly as much as years past. This is due in large part to life changes and the dearth of new students entering our dojang. It really is much more fun to teach willing students. I suppose the bigger problem is student retention. Because I would like to think that I will be a lifelong student, I will always be on the look out for a new challenge.

There was a time when I would seek out schools and play the role of visiting student. This was always alot of fun, as people would sometimes as questions about the midnight blue trim and belt. These days, I do not get many opportunities to do so, but I miss it immensely.

Well today, I will get a chance to participate in our bi-annual seminar and Dan testing.
As I've mentioned previously, the seminar typically last roughly 2 - 3 hrs then after a short break, the Dan or black belt testing ensues. Our federation president, Grandmaster Saul Kim, leads the training session. I look forward to the nuances that he gradually adds to our training. Ho Shin Sul or self defense and the focus drills are my favorite. Unfortunately, I missed the previous seminar in March due to other traveling obligations.
I'm looking forward to our work out today. I have noticed that the economy has played havoc on attendance at our previous seminars. Hopefully, there will be new faces and better attendance. I will post pics as they become available.

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Bumpy Knuckles

Heh, Nuff respect to Freddie Foxxx.. I've not written much about anything lately, so I figured I would mention that I am still training. I will also love TSD. In fact, I am re-building the school webpage using Drupal - Sorry Anil. Anyway, I probably should begin by stating that I missed my first seminar in nearly 3.5yrs. These intense classes are conducted twice a year, typically March and October. Actually, I was participating in the Phil Sea Plankowner Reunion, so I was unable to attend. Unfortunately, I had heard that only 15 students were in attendance. Somehow that seems like very small class size. Perhaps the smallest ever. Though, I have no particular statistics to back up my fear, I wonder if this down economy really played serious havoc on the would be attendees. Nonetheless, I still called GM Kim and express my apologies for not being able participate.

Now, to the point of this entry ;-) During each seminar GM Kim always talks about had conditioning. We actually spend some time smacking our hands on concrete covered carpet. In class and at home I use a mawari board. The purpose of the board is to toughen the skin on the knuckles, so that it is least likely for your hands to become a bloody mess when striking objects. Our Federation President stresses tough hands. In fact, calloused knuckles are the trademarks for long practicing martial artists.

I've always said martial arts can be a humbling experience. Rebuilding of oneself, through the act of starting over. During my nearly 10yrs of training, I have only come across seemingly unbreakable boards twice. Once as a young, inexperienced 6th Gup. Who was asked to break two boards with a step over sidekick (yap chagi). More recently, I met a similar fate when trying to break an unusually knotty pine. This singular board was supposed to broken by another very young student testing for 2nd Gup. He was not able to break the board, and would have likely cried if he was asked to continue. Naturally, I figured it bad karma not to destroy that board. After the testing, I struck with three middle punches. It did seem that my fist bounced off each time. Very humbling indeed. I wanted to strike it again with pal koop (elbow attack), but I was told to leave it alone. There would be better days ahead.

A few abrasions and a swollen second knuckle was my prize for poor technique and perhaps weak spirit. My instructor told me that I will get my chance soon enough. I didn't feel so bad, as I had witnessed senior dan members fist explode on boards during Dan testing. Yes, I was incredulous when it happened to me. *Sigh* I live another day and long for another opportunities to fatten my knuckles.

New students abound

It does seem that whenever a new martial arts film is released, it tends to spike our school enrollment. I am not certain, that there is a direct correlation, but nonetheless it is an interesting hypothesis. Our new participants are comprised of eleven youngsters and one adult. It is very difficult to retain people because there is a certain level of discipline and commitment to practice the arts. We offer the first month free, and it would be great if we could retain two of the twelve after the trial is complete. Very abysmal numbers, but that is par for the course. I'll give an update in one month.

In truth, it is more fun to have new people to train. Clearly it make the class more enjoyable and you are able to re-affirm your skillset. Teaching does indeed enhance your knowledge base.

Renewed Spirit



We had an outstanding Tang Soo Do seminar yesterday last weekend. Though the attendance was slightly less than our October meeting, I would have to believe that this one was perhaps the best in recent years. The late Grandmaster Jae Joon Kim used to lead all of our seminars and Dan(black belt) examinations. However, his son, Saul Kim has done a very good job of adding certain nuances to the traditional format. We typically conduct Ho Sun Sool (Self-Defense) and Il Soo Chee (one-step sparring), along with several basics (punches, kicks, blocks) up and down the training hall.


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Today I'll participate in another Tang Soo Do seminar conducted by the President of our federation, Kwang Jang Nim Saul Kim.
Eventually, photos and videos from my 3rd Dan testing will be uploaded to the usual places. In truth, I have exhausted my alloted disk space on my webserver. It could be time to begin looking for another hosting solution. I really need at least 1GB of space. Much of the space is occupied by my netcast content. The high quality ogg audio files are quite large. I am considering using a service like libsyn to host the ogg audio, I would then finally be able to have a permanent ogg feed.

Additionally, my MT publishing engine is very long in the tooth and it is time to upgrade. However, I won't upgrade until I get the disk space resolved and the feeds corrected. Perhaps, I'll get to this in the next couple of weeks. I do have a show episode (AG Speaks) in the cue, but I simply must sit down and do the post-processing.

We'll see how it turns out. I have just been pre-occupied with self-imposed deadlines that seem to slip on a regular basis.

Countdown to 3rd Dan - Revisited

The exam went very well. I had prepared for a very intense seminar and an equally exhausting black belt exam. The seminar was excellent, we started a bit later than usual, but it was well worth the wait. There were some new faces, which always makes for a more interesting experience. Kwan Jang Nim Saul Kim emphasized the meaning of application behind the basics and particularly hip rotation.

We were asked to execute the Bassai form in reverse, certainly not something that I have ever done previously. Bassai has roughly 42 movements, and many students have difficulty executing the cobra form in the traditional manner. This is what makes seminars special and important. You never know what will be asked of you :) Unfortunately, we did not get an opportunity to practice Ho Sin Sul (personal protection), but I am certain we will make up for it during our next seminar.

The black belt exam was less intense than the previous exam (which I witnessed but did not participate). I was one of five Dan members which were scheduled to test. I was the only person testing for 3rd Dan (Sam Dan). Kwan Jang Nim asked me to execute Gicho - Hyung Sam Bo, Pyung Ahn Sa-Dan, Pyung Ahn Oh - Dan, and Naihanchi Ee Dan. I executed the forms well. The breaking also went fairly well.
I executed a Kap-Kwan (back fist) and Ee Dan Ahp Chakee (jump front snap kick).

Of course I have photos and short video clips to share. You can find them in the usual places. More later.

Countdown to 3rd Dan


I have been logging 10 mile bike rides for the last 3 months. In that time I have amassed roughly 130miles. My hope is that the road work will help my stamina for my upcoming exam. Judging from the last seminar, I will likely be in for a very long day on Saturday. I fully expect to be exhausted but invigorated at the same time.

If you're local and wish to check out a black belt exam, drop me a scribe and I'll share the details. I will likely have pics of the event in the usual places.

Challenge of Growth


As I prepare for the opportunity to test for 3rd Dan, I have begun to intensify my training. Our school has reduced its training days to once per week, so quality training opportunities are limited. So, I visited another school which has its roots Moo Duk Kwan. I have a great deal of respect for the head instructor, as he really stresses application and purpose for every technique.

Interestingly, he has no problem asking me, "Why do you choose to stay at school X"? My response is typically, "It is what I know" or "I love my family". He insists that there will come a time that I will choose what is best for my training and growth.

I am conflicted to some extent, as I clearly honor and respect the teachings of my instructor. However, I know that there comes a time that everyone must choose a path of continued growth. This is a challenge because I do have a great deal of loyalty for my current dojang. I have learned a great deal and progressed as a person and martial artist. Nearly nine years of education and I certainly could never repay the gratitude and patience of all the senior instructors. This is why I remain.

In truth, I do relish the role of visiting practitioner. Especially, when the host school has its foundation in Tang Soo Do. The host instructor of note, has never asked me for a nickel to train. He only requests that what I am shown stays at the host school. Nonetheless, he has always had an open door for other members of my home dojang.

If at first you don't succeed...


I attempted to break two boards with a step over sidekick. My previous attempt at this feat was as a 6th Gup, nearly six years ago. Unfortunately, as Dan member the results were similar. I did not bounce off the boards, but I did not strike them in the center either. After two attempts, I decided one board was plenty. Yes it is true, martial arts can be very humbling. The value in the lesson is simple, use the challenge as a means of growth and motivation.

It seems that practice is in order here, I am clear that I should be able to break two boards at once. Especially with a kicking technique. Perhaps I'll use an eedan yap-chagi next time?

Fight Night

As I prepare for an opportunity to test for my 3rd Dan in October. I have once again decided to increase the intensity and frequency of my workouts. I recently visited Tamashi Dojo, a school which I had once trained prior to my 1st Dan examination. It was interesting that some of the students actually remembered me, as I had not trained with them since 2004. Actually, it was refreshing to see the growth in some of their students.

In truth, though I am fairly comfortable with visiting different schools, I always get a bit nervous. The obvious concern is that I want to represent Tang Soo Do appropriately. It seems that other systems are unfamiliar with the midnight blue representation of Dan member. In fact, one particular student wondered aloud. "Is that a black belt?" I chuckle and teach ;)

Tamashi holds their sparring and conditioning drills on Friday evening. The evening training has been dubbed "Fight Night".. I suppose it provides the added allure for the younger students. Actually, I believe it helps raise the intensity level every so slightly. Though, I do enjoy sparring and such, I would always welcome the opportunity to learn more about a different system. Particularly one that is *not* Korean. I believe Tamashi is Okinawan, or traditional Japanese.
I am very grateful and honored that I am still a welcomed visitor. I had a much needed vigorous workout.

TSD Seminar - New Horizons

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Last month I participated in our Federation seminar. As discussed previously this particular seminar was unique in that it was the first which our beloved Jae Joon Kim was not present. In his absence, his son, Master Saul Kim led us through the seminar and the Dan examinations. Because, I was not testing on this day, I arrived a few minutes late for the seminar. The dojang was full so, I simply slid into an area so that I could participate in basics.

It became pretty clear that Saul would be be running the seminar in more intense fashion. Spinning back kicks are definitely not my forte. Always struggle to pick up the target and whip my body around to get the proper power and torque. Actually, I do not achieve the required elevation. The technique is not one that you would typically use on the street, but if executed correctly, it does look quite impressive in a tournament. Striking the head of your opponent is a sure crowd pleaser and the judges will award you 2pts. A knockout would end the contest.

We got an opportunity to do more take downs on the concrete floor(well it was covered with a thin layer of carpet). Some of the senior dan members did some tumbling on the floor as well. In the past it seemed the dan members spent too much time watching the junior members. This was not the case for this seminar. I really enjoyed the workout. We sparred against gups (junior members), and not against other Dan members. In truth, I was already spent by that time, so the sparring gave me a bit of a breather.

The seminar ran from noon until approx 2.30p. I stuck around and supported one of our students who was testing for 3rd Dan. The testing was also very intense. Lots of basics, I believe all of the prospects were asked to run through our entire set of basic techniques twice. We probably have about 30 well-established basic techniques. Additionally, there were hyungs ( forms), breaking and sparring. It certainly made for a full-day for people taking the test. After witnessing these new horizons, I know that I am going to have to get 'right' quick. I should be eligible for 3rd Dan in October.
I'll have to begin road work and high impact aerobic exercises. No doubt I will be ready.

Passing of Greatness

Some weeks a talked about death, that is the passing of the father of a former mentee. Though, I experienced another passing several months prior, I did not speak of it. Really I was at a loss for meaningful and thoughtful utterances.

Perhaps now I am better able to describe the impact Grandmaster Jae Joon Kim had on my highly coveted World Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do. Besides the seminars and the Dan testings (another coming testing this Saturday), he took pride in promoting responsible and respectful martial arts practitioners. He had very little patience for those who did not appreciate the long standing benefits that Tang Soo Do afforded him and his family. It is of course a way of life and path of infinite discovery. Why not embrace it ?

I still remember his sometimes amusing question, "Why you do that?" Typically asked of a student who has forgotten basics or appropriate protocol. Jae Joon Kim was loved and will sorely be missed.

Nonetheless, I do look forward to getting to know his sons Nam and Saul much better. Another era has begun in wake of the passing of greatness.

Tale of the China Fist - Revisited

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Enjoyed a very intense seminar, which certainly vastly improved from our previous program. What I have observed in recent seminars is a greater emphasis on developing our Gups (junior practioners, non-black belts), and rightly so, as these junior members represent the vitality of our organization. Nonetheless, the seminars are an opportunity for _everyone_ to learn, teach and polish their techniques. So, if you're a Dan member and you spend a great deal of time sitting on the hard concrete floor, that isn't much fun.

Tales of the China Fist

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I've not talked much about my training. This is probably due to the fact that I'm down to working out once a week. No, I'm not proud of it, but I simply cannot manage to get more hours under my belt.
Yeah, I know it is an excuse. Anyway, we have another seminar coming up next week. I will certainly attend.

There have been some important develepments that should not be overlooked. It seems that our school president was presented with a cease and desist letter. More specifically, our school will never again be able to use the Moo Duk Kwan logo. The insignia has been something of a brand for at least forty years. However, the son of the late Grandmaster Hwang Kee, has forbid anyone from using the fist and wreath. Politics in its highest form for sure.

Though, I have the greatest respect for the late GMST Hwang Kee, and the traditional Soo Bahk Do organization, their decision to sue was quite puzzling indeed. Our school has demonstrated virtue and pursuit of excellence for a number of years. It would appear that the trademark squabble could have been avoided if the leadership within both camps were permitted to dicuss the matter without the aid of lawyers. Perhaps I am overly optimistic.

Onto brighter news. We may have some teenagers testing for 1st Dan next weekend. Though, I've never been very keen on allowing kids to test for blackbelt, it is a pleasure to watch their progress. I believe that both will need step it up a notch in order to truly be prepared. Not certain that they are both sufficiently fatigued ;)

TSD Seminar

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Now that I've returned from the dirty south and grad school is in recess until Summer session. I can actually start devoting more time to my training regiment.
I attended our World Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do seminar held, late last month. As I described in a previous post, our federation president Grandmaster Jae Joon Kim(GMK), typically holds two per year. The seminar is normally held in conjuction with the dan or black belt exam. Essentially, the seminar is designed to ensure that all of the instructors and students are informed of any subtle changes to our hyungs (forms) or anything else that GMK would like understood. GMK, also brings his son, Master Nahm (pronounced 'nawm'), to help teach the students, as we normally have about 30-50 attendees. I'm always amazed at the intensity of Nam's forms. He does them quite well. For instance, the Nihanji forms (aka iron horse), require very firm and distinct stomps during each technique. These stomps are attacks on assailants, as your back is a against the wall and you are defending yourself against two imaginary assailants.

Special needs pupils

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We now of gups again, albeit just one white belt. I have lamented on the demise of our school, as we are so top heavy (ie. lots of black belts). I had the honor of spending time with one of our newest students. I was told that he has a learning disability, but after working with him, I really believe that he's going to be just fine. While I have no experience with teaching special needs students, I do know that I will not treat him any differently. I'll break down the hyungs, so that he can easily learn them. Repetition will be the order of the day. Obviously, I'll inject my singular wit to lighten the mood.

We worked on middle(choong dan mahkee) punches, high(sang dan mahkee) and low(ha dan mahkee) blocks. We will work on some kicking techniques during our next class. The new student came with his father who also happens to be a 1st Dan, so we are getting more students. Definitely, quite encouraging. Our school simply cannot survive with a bunch of black belts and no Gups.

Tang Soo Do Training update

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It seems that many martial arts schools are suffering a downturn. Not sure if its due to the economy or simply a lack of interest. Some instructors have suggested that they will be forced to use contracts in order to guarantee a consistent number of students. IMHO, contracts are not the answer. If a person is not passionate the arts, you will not be able to retain that student after the contract term has expired. At the end of the day your program will still suffer despite the monies collected by contracts. Schools need new students to continue the learning and teaching. It really is not much fun having a very senior class make-up. I happen to be the most junior student in our dojang. While I love and appreciate the senior instruction, it can be difficult to hone your teaching skills with senior members.

Countdown to 2nd Dan - Revisited

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Yesterday, I completed testing for the 2nd Dan requirements. In our system, whenever a Dan test is given. Our federation president typically offers a seminar to help sharpen the skills of the senior instructors and also introduce any nuiances or subtle changes that he may have introduced to some of the hyungs or forms. The day started off in an odd fashion, only because I arrived to the seminar approximately 30min late. This is not good thing for a Dan member, as we usually occupy the first two rows when we line up. Additionally, it also a sign of disrespect to interrupt class once it has begun. Because our school is merciful, and perhaps less militant than others, I wasn't subjected to much embarassment or additional push-ups. I quietly spoke with Saul, bowed me into class and I assumed my position in the last row. Once there was a break in class Grandmaster Kim(GMK) seemed to make it point to walk the back row, and growled,"Why you back here?" He then slapped me on my rump and told me to fall into my proper position, amongst the othe other 1st Dans(prounounced Don like Don Juan). I would later apologize to him in private for arriving to seminar late.

Countdown to 2nd Dan

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My regular posts will return, I promise. In fact, I've got a few entries cued up, but I have just been quite busy with coursework and training. Stuff should settle down by the weekend. I had a great class this evening. You may recall that I mentioned that I was preparing for my promotional exam, which takes place this weekend. It's hard to believe that it has been 18months since I earned my 1st degree black belt. The enthusiasm and focus has returned, I am really amped about my training. Still, the excitement does pale in comparison to the preparation and coronation of the 1st Dan. I spoke with one of my instructors regarding the more subdued approach to the 2nd Dan testing.

Essentially, he made the following analogy: He compared two shallow streams of water, which from a distance appear to be equal in depth. However, you really don't know how deep the water is until you wade in it. I imagine that I'm doing a pretty poor job of paraphrasing and articulating his point. Basically, he was explaining the fact that the martial arts are a continuous life experience. Thus, it is natural to go through periods shallowness and depth. The desire for higher learning will usually create a balance during these times of uncertainty.

Well, after last night I feel invigorated and very prepared for the Saturday exam. As is customary, I do plan to capture the experience, and share it with you at a later date.

Extreme Calesthetics- Revisited

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As I prepare for the 2nd Dan exam in October, I'm taking every opportunity to train. Now that I'm home again, I decided to pay another visit to Pure Energy dojang. I was pleased that head instructor(Sa Bahm Nim), Tessa Gordon, and one of the other Dan members remembered my earlier visit. Very grateful for the opportunity to learn with them again.

I was told that we would have a light class, as many of her regular students take vacation in August.
Actually, I thought that I'd arrived late, as I recalled a 6.30p start. Unlike the first session, I decided not eat before class. I've learned that is always a wise choice. The session really was not any different from the previous one. The only exercise that we did not perform was jump rope. I probably did about 90 pushups, 100 kicks, and assortment of other body building exercises. I'm clear that if I were a regular student, that I would absolutely be in the best shape of my life. My abs would be ripped, triceps well-defined etc. Although, I also believe that Sa Bahm Nim has flashbacks from the 1988 Olympics.
I do look forward to training with them again very soon.

Tang Soo Do chronicles

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Well I've been pre-occupied playing super nerd of late, I converted an old IBM Aptiva (AMD K6.2 300Mhz CPU) desktop, running win98, into a more fileserver running stable Debian Sarge. I also was asked to upgrade an older HP Pavilion running WinME to XP. Ran into a ridiculous Outlook Express messages restore problem. You gotta love M$ proprietary .dbx format. What a PITA. What can I say? Computing is my passion, and it keeps extra loot in my pockets.

Anyway, I digress. Actually, computers are not my only passion. Most of you already know that I'm an avid martial artist, specifically World Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do(pronounced 'Tung not Tang'). Unfortunately, I've not been able to train with the same vigor as I would like because of my arduous grad school schedule. Nonetheless, I have been working out once per week. Now that Summer classes have ended I'm back on my three times per week work out schedule. Additonally, I do enjoy visiting other schools to supplement my learning. My instructors have begun to scrutinize my basics for proper execution and focus.

Least desired outcome

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Participated in my second tournament in as many years. The outcome was far less enjoyable this time around. I suspect this was purely do to the very talented martial artists that I competed against. I was placed in the seniors division for the forms competition, where I placed fourth. The only problem here is that there were only four contestants. Nonetheless, I came away with 4th place medal. I got an opportunity to speak with one of the judges (4th Dan), he insisted that there was nothing wrong with my Bassai Hyung, he had hoped that I would use more focus and slow down to emphasize the beauty within the Hyung. True indeed, when done correctly Bassai, one of our cobra forms is quite beautiful to witness. Perhaps I'll let you be the judge, I may share a portion of my form for your viewing pleasure.

Extreme calastethics

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After getting picked up from the airport, I had a divine feast at Pio Pio Resturant (Jackson Hghts,Qns).

My walking partner and I proceeded to gourge ourselves with avacodos, rice/beans, and sangria. It was after the second glass of sangria, that I realized that I was to engage in a workout with some TaeKwondo practitioners, later that evening at the Tessa Gordon's Pure Energy Martial Arts dojang.

Once I got to B'klyn, I hurredly grabbed my taebok and other essentials, and jogged to the studio.
Never like to be that visitor who arrives late and disrupts class. Luckily, they hadn't begun class
when I walked through the doors.

Gordon had a decent sized class with several gups. Once we began the workout, I quickly discovered
that I was in for a real treat. We jumped rope, two-count squat thrusts, push-ups, leg raises,
crunches, and host of other assorted excercises. Thirty minutes into the workout, I thought I had Peruvian chicken coming out of my ears and nose. This was not the first time I had trained with TaeKwondo practitioners, so I was not too suprised by the focus on endurance. Actually, this makes alot of sense for their style, as it is heavily influenced in tournament competition and sparring.

Nevertheless, I endured and continued with earnest. Clearly I wanted to represent World Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do system well. Although, I had to stop a few times, I did enjoy it and will return on my next trip to home to B'klyn.

The Visiting Practitioner

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Ever since I attained the rank of 1st Dan, I have been on a quest to broaden my exposure to other martial arts systems. I have been told that the learning begins, at the black belt level. I was a guest at a Tae Kwon Do dojang over the weekend. I participated in a very intense three hour workout. No water breaks, the only breather we were granted, was to adjust our uniforms. The bulk of our time was spent doing basics and hyungs. Although, I'm not a Taekwondo practioner, I can appreciate the level of difficulty associated with their acrobatic tournament style kicking techniques.
I often wonder if they are very practical in a self-defense scenario.

113th Dan Testing Success

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Although my right knee is still aching, I enjoyed every minute. The day started with a seminar led by Grandmaster Jae Joon Kim, Muk Doo Kwan, World Tang Soo Do Federation President. We started the seminar at noon, and it consisted of basics, hyungs (forms), focus drills, and sparring. The seminar ended shortly after 2pm. We were running 30minutes late.

The Dan testing began at approx 2:45p, and ran until 5pm. Luckily, there were only 6 people testing for 1st Dan. There was also one person was testing for 4th Dan.

I made an error on a Hyung Pi-dan O-Dan form, otherwise I believe the exam went pretty well. Actually, the Grandmaster was pleased with everyone. Yes, I plan to post photos and video clips to the gallery. Thanks to everyone who attended.

Countdown to 1st Dan

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Gosh, it's been quite awhile since I've chatted w/you. Suffice to say the brotha has been mad busy.
1) Rehabbing investment property
2) Pseudo studying for FE
3) Preparing for Black Belt (Dan Exam - 4/3/04) testing

Pretty full plate. For those of you who don't know, I've been studying the Korean Martial Art, Moo Duk Kwan-Tang Soo Do(pronounced 'tung-sue-doe'). Actually, November 04, would make 5-years of practice.

Nonetheless, I'll be glad when the Dan test is over. I've intensified my training. Actually, I'm getting 3-4 days of instruction per week. Even cross training in other styles.

My instructors have assured me that 1st Dan is just the beginning of serious training. More later.

Other news - I've finally configured a useful photo/media gallery. I will launch it this week. You'll be able to get to it from the link on my website. It will be real cool, complete with areas for comments/etc.

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