Stay in the Moment!

Forms…stay in the moment!

“Forms are memorized. Don’t let the next memorized move take your attention away from your current move. Always watch your target. Watch the kicks! Watch the cuts! This goes along with don’t practice dying. Unless your current threat is eliminated, you can not know the next threat. If life was a form, we would all know what is next and be prepared to deal with it. Unfortunately, that is not reality. We need to have high speed problem solving skills.”

So says Tanya…during the November 21st WTMA East Central dojang Taekwondo and Haidong Gumdo classes. She had the class doing hyung and gumbub (forms) and noticed that many were doing the patterns only by rote. That doesn’t help develop the combat…problem solving…aspect of the martial arts as we present them.

This enforces our teaching that each technique should be correctly completed before moving to the next one. Included in this is retaining the intent of the technique to completion also. The greater benefits include the development of strategies that can be adapted to work in daily life.

The Journey So Far

I had never planned to be a martial artist, let alone a teacher! I am only an average athlete, so a physical endeavor was not part of my future. That said, my enjoyment of the Green Hornet and Kung Fu television shows caused to join a class. This was January 1981.

A couple years later, the martial arts training proved its value as I began to struggle with academics. The point where I realized that learning a form in a single class directly related to getting all the homework done for ALL of my academic classes allowed me to graduate.

Along the way I started to teach in order to keep my own training going. It was a purely selfish thing. I was not able to get to classes due to the three hour drive to the nearest class. After getting permission, I started a little class as a 4th gup. I only planned to develop a couple training partners because I knew the responsibility would develop the discipline to train.

That was a long time ago. I’m just now seeing everything. It was also a long time of searching for information about the lineage that I came from. That happened to start when I asked my first teacher, Master Tom Sullivan, about the first and characters in our Karate North logo.

That search lead me to find that I came from a Song Moo Kwan Taekwondo line of awesome martial artists. Did I say that out loud? Sorry. That discovery lead me on a long journey to find the history of where my Taekwondo came from. I do feel fortunate that I’ve come to know Supreme Grand Master Joon Pyo Choi and a source to the history.

I have never been one searching for the accolades of tournament success. I participated out of respect to my teacher and mentor, Master Sullivan, but after learning the meaning of the fist and Song Moo characters, I was on another journey. Yes, one that I had never planned to be on. It took me the better part of 10 years to figure out the basics of Song Moo Kwan history. Where  will this take me? I have no idea. I’m just starting to get history lessons from Supreme Grand Master Choi.

Lessons Learned From The Hero Round Table

Lessons learned from The Hero Round Table talk attempt are pretty obvious (once you see the video). I am very grateful to Matt Langdon for the opportunity. He let me have my first speaking chance. This was an outstanding experience and education. All of the speakers were welcoming and supportive from a wide range of backgrounds. They also ranged in age from 12 years old to me at 55 years old (I think I was the oldest one speaking). The talks covered segments of heroism.

So, what did I learn?

1) Speaking is hard!
There is a big difference between talking in class or demonstrations and speaking on a topic. I get teased about talking too much during classes, so I’m not really shy about it. I’ve been known to talk a great deal at seminar dinners or demonstrations. It was shocking how difficult it turned out to just talk without prompts of questions and seeing the audience reactions.

2) Preparing the presentation isn’t the same as knowing the information
I had planned to use Powerpoint slides to help keep me on track, which failed horribly. The nerves got the better of me and I out talked my slides. Talking too fast caused me to talk through all the slides before I got to them…and left me without any guides to finish the talk. It really sucked being that there was still five minutes left!

3) Didn’t understand the subject well enough – heroic action vs morally heroic
I was REALLY surprised to learn about the variety of viewpoints taken and the education levels of the speakers. One area included building sustainable economies in other countries, while another area was on serving families/groups. These stretched my definition of hero. While the 12 year olds are still working the education angle, a couple of speakers were psychologists focusing on heroism.

Then again, there’s these…

1) Great opportunity to fail
Those who know me have already figured out that I’ll try stuff, lots of stuff. A few times it’s been something that I’ve never done before. This was one of those times. I do view the opportunity to fail more as a learning event that actually failing.

2) Great support from speakers, which felt like family
The speaker’s dinner the night before and the conversation afterward was greatly enjoyed. It was wonderful to feel so welcomed into a group. People who had never heard of me were interested in my thoughts and how I came to the event.

3) Respond with further development to truly become a hero!
Now that I’ve had the chance to work with this group and got to see the mindset, I can develop my knowledge and presentation skills to truly fit the event. Continuing learning is always part of what I teach, so it is only proper that I continue as well.

You can see pictures of the event by following this link – http://www.white-tiger-martialarts.com/programs/gumdo/wtma-haidong-gumdo-photos-videos-2017/the-hero-round-table-2017/

Fools!

If you don’t make awareness part of everything that you do, you will fall prey to the skills of those who mean you harm. This is from a simple pickpocket to an assailant wanting to harm you. Be Batman and prepare for all options that you can conceive!

Don’t leave things out! Make sure that you’re working to make sure that you’re safe and in control of what you can. Even the mightiest can be corrupted!

How do you value your martial arts training?

With our semi-annual seminar coming up in a month, I’ve heard the same complaint AGAIN – “I can’t afford [blank] to go.” This typically is filled in with hotel but I’ve heard a few others as well.

So? What is the value of your training? The piece about shows what I spent for the Memorial Day 2017 Weekend seminar and testing that I did. This was not the first seminar that I’ve gone to. Currently, I’m traveling to two per year. Add to that the cost of the local events attended and it becomes several thousands per year. I’m afraid to go back and total the amount from the start of my training 36 years ago.

Why do I do this? For me personally, there are several reasons.
1) I’ve made teaching the martial arts, so I need to continue learning my profession.
2) My desire for education and growth to help me become a better person.
3) My desire to help other learn about themselves.
4) The extended family that welcomes me whenever I show up that creates memories.

I could list many more with greater detail but I think that my point is made. This just illustrates what my perception of the value is. The commitment that I’ve chosen to make to follow this path is very deep. I bet I can find a couple people who have stopped bothering with me because of the choices that I’ve made.

I have seen my students illustrate their commitment to their training. Several have attended seminars (local and distant) hosted by us and others. They take this even further when they voluntarily participate in demonstrations and Anime/SciFi conventions. These are done at their own expense! Yes, I have very awesome students.

I also know that several of our Midwest Masters view their training as very valuable as they regularly travel to semi-annual regional events plus participation in joint regional events and their World Championships.

So, if you are a martial artist, how much is it worth to you? Are you willing to plan for the time and cost? Our Midwest Haidong Gumdo seminar gave two months notice with a very low seminar cost and may include one night in a hotel plus gas and food. Are you willing to plan for something two months out? Do you for other activities?

While this is pertinent to all martial arts, this does lean a bit toward the Haidong Gumdo schools that are part of our group. Lastly, please bear in mind that lack of participation can cause training opportunities to disappear due to what it costs to run them. The turnout for our events affects the planning for seminars with Kwanjangnim Jeong Woo Kim and Senior Chief Master Marshall Parnell. How valuable is your training?

Are You Doing It Right?

So, you’ve been training for quite a while and know all the basic movements. You work hard to make the basics correct. Now, as you work on your patterns, techniques aren’t fitting. Are you doing techniques differently than during basics? Why?

Have you found the combinations that are the same in different patterns? Have you discovered the progression that happens as you learn patterns? Have you worked toward making the similar movements recognizable across a set of patterns?

[Haidong Gumdo] There was a little fun had cutting milk jugs. The first couple students missed the jug on the first 3-4 cuts. Finally, a student stops and asks “Why are our techniques worse when there’s a target?” It got a good laugh but it also made a very good point. Why do techniques change when we add targets?

My thought is that basic cuts are the most correct cuts that you can do. This makes their practice vital. That your efforts are focused on making each repetition better than the previous…better than the last class. Your cuts should always be the same as during basic cuts.

[Taekwondo] This is no different in Taekwondo. Your blocks, strikes, and kicks should be done in drills to be the most correct that you can make them. Speed and power development as well as precision always need development.

Now that you’re paying closer attention the your techniques, the challenge is to not change them when you transfer basic movements to patterns. If a stance is done a specific way during drills, then it should look the same in your patterns. Your movements should look just like drills just in a mixed up order.

The applications of the techniques should be visible during your patterns. These applications have only minor variations (usually targeting) and are still performed the same across many patterns. Combinations work because the techniques fit together well enough to be successfully used. Those that didn’t work were discarded.

Your techniques have been developed and now it’s time for the next portion of your training. My students have heard me repeat the saying that a handful of my teachers all used. They’re told “Physical techniques are only 10% of an art.” This means that there is the other 90% of the art that has way much more for you to learn.

The benefits of self control, self discipline, and focus are all within the martial arts BUT they’re not in obvious lessons. Just because you came to class doesn’t mean that you learned them. Self control comes from working through the frustrations of learning new techniques or patterns. Self discipline comes from returning to class and working on the material. Focus comes from following directions and developing awareness. All of these, then, help to develop an indomitable spirit.

Once the recognition of how these traits develop, then they can be applied to other topics/subjects to become successful in all of the adventures you undertake…even when they aren’t things you’re interested in.

Hero Round Table (October 23 & 24, 2017)

WHAT IS THE HERO ROUND TABLE?

Often called the TED Talks of heroism, the Hero Round Table teaches people how to be more than a bystander. From our humble beginnings in Michigan to our global series on three continents and counting, we’ve already seen attendees go on to do amazing things.

Most importantly, the Hero Round Table has created a worldwide community dedicated to practicing heroism. We have spurred academic research on what makes people do heroic things, and we help regular people act on what we’ve learned. (quoted from the Hero Round Table website)

I have a very distinct honor coming up in October. I get to be one of 21 presenters for the Hero Round Table in Michigan. I will be discussing how the martial arts helps create your Hero! These Heroes take on the daily challenge of life.

Feel free to contact me with any questions. You can use the contact form below. If you are interested in attending, please follow the link here – http://heroroundtable.com/michigan