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Martial arts: you can do it, this is your invitation!

You have the freedom of choice. You can choose to take action or be overwhelmed by your imagined shortcomings and do nothing.

JT IM high five

Photo 1: A high five at Kuk Sool Won Testing Day after a successful board break

Recently my ten year old son asked me whether he could audition for his elementary school’s variety show. I was somewhat surprised as he tends to shy away from the limelight.

He needed three other students to participate and thankfully there were ten others including  my seven year old daughter, who were more than willing to share their love for Kuk Sool Won martial arts with their peers. They called themselves the Kuk Sool Crew.

It was heartwarming to see them band together and practice. They were filled with enthusiastic energy and their excited smiles when they got together were a joy to behold.

Their eagerness to try something different was  inspiring. Although they were nervous it didn’t stop them from taking a chance.

We all have choices to make and chances to take every day. I had always wanted to do martial arts but I thought my age would be too much of a limitation. It took someone to invite me to try before I began my martial arts journey at Kuk Sool Won of Dublin, California.

An invitation from the school was a catalyst for my kids and their peers to try something different. An invitation from their martial arts Master triggered the start of my Kuk Sool Won adventure.

There are numerous martial arts styles including Karate, Jui Jitsu, Taekwondo, Hapkido, Kung Fun, Wushu and Jeet Kune Do to name but a few. I started out trying Tai Chi too. If you check out the newly launched Martial Nation website you can see the multitude of options.

VT and EA

Photo 2: My training buddy Eveline and I at the Kuk Sool Won of Dublin dojang in California

You can choose to stay on the sidelines and dream or you can launch yourself into the fray. The choice and the decision is yours.

There aren’t always obvious invitations to create the spark that ignites us into action but if you need one then here it is!

If you’ve ever dreamed of trying martial arts – this is your invitation! The universe is inviting you – will you accept?

The only permission you need to follow your dreams is your own.

Martial Arts Testing: California’s Got Kuk Sool Talent

Pain quote VT kick 894

November is Testing Time again. The fourth and final one for the year. It’s a time for the instructors to assess our skills and for us to establish where our knowledge gaps are.

It’s s bit like a stage performance, a live show with an audience after several dress rehearsals but it also includes a panel of judges. It could be akin to a California’s Got Kuk Sool Talent Show.

Pain is part of the process. As a previously exercise averse individual the concept of pushing your body till it hurts is counter-intuitive. I didn’t expect to discover where all my muscle groups were when I got out of bed in the morning!

Now however I know that the pain is an indicator of effort. If you’ve worked hard enough a bit of pain is a gold star on your workout sheet and if you don’t feel it you either didn’t work hard enough or its time to ramp up your routine.

I’ve been practicing my spin kicks knowing that for testing I would need to do a high spin kick to break my board. It made me very nervous. “So what part of testing causes you the most anxiety? ” our Chief Instructor, Master Saidi asked me. “Board breaking” I responded “followed by techniques and then forms.” And yes that essentially covers everything we do in testing besides body conditioning.

When considering my level of martial arts skill in relation to the task ahead, I felt like Hiccup in How to Train your Dragon saying ” you just gestured to all of me!”

Spin kicks make me dizzy, I can probably do about five in one direction before my world moves like a merry -go-round. Besides that my limited flexibility in my hips means that I struggle to get good height. So my hip flexors ache too.

The objective then is to not have to kick the board more than once.

I failed. My first kick knocked the JKN’s hand who was unfortunate enough to be holding my board. The next kick broke it but the execution left loads of room for improvement. If this had been a talent show I would not make it to the next round.

The night before in class had been one of my best kicking sessions in a while with my awesome training buddy Ramya. I was nailing the target soundly and powerfully with my heel. My leg was almost straight and my accuracy was great. It had boosted my confidence but at testing there was no hint of this history.

I could hear the voice of the Kuk Sool Won Grandmaster In Hyuk Suh in my head saying “you need more practice!”

Peaking the night before made no difference. It was only about how good you are on the day. Sometimes despite the preparation the cosmic forces deal you an unfortunate hand but that is when the show must go on.

What was heartwarming though was hearing the applause and encouragement from our fellow students. Having a martial arts family helps!

It was also inspiring to watch the more advanced belts execute their techniques. Visible indicators of what can be achieved with committed training. Watching my fellow students made it clear where the Kuk Sool talent resides.

Although failure can be disappointing, tenacity keeps us going and perseverance yields results. You do get what you work for. Masters have failed more than students have even tried. Failure and disappointment are part of the journey too but true strength lies in picking yourself up and trying again.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Master Saidi or that of the World Kuk Sool Association.

Done is better than perfect- my first Kuk Sool Won public demo

Our Kuk Sool Won school has a select group of students chosen to do demonstrations. They are chosen because of their dedication, skill and commitment.

Kuk Sool Won, yellow belt form, demo in the park

Kuk Sool Won, yellow belt form, demo in the park

Every second Saturday of the month they meet to train together and practice. They are all black brown belts and their exemplary behavior has earned them a spot on the team.

At their last training session however there were two unlikely guests with the rank of blue stripe. They had been asked to join in the training for a particular public demo to illustrate the point that gender and age should not be a limiting factor in a martial arts journey. I was one of those blue stripes.

Since I had just celebrated my 45th birthday it was a fun way to mark the occasion. When I first pitched for the demo training class one of the black brown belt students looked at me incredulously. “You’re doing a demo?” he asked quizzically. “Yes” I responded, ” at my age one has to make every moment count!”

Fortunately I was doing the form along with my training buddy Ramya. I thought she was rather brave to appear in public doing a martial arts form alongside me. She is very energetic, fit and spirited so doing extra training together was great.

The demo was held on a hot and sunny afternoon at a nearby park. It was Community Night at the local Farmers’ Market. The demo team did an excellent job. They clearly were much more familiar with the requirements than I was.

When our turn came I surprisingly didn’t feel too anxious and initially started off well. We were about half way through when things went a bit awry and I kicked with the wrong leg!

At least I managed to smile at my error and move on. Our fellow participants were very complimentary and encouraging. My kids, dressed in their doboks were excited to be there and my sweet husband came straight to the venue after work to offer me support.

We had a second opportunity to do our form and lo and behold I made the same error the second time around! My performance was far from ideal but being there was already a challenge overcome. I still felt a sense of accomplishment and doing the demo in public motivated to keep practicing. We are all growing and learning.

Sometimes done is better than perfect.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Master Saidi or that of the World Kuk Sool Association.

When exercise isn’t exercise – discovering the thrill of Kuk Sool Won martial arts

Promotion Day, a highly anticipated event by every martial artist whose art has a belt ranking system. Our household was no exception given that there were four us who would be receiving new belts. On this occasion the dojang is decorated with balloons, ninja faces, trimmings and quotations to celebrate the anniversary of the Kuk Sool Won of Dublin school which was first established by Master Saidi in California 25 years ago. The kids were excited as they would receive their new belts in the morning promotion session and the adults in the afternoon. Another goal achieved.

Special Promotion Day celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the opening of the Kuk Sool Won of Dublin School in California by Master Saidi

Special Promotion Day celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the opening of the Kuk Sool Won of Dublin School in California by Master Saidi

I am not accustomed to setting sporting goals. It hasn’t been a been a part of my life as I never found a form of exercise that appealed to me in the way that Kuk Sool Won does. I enjoy swimming and cycling and even named my bike. I enjoy the fun and rhythm of a Zumba workout too. I guess it’s because with these types of exercise my focus is not on the activity itself but rather on peripheral factors. We are all unique and each of us is fueled by different drivers.

I love the buoyancy and look of water, the cool blue color of the ocean or a sun drenched swimming pool lift my spirits. When biking I enjoy the freedom, the beauty of the scenery, the feeling of the wind blowing on my face and the warm sun on my skin. With Zumba it’s the appeal of the music and the fun of shaking what my Momma gave me but in martial arts it is the actual exercise that I connect with.

My anxiety levels before a class are no longer as intense as when I first started 8 months ago but nervous anticipation has replaced it. I get to the school early so that I have some time to focus and breathe before class begins. Just doing warm-up is already a way to gauge my progress and challenge myself. My levels of flexibility have already improved significantly and I can now get my legs over my head while on my back without the fear that I associated with this posture in the past.

My husband often says that golf is 90% mental and 10% mental. My mental attitude towards doing some of the exercises needs to be re-examined with every bit of progress I make. I am completely rubbish at back falls still but the fact that I roll over backwards at all is a miracle to me!

 

Master Saidi and students with their new red belts

Master Saidi and students with their new red belts

The set up of the dojang excites me like the look of blue water, although that may have something to do with the blue springy floors!  Wavemasters are lined up along the mirrors, weapons on racks including bo staffs, knives, spears and even bows and arrows and of course my favorite – swords!

Once the training begins there are so many facets and variables it engages both my mind and my body. Eyes focused, mind clear, hands fast, stance low and kicks high are much easier said than done and you can always improve something – the permutations are endless. I notice my breathing and the ever increasing levels of perspiration. As Master Saidi says “this sweat is not like the kind you get in a sauna, it is hard earned and yields for more long lasting results.”

Picking up a bo staff is a pleasure in itself. The weight of it which seems to increase the longer I hold it. The excitement of twirling it above my head and visualizing myself in a martial arts movie. Nothing quite compares to the feeling of satisfaction of successfully navigating a sparring session dripping sweat like a leaking faucet.

Movement, meditation and mastery of body and mind – crucial elements that underpin any progress in Kuk Sool Won. I have new targets as a blue stripe belt holder that are already set by the comprehensive curriculum but I have personal goals too. To reach 80% flexibility by December in addition to being able to do more than 25 push-ups in one go and to be able to maintain a low stance for more than a minute. These may not seem like much but are quite an ask considering my baseline fitness levels.

These goals however are driving me forward. Everyone has to start somewhere. To me though it’s not like any other exercise I have done and the results are evidence of this fact. Before Kuk Sool I saw exercise as a chore, a necessary evil, now however the thought of the physical exertion is secondary to the thrill of discovering new avenues of growth. Exercise isn’t simply exercise when it connects with your soul.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Master Saidi or that of the World Kuk Sool Association.

Dublin Martial Arts School to compete in Kuk Sool Won tournament in Sacramento

Master Saidi, Staff and Students after a training session at the Kuk Sool Won of Dublin school

Master Saidi, Staff and Students after a training session at the Kuk Sool Won of Dublin school

Dublin, California, March 26– The stage is set for a traditional Korean martial arts competition as scores of Kuk Sool WonTM students from the Pacific coast region gather in Folsom, Sacramento for the annual tournament. This year the Kuk Sool Won of Dublin School, Martial Arts Academy of USA will be represented with over a hundred students, under the leadership of Master Seyd Saidi.

In August this year the school will mark its 25th anniversary. Master Saidi is one of only sixteen 6th Dahn Kuk Sool Masters and has trained thousands of students over his 35 years of teaching.

He reminds his students as they prepare for tournament that “growth happens outside of your comfort zone”.

The Kuk Sool WonTM of Dublin team includes students ranging in age from under 5 years old to adults. The youngest representative from the Kuk Sool WonTM of Dublin school is Kashvi at 3 years old and along with her training partner who is 4, will be making their tournament debut.

A respected guest at the event will be the Founder and Grandmaster of Kuk Sool WonTM, In Hyuk Suh. Other senior Kuk Sool WonTM Masters will also be present in addition to a range of black belt practitioners who will serve as judges for the event.

All Kuk Sool WonTM schools in the Pacific coast area of California will be represented and close to a thousand participants are expected.

There has been a growth in popularity for this martial arts system due to its comprehensive nature and the range of styles, techniques and weapons it includes.

This tournament is governed by World Kuk Sool Association Tournament rules and guidelines, and the event is only open to current and active members of the World Kuk Sool Association, Inc.

The event allows students to meet and interact with practitioners of all ages and abilities, and from all walks of life, and to experience the shared identity of a global martial arts system.

Students will compete in various categories including open hand forms, techniques, sparring and weapons forms. There is an array of weapons in this martial art system including bo staffs, swords, knives, fans and spears which draws a crowd at the Masters and Instructors demonstrations held at the tournament.

Each participant is awarded points for their achievements and the schools compete to obtain the highest overall score.

About: Besides the fact that learning Kuk Sool has an impact on every student that enrolls at his school, Master Saidi strives to provide a nurturing, disciplined and goal-oriented environment for his students. The Kuk Sool WonTM of Dublin School is an established Martial Arts Academy located in Dublin in the Bay Area of California and is proud of its track record of excellence in the teaching of martial arts. For information about his school and the Kuk Sool WonTM martial arts system please see contact information below.

Contact Information:

Kuk Sool WonTM of Dublin, Martial Arts Academy of USA

4558 Dublin Boulevard CA 94568

Phone: (925) 551 – 8200

Website: http://www.kuksoolwonofdublin.com

Age is a number, action is a choice

Quote age is a number

I’m too old for this …  is the Lethal Weapon movie quote I could relate to both before and after my 6th Kuk Sool Won class because it was also the day that for the second time in my life I had to take a behind the wheel driving test.

How much anxiety can you fit into one afternoon? Plenty it would seem.

Testing and accomplishment

Moving to America meant that my United Kingdom driving licence would only be valid for a limited period before I was required to take the local driving tests both written and practical. I postponed it for as long as I could as the thought of doing a behind the wheel test after more than 20 years of driving filled me with dread, especially because it would be on the other side of the road.

The anxiety of the pending assessment transported me to the day that I first took the K53 test in South Africa as a teenager. Surely being 40 something should grant me some more composure than then – but it didn’t.

However if I wanted to drive I had no choice but to do it. And 20 years later I felt the same thrill of accomplishment as when I first took the test.

Kuk Sool Won Class 6

I had a few hours to let my adrenalin levels drop before my anxiety started peaking again in anticipation of the martial arts class.

The grimaces of pain on the mature brown belt’s face leading warm up were echoed by mine. The natural flexibility of our bodies had been eroded by time. Next to me what looked like a ten year old did the full splits with remarkable ease. It hurt just to look at him.

Beads of sweat were clearly evident on my flushed cheeks. Kicking and punching the air is rather heavy work.

Then came form practice and techniques. Following the stresses of the day my mind drew a blank on which hand grabbed and which foot stepped. Ten push-ups for you thanks very much!

Even my favourite sword play couldn’t revive me. I was spent.

Accepting the challenge

Then just before departure the white belts were encouraged to sign up for tournament. The idea was that it would challenge and motivate us.

Completing the forms made it obvious that I was the oldest white belt by far. There wasn’t a box to check after my age category!

So yes I did it anyway. Age is just a number, action is a choice.

 

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Master Saidi or that of the World Kuk Sool Won Association.

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