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Practice, patience and patches

The Grand Master and founder of Kuk Sool Won, In Hyuk Suh,  has a saying that has become ingrained in mind “With patience and perseverance all things are possible.” His other well known saying is “We need more practice!” and I know for sure that it applies to me.

Grand Master In Hyuk Suh and Master Saidi

Grand Master In Hyuk Suh and Master Saidi

February 16 was President’s Day so there was no class. My training buddy sent me a text to confirm that the school was closed. I expect she was feeling the withdrawal symptoms too.

We had such a great training session last week and we were both starting to feel a bit more confident about our forms. Master Saidi had given us some extra pointers and demonstrated how the form movements pertain to a conflict situation so that we visualise the applications.

We repeated our forms side by side and it felt really awesome to see the flow of movements conducted in unison.

We had also had some falling practice with one of the higher ranked belts, a blue stripe, which made the techniques look a lot more impressive. It’s amazing how being observed adds a layer of pressure and thankfully we got through ok. Patience is certainly a necessary virtue when learning martial arts.

I couldn’t recall when last I had to try and roll. In my experience it’s not a movement that the average adult gets to do very often. Master Saidi made it look so easy “Just roll on your shoulder not your head!” Fear gripped me again. My inner ear issues made me susceptible to vertigo and I wanted to be sure that I could get back up again after rolling. “Perhaps you should practice at home” I was jokingly told. Well it was now or never I figured – one of those situations again where you feel the fear but do it anyway – so I did!

Now that we would be going to tournament we also needed to get patches for our doboks. The patches certainly add a touch of flare to the already intimidating  black uniform. I am rather excited about getting mine – it will feel like an outward sign connecting me to the ancient traditions of this martial arts system.

Kuk Sool Won Uniform (dobok)

Kuk Sool Won Uniform (dobok)

Wikipedia had the following interesting points about the uniform:

“The uniform material is stronger than a standard Tae Kwon Do uniform, but lighter than a Judo uniform, as it must allow the user to perform the complete spectrum of martial arts techniques. Kuk Sool Won uniforms are black as opposed to white, mainly to differentiate them from other martial arts, such as Tae Kwon Do which focus more on sport aspects and have adopted white as the primary color of their uniforms. However, an alternate reason could be that according to Korean tradition, the color black is associated with wisdom.”

Tournament is approaching and we have special training sessions to help us iron out all the errors and increase our confidence. I am planning to attend every single one of them! I need more practice!

 

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.

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Jump front kick – believe you can!

Yoda Quote

It seems perverse to my non-athletic brain to put jumping and kicking into the same move. However after trying it for the first time, I think I’ve found my new favourite kick!

It was my third Kuk Sool Won class. It starts at 7pm so at 6pm I can already feel my anxiety starting to build. It’s still unfamiliar territory and completely out of my comfort zone.

We get through family dinner and I can sense that my heart rate has gone up and my palms are getting clammy. Sweaty palms are a real nuisance – I always feel like I’m holding out a wet fish when someone tries to shake my hand.

Tonight my hubby and two kids are escorting me to class. I can see the kids eyes gleaming as they look at me in my black dobok (uniform) -they look pleased as punch with me. This of course does not prevent them from mocking me for being a white belt. Kids – they certainly know how to keep your ego in check.

Rick leads warm-up and since Master Saidi is busy with tournament registrations he keeps us going with kicking practice.

I managed the first few ok but then Rick mentions the dreaded spin kick. I’ve had episodes of vertigo in the UK and ever since then any form of spinning really ramps up my anxiety levels. My martial arts loving doc said I would be fine as long as I took it slowly . Here goes nothing I thought.

My kicking partner was a rather shy girl with a yellow stripe belt and a hair clip that kept falling out. “Pick that up please. ” Sir asked her “someone may step on it and damage my floor.” I couldn’t suppress my laughter – spoken like a true martial arts Master, no mention of any injury to the foot.

My partner was kind and patient and had to hold the kicking target. I got rather confused with the spin kicks not always knowing which leg to kick with after I turned but I soldiered on. I asked another student, Paul, to demonstrate the kick again and he kindly obliged. That kick will certainly take more practice. I was told though that my kick was fine – I just needed to believe I could do it.

Then Master Saidi called for some jump front kicks. Seriously? I took two steps, jumped and kicked and my foot hit the target with a resounding thwack! It felt awesome and hearing the sound of the contact was extremely satisfying. Like hitting the sweet spot on a driver.

“Do or do not, there is no try ” said Yoda. I think the second kick worked better because I didn’t overthink it. I just did it. I believed I could.

Is there anything you’re overthinking? Believe you can and do it!

 

At the dojang in Dublin, California

At the dojang in Dublin, California

 

 

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.

Martial Arts 101: We only regret the paths left unexplored

Path Poppies unexplored

It was a chilly evening but I didn’t need anything to keep warm. Nervous energy consumed me as I drove through the evening traffic.

The dojang (training hall) loomed large before me. The previous class was still in session. I tried not to focus on what the students were doing as I knew it would only escalate my anxiety.

My lizard brain wanted to retreat. What was I thinking? A 40-something year old with a very unsuccessful track record in anything sports related, starting a martial arts class where the average student was likely to be at least 30 years younger!

A sense of trepidation gripped me but I knew I was going to have to do this one scared! Feel the fear and do it anyway!

Our instructor, Master Seyd M. A. Saidi, has practiced martial arts for over 35 years and has developed numerous teaching methods and techniques designed to aid students of all ages become accomplished martial artists.

“What size uniform do you think? 3 or 4?” asked Master Saidi. “Is there a size short and round?” I responded. I was handed the size 4 and went off to change.

There was no turning back now.

Standing in the changing area donning my dobok (uniform) felt strangely exciting. I saw my reflection in the large wall mirrors – you’re all kinds of crazy I thought!

The rest of the hour past in a blur of stretches, kicks, breathing exercises, punches and sword play. I felt rather self-conscious – the only white belt in a sea of browns and blacks! I couldn’t keep up with all of it and lost my balance a few times.Other than that though – it was exhilarating and I felt like I was connecting with my inner Cynthia Rothrock.

Respect and etiquette was palpable. Controlled discipline permeated each exchange which thankfully meant I was not taken down by the more advanced students. A fellow student even handed me a training sword so I didn’t have to fetch one myself. It was a kind gesture.

After the class the trainers were very encouraging. It was kind of them not to mock my lack of flexibility or dexterity.

Although I still felt the weight of my inexperience, I knew that I was embarking on another journey of self discovery. Guess I would keep being terrified but I would also keep trying.

We only regret the paths left unexplored.

When was the last time you tried something for the first time?

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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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