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Giving 100%, make the time and make it count!

Sir 100 Quote v2

Murphy’s law haunts me, whenever you set out to do something, something else must be done first. It’s the same thinking that used to move me to action when I was in Church going through the liturgy and got to the part about what we have left undone…

It’s the reason I make lists. I always have one running. Usually it’s on auto shuffle. Parenthood means that new items get added constantly. Life happens.

Finding the spaces to fill that are not already crammed with the necessities and mundanities of living is not a simple process. It requires a firm decision. A decision to choose differently. To prioritize according to the goals you wish to achieve.

Sometimes when I become too focused on one particular goal, others can take a bit of a back seat.  I was reminded of that in martial arts class this week.

Our instructor, Master Saidi, asked us to review our techniques. My anxiety levels immediately peaked because I knew that I haven’t been giving them much attention. In fact in general my focus on training had waned.

I’d had a bout of the seasonal cold and missed a couple of classes. My focus had been more on intellectually pursuing the art and unpacking its stories rather than on the actual practice. Its easy to get distracted as a writer and story gatherer. The outcome of this loss of focus was rather telling.

I had learned about the history and personal journeys of those who practiced the art but I had been neglecting my training. “That’s an interesting technique” Master Saidi declared as I ineffectively tried to recall Sohn Mohk Soo no 3, “perhaps we can add it to our curriculum” he joked.

Chagrin ensued, not a comfortable space but one from where meaningful lessons can be learned if I choose to put my ego aside.

I needed to remember why I was here in this dojang. I had lost sight of my green destiny and my intention and mission was resurfacing in full dramatic style.

You must practice these techniques every day we were told. The Kuk Sool curriculum is vast, if you are struggling at this point the only way to improve is through more practice.

Master Saidi had reminded us earlier that “when you give 100% in martial arts training, it will deliver 100% when you need it. If you slack off during training, your martial arts will desert you in your time of need.

A vivid reminder. There is no room for excuses. I want my techniques to be good. I want them to be effective. To get there I needed focused attention and more training.

You get what you train for. Mediocrity is not an option.

I cannot give 100% of my attention to all my goals all the time. It’s simply not humanly possible. What I can do though is prioritize and give each step 100% in the time allotted to them. Make the time and make it count.

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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The smaller they are,  the further they fly

KSW Quote Smaller fly

It was the strangest feeling being back in class after an unexpected absence. It reminded me of how I felt as a child returning to my family home after being away on an extended excursion.

There was the feeling of familiarity with the surroundings and the procedures along with a sense of affection for objects I had used which was comforting and reassuring but there was also a sense of guilt at shirking my responsibility and neglecting my duty.

Standing in the dojang with my feet on the tape, waiting for class to begin there was the awareness that this was a place to grow and be nurtured but also a place to challenge oneself and strive to continuously improve.

There was also a hint of anxiety about whether I would remember my forms and techniques when illness had prevented me from revising between classes as I usually would.

I have learned so much and experienced so many new things and challenges that I sometimes forget that my martial arts journey is still in its embryonic fourth month stage.

“Cha Ryuht” Master Saidi calls us to attention and the class responds in unison with a resounding “Yes Sir!”

Training begins and I cautiously go through the manoeuvres testing my still recovering body to see how well it can withstand the required demands.

My training partner and I start working through our techniques and realise that we are going to need some guidance and revision on the last one we learned.

My training partner and I at the dojang

My training partner and I at the dojang

Master Saidi happily helps us through the technique and simultaneously reminds us about the importance of persistent practice.

Then to keep us on our toes he teaches us a new technique. Growing and learning – that’s the journey.. He then also explains to us why the technique is designed to help us handle an opponent who is physically stronger and of course has a quote to help us drill it into our minds.

“The bigger they are the harder they fall. The smaller they are the further they fly,” he quipped.

The first sentence is very familiar to most – even to me as a non sports oriented type it was something I’d heard my Grandfather often say but the latter part was new and so apt for our setting.

It connected with me both literally and figuratively. Being short of stature myself I actually do feel like Kuk Sool Won has taught this small person to fly. It has released me from my self created cage of sporting inadequacy and allowed me to step into a new realm of self discovery and started me on a journey to reach new heights.

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.

One mind focused…nothing impossible! Kuk Sool Won wins!

KSW Quote One mind focused

It’s strange to think how much time we spend going to and from the dojang. Kuk Sool Won has really become such an integral part of our lives and both my kids and I are loving it! Reminds me of an image I saw recently – Eat, sleep, Kuk Sool Won, repeat!

Our classes alternate so effectively we are at the dojang 6 days a week due to the extra tournament training classes. I jokingly said that we might as well put up a tent outside!

Other unusual behaviours have also permeated our daily lives. In the morning my daughter greets me with a “parro” cuddle. “Parro” in Korean means to return to the original position.

My son and I pass each other and he tries techniques on me while practicing to kiai.

As I walk through the house I aim at the height of the light switches when practicing my kicks.

Since Kuk Sool Won is a Korean martial arts system, the Korean words we hear in class have become part of our daily dialogue. Clearly Kuk Sool Won wins at ours!

I wondered about this profound influence and realized that at the heart of it is a passionate teacher and a martial arts school that has a nurturing and family friendly atmosphere.

Master Saidi clearly loves what he does and connects with his students in a way that helps them reach their full potential. It’s wonderful to have found a martial arts teacher who is humble and caring while also being able to drive his students to be the best they can be.

He also has a knack of saying rather profound things while he teaches so is an excellent source of writing fodder!

Thousands of students have been through his school over the past 25 years and each one has been changed in the process. Many things can influence the decision to start martial arts training but choosing the correct teacher is the most critical element.

In my personal journey I have not always been positive about my aging body and have often been rather unkind to it. I have never been good at sports. I never thought that I would be capable of doing this martial art until “Sir” as we respectfully call him, convinced me otherwise.

On Wednesday I was tested along with my training buddy Vineela and another charming young woman and we got promoted to the next belt! I now have a yellow stripe on my white belt! My first sporting achievement at 44 years old!

Several people, including Mums on the school run have stopped me to ask what I am doing to look so good. But it’s not only the external that has been transformed – internally I feel like I have rekindled the flames of ambition that peaked in my youth.

Was it mere coincidence or serendipity that my martial arts journey began in the same week of the Seth Godin, Your Turn Challenge? I think not – it seems more like divine intervention. I got connected to a dynamic group of change makers at the same time that my eyes were reopened to the joy of making a difference and the inspirational value of being part of something bigger than myself.

“What are we doing today Brain? The same thing we do every day Pinky – try to take over the world!” That used to be my mantra while at university. Today I feel more driven than ever to bring out the best in people and encourage them to pursue their goals.

I spoke to a Mum outside the dojang while waiting for my son to finish training. She asked me about the class – it was not the first time she did. Tonight she is taking her first step to reach her goals – she is joining me in class!

Saturday I received a t-shirt from Master Saidi that has the inscription – “One mind focused…nothing impossible! ” Says it all really.

Passion breeds perseverance and drives us to fulfill our dreams.

At the dojang with Master  Saidi after testing and promotion

At the dojang with Master Saidi after testing and promotion

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.

Kids Kicking it Kung Fu style from Uganda to Kuk Sool Won style in America

Master Saidi martial arts quote

“Everybody in Uganda is Kung Fu fighting” – this article by Elizabeth McSheffrey caught my attention. It’s seldom that we hear the good news stories from Africa on this side of the ocean but this one made it.

The local film industry, also known as “Ugawood,” has been steadily growing thanks to new infrastructure and resources and has spawned a new fascination with martial arts. Seeing the images of these children finding new hope through a martial art is rather inspirational as well as hearing their stories of commitment to improve themselves.

Across the ocean in North America, with children who are far more affluent, martial arts is equally inspiring and motivational.

Martial Arts and Parenting

Modern parenting comes with the expectation that we adequately prepare our offspring for all the challenges that their futures hold. It’s a lofty goal and somewhat unreasonable. We can however provide them with some fundamental approaches to life that will help them to face any eventuality.

Ensuring that their self esteem is well honed while teaching them to set goals, maintain discipline and have a ‘can-do’ attitude can have a significant impact on what that child accomplishes in later life. In Kuk Sool Won, at the end of every training session, the Master asks “What is martial arts?” The response comes loudly “To develop and maintain positive, disciplined attitude Sir!”

I see the positive results in my children who have been learning this traditional Korean martial arts system for a year now. My somewhat shy and very loving son has connected with something he excels at when schoolwork is often a battle for him. Education can happen outside of the classroom too. He has matured enough to now lead warm-up at martial arts so it has done wonders for his self-esteem.

Positive female role models

My spirited daughter has been inspired by the powerful female role models she has encountered. There are two female Kuk Sool Won black belts we respectfully call Ma’m but since they are still confidently and unapologetically feminine she has a different view of ‘pink, pretty and powerless’ being the only options for girls. She has encountered real life girl power and thoroughly enjoys going to sparring class in her pink sparring gear.

Meanwhile another young girl Rachel Nattembo rushes to her Kung Fu class in Uganda. Racheal also leads her peers through a kung fu routine in the school yard of Nateete Mixed Academy in Wakaliga, Kampala. This young martial artist played “Liz” in “This Crazy World,” a 2014 action flick by Ramon Film Productions.

Interestingly Elizabeth writes that according to the Uganda Taekwondo Federation, South Korea was the first country to introduce Asian martial arts in Uganda in the 1960s when an instructor was invited to teach inmates at the Uganda Prisons Headquarters in Luzira. She quotes Isaac Nabwana, founder of Ramon Film Production in Wakaliga, Uganda who says Martial arts are rising and everyone now is trying to do what I’m doing because they see I’m doing something that is unique and is loved.

One Martial Arts Family

Such contrasting settings, so many inequalities but as Bruce Lee said, “under the sky, under the heavens there is but one family..”.

Martial arts is a uniting force and as Master Saidi says “You can’t prepare yourself for martial arts but martial arts can prepare you for many things.”

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