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Of Martial Arts Training and Limitations

Black belt is

You are not rich until you have something that money can’t buy.

A new year brings new training schedules. It’s a year ago that I began my Kuk Sool Won journey and it has been a real roller coaster ride of successes and growth opportunities. Being a martial arts newbie at middle age takes determination and can only be accomplished if you learn to take yourself a little less seriously.

It has also been a year ago that I started this blog, along with a lovely and remarkable community of individuals because of the Seth Godin Your Turn Challenge.

I am a goal and result oriented individual while also being a time dependent personality so setting goals and making lists is an automatic practice at the start of a new year.

What is unique about 2016 though is that I did a training schedule first before writing down my goals in other key areas of my life. Given my usual approach I would add exercise and view it like a mountain that needs conquering. A necessary set of tasks on the way to taking better care of my health.

Now however I see a training schedule as so much more than a series of tasks. In the past I didn’t relish the idea of training. It just provided the means by which I could build a healthier me. Now training is like a chapter in a novel. Each one enhances the experience and within each one new lessons are learned. Taken together they all tell a story and become a collection of learnings building towards a specific end objective, in my case, a black belt before my 50th birthday.

After all, a black belt is a white belt who didn’t quit and I plan to see this journey through.

If you do what you love you never have to work a day in your life. If you train for something you’re passionate about then training is no longer a task. Every bit of training I do is leading me to a new point of growth.

It is said that an old dog can’t be taught new tricks but if the old dog is still young at heart it can still learn an amazing array of things. It’s just the willingness to do so that is required.

I am taking my body to levels of fitness that I never thought possible and it is changing my expectations with each new milestone I reach.

I expected that my age would be an automatic glass ceiling on my martial arts journey but the only limitations I’ve experienced are those I’ve imposed on myself.

How about you?

For some inspiration why not check out some of the other Your Turn Challenge Bloggers:

  1. Remarkable Runs
  2. The Positive Pragmatist
  3. Robin Estevez
  4. Women of Wonder
  5. Linens and Laurel
  6. Joyce M Sullivan
  7. Wholistic Sound
  8. Andy Stitt
  9. Listen and Hear
  10. Randall Hartman

Kuk Sool Kids versus Dojo Daycare. Why the right martial arts Master is critical for teaching your kids.

Dojo Daycare cover

Honor, kindness and respect are qualities that we all would like our children to possess. Learning self-defense while increasing self-confidence and self-respect allows young martial artists to grow both physically and emotionally.

As a ‘Kuk Sool Mom’ with two ‘Kuk Sool Kids’ I have witnessed first hand the benefits that are derived through martial arts training. As expats it is often a lengthy process integrating into a new culture and establishing friendships but once my husband enrolled our children in Kuk Sool we did not look back.

My somewhat shy 9 year old son is blossoming and my precocious 6 year old daughter shows remarkable self-discipline during training. “What is martial arts?” their Instructor, Master Saidi, asks and they enthusiastically respond “To develop and maintain, a positive, disciplined attitude Sir!”

As a writer observing this growth and transformation I thought it would be great to write a children’s book exploring the martial arts journey and the significant lessons learned. Angela, a lovely friend of mine in publishing who is aware of my new-found Kuk Sool Won passion, then introduced me to the picture book Dojo Daycare by Chris Tougas.

The illustrations in the book immediately appealed to me as they were bright and bold and captured the mischievousness of the little ninjas. The story has wonderful rhythm and describes how six young ninjas are dropped off at Dojo Daycare and proceed to spin out of control while their instructor is trying to get them to reflect on honor, kindness and respect. The voice of reason in the story is that of another child who gets the remaining lot to cooperate and work together. A thoroughly entertaining story that young kids will enjoy.

Simultaneously though, it highlights the crucial role of the martial arts instructor and the scenario you do not want to find your kids in.

This sort of behavior would of course never be tolerated in a real world Kuk Sool Won dojang. My children view their martial arts Master as a super hero and have the utmost respect for him. The etiquette they are taught from their very first lesson when they bow into class permeates all their other interactions.

There is no way that such rampant disregard for his instructions would ever be evident in class!

The Chief Instructor at the Kuk Sool Won of Dublin school is Master Saidi and he is passionate about 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 remarkable martial arts teacher who displays humility, care and patience while also instilling respect and being able to drive his students to be the best they can be.

Since he also frequently spouts profound, insightful and quote worthy information I think I am well on my way to having enough material for a book!

He has taught thousands of students at his school over the past 25 years and each one has been changed in the process, regardless of their age. Many things can influence the decision to start martial arts training but choosing the correct Master is the most critical element to yield the best results.

The martial arts journey is one of self-discovery, discipline and fulfillment and the right instructor  will help your kids stay motivated and engaged while achieving their goals.

As Seth Godin says “A great teacher teaches commitment and not just techniques.”

So take your time, do your research and make the decision where you all come out winners!

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.

Further information if you would like to purchase the Dojo Daycare picture book:

Trade Cloth, Picture Book
US $16.95
Owlkids Books

DOJO Daytrip is the follow up title coming out Fall 2015

Trade Cloth, Picture Book
US $16.95
Owlkids Books Fall 2015

Dojo Daytrip cover

Budding and Blooming Bloggers

This week has been quite unusual at ours. My husband, Robin, and I have both participated in the #YourTurnChallenge to blog every day for a week, initiated by Winnie Kao, project lead for Seth Godin.

“Are you reading something Daddy wrote again? asked my son “You two have been doing a lot of writing this week!”

Indeed we have – we have been shipping with a group of like-minded individuals from across the globe – and it’s been awesome, frustrating, challenging and liberating.

Photo 1: Spring buds and blooms in the park this morning


I have had my floral photography blog for four years and have steadily plodded along. I’ve blogged because I love to share what I experience and what I care about. I have a writing blog (needing a post) called Stories in #10Tweets  a Genetic Counselling News SA blog (in stasis) a motherhood blog called MumDay (discontinued) and my floral photography blog that just keeps going and now my martial arts blog Junbi.

When I first started blogging I was hooked on the stats. Was anyone reading it? Did it resonate with someone? Did people like what they saw?

When the stats remained dismal for the first year I was initially demotivated but then I changed my perspective. I realised that I was blogging because I enjoyed it, so I would just keep sharing things I felt passionate about.

I love it when people like my posts and send me comments. It’s a great way to connect and I usually comment on and follow their blogs too. Connecting is what makes social media social.

So my newest blog Junbi is steadily taking off. It has allowed me to connect with those I meet in other settings in a more in depth manner. I asked more questions in my Kuk Sool Won martial arts class so I had enough material to blog about.

I paid better attention to what Master Saidi said during my lessons so I could recall the key points he was conveying.

I asked more questions after Tai Chi class and discovered that Tim was also an author.

I had something different to talk about when I met another expat Mum in the park this morning and we chatted about blogging, martial arts and floral photography.

By being a brand advocate for Seth Godin I was also one for Kuk Sool Won, Tai Chi, Remarkable Runs, Fables and Flora, other challenge bloggers and myself! A very unique combination, generating chatter and making a ruckus.

Blogging this week has also allowed me to watch Robin unveil his writing skills and allowed me to peek into his mind during a run. Our kids got to see us committing to a challenge and shipping and they started writing their own thoughts too.

So we now have budding and blooming bloggers in one household! Congrats to all who joined the challenge this week and happy shipping on your journey forward!

Crystallizing my Green Destiny

Green destiny_edited-1

Swords have always fascinated me, I’m not exactly sure why. There is something about the beauty and the power they yield and the potential to be destructive and deadly while also being aesthetically pleasing. As Taylor Swift sings in Blank SpaceDarling, I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream“.

Due to my fascination with swords it has always been a goal of mine to complete a martial arts sword form. I started learning a Tai Chi sword form about 12 years ago but my Sifu relocated and I never got to complete the training. It has always felt like unfinished business.

I loved practicing my form with the sword outdoors and watching the blade gleam in the sunlight. It felt like an extension of me. Beautiful and deadly. Graceful and unflinching.

At the end of last year I finally had the opportunity to start Tai Chi again and found a great teacher in California named Tim Ghazaleh who has been teaching Yang Style Tai Chi for more than 25 years. He was taught by late master Wu Ta-yeh, a disciple of the late Tai Chi master Tung Hu Ling. I was told that in 2-3 years I could become proficient in the sword form and that filled me with excitement!

Then I had a conversation with my children’s Kuk Sool Won instructor, Master Saidi and he said that with hard work I could learn a black belt sword form in three years! It was music to my ears! My Green Destiny was calling!

For those of you wondering about Green Destiny I discovered it in the movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon that tells the tale of Master Li Mu Bai a great warrior and swordsman. His sword, the Green Destiny, is legendary, powerful and mystical and he decides to retire and give the sword to his old friend as a gift – only it gets stolen.

I was also thrilled to discover that the sequel, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon: The Green Legend is going to be released this year! An interesting convergence of thought…

My Tai Chi sword has been tucked away in its hockey case for 12 years. Today I took it out for a photo for this post. I still enjoy holding it. I have plans for it.

At my first Kuk Sool Won class I thoroughly enjoyed the sword play even though they were padded training versions. With Tai Chi I never had someone come at me blade in hand, we trained side by side in harmony. In Kuk Sool Won I had to strike and block and get out of the way and I wasn’t really fast or controlled enough but it rocked!

At the end of the class one of the senior black belts named Rick commented that I went “all bushido” on him and I had to smile. Bushido was the code of conduct followed by Japan’s samurai warriors.There is a sad but beautiful Japanese legend retold in the movie the 47 Ronin. It’s a story of honour, courage and loyalty.

Unfulfilled dreams and unfinished business can either be catalysts for regret or stepping stones to help us crystallize our visions for our futures.

What will you do with yours?



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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