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Martial arts Testing Day, Board Breaking Bliss! 

Happy Board Breakers with Master Saidi at Kuk Sool Won of Dublin, California

Happy Board Breakers with Master Saidi at Kuk Sool Won of Dublin, California

‘Twas the night before Testing and all through the house, there were kiais resounding that would scare a mouse!

We had returned from our refresher class that had replaced our regular sparring class on a Friday. I was hoping that a final review of my techniques before Testing would boost my confidence and ease my nervousness.

This might have worked if I actually managed to remember all my techniques though. I had the unusual privilege of working with my ten year old son and he was thrilled with the opportunity. He particularly enjoyed the techniques where I had to throw him.

We left the dojang for the short walk home carrying our bo staffs. We must have made a rather unusual sight.

Testing day arrived and the nervous energy had the kids awake early. It was  great to see how enthusiastic they are!  Watching them succeed just ramped up my anxiety levels though as my own Testing was only late afternoon.

Robin and I walked to the dojang and met some of our fellow students at the door.  The previous testing session was drawing to a close.

Our session began and we went through the series of kicks, punches, forms, techniques and body conditioning testing. Before our forms Master Saidi reminded us about the 5 critical elements:

1. Mind clear

2. Eyes focussed

3. Stance low

4. Hands fast

5. Kicks high and precise

Then came the moment of truth. Breaking a board with a spin kick. “You’ve got this!” encouraged my hubby, it was nice to have support on the sidelines. KSN Sahar also gave us a quick pep talk before the session and reminded us that martial arts women are strong since they have the courage to face their fears and rise to challenges. We have such great instructors!

It’s daunting enough to have to break your first board but then you’re still in the middle of the dojang by yourself and there’s an audience! No pressure.

“Take your time” said Master Saidi. I did. I could feel my sweaty palms and my fast heart rate and then I took some time to pause and breathe. The dojang faded out and so did everything else around me. It was just me and the board.

It was like doing a depth of field adjustment in Photoshop when I edit my pics. I was determined to break it on the first go, especially because I was told it really starts to hurt if you have try several times.

Spin. Kick. Bam it was broken.

Spin kick time

Spin kick time

I was overwhelmed with joy as I bowed to my board holder, JKN Rick and said “Kuk Sool!”

My response was however eclipsed by the bounding happy dance performed by my training buddy Vineela. Such unfettered delight was sheer pleasure to observe.

The euphoria was however not only about the thrill of breaking the board but of what it represented to us. It was about being scared but doing it anyway. It was knowing that this was a journey and facing the challenges it presented to us so that we could grow. It was about pushing ourselves beyond our comfort zones and experiencing something new.

The three musketeers as we have now been named, Vineela, Ramya and myself congratulated each other heartily after the session. We could sense that this was just the beginning of our board breaking bliss.

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.

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