To Live and Die

After a hiatus, I am once again teaching martial arts. It has been a while since I put my thoughts, philosophies and insights into a blog. I am once again in that period of limbo when in between jobs I have some time on my hands. At times like this, my mind starts to wander as a deluge of memories and nostalgia comes pouring in.

Seattle Volunteer Park cemetery over a decade ago; I remember paying homage to my hero, Bruce Lee, as I visited him and his son’s tombstones.  This man was probably the greatest influence on my decision to pursue martial arts. It was a relaxing evening walk as I tried to muster up some inspiration before taking part in a regional full-contact event that weekend.

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Fighting Style

Teaching children’s martial arts class today I had one youngster ask me whether I had hurt anyone in sparring or in competition. Two instances that spring to mind are when my axe kick popped my opponent's shoulder and another time when someone fractured their wrist trying to block my roundhouse. I have also suffered injuries with the most serious being a broken arm in a state tournament. Injuries I guess are inevitable, however Taekwondo is a fairly safe sport considering the objective is to score points with full contact kicks to the body and head. In Taekwondo most of the time if one gets hurt it is normally the result of an accident.

Unfortunately in any sport injuries are a part of life. However many injuries that I have seen in martial arts come about just from training and practicing stunts and tricks. I have seen one youngster break his arm after falling when performing a flying side kick. I still wince when remembering the time when my toe stuck out at right angles attempting to break a board with a jumping spinning roundhouse kick or the time when someone snapped my finger trying to break a piece of wood. Club training should brings about a relief from the hectic striving of the conscious rat race and free one into state of aesthetic bliss. In sparring we are playing a sport we are not fighting. Fighting is something that is done outside the training hall when the need to defend arises. If I see anyone going in too hard or trying to hurt or injure their partner in sparring I impose myself on that person with power. Being a martial artist is about developing balance. Having style is a unique human quality, when I observe a student using a technique; it is almost like a characteristic signature of that person. Relaxing and enjoying the sparring experience enables one to develop their style and avoid hurting themselves or their partner. In the sport of Taekwondo the targets are very well defined by the chest protector and head guard. Being able to visualize the sport fighting targets makes the sparring and kicking drills much more effective and realistic. Kicking to the low section and punching to the face is not allowed. Those who want to train specifically for self defence I recommend my Krav Maga classes where I cover techniques against every possible target area in detail. Knowledge is power rings very true in martial arts but most importantly is the experience to keep that knowledge alive. When the instinct is vivid there is a much better chance of being able to survive and win.

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Success Programme

Korean terminology flows naturally off my tongue after hearing the same words for years from a Korean master. My school’s Taekwondo programme is pretty much based on that of my master. A lot of care went into breaking the art down into easy to learn hand-techniques, one-step sparring, basic forms and kicking exercises making it a winning school formula. From the syllabus down to the design of our school brochures I have used much of my master’s style and methods in running my school.

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Alpha Male

Watching my students go over their patterns in my Taekwondo class one would give me a tentative glance another would let out a cursory ‘err... ’ as they would perform the exercise. I advised my students that martial arts are not a team sport, to never worry about what anybody else thinks but focus purely on the execution of their flow. Glancing at a judge in a patterns competition is almost always an indication of uncertainty; likewise when facing an adversary in sparring the winner is the one who focuses on his own attacking strategy and dictates the pace of the bout. Martial arts are one of those activities which are all about you, where the focus of the training is on enhancement of the self.

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Tools of Battle

This week one of my Maori friends came to visit and was playing on my computer when we got into a heated conversation about which civilization invented the Special Forces. My friend told me that way before the white man even conceived the use of Special Forces his people used key warriors tasked with eliminating enemy chiefs and messengers. These men would attack using a flexible and independent command infrastructure. There were also Maori berserker units, matataki-a-whiro, who would carry out suicide missions with no regard for their own personal safety.

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