Friday, August 07, 2015

The "TAO" of Solitude


Dokkōdō: The Way of Solitude

A few days ago on Facebook I found and shared a picture of one of my childhood hero's Shinmen Musashi Fugiwara No Kami Genshin. Also know as Miyamoto Musashi, "RONIN OF THE WORLD".  Click here to watch a documentary of his life on YOUTUBE.


Early on in my interest in self defense I came upon an article of Morehei Ueshiba the founder of Aikido who reached enlightenment through his martial arts training. What was this "enlightenment" that they spoke of? Being raised to this point a Roman Catholic with 8 years of Catholic school (eventually 12 years total) the concept was completely foreign to me.



As my interest and dedication to the martial arts grew, I continued to read Black Belt Magazine. Often there was historical fiction of the life of Musashi, who was the first martial artist to attain enlightenment through his training, though with the aid of the mysterious Zen Buddhist monk, Takuan Soho.



I was later to find another swordsman Yamoka Tesshu who also attained enlightenment via the martial arts.  A big difference between Tesshu and Musashi was that Musashi lived and trained during a time of war and used his training in 6 major battles and killed many men as well as winning 60 duels. Tesshu who we can more relate to lived in a time of peace, when the martial arts were used for personal and physical development, not life and death battles.



During Musashi's latter years he spent much time alone in the cave, Reigendo, meditating and writing his life's work, the legendary book on the martial arts, The Book of Five Rings. Though in fact it is a book how to live ones life strategically and was based upon the forces of nature.  THE BOOK OF 5 RINGS,  GO RIN NO SHO is the Japanese equivalent to Sun Tzu's THE ART OF WAR.  Every martial artist of any metal and thousands of businessmen have read The Book of Five Rings which contains five chapters. The Book of Sky, The Book of Earth, The Book of Fire, The Book of Water and lastly, The book of nothingness, The MYSTICAL VOID.


Below is the entire final chapter of the book, THE BOOK OF THE VOID. The character for void is the same character as the character Kara in the word Karate-do:
The Nito Ichi Way of strategy (The WAY of two heavens, school of strategy, Musashi's style is Niten Ichi Ryu) is recorded in this Book of the Void.
 What is called the spirit of the void is where there is nothing. It is not included in man's knowledge. Of course the void is nothingness. By knowing things that exist, you can know that which does not exist. That is the void.
painting of Daruma by Musashi.
People in this world look at things mistakenly ,and think that what they do not understand must be the void. This is not the true void. It is bewilderment.
In the Way of strategy as a warrior you must study fully other martial arts and not deviate even a little from the Way of the warrior. With your spirit settled, accumulate practice day by day, and hour by hour. Polish the twofold spirit: heart and mind, and sharpen the twofold gaze: perception and sight. When your spirit is not in the least clouded, when the clouds of bewilderment clear away, there is the true void. 
Until you realize the true Way, whether in Buddhism or in common sense, you may think that things are correct and in order. However, if we look a things objectively, from the viewpoint of laws of the world, we see various doctrines departing from the true Way. Know well this spirit, and with forthrightness as the foundation and the true spirit as the Way. Enact strategy broadly, correctly and openly. 
Then you will come to think of things in a wide sense and, taking the void as the Way, you will see the Way as void. 
In the void is virtue, and no evil. Wisdom has existence, principle has existence, the Way has existence, spirit is nothingness. 
 12 day of the 5th month, second year of Shoho (1645).
Teruro Magononjo                                                    SHINMEN MUSASHI
           

my tattered copy from 1973
As you look at the photo's of my copy of the book, you can see that I've reread it countless times.  Recently while doing research I came upon Dokkodo:  The TAO of Solitude, which Musashi wrote the week before he died of stomach cancer.  It is a list of 21 rules of life for one who wishes to walk the way of the martial arts. These are the last words of an enlightened master to his students.



Below are the 21 precepts of the

 

Precepts

  1. Accept everything just the way it is. 
    Immovable mind, a statue by Musashi
  2. Do not seek pleasure for its own sake.
  3. Do not, under any circumstances, depend on a partial feeling.
  4. Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world.
  5. Be detached from desire your whole life.
  6. Do not regret what you have done.
  7. Never be jealous.
  8. Never let yourself be saddened by a separation.
  9. Resentment and complaint are appropriate neither for oneself nor others.
  10. Do not let yourself be guided by the feeling of lust or love.
  11. In all things, have no preferences.
  12. Be indifferent to where you live.
  13. Do not pursue the taste of good food.
  14. Do not hold on to possessions you no longer need.
  15. Do not act following customary beliefs.
  16. Do not collect weapons or practice with weapons beyond what is useful.
  17. Do not fear death.
  18. Do not seek to possess either goods or fiefs for your old age.
  19. Respect Buddha and the gods without counting on their help.
  20. You may abandon your own body but you must preserve your honor.
  21. Never stray from the way.

References

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Three New Forms I've learned to show my Dr.s

 This is a video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DD3AAm0Ak34 ,  that I made yesterday July 20, 2015 to show to my good friend and Physical Therapist Michael Rinaldi, my family doctor Dr. Sandy Naples and my Surgeon, Dr. Timothy Domer, so that they can watch it and yell at me for all of the things I'm not suppose to be doing. I made this this video because for some odd reason, they don't appreciate me kicking around in their offices.  

I'm really enjoying training and feel 18 again, or maybe 14 before I became flexible and strong. I wish that the quality of this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DD3AAm0Ak34 was better but I used a phone rather than a camera, though the good thing is that it hides lots of my errors. 

In this video I did three new poomsae, new in the sense that I'm just learning them. They are Chonkwon, Hansoo and Kong song-kun. Two Kukki Taekwondo forms and the third an ancient Okinawan form based upon tangsoo, Chinese boxing.

Poomsae ChonKwon 


The first poomsae is a Kukki Taekwondo form for childan 7th degree black belt known as Chonkwon which means the power of the universe, the source of everything. Its infinite competence signifies the creation, change and completion.

The primitive people that lived on the peninsula that was to become known as Korea were known as the "Han" people, as in Taehan, and Hankuk. They believed that 9000-ish years ago that "Hwanin" came down from heaven and settled in Korea. His decedents were "the chosen people". 

The diagram of this form is "T" shaped and symbolizes Hwanin coming down from heaven and means we should seek oneness with SOURCE and other human beings. 
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Monday, July 20, 2015

STALONE STORY SLYLY INSPIRES ME 

This was posted by www.facebook.com/Nammatvchannel on Facebook. The first time I heard it was at Anthony Robbins in New Jersey in 1997. He talked about commitment and never giving up.  Whenever I'm not in my best place I remember THE STORY OF ROCKY and it helps me keep going. I hope you enjoy it.  Like and share if inspired. Lovely day people! and check out www.facebook.com/Nammatvchannel


This is one of the SADDEST stories ever told in Hollywood. 

His name is Sylvestar Stallone. One of the BIGGEST and Most famous American Movie superstars. Back in the day, Stallone was a struggling actor in every definition. At some point, he got so broke that he stole his wife's jewelry and sold it. Things got so bad that he even ended up homeless. Yes, he slept at the New York bus station for 3 days. Unable to pay rent or afford food. His lowest point came when he tried to sell his dog at the liquor store to any stranger. He didn't have money to feed the dog anymore. He sold it at $25 only. He says he walked away crying.

Two weeks later,he saw a boxing match between Mohammed Ali and Chuck Wepner and that match gave him the inspiration to write the script for the famous movie,ROCKY. He wrote the script for 20 hours! He tried to sell it and got an offer for $125,000 for the script. But he had just ONE REQUEST. He wanted to STAR in the movie. He wanted to be the MAIN ACTOR. Rocky himself. But the studio said NO. They wanted a REAL STAR.

They said he "Looked funny and talked funny". He left with his script. A few weeks later,the studio offered him $250,000 for the script. He refused. They even offered $350,000. He still refused. They wanted his movie. But NOT him. He said NO. He had to be IN THAT MOVIE. 

After a while,the studio agreed,gave him $35,000 for the script and let him star in it! The rest is history! The movie won Best Picture, Best Directing and Best Film Editing at the prestigious
Oscar Awards. He was even nominated for BEST ACTOR! The Movie ROCKY was even inducted into the American National Film Registry as one of the greatest movies ever!

And do You know the first thing he bought with the $35,000? THE DOG HE SOLD. Yes,Stallone LOVED HIS DOG SO MUCH that he stood at the liquor store for 3 days waiting for the man he sold
his dog to. And on the 3rd day,he saw the man coming with the dog. Stallone explained why he sold the dog and begged for the dog back. The man refused. Stallone offered him $100. The man refused. He offered him $500. And the guy refused. Yes,he refused even $1000. And, Believe it or Not, Stallone had to pay $15,000 for the same,same dog he sold at $25 only! And he finally got his dog back!

And today,the same Stallone who slept in the streets and sold his dog JUST BECAUSE he couldn't even feed it anymore,is one of the GREATEST Movie Stars who ever walked the Earth!
Being broke is BAD. Really BAD. Have You ever had a dream? A wonderful dream? But You are too broke to implement it? Too tiny to do it? Too small to accomplish it? Damn! I've been there too many times!

Life is tough. Opportunities will pass you by,just because you are a NOBODY. People will want your products but NOT YOU. Its a tough world. If you ain't already famous, or rich or "connected", You will find it rough. 

Doors will be shut on You. People will steal your glory and crash your hopes. You will push and push. And yet NOTHING WILL HAPPEN.

And then your hopes will be crashed. You will be broke. Damn broke. You will do odd jobs for survival. You will be unable to feed yourself. And Yes, you may end up sleeping in the streets.
It happens. Yes, it does.

BUT NEVER LET THEM CRUSH THAT DREAM. Whatever happens to
You, Keep Dreaming. Even when they crush your hopes, Keep Dreaming. Even when they turn you away, Keep Dreaming.

Even when they shut you down, Keep Dreaming. 

NO ONE KNOWS WHAT YOU ARE CAPABLE OF EXCEPT YOURSELF! People will judge You by HOW you look. And by WHAT You have.

But please, Fight on! Fight for Your place in history. Fight for your glory. NEVER EVER GIVE UP!
Even if it means selling all your clothes and sleeping with the dogs, ITS OKAY! But AS LONG AS YOU ARE STILL ALIVE, Your STORY IS NOT OVER. TRUST ME. 

Keep Up the Fight. Keep your dreams and hope alive. Go great . 

Like and share if inspired. Lovely day people!
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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

THE MARKETING OF THE ARTS an old Taekwondo Times Article

This is a Point-Counter-Point article that Grandmaster Stepan and I wrote for The Taekwondo Times September 1997 Issue Titled THE MARKETING OF THE ARTS Different People . . . Different Views by Charles A. Stepan and Samuel D. Naples. 



Above each page will be Grandmaster Stepan's part in BLACK TYPE and below the page will be my part in BLUE TYPE .



MARKETING: THE MARTIAL ARTS' LATEST PROBLEM 

By Charles A. Stepan


The Black Belt Success System? When did you last visit your old dojang? You just might not recongize it today. Push-ups, knuckle-walks, and getting dumped on your behind seem to be a thing of the past. Building character by forcing the student to face himself in the jojang and in the competionon ring seems to be goin by the wayside. Seems that teaching today's students how to defend themselvs is not considered too important either. More important is instilling effor and concentration; character and self-esteem sincerity and respect; self-control and etiquette. 

Well, I guess those are fairly admirable traits, aren't they? But wait, didn't we teach all that . . . I thought we did. (Continue in BLACK TYPE Below)


 MARKETING AND THE SUCCESSFUL SCHOOL OF THE 90'S By Samuel D. Naples 


The beginning of the marketing of Karate was fashioned by Gichin Funakoshi . . . " All martial arts schools are commercial--some are just more effective than others. The marketing of the martial arts didn not start in the United States. If the martial arts had not been promoted and marketed none of us would be training today. The original "promoters" were the founders of the modern martial arts. Gichin Funakoshim Mas Oyama, Jigoro Kano (Continued in BLUE TYPE Below) 


Sure  we taught all of it! 

Effort and concentration was taught because on test days you couldn't get bast the white belt level without it., let alone any other belt level. On the other hand, try checking out test day at one of these "marketing" schools. I've visited some schools where I would have stacked the white belts I taught against some of today's marketing school black belts. 

"I have a student that transferred from one of the commercial market atmospheres-- he came here as a second degree -- had he was probably the prettiest dancer I've ever had. But a seventh gup took this kid apart in the ring. There's something wrong: there's something wrong in what they're doing. They're not teaching a kid to survive first . . . Howard Faison, Seventh Dan, Tae Kwon Do, O Duk Kwan, Head of the MTC System of Tae Kwon Do. 

We taught character and self-esteem in our day because we earned our way upward and were properly humbled along the way when we needed it until we understood ourselves and our dojang mates. Check out today's marketing schools . . . everything is "the black belt way." "Hey, children, would a black belt stand that way?" "Would a black belt talk in class?" "Wouldn't a black belt try harder than that?" They will use us a examples but they evidently don't like the way we reached our goals. We stood, and talked and tried "that way" because we knew if we didn't we would have wished we had. If we couldn't cut it, we left. 

Sincerity and respect? Without sincerity we went nowhere except out the door. Without respect we were humbled in a number of different ways, including physical pain. But then our teacher weren't as lawsuit conscious as the present generation. Self-control? Withe skills I have seen in many of these "marketing schools" self-control is hardly necessary. It looks to me like once you're past the reputation (usually unearned by them but established by us) the next punch is going to take them out. Etiquette? Isn't that the first thing you learned in your dojang -- and believe me there were many ways to instill that into you, too. 

Of course, my mentality is what they're trying tO get away from in their marketing of the arts. The idea today is to fill the studio and there-by fill the coffers. Check out the studio's that use the marketing approach . . . how many adults do you find there? I'll bet if you return in another couple of months those few adults won't be there either. The dojand floors are filled with children, some too young to even seriously be out on the floor. 

"The martial arts has turned into almost like a feeding frenzy --  (Continue in BLACK TYPE Below)


 

. . . and Morihei Uyeshiba, as well as many others, were all promoters and marketers. 

The beginning of the marketing of Karate was fashioned by Gichin Funakoshi. Karate Do would not be known at all fi he hand not sent students around the world to teach and promote his art. Master Funakoshi went all across Japan demonstrating and teaching this strange art from Okinawa, then known st ToDe. The demonstrations were forms of promotion and marketing. One of the first things that Funakoshi did was to change the name of something more appealing to the Japanese: Karate-Do. Furthermore, Funakoshi was not beyond "pushing the buttons" of certain influential groups in he felt hat doing so would be helpful. An example is his use of the name Kara Te Do, or Karate Do, the "Kara" representing "void" that he knew would appeal to the Buddhist population of Japan. Grandmaster Funakoshi also brought the Okinawan Pinan forms to Japan but changed the neme to Heian forms giving the Japanese something in which to better relate. This is marketing! He was concerned about the student retention and used what he had to keep his students interested an active. 

The belt system known then as Kyu/Dan was developed by Jigoro Kano, the "Father of Judo." This was done for only one reason -- to retain students. The original ran system consisted of four levels: Gyu, a level of blood, sweat and tears; Shu-go, austere training; Shu-gyo-sha, asutere exponent; and the DO level. At the third, or Shu-gyo-sha level, the student was considered a teacher. At the Do Level the student was considered a master. (See Classical Budo by Don Dreager.) If this system is unknown to you it is because of Grandmaster Jigoro Kano's development of his "new" Kyu/Dan sysgem that replaced the old four level system. 

Jigoro Kano evidently realized that people need small  easily attainable goals to keep them interested and allow them to see progress. This ranking theory was then utilized byt Karate Do and Tae Kwon Do. The Twentieth Century instructor/warrior with his stripes and patches and differently designed doboks has simply expanded upon the same idea.  Originally the Karate Gi and the Tae Kwon Do Bok were adaptations of the Judo uniform. Why? Because Grandmaster Kano had marketed to the public that the Judo Gi was what the "modern" martial artist wore. This white uniform then became a symbol of the (Continued in BLUE TYPE Below)


known, if you're dumping garbage overboard a ship and you watch the sharks, they will come in  -- everybody is huddled around."  . . . Howard Faison

How and when did this all happen to us? Try about ten years ago. Before that we had the large commercial tournaments that were money makers. Those tournaments probably started us in the wrong direction toward the dollar signs and away from the sweat shop individually oriented classes. Do Karate instructors deserve to make a good living? Of course they do. Lots of them had outside interests such as construction companies, real estate offices ,or just held jobs elsewehere. The real diehards didn't get righ but managed to eat three times a day just by operating their dojangs. They  considered a part of their compensation the satisfaction of putting out good martial artists. 

I guese Haeng Ung Lee, or Hank Lee, should be considered the "grandfafter of Martial Arts Marketing." Lee, who has headquarters in Little Rock, Arkansas, evidently foresaw the potential of mass marketing when he created his ATA organization (American Tae Kwon Do Association.) Originally Chung Do Kwan stylist, Lee through brilliant business promotions, packed them in. He then created a national chain of ATA schools that can be found in almost any city of any size. 

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then Hank Lee has the right to be quite pleased with himself because a least a half dozen major marketing programs have followed his lead. Their advertising has boosted enrollments and, of course, dojang profits. Other companies take over the contracts and billing once the original sales is made. Seminars and training aids of endless variety keep both the instrctors and the students happy. However since mom and dad are footing the bill in most instances, it became a prerequisite that they, too, must be kept content and happy as they watch youngster zip up his way to black belt status. This accomplished by a number of techniques, some to too subtle. For example, in many mass marketing dojangs, parents accompany their children to the first classes. At these classes, children promise parents that they will clean their . . . .(Continue in BLACK TYPE Below) 

 
martial arts. The addition of a school patch allowed to have pride in his school and in himself. 
Today Tae Kwon Do is known "The martial art of the 21st Century;" "The Super Karate,"; "The most popular martial art in the world." Why? Because of marketing! 

If you could take a stroll throug Japan's Budo Kan you would find it an impressive structur, large enough for rock concerts! Quite a leap from the old back alley dojos -- and it was accomplished by marketing an promoting the martial arts to the Japanese populace. Many of Japan's martial arts are also businesses. Take Sumo wrestling as an example; the wrestlers are highly paid professional athletes.  

Student Creed 
"I will develop myself in a positive manner and avoid anything that might reduce my mental growth and physical health, 
I will develop self discipline in order to bring out the best in myself and in others. 
I will use what I learn in class constructively and defensively to help myself and others, and to never be abusive or offensive." 
 On the other hand, look at what the martial art instructors teach as compared to golfing lessons, dancing lessons, swimming lessons, et cetera. You would have to conclude that the martial arts instructor is sadly underpaid professional athlete! 

Physicians and psychologist often tell parents to send their problem children to a martial arts school--not to soccer or a baseball coach. I truly believe that there is no activity that has such a monumental effect upon the life of a human being as the earning of a black belt. I ask those of you who are black belts what your life would be like if you had never trained in your martial art? Would your health be the same? Would your attitude be as it is today? Stop and think about the meaning of your black belt; the benefits, the confidence you have not that you didn't have before your training; your positive mental outlook. How can you possibly put a price on what you have? It is priceless! The Sabum Nim had dedicated his live to exposing, allowing and empowering anyone that is to make the sacrifice the ability to become a . . .
(Continued in BLUE TYPE Below)

. . . rooms, make their beds and put their belongings away, just as black belts do. They are going to brush their teeth, take baths and put their dirty laundry away. In school they will do their homework and use black belt effort in class and black belt respect for their teachers and classmates; at home they will do and complete their chores and use black belt respect for their entire family Oh, yes. . they will also practice their martial arts 15 minutes a day. 

Wow! IN the dojang they learn to use "Ma'am,"and "Sir," and they are required to bring their report cards for approval -- all the while surrounded by photo displays. T-shirts emblazoned with "food black belt stuff," and promises of party time. Tests come fast and furious' it keeps up their interest. As a reward, stripes are added to the belt to signify their new prowess. Never mind that Joey doesn't know a side kick from a roundhouse kick, or an inside block from an outside block. Why worry that he can't complete his form requriement, he cna be led through it. He can immediately belong to the "Black Belt Club" and then the SWAT Team -- which means he can help instructor during class. 


Knowing others is wisdom; knowing yourself is enlightenment." --Lao Tzu
 Some of the marketing affiliated organizations frown upon outside contact with any other martial arts, dojangs or events. I've gone to ATA regional tournaments where every person in the building was an ATA Member. Comparing your school and your skills by visiting other dojangs or tournaments is a no-no for ATA students. 

Is thsi all bad? Of course it isn't. Some of it is down right admirable, and you can bet the parnets love it. But then, is it the martial arts? Of course it isn't. Calling a cow a horse dosn't make it so. 

Check out some of these trade journal magazines for the new martial arts industry == here's a sample: "The future of martial arts has begun" this one announces the WMAC masters program where you can get your action figures at the local toy store; or, "Announcing NAPMA's exclusive Cardio-Karate program -- your link back to the adult market." Mmm ... how about: maximize the 'I want to buy' in . . . (Continue in BLACK TYPE Below)



. . . black belt. How much do you charge for something that is priceless? 

"It is intereting that som instructors will say, "Come to me and I will build your confidence,' when their own self-esteem is so poor that they are afraid to charge for their teaching!" . . . Buzz Durkin, Seventh Dan, Uechi Ryu Karate, owner of a traditional Okinawan studio with 400 students and 127 active black belts.

The masters of the past were the most innovative and creative people of their time. As an example, Zen was not originally a part of the martial arts, but the Samurai adopetd it in their teaching because it allowed them to produce better students. In their own ways, our instructors adapted their teaching to America for the same reason. In my case my instructor trained in a garage that had no heat. His instrctor would open the door in the winter so that the cenent floor would get snow covered. In a way I'm disapointed that he never taught me that way. Times change. Today's professonal instructor who "markets" the martial arts uses tools that have been learned in the fields of sports psychology and education to make teaching more effective.

"We have changed how we do things bio-mechanically because some of the traditional things were bad for the body. Changing the sit-up so that it strengthens the stomach and does not wreck the back is not sacrificing out art of tradition. Neither is doing anything that allows us to communicate better with our students." . . . Buzz Durkin, Member of the Board of Directors of The Educational Funding Company  . . . (Continued in BLUE TYPE Below)

. . . your students." This one has satalogs and posters and lists of "necessary" equipment. How about this on-going article: "The seven laws of success without selling out." I think you get the idea. And here's a locker: age four is an acceptable age. 

" A man who has attained master of an art reveals it in his every action." . . . Samurai Maxim 

A true martial arts master does not seek out students and neither is he concerned if they choose to leave. If the want what he can give, then they stay and learn. The master sets the path, and if the student has the necessary dedication he can eventually attain black belt status. 

When my master tied his belt about me, he admonished me that his reputation went with the belt. I always tried to remember that with the black belt students I trained. When it was time for their black belt test. I reminded them of that heavy obligation. Certainly the way of the black belt should be open to all, but the path should  not be made so excessively easy that the value of the belt is diminished. 

Obviously the great philosopher Lao Tzu had long ago foreseen problems such as these that face the martial arts today when he wrote: 

"THE WAY OF LIFE
A man is born gentle and weak. 
At his death he is hard and stiff. 
Green plants are tender and filled with sap.
At their death they are withered and dry. 
Therefore the stiff and unbending is the disciple of death. 
The gentle and yielding is the disciple of life. 
Thus and arm without flexibility never wins a battle. 
A tree that is unbending is easily broken. 
The hard and the strong will fall.
The sofe and the weak will overcome" . . . LaoTzu 


  Today's martial arts instructor is constantly studying everything from bio-mechanics to Tony Robbins' NAC to enable him to communicate better with his students. If my instructor teaches the same way in 1997 as he taught in 1971, then he has not learned anything in 26 years. If I teach exactly the same way as I was taught then I too, have not learned anything. It is in the spirit of the "founders of the martial arts" that we modern masters must try to improve our teaching I don't believe this sacrifices the tradition of our art. I believe it is the tradition of our art. 

At a recent martial arts convention I attended with my master, we were discussing comining martial arts forms and music. My master remarked: "Martial arts to music makes me feel bad." I know that I personally do not like the idea either and could not ever see myself doing so, but I said to him: "You know, I don't want to learn what these people do, I want to learn how to think the way that they think!" 

The challenge of the "traditional instructor' is to run a successful school without sacrificing the values of the art. The goal of martial arts business education is to teach instructors to think differently. It is called growth! 








As I was perusing this old magazine I came across an article by an good friend of Grandmaster Stepan and a new friend of mine Karen Eden . . . It was it appears her first article in Taekwondo Times . . . Small World. 



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Sunday, July 12, 2015

With two new hip replacements, what does Taekwondo have to offer me?

Defending against a knife with one of my best blackbelts Jim Cannel
                             

 WITH 2 NEW REPLACEMENT HIPS CAN I "DO" TAEKWONDO AGAIN?


 "Slow down, you're not a kid anymore!" said Supreme grandmaster Chun Kae-bae, my instructor in a recent telephone conversation. "The problem Sir is that 'I think I am' " was my reply. I'm sure most everyone knows my story and how I had to give up my Taekwondo schools because my hip and back pain had become so intense in 2005 and that in 2007 probably because of a broken-heart over the loss of the martial arts, I  had a major heart attack right before my 50th birthday. I was so hurt and depressed that the last time I walked out of the the studio, back in 2005 I didn't even take my uniform or black belt, I left them there. I knew  that I would never be putting them on again, this part of my life was OVER. I had not hit bottom, but I was on the slide.

By December 2013 walking was almost standing still, my gate was only 2 inches per step, 6 steps to move a foot and in constant, excruciating pain. I decided that it was time for the hip replacement that my cousin Dr. Sandy Naples had insisted was necessary for such a long time and he sent me to a wonderful orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Timothy Domer who did my left hip replacement on April 28, of 2014 and five months later on September 23 did the right hip, the worst of the two.  

From the first day of physical therapy back in early May of 2014 I knew that I wanted to do taekwondo again. It is who I am. 


But taekwondo for those of you that don't know includes 5,000 ways to take a guys head off WITH YOUR FOOT! It specializes in: hopping, jumping, spinning, twisting and flying kicks. I was pretty good at a lot of them. But now I'm pushing 40  ;-)   and also have two artificial hips. 

For Senior's Kukki Taekwondo's got nothing to offer.  

As I developed as an instructor, at onetime teaching 42 classes (way too many) per week, I began to noticed that for many students older than myself, the high kicks which were the trademark of taekwondo were not very practical or useful for them even if they could approach doing them correctly. 

I had many friends, grandmaster and master instructors that had come up in the Kukki Taekwondo system that no longer practiced. Their attitude was that they were coaches and like a swimming coach, you didn't need to "get wet." I was shocked at this attitude because I had grown up being taught by a sabam nim, Supreme grandmaster Chun that taekwondo jidokwan was a way of life and that anyone could practice it.

It seemed that there was a disconnect between "the philosophy of taekwondo" and the "current attitude of many in it's leadership."  I even learned that in Korea, taekwondo was taught in the school system as a sport and that almost zero adults practiced it. In fact I was told that if someone wanted to learn self defense in Korea, they trained in hapkido, kongsoodo or some other martial art. For most people, after they graduated from secondary school they never put on a do-bolk (official taekwondo uniform) again. 


What was I to do? 


I often ask sport-martial-artists, What are the rules of competition? Their reply is something like: no low kicks, no sweeping, no throwing, no falling techniques, no striking to the eyes, throat, groin, neck, back of the head, spine, kidneys, no pulling hair, no grabbing, clinching is okay but no knee, elbow or headbutt strikes. 

Then I ask, "What are the best self defense moves?" There usually is an uneasy laugh as they admidt that they are practicing and teaching the use of the least practical self defense moves. 

As I looked back at the philosophy that had been a part of the first 38 years of my life the PLEDGE OF THE MEMBER OF TAEKWONDO JIDOKWAN came to mind.

#3 I devote myself to creating new traditions and achievements in The Spirit of Jidokwan   

The Wisdom School of Taekwondo was about creating, developing and furthering the art that we had been taught. This doesn't mean every Joe-blackbelt should make up his own techniques. But it does mean that as a master instructor, I should leave the art better than I found it. So I committed myself to developing my taekwondo as a means of practically defending myself and into a program that other BOOMERS could practice safely and use to defend themselves. For me the days of sport karate that I so loved are over. 

BACK TO THE FUTURE  

Supreme Grandmaster Chun demonstrates in NYC with Master Jim Evans.

 

So I began studying, even before my first surgery the skills of low kicking for self defense, which were part of the historical art Chosen Yunmookwan Kongsoodo Bu that was to evolve into the amazing sport of Kukki Taekwondo. As I studied the ancient poomsae I found that there were many low kicking techniques as well as throws and grappling movements hidden within the poomsae. The same techinques that Supreme grandmaster Chun Kae-bae  had taught as the chief instructor of the Korean National Police Force and had taught more than 45 years ago. I've made it my mission to study and master these many practical ancient self-defense moves that have become almost extinct as Kukki Taekwondo has become more well known as a world wide and Olympic sport. 

My mission is to live out my life training in taekwondo and maybe one day teaching again but with a focus upon a new tradition of taekwondo that older people can  use for self defense and practice for health and fitness for the rest of their lives. 


Thursday, July 02, 2015

THE GODFATHER OF TAEKWONDO SUPREME GRANDMASTER KIM KI-WHANG,

Chating with Supreme Grandmaster Kim Ki-whang in Pittsburgh.
When I think about it I am humbled and honored to have been able to say that I knew Supreme Grandmaster Kim and considered him a friend. In fact he often looked out for me at tournaments and I would co-ordinate THE EAGLE CLASSIC his tournament every June with my partner in crime Grandmaster Stepan and his amazing student Grandmaster James Roberts, Jr. who continues to teach Kim's system in the Washington DC area. 

FRIENDSHIP BASED UPON AN ARREST 


The reason that Supreme Grandmaster Kim was so kind to me was his relationship to my Sabam (master instructor) Supreme Grandmaster Chun Kae-bae.  Their friendship began in a quite interesting way. At some taekwondo event, probably here in America, Supreme Grandmaster Kim was talking about one of his best friends a Moodukkwan master that he use to train with in Korea. My instructor Supreme Grandmaster Chun overheard this conversation and interjected: "He's your friend? I arrested him!"



So the story goes that Supreme Grandmaster Kim's friend was AWOL from the military and they got a tip that he was hiding up in some mountain dojung that the Moodukkwan men would train in on the weekends. Because this man was a well known Tangsoodo man in Korea, the police were afraid to arrest him, so someone in charge decided that Chun Kae-bae, Korean National Police Force Chief Taekwondo Instructor and Coach of the Police Force Taekwondo Team [which included Supreme Grandmaster Park Dong-keun (Grandmaster Gerry Robbins' of THE OFFICIAL TAEKWONDO HALL OF FAME's instructor), Supreme Grandmaster Ahn Dae-sup and many others] would capture and bring in this man.


So to make a long story short Supreme Grandmaster Chun arrived at the mountain Dojung. He said: "I cannot go back without you, NO CHOICE, if you choose to resist, both of us will be injured, maybe one of us will die." The master knowing that there was no way out surrendered. Well as the press has been known to do, they turned this event into a battle worthy of a Bruce Lee movie and Supreme Grandmaster Chun became a hero. When Supreme Grandmaster Kim realized who Supreme Grandmaster Chun was they instantly connected and became the best of friends.


My relationship with Supreme Grandmaster Kim 

I've mentioned before that due to naivete and miss-understanding I broke down the boundary between American black belts and the Korean masters by sitting down at the Masters' table in Charleston West Virginia at Supreme Grandmaster Kang Sok-ho's tournament. It was at this tournament that Supreme Grandmaster's Kim Il-joo and Supreme GrandmasterKim Ki-chung began teaching me to co-ordinate tournaments. From this point on I began to run tournaments all over the northern part of the country including the legendary S. Henry Cho ALL AMERICAN OPEN TAEKWONDO TANGSOODO KARATE KUNGFU CHAMPIONSHIP in THE FELT FORUM OF MADISON SQUARE GARDEN in New York City.

At every tournament the masters would welcome  then usher me quickly to the microphone. When Supreme Grandmaster Kim Ki-whang saw what I and my cohort Grandmaster Charles Stepan were doing, he started chastising all of the other masters: "Look what K.B. Chun's students are doing, why your black belts no help?" Of course Supreme Grandmaster Chun loved hearing these stories from the other grandmasters.

KIM KI-WHANG THE 7TH FATHER OF TAEKWONDO? 

 Having done extensive research on the history of Taekwondo and the four era's before the creation of Kukki Taekwondo and the World Taekwondo Federation. The founders of the five original kwan's (schools): Whang Ki, of the Moodukkwan; Rho Byung-jik of Songmookwan; Lee Won-kuk of the Chungdokwan; Yun Byung-in of the YMCA Kwonbup Bu; and  Chun Song-sup of the Yunmookwan Kongsoodo Bu (my style).  With the exception of Whang Ki, who trained in China and probably with Gogen Yamagushi founder of Japanese Goju in China, all of the founders trained in Japan.

Lee Won-kuk, Rho Byung-jik and Chun Song-sup studied under Gichin Funakoshi founder of Shotokan in Tokyo. Yun Byung-in and Dr. Yun Kwae-byung who would replace Chun Song-sup after his disappearance during the war studied with Toyama Kanken at Nihon University. All of the early fathers had a karatedo background.

So did Supreme Grandmaster Kim Ki-whang. It is well known that Kim was a student of Okinawan master Toyama Kanken and that he was the first Korean to be Captain of the Nihon University Karate Team. When he joined the club he asked if he had a chance to make it to the top of the team. Master Toyama replied: "I don't care what someone's race is, only how hard he works." Supreme Grandmaster Kim Ki-whang outworked all of the other team members and in fact was called Typhoon because of his amazing way of nonstop attacking. 

Supreme Grandmaster Kim Ki-whang did not create his own kwan in Korea! 


Though if was often stated that Toyama Kanken's style was Shudokan, he denied this. When he moved to Japan he had an "L" shaped house.  His family lived in one wing and he trained students in the other wing. His students called this wing Shudokan. But master Toyama insisted that he did not create a style and that he only taught what he had learned from his instructor Anko Itosu back in Okinawa. He claimed that he only taught classical Okinawan Karate as he had learned and practiced since he was 9 years of age. Master Toyama Kanken in fact created the All Japan Karate-Do Federation (AJKF) with the intention of unifying the various forms of Karate of Japan and Okinawa under one governing organization. 

I believe that it was in this same spirit, the spirit of Toyama Kanken who he so admired to purposely not create his own style but to just keep teaching the principles of MooDo (the martial arts) as he learned it from his master.  In fact Supreme Grandmaster Kim Ki-whang, though a member of Supreme Grandmaster Whang Kee's Moodukkwan, was not a student of Supreme Grandmaster Whang Kee.


Anne and James Roberts
Supreme Grandmaster Kim Ki-whang upon his return to Korea was looking for a dojung where he could train hard and someone told him: Those Moodukkwan guys work really hard. So he joined to have a place to practice what he had learned from Master Toyama Kanken, a place where he could contribute his knowledge.


After Supreme Grandmaster Kim Ki-whang's move to America he joined Taekwondo organization, though he continued to teach the arts of Itosu and Toyama Kanken. His successor Master James (Jimmy) Roberts and his wife Anne Roberts continue this tradition even today. Anne and Jim Roberts are pictured with my instructor Supreme Grandmaster Chun Kae-bae upon their induction into the BRUCE LEE LEGENDS OF HONOR HALL OF FAME in Columbus. Jim and Anne also accepted the award for Supreme Grandmaster Kim Ki-whang who posthumously was inducted.

It is pretty well accepted that Supreme Grandmaster Kim Ki-whang was the creater of the "Ax Kick" which was made famous by his two amazing fighters Grandmaster Michael Warren and Grandmaster Albert Cheeks. His list of students looks like a who's who list of taekwondo in America, including Supreme Grandmaster Richard Chun In-moon, Grandmaster Chuck Norris, Grandmaster Mitchell Bobrow, Owner of OTOMIX, George Thanos, and Pat E. Johnson (judge, stunt coordinator and actor). Marshall Collins, Marcella Byrd, John Bussard,  John Critzos 

So though  Supreme Grandmaster Kim Ki-whang did not start his own kwan, his focus was upon teaching the art he learned and developing the new art of Taekwondo into the world wide phenomenon that it has become.  It is because of this and the quality of his students, and his teaching as well as his developments in sparing that I believe he should be considered one of the FATHERS OF TAEKWONDO.

 


Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Wisdom School of taekwondo - - JIDOKWAN

Yun Byung-in and Chun Song-sup

Supreme Grandmaster Chun Song-sup  as a youth traveled a great deal and studied Judo and Karate-do. He attended college in Japan and studied at Takushoku University studying KarateDo (Kongsudo, in Korean) Shotokan under it's founder Gichin Funakoshi's son Gigo Funakoshi.  In 1946 Supreme Grandmaster Chun Song-sup began teaching Kongsoodo in a large gym in Seoul, Korea called Choson YunMoo Kwan Judo DoJang.   The President of the YunMoo Kwan gym at that time was Mister Lee Kyung-suk.

Teaching at the same gym was another instructor, Yun Byung-in.   Master Yun had trained in Japan with Master Toyama Kanken.   Master Yun had also trained in Manchuria learning KwonBup (Chuan Fa or Kenpo).   Master Yun stayed at the YunMooKwan for only a short time, until September of 1947 when he established himself at the YMCA in Seoul.

The two masters Chun and Yun were often called brothers because they trained so much together.  There was definitely a lot of sharing that went on between these two great martial artists and they often traveled to Manchuria to train with different people and at different schools. 

Master Yun eventually left the Choson Yun Moo Kwan and went to the YMCA where he taught YMCA KwonBup Boo which would later become Changmookwan.


Dr. Yun Kwae-byung who began his training as a child in Osaka under Mabuni Kenwa, founder of ShitoRyu.  He later attended college in Tokyo where he received his PhD and opened his own dojo under Toyama Kanken known as Kan Bukan. This dojo was open to students of any race that wanted to train hard. The legendary Mas Oyama studied at the Kan Bukan. Yun Kwae-byung and Yun Byung-in because of their respective Kwonbup and ShitoRyu experience were both promoted to Shihan (sabam) level in Japan by Toyama Kanken. The only two Korean founding master to receive shihan rank in Japan.

In 1948 Shihan Yun Kwae-byung returned to Korea and soon began teaching Yunmookwan Kongsoodo-bu for Chun Song-sup who's schools were expanding in every direction.  Chun Song-sup continued to teach himself at the Yunmookwan for another five years until the outbreak of the Korean war in 1950.  

At that time Seoul, Korea's capitol, was overrun by the North Koreans and both of these great martial artist Grandmasters Chun Song-sup and Yun Byung-in  disappeared. Master Yun was taken to North Korea where he lived out his days working in a mine. He still has family in South Korea. It is feared that Master Chun did not fare as well.

 After the war when the Yunmookwan reopened  it no longer taught Kongsoodo but instead became the central dojang of the Korean Yudo (judo) Association.

Though the doors of the Yunmookwan were closed during the war, classes were still being taught elsewhere and training continued for Master Chun Song-sup's students.   Grandmaster Chun Song-sup brother Chun Il-sup  and some of his senior students including Kim Hyuk-nae opened a dojung in Kunsan, Korea in the vicinity of where the front line were established during the war, and another element of students trained in Pusan.  

NOTE: My instructor Chun Kae-bae (pictured below with his instructor) was a student of Chun Il-sup and was mentored by Kim Hyuk-nae. "The boys from Kunsan were all about sparing, sometimes 2-3 hours a day, nonstop."





Chun Kae-bae and Chun Il-sup



Kim Hyuk-nae with Ernie Lieb



“Ignorance is the cause of suffering.  Eliminate Ignorance and you eliminate suffering or attain freedom.”  "The way to eliminate suffering was The Way of Wisdom”                                                                                                      ~~ Guatama Buddha

                  THE SCHOOL OF WISDOM   . . .  

. . .   is the translation of Ji (wisdom) do (the way or path as in Taoism) kwan (association).  


Dalma: the symbol of the monk Bodhidaruma, the internationally Jidokwan emblem.

 
In 1950 Yunmookwan Kongsoodo Bu is in turmoil, their leader missing and presumed dead. The seniors of the school decided that with there was only one man to take over leadership, the only Shihan in Korea, Grandmasters Yun Kwae-byung  who had trained with Toyama Kanken  and had reached  a 4th degree Shihan level in Karate-do ShudoKan, Kanken’s school.  At the insistence of the seniors Yun accepted the Kwanjung [leader of the kwan (association or school)] position. Out of respect to Chun, Yun changed the name to Jidokwan, which was the Korean translation of Yun's first style, ShitoRyu.

Note:  At that time in karate the highest rank, the rank of the founder of a system was 5th dan.  They did not have 9 degrees of black belt as we do now.

When the Korean War ended and the New South Korean Government  controlled Seoul the group of students established by Master Chun Song-sup and now under the leadership of Yun Kwae-byung surfaced again in Seoul under the name of Taekuk ChaRyuk Kwan.   Besides Master Yun Kwae-byung and Lee Chong-woo other senior instructors were Lee Kyo-yun,  Kim Hyuk-nae,  and Chun Il-sup.   These instructors were teaching Kongsoodo Jidowan. 

NOTE: Taekuk Charyuk kwan was the name of the school, not the name of the style. For example if a club was opened in the City Hall, it might be called the City Hall Taekwondo Club, but the style would still be Jidokwan.

Master Yun, Kwae Byung's martial arts lineage is traced backwards to Master Toyama Kanken, 1888-1966.  Master Kanken taught not only Yun, Byung In,  but also Taekwondo Moodukkwan Grandmaster and “The Godfather of Taekwondo in America, Grandmaster Ki Whang Kim (Kim Ki-whang), late of Washington, D.C.  

Most of the Korean's that were in Japan for education learned either Shoto kan, Gichin Funakoshi's art, or Toyama Kanken's Shudo Kan, with the exception of Yun-Kwae Byung who studied ShitoRyu Karatedo and Yun Byung-in who had studied KwonBup, Chinese boxing in Manchuria during the 40 years that Japan occupied Korea and during the time of the Second World War.

NOTE: Masters Funakoshi Gichin, Mabuni Kenwa and Toyama Kanken were from the Ryukyu Islands or Okinawa, they were NOT Japanese.   Master Funakoshi took a troop of Okinawan Master's on a tour of Japan to demonstrate and teach Tote Jitsu their indigenous system based upon Shaolin, Shorei  and White Crane Chinese Boxing.    Kenwa Mabuni, Toyama Kanken and Choki Mitobu were part of this tour.   These masters decided to stay in Japan to teach their arts to the Japanese and eventually Funakoshi changed the name to Karate-do. There was much prejudice against the Koreans by the Japanese, but these masters were NOT JAPANESE, the Okinawans, like the Koreans were a people subjugated by the Japanese.


 BACK TO THE FUTURE

In the 1950’s Jidokwan and the many other Kwan’s tried several times to unify, never really accomplishing this feat.   First there was the DaeHan (Korean) Kongsoodo (Karate) Association. Which included the Great Grandmasters  Ro Byong-jik of Sungmookwan, Yoon Kwae-byung of Jidokwan, Son Duk-sung of Chongdokwan, Lee Nam-suk of Changmookwan,  Lee Chong Woo of Jidokwan, Hyun Jong Myun, Jo Young Joo, and Kim In Hwa.   Soon after the founding of the Korean Kongsoodo Association, Supreme Grandmaster Whang Kee of Moodukkwan dropped out because he was not on the testing committee.  Soon after that Sun Duk-sung the president of Chongdokwan also dropped out for the same reason. 

Whang Kee proceeded to found the Korean Tangsoodo Association.  The Korean Kongsoodo Association began to crumble.   The Korean Tangsoodo Association made an attempt to get government approval but by pulling some political strings this was blocked by Jidokwan’s Yun Kwae-byung  and Sungmookwan’s Ro Byong-jik.

Under the Presidency of Park Chung-hee the entire country of Korea began to thrive and there was a major effort do to the atrocities of the Japanese during the occupation to distance the new art of Taekwondo from the Japanese. With government support and resources and putting Dr. Kim Un-yong in charge of taekwondo, he created the World Taekwondo Federation to act as a leadership body for the sport and Lee Chong-woo was put in charge of the Kukkiwon and creating a distinctly Korean art. There was major effort to change the uniforms, the poomsae/forms and everything else about the art. Because the legs are longer and stronger, a major effort was put into developing a kicking art much like the historical Korean art of Taekyun.

Jidokwan Today 


  Under Lee Chong-woo’s lead, "officially," Jido Kwan in Korea was absorbed by the Kukkiwon. The new generation of Korean martial artists who worked their way through the Kukkiwon system had instructors from many of the different martial arts including those of Jido Kwan.   Dr. Kim Un-yong officially dissolved the kwans, some of them like Songmookwan (shotokan) and Jidokwan (shitoryu) had references to Japanese systems. No Kwans are "offically" allowed to exist in Korea at this time except as fraternal organizations, and all ranking and testing is done through the Kukkiwon.

Until a few  years ago Lee Chung-woo was president of Taekwondo Jidokwan.   The current president is Mu Han-kim.   To use the name Taekwondo in Korea today you must be part of the Kukkiwon and the art is officially called Kukki Taekwondo.    Supreme Grandmaster Hwang Kee of Moodukkwan still calls his organization Subakdo and for a long time he and Dr. Yun Kwae-byung  co-ran it.  Dr. Yun calls his school Karate-Do Jidokwan.   They are NOT part of the Kukkiwon. 
   
Jidokwan as it exists in the United States today consists of two groups.  The traditional art which is taught by Korean Masters who came to this country still teaching it as it was taught in the kwans, with Japanese influence and their students, the first generation American Taekwondo masters, including myself.  Also by young Masters who trained in Korea under the Kukkiwon system, but in an effort to have an identity claim their chief instructor in Korea was a product originally of Jidokwan.

    Those instructors trained in the Kukki Taekwondo in Korea teach only the poomsae/forms authorized by the Kukkiwon: taeguk 1-8, koryo, kumgang, taebaek, pyongwon, shipjin, jitae, chonkwon, hansoo, ilyo and they concentrate mostly on full--contact, sport sparring with body armor.
   
The Jidokwan instructors in traditional Jidokwan teach what their individual instructors offered them including the use of hands, sweeping, throwing and selfdefense.   Since Grandmaster Lee Chong-woo in his tenure as president of Jidokwan was also the head of Kukkiwon his focus was on Kukki Taekwondo much to the neglect of Jidokwan.  In countries outside of Korea, there is no unified system of Jidokwan.
   

Hit it really hard . . . if it doesn't break . . . hit it again harder.



Brick breaking at a Charity Event














There has always been some misconception about the purpose of breaking things in the martial arts, and now they use these composite boards that easily break into three pieces. So what's that all about?

Originally the "striking arts" of Korea, Japan and China were developed to enable people to defend themselves in life and death fights. There was no sport! 

Training at that time was divided into five areas: warm-up and flexibility development, strength training, impact training, poomse (hyung, forms, kata, quan) and hoshinsul or application of the movements in the poomse. There was very little sparring. Then the Japanese messed this up by deciding that the real striking arts were barbaric, archaic and they didn't like the way they were taught. The striking arts should become modern sports, like judo and kendo, more Japanese.  The Japanese created point sparring and converted kata from self defense patterns to artistic folk dance. Gone were the emphasis on strength and impact and the applications of the movements of the forms.

The ancient masters  didn't know the formula F=MA, or that power equals your body mass times the speed that you hit. But the original masters knew that power came from speed and speed came from strong, flexible muscles. The masters of old used traditional weight lifting equipment, bars and dumbbells and also crafted specific strengthening devices. This training was integral to the original martial artist as seen in this ancient text which describes strength and impact training methods.

PROGRESSIVE RESISTANCE 

The master of old understood that in order for the body to get stronger, it must continuously be challenged. The first three drawings to the left depict strength development for the arms and shoulders with dumbbell like devices.

Drawings 4 and 5 show the development of gripping strength using the principle of progressive resistance. First the student lifted empty pots, then filled them with rocks to make them heavier. Later continuing the same process with bigger pots.

Drawing five shows a military press with a fabricated barbell and drawings 7 and 8 are showing wrist strengthening again with progressive resistance.

NOTE: Strong gripping strength is important for self defense and grappling and not so much for sport sparring which is why strength training was not taught because grabbing is not part of the sport.

Another important aspect of classical martial arts, mudo was impact training. How to take and give a strike. The ninth drawing to the right of the middle row is the use of a talyunbong, a pole wrapped with hemp rope that was kicked, punched and shadow boxed with.

There is also another type of talyunbong (pictured to the right) that is 4x4 cut and tapered to 2 inches at the top that is buried and struck. Because of the give in this type of talyunbong, it could be struck much harder without injury. 

Drawings 10, 11 and 12 show the use of striking bags again with the emphasis of continuing to increase size to increase the load your body using progressive resistance  to developing strength and causing you to hit much harder.

The last drawing is of a man striking and grabbing sand or iron shot. This training was used to toughen the skin, the grip and for developing and iron palm like strike.

So what about breaking things?  


Kyukpa: the art of breaking evolved naturally from the curiosity of people training physically to see how hard they could strike. The traditional swordsmen practiced cutting bamboo, to make sure that their slices were at the correct speed and angle to destroy their targets. The empty handed artists did the same thing and using the same principle of progressive resistance began first breaking one pine board, then multiple boards and later bricks, river rocks and even multiple cement slabs as Grandmaster Stepan, pictured to the right does.




Breaking or rather human psychology is an interesting phenomena. As an instructor I would call up a 180 pound adult to hit a one foot square piece of wood and they would hit it repeatedly until they became frustrated and unable to break it. Then I'd call up a younger student that weighed half as much that would break "the same piece of wood" with almost no effort with one blow. And as a teacher you'd ask yourself, what is really going on here?

Really, the art of kyukpa is the art of overcoming fear, the fear of getting hurt and teaching the student to muster the mental strength to smash their hand, foot or head into the piece of wood or cement hard enough to break it, or break them. Breaking is about developing indomitable spirit. The spirit of being  undefeat-able. The true essence of kyukpa is not to show off your ability, it is to foster the spirit of undefeat-able and by the principle of progressive resistance to challenge that artist to become a better and stronger human being both mentally and physically.

In the spirit of wisdom


Childan Sam Naples