The first time I read the Aims of Moo Sul Kwan Martial Arts, written by Great Grandmaster Lee H. Park, I was a new white belt student studying the CTI Student Manual in preparation for my yellow belt written test. The second aim reads: “Help students in identifying and accomplishing appropriate goals, developing a sense of self-esteem and confidence, in encouraging their desire for self-directed learning, and in expressing themselves as thoughtful individuals.” As a white belt, my goals were pretty simple: lose weight, get through all of the jumping jacks at the beginning of class without needing to rest, be able to touch my toes during stretches, and get the foot movement correct on Taegeuk Il Chang. I didn’t really understand how martial arts could bring me better self-esteem and confidence, but I was hoping that was true, because I needed it. Going to class was intimidating. Being the only white belt, and the newcomer who didn’t know anyone, was a little bit scary. Looking back on it, I can see that most of these feelings were due to my own self-esteem and confidence issues outside of the dojang.
Reading that second aim struck a chord, and I hoped that some of it would prove to be true for me. It wasn’t long after I was promoted to yellow belt that I started to settle in to my place in class. My instructor had always been wonderful and supportive, but I was starting to develop a camaraderie with other students in my class too. A couple of the black and red belts had taken me under their wing so to speak, and were encouraging and friendly, helping to guide me in my training. It felt like I was starting to get some people in my corner. I didn’t have to motivate myself to go to class anymore- I wanted to be there. I was happier when I was there, and I was definitely less stressed when I left. I was starting to notice small strides toward my first goals of physical fitness, which motivated me even more to keep at it. I even broke my first wooden board, which was something I didn’t think I’d ever be capable of doing. That feeling when my foot went through that board for the first time was amazing.
Around the orange and green belt level, I had become 100% committed. Moo Sul Kwan Taekwondo had become my passion. Suddenly my goals had developed from small strides in physical fitness to big “pie-in-the-sky” goals. Sure, I still had short term goals. Like fixing my front kick foot position, getting the pivot correct in my side kick, reaching my next belt. But I had bigger dreams too. Like getting to the purple belt level so I could start going to upper belt training on Saturdays, join LeAD team, be on the demo team, make it to black belt, be able to travel with the Black Belt Team during a World Tour, become an instructor and have my own students. I knew in order to reach these goals, I needed to keep at it. I needed to push myself harder than I ever had, and not waste any opportunities for training. So that’s what I did. I never missed an event, and it was very rare that I missed a class. I was more driven toward these goals than I had ever been before. And somewhere along the way, I needed to go down a size in my dobok pants.
I realized recently, a little more than three years since I first bowed in to class, that many of these “pie-in-the-sky” goals have either become reality, or are now within my reach. My self-esteem, confidence, and physical fitness are like night and day from where I was in 2016. I’m in the best physical health of my adult life, and am happier than I have been in a very long time. I used to be the new white belt who didn’t know anyone. Now I’ve been fortunate enough to have met some of the very best friends I have ever had through the CTI. The first time I read that second aim of MSK martial arts, I admit I had some doubts on whether or not any of that would ever hold true for me. Not only has it held true, but it’s gone above and beyond anything that I thought would be possible. My instructor, Grandmaster James Sautel, will ask us on occasion to think of where we could be in a year if we keep pushing as hard as we can every class. It only occurred to me recently that he is referring to Aim #2. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for us.
-Amy Krupp, red belt
(Now Mrs. Krupp, 1st Dan)
Perseverance is one of the tenets of Taekwondo that we study and learn about during our training. Many of us understand the importance of perseverance but at times we may forget when it is needed the most. The definition of perseverance is persistence in performing a task or attaining a goal despite difficulty or resistance. Perseverance is probably the most applicable tenet of Taekwondo as many of us have needed to use perseverance at school or work but, none can compare to our training here at the Colorado Taekwondo Institute (CTI). The road to black belt, and beyond, is long and tedious and requires much dedication, work, and commitment. At times we may want to give up and stop trying, but at that moment is the time when a student in the CTI needs to understand the importance of perseverance and apply it.
Perseverance is used every day in small doses and you may not even know that you are showing perseverance. Most of us had a paper in school or a project at work that we thought could wait and we wanted to procrastinate. However, Taekwondo training at the CTI helps us understand that instead of procrastinating, we should take advantage of the time we have now and at least start those projects. Starting or completing a task instead of waiting and putting off that project is an example of us using perseverance. An example of this in MSK Taekwondo would be studying for a written test or doing your monthly excellence sheet. These things maybe aren’t the biggest priorities in our everyday lives but in order to further enhance our Moo Sul Kwan training, these activities are essential. And if we as students let ourselves procrastinate and put off these items then we are not bettering ourselves, but taking steps backwards. Every class we do basics and are reminded that if we aren’t pushing 100% every class and strive to take steps forward, then we are actually taking steps backwards. That concept still applies to homework, written tests, and articles. These tasks require perseverance and we may not think of needing it with these tasks but in order to attain a black belt, students must learn to have perseverance, in any task, either physical or mental.
Not only do we need to work hard and have perseverance in our classes and training, but we also need to set a black belt example outside of the school. One of the hardest parts of training at CTI is understanding that the behavior that we are required to follow in the school is the same type of behavior that we need to exhibit in life. Perseverance is essential to do this. There are many times in life that will test this training and we may be tempted to break that training. A true Moo Sul Kwan black belt has to understand that the behavior exhibited in classes and around other students, instructors and assistant instructors is the same behavior that needs to be shown to co-workers, classmates, and any stranger. Although this may be tough, it will help your training and the road to become a black belt will be a little easier. Applying this skill to life will also help you become a better person. Although many students know the definition of perseverance, we may not know how to apply it to our martial arts training and our lives but the quicker you learn how to do that, the better off you will be in your MSK Taekwondo training and school or work.
One-step sparring is another part of our martial arts training that puts our basics into motion. The foundations that are established first in basics and then in poomse can be built upon while practicing one-step sparring. In addition to developing speed on your techniques, there are a few additional benefits since you are training with a partner. Timing (can you hit your stance and block just as the attacker throws theirs?), judgment of distance (can you throw your blocks, kicks and strikes with a precise distance to your partner?) and precision (can you throw your moves to the correct target position?) are three of the benefits that one-steps help a student develop.
Be sure to practice your one-steps in walking drills too. They will help you memorize the moves, perfect the technique and stances, and help you develop speed for each one-step. Don’t forget there are one step walking drill defenses (start with your left leg back on the first side) and one-step walking drill attacks (start with your right leg back on the first side).
The MTI Student Manual lists 12 One-Step Sparring rules. Four of these rules mirror other rules of Moo Sul Kwan Taekwondo training:
Being a teenager while doing Taekwondo is important now and later in life. Being a teenager, I have learned in class to use self control before self defense, we call this "Ho Shin". It means not to hurt anybody outside or inside of class unless you are being threatened. It means not to hurt them if they are being rude but always ask what the problem is first and don’t go straight to punching and kicking. If they were about to start hurting you a lot that is the time to start using what you learned in Taekwondo to protect yourself. Defending yourself is important. Parents want their kids to be safe and not be scared. Taekwondo is a way to defend yourself in dangerous situations.
Taekwondo has helped me stretch my body to kick higher, punch harder, and to have a good stance which requires lots of practice. In Taekwondo, practice is important, both mentally and physically. If your goal is to become a better kicker practice at home, outside, or in class because practicing makes you better at doing it.
A martial arts school for teens teaches student how to better deal with pain and struggle. In class pain and struggling is temporary but has a big impact on you later in life, and sometimes necessary in order to reach your life goals.
- Scott Hancey
Moo Sul Kwan Taekwondo is built on a strong foundation of basic techniques. These are the most important part of our training, but for the advanced student, there are a number of other ways to expand your training. Breaking provides one of the few ways to truly test our technique. Board breaking is a way for the martial artist to gauge their ability and power on a real target. Once the technique is solid, the difficulty can be raised by adding more boards, changing the technique, or (perhaps) by switching to a speed break.
Key Preparation Steps for Breaking:
• Practice first on a (soft) target
• Work in front of a mirror
• Plan breaks out in advanced
(distance and height)
• Pick your wood carefully
• Set up the board in the correct
• Stack multiple boards tightly
together, grains aligned
• Set up and check your holders
• Pick the best possible holders
• Condition your hands and feet
- Dustin Wheeler, 4th Dan
Everyone has a problem that you know nothing about, this is especially true when you are a teen. Who are your friends, what crowd to fit in with, which grades are more important, why am I in trouble again? Issues that seem trivial as adults take center stage as a teen, yet chances are you had the same issues growing up.
How easy it is to forget the challenges of adolescence, I certainly have either forgotten or suppressed most of mine. Often while watching my teenage son struggle I find myself poking around in the dusty corners of my brain looking for remnants of my young feelings. All parents do this at some time, wanting and hoping to give their child some kernel of information that they did not have. One piece that I had as a teen was Taekwondo, I am hoping to pass along some of my my growth and experiences through this training to my son.
School and the pressures that go along with it can be hard, especially in the middle school years, nothing seems to make sense. Friends change, teachers can be good or bad depending on the day and don't get me started on parents. There is no consistency at a time when a sane and simple, predictable routine should exist. CTI provides our family this stable platform.
Everyone is equal, at least in the teens martial arts school. It doesn't matter the color of your hair, eyes or your belt. Your uniform is the same, your basic training is the same and so is your sweat. The most difficult challenger you will encounter is the one you see in the mirror, this reflection will also become your biggest critic and your most steadfast ally. There are no subgroups based on fashion, looks or intelligence, we are all working to better ourselves.
Advancement in rank is set by your instructor, it is up to you to set your own individual goals. You may choose advancement to the next belt, breaking more boards, learning to protect yourself or becoming fit. It doesn't matter what you choose as your assignment so long as you are true to yourself.
What you learn in addition to your training may not be initially seem important. It is the side lessons that when planted require time to take root. Listening, timing, self confidence, spacial awareness are some of these skills. You and your teen may not see the benefits of this alternate training initially but they do show up in your attitude, which ultimately enhances your personal and family skills. The Colorado Taekwondo Institute is an awesome martial arts school for teens.
"Encourage world class leadership through educational excellence and Moo Sul Kwan martial arts traditions"
To me, our mission statement means creating leaders (black belts) who are not only well-rounded and skilled in taekwondo, but are also knowledgeable and know how to relate the skills and traits they’ve learned in taekwondo into day to day life at home, school, etc. This is why we emphasize demonstrating black belt behavior to new students and the lower belt students. It’s important to not only know how to do the proper techniques and have the required stripes to test, but to also remember it is just as important to be kind and respectful to others, to be willing to volunteer and help out when needed, and assist in class and at events. Our martial art program is unlike any other because we value education and want to make sure we are providing the best tools to our students so they can be the most successful by the time they get to black belt.
A MTI Black Belt demonstrates many qualities and traits. On the forefront, they know all of the required poomse, self-defenses, one steps, and walking/sparring drills. They also follow all the rules of "MTI Etiquette." They work hard, always try their best, are consistent with attending class, attend Black Belt club and participates in tournaments and other taekwondo related events. They assist in classes with the head instructor when needed and always complete their homework assignments. A MTI Black Belt is also someone whose willing jump in and is extremely kind and respectful even when a student may be disruptive or rude. They are reliable, consistent, responsible, trustworthy, confident and everything that a proper leader should be. They don’t stop trying to learn and experience new things just because they got to black belt.
- Ashley Slinkard, Orange Belt
Adaptability, one’s ability to adapt or change in a situation, is important everywhere, however, it is especially important in Moo Sul Kwan Taekwondo. In MSK Taekwondo things are constantly changing, reshuffled. You have to be able to keep up with all of it, and so you must be adaptable. If you can't change with everyone else then you will have a hard time in MSK Taekwondo and other aspects of your life, I know, I have personal experience. I hate change, I always want to have a plan, but I’m in MSK Taekwondo, and so I need to be able to be flexible. I will point out some examples of when I needed to be adaptable in MSK Taekwondo, as well as ones that you could find yourself in. I will also explore how to be more adaptable, so next time something changes for you it won't be that hard.
I am a testing red belt, and as such I need a black belt journal. The CTI Black Belt Symposium is a big event, like expo, for upper belts. Now, I was looking forward to going to the 2019 CTI Symposium because it would allow me to fill out a large portion of pages in my journal. I got to the first presentation of a black belt and I realized I had forgotten by journal at home. At first I was panicked, what would I do without my journal? Then I calmed down and realized that I had to take notes somehow, so I grabbed a hand out I had gotten from another class and took notes on that. Throughout Symposium I took notes on whatever I had, papers, folders, even boards. When I got home I filled my journal in with those notes I had gathered and i got a good amount of pages. I could have given up on taking notes and just stopped trying, but I adapted and got through that unfortunate situation.
Another experience I have had where I had to adapt in MSK Taekwondo was every team tournament and demo. Now, with the team tournament happening soon, as of this writing, I have realized just how much my team demo has changed. We have gone through about 10 different ideas of how to make it look, always adjusting, rearranging moves, or switching formations. If anyone has been on a team or a demo they know how much it changes each time you practice it. This is why you need to be flexible when you do things like this, you are in a team and your teammates might have different ideas than you have. If you are rigid and unchanged in how you want the demo to go then your teammates will have problems with it, they may not try their best, they may feel upset because you are not listening to them, they might be confused on the demo and wanting to simplify it so they can look good while doing it. If you keep the demo the same you might be missing out on a really creative idea that could help your team. If you are participating in a larger demo you have to be able to be open to change and, however hard it is, go with the flow. Although it is less of a problem for me now I have always have problems working with others, I always wanted things to look my way. It was hard working with others on a team basics demo my first time at it. Over time I learned that you had to be flexible when you work with other people and today I work much better with teams. When creating or participating in a demo you have to be adaptable so the demo can grow and change to become even better and you can work well in a team.
The last example I will talk about is sparring. Sparring is one of the most important places to be adaptable in Moo Sul Kwan Taekwondo. When you spar you have to make split second decisions, there is no time for a large plan. Sure, you can plan out a fake or a kick, but you can't know what your opponent is going to do. You could know their sparring strategy, but if you make a plan it could be shattered in an instant as your opponent makes one unexpected move. Now when I spar I keep my opponents sparring strategy in mind, but stay loose and focus on what my opponent is doing, no plan. This works quite well, as now I can change my attack, block, or where I am putting my hand or foot based on what my opponent just did. When sparring, you should focus on the moment, not getting caught up in a plan that was foiled. You have to be adaptable in sparring because if you are not you will not be able to defend yourself from and attack an unpredictable opponent.
MSK Taekwondo is ever changing, and so as a student you have to be adaptable. While you need to be adaptable in all aspects of taekwondo events, like tournaments and expos, team poomse and demos, and sparring are some of the most important. Try to be flexible when you go to class and do anything MSK Taekwondo related, make a plan B, go with the flow. If you allow yourself to be adaptable it will raise you to a new level of understanding.
- Sean Huntley, Red Belt