Friday, December 28, 2012

The Vital Role of Meditation in Tae Kwon Do

by Master Doug Cook
TaeKwonDo Times Magazine November, 2012 
"Traditions" column
(appears in every edition)
 
Observing a martial artist seated quietly in a meditative posture bears little resemblance to the skilled defender most assume him to be. Meditation, however, plays a vital role in preparing the taekwondoist, both mentally and spiritually, for the demands of self-defense, the benefits of ki development, and a potential leap in performance through the practice of visualization.

In order to act rapidly in the face of a threat that has escalated beyond verbal mediation, the mind and the body must react rather than anticipate; this important principle lies at the core of traditional defensive strategy. Making the false assumption that an attacker will execute a punch when, in truth, his intention is to kick, is certain to result in severe injury to the defender. To appreciate the value of meditation as it applies to this component of self-defense, one needs look no further than the stillness of a serene pool of water reflecting the image of a full moon. Because the surface is unbroken by ripples, the image is pure and undistorted.  The mind of the martial artist can be conditioned to act in a similar fashion. Through the sincere and diligent practice of meditation, the taekwondoist will develop an uncanny ability to react to an unprovoked attack rather than anticipate a potential false move. How is this possible? The mind, like an unbroken stallion, has a proclivity for galloping away when left to its own designs. Thoughts of daily activities, bills, work or school, all have the ability to intrude on a tranquil mind. Great effort is required to focus on stillness, emptiness. Nothing, no mind, or mushin, is what the martial artist seeks. Mushin is the mental state where one is unhindered by preconception. Yet, as difficult as this stage of consciousness may be to achieve, we do have an ally in our quest. Just as the Asian warriors of the past, who walked a razor’s edge between life and death in the service of their king, meditated before battle, we too, as modern day warriors can relieve the dangers of anticipation by cultivating a clear and tranquil mind. However, there are many types of meditation. Which is appropriate to achieve the result we desire? One approach my students and I practice at the Chosun Taekwondo Academy as a preface to our training consists of sitting cross-legged in the half-lotus posture on a folded blanket to promote comfort. The hands are positioned in a gesture known as a mudra, a Sanskrit term meaning to seal or authenticate.  Again, there are a variety of mudras, each intended to amplify or authenticate a spiritual concept. The cosmic mudra, where the back of the right hand is placed in the palm of the left hand (reverse for men), thumbs touching, is a simple and effective mudra to begin with. Make a perfect oval rather than permitting the thumbs to create a “peak” or the palms to collapse into a “valley”. Let the hands gently rest in the lap, close the eyes and sit erect with the nose in line with the navel. Aside from allowing for a smooth exchange of breath, this posture will encourage a free flow of ki, or internal energy, to circulate throughout the body. Using the breath as a focal point, slowly inhale through the nose and exhale through the. Invariably, as you meditate, stray thoughts will attempt to invade the mind; briefly acknowledge these feelings and permit them to pass through your consciousness, all the while returning to your breathing. Assign a single count to each cycle of inhalation/exhalation. Count to ten only and then return to one. Eventually, with patience and time, you may be able to abandon your counting altogether and simply focus on the breath. This basic method of meditation should serve to calm the mind prior to training and partially eliminate the distraction of anticipating rather than reacting.


Moreover, enhancing the flow of ki throughout the body is yet another objective of meditation. Why is this abstract action important to the martial artist? The manipulation of ki, the universal life force, can be used for both benign and punitive purposes. For instance, in order to promote health, the practitioner of kiatsu, or ki therapy, messages the various acupoints along the body to stimulate ki flow; when an abundant amount of ki is present, a sense of well being is experienced, when it is deficient, illness results. The taekwondoist, on the other hand, channels ki to a specific part of the body with the hope of amplifying technique and to prevent injury. This requires long practice but can be addressed through meditation and breathing exercises. While inhaling and exhaling, place your hands on your abdomen. What do you feel? When you breathe in, the abdominal area should expand; likewise, when you exhale, the abdominal area contracts. This process is commonly known as normal or Buddhist Breathing. Now, make a conscious effort to reverse this sequence, allowing the opposite to occur where the area surrounding your tan-jun, or ki center, two inches below the navel, contracts during inhalation and conversely expands when you exhale. This style of breathing is referred to as reverse or Taoist Breathing and represents an ancient method by which your breathing acts as a pump to move the flow of ki throughout a series of pathways or meridians traversing the body. This practice coincides with the last mission of meditation which entails visualization. Sitting in the meditative posture described above, and employing the Taoist Breathing method, visualize taking in a fresh, clean stream of ki through the nose as you inhale and releasing a cloud of dark, used ki similar to smoke, as you exhale. Following this meditation exercise, the body should feel revitalized and ready for vigorous practice. At some point you can imagine lifting the ki from the tan-jun and mentally transporting it to various parts of the body. As a cautionary note, Taoist Breathing can have ill effects if used excessively and should only be practiced for short periods of time.

Lastly, visualization during meditation can also be used prior to promotion tests and competitions as a precursor to success. It is not uncommon for the Olympic competitor to mentally “see” him or herself performing flawlessly while meditating before the actual event. Similarly, the martial artist can step through the requirements of a belt test while in a meditative state and hopefully reduce the stress intrinsic in the actual examination.

Clearly, the practice of meditation presents great benefits for the taekwondoist and should be a part of every style’s curriculum. Sadly, meditation is often overlooked due to its metaphysical nature except in schools addressing the more traditional aspects of tae kwon do. Nevertheless, the reward of adding a meditative component to your training is obvious and should be explored with a qualified instructor.
 
Master Doug Cook, a 6th dan black belt, is head instructor of the Chosun Taekwondo Academy located in Warwick, New York, a senior student of Grandmaster Richard Chun, and author of three best-selling books entitled: Taekwondo…Ancient Wisdom for the Modern Warrior, Traditional Taekwondo - Core Techniques, History and Philosophy, and Taekwondo–A Path to Excellence, all published by YMAA of Boston. Master Cook and Grandmaster Chun have recently completed a new book focusing on Original Koryo and Koryo poomsae targeted for publication in July of 2013. Master Cook can be reached for lectures, workshops or questions at www.chosuntkd.com or info@chosuntkd.com.

 

 

 

 

Training with Gyoo Hyun Lee

by Master Doug Cook
article appeared in Totally Taekwondo Magazine issue #46

Paging through the Kukkiwon Textbook many years ago, a comprehensive volume originally published in 1975, I took notice of a severe looking martial artist chosen to model the technical attributes of taekwondo by virtue of his long experience and skilled attention to the art. Again, in 1998, this accepted standard-bearer recognized for his extraordinary acumen, would appear in a promotional video produced by the Organizing Committee for Taekwondo Korea 2000 as a staff instructor. Seeing who I eventually came to know as Grandmaster Gyoo Hyun Lee in motion rather than on the printed page, convinced me all the more that I would someday seek out his instruction.

As destiny would have it, this was more difficult than expected. In planning the 1999 Chosun Taekwondo Academy Korea Training & Cultural Tour partially sponsored by the Committee, I inquired if Grandmaster Lee would be one of our teachers as advertised, but was informed that his schedule did not coincide with our visit. Likewise, in the initial planning stages of our 2004 tour, I once more requested his talents directly; “Unavailable” was the response from Korea and so, disappointedly, I turned my gaze elsewhere. Then, a few short weeks before departure, I received a surprise email from our travel service stating that the grandmaster had accepted our group provided we allow his senior instructors to assist. Naturally, rather than a condition, this stipulation amounted to a bonus. Since then, I would not consider developing an itinerary without including a day of training with Grandmaster Lee.
 
To read entire article, subscribe to Totally Taekwondo Magazine

‘It is a privilege' | Warwick Greenwood Lake NY | Letters to the Editor

Read this heartfelt letter written to the Warwick Advertiser by Claire Gabelmann, Chairperson for the Warwick Lions Club Holiday party for Community Children in Need

"It is a privilege"
For several years the students of the Chosun Taekwondo Academy in Warwick have been some of the strongest supporters of the Warwick Lions Club Holiday Project for Children in Need.

They held fund raisers all year long, such as book sales and coin drives, to raise $2,800 which was enough money to sponsor 37 of the 100 children who were served by this effort.

In addition, they purchased $400 of gift items which were used in the holiday “shop” where local children in need chose gift for their families. The students and their parents shopped for clothing, shoes and toys for 37 children.

On the night before the event, they donned elf hats to decorate the venue and set up the “shop.”
Read entire letter:‘It is a privilege' | Warwick Greenwood Lake NY | Letters to the Editor

Monday, December 3, 2012

Chosun e-newsletter Archive Volumn 3 # 12 December 2012



Dear Martial Arts Enthusiast,
Welcome to the December 2012 edition of the Chosun e-newsletter. The past few months have been some of the busiest on record at the Chosun Taekwondo Academy. Highlights include the 2012 Chosun Korea Cultural and Training Tour, the USTA Seminar with Grandmaster Richard Chun and the inspiring bi-annual Black Belt Tests. The culmination of the year is our 15th Annual Chosun Taekwondo Academy Awards Banquet and Dinner Dance. As full of events as this year has been, the new year promises to be packed with exciting offerings as well. Read information below about upcoming overseas training opportunities, book releases and more.

Chosun wishes you and your family a safe and wonderful holiday season!

Kamsahamnida,
Patty Cook, Editor www.facebook.com/chosuntkd                                                 

                                                                  
                                                                                                           

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy New Year                                                                                        


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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Chosun e-newsletter Archive Volumn #3 November, 2012

Dojang News and Events

15th Annual Chosun Taekwondo Academy
Awards Banquet & Dinner Dance
Saturday, December 1, 2012 6:30 - 11:00pm

Black Bear Golf Club
138 Route 23 North, Franklin, NJ 07416
Adults - $49 Children(5-10 years) - $39 Children under 4 years-FREE

Make Checks payable and remit to Chosun Taekwondo Academy
Reserved seating for all: Contact Mary Suleski for seating preference: md2065@columbia.edu
DJ and dancing, cash bar, awards presentation, and a visit from Santa
Join us for a fun-filled family evening celebrating the Holiday Season!
 
Kamsahamnida,
Patty Cook, Editor www.facebook.com/chosuntkd                    
Stay Connected...
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Happy Thanksgiving
Happy"Chusok"(KoreanThanksgiving)


Chosun Taekwondo Academy Celebrating 15 Years!
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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

2014 Chosun Taekwondo Academy Korea Training & Cultural Tour


Annyung Haseyo Fellow Taekwondoists,

          At one time or another almost every martial artist dreams of visiting the country from which their chosen discipline has evolved. To the karateka, that region is Okinawa; to the wushu practitioner, it is China. But, to the taekwondoist, it is a peninsula rich in greenery with mountains masked in swirling mists that rush to meet the sky. This enchanted land is called Korea: Land of the Morning Calm.

In July of 2014 we are scheduled to participate in yet another extraordinary adventure that most only dream of – an adventure certain to be remembered for a lifetime. Your determination in bridging the gap between dream and reality is certain to result in cultural experiences, friendships, and technical insights that can only be gained through a direct exposure to Korea, taekwondo’s country of origin. Training at the various dojangs and meeting the many gifted masters and students of the art will to add color and meaning to your practice, now and in the future.

On this, the 2014 Chosun Taekwondo Academy Korea Training & Cultural Tour to take place from July 12th through July 20th, 2014, we are once again fortunate beyond measure to proceed with the oversight of martial arts legend, Grandmaster Richard Chun, 9th dan international master instructor, and president of the United States Taekwondo Association. Doors normally closed to Westerners open wide with Kwanjangnim’s assistance.

Furthermore, we will visit and train at the dojang of Grandmaster Gyoo Hyun Lee, the man responsible for maintaining technical accuracy in Kukkiwon formal exercises around the globe. Additionally, training sessions at the Kukkiwon – center of taekwondo operations worldwide, Keumgang Taekwondo Center with Master Ryan An, and at Gulgosa Temple high in mountains of Kyongju where we will practice traditional Korean Zen martial arts, are also scheduled.

Yet, one of the greatest attractions of this journey will be an excursion to Jeju Island off the southern tip of Korea. Here we will train at a local dojang and enjoy the distinctive landscape of this exotic province. Ultimately, however, the general practice of the national Korean martial art in its country of origin alone makes this trip an invaluable experience for all taekwondoists regardless of style, age or organizational affiliation.

Over the course of the past few months we have negotiated with our travel agency in order to secure a fair and reasonable price for our journey based on service, safety and reliability. Our estimated per-person cost of $3950, which may fluctuate due to fuel costs, includes the following:

·        Roundtrip coach airfare to and from Korea and Jeju Island
·        Double-occupancy lodging at major hotels*
·        All meals
·        English-speaking guides
·        All training fees
·        All admission fees to tourist attractions
·        Transportation by motor coach while in Korea

 *Room rates are based on double-occupancy, two people per room. Adding a person to a room will result in an additional cost. If you wish a single room, contact us and we will provide you with the cost.
Costs not included in the aforementioned price:

·        Tour warm-up suit with logo* ($125)
·        Tour tee-shirts with logo* ($20 each)
·        Bus transportation to and from airport (approx. $45 per person)
·        Souvenirs, snacks, and free-time activities while in Korea
·        Beverages other than water and tea at meals
·        Cell phone rental in Korea if desirable
·        Room/Airline upgrade
·        Addition of person to room (single supplement)

 *Purchase of warm-up suit and at least two tee shirts is mandatory since this will be your primary wear when not training and while traveling during our visit. Group photos will be taken with warm up suits on.
          Following an initial deposit of $1000, the remaining balance of $2950 per person will be paid in two equal payments of $1475, with a timeline to be specified shortly. If you are interested in joining us on this, our seventh training expedition to Korea, please contact us as soon as possible to announce your intention and reserve your space.

In closing, making this journey is certain to remove provincial boundaries from the mind and expand your overall worldview of the martial arts. The Korean people are extremely hospitable and it is a great honor to represent our country as ambassadors of taekwondo.

Finally, in today’s world of global uncertainty, feel secure in the knowledge that, in our own way, we will encourage a unity of spirit with citizens of a foreign land rather than division through ignorance. Stay focused, look forward to our day of departure, and train hard. I look forward to your enthusiastic reply!
Tadani Kamsahamnida,
Master Doug Cook

6th Dan / Kukkiwon Certification # 05910568
Tour Administrator
info@chosuntkd.com
view our 2012 Korea Tour travelogue


 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

United States Taekwondo Association Eastern Regional Seminar with Grandmaster Richard Chun


Grandmaster Richard Chun and USTA Master Instructors
WARWICK - The Chosun Taekwondo Academy, a traditional martial arts and hatha yoga center with headquarters in Warwick, NY, recently hosted the annual United States Taekwondo Association Eastern Regional Seminar at the Warwick Town Hall. The event featured classes in basic technique, self-defense, poomsae, sparring drills, and wood breaking taught by top USTA master instructors including martial arts pioneer Grandmaster Richard Chun. One hundred nineteen martial artists attended originating from thirteen area schools in three states, including Han Ho Martial Arts, National Martial Arts League, Byung Min Kim’s Taekwondo, Long Island Taekwondo Center, Success Martial Arts, Haddock Taekwondo Center, Evolution Martial Arts, Ultimate Martial Arts and the Chosun Taekwondo Academy.

Master Doug Cook, head instructor of the Chosun Taekwondo Academy stated, “We were delighted and honored to be given the opportunity to host an educational event of this magnitude in the enchanting surroundings of Warwick. Here, the participants improved their skills rather than using them to compete against one another as they would have in a tournament setting. Our school, and others in the USTA, took full advantage of this memorable occasion.”

In a separate statement, Grandmaster Richard Chun, a ninth-degree black belt, Olympic coach, and one of the highest ranking international master instructors in the United States, supported his decision in selecting the Chosun Taekwondo Academy to host the event by saying, “Master Cook’s school typifies the true spirit of taekwondo. His traditional curriculum, geared towards children and adults alike, not only stresses the physical aspects of the martial arts, but the mental and spiritual components as well. The Chosun Taekwondo Academy is one of the most active affiliates in the USTA and this is why I chose them for this honor.”


Friday, September 28, 2012

Chosun e-newsletter Archive Volumn 3 #10 October, 2012



NEW BOOK BY RICHARD CHUN
& DOUG COOK
Taekwondo Black Belt Poomsae -
Original Koryo and Koryo


Release Date: July 1, 2013YMAA Publications, Inc

Owing to the extensive reputation of Grandmaster Richard Chun as a modern day taekwondo pioneer and Master Doug Cook's prolific and award winning writing on the subject, this new book promises to be a landmark treatise for taekwondo practitioners worldwide.



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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Traditions Column by Master Doug Cook November Issue of TaeKwonDo Times Magazine


Not Everything Needs a Ball 

 Not long ago, my wife was speaking with the editor of our local newspaper regarding a recently submitted press release describing a public-service event hosted by the Chosun Taekwondo Academy Leadership Team, a group of young individuals who routinely engage in elevated training, provide community service on a regular basis, and utilize the virtues of tae kwon do as a vehicle to promote leadership skills.

During the course of the conversation, the editor praised the group for their tireless efforts in assisting the underprivileged and further recognized the fact that this was not the first time he had received such a bulletin publicizing our outreach program. Additionally, he was quick to note that local community leaders and citizens in concert take heed of the good deeds propagated by our students, all done with a minimum of fanfare.

Then the conversation took an interesting turn. While not coming out directly and saying so, he juxtaposed our group against various sports teams in the area whose primary mission is to dominate on the playing fields often at the cost of the very virtues supported by traditional tae kwon do training. While these entities often strive to stimulate charitable contributions as well, they do so obliquely without recognizing the noble engine that drives the process of compassion, and thus philanthropy, albeit in a benign manner. He then went on to summarize this notion by uttering the phrase “not everything needs a ball”. Given the huge popularity of varsity sports and the attention they are given by the local press, I was astonished by his comment.

At this point, I should mention that I personally have never been a sports enthusiast and, in truth, find many of the emotions elicited by such pastimes distasteful at best. By way of example, whether it be taekwondo as a sport, football or little league baseball, the unbridled actions of overzealous parents in distorted support of their offspring during the competitive process, frequently borders on riotous conduct. This atmosphere of behavior is not what we are attempting to cultivate in the traditional martial arts and to hear a man of erudition encapsulate this concept so succinctly was heartwarming indeed.

I am certain many readers will take exception with my point of view; especially those with children who participate in a variety of extra-curricular activities including those mentioned above. But it is the heritage of the Korean martial arts that stimulates the concept of giving back to ones community just as the ancient Hwarang warriors did when not occupied by battle. In my opinion, tae kwon do training undeniably represents nobility in motion. Every class is tempered with courtesy, humility, compassion and purpose. And for youngsters whose minds and hearts are uniquely open to suggestion, this is paramount.

Quite naturally, those unfamiliar with the discipline will argue, and understandably so, that tae kwon do resonates with aggression and violence, offering no socially-redeeming qualities whatsoever. And on the surface, this may be true. But if one were to take a closer look under the hood, milestones in the elevation of character will be revealed…all this minus the competitive mindset and barely masked hostility, often fostered under the guise of team sports.

As instructors of tae kwon do, we frequently say that “the only person you are competing against is yourself.” And for the most part, this is accurate effectively removing it from the fundamental doctrines of sport. Practitioners, of any age, sincerely seeking an enhanced lifestyle gradually alter longstanding habits of a questionable nature in favor of those that bolster integrity, compassion and discipline; traits that go hand in hand with cultivating an empathic worldview. Upon closer investigation, we see the long shadow cast by Confucianism on this process. Since traditional tae kwon do is influenced by the three Asian philosophical paradigms including Taoism, Buddhism and Confucianism, this is understandable.

Confucius, or more correctly K’ung Fu-tzu, espoused the cultivation of the “superior man”, one who is aware of his or her unique place in, and responsibility to, society at large. Furthermore, he taught that a single individual can influence world events through the simple projection of a benevolent state of mind. The Korean proverb, su shin je ga chi guk pyong chun fa, supports this philosophy. Loosely translated, this dictum states that, “peace within the individual brings peace within the family; peace in the family brings peace in the community; peace in the community, peace in the country and, ultimately, peace throughout the world.” As improbable as this may sound, there is little doubt that compassion towards fellow human beings goes a long way. Rather than being isolated in a vacuum, correct action ripples across humanity with much the same effect as would a pebble when dropped into a serene pool of water. Following this path leads the individual to develop a sense of purpose and harmony within the community.

Moreover, it should be remembered that the martial arts of the 21st century are significantly different from those practiced centuries ago. While self-defense remains the core purpose of practice, enrichment of character has evolved as a central theme as well. This metamorphosis began during the late 19th century with the creation of disciplines such as judo and karate-do by Gigoro Kano and Gichen Funakoshi respectfully. Martial arts intended to sustain a warrior on the field of battle became martial ways, or do, with the added benefit of building physical fitness, nationalism and morality in youngsters and college students alike. For the most part, with the exception of combat sport and MMA, this concept continues on today as the standard model in contemporary martial arts education. From this, it is not difficult to perceive the connection between a desire to improve the lives of others through community outreach and the virtuous tenets of traditional tae kwon do including courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control and indomitable spirit.

Lastly, while sport and all its trappings can provide an outlet for aggression and create social bonds by way of teambuilding, they all, by definition, are restricted to a set place and time. Meanwhile, the robust philosophical foundation that acted as a code of honor for the Hwarang continues to support traditional tae kwon do in the new millennium and remains as valid today as it was in the seventh century when these noble warriors sought moral wisdom beyond the zone of combat.

 Ultimately, the modern martial artist, of whatever age, should not only be physically fit and adroit in the ways of self-defense, but in addition, become a beacon of strength and courage for family, friends and those less fortunate than he or she. By extension, enriching ones community through programs of systematic outreach, particularly by young practitioners, proves beyond a doubt that “not everything needs a ball” to provide a sense of self-worth coupled with community spirit. The above, amplified by an element of self-respect, is what it means to be a true modern day warrior clad in the armor of virtuous action, tailored by a earnest study of traditional tae kwon do.

 

  

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Chosun e-newsletter Archive Volumn #3 September, 2012

Dojang News and Events

Chosun Belt Promotion Test
Sunday August 19, 2012

The Chosun
Summer Belt Promotion Test was the largest to date and was a testament to the perseverance it takes to be proficient in the art of taekwondo. From white to black belt, students demonstrated high levels of skill, technique and focus. Congratulations to all Chosun students. Special THANKS to Chosun instructors, Master Gary Stevens and Master Joseph Preira for officiating.

558599_10151111195488880_348488301_nClick image for more photos
See a video
 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

TaeKwonDo Times Traditions Column by Master Doug Cook September, 2012

The Academics of Taekwondo

Tae Kwon Do is composed of many components, most dominated by physical qualities. Front kicks, round kicks, side kicks, hand and aerial techniques abound, endowing the national Korean martial art with its unique character. Yet, as the discipline matured from its humble beginnings in the 1940s and 50s, it gained both complexity and academic dimensions until today, modern educational institutes of higher learning located in Korea offer Taekwondology, along with its comprehensive syllabus of technique, tradition, rules and regulations, as a major.

Regardless of the fact that the roots of tae kwon do date back to antiquity, historians agree that the primordial forms of the art, then known as kong soo do, tang soo do and for a brief period of time, tae soo do, were heavily influenced by Okinawan karate-do coupled with Chinese chuan fa, Japanese judo and, to some degree, aikido and jujutsu. While in transition, ritual and practice fortifying the burgeoning discipline innocently drew breath from these styles.

Then, just as the citizenry of the Korean nation were given the opportunity to reestablish their cultural and technical infrastructure - admittedly after immeasurable strife and bloodshed - so too did tae kwon do. Rising like a phoenix from the ashes of war, the disparate styles that were to evolve into a single, standardized national treasure, took on its own identity within the pantheon of Asian combat disciplines. Distinctive skills and strategies featuring philosophical underpinnings exclusive to Korean culture clearly began to emerge during the latter part of the twentieth century. This process was not easy and came at great cost, both socially and politically, to many of its founders and the organizations they would come to create. Yet, today, tae kwon do stands tall as a battle-proven form of self-defense and a fully recognized Olympic sport boasting a growth curve second to none; all this is the span of a short sixty years.
Miracles of this magnitude cannot be accomplished purely on a physical level. Rather, planning, forethought and the accumulation of knowledge must be converted into action; action stoked by the uncorrupted transmission of wisdom across generations. Lessons learned in battle during the Silla (57 BC-AD 935), Koryo (918-1392) and Chosun (1392-1910) dynasties, exemplified by warriors of the Hwarang and preserved by fighting Buddhist monks called on to defend the nation against Japanese invaders, are as valid today as they were then. Couple these tactics with a contemporary understanding of physiology, sports medicine and body mechanics, and a valid blueprint of academic standards begins to materialize.
The academic approach to tae kwon do becomes abundantly clear as one sifts through the many editorial contributions offered by scholars, masters and enlightened practitioners dedicated to the worldwide proliferation of the art. Through the magic of the Internet, technique, decorum and training rituals have been exhaustively documented for current and future use. Books, treatises and dissertations have been written to intellectually support routines and principles. These, amplified by visual aids, amount to a supreme body of knowledge that can quite literally take a lifetime to absorb. Great men and women come to mind who have generously contributed to this paradigm of data - more than not, at little or no personal gain above that of serving the art. Highly qualified individuals such as Richard Chun, Sang Kyu Shim, Jane Hallander, Kyong Myong Lee, Son Duk Sung, Sihak Henry Cho, Stuart Anslow, TaeKwonDo Times columnist Karen Eden and Alex Gillis share this distinction with others too numerous to mention.
And just what is being documented that justifies tae kwon do as a discipline worthy of academic pursuit? First and foremost, the technical catalog that defines the traditional Korean martial art. General Choi Hong Hi, a primary founder who created the International Taekwon-Do Federation in March of 1966, claimed an arsenal containing 3200 separate techniques, each with its own distinct purpose and method of execution, many depicted in his fifteen-volume Encyclopedia of Taekwon-Do. Similarly, an updated version of the Kukkiwon Textbook reissued in 2005 devotes over 700 pages to the proper articulation of technique. But wisdom accumulated over the decades does not stop there. Landmark works by Grandmaster Richard Chun and his contemporaries portray defacto training standards and procedures relied upon worldwide by hundreds of thousands of students.
Moreover, since tae kwon do is recognized as a comprehensive form of self-defense with a pedigree reaching far back to the distant past, there are metaphysical and well as physical concepts to ponder. Exploring the use of meditation and ki, or internal energy development, as essential elements of the art demands research that can only be accomplished through the interrogation of Asian historical and, in some cases, medical records compiled centuries ago. Valid examples of these are the Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon, a cornerstone of Traditional Chinese Medicine, coupled with the physical lessons posited by the Myue Dobo Tongji (Illustrated Manual of Korean Martial Arts), authored in 1790.
Then, not to marginalize their significance, if one is to accrue an absolute understanding of any classical martial art, then it is equally essential to survey influential native customs, physiological concepts that power its engine and moral doctrines that govern its use. Many of these can be found in the teachings of Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism.     
Clearly, taken as a whole the ingredients cited above compound to represent a body of academic knowledge profoundly worthy of transmission from one generation to the next. One only need embrace it.    
Naturally, as with any established sport, there exists a majority of practitioners who will exclusively participate for competitive purposes only. And because tae kwon do offers much in the way of physical fitness and athletic recognition on the collegiate, state, national and international level, and because just as a coin, it exhibits two sides, one representing the game and the other the art, this is entirely understandable. Yet it is important to recognize the difference between cultivating athletes and holistically-trained martial artists - practitioners who are not only proficient in the ring, but who wholeheartedly welcome knowledge concerning the vast mosaic that is traditional tae kwon do.
 
 



Thursday, August 16, 2012

Master Cook interviewed by Univision for article on Taekwondo in the Olympics

Taekwondo star siblings Steven and Diana Lopez are poised to take home the gold
By CYNTHIA MARTINEZ

Four years ago, the Lopez family was America’s best-known Taekwondo contenders in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Not since 1904 had three siblings competed in the Olympic Games for a team, even less for one sport. The Texas brothers and sister were thus knighted as “The First Family of Taekwondo.” Steven and Diana both took home bronze, while Mark snatched up a silver medal. Big brother Jean served as the anchor and coach.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Chosun e-newsletter Archive volumn #3 August 2012

Dojang News and Events
2012 Chosun Taekwondo Academy Korea Training and Cultural Tour
Saturday July 7 - Saturday July 14, 2012

The 2012 tour was another unbridled success. Tedanhi
enhancedKamsahamnida to all tour participants, family members, friends and fellow students at home who followed us online! It is not too early to consider making a dream come true in two years by reserving your place on the 2014 Chosun Korea Training & Cultural Tour.
If you missed the Korea Travelogue, click on the site below for photos, maps, stories and more from the 2012 Chosun Korea Training & Cultural Tour. Subscribe to receive more updates and photos as they are added.
2012 Chosun Korea Tour Travelogue
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Chosun e-newsletter Archive Volumn #3 July 2012

Photo Shoot for new YMAA book by GM Richard Chun and Master Doug CookPhoto Shoot 2012 084Monday June 18, 2012
Fort Lee, NJ
Grandmaster Richard Chun, Master Doug Cook and Master Fred Kouefati met for an extensive one-day photo shoot that would yield vibrant illustrations for the soon-to-be-published book Taekwondo Black Belt Poomsae: Original Koryo & Koryo, offered by YMAA Publications of Boston. With a release date of autumn 2013, the prime subject of the work as the title denotes, revolves around two Korean-based poomsae, or formal exercises as they are generically known.

(excerpt from upcoming article, A Photo Shoot for the Ages by Master Doug Cook)
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Monday, June 4, 2012

Chosun e-Newsletter Archive Volumn 3 #6 June, 2012

Dojang News and Events

May 20, 2012
Chosun Belt Promotion Test
Almost 100 students participated in the recent Chosun Belt Promotion Test.
From white to black belt, students demonstrated the proficiency, spirit and respect of true martial artists. Highlights of the day included some unforgettable breaks by Chosun Black Belt students. Among them were speed breaks, a head break and a double jumping break. Congratulations to all Chosun students.


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Monday, May 7, 2012

Master Doug Cook interview on WTBQ Radio with Warwick, NY Supervisor Michael Sweeton

Master Doug Cook and his wife Patty talk about their 15 years of owning and operating the Chosun Taekwondo Academy in Warwick, NY. Master Cook defines the Korean martial art of Taekwondo and discusses why the academy has been such a successful and gratifying business and life calling. Also featured are Chosun workshops for the public,the yoga program, community outreach and Korea training tours.



Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Chosun e-newsletter archive Volumn 3 #5 May 2012

Dojang News and Events



April 14 and 15, 2012


Chosun Black Belt Promotion Test


The much anticipated event finally arrived and the Chosun Black Belt candidates rose to the challenge. Not only the largest black best testing event ever hosted by the school, it was significant because Black Belt instructor Terri Testa advanced to the rank of master, 4th Dan. Chosun also added 13 new first dans, 6 new 2nd dans, and 5 new 3rd dans. Grandmaster Richard Chun was present on Saturday to officiate and commented on our school " as one of the best schools in the area and Master Cook one of the best instructors" Congratulations to all new Black Belts and thanks to all instructors and students for your continued support of Chosun.
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Friday, April 13, 2012

Revelations by Master Doug Cook

Not long ago, I was reviewing poomsae with a group of senior black belts, 3rd dan and up. One in particular had been performing an advanced, traditional form for many months. During the class, I interrupted her to suggest a modification in stance. After politely allowing me to finish my comment, the student asked if the motion had been changed from the time it had first been demonstrated to her. “No”, I replied, “you are simply more prepared now to receive a detailed explanation of this poomsae along with its purpose and intent.” I then went on to make what appeared to be a minor correction, albeit one that significantly improved her understanding of the form overall.
My grandmaster does the same to me even now. Yet rather than question his action, I smile and think how fortunate I am to be drilling down even deeper, to the heart of a poomsae for instance, in the hope of revealing the very essence of tae kwon do doctrine. And so the cycle continues as it has from the beginning, from venerated master to worthy disciple, over the course of centuries.
Improvements, refinements and, ultimately, revelations are all fundamental conditions of meaningful, traditional tae kwon do training. These progressive states of learning apply not only to the novice, but even more so to the advanced practitioner. Adjustments to basic technique, poomsae, hyung or tul, self-defense and sparring, should be considered a pathway to perfection rather than a road to confusion and its accompanied stress. In the end, if embraced with an open mind, modifications chisel away at superfluous movement resulting in a profound sense of enlightenment signaled by a heightened stage of proficiency.
It can be said that tae kwon do is taught most effectively through a series of ever-diminishing circles with the outermost shell representing the most elementary understanding of a technique. Subsequently, each successive circle brings the practitioner increasingly closer to the technique’s core. This arduous, yet fulfilling process, requires great patience and humility; humility in the sense that the worthy student must not view a modification merely as a change indiscriminately propagated at the whim of a careless instructor, but rather as a stepping stone on a long path to excellence; a reward earned through diligent, mindful practice. To the curious Western mind, this process of distillation is often difficult to grasp. Customarily, we are not content with unexplained actions but frequently require detailed, verbal clarification with a focus on finality in almost everything we do. Yet, in Asian martial culture, partially in terms of Confucian philosophy, training without question is common; accepting technical refinements with gratitude rather than query is the norm.
To better understand this concept let us examine for a moment the procedure for teaching the jab/reverse punch. First, a proper fist must be formed; a structure a great majority of beginners are clearly unfamiliar with. Then, a stable platform or stance from which to execute this combination must be developed. Finally, efficient use of body mechanics needs to be explained. Most instructors I have had the honor of working with go to great extremes to clarify this formula, all the while realizing that the novice can assimilate only so much information in a given session. Yet, undoubtedly, the white belt in the formative stages of training barely scratches the surface of this skill. Frequent refinements are made until, rather than merely throwing out the hands, the student, at some future point in time, automatically assumes a sturdy defense stance, begins to pivot the hips, focuses on penetrating the target, executes the combination, and further amplifies the strikes with ki (internal energy) and confidence. If this process proceeds without the instructor constructively correcting the technique in compounded phases, increasing the practitioner’s proximity to the kernel of the technique and thus experiencing a catharsis of sorts begins to slip away.
Nevertheless, the principle of enlightenment through revelations attached to ever-diminishing circles is nowhere more evident than in poomsae training. In times past, instruction in Korean poomsae, Japanese kata, or Chinese taolu, was often limited to four or five forms over the course of the martial artist’s entire lifetime giving the practitioner ample opportunity to learn the required motions correctly and in great detail, going deep rather than wide. In fact, great masters historically recommended learning poomsae Sip Soo (ten hands) for the power and speed it generates, Chulki Cho Dan (iron horse) for building a competent horse stance, and, in the case of karate-do, Sanchin kata (three battles), for internal and external strength, to the exclusion of all others. This concept has profound implications when viewed through the lens of the offensive and defensive possibilities embedded within formal exercises. The practical applications, bunkai in Japanese or hae sul as Master Stuart Anslow explains it, can be interpreted in any number of ways dependent upon the martial wisdom of the teacher in tandem with a supreme willingness on the part of the student to learn. Consequently, it would be virtually impossible to demonstrate each component of a poomsae within the scope of a single training session or even a year’s worth of classes for that matter. Bit by bit excessive movement is chipped away, refinements are polished, and hidden techniques are revealed that principally must be viewed as revelations rather than indiscriminate changes.
At the culmination of class, traditional tae kwon do schools everywhere frequently recite a student oath. Ours includes a principle that represents a central pillar of martial arts philosophy: establish trust between teacher and student. In satisfying this standard, it is the teacher’s responsibility to transmit traditional, pure-form tae kwon do skills on to others worthy of the art, unblemished by personal preference. The competent instructor must execute this mission in a manner that satisfies the spirit and well as the mind and body, particularly in the case of poomsae, hyung or tul. If a technique is taught before the spirit is prepared to accept it in its fullness, it will be, at best, misunderstood or, at worst, taken for granted, diminished, and potentially abused. By the same token, it is the student’s obligation to absorb technical attributes with an open mind, a degree at a time, with a vengeance, until the true heart of the skill is revealed. If these gradual enhancements are viewed as refinements rather than changes in routine, then an authentic accumulation of knowledge will occur. If not, the questioning mind will eclipse the potential for enlightenment through the revelation of meaningful martial doctrine and technique.



Monday, April 2, 2012

Chosun e-newsletter archive Volumn 3 #4 April, 2012


Chosun celebrating 15 years in the
village of Warwick
Leadership Team News



The Chosun Leadership Team's first fundraising event of the year was a great success. Proceeds will be donated to the Brian Ahearn Childrens Fund. Many thanks to team members, directors and parents for their hard work and support.
(Check out the NEW Leadership T-shirts designed by Chosun student and fine artist Catherine Pierson-DeCesare)
Don't miss the upcoming:
Annual Chosun Leadership Team Book & Bake Sale
Saturday April 28 (Springfest) 10:00am - 5:00pm and Sunday April 29 11:00am - 4:00pm,  Lewis Park Main Street, Warwick. Proceeds benefit the Warwick Lions Club Holiday Party for Community Children in Need.
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Thursday, March 8, 2012

How Taekwondo Improved My Physical Fitness

by Mary Sudul, Chosun Black Belt Instructor
appears in TaeKwonDo Times Magazine

When I first walked into the Chosun Taekwondo Academy dojang in February of 2009, I was a typical middle-aged, overweight, sedentary woman with a standard American diet. I had been athletic as a teenager and young adult, but work, children, and home had come to take up all of my time. For a long time I used the usual excuse of “I don’t have TIME to exercise.” I also really didn’t like exercising, it’s such a sweaty thing to do! So I found myself at age 45 living in an unhealthy, unfit body, about 15 pounds overweight. Walking into the dojang turned out to be the best thing I could do for my physical health.

I began slowly, as all white belts do, though I threw myself whole-heartedly into my training. My 6th Dan Master, Doug Cook, offers classes nearly throughout the day and I am able to take advantage of numerous daytime classes while my children are at school. I try to train a minimum of 4 classes per week and frequently train more often than that. Taekwondo became a pursuit that I happily MAKE the time for even though I sweat.
I didn’t want to over-tax myself in the beginning and end up burning out and quitting. So while I did push myself, I tried to be aware of my limitations at all times to avoid too much muscle soreness and injury. One of my main challenges is a lack of flexibility. Though my upper body can be fairly loose, my leg muscles and tendons always seem to be tight. Master Cook begins every class with a comprehensive stretching regime that takes about 20 minutes. I notice a big difference in my flexibility because of this. I will never be able to do a split, but my side kicks are getting higher and higher.
Despite my care, I did suffer a few minor injuries in my early months of training. I clearly remember one Saturday morning class when I was a green belt, I landed awkwardly after a jumping round kick and my knee twisted and buckled under me. I was carried off the floor that day. Luckily, no serious damage was done, but it took more than six months before I felt comfortable trying that kick again.
I feel that the most effective way to improve your fitness in the martial arts is to put 100% into your technique. The tighter you make your fist, the stronger and faster you attempt to perform your strikes and your kicks, the stronger and fitter your muscles become. The more intensity you put into your forms and your sparring, the more aerobically fit your body becomes. The more careful you are to perform your techniques correctly, the more coordinated you become. It is a slow transformation, but one day I noticed that I looked, felt, and performed better than I had since my 20’s. Sometimes I just look at my hand making a fist and notice the definition of the muscles in my hand and lower arm.
As for weight loss, well, I did lose about 10 pounds at the very beginning of my training, but little by little over the next year and a half most of that weight came back. Starting in March of 2011, I cut all grains, dairy, legumes, and sugar from my diet. It’s actually easier than it sounds, and the cravings for these items disappeared after a couple of weeks. I lost 20 more pounds in two months and have kept it off so far, putting me well into the normal weight range for my height. Taekwondo gives me the life discipline to maintain this diet, and I love being able to perform the skills with less stress on my body. This diet and the accompanying weight loss have improved my muscular composition and definition.
There is plenty of room for improvement still, but as I prepare for my black belt test in October 2011 at age 48, I feel like a new woman, a much fitter woman.