Thursday, October 31, 2013

Essay Excerpts from Black Belt Candidates - October 19, 2013

"Most important to me is the strong sense of connection between our practice and the history of Taekwondo.  Through our direct inheritance from Grandmaster Chun to the Korean masters preceding him, Master Cook ensures that our training enshrines history in our practice, rather than obscures it.  It is a profound gift, as significant to the martial art as a familial inheritance, and must be treasured as such.   So while I seek to develop technical proficiencies, I am most humbled to become aware of the rich tradition surrounding it.  To the black belt candidate, this adds meaningfulness to the endeavor far beyond recreation and sport."  Mark Rodenburg-1st Dan Black Belt
 
 "What I have learned from Master Cook is how long and how hard it is to learn the basics and how technique is so critical.  This is when practice and perseverance play a significant role in learning the art.  What also helps me persevere is that it takes skillful people to run a school like this.  It is the dedication that I see from the instructors that motivates me to keep coming back to class." John Towey - 1st Dan Black Belt


 "As I look back upon my life as a martial artist, I think about my first obstacle, the staircase. The steepest staircase I have ever seen. I huffed an puffed to the top wearing my brand new white Dobok, I was very excited and hoped the staircase would be the biggest obstacle I would have to face. I couldn't have been more wrong." Fiona Dunn - 1st Dan Black Belt

 "One of my most happy moments was at my Dodan belt test. I needed to do a spinning hook kick for my break. I was very worried that it would take many tries, but I ended up breaking the wood on my very first try. I felt so proud of myself. This is now my favorite kick. One of my most challenging moments was when I switched from KickStart to the regular class. It was scary because there were so many people I did not know and many students were better than me. Anika Simon - 1st Dan Black Belt

 "In 1st grade, I was asked to join the Leadership Team. I like to help people and the Leadership Team does that. For example, I helped customers find books at the Book & Bake Sale event, set tables at the Community Kitchen event and collected and rolled coins to purchase gifts to help families during the holidays, and planted flowers and pulled weeds at the Town Park Gazebo Gardening."  Francesco Desiderio - 1st Dan Black Belt

 "Another thing I think about my training in Taekwondo is how the different instructors have helped me. I feel instructor Pyke always looks out for me and has also helped me with private lessons. Instructor Klugman helped stop my habit of hopping forward after a stepping basic. Master Cook helped me in all parts of Taekwondo!" Caswell Gluckstein - 1st Dan Black Belt
 "I love Taekwondo whether it's practicing it, watching it, or just thinking about it. Whenever I walk into the dojang I am ready to train. I am welcomed by all of the black belts and I bow to them. Then Master Cook says next class and we all walk out onto the floor and we have an amazing class with meditation and focused training. I know that I will stick to the martial arts for probably the rest of my life, thanks to Master Cook. " Nelson Gaillard - 1st Dan Black Belt
 "I have truly enjoyed this time as a bodan. It has given me a chance to review and work on various techniques that always seem to take a back seat to learning the new curriculum. In fact, it's only been in the last two months that I have finally felt that I had somewhat of a handle on everthing in the curriculum. I'm not saying that things don't need work but I've started to develop confidence in myself. I know with continued training that I will improve. My balance is better and I have physically gotten stronger. In fact, there must be something that has changed in my personal demeanor because in the high school where I teach, I have noticed that I have less trouble with students doing what I ask them to do. Suddenly during training this past week, when I ki-hap, I feel the energy resonating through me. Body, mind and energy (spirit) have aligned. I believe that I am finally ready to begin my journey as black belt." Carolyn Cunningham - 1st Dan Balck Belt
"Overtime, the school in Clifton dissolved and I once again sought to continue expand my practice of taekwondo. I decided to attend Chosun Taekwondo Academy because I wanted to learn Traditional Taekwondo. While my time at Chosun has been brief, I have learned a plethora of information in regards to the art, techniques, philosophy, and history of Taekwondo. Through the instruction of Master Cook and the Chosun Instructors, I have learned new kicking and hand techniques in addition to improving the techniques that I have learned over the years. Additionally, I have also learned how to develop ki energy within my body and how to meditate better. Lastly and most importantly, I developed a knowledge of the rich history of taekwondo and Korean culture, the breadth of which I would not have been able to learn anywhere else.

Overall, the benefits of my taekwondo training up to this point in time has been amazing and I would not sacrifice it for anything. From a physical standpoint, taekwondo has made me more coordinated, agile, and conditioned. Mentally, taekwondo has taught me patience, understanding, empathy, and self- control. Spiritually, taekwondo has provided me with a moral compass with which to live my life. It has taught me to embrace the duality of opposites within the universe and to enjoy both the peaks and valleys that one will experience in their life. In closing, my taekwondo training up to this point has been poignant and unforgettable and I look forward to the new challenges and knowledge that await me as a black belt." Shane Heslin - 1st Dan Black Belt

"At our first test it dawned on us that there was a group of adults all testing for yellow belt. We became a crew of sorts looking for each other in the evenings and encouraging each other to continue. Even at green belt, we were labeled "gang green" and Master Cook told us to try and ascend the ranks staying together.
On the day of each belt test, we took a picture of ourselves before the test, often with Master Cook if we could, to mark our progression; like a child using a pencil to tick off his height in a door jam after each season. I kept all of my belts in a row in my bedroom so I could visually see our advancement through the ranks and I could recall each test and its challenges. It was very satisfying.
A pivotal moment for us was the journey we made with the school to study in Korea in the summer of 2012. We were purple belts, right at the mid-point of our training. We could not believe that when we went into these schools on the other side of the earth, and the Master called out a command in Korean, that we knew exactly what to do! One experience in particular was very rewarding for me. There were only 3 colored belts on the trip, and we were all purple. When we went to study with Grand Master Kyu-hyun Lee, he assigned a black belt to work with each of us privately on our forms. The woman who partnered with me spoke no English, yet we trained together and communicated for a few hours. Even today, Taeguk Oh Jang is still my favorite form, as it reminds me of that day out in the countryside, learning from my very own private Korean coach". Laura Towey - 1st Dan Black Belt


"I must take some time to explain how increasingly rare it is to find a martial arts school that is teaching a traditional martial art. In my many searches for a martial arts school, I discovered that, due to economic necessity, most schools are forced to cater to the trends of the day, i.e. sport Taekwondo and mixed martial arts. Many schools dropped basic formalities, trained wearing t-shirts, and lacked any serious discipline. This, inevitably, will dilute and water down the traditional practice of any martial art and can easily result in a very dangerous environment." Jason Gaillard - 1st Dan Black Belt

 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the post and great tips..even I also think that hard work is the most important aspect of getting success..
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