Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Taekwondo In Korean History: Meaning Lies in the Eyes of the Practitioner

Taekwondo In Korean History:
Meaning Lies In The Eyes Of The Practitioner

by Taylor DiMeglio

Modern dicta implores us to “let go of the past,” to “stay in the present,” but as useful as it is, in taekwondo as in life, to live in the all-important N-O-W there is much to be said for mindfully including a consciously framed narrative of the history which informs our focus. Consciously framed. In other words, with deliberate choice, for it is not our histories which define our fates but the perspective through which we view them. Shall we be inspired or disillusioned? Do we wish to grow in purpose or to wallow in defeat?

Consider the person who grows up in an abusive environment. At one juncture in life, she counts herself a victim, at another juncture, a survivor. Both stances hold their own kinds of truth; yet, only one yields a fruitful path. So it is with taekwondo.

Some question taekwondo’s legitimacy as a korean martial art, or even as a unique martial art in its own right. After all, they say, a great deal of its techniques originate elsewhere, in China, and, significantly, Japan, via shotakan karate. How can it, then, be considered Korean? Further, some senior organizational taekwondo delegates have diminished, suppressed or otherwise denied avenues of external influence, with some suggesting that taekwondo has been around—in pure form—for thousands of years. (Surely, cave drawings do not lie!) Meanwhile, underplaying or overplaying data raises doubt and suspicion, opposite of its intention.

These are narrow frames, inhibitors of growth. The practitioner who adopts them sets himself up, with conscious or unconscious will, for discouragement and defeat. If I practice an illegitimate art, this mindset says, I, too, become illegitimate. Thus, the skeptic maintains an ‘out,’ imposing in practice a level of disengagement which easily turns into a loss of interest and eventual departure from taekwondo training. Initial gains are wasted. Enrollment declines.

Far better to take the broadest view, to understand taekwondo through the widest lens of Korean history and culture, recognizing that it is a veritable manifestation of a long, intricate narrative and inherently infused with the driven, willing spirit of its people. Pass on the legend of Tangoon, mythical forebear of this “land of the morning calm,” whose philosophical adherence to a universal humanism and duties to family and state underlie central tenets of Korean culture and taekwondo, and practitioners grow in humility and grace. An enlightened spirit underscores skill. Speak of the feats of ancient Hwarang and Sunbae warriors and allow their prowess to infuse today’s practice. Honor the full history through which taekwondo derives, and you are as a wise farmer who does not arbitrarily scatter the seeds, but first tends the soil, recognizing it as the origin of abundance.

Korean history is rife with struggle. Geographically speaking, it is not surprising that the citizens of a country formed on a peninsula might be leery and defensive, when they are both perceptually and actually vulnerable to attack. Ancient kingdoms with rivaling tribes and fearsome warriors establish the backdrop for a people honed to endure, to survive, and, ultimately, to overcome. The Paekche kingdom (18 BCE - 660 BC), Koguryo (37 BCE - 668 BC) and the small but mighty Sillan kingdom (57 BCE - 935 AD) warred tirelessly, though Silla was the eventual triumphant, unifying the three kingdoms into a collective dynasty. Korean strife didn’t end with the ancient kingdoms, but it is here, in antiquity, where the taekwondo practitioner authentically finds Korean spirit in its originating indomitable force. It’s still alive today, and, along with it, the skills and techniques of old, derived of kwonbop and taekyeon, which were practiced by the Sillan Hwarang.

Where infighting set the stage for indigenous martial development, external conflicts broadened its scope, particularly during the Japanese occupation from 1910-1945. During this thirty-five year period of extreme cultural oppression—which included book burning, sexual enslavement and a ban on native language and religion among other severe prohibitions—martial arts training was roundly forbidden, leaving the devoted with few options. Some practiced in secret. Others left Korea and learned where training was available to them, in China and, notably, Japan itself.

It may seem a strange decision for Korean martial artists to entrust their training to enemy hands, even where animus between nations may not have necessarily translated between individual citizens. Yet, life has its mandates. We are not called to travel passively as dust carried on wind, but to engage, to live, to set our own course with purpose. The martial artist, Korean or otherwise, strives for the Warrior Within, that elusive inner self which is enduring and impervious, who surpasses the temporal realm.

It comes again to perspective. The practitioner who demands cultural purity over all will find disappointment in its stead, while the practitioner who honors the multifarious influences of any chosen martial art and the collective value intrinsic in all martial arts gains wisdom alongside skill. It is this frame which emphasizes proficiency over egoistic evaluations.

So, too, the practitioner caught up in identifying the single best martial art might just as well spend time selecting a single best variety of toothpaste. Is it the whitening? The baking soda? Enamel protection? Should we do away with fluoride? Caught in the minutia of choice, the practitioner’s focus is cluttered and divided, and another trap, the trap of comparison, is set. Use comparison as a vehicle for fault-finding in a marriage and things become rocky indeed. Those who dig for faults will find them, though primarily because of the perspective of the mind which seeks them than due to the particular shortcomings themselves. No one and nothing is perfect. The practitioner who digs instead for treasure—in relationships, in themselves, in taekwondo—will find it and prosper.

Following the Japanese Occupation, bans were lifted. Korea set out to restore their vast cultural heritage—a restoration of native arts, food and philosophical paradigms. Korean martial artists, among them many masters, sought to unify the whole of their learning, incorporating not a narrow few but all of its influences including Japan, China and their own ancient, native forms. It incorporated not only physical techniques and skill but the Confucian and Buddhist overtones and the in-dwelling Korean spirit so indicative of their history and important to their culture. Through the unwavering efforts of General Choi, Hong Hi this martial art came to be officially known as taekwondo, a Korean martial art. 

The Meaning of Courage and How I Apply it in my Life

Brown Belt Essay by Rocco Manno November 2015

The definition of courage is having the strength of mind to carry on in spite of danger or
Fist Tower on Jeju Island in South Korea
difficulty. This means to be brave and to face your fears. I try to have courage in my life. At home, I am afraid of the dark and I am afraid to go upstairs by myself (even writing that took courage because I am embarrassed to tell people I am afraid of the dark). But whenever I have to go upstairs I think to myself that I have courage and I am able to go upstairs by myself. At school I tried out for the school play and got one of the lead roles, Captain Hook. I was really afraid to audition because I had to sing in front of two judges and other students. I was afraid I would not get the part and people would laugh at me if I made a mistake. But I took a deep breath and said I would do it, and I did! At first I wanted to be the crocodile because I had stage fright and the crocodile doesn’t have any speaking roles and he is only in the background. But I had enough courage to take a risk and to try for a bigger role. If I hadn’t had the courage to try, I would not have gotten one of the lead roles!

I remember the first time I went to Chosun Taekwondo Academy. I was really nervous because I didn’t know what to expect from the instructors and the other students. I had to have courage to walk up those steps and go to my first class. At the end of class I had to go up in front of everyone and do a free kick. I felt nervous but excited. And I did it and everyone clapped for me. As I continued to train in the next weeks and months I made new friends and became more confident. If I didn’t have courage, I would not have walked up those steps on the first day and I wouldn’t have my brown belt which is really important to me, and I wouldn’t be on my way to getting a black belt and only extraordinary people earn black belts in Taekwondo. It is okay to be afraid, but don’t let fear take over your mind. By having courage I can face my fears!


Brown Belt Essay by Stefan Lee November, 2015

Courage. It is something truly important we must have because the world is full of wonderful and sometimes frightful surprises. Another way I describe courage is encouragement. If a big test is coming up or even my taekwondo tests, I always think to myself: "I can do it, I can do it." And most of the time it works!. I think courage also means to believe in ourselves, that we can do something, that we can reach our goals. These are some ways I use courage in my life and how I describe it.


Brown Belt essay by Aidan Morrison November, 2015

Courage is the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc, without fear. Courage helps you to try new things and take risks. In school it helps to be courageous. I show courage when I take tests because if I'm not confident I might fail the test even though I could do it in the first place. If someone was bullying in school, I would need to have courage to stand up to them.

It took courage to sign up to take Taekwondo. It takes courage to keep going through the belts because there is more and more to remember and learn. At belt test you have to be courageous to perform various techniques in front of advanced taekwondo masters. That is the meaning of courage and how I apply it in my life

The Meaning of Courage and how I Apply it in my Life

Brown Belt essay by Harrison Gratzel November, 2015

Courage means brave powerful and not scared. It also means being scared but doing it anyway.

How I apply courage in my life: 
I use courage when I am at tae kwon do and I have to stand in front of the class. And when I am doing swimming and I have to put my head in the water. Also when I go on the bus sometimes. I also use it when I am starting a new camp. I also need courage when I am getting shots.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Yoga at CHOSUN "Grounded"

December 3, 2015

Chosun Taekwondo Academy & Hatha Yoga Center 62 Main St. Warwick NY 

The idea and practice of grounding is one of the first techniques you will work with in a typical yoga class. Whether seated or standing, particular attention is paid to your foundation from which centering, alignment and breath will flow. When any human activity, whether it be physical, mental or spiritual, emanates from a strong and stable core, the resulting mobility is enhanced by the relevance to it's source.  In our seated class this week, we will experience the grounding process as a way to reconnect to our inner strength.

Join us for grounded movement...

Chosun Taekwondo Academy & Hatha Yoga Center
62 Main Street Warwick, NY

Class Schedule:
Tuesdays     9:30am
Wednesdays     6:30pm
Saturdays     9:30am

First Class is Free

$15 per class / $130 for 10 classes


Korea "Destinations" by Jeff Rosser from CHOSUN newsletter December, 2015

Jeff's monthly Korea "Destinations" column can be seen every month in the Chosun Taekwondo Academy newsletter

     Imjingak, located on the Imjin River near the city of Paju, is a park near the border with North Korea.  For most people, this is as close to North Korea as you can get without joining a guided tour to the DMZ which South Koreans are not allowed to join.  From the
observation deck here, you can see across the Imjin River to the DMZ and even into North Korea.  The park also has numerous monuments and memorials to those who have served and died, to the families that remain separated, and to the continuing hope for peace and reunification.  Amongst the monuments are also a number of relics from the Korean War and the Cold War which include tanks, war planes, and a UN supply train from the Korean War that is riddled with 1,020 bullet holes.
     The Freedom Bridge, which was built as a temporary crossing over the Imjin River for the purpose of bringing home more than 12,000 South Korean POWs after the signing of the Armistice Agreement, is also here.  It was relocated to this spot to serve as a memorial and now sits next to an old railway bridge that stretches across the river and into North Korea.  Also near the Freedom Bridge is the Mangbaedan Altar which was constructed by the South Korean government in 1986.  This permanent altar was created for North Korean refugees and South Koreans with family in the north to carry out ancestral rites during major holidays like Chuseok and Lunar New Year.  Prior to the building of the altar, visitors would create their own each year.  Now, they have a permanent altar from which to carry out these rites.  The altar itself consists of an incense burner and seven stone slabs, each carved with an image representing each of the seven provinces in North Korea.
     You will also find what is likely to be the most colorful barbed wire fence in the world.  Visitors, both Koreans and foreigners alike, write messages of peace, reunification, and reconciliation on ribbons and attach the ribbons to the fence.  While interesting to look at, the ribbons are also a reminder of the effects and pain felt by the division of the Korean peninsula.  To reach Imjingak, take a train from Seoul Station to Munsan station.  From there, transfer to another small train to reach Imjingang Station.
About the author:

Jeff W. Rosser is a teacher, martial arts instructor, and writer in South Korea.  He’s a former AAU U.S.A. National Karate Team member and has competed internationally in Karate and Taekwondo.  He also has over 24 years of experience in Karate, Taekwondo, Hapkido, Ju-Jutsu, and Judo.  He’s a columnist for Taekwondo Times (“The Hidden Art”), a monthly contributor to Totally Taekwondo Magazine, and the author of “Combative Elbow Strikes:  A Guide to Strikes, Blocks, Locks, and Take Downs” published by Turtle Press.  Contact: (Email), (website)

"Mrs. Pyke Eats Korea" Chuseok, Korean Thanksgiving

"Mrs. Pyke Eats Korea" can be seen every month in the Chosun Taekwondo Academy newsletter 

     Chuseok is the harvest festival that is celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar. Everyone returns home to their families for this three day event. Very much like our Thanksgiving as we go over the river and through the woods to Grandmothers house! Just as we do, traditional food is consumed to honor the harvest. One of these foods is Songpyeon. Songpyeon is a rice cake made from glutinous rice and filled with honey, sesame seeds, sweet red bean paste and chestnut paste. The cakes are shaped in little half moons and are made to be as pretty as possible because it is believed if you make a beautiful Sogpyeon you will have a beautiful daughter. The cakes are shaped in a half moon because it is believed the full moon can only wane but the half moon will wax and grow bigger, thus representing a growing abundance for the year. The cakes are steamed on a bed of pine needles that imbues them with the scent of pine. This must be quite a taste sensation!!
     Another interesting fact I came upon about Chuseok, some say that Chuseok marks the day when the Silla  Kingdom won a deciding battle against the Baekje (Paekje) Kingdom.
Next time I head to the Korean market I will look for some Songpyeon . This will be a fun addition to our Thanksgiving desserts.
Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas!
Peace and Love,

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Chosun e-newsletter Archive volume 6 #12 December, 2015

Dear Martial Arts Enthusiast,

Welcome to the December edition of the Chosun Taekwondo Academy e-newsletter! As 2015 winds down and we look back over the year, many moments of success and achievement
Chosun students meditating at recent Belt Promotion Test
stand out. Our journey as a community of dedicated martial artists has been a solid one and now 2016 holds much excitement as we embark on the next chapter. Construction of our new home on Galloway Road is in its final stages and the long wait will come to an end... 2016 promises to be a year of new beginnings! Onward and upward!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

A Reflection of My Taekwondo Journey from the Perspective of a Brown Belt

by Sienna Lee

Taekwondo.  It’s not merely a hobby or a pastime, nor is it simply a sport.  Taekwondo is an art form: a way of life.  Over the course of my martial arts education, I’ve learned that fact.

              Everyone remembers what it was like in your first white belt class.  The “purest belt”, you were most likely intimidated by the other belts, staying quiet, doing as you’re told, and trying to absorb all of the wisdom and knowledge that you could in one enlightening
session.  However, one thing hasn’t changed since that first day in the dojang: you’ve never stopped learning.  By no means will you ever get to a point in your Taekwondo life where you sit back and say, ‘Ok. I’ve learned everything that there is to know about Taekwondo’.  No matter what dan you are, what belt…you will continue to learn.  Taekwondo is an
infinite teacher, and we are its eternal disciples. 
But do not let this discourage you, for even great masters are always perfecting a simple, yet at the same time, complex, middle punch.  This is what is so incredible about Taekwondo, it is a learning experience that can be a lifetime journey.   

              I never thought I would get to where I am today. On my first day as a Taekwondo student, I watched all the other pupils in awe, stunned by how coordinated and precise the dance-like moves were carried out.  I saw the other belts and thought, how will I ever get there? Will I be able to do it? Now, I see, that anything is possible when you have the right teachers, and the masters at Chosun Taekwondo Academy provide me with all the information and wisdom I need to become the best I can be.

         I remember when I was first being taught the basics of Taekwondo, one of the rudimentary things that you learn as a Taekwondo disciple is how to Kihap. When I was being instructed, the master very kindly told me to yell when I carry out a movement. “That’s called a Kihap. Eventually, you’ll get your own sound when you Kihap, but for now, it’s a yell to express strength.” When the master said that, I was thinking, “Wow. I’m going to get my own sound in Taekwondo”. For quite some time I thought  that one day I would Kihap in Taekwondo and a different new sound would come out. I now know that that was not what the master meant. What she meant, was not that I would one day sound different, but that one day I would achieve the confidence to yell as loudly and hard as I could, demonstrating my assertiveness in the art of Taekwondo. This progressive assurance in the craft makes it special.

              No matter who you are, how old you are, or where you are, Taekwondo is always there for you.  It is a universal art.  From the moment you remove your shoes to the time you put them back on; once you step into the dojang, you know you’re at home.  But do not be fooled, Taekwondo is not for everyone.  It takes courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, and indomitable spirit, as stated in the Five Tenants of Taekwondo.  Let’s break these down, shall we?

Courtesy.  In other words, politeness.  Taekwondo is all about pride, and that comes with being polite and having respect towards others.  Remember, you represent your Taekwondo academy everywhere you go, so you want to be the best you can be, always.

Integrity. Having strong moral values and beliefs is important to be a good student at any Taekwondo academy.

Perseverance.  Rising through the ranks in Taekwondo doesn’t happen overnight.  It takes perseverance to stick with the art and not give up.

Self-control.  Taekwondo isn’t an excuse to go pick a fight with someone.  It shouldn’t be used to provoke an attack against anyone, self-control helps diffuse situations. 

Indomitable Spirit.  Tying in with perseverance, one must be brave, confident, and never give up.

              One of the best things about belonging to an academy or dojang, is that you’re never alone.  You will always have a family, you will always have someone there for you. To encourage, push, and test you to perform to the very best of your ability.  To see the other students train is an inspiration to me to train harder.  Whether I look to a white belt to observe how far I’ve come, or to a black belt to contemplate what I have to look forward to and work for, every student, Master, and Grandmaster inspires me.  This is what it’s like in the Taekwondo family, there is always someone to support you.

              When test day comes, a mixture of emotions punctures the air and creates a unique aura cloud floating above the heads of all the eager students. Anxious, nervous, excited, proud; adrenaline helps balance the uneven scale of feelings overtaking our already busy heads. When it finally comes to carry out our poomsae, perform our break…we’re ready. We know by heart what is expected of us, and this is evident by how we perform. There is no better feeling in the martial art of Taekwondo than knowing that you did your best and are rewarded with the esteemed promotion from belt to belt, dan to dan.                                                                                                        

         Looking back, I see that although I have learned a lot from the experienced masters at Chosun Taekwondo Academy, I still have much to learn. As long as I continue in Taekwondo, I will never stop learning. Each class brings new lessons on how to correctly carry out the art, acquiring new knowledge

         As a Brown Belt,  I look forward to being taught new techniques in Taekwondo. I hope to continue Taekwondo as long as possible, because I not only learn defensive techniques, but I also learn life skills that will help make me a successful person in the future.

         I’ve progressed a lot from that timid White Belt way back last November. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Yoga at CHOSUN " Once a day"

Chosun Taekwondo Academy & Hatha Yoga Center 62 Main St. Warwick NY 
"Once a day"
If you are a regular yoga practitioner, it is almost certain that there will be something in class that you will find difficult to do. Who doesn't run into limitations when it comes to flexibility, strength, balance and endurance? Even the most proficient among us are not exempt! What do you do when you hit these barriers? One solution is so simple, most people don't even think of it! Why not commit to doing whatever posture that is offering you a challenge once a day? Even if you can't do the position at all, there are always modifications and then you can move on from there.  You might be surprised at the change!

Join us and practice slow and steady progress...

Chosun Taekwondo Academy & Hatha Yoga Center
62 Main Street Warwick, NY

Class Schedule:
Tuesdays     9:30am
Wednesdays     6:30pm
Saturdays     9:30am

First Class is Free

$15 per class / $130 for 10 classes

Yoga at Chosun "I Surrender"

Chosun Taekwondo Academy & Hatha Yoga Center 62 Main St. Warwick NY 
"I Surrender"
Everyone is familiar with the expression, "put your hands up."  This universal cultural gesture of the hands up with palms open means one thing...
I Surrender! What a coincidence that in yogic thought, the very same gesture is the mudra for giving and receiving; or taking in what you need and letting go of what you no longer need.  Many of us have at one time in our lives developed defense systems that have served us only to realize that the very habits that protected us now imprison us. In our yoga class this week, we will practice surrender by going deep into our own center with the support of our breath and the community of fellow practitioners.

Join us and release your burdens...

Chosun Taekwondo Academy & Hatha Yoga Center
62 Main Street Warwick, NY

Class Schedule:
Tuesdays     9:30am
Wednesdays     6:30pm
Saturdays     9:30am

First Class is Free

$15 per class / $130 for 10 classes


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Chosun e-newsletter Archive volume 6 #11 November, 2015

On the Horizon
Wednesday November 25, 2015
5:30am - 6:30am
The autumn season is gloriously upon us and Thanksgiving is knocking at the door. Join black belt instructors Jake Garrett and Hal Pyke for our 17th annual Harvest Sunrise

Meditation/QiGong Class. This mindful, special session, for teens and adults only, is aimed at focusing students, friends and community members on the goodness of life rather than merely the hectic preparation for the holidays. Begin your holiday with a calm and focused mind. ALL WELCOME / NO CHARGE / NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY. REGISTRATION REQUIRED. Email us to reserve a spot at:, or call 845.986.2288.
Join the event on facebook! See you there!

Read entire newsletter...
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"Mrs. Pyke Eats Korea" Woo-Ri Market

by Pamela Pyke
published in the Chosun Taekwondo Academy November 2015 e-newsletter

206 Pegasus Ave.
Northvale, NJ 07647
Open 7 Days    8-9pm

     Just a fifty minute drive from Warwick, NY is the absolutely fabulous Woo-Ri Market. This is where I shop for all of my Asian Cooking needs. From Kimchi, fresh fish, produce and meat. This is a Korean foodies dream come true.

     When you enter, grab your shopping cart and head to the right. You will find a traditional yet modern Korean Bakery. Beautiful pastries, bread, and cakes in a European style yet so Korean. Eating Asian style baked goods, you experience a more delicate and sweeter taste compared to traditional western items. Yummy custards are stuffed into all different shapes and size of pastries. You must try the Korean style Pullman Loaf. It makes the most amazing toast. It’s Wonder Bread that looks like a work of art.   Across from the bakery is a really nice sushi bar if you are in the mood. I usually am!
     Continue walking and you will see a Korean hot food to go counter on the left. Unfortunately it has never opened. There are photos of all of the great Korean dishes, similar to a Chinese restaurant.  I have yet to see anyone operating it and on my last visit they were stacking cases of water along the front of it.
     On the right is the Mandu House.  Mandu are Korean dumplings.  They are amazing. Usually a choice of Kimchi or pork filling. Grab an order on your way out and enjoy them greedily while hot in your car!
     Bon Chon Chicken is next. Korean fast food at its finest. Deep fried and smothered in a hot pepper paste.  Super gooey and very spicy.  KFC on steroids. Must be consumed with beer.
     At the end of this aisle we arrive at Ban Chan and Kimchi heaven. Every Ban Chan is fully prepared to take home and serve with your main course. Ban Chan are the small side dishes that come with a main entrée; Jap Chae, Korean Potato salad, Sautéed Greens, Acorn Jelly, Sautéed Bean Sprouts, and of course something pickled.   The Kimchi counter sells many types of Kimchi.  Water Kimchi, Radish Kimchi, Cucumber Kimchi, and good old Napa Cabbage Kimchi.  You can buy it by the pound or take home a gallon bucket.
    Now we enter a beautiful produce section. Here you can buy large bags of soy bean sprouts for traditional Korean Hangover Soup; Kong Na Mul Gook. The Mushroom section is a dream, Enoki’s Shitake’s and the giant King Mushroom. Giant Kings are the Filet Mignon of the mushroom world.  They are a perfect vegetarian option when grilled.  My favorite item is fresh Ginseng.  This is a must for Ginseng Chicken Soup, Samgyetang.
I am not sure what I love best; the fish department or the meat department.  The Meat Department sells only meat but it is prepared to be cooked for Korean barbeque. The Beef is pre- sliced for Galbi and Bulgogi. The Pork Belly is ready for Bosam or sliced thin for Samgyeopsal. This is amazingly convenient but worth the premium price.
 The Fish Market is as expected, clean and bountiful.  If it isn’t alive in a tank or spitting at you (Conch), it won’t be sold. Only the freshest fish is acceptable. I love that you can bag you own shrimp, clams and Octopus.  You can buy Sushi grade salmon and ahi and many types of roe. 
     In the center of the store is the packaged grocery items. Great deals on Vinegar, Soy sauce and sesame oil. Aisles with a huge variety of seaweed or just ramen noodles. This is where I stock up on sesame seeds and my half gallon tin of sesame oil. Great prices on nori sheets and onigiri. Also, you know the little seasoned toasted nori rectangles you buy at ShopRite for a dollar per package? You can get these here in bulk (12-24 pack) at an amazing savings.
The frozen food area is filled with every kind of dumpling and shu mai imaginable. Here’s where you will find fish cakes; Eomuk.  I love Eomuk.  It is a processed food made from ground fish, squid or shrimp. You can add it to soups or serve with spicy rice cakes (Tteokbokki).
     Check out the Home Goods Department next.  Here’s where you can get your own table top grill for making Korean Barbeque. You can also find the beautiful brown glazed earthenware pots called Ttukbaegi. Perfect for making steamed eggs or soup.
Before you check out; there are fresh rice cakes near the registers.  This is a dessert for a traditional Korean meal or served with tea. Beautifully made and so delicious.  They are soft and chewy. Some are sweeter than others. I try a different one each time.
On the way out there is an area with Korean cosmetics, women’s clothing and jewelry.  Also fresh flowers.
     If you decide to come down to Woo-Ri for a great shopping experience, have an idea in mind about what you want to make.  Bring a list. It can be a little overwhelming at first. More and more items have English labels, but many do not.  As in most Asian Markets, you should wear a Jacket.  They are almost never heated.  It’s freezing.

Just a quick tip….I found another web site that I love.  This site is about educating people about Korean food.  Check it out.    
Haengbog  Meogneum

Pamela Pyke

Friday, October 30, 2015

Breathe through it...

by Patty Cook
Article published in the November, 2015 issue of Dirt Magazine

Living in the land of plenty where anything from minimalist fitness to pole dancing exists, there is no excuse for not being physically fit. No time to work out? Not any more with the proliferation of 24-hour gyms. Even with the plethora of opportunities to stay in shape, according to the President’s Council on Fitness, Health and Sports, more than 80 percent of American adults do not meet the guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening

So why is it so easy to find a fitness regime that seems to satisfy our desires, but so difficult to stay the course? Part of the answer may be lurking in the lament, “The mind is willing but the body is weak.” We might gain some insight into this self-defeating phenomenon by turning the phrase around.

Unless we are disabled or injured, we all possess the strength, stamina and energy in our physical bodies to persevere and accomplish great things. But how many times have you heard that voice in the back of your head saying, “No, you just don’t have what it takes”? How do we quiet the mind and trust our body’s innate wisdom?

Sometimes it is as easy as taking one (or maybe two) more breaths. Breathing is the universal language of the body and goes hand in hand with any form of physical activity. When we find ourselves in doubt and can’t seem to move past a barrier in our physical practice, it might be worthwhile to pause, breathe, and reflect on our intentions. For instance, try taking in a very deep, full breath, pause for a moment then deliberately slow down the exhalation. In addition to focusing the mind, this ratio breathing technique has an overall calming effect on the body. Afterwards, when we return to our routine, we are fortified by our renewed sense of vitality and can stand strong and confident in our own true center. It is here that we find a wellspring of physical and spiritual stamina.

Any good fitness program will present challenges to the practitioner; that is what makes it valuable. How you approach and potentially overcome these mental obstacles will, in the end, say more about you than the routine itself. As they say, “A journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step” – and maybe one or two more breaths.

Yoga at CHOSUN "Isometrics"

October 28, 2015

Chosun Taekwondo Academy & Hatha Yoga Center 62 Main St. Warwick NY 

Wikipedia states that  isometric exercise involves the static contraction of a muscle without any visible movement in the angle of the joint; meaning that the length of the muscle and the angle of the joint do not change, though contraction strength may be varied. Think of a holding a plank pose and you get the picture! The practice of yoga uses these strengthening exercises to put "good" stress on the bones and joints. On a deeper level, these movements "fine tune" our instrument by teaching the mind how to effectively communicate with specific areas of the body. This week in our standing class, we will further explore the exacting use of isometrics to enhance our practice.

Join us for sustaining strength...

You are invited:
Sunrise Harvest Meditation/Qigong Class
Wednesday November 25, 2015
5:30 am - 6:30 am

Join black belt instructors Jake Garrett and Hal Pyke for our 17th annual Harvest Sunrise Meditation/QiGong Class. This mindful, special session, for teens and adults only, is aimed at focusing students, friends and community members on the goodness of life rather than merely the hectic preparation for the holidays. Begin your holiday with a calm and focused mind. ALL WELCOME / NO CHARGE / NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY. REGISTRATION REQUIRED. Email us to reserve a spot at: , or call 845.986.2288. See you there!
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Chosun Taekwondo Academy & Hatha Yoga Center
62 Main Street Warwick, NY

Yoga Class Schedule:
Tuesdays     9:30am
Wednesdays     6:30pm
Saturdays     9:30am

First Class is Free

$15 per class / $130 for 10 classes

For more information:
(845)986-2288 or

Beginners Welcome!   Bring a Friend!

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Thursday, October 22, 2015

A Retrospective of my Taekwondo Training

Bodan Essay by Brian Parkinson  October, 2015               

    It’s January 30, 2013 around 5 o’clock in the morning and I’m about to embark on an amazing journey.  One year of waiting has come to an end.  Today is the day I start training in Taekwondo.  I get dressed in my dobok for the first time, wrap my white belt around my waist and head out the door.  When I arrive at the dojang, I am confronted with a scene I am unaccustomed to.   When I bring my children for the youth classes, the dojang is a flurry of activity.  The training floor is usually crowded with students and the sitting area with
108 stone steps at Golgulsa Temple
parents.   I have never seen the dojang as it is before me now.  The lights are off with only a few corner lights to provide some illumination.  There are no crowds of children off or on the floor and the sitting area is naturally empty.  Not that I expected the dojang to be crowded at 5:30 in the morning, but the tranquil scene before me contains a power and serenity I don’t think I could have been prepared for.   I am very nervous at this point as the class consists of only a few black belts, one bodan and, I, a white belt.  It doesn’t take long for me to embarrass myself.  Master Cook has us each in turn punch a target to count.  Of course I kept punching after Master Cook stopped counting.  I felt foolish, incompetent, and of course embarrassed.   No one makes a big deal about it though, just a reminder to pay attention and not anticipate.  I remind myself to not be so hard on myself and this was a valuable lesson as I have embarrassed myself several other times over the course of the last two and a half years.
  Master Cook often says that crossing the threshold of the dojang is the hardest part of training in taekwondo.  That doesn’t mean that the rest of it is easy.  Training in taekwondo is hard.  Trying to fit it into a busy work schedule at the time I started was even harder.  The weekly sunrise class was the only class I could attend when I began my training.  I barely had time to practice outside of the dojang and after a couple of weeks I thought about giving it up.  It just seemed to be too much to learn.  I wanted to do it but I thought maybe I just couldn’t fit it into my schedule after all.  I rebuked this notion and pressed on.  After a couple of months I was invited to test for yellow belt.  So much consternation and trepidation surrounded this first belt test that I feel the cathartic sense of elation when my fist smashed through the board would be hard to beat. 
                I advanced to yellow belt with a new-found confidence and determination to train.  I remember enjoying this belt cycle.  New techniques like back stance and side kick were of course challenging to learn but I never felt overwhelmed as I did at white belt.  I attended class regularly and after three months successfully tested for orange belt.  Orange belt is considered one of the more difficult color belts.  Many people realize at this belt level that taekwondo is not for them and quit.  I had resolved to never quit unless I had to for health or financial reasons at white belt, so that was never a concern for me.  I loved orange belt.  Its many challenges felt right somehow.  Progress in taekwondo often comes slow, sometimes almost imperceptive but at orange belt the progress felt tangible and this only spurred on my desire to train.  I was even graced with an award for outstanding achievement at the belt test.  Every time I look at that award atop my entertainment center in my living room, I can’t help but smile.
               The green and blue belt cycles were probably the hardest for me.  My wife had surgery during my green belt cycle and I found myself taking on just about all of the household work she normally does.  This left me physically drained but I tried to never show how tired I was on the floor.  Once I step on the floor of the dojang, I feel all other concerns must be set aside.  If I made mistakes, I vowed to practice more instead of making excuses due to fatigue.  It wasn’t easy though and I struggled through the entire green belt cycle.  At blue belt I had to take my own hiatus from training to have a cyst removed from my back.  My dermatologist forbade me to train for three weeks, unless I wanted to rip out my stitches and risk further infection.  Three weeks felt like three years.  I couldn’t help but feel disconnected from taekwondo which of course let all the demons of self-doubt run rampant.  I marked the date of my return in my appointment book and anxiously awaited its arrival.  When I was able to return, I had just enough time before the belt test to feel ready.  Blue belt came to end with my foot smashing through a board with an ax kick.
               Without a doubt purple belt will always be the most special for me.  It was during this belt cycle that my entire family traveled to S. Korea on the Chosun Korea tour.  I am not well traveled.  This was only the second time I had traveled outside of the United States.  I think I am still processing all of the ways in which that tour has affected me and my training.  From all day training with Master Ryan An to touring the brand new Taekwondon, I think I could write a separate essay just about Korea.  Of course there are some standout moments.  Performing poomsae at Tong-Il Jeon Shrine was a very powerful experience.  I can’t help but feel that a part of the Hwarang’s martial spirit came home with me.  Our last training session was with Grandmaster Gyoo Hyun Lee.  Although I didn’t get to train personally with Grandmaster Lee as he took the black belts, I was given a Master instructor, Master Lee, by Grandmaster Lee.  I was informed that Master Lee is a champion in Taeguk Oh Jang.  My disappointment over not getting to train with Grandmaster Lee evaporated immediately.  He personally assigned a master instructor who had won competitions in my form-what more could I ask for?  Although my wife and I tried as hard as we could, we struggled with the changes to the form and the language barrier.   Master Lee’s frustration was evident.  Master Lee was so frustrated with us at one point that he simply walked away from us.   I was reminded of Gichen Funakoshi performing the same form all night to the point of humiliation for Anko Itosu.  I refused to give up.  I kept performing the form.  Master Lee noticed that I continued even though he walked away and came back over and continued to teach.  When we posed for a group picture later on, he came and sat next to me for the photo, an honor to be sure.
               Shortly after returning from Korea, I successfully tested for my red belt.  Red belt is known as danger within the Gup system for the practitioner is in possession of advanced techniques at this point, but not necessarily the discipline required to use them wisely.  For me, red belt felt like turning a corner.  There are many new techniques at red belt like the first use of a strength motion in a poomsae that clearly set it apart from the earlier belts.  I remember Master Wynne teaching me Palgwe Oh Jang and stopping me after only the first few motions.  “Stop.  Go Back.  You need to show a better back stance”.   I did.   “Stop.  Your knife hand is pitched wrong.”  Good thing I had been through this with Master Lee in Korea.  I was undeterred.  I know Master Wynne was only trying to help me improve so I kept at it.  I don’t think I’ll ever start that form without thinking of her.
 The next two belts:  brown and high brown seem to have melded into one long period in my mind.  When testing for brown belt, I encountered a new problem.  The required break is a hop-step hook kick.  Even though kicking is not my strong-point, I felt confident about this break.  I stepped forward and unleashed the kick only to feel my foot bounce off the all too solid board.  As a lower belt, this would have undoubtedly rattled me a great deal.  Instead of allowing my initial failure to deter me, I reset and performed the kick again breaking the board easily.  Afterward, watching the video my son took of the break, my wife and I noticed that we had both done the exact same thing.  We both failed on the first try, reset and then broke the board.  At brown belt my Korea training again benefited me.  The first stepping basic for brown belt is cat stance.  Every Korean master began our training with a review of all stances so I didn’t feel as confused by this new stance as I probably would have been had I not trained in Korea.  On test day I went home with a high brown belt wrapped around my waist.  The first appearance of black in a belt let me know that this was it.  I was entering the home stretch of the color belt cycle.  The next belt test had me advancing to bodan with a spinning hook kick as the required break.  I don’t think I had been so nervous about a break since white belt but somehow I did it on the first try. 

               The last six months as a bodan have been very different.  For one thing, there is very little new to learn.  Palgwe Pal Jang is the only requirement that is truly brand new.  Since I have been practicing and reviewing the entire color belt curriculum all along, I never felt pressured to remember all the past techniques.  Instead, I have been trying to focus on all of the details and improve upon them.  Just because I learned back stance all the way back at yellow belt, doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement.   As a result, I initially found bodan to be a fun belt.  While everyone else was confused at the beginning of the belt cycle by the new techniques they were learning, or stressing the upcoming belt test at the end of the cycle, I just had to keep training.  However over the last few weeks, I can feel a subtle and undeniable change occurring.  Much the way someone who has stayed up all night can sense the approaching dawn, I can sense a change occurring in my training.   I have always taken training in taekwondo seriously but now as I approach black belt I feel there is a responsibility to the art that wasn’t there before.  Master Cook often says that black belt is a license to learn and not a permit to quit.  I can’t agree more with this sentiment.  Being a black belt doesn’t mean resting on your laurels.  I feel that when that black belt is wrapped around my waist it doesn’t mean that I mastered the color belt curriculum.  It doesn’t mean that I have nothing else to learn.   It does mean that I persevered through the color belt curriculum and have now proved myself worthy of further instruction.  I am looking forward with great enthusiasm to exercising my license to learn.

A Retrospective of my Taekwondo Training so far

 Bodan Essay by Bryce Parkinson  October, 2015                                                            
   I’ve heard it said that life is not made of up of weeks, or months or even years, but of moments. In looking back on my time as a color belt at Chosun, I know this in my heart to be true, for it is most definitely made up of many special and memorable moments.
   Recently, during a Tuesday evening all belts class, not long after the belt test while on line for ill Suk Si I took a minute and looked around the dojang. As a bodan , I already knew what my belt level requirements were while the rest of my classmates were just learning
Pond at the entrance to Bulguksa Temple
theirs. The room was busy with activity. Students of all ages and ranks were with instructors learning new forms and one step sparring. The energy in the room was electric with the collective desire to learn Taekwondo and the eagerness of students with new techniques to work on. In that moment, the dojang was alive with the spirit of Taekwondo, strong  and vibrant , and I was a part of it. I know that that energy will stay with me forever, inspiring me to always meet new challenges with enthusiasm  .
   Throughout   my training in the past two and a half years, there have been so many of those memorable moments. And with each one Taekwondo has revealed to me new things about myself that sometimes I didn’t even know I had within me. At my first test for yellow belt, I was so sick I should not have been on the floor. I couldn’t even do my stepping basics right. It took me a long time after the test to trust that even with my mistakes, I had earned that yellow belt, and I needed to take credit for my achievement. Recognizing my achievements is a lesson I’m always learning and has remained one of the hardest issues for me throughout my training.
At my test for orange belt I was awarded the honor of student of the month and had to read my essay in front of the whole school. That day I learned that I am not afraid to speak in front of large groups. As an orange belt, it took me weeks to learn how to do a double knife hand block. I was increasingly confused and frustrated with every class. It seemed I would never learn it, no matter how hard I tried. Then one day, after weeks of practice, it  clicked. I was finally able to do it. The sense of accomplishment I felt was incredible and I learned that I indeed had perseverance.
   I was a green belt for six months, due to health issues. It taught me that patience is a vital part of my training. It was almost torture watching my family leave to train while I had to stay home and recover. Stepping back on the dojang floor was an incredibly rewarding experience. I felt like I had come home to where I needed to be. I remember actually crying when Master Ehrenreich handed me my blue belt. I absolutely loved being a blue belt. My training truly seemed to be taking shape, the sense of constant confusion I had was dissipating and I could see progress within my techniques. It was during that time that my family and I decided to join the Chosun training tour to South Korea.
   My husband Brian and I tested for our purple belts in May 2014.   In July 2014 along with our two sons who were  bodans at the time, and around thirty other students of all ranks and ages, we boarded a plane at JFK to South Korea. Now those “other students” are affectionately known as “Korea Family”. I had never been out of the country before. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever expect to go to South Korea. From the moment we committed to going,  it became one of the most memorable experiences of my life. I was challenged and rewarded in ways I could never have predicted. Recently I was telling a friend about one such challenge. I was walking  at the bottom of the mountain trail at Seokguram Grotto and all of a sudden I began to feel extremely ill. I was dizzy and felt incredibly sick. Later on I would come to find out I had Vertigo.  I had to send my son Dylan  to get my husband who had walked on ahead of us. At that point my friend interrupted me, asking me if I had my husband take me back to the hotel or at least back to sit on the bus. I was puzzled, and told them that no, with my husband and a friend’s help, I went up the mountain and saw the Buddha and came back down with the group. I might have been last going up and coming down, but I did it. I realized that it never occurred to me to not go up the mountain. Korea showed me without a doubt that I have indomitable spirit. And that was only one part of one afternoon there.

A month or so after returning home, I became a red belt. It was then that a member of my “Korea Family” asked me a very important question. One that has stayed with me almost every day since he asked it. How had my time in Korea changed me ? Every time I ask myself that question , I come up with a new answer. From a better cultural and historical understanding of the land that Taekwondo originates from, to a better understanding of myself, and why I train, the answer is continually unfolding to me, even a year later.

By brown belt I had been volunteering on the Leadership Team for a few months, and found that I truly loved working with the children. I knew then that I wanted to become an assistant instructor, and that I wanted to specifically work with our youth population. That is another new thing Taekwondo has taught me about myself. I love working with children. Soon my belt went from brown to high brown and that first appearance of black in a belt came in. I became even more focused on training, knowing that soon I would become a black belt candidate.

   When I finally became a bodan, everything about the belt was different than my previous belt ranks. While my classmates were learning new techniques, I was perfecting ones that I had learned over the past two and a half years. I also had more time to reflect on those special moments that made up my training   so far. Like learning to fall with the Garretts or working with Master Ehrenreich for twenty minutes to get the first step of Plagwe Oh jang right. Or meeting Grandmaster Chun for the first time.
  As my time as a color belt comes to a close, I realize how much I am going to miss this important time of my training. I have been blessed with extremely knowledgeable and compassionate instructors, and a very supportive group of peers. While I know that these things will not  change once I become a black belt, I also know everything will change. That this is a first milestone along a lifelong journey. A journey full of revelations of all kinds.  Training in traditional Taekwondo at Chosun has changed my life forever. It has taken me places, physically, spiritually mentally and even literally ( Korea !) that I never dreamed possible.

As Master Cook frequently says: “Upwards and onwards!” 

A Retrospective of my Taekwondo Training

Bodan Essay by Thomas Lennon  October, 2015

            When I first heard the essay assignment we were tasked to do, I thought to myself, BODAN ESSAY? A  Retrospective of training through the color belts?  WOW, I could not believe how fast my training through the color belts has gone! Master Cook was absolutely right when he instructed us to enjoy the color belts while we are in the moment. It goes fast, and before you know it you will all be Black Belts! I guess the old saying holds true, time does fly when you are having fun. 

     When I first started training as a White belt, the road looked long and complicated ahead. I could barely stand in a good front stance. I remember being so proud of my new Dobok that my wife and I stopped at a beautiful scene in Waywayanda State Park to take pictures. I look at those pictures now and we both kind of chuckle and pick out all the deficiencies in the block and stance. Those pictures were taken only a few short years ago. Now we are performing Poomsae with cat stances that we throw front kicks from. It is simply amazing to me the progress we have achieved at Chosun!  
     Master Cook tells a story about how proud he was when he first got his yellow belt.  He would walk down the street with his head held high and his chest out. I have the same feeling he described every time I advance, even a little bit, in Taekwondo. That’s what Taekwondo training does for me. It keeps me humble, trying to learn new techniques and it rewards me with a sense of pride and accomplishment when I perform well, never mastering always learning to perfect my performance. Taekwondo never lets me down. The Poomsae are always teaching me something I can do better. 
     As far as a retrospective of my training here at Chosun, it goes without saying, I would not have advanced even from the first step of Alle Makki Ap Koobi without the hard work and dedication from Master Cook and the sincere training that his instructors give to every one of the students that cross the Dojang door. I can make a case that if it weren’t for the patience of instructors like Mr. Garrett and the “coaching techniques” of Master Klugman I may not have made it passed Orange belt. I owe a great deal to all the instructors at Chosun, and of course Master Cook for giving my wife and I a new life in Taekwondo! 
     Only a few short weeks ago I was questioning myself, “was I ready to become a Black belt … was I worthy?”  I was a color belt and proud of it.  “Is it too soon to advance?” I thought about this for some time and realized the curriculum at Chosun was designed by much higher powers than myself, and if I am being told I’m ready by the experts, who am I to doubt their judgment.  So here I am at the end of one more important lesson from Taekwondo, ready to take another humble step!  Kamsahamnida Chosun!

A Retrospective of my Taekwondo Training

 Bodan Essay by Patricia Lennon                       October 2015

It’s all about the journey

As soon as I became a Bodan, I felt that I should somehow be “different”.  I was a little nervous at first – wondering “what” exactly should be different about me.  Soon, I began to notice some changes.  A small “error” in class felt “humongous” to me!  How could I do that?  I am a Bodan!  Then, something kicked in.  Maybe it was the beginnings of an indomitable spirit.  I responded to my error, with tenacity and determination – I would not let a misstep throw me off.  Instead, I trained harder.  I was almost glad I had made a
Gyeongju Plains-Home of the Hwarang Warriors
mistake, because it gave me the opportunity to strengthen my “will”, and focus my mind.  In martial arts, we are taught that our focus needs to be in the moment, mindful and aware.  You have to move on to the next moment, the next move, maintaining the positive energy that we call Ki.  Ki is the energy that flows through us – giving us an indomitable spirit.

As I move closer toward Black Belt, it seems that three specific martial arts concepts seem to be unfolding for me.  They are the basic martial arts teachings of “mindfulness”, “Ki development” and the “indomitable spirit” that we are called to internalize during our recitation of the five tenets of taekwondo.

Reflecting on these concepts, it becomes clearer to me that this is a life long journey – a process, which does not happen overnight, and which demands that I have patience - with myself, and with the training process.

A journey requires patience, and, I believe, patience requires courage.  Therefore,  I en-courage myself!  I remind myself that I will be a black belt soon!  I accept the many responsibilities that come along with this process – two of which are to train harder than I think I can, and to show good spirit!  I know that the “good spirit” that we are encouraged to show is more than a loud kihup, or throwing hard punches, blocks and kicks.  I believe it has more to do with “taking full custody of one’s life”, which is the journey we are on.

The journey is a personal one.

I suspect the changes in the transition to Black Belt will be subtle, gentle stirrings - 
felt subjectively, before becoming externally apparent.  We train for ourselves, first and foremost.  Not for outward appearance or appreciation.  The journey is a personal one.  Although we train together – and we do form bonds – we have a common purpose, and that is reason enough for such bonds to form.  We encourage each other, sincerely and enthusiastically, passionately and compassionately – always reveling in one another’s progress. 

We are truly “team mates” and “school mates”, yet always on our individual journeys.  Like a family, its members bound by many things - yet always and forever - walking their own paths, learning their own lessons, in their own ways – struggling, facing road blocks, overcoming them, mentally, physically and spiritually – challenged, and strengthened by the challenge.

Each small hurdle overcome adds another small muscle to one’s memory – until it becomes unforgettable – forever a part of us.

We are people on a very similar journey - kindred souls, lovers of an art – one in which the artist moves into - and flows with - at their own pace – an art that moves the body.  I am sure dancers and yoga practitioners must reap similar rewards.  Martial Arts, Yoga, Dance – they are all artistry in motion!

Taekwondo is an art form that puts you in touch with your strength – your inner ki strength – and your outward physical strength.

My authentic spirit yell

I think that finding your own kihup, your personal, authentic spirit yell, is part of this path we are on.

When we visited Chosun Rockland to participate in their women’s self defense class, we encouraged the women to “kihup” when they hit the target.  I noticed that some of the women were noticeably quite uncomfortable with yelling out the word kihup.  I understand that this, in part, could be because they’ve never done it before.  They may never have spoken the word “kihup”, no less yelled it, loudly, in front of a group of strangers. 

I remember the first time I let out a loud kihup.  Up until that day, I had probably whispered my kihups.  As white belts, we were taught that we needed to kihup in order to get more power into our moves, and in addition to this, it “showed good spirit”.  And our training had much to do with “spirit”.  After all, an indomitable spirit is one of the 5 tenets of Taekwondo.   So I would try to kihup, but I really didn’t know how.   I loved the translation of the word – “spirit yell”.  I really wanted my spirit to yell.  And I noticed that some people had louder spirit yells than others.  I had a feeling that it didn’t matter so much how loud my kihup would be.  But I still had some apprehension about it.  On this particular day, I did actually kihup quite loudly.  I remember that I was quite surprised about what had just come out of my mouth.  Just then, one of the black belts that I had been training with regularly, Master Sammy Testa, gave me a “thumbs up”, and ‘a look’ that said something like “you go girl!”.   She had witnessed my very first real kihup!  I won’t forget that day.

One Buddhist teaching says – you are already what you are seeking to become.  With this in mind, I think that the ki energy and indomitable spirit is already in me.  And that Taekwondo is a path which can lead me to this energy, this life force.

It reminds me of the art of photography.  The photographer sees something, and wants to savor it.  It’s already there… in its natural state.  The photographer snaps the photo… and goes back to the dark room … and develops the film – at first it appears that there isn’t anything on the film – but slowly – the image starts to appear – and, as if from nothing, there is it.  It was always there – the photographer just had to develop it.  And so it is with my ki.  And my indomitable spirit.  I am slowly but surely developing these aspects of myself – through my training.  Uncovering what is already there.  I look at Taekwondo as a true art form.  I realize it is a form of self defense – but for me, on a daily basis, as an integral part of my life, it is also an art form.  And in this way, it is much like music, or sculpture.  Artists have said that the music, or the statue – was already there – in its entirety – the image of it was in their mind’s eye, and they just needed to uncover it. 

And so it is with my spirit yell – not so much the actual yell that comes out of my mouth, but more, the place where the indomitable spirit within can find it’s voice, and express itself, authentically. The voice within that yells out – I have trained really hard!  I am a Martial Artist!  I am a White Belt! ... a Yellow Belt!......I am a Bodan!  I am a Black Belt.  Finding that voice is the source of my training -- developing my martial arts voice - my ki -  my indomitable spirit

The Warrior’s Path

Since I am practicing the Eastern tradition of Taekwondo, it follows naturally to investigate some of the philosophy at its foundation.  Zen is a basic philosophy behind the martial arts.  The Samurai warriors practiced Zen as a way of life. 
“Mushin” is the essence of Zen.  It is Mindfulness.  Mushin is a peaceful state of mind – one of pure mental clarity.  This is the way of the martial arts warrior.  It is, indeed, a peaceful way, and we are “defenders of the peace”. 

We encounter other warriors on the trail - humble warriors, who walk softly on this path – ever mindful of past travelers, and future ones.  In some, their “Ki” is almost visible.  And when you speak with others, their “spirits” practically yell out.  It is not the “kihup” sort of  “yell” that I am referring to, but a more subtle kind - an indomitable spirit, which has truly developed with much hard work, perseverance, and passion for their practiced art.

Our pilgrimage begins at the Dojang.  As with any traveler who dares to take a road less traveled, it will not be smoothed, nor tamped down by previous travelers, because there are relatively few. 

We are all homeward bound warriors – and when we meet our fellow “HoBo Warriors”, we humbly bow to one another – out of respect, and comradery, and reverence for the noble cause that we are all defending, and recognition of a similar spirit. 

We are martial artists, we continue to train, journeying from the dojang, to a place within ourselves, growing in strength, developing our martial spirits, and then, journeying back again, to the dojang, the place where we, together, strengthen our spirits. There, we gain strength and courage, and fine tune the balance - between strength and gentleness, courage and humility.