Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Mrs. Pyke Eats Korea!

Korean BBQ

Nothing beats walking into a Korean BBQ restaurant. Table top grills sizzling away with whatever is the specialty of the house. This could be Pork ( Daeji ), Beef ( Galbi), Duck (Oli ) and the ever famous Bulgogi. Have a seat to an amazing dining experience. This is probably the meal Americans relate to the most when visiting Korea. The table is set with an assortment of Ban Chan. These are the little bowls of delights that has everyone asking,"What is this Mrs. Pyke?" Of course there is Kimchi, Fish Cake, pickled everything from hot chilies to raw crabs, Korean Potato salad ,so sweet and cooling, sauteed spinach, big bowls of lettuce and spicy Gochujang sauce.
Big platters of Beef Short Ribs (Galbi) arrive. The waitress places them on the cook top, let the grilling begin!!
This of course is when we entertain ourselves with Soju and Mekju and reminisce about our training that day. The waitress begins to cut our Galbi into little bite sized pieces with her scissors ( Gawi ). She tries to remove the bones from the table, but I insist that they stay!
Yum-yum! This is how you eat your Galbi, take a lettuce leaf and place a little rice, some meat and Gochujang, maybe a clove of garlic that has been sizzling away on the grill, roll it into a ball and you can do this the Korean style by placing the entire thing in your mouth all at once, roll your eyes back into your head and savor the fact that you are eating this morsel on the other side of the world! This is when you order another round of Soju so you can continue toasting with Gino and Bill!!
Every meal we eat together is an adventure and brings us closer together.

After an amazing day of training in the beautiful countryside outside of Seoul with Grand Master Lee we have our socks knocked off at a Duck (Oli ) BBQ. This place is a rustic post and beam restaurant. The grills are loaded with coals that come from their backyard. As they load the grills they place foil wrapped sweet potatoes in the coals.This is one of those meals you can't stop eating! The duck is cooked to crispy perfection then dipped in a sweet hot pepper sauce, wrapped in lettuce and devoured. When you think that wouldn't be enough, an amazing bubbling pot of Spicy Duck Soup ( jigae ) is presented to the table. Finally as our meal winds down we fish out the sweet potatoes, peel them like a banana and enjoy our dessert. ( Just a note to all who will be joining us on our 2016 Korea Tour, this restaurant will be a must or Mrs. Pyke will remain back at Grand Master Lee's!! tee-hee!! )

Recently I bought a table top grill at our favorite Korean grocery store, Woo Ri, and we had a blast making Galbi and Pork Belly (Samgyeopsal ). Although we had to open every window in the house because the ventilation was lacking, it was worth it!!

I am looking forward to warmer weather so I can resume my Korean BBQ

Haengbog meongneum (Happy Eating)
Mrs. Pyke

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A Retrospective of my Training Midpoint Between White and Black Belt

by Ed Boller
Blue Belt Essay
Looking back at the person I was 1 ½ years ago I am forced to remember a person who was just surviving in his life.  Being a fireman who on his days off cares for 3 children I was struggling to find time to complete my daily chores; never mind finding time to properly nurture my spiritual, physical, and mental needs. It was not until I decided to walk through the dojang doors that I was given a second chance to put all of these things in balance. Taekwondo has given me a place where I can meditate, workout and use my mind to better myself and the lives of the people around me.
Buddha at Golgulsa Temple

I have always considered myself a spiritual person. There was even a time in my life when I considered being a priest. When I moved away from the town that I grew up and had established roots and moved to Warwick I found myself without a spiritual home. I found that meeting new people and making new friends can be difficult as an adult. Finding Chosun Taekwondo Academy has given me a place to go where I feel accepted for who I am. Even though everyone that trains does not follow the same religion I have found that the time we spend meditating together brings us all together with the common purpose of relaxing the mind, focusing on our breath and the life force within us. I can honestly say that nothing has given me more peace in the wake of my mothers death than this time we spend. In all of the years I spent learning prayers I have never experienced a greater sense of peace. I often meditate picturing my mother’s loving face hovering over me and encouraging me the way that she did when she was well. I thank you so much for this gift.

The physical benefits of Taekwondo are extremely palpable in my life as a fireman. I find myself getting injured less because of my increased flexibility. I have never been so self aware of my body.  I feel confident in placing punches and kicks inches away from the target areas. My core strength has improved greatly from throwing kicks and punches. I also feel that I have more energy after practicing Taekwondo to tackle life’s challenges.

I am more mentally acute then I have been in a long time. I find myself more confident than I have been in years. Knowing that if a situation arises that I have the know how to defend myself and others is empowering. The memorization of techniques and poomsae has improved my memory.
All of these things combined has made me into a better person, better husband, better father, and a better fireman.

Friday, March 20, 2015

A Woman's Touch

by Master Doug Cook
A few years ago I looked up during class and was surprised to see an instructor from a competing school standing in the back of the dojang. Intrigued by his visit, I invited him into my office at the close of the training session only to discover that he recently had a falling out with his master and came to inquire about becoming an instructor at our school. While he was candid about the details of the split, I was reluctant to hire him based on the fact that his reputation in our community was less than sterling, especially when it came to handling children. It seems he was verbally abusive and outright disrespectful at times. Following some personal meditation on the subject, I ultimately decided not to take him on…a choice I would later come to value. As time went by, I heard that he was teaching at a dojang in a nearby town.

Recently, we bumped into each other at a local convenience store. I inquired as to how he was doing and if he was currently teaching. “I left tae kwon do”, he said with an air of triumph. “I’m practicing a real martial art now.” He then went on to describe how tae kwon do has evolved into nothing more than a woman’s social club at most dojangs and how the curricula at these dojangs were unfairly weighted towards that gender. Instead he sought out a school where people “break bones and hurt each other”. “The real thing” he growled.

As you can imagine, the feeling that I had made the proper decision in not taking him on in the first place was amplified all the more. Being a staunch supporter of traditional tae kwon do – a martial art that is highly democratic in nature - and, as Master Philip Ameris states in a recent quote “has something for everybody”, I was astounded by his statement but not surprised from whence it came.

Clearly, many women today find the practice of taekwondo to be a highly desirable discipline and in truth more than half the student population at my school, the Chosun Taekwondo Academy, is female. But do these facts detract from the defensive value and overall effectiveness of tae kwon do as a traditional martial art?

One must recall that tae kwon do was originally created as a method of self-defense for soldiers on the field of battle. Moreover, it has been proven effective during combat in the jungles of Vietnam and the Korean Conflict - the bloody, civil war between brothers of the same. Is it any wonder then why women – who from time immemorial have been convinced of their physical inferiority when compared to their male counterparts – choose to embrace a legitimate Asian martial art that offers empowerment and a break with the conventional model of women being defenseless individuals?

For many years during the genesis of the martial arts in America, it was unusual for a woman to train in tae kwon do. “Dungeon dojangs” situated in cellars and back alleys, or in gyms exclusively for men, did not make ideal training environments for the would-be female practitioner and were often unsafe in any case. Couple this with the fact that it was only
within the past few decades that women began to penetrate the glass ceiling of martial arts in Korea, the homeland of tae kwon do, and an onerous history begins to materialize. Yet, this pattern was destined to be broken by the vanguard of women’s rights sweeping through Western culture.

Today, there is little doubt that women of all ages can benefit significantly from a sincere study of traditional tae kwon do. Serenity of mind through meditation, confidence, instilled by drilling in self-defense, physical-fitness gained through vigorous training, all multiply to create an individual that is greater than the sum of their parts.  This synergy can be seen as a vehicle for the empowerment of women in dojangs across the nation, and now, the world.

Moreover, it is not women who exclusively benefit from tae kwon do, but the art of tae kwon do itself that gains from a women’s touch. Children’s classes at many schools profit greatly from the compassion and patience female instructors afford their eager pupils. Many, being mothers themselves, have a unique understanding of how to approach enthusiastic youngsters that to some may prove problematic. Likewise, as is the case in our school, women instructors provide valuable insight when it comes to the composition of techniques in women’s self-defense courses. They, more than anyone, appreciate the threats posed by a potential male predator and can interface with their peers in a serious and meaningful manner. Having seen the results of skills practiced against their male counterparts, female martial artists can impart the importance of speed, balance, and the element of surprise in tandem with the will to execute an effective defensive strategy. Whereas men often rely principally on strength, a woman must rely on the above in order to extricate themselves safely from an altercation, and who better to impart this knowledge than another woman.

Adding yet another dimension to their practice, rather than perceive tae kwon do as a pure form of self-defense, women, as well as men, can enjoy the discipline simply for the art of it. My column in the January 2008 issue of TaeKwonDo Times touches on this subject. Keeping in mind that the traditional martial art of Korea is as much an avenue for expressing bodily motion in the spatial plane as it is a valid system of self-defense, we can appreciate how spiritually uplifting the execution of precise technique can be.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, resolutely stepping across the threshold of the dojang door and committing to a regimen of disciplined training categorically states to a woman that they refuse to be a victim any longer - not simply to the threat of bodily harm, but to the false notion that there is relatively little they can do to significantly alter their place in a society that has long discriminated against their sex. Some years ago an article in the Wall Street Journal pointed out that employers are more likely to hire an individual who has practiced a martial art over other candidates due to the commitment, courtesy, and self-control intrinsic to the pursuit. These principles clearly bolster the worldview of any practitioner, but imagine what this perspective can do for individuals of either gender, who are used to living under the shadow of repression no matter how benign or unintentional?

When I look out over a class dominated by my female students, I feel a sense of pride in their acquired power, skillful precision, and newly-found confidence as they progress on their journey from white to high ranking black belt. Watching them spar, executing well placed jumping back and spinning hook kicks within inches of their partners vital points, I cannot help but think how my confused instructor friend would feel if he came in full contact with any one of these techniques. Perhaps he would change his outlook of tae kwon do after experiencing a woman’s touch of this nature!             

Master Doug Cook, a 6th dan black belt, is head instructor of the Chosun Taekwondo Academy located in Warwick, New York, a student of Grandmaster Richard Chun, and author of the best-selling books entitled: Taekwondo…Ancient Wisdom for the Modern Warrior,  Traditional Taekwondo…Core Techniques, History and Philosophy, Taekwondo - A Path to Excellence and Taekwondo Black Belt Poomsae - Original Koryo and Koryo co-authored with Grandmaster Richard Chun published by YMAA Publications, Inc. He can be reached for discussions or seminars at chosuntkd@yahoo.com or www.chosuntkd.com.

The Meaning of Indomitable Spirit and How I Apply it in my Life

by Rocco Manno
age 9 Blue Belt Essay
Tong Il Jeon Shrine
Indomitable spirit means you have a spirit that is unbeatable, unshakable and invincible. It does not mean you always win, it means you stay positive and you don't let other people discourage you. At Chosun Taekwondo Academy, the instructors teach us how to have an indomitable spirit. They encourage us to do our best and to never give up, even when training is hard. 
In my life I did not always have an indomitable spirit. When I was in 1st and 2nd grade, some boys were bullying me and I had a really hard time controlling my temper and emotions. I was very frustrated and I let them make me angry. It made me so sad that whey were so mean to me. I was beaten. 
Now Taekwondo has helped me to have an indomitable spirit. This year in 3rd grade, a boy in my class was bothering me but I handled it much differently. He cursed at me, hit me and even tried to ruin my art project. I don't like how he treated me but I didn't let his behavior control me. I got my teachers to help me and he had consequences, not me. I didn't let him ruin my day. My teacher even said I was dealing with the situation "maturely." I feel good about how I handled this and I feel strong because I can control myself and stay positive. I have an indomitable spirit!

The Meaning of Indomitable Spirit

Bulguksa Temple

by Harrison Gratzel 
age 7 Blue Belt Essay
The meaning of Indomitable Spirit is having a strong and unbeatable spirit. I think I am strong inside myself.
I apply an Indomitable Spirit in my life by beating my fears. Having an unbeatable spirit makes me feel happy and confident. 
And also I think having an unbeatable spirit make our dreams come true. 
My Indomitable Spirit keeps me cook and awesome

Persevering in Taekwondo

by Taylor DiMeglio
Green Belt Essay
Time passes swiftly, as it often does. My white belt has turned yellow, then orange. Soon it will be green... taekwondo an ever-shifting landscape. Kicho forms bring Taeguks, Palgwe Il Jang arrives. Two forms become six, six defensive maneuvers now eighteen, nine Il Su Siks, nine Ho Sin Sools. New kicks, new stances, knife hand. An arsenal is building, a foundation laid. Im remindedchallenge is a steady stream. In taekwondo, you either focus or founder, and since the vista has widened and my desire grown, Im daunted.
Misty Mountains of South Korea

Im not a halfway person. What I want to do, I want to do all the way. Full vigor, nothing withheld. Yet, if I were an animal, Id be a donkey. Slow, plodding, standing stock still in the pasture, time lost to thought. Ive often wished for two lives, one to observe and ponder, the next one to live. A month to work on back stance, half a year to cultivate knife hand. Perfecting one technique, then another. Wholly impractical. Maybe Ill get another life, but, in the interest of assurance, its this one or bust.

Theres a part of me that would like to stay at orange belt. Even with a growing repertoire, Im securely in the beginners realm. Theres time enough for review; expectations are low. Praise comes easy. I know exactly where to stand in the line up. Spinning hook kick is around the corner, though. Expectations grow. As a greenhorn, I show potential. In time this may fall flat. Pretty kicks must gain in speed and power, a palm heel has to do more than land in the right place.

The demon of self-doubtis pernicious. My left knee twinges. You should have started ten years ago,this scathing voice intones. I stretch my toe too far in the wrong direction: Youre going to get hurt.When I pause to admire Miyamoto Musashi, up it pipes, You are not he.Id like to tell this self-satisfied inner specter a thing or two, but Im afraid it may be right. Ive started too late. First dan is reachable, but fourth dan? Beyond? I dont know.  I should quit. Ill never be the martial artist Id like to be, nor the one I might have been.

There is, however, a counter to the self-destructive voice. Perseverance is a primordial mandate, rooted in the indomitable spirit. Its embedded in our code. Everywhere we see and hear itinsistent voices, human souls longing to be known. Ubiquitous in human history, it is perseverance which has carried us forward from the very beginnings of civilization. Korea, too. In war after war, battle after battle, Koreans fought not only to survive but to thrive with their cultural identity intact, their country intent on industry, innovation, growth. Countless stories of courage and grief speak of their determination. They would not give up.

Versus will, discouragement is an unconvincing foe. More than anything, the human spirit wants to be. Always. Thus, when my self-doubt goes too far, latent fierceness rises up, my own indomitable spirit. Whos to say what I might have been, or what Ive yet to be? Shall I let unfulfilled fears be my guide? I havent ever; I wont start now. Even as I grow and age, I am still the young girl that I was. So long as my mind and body hold and my spirit is within, I will lay claim to that fiery girl. She is ever with me. I wont let her down.

Instead, I will practice, patience as well as technique. Palm heel today, knife hand tomorrow, the reverse next week. I will build todays progress into tomorrows mastery, take my lumps, and cherish victories as they come.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Invoking the Tigress

by Master Doug Cook
Tae kwon do is frequently described by critics, often disparagingly, as a “women’s sport” largely because so many females participate. Frankly, as a professional instructor, I feel this is due to the fact that the national martial art of Korea is a highly empowering
discipline especially if taught in a traditional manner. Historically, aside from its value to the civilian population, one must recall that tae kwon do was partially created as a method of self-defense for soldiers on the field of battle. Moreover, it was repeatedly proven effective during combat in the jungles of Vietnam and throughout the Korean Conflict. Is it any wonder then why women – who from time immemorial have been convinced of their physical inferiority when compared to their male counterparts – would choose to embrace a legitimate vehicle for nurturing self-confidence that clearly encourages a break with the conventional model of women being defenseless individuals? Subsequently, for this article featuring women in tae kwon do, I have requested several of my adult female students to address this component of their practice through the written word. I hope you find their heartfelt responses inspiring!

Olga Pico/Black Belt 3rd Dan: Traditional tae kwon do has nurtured my self- confidence. I stand up taller and keep my head up. Throughout life we all face different challenges and with experience you learn and feel more confident about handling situations. As a tae kwon do practitioner, it is difficult to learn a new poomsae. However, each time one is mastered you feel a great sense of accomplishment thus increasing your confidence. I apply this life lesson to all my endeavors and it helps me succeed in general.

Jean Bailly-Orlovsky/Black Belt 3rd Dan: Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you.” With this in mind, traditional tae kwon do training has enhanced my self-awareness and given me the confidence to persevere in various situations that I might not have had the determination for in the past. Meditation encourages me to slow my mind and embrace enlightened perspective. The physical training is active meditation, which unifies mind, body and spirit and liberates me to pursue a sanguine life.

Mary Dacchille-Sulesky/Black Belt 3rd Dan: Self-confidence is something that starts out as a small seed inside your head. If the seed is watered, given sun, care, and allowed to grow, it will transcend your body and become a part of the way the world sees you. Traditional tae kwon do has allowed me to use my body in a way I would have never thought possible. Our master, Doug Cook, is fond of saying that there is no elevator to the top floor of tae kwon do; it is a walk-up. We all started at white belt and worked our way up earning our belts as we progressed. I did not start with a lot of confidence, but I was nurtured in a traditional environment at my dojang. Like a seed that is properly cared for, I have grown and now I walk with my shoulders back and my head high. I know that if I am willing to practice the martial art of tae kwon do, I can achieve so much in my life.

Pamela Roeloffs/Black Belt 3rd Dan: At the start of a new belt level, I have “beginner’s mind”. This is an expression of innocence as dictated by Buddhist teachings, but it is frequently accompanied by confusion and frustration. Chosun Taekwondo Academy’s exceptional instructors help build my confidence by encouraging the techniques that I perform correctly and demonstrating those that need improvement. By the end of each belt or stripe level I feel comfortable and confident with my techniques. It is a repeating cycle that I journey through as I progress in my traditional tae kwon do training. It is a process that manifests itself in my daily routine thus providing empowerment and a quiet sense of self-confidence.

Amy Fitzpatrick Smith/Black Belt 3rd Dan: My father used to tell me to walk like I was carrying a gun. This gave me an air of confidence, of being unapproachable. Had I been attacked by a strong man, what would I have done, exactly? As a black belt studying traditional tae kwon do, I know the answer to that: learn authentic self-defense. This gives me true confidence. I still walk like I’m carrying a gun, but being empty handed has a whole new meaning for me now.

Pamela Pyke/Black Belt 3rd Dan: Practicing traditional tae kwon do instills in me strength, dignity and poise. My confidence has been nurtured and challenged throughout my entire journey
over the ranks. Finding the strength and stamina to train has done nothing
less than thrill me. What a joy it is to be so aware of one's physical
body. I am slowly discovering who I am as a martial artist. I take great
pride in knowing I can defend myself and even others if need be.

Linda Taylor/Black Belt 2nd Dan
: At 21 I was attacked on the street by teenage girls. I remember my fear, and my flailing, ineffectual attempts to hit back. I'm now very confident that I can do a far better job of defending myself. Fighting doesn't come easily to most women. Tae kwondo has taught me to be disciplined, strong and confident in the power of our techniques. Today, walking down the street, I feel proud, powerful and much safer.

Nancy Bree Garrett/Black Belt 3rd Dan:
Sometimes when I see someone my age struggle to climb the stairs to my art studio, I think, ‘that’s not me’. When I see women who are fearful, I think, ‘that’s not me’. When I walk down the street feeling my body strong and upright, my legs moving free and easy, and my breath coming strong and steady, I marvel that I feel this way. The strength of mind, body and spirit that my tae kwon do training brings me - That’s me!

Terrie Wynne/Black Belt 4th Dan:
Self-confidence is a funny thing. It sneaks up on you. After years of traditional training I have learned thirty-three forms. I never would have said I had the confidence to teach, but as I learned the forms, the confidence grew. So much so, that I am now an instructor, passing on and instilling self-confidence in others. Additionally, it is now a humorous fact that when my husband and I travel, he claims to feel safer with me at his side. Confidence!

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 four best-selling books entitled: Taekwond-Ancient Wisdom for the Modern Warrior, Traditional Taekwondo - Core Techniques, History and Philosophy, Taekwondo–A Path to Excellence and his most recent contribution, Taekwondo Black Belt Poomsae- Original Koryo and Koryo, co-authored with Grandmaster Richard Chun, all published by YMAA Publications Inc. He can be reached for lectures, seminars or questions at www.chosuntkd.com or info@chosuntkd.com.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Chosun e-newsletter Archive Volume 5 #3 March, 2015

Dear Martial Arts Enthusiast,

Welcome to the March edition of the  Chosun Taekwondo Academy 
e-newsletter! If you are suffering from cabin fever, we have plenty of CHOSUN events planned for March to offer a cure! From the upcoming Warwick Community Showcase to the Chosun Open House and the Taekwondo Book Donation Program at the library, CHOSUN will be out and about! We are also introducing a new column in this issue, Mrs. Pyke Eats Korea! If you love eating Korean food, now with Mrs. Pyke's help, you can make it yourself!
View the 2014 Chosun Taekwondo Academy Retrospective 
Kamsahamnida,                                                                                                            images 2facebook button
Patty Cook, Editor www.facebook.com/chosuntkd   
Happy St. Patrick's Day & National Women's History Month
(see the Student Spotlight below)                    
Chosun Taekwondo Academy celebrating 18 years!

Read entire newsletter...

Sunday, March 1, 2015

"Weaving the Stories of Women's Lives" National Women's History Project 2015

by Kate Pernice, Chosun Taekwondo Academy 3rd Dan Black Belt
The following is her "story"

I grew up in Orange County and somehow my travels always brought me back to this area.  My dad farmed, had several businesses and then went into construction.  His entrepreneurial spirit influenced me in many ways, both in the work that he chose and in his belief that you can do anything you put your mind
 Via Ferrata, Circleville, West Virginia
to.  My mom is a wonderful story-teller.  I grew up hearing about her adventures of travel and work.  She was an independent woman, she sailed, she was a pilot-- her favorite story was when she worked for the military in Minnesota during WWII and she would pack her own parachute and go up to test the airplanes to do “spins and stalls” after they were repaired.  I learned from both of them a free-spirit determination, creative thinking and the importance of love.

Surrounded by nature in my childhood, I learned about the relationships between plants and animals and humans.  I became a vegetarian at the age of 16 along with my brother (with the concern of my parents).  I became interested in spacial design, studied architecture and did construction renderings for my dad’s business.  After traveling and the birth of my first son, I went on to study childbirth education, herbal medicine, homeopathy, yoga and eventually I entered nursing school and then a graduate program to become a nurse practitioner.  I remember in those first few months of practicing in a busy clinic, often coming home, discouraged and crying.  I felt that people deserved more than 10 or 15 minutes of my time, that their stories were important and that the act of listening has a healing effect especially when someone is struggling with life issues.  After 14 years of practicing in inner-city clinic settings I opened my own practice in order to offer the kind of care that I believed in.  Throughout those previous years I had 2 beautiful boys, (now grown) and my musician husband and I became interested in education, a direction that he pursued.  We renovated houses, camped, gardened, sailed, traveled and grew a family together.  At one of those disillusioned moments of my life I decided to attend a 4-year training in psychology and energy healing, brought this work into my practice, and went on to teach at that school for the past 15 years.  This is why you sometimes don’t see me in the Dojang.  The school is based in Miami and I travel there 5 times a year.  A few years ago I was simultaneously teaching in the Miami school and our sister school in Japan.  So I was traveling every month and although it was a wonderful experience I very much missed my time in the Dojang.  I feel so grateful to be part of these two wonderful communities of colleagues, friends and students.  Community has become very important to me; it is where we share our stories, our differences can be heard and our common ground found.  For the past three years a colleague and I have developed retreat-based work, The Sacred Living Project, examining the Sacred in ordinary life through music, poetry, movement, stories, group work and native traditions.  Each August for the past 11 years I trek to the wilderness-mountains of West Virginia as a facilitator for The Women’s Hero’s Journey.  It is my favorite way of doing the work that I do—bringing personal and group work and the complexity of our psyche into the raw simplicity of nature.  Courageous women from all over the world come to journey together with other women in the largest expanse of mountainous dark sky on the east coast.  The work is based on Joseph Campbell’s call to the mythic life, The Hero’s Journey.  We engage with the elements of air, water, fire, earth, we work with trust, grief, fierceness, vulnerability, we climb mountains, we descend into the earth, we walk on fire, take leaps of faith, we wander on the land, we face our aloneness, but mostly we come together in a loving community to discover more about ourselves.  And our program has now expanded to include a young women’s journey so that our circles span over a woman’s life-time.

So many times I have drawn upon my Taekwondo practice for strength, insight and perseverance and especially during the times that I have struggled in my life.  When I was a red belt I became very ill with Lyme disease and couldn’t practice for several months.  I remember reflecting again and again on the five tenets and the one that spoke loudest to me (as often one or two will come to the foreground when I need them) was “Indomitable Spirit”.   I found a connection to my larger self and could find comfort in the strength of my spirit while I simultaneously was quite disturbed by the strange and new experience of not having a strong and healthy body available to me.  I consider my Taekwondo practice a constant opportunity to find focus, inner balance and self-acceptance.  I love the rigor and the internal quiet, the yin and the yang of Taekwondo and the sense of belonging, not only to our Dojang but also amongst the tradition of our ancestor practitioners that have passed on the teachings.  I can’t imagine my life without Taekwondo.  As I enter my 10th year of practice and take stock of the things I feel immeasurably grateful for, and that are at the heart of my life as daughter, sister, mother, wife, friend, teacher, healer, gardener, wild woman, seeker, martial artist…  Taekwondo came into my life at just the right time and has continued to be a guiding post for me physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.  I have surpassed my ideas and limiting beliefs about myself countless times and my inner indomitable spirit more times than not takes on the attitude of, “Why not?” when I am faced with a challenge.  I am so grateful to Patty and Master Doug Cook for their perseverance and dedication in bringing our wonderful community together.  That is no small feat in these busy times.

Kamsahamnida, Kate