Friday, January 22, 2016

In the Shadow of a Grandmaster by Doug Cook

Grandmaster Richard Chun and Master Doug Cook
appeared in Totally Taekwondo Magazine April, 2015 Issue #74

     I consider myself and the students I teach fortunate indeed; not simply because we are graced with a comfortable, clean, and culturally focused training environment, but because we are a member of an elite organization under the direction of a world-renowned grandmaster who promotes a traditional style of taekwondo. In today’s world of mixed martial arts and schools boasting curricula “so simple a child can do it”, we sometimes forget the value this inheritance offers. The legacy we as a school enjoy not only reflects the comprehensive nature of taekwondo, but extends to the personalities who molded our discipline through its formative years on up to the present.
     It is no secret that the roots of taekwondo were greatly influenced by Japanese Shotokan karate-do as well as various forms of Chinese fighting arts. Furthermore, there currently exists a clear delineation between the traditional martial art of taekwondo and its sportive mate firmly based on Olympic-style sparring. Nevertheless, the present state of taekwondo as it applies to both the defensive art and world sport, coupled with the outstanding success it has achieved as the most popular martial discipline in the world today, is unquestionably linked to the masters and grandmasters native to the Korean peninsula that have refined and transmitted its unique set of techniques and philosophical doctrines over the decades. Subsequently, maintaining a relationship with an elder instructor having a direct link to the founders of the art nurtures respect for heritage in tandem with technical accuracy - benefits that cannot be overstated.
     Establishing a modern martial art based on the elements of other traditional disciplines may have its benefits as evidenced by the popularity of jeet kune do - the martial art created by the late Bruce Lee. Yet, in today’s age of internet certification and canned, commercialized curricula, it is far too easy to pick and choose techniques that highlight the physical abilities of an individual instructor, leaving out countless defensive strategies that require years to refine in the process. In many cases the long range efficacy of these endeavors turn out to be questionable at best causing students to question the authenticity of their art. Pitfalls like this can be avoided by following in the footsteps of an experienced and legitimate grandmaster that supports a combat-proven discipline based on tradition.
     Training under a grandmaster that is an acknowledged source of traditional skills is akin to being in possession of the original copy of an important document displaying clear and concise print. Undisputedly accurate in its current iteration, copies of this document, particularly those many generations later, are certain to diminish in quality resulting in distortion and possible misinterpretation. The same principle holds true when learning a kick, block or strike. A simple twist of the wrist, turn of the hip, or snap of the leg, passed on by a human vessel with decades of experience can make the difference between the mediocre execution of a basic technique and a stunning demonstration of defensive skill. The flawless transmission of poomsae, or formal exercises, dramatically reflects this belief. While a great majority of the modern forms have been exhaustively cataloged both in print and on the web, many of the traditional hyung dating back decades in not centuries, are left to the mercy of memorization. Here is where the golden relationship between venerated master and worthy disciple clearly begins to materialize. A legitimate grandmaster with roots firmly planted in decades of Korean martial arts practice, who has doubtlessly performed advanced poomsae hundreds if not thousands of times, has the capacity to correct even the most minute detail within a given form. Yet, left unattended, the practitioner will innocently promulgate error while infecting others ultimately causing the execution of the poomsae over time to stray further and further from the core of its original intent. Grandmasters with an eye for the more traditional components of the taekwondo curriculum are also more likely to focus on authentic training in il su sik (one-step sparring), ho sin sool (self-defense techniques), meditation, and ki development exercises as well

      Moreover, accumulated wisdom is generally a function of age. While there exists many youthful, talented grandmasters, acquired skill of this magnitude is generally attributed to those of advanced years. Time has a tendency of tempering ones outlook on a discipline such as taekwondo making the grandmaster, in many cases, a teacher who is demanding yet compassionate, high in expectations yet forgiving of frailty. He or she is a fountain of knowledge, an advisor at times imparting thoughtful counsel and, as is the case with our grandmaster, a single, unifying symbol of a global organization. Physically, even those of senior rank, years older than their students, can inspire and elicit respect through the execution of basic technique performed effortlessly. 
      Accepting the leadership of a grandmaster furthermore removes the potential of being hindered by a provincial world view of taekwondo. For the master instructor of a dojang not located in a large metropolitan area, interaction with colleagues can be minimal at best. Therefore, grandmasters with ties to others in the taekwondo community have the ability of introducing their loyal students to peers of equal seniority and interests thus opening the door to new relationships and unforeseen possibilities. Often a confederation of master instructors under the umbrella of a noted grandmaster can lead to mutual training experiences, seminars, association tournaments, and even trips to Korea – the homeland of taekwondo.
     But at the end of the day, it is important to remember that the grandmaster is still only a human being commensurate with all the shortcomings that station entails. Students often mistakenly elevate the grandmaster to messianic proportions leaving themselves open to the dual specters of disappointment and disillusionment should their failings become evident. Therefore, just as the grandmaster showers his charges with understanding so, too, must the student exhibit consideration in matters concerning passions of the heart.
    Some would assert, similar to a flower deprived of sunlight whose growth and hue is limited by the overhanging branches of some great tree, that a master instructor’s rate of maturity can be hindered by the influence of a seemingly oppressive grandmaster. Yet there are vines and flowers that flourish in shade without the benefit of direct sunlight. Likewise, the humble master, and thus his or her students, can flourish in the shadow of a grandmaster whose sincere intent is to promote the martial art of taekwondo through the inculcation of wisdom, compassion, and technical excellence.

Master Doug Cook, 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: 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 Chun along with its companion DVD. Master Cook can be reached for Korea tours, seminars, workshops or questions at or

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Yoga at CHOSUN "Dynamics and Dimension"

"Dynamics and Dimension"

One of the gifts that yoga brings us is learning how to work with our bodies in a dynamic way. But what does that mean? The other word most closely associated with dynamic is energetic. But that word alone does not tell the story. It is the quality of the energy and how it is used that offers us a path toward positive change. By learning how to access our core, grounding, and then distributing the energy in a deliberate and direct way, we become conscious of our body's dimensions. In our standing class this week, we will test this vital principle in the posture, Utkatasana or chair pose. 

join us and move dynamically!

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

For information about all programs at Chosun visit our website:

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Korea "Destinations" by Jeff Rosser from CHOSUN newsletter January, 2016

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

Seodaemun Independence Park
               Located in northwestern Seoul, Seodaemun Independence Park pays tribute to those who fought for Korea’s independence from Japan (1910 – 1945).  The focal point of the park is the Seodaemun Prison History Hall.  It was here that the Japanese incarcerated, tortured, and executed Korean activists who spoke out and fought against Japanese colonial rule.  Pictures of former inmates line the walls and the cells have been left just as they were.  There are also a number of exhibits displaying the torture and abuse inflicted on the inmates by the Japanese guards.  Most areas of the prison are open to the public and serve as a chilling reminder of Korea’s colonial past prior to independence.
Seodaemun Prison Hall
               At the entrance to the park, you will also find the Independence Gate.  This massive stone gate is of European design and stands in the place where the Yeongeunmun Gate once stood during the Joseon era.  The Yeongeunmun Gate was destroyed in 1895 by the Japanese and the new Independence Gate was erected a year later.  On weekends, the park is a popular destination for locals wanting to relax and tourists seeking to better understand Korea’s complex history.  The best way to reach the park is by taking exits 4 or 5 from Dongnimmun Subway Station on Line 3.
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),

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Thursday, January 7, 2016

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

by Gregory W. Saucedo
Belt Rank Promotion Test Essay
Current Belt Rank: Blue
November 6, 2015

Indomitable spirit is what makes a person unique and gives them the hope, inner strength
and courage to face each day with a positive attitude. It is defined as a spirit that cannot be
subdued or overcome and allows a person to have determination and the confidence to handle the many challenges and obstacles in life. It is the desire to win and not accept failure. Without indomitable spirit, a person is unable to accomplish all the greatness that
Fist Tower: Jeju Island, South Korea
lies within him or her.

As a Taekwondo student, I am learning each day to find the strength and spirit within me.
I feel that within the last year, I have developed into a stronger and more positive person
because I am learning to believe in myself and what I can do. In the Dojang, you are taught to find motivation within you and your peers so that you are inspired to be and do your best at all times. It is that strength which gives you the ability to look at yourself and realize that anything is possible and you should never give up. I take these lessons that I am learning and I make sure that I apply them both at home and in school. In school, I find myself questioning how I will accomplish all the different tasks and at times I feel anxiety about doing really well all the time.
I realize that I can be strong and I can win. I find that spirit within me that says, “ You can do this.”
The discipline of developing and having indomitable spirit will allow you to think things
through very carefully and always have a positive attitude. I know that as long as I continue to have that indomitable spirit, I will become a stronger and more disciplined person at achieving anything I set my mind to.

Yoga at CHOSUN "Beginner's Mind"

"Beginner's Mind"

It's a New Year and time for New Year's resolutions...but did you know that only 10% are actually kept? What if instead of attempting to make major changes on the outside, we just made a shift in our thinking? Buddhist teachings emphasize living with a "beginner's mind." In other words, having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and freedom from preconceptions when approaching anything in life. Sometimes, the smallest change in our outlook will have the most powerful outcome and possibilities for personal growth abound... small shifts equal big changes!

Join us for a fresh start...

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

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Poomsae and the I Ching

Taekwondo: Poomsae and the I Ching
Brown Belt Promotion Test Essay by Sienna Lee

Poomsae and I Ching. Think they aren’t related? Think again. They tie together like Yin and Yang, hand-in-hand, and I’ll explain to you why. First, though, allow me to introduce this term to you: I Ching.

I Ching is an “ancient Chinese manual of divination based on eight symbolic trigrams and sixty-four hexagrams, interpreted in terms of the principles of yin and yang. It was included as one of the “five classics” of Confucianism”, I Ching, to me, represents peace, balance, and consistency. These three words can also be found in the art of Taekwondo, and more specifically, our Poomsae.

The I Ching relates to Poomsae philosophy. I went in circles trying to figure out how, and why, until I came to the best, simplest explanation of them all: “Each form is symbolized by a distinct philosophical component derived either from the I Ching, an ancient Taoist text, or personalities and places drawn from martial arts history”.

I think that the I Ching is an important component in Taekwondo. It brings realism and character to the martial art. The lines of the I Ching symbol represent the Yin and Yang: closed lines for Yang, and open lines for Yin. The Yin and Yang often represent two things coming together to make one whole, complete piece. I think this relates to Taekwondo. Two things in this art stand out to me: hard work and patience. Like the Yin and Yang, these two words can contradict each other sometimes. Hard work means you’re always ready to go, trying your best and not stopping. Maybe being aggressive. at some points. On the other hand, having patience can go a long way. You must have patience in everything that you do in Taekwondo, because it will never all come to you at once. You must be patient and be willing to step back, take a breath, and focus on what’s happening NOW. This can make things difficult for hard workers, and this is where Yin and Yang comes in. You must learn to balance the two to make one beautiful masterpiece: martial arts.

In conclusion, I believe that the I Ching has much to do with Taekwondo and its Poomsae philosophy. Both the I Ching and Poomsae require balance, peace, and time.

Remember this the next time you step into the dojang. Remember that you can achieve balance, peace, and time. Remember that you are a part of the Yin Yang, of the I Ching; of Taekwondo.

The Chosun e-newsletter Archive Volume 7 #1 January, 2016

Dear Martial Arts Enthusiast,

Welcome to the January edition of the Chosun Taekwondo Academy e-newsletter! The month of January takes its name from the Roman god, Janus who is depicted as having two faces on one head; one looking ahead toward the unfolding future and one to the past. The many successes we have shared as a school body over the years have laid a strong foundation as we take this very important step into the future. We count our blessings and proceed with confidence and resolve.
Please take note of 2016 Test dates listed below...

View the 2015 Chosun Taekwondo Academy Retrospective

Patty Cook, Editor
Happy New Year! 새해 복 많이 받으세요
Chosun Taekwondo Academy celebrating 18 years!