Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Lesson Ahop (9) - It's a commitment

Tonight we went and had our 9th class. Normal stretches, punches kicks, etc. Boy do I need to work on my round-house kick!

Apparently the first time I did the roundhouse kick I pulled something in my groin... as a result my body now says, "mmm uh huh not doing THAT again!" and I just can't get a decent roundhouse kick... I'll keep working on it.. Does anyone have a suggestions for a good way to improve kicking form?

I find it interesting to watch how various instructors and Master Scota, deal with folks of different skills, ability, and understanding. As I would expect, since Master Scota taught them, the instructors all teach in much the same way that Master Scota does, each having their own best form or move which you can see when observing them. They all treat the students with patients and don't seem to mind explaining the same thing to my 8 year old more than once. That may have to do with the fact that he is really trying to "get it" and just needs assistance.

As an aside, since we home school, I wonder if that impacts my children's ability to learn from someone else? I don't think it's a negative impact if any, just uncertain. if you have any opinions on that, I would like to hear them.

Anyhow We have been attending the Dojang for the last month at Master Scota's gracious invitation. Today I told him that we are signing up for the next year and that we feel that if we are going to do it... we may as well do it right! :)

IT's a commitment, just like many things in life, and even though I am just a beginner, I know that Tang Soo Do, takes commitment and determination like so many other parts of life. Marriage takes commitment, a job is a commitment, church and ministry all take commitment.

I think that Tang Soo Do will teach me and my family the benefit of commitment, and perseverance. These are things we know in our heads. But Tang Soo Do will teach us the reward of commitment and perseverance in the body. I can already tell a difference in my muscle tone, particularly in my legs. (Practicing stepping from right to left front-stance, while concentrating on form, and placement and all the other things there are to remember, will do that for you! Oh my legs feel like Jell-o sometimes!)

It's a reward that the commitment itself will turn into. I know that we will come to a point where we don't go to class because we know we have to. (I don't really think we do that now) but because we love to be there. Honestly I can say it's almost like that now.

It's not unlike going to church, it's a wonderful place to go and see people of a like mind. The lesson may be rough, feeling like it's killing us, it never will, but in the end will make us stronger and more prepared for both, the next lesson and life in general.

I leave you with this quote from "A Spiritual Man" - Watchman Nee
In this conflict the child of God must exercise his mind. He must take the initiative in each action and not depend on anyone else. If possible he must make his own decision, not waiting passively for other people or for more conducive environment. He must not glance back at the past nor worry concerning the future but learn to live just for this moment.

I find myself there physically in Tand Soo Do and working to this point in my spiritual life as well.

Jonathan Wagner
Cho Bo Ja

Friday, April 24, 2009

Lesson yuh-deol (8) - You want me to do WHAT?

My two oldest boys and I went to class tonight, we did those wonderful painful, yet somehow satisfying stretches. I am learning more how it's possible to both love and hate something at the same time. Now obviously this isn't me, but there are both boys and girls in our class that can do a full split... I can get my legs further than a 90 degree spilt... maybe 96 degrees! ;)

Anyhow I don't know that I'll ever be able to do a full split like this... but hey, you never can tell, I might get limber enough in my old age (I'll be 41 in 8 days) to do a full split.

Ok, so after stretches we went through some basic punches then Master Scota broke us into two groups those who are moving along nicely, and those of us who are hopefully not too hopeless! ;) ok ok we just don't know enough yet.. Ms. Scully worked with us on the first parts of the first form. That's really cool, and boy am I glad that I am aware of keeping on a level plane when moving. It would look pretty funny to be bouncing up and down like a yo-yo while moving through the form.

I guess being a programmer I like forms. I have noticed as I get older that when I am working on something which can be repeated over and over I can focus both on the physical activity I'm doing and on issues that I need to resolve. As we were learning the form , well the first couple of parts of the first form, I was actually getting it. While we were barely touching the surface of the form, I could feel how the power of the movements will transfer to punches or blocks.

Well at least I THINK I can see how it will. I probably have that part all wrong, but it just felt right.

Then we moved into practicing some kicks. I can do front kicks fairly well, but those side kicks and round-house kicks just make me hurt! However, Mr. Henderson did have us do something a little different We just set up the roundhouse kick, got our leg up where it was supposed to be and chambered the foot, pointing the toes etc, so we could get a feel for where it has to go. There may be hope for me yet! But I'll leave that to Master Scota and the instructors to decide!

I really can't wait to learn the whole form, I don't know what it's called. I'll have to find out and share that with you all.




Beginner Cho Bo Ja
Gup Holder Yu Gup Ja
Dan Holder Yu Dan Ja
Senior Dan Holder Ko Dan Ja
1st Dan Certified Instructor Bo KyoSa Nim
2nd, 3rd Dan Certified Instructor Kyo Sa Nim
Master Instructor 4th Dan & Up Sah Bum Nim
Grand Master Kwan Jang Nim
Belt Dee
Color Belt Gup
Black Belt Dan
Uniform Do Bahk
Training Hall Do Jang

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Lesson Ilgop (7) - Back from vacation

Believe it or not I found myself looking forward to class tonight. I can barely believe it. but even in the stretches and laughable attempts to kick higher than my kneecap, (OK, I can make it just above the belt on an average person if I really try and concentrate and it's a front kick! forget it with a side kick or a roundhouse!... I'm working on it though!

When we got to the dojang tonight I was actually looking forward to the workout. The stretches are just as hard, and I still don't have a hinge in the middle! Reading on another blog that the middle, the way you twist your waist gives you power... right now... I don't have much of a twist. but I'm working on it!

We worked as a large group doing punches and blocks and walking punches and blocks, turning from front to back, the economy of motion in a simple turn is one of the things I really love about Tang Soo Do. Just turn from front to back... it's awesome!

Master Scota walked us through lots of punches kicks and blocks. I know that I'm a long way off, but I'm at least starting to see the symmetry.

I mentioned before that I stumbled upon a bad habit before it became a habit. Now when we move forward I concentrate on keeping my knees bent and "TRYING" to keep my head on a level plain. I did find that when I am doing these types of repetitions if I can focus both my inner man and focus my gaze on a fixed point, that's PAST the wall I'm looking at, I can move much more smoothly than otherwise.

The inner focus is more important I think than the outer. It is more important in many ways in life. If I can find a my inner focus then I can remain in that place of calm peace that is only found there. I know there are many words and terms for this centering, but being a christian, I find my center in Jesus. Other find their center in themselves or in other teaching. It's not my place to tell someone else that they are wring, though I do have a question particularly for those who find an inner focus in your own self, how can you bring balance to your self when you can't control anything other than yourself? It's just something to consider.

Anyhow, I am working on that movement and maintaining (Ha that's a laugh, let's say GAINING) a fluid graceful motion.

I know that no matter how far I progress there will always be room to learn and grow, and I will always approach Tang Soo do as a beginner. Someday I hope to have a good grasp on the basics so I can be prepared to move further. In the meantime, I'm trying to get stronger, pushups stink! oh and don't forget crunches! ARGH!!!

Standing in a deep horse-stance for long periods of time, making my legs quake and quiver, it hurts.. but wow... Even after just a few lessons my legs are starting to get the muscle definition that I had when I was younger and rode my bicycle 20 to 30 miles a day.

So I am looking forward to class on Thursday. I'll let you know what happens!

Here is some more commands and their meanings.

Romanization Word Meaning
Charyeot 차렷 Attention
Gyeong rye 경례 Bow
Baro 바로 Return
Shwieo 쉬어 At ease, relax
Kihap 기합 Yell
Junbi 준비 Ready
Sijak 시작 Begin, start
Gallyeo 갈려 Break (separate)
Gyesok 계속 Continue
Guman 그만 Finish (stop)
Dwiro dora 뒤로 돌아 Turn around (about turn)
Haesan 해산 Dismiss

Monday, April 20, 2009

Missed classes last week

Due to a family emergency and having to go out of state for a few days we didnt' get to go to class last week. I really missed it. 

I did notice that since I started taking classes, I have lost at least 10 pounds. I don't know exactly because the last scales I was on prior to taking class, didn't go past...  (gulp) 300  I weighed myself this past weekend and I am at 296 and falling.... I hope.

We'll keep track of that too.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Lesson Yoset - Good habits not bad!

It seems that the more I attend class the more I realize that I'm still not getting the basics right. Doing a simple front stance forward step. You go from a ready stance ( Jhoon Bee Ja Seh) to a front stance (Chun Kul Ja Seh), one leg out in front your knee bent so you can't see your toes, the back leg locked out, foot turned at about a 45 degree angle, then you come to a duck stance, by moving your back leg forward beside your front foot, keeping the knees bent and then stepping out to the front so you are in your front stance again, only with the other leg forward.

We have been doing this lots in each class. Tonight I asked Instructor Henderson if something I was doing was ok or if it was a bad habit... no sense forming bad habits.

Anyhow, when I was in the duck stance I was locking the knee of the leg that was going to be my back leg, so I wouldn't forget etc.

Well that has a tendency to make you move up and down as you do the forward step. Which is not whats supposed to happen, you are supposed to keep your head on a level plane while moving... so I averted (hopefully) a bad habit, and will be certain to do it right from now on.

I'll tell you when I watch Master Scota or the instructors do these moves it's like watching dancers, they are so graceful, I can only hope that someday I'll be close to as graceful! I know they have been doing this for years an I am only just finishing my third week, but I can dream can't I?

Ten Articles of Faith
  • Be loyal to ones country.
  • Be obedient to parents & elders.
  • Be loving between husband & wife.
  • Be cooperative between brothers.
  • Be respectful to elders.
  • Be faithful to your teacher.
  • Be faithful to your friends.
  • Distinguish the difference between good and evil.
  • Never retreat in battle.
  • In fighting, choose with sense & honor...always finish what you start.
Tenets of Tang Soo do
  • Integrity
  • Concentration
  • Perseverance
  • Respect & Obediance
  • Self control
  • Humility
  • Indominable Spirit

Jonathan Wagner
Cho Bo Ja

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Lesson Taset (5) - Got to watch a promotion Ceremony

Tonight we went to class, and Instructor Sculley took us through our stretches. I have decided that Since Instructor Henderson is a little older than me, I prefer his stretches to Instructor Sculley, as she is younger than I am and MUCH more flexible than I, her stretches hurt much worse! I suppose that means they are better for me, but... I have decided that I can do it no matter what.

After our stretches, we saluted the flag, the grand master, and Master Scota, as well as the instructors. (Found a good explanation of all of this here. )

Master Scota introduced us to the promotion ceremony. There were 7 10th gup students (white belt) that were being promoted to Yellow Belt. Something he said really caught my attention, "Approach each class with a white-belt mentality. Realizing that you have much to learn." That is a philosophy which helps us in life. If we approach every situation recognizing that we have much to learn then we will be much better off than if we approached it as thought we already know the answers.

There were Ilgot (7) promotions. two married couples and 3 individuals. I am still intrigued by the fact that students of all ages can be promoted to whatever level they can achieve. It's inspiring.

After the promotions Master Socta had us do some basic punches: a jab which I think is a Sang Dan Kyuk, performed from a front stance, Chun Gul Chase, with your hands up, the jab uses the front hand in a quick rotating punch, in and out.
We also did a reverse punch (?) I don't remember exactly what it's called, performed from the same stance as the jab, but with the back hand punching out, driven from the hip on the side where the punch comes from. We followed that punch with a Kap Kwan, or back hand punch, aimed at the temple area or to the side of the head.

After the punches we did some low blocks, HaDan Mahk Ki , working in either direction. I find that I have a slightly harder time remembering to setup for a block to the right side than to the left, I don't know why for sure, but I'm certain that this is normal as many things are easier for one side of the brain than the other.

Then we did something which I can see will really help with form, but really hurt too! Master Scota had us get on all fours, and then we practiced our kicking from a crawling position. Leg up, looking over the shoulder we were kicking to and then chambering the leg and kick, er kick, 10 times each, we did Yup Cha Ki (Side Kick) and then Tollyo Moo Roop Cha Ki ( Roundhouse Knee Kick) and then Dui Cha Ki (Back Kick), doing ten of each of these on each side about killed me. Master Scota had us stand up and do a set of front kicks ( Ahp Cha Ki ) while not putting the front leg down (Well I tried to not put it down, again it was easier on one side than the other).

By that time class was done, and it was time to go home. While I was tired I was not nearly as sore and worn out as previously... so it must be doing some good! :)

some useful terms:
0ne - Hana
Two - Tul
Three - Set
Four - Net
Five - Taset
Six - Yoset
Seven - Ilgot
Eight - Yodol
Nine - Ahop
Ten - Yol

Jonathan Wagner
Cho Bo Ja

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Just a short Blurb

This evening before I came to work I went on a walk with my wife. It's a little over a mile around our neighborhood, with flat stretches and up and down hills. The direction we walk there is a long flat and then a fairly steep hill. the kids call it tiger hill, because if you fall down it on your bike, you look like a tiger got you! Anyhow, walking up tiger hill is normally not too hard for me, but I am winded (more often than not) and my knees and or hips and lower back usually hurt once I finally reach the top.

Today when we walked I was only slightly winded and no pain in my knees ( by the time I got home one knee was bothering me but not too badly) If I am noticeably better off from only 4 Tang Soo Do lessons... how will I be after 40?

I'll keep you informed!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Class 4 - I wonder if they have a pre-beginner class?

Tonight the 2 older boys and I went to class. My wife stayed home with my youngest because he is still recovering from the stomach virus. Hopefully by Tuesday they will be able to attend.

Each class we have different ways of learning the same things with a slight variety. I think it has to do with the fact that various instructors help teach the classes. Tonight, Mr Henderson took the whole class through stretches.

These stretches while very beneficial, are some of the most painful parts of class. Mr. Henderson says it's not supposed to hurt just stretch. Easy to say, but that's ok.

I almost forgot, the first thing we do is jumping-jacks, I had forgotten how to do jumping-jacks, OK not really, I just don't do them, until now of course. When I do jumping-jacks now, I realize why I didn't do them for so long. I am very overweight, mostly in my stomach, so, as a result, when I jump and come down, my stomach is a half-beat behind me. I'm sure it's a very sad thing to watch... I'm glad I don't have to. Surprisingly, I can keep up with the jumping jacks. We normally do about 40-50. However, I think Mr Henderson had us do about 100 tonight. He was having conversations while we were trying to do jumping jacks! Then we did the stretches. I used to be able to touch my toes, but not at the present, (Some day!)

Once we finished the stretches Master Scota had us do some basic stances, kicks, blocks, punches. The basics.

Mr Henderson then took the beginners, my two older sons, myself, and a young boy about 9. Other than this other boy we are all gupless (Is that a word) He is 10th gup. A GUP is a belt in Tang Soo Do the basic belts start at 10 and go up to 1 then the Dan belts, etc.
So the 10th Gup is the white belt. Since we, my family, don't have and gups, I guess we are gupless!

Mr. Henderson had us go through basic stances:

  • Jhoon Bee Ja Seh - Ready Stance

  • Charyut - Attention

  • Hu Kul Ja Seh - Fighting Stance

  • Chun Kul Ja Seh - Front Stance

  • Kee Ma Ja Seh - Horse Riding Stance

We also did a block: Ha Dan Mahk Ki - Low Block

In some ways at the end of class, which seems to come faster and faster each time, I am not quite as sore as last time, and I don't hurt quite all over tonight. Maybe I can be a beginner. I think I can even learn how to kick.

I'll post more as classes progress.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

So you want to take Karate?

Several months ago, almost a year really, my oldest son, He will be 17 in September, told me he would really enjoy taking some form of martial art. I have no problem with that, in fact I thought It might be a good idea for me to join him. I can't let him learn how to kick my backside without at least knowing how to defend myself!

(Disclaimer: My boys all love me, and even though we have typical issues at times, I would never worry about any of them intentionally hurting me or my wife, or anyone for that matter.)

We started looking at various Martial Arts schools in the area, Greenville, SC. I dropped into a couple to get a feel for what they were like, talked to the instructors, etc. While there are many good schools in the area I didn't get that "Just-Right" feeling from any of them.

My Wife, used her unfathomable internet location ability and found several schools on the net one which she really liked.

I called Scota Karate Academy and spoke to Master Scota. I was very impressed. As with most schools they offer a couple of free classes, and then you can decide what you want to do.
I was particularly happy when Master Scota told me that he attends the Taylors First Baptist Church. I was happy, because while I appreciate a broad spectrum of ideology and philosophy, I am careful how I introduce my children to views which are alternative to my own. I like for them to be able to judge for themselves. As a result I don't want to put them, or myself, into the hands of a teacher who is goign to push those philosophys. Master Scota told me that he believes in the discipline and the way of Tang Soo Do but doens't teach the eastern philosohy. the other reason I was happy after I spoke to him, is that he told me we salute the Flag of the United States of America, I love many nations, but I only wnat to salute my allegiance to the United States.

We arranged to attend our first trial class on the following Tuesday. My children were stoked at the idea and I was cautiously optimistic.

We live, literally 1.7 miles from the academy.

this is where I was supposed to go:

View Larger Map

I didn't check the address and tried to remember what Master Scota had told me about where the academy is located. this is the route we took:

View Larger Map

As you can see, I really messed up. Fortunatly I had left plenty of time to get there. I finally sent Google a TXT Message: (Send txt to 466453) in the form of locate: Scota Karate, Less than 30 seconds later, I got reply with the address. I turned around and drove back. We walked through the door at 6:00pm the class doesn't start till 6:15.

OK Now I didn't realize this at the time I started but Scota Karate Academy Teaches Tang Soo Do I'll just link to the wikipedia article on that.

the history of Tang Soo Do is very cool. I particularly like this quote from the Scota Karate Academy webpage:

We, as World Tang Soo Do practitioners are striving to maintain traditional values of respect, discipline, self control, self improvement, etiquette and ultimately live a healthy and harmonious life, physically and mentally.
We attended the first class, met some great people, and as I attempted not to die right there on the spot I decided I can do this!

That was Lesson 1.

Wednesday, OUCH!!!! I think that says it all.

Thuresday, Talked my wife into coming with us. It will cost the same for five of us as it does for four. They have great family plans!

Friday - OOOOUUUUUUCCCCCCCHHHHHHHHHHH but maybe not so bad...

the next class was Yesterday, unfortunatly my youngest, almost 9, was sick with stomach virus (YUCK!) and my wife had to stay home with him... Class wasn't too bad, till I tried to do a roundhouse kick.. I hurt something where it's not supposed to hurt... Still hurts today... but I'm stretching in hopes that by Thuresday all will be good again!

I'll post after class on Thuresday to let you know how we are doing.

the purpose of this blog is to document my, and my families progress in Tang Soo Do, please comment and add your own thoughts or suggestions to this.