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Grandmasters Seminar

Several of our students recently had the privilege of being invited to a Grandmasters seminar featuring our own Grandmaster Rankin along with Grandmaster Chris Natzke, United State National Taekwondo Champion who trained under Superfoot Wallace, and Grandmaster David Sgro, a Team USA Olympic Taekwondo coach who was tutored by the second and third black belt holders in the Moo Duk Kwan.

With this degree of provenance, it should come as no surprise that we’ll be processing what we learned for many months to come. The three basic areas we covered, in order, were:

  • Some incredible sparring techniques, known as the Superfoot System, which concentrate on footwork and extremely fast kicks without telegraphing your moves to your opponent.
  • Powerful but delicate joint manipulations as taught in Hapkido, which are designed to inflict maximum damage with a minimum amount of movement and effort.
  • Applications (Bunkai) of our forms as passed down directly from the originators of our martial art system.

While much of what we learned could only be explained by demonstrating and practicing in the Dojang, there were a couple of overall takeaways that are worth discussing…

The first is to never stop. Even if you’re injured, keep training as well as you can. Think about Superfoot Wallace. Even in a full leg cast and destroyed knee, he trained the other leg to kick and became a world champion despite his life-long handicap. Once you stop, you deteriorate, so keep going no matter what.

The second is that our forms are misunderstood by most, because nearly everyone takes the movements too literally. The term “Martial Arts” consists of two seemingly contradictory words. Martial means combative, while Arts means Art! Our forms represent the “Art” side of Martial Arts, and are intentionally embellished for symmetry, grace, and beauty. Because of this, not everything is what it seems. For instance, most people learn the opening block of Pyong E Dan as a two-armed block. In reality, only one arm is blocking while the other is executing a pressure-point strike to the neck followed by an elbow to the windpipe. The actual movement, when performed, is too graphic (combative) for a form, so the resulting double-block is a visual embellishment that still trains your body and mind to the movement. This same principle is also easily noticed in our 4-way blocks, where we are blocking 4 different opponents in different directions without striking them at all. Of course that isn’t the intent of the form. In some forms, the rapid blocks are an artistic approach to a takedown, which is a move that doesn’t look that great being performed solo, but requires the same turning motion.

Lastly, the seminar took a more somber tone, reminding us to never forget how good we have it and how truly rich we are. The seminar and tournament were held as a fundraiser to help furnish school supplies to children in the Philippines and Guatemala.

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