Wednesday, April 22, 2020

A Martial Arts perspective on our Covid 19 situation.

A Martial Arts perspective on coping with the current challenging situation🥋🙂.

Sarting off with one of my favourite martial arts quotes which I think is fitting. I literally even have the T-Shirt:

"Be Water, My Friend. Empty your mind. Be formless, shapeless, like water. You put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle. You put it into a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend." Bruce Lee

There are so many aspects or directions I could go with how Taekwon-Do has helped to improve and help me in my everyday life. Martial Arts training being one of the more obvious activities to compare in a metaphorical way to the current situation the world finds itself in.

Much of what I say can of course also apply to other activities, all people are different and should find an activity that can engage them in a similar way. Taekwon-Do has helped me to improve other aspects of my life in order to perform my training better. This has a positive effect all round.

The first observation is the social and friendship aspect of training, we can appreciate this now more than ever before. Also, this situation highlights how everyone on the planet and especially in one’s own country is intrinsically connected. The South African word Ubuntu sums it up perfectly, meaning (I am because we are). This is one of the most important aspects of our Taekwon-Do training. I often mention this is the most important part of the sparring/ fighting aspect. We respectfully bow to each other before engaging in the combat aspect. This acknowledges and thanks your opponent or training partner. Without that person in front of you, you would not be able to improve or excel. Every champion should be mindful that every person training or competing with them, they would not be where they are without those people. All members of a club or organisation should feel pride for each other when one of them succeeds, because we are all connected. Similarly, in life and economies each and every person doing their job affects everyone, it has magnified now and we will hopefully acknowledge, have more empathy and appreciation for everyone, even competitors.

In martial arts as in life. No one remembers the easy gradings, matches or sessions. One actually learns more from the difficult, or even matches, you don’t win. This drives more improvement than an easy ride.
Don’t get me wrong, this virus is terrible and an absolute challenge to myself and all of us collectively. Add to that the many people who have lost loved ones because of the virus or indirectly because of the virus as well. As big a shock as it is, it could have been much worse. If the pandemic was even a bit more deadly or contagious than it is now, we would have really been in a predicament which may not have been able to be dealt with enough to heal from this crisis in our lifetime.

So, a huge Achilles heel has been discovered in our world. If we look at this as a training session, a pre-black belt grading or regional (smaller competition), where it really doesn’t go your way, even perhaps taking a knock which shocks or knocks the wind out of you. Martial Arts teaches you to get back on the horse, learn from your weakness or gap in your defence and prepare to defend for a bigger challenge or even a real life self defence situation. Your response time with defence and counter-attack will no doubt improve with extra practice and the extra motivation to not have the same thing happen. When one starts, we don’t throw people into the deep end in terms of contact sparring or more advanced self defence training because a resistance and conditioning needs to be built up over time. Sometimes an accident happens, and the blow may feel like too much to handle, but with the correct mindset and guidance it is seen for what it is. Preparation!

We, as the human race will be much more prepared for the inevitable next and possibly worse pandemic. Whether from government detection, speed of response, budget allocation to pandemic research and us normal everyday people having a new perspective on how to conduct our lives, etc.

Taekwon-Do itself was in fact born out of hardship as the Founder of Takewon-Do’s Son GM Choi Jung Hwa and President of our organisation pointed out in a message recently.

Whenever a student progresses to the next belt, it can often feel overwhelming when looking at the new pattern or syllabus in the beginning. It can feel like standing at the bottom of a mountain, looking up and thinking how on earth am I going to climb it. I myself have reached Sixth Dan and am on the final pattern or syllabus of Taekwon-Do. I would be lying if I told you I didn’t feel that way for a short while, each time I graded. Then I remember, I always feel that way and always have managed to look straight ahead and take one step at a time. These last few years have been the hardest for me, due to many injuries (not necessarily all Taekwon-Do related, more due to age and hereditary back issue as well as an Achilles issue and currently an injured rib). I have taken each issue and applied the same logic to it and taken step by step to correct the issues which has allowed for great improvement in my injuries even though at times I thought there may be no hope, especially with my back. So, the preparation for this next grading will be my most memorable because of the obstacles I have to overcome including the largest of requirements in terms of syllabus work and the pressure of it being a Master grade in ITF Taekwon-Do which would be a significant milestone for me.

This situation is somewhat similar to my current situation in my martial arts path. Two of the five tenets of Taekwon-Do repeated every class is ‘Perseverance’ and ‘Indomitable Spirit’, which is very suited to this situation.

In fact, all the tenets are suited perfectly for this situation. They are: Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self-Control and Indomitable Spirit. I believe that when members recite these at the end of every lesson from now on it will have even more of clearer meaning to everyone.

One of the biggest reasons that I receive when people start martial arts, with the obvious fitness, self defence aspects is Discipline. Often the word discipline conjures up a strict teacher waiting to punish you, lol. Discipline is much more than that and not the meaning that I am referring too. As my Brother Denis Magua a fellow 6th Dan and instructor in Canada emphasised the other day during a session. Discipline is what carries you through when motivation fades.

I know after training for so many years, motivation is fleeting, with peaks and valley’s, without the framework of discipline great things cannot be achieved! So, the title should actually be motivation and discipline from a Martial Arts Perspective. Martial Arts requires the habit of discipline to be built up, without it, achievement would not be possible.
Even in this lockdown period, small acts of discipline in everyday life are so important. Doing your best to maintain routines even if slightly adjusted. These small forms of discipline, such as making the bed, shaving or brushing your hair, doing some exercise or working/ researching some things you wouldn’t normally have time to focus on. The discipline of obeying your governments guidelines during this time is also paramount.

If you are working during this time, consider yourself lucky even though you may be working harder than normal including all the other responsibilities such as housework and schooling for your kids if you have. We of course all appreciate your efforts in helping keep things functioning, and also especially if putting yourself more in harms way than those quarantined.

Martial Art by nature is preparation for bad situations. It teaches you to always have back up plans and combinations, knowing that often the first strike isn’t enough, the second or third is often the one set up to do the job. I have always learnt there is a defence for every attack, we are in survival mode now, our counter attack or rematch will come if you can be calm. If in a panicked state, the answer or opportunity to counter-attack won’t be easily available or show itself. Staying calm in Martial Arts as in life is so important as hard as it may be, knowing the fact that there is an answer available with patience and positivity, as well.

The founder of Taekwon-Do General Choi Hong Hi said Pain is the best instructor but no one wants to go to its class. Well my friends we are in that class now and we must choose if we benefit from it for the future👊🥋

There are many more things I could say and perhaps others will add too. I hope this helps in any small way.

Wishing you all health, safety and positivity.

Taekwon and all the best,
Norman Magua

Friday, January 24, 2020

Why ITF Taekwon-Do? (As taught in MTG Taekwon-Do Club)

I thought I would write a little about why I chose this particular style. Most believe a martial art is a martial art is a martial art.

I have trained in different styles formally and informally and have a big interest and love for Martial Arts and combat sports in general. This has also led to my quest for knowledge on many styles. Which, comprises of too many books, magazines, training and hours researching to go into now.

My interest is primarily on each styles strengths and similarities and how could aspects of training benefit my and my clubs training. This love is also evident in my self defence system/syllabus MTG Hosin Sul which is part of the training within ITF Taekwon-Do.

While each style of martial arts has their advantages and I respect many legitimate styles. It is actually quite difficult to find martial arts that aren't actually only combat sports, basic self defence techniques packaged out of context as a style or art forms only. 

With the combat sports many can lack the art or moral culture emphasised in martial arts as well as much of the real life defence training. 

With the purely self defence styles/systems, they can miss many of the positive aspects associated with why many begin martial arts such as the discipline, focus and even competitive aspects. 

With the ancient arts, they can lack the most, effective even safe on ones own body and joints, way of performing techniques due to being overly traditional and inflexible in adopting modern methods and many have lost the effectiveness aspect over time for arts sake.

I find our style a more modern blend of all aspects of martial arts. I can only speak further for our style ITF Taekwon-Do (Original Taekwon-Do style) and our MTG club  and in particular ITF under GM Choi Jung Hwa (Son of the father & founder of all Taekwon-Do) and not the myriad of other Taekwondo styles that have emerged since then.

ITF Taekwon-Do was originally born out of the military and evolved with General Choi Hong Hi at the helm. Taekwon-Do is the most modern of the Traditional Martial Arts.

ITF Taekwon-Do as a martial art/combat style is very well rounded which is a a great advantage and actually not that common. When I say it is well rounded it encompasses: Sparring (competition & traditional), Patterns (traditional techniques in a sequence), technical floor exercises,  Breaking (power, height & distance), Hosin Sul (Self defence against grabs, common attacks & weapons including situational awareness), Fitness, functional strength, flexibility and moral culture.

With the aim of incorporating these aspects seamlessly into each other through the training. Striving to forge a more complete martial artist. Each aspect strengthening and adding to the other aspects.

Therefor with our MTG training of  ITF Taekwon-Do it is a traditional Martial Art, reality based system as well as a combat sport. It is firstly a Martial art with a combat sport aspect as part of the system.

Taekwon-Do as a whole is also the most modern of the traditional martial arts. As in further discussions on the blog there have been break away's and photo copies.

Taekwon-Do grew out of the need to re-invigorate Korean Martial arts after the second Word War. Basically it is an amalgamation of ancient Korean styles such as Taekyon, Japanese Karate/ Japanese arts , influences from ancient Chinese arts,  hapkido type joint manipulation as well as aspects many of western boxing in the sport aspect. All this originally for the intent of military use, which is where it matured and formed.

So basically to make it easier to understand our club training includes training which is associated or similar in nature with :Kickboxing (Sparring), Kata -Karate, Kung Fu forms (ITF Patterns), self defence similar to Krav Maga/ Hapkido (MTG Hosin Sul) with a moral code and typically military structure .

The techniques of ITF Tekwon-Do are effective because it uses the flow and speed of typically Chinese Kung Fu arts with the snap and hard aspects of Karate. Utilizing the flow and speed to end with the hardness. This aims to create extra power by using the basic scientific formula: mass x velocity = force. Many aspects known as the secrets of Taekwon-Do (Bio-mechanical principles) are applied to the techniques. This is in order enhance scientific and ancient principles for generating more power out of ones body, all while aiming to protect the joints more.

In other words true ITF Taekwon-Do techniques have evolved from a long line of martial arts techniques with a modern scientific approach utilising bio-mechanics to aim to maximise each technique. Make no mistake, it does take a bit more work get this right and it is technical in that aspect of training but it is worth it in the end. The Sine Wave concept also unique to our style is also part of this which aims to also make use gravity to assist in generating more power.

Many people think that Taekwon-Do is only for the youthful because some of its more athletic attributes. This is untrue, those attributes get allot of attention and people often only associate that with Taekwon-Do. The fact is, one trains to their ability. The high kicks get the attention but in actual fact within the traditional aspect are relatively rare. Most kicks are mid or even low and the high kicks are not compulsory but dependent on ones bodies capabilities and focus on each individuals strengths. Taekwon-Do caters for every age, young and old!

Taekwon-Do is definately and exciting art to take part in. It challenges all the time and there are always new goals to strive for. This all being done with a belt structure which is a great goal oriented approach for training.

It is a great way to keep in shape and also spills over to the rest of ones life. Making lifestyle adjustments in order to improve your Taekwon-Do training is common place.

The style we teach, ITF Taekwon-Do with our MTG Hosin Sul urban defence aspect is very well rounded for self defence, fitness, flexibility, traditional moral culture, sport aspect and functional, scientifically oriented  technique. The ancient techniques have been modernised or adjusted and concepts mixed in many cases if necessary to maximise the potential of the techniques.  A well trained, up to date ITF Taekwon-Do instructor should be able to prove why many techniques are done in a particular way in most cases for the sake of effectiveness, not simply only for arts sake . If they cant, they should be humble enough to admit and find out.

Please don't mistake this article for an overall view of the TKD /martial arts world even in ITF, many have slipped into the overly sport oriented aspects or the moral culture aspects not being in the forefront. As a club MTG we strive to the best of our ability to endeavor to keep the true meaning of martial arts alive in all aspects of this amazing Martial Art.

One of the main reasons is it is a great vehicle to help people achieve improvement in themselves. The training allows one to get to know ones self and grow in the many broad aspects of the art. It helps build confidence in people lacking and build humility in those lacking. In our clubs we strive to find that important balance with our students.

We aim to develop well rounded, balanced individuals. If only interested in fighting and if that mentality was the only part of the training we offered, the balance and aggression levels of an individual could be compromised. I like to think our training allows for a highly effective self defence art when needed but also useful and proactive members of real life who make a positive contribution to the world.

In conclusion. If one is looking for the benefits of traditional martial arts with a modern approach and effective reality based self defence. Being true to the original purpose of martial arts with sound scientific and bio-mechanic principles backing it up.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Choosing a Martial arts club

I understand how difficult it must be to decide on a club or style for yourself or a child. There are so many out there, all proclaiming to be the best.

The first thing that is important to understand is that all martial arts clubs or organisations and even styles are certainly not equal. Even, with different styles within or under the banner of a particular system can differ greatly in quality and authenticity.

In the world today many styles even of the same name have popped up to ride on the coat tails of the original or authentic versions. Unfortunately, back in the day trademarking names was not wide spread, so unfortunately it is common for big name styles to have many photo copies each getting further and further from the source and the core of what that art is.

This is highly prevalent in all styles but very much so with Taekwon-Do becuase of its popularity. Many have moved further from the source that the self defence aspects and pure scientific techniques have become un-recognisable.

This can also be seen throughout the martial arts and combat sports world. In Taekwon-Do it is especially damaging as it is  highly technical, purely for the purpose of making each technique as powerful and effective as possible with current knowledge and safer on ones own body and joints. The tiniest details are where it counts. The tiniest details are what tends to get lost. The moral culture of the art is also vitally important and this aspect being watered down is also a significant loss.

One should see the heritage of the club/instructor. How close to the original source it is. We pride ourselves on being directly connected and mentored by the Vice president of ITF under GM President Choi Jung Hwa the son of the original founder of Taekwon-Do.

A club should also have a focus on real world self defence as was originally the purpose of all martial arts. The self defence aspects are lost more and more in martial arts nowadays. This is another aspect to see about when beginning.

Please also be aware of clubs marketing and boasting about many, many world champions etc. This would only be the case most of the time in much smaller usually less authentic organisations with open championships, that technically wouldn't constitute world champions. As I said not all organisations are equal. In the most authentic organisations it is a huge accomplishment to get through  few rounds or reach the medal rounds in the competition aspect.The only reason I point this out is to emphasise the varying levels of quality and what constitutes a world title holder.

Another aspect to look out for is use of the word Master. Many styles vary at which level a person can be called master. In ITF Teakwon-Do it is at 7th Degree/Dan.

Please also make sure the instructor/club is correctly certified and registered to the correct authorities internationally and in SA, also in possession of a valid 1st aid certificate and the soon to be compulsory NQF3 coaching certificate for SA.

It does also help if the club has a long track record of running in as many fly by nights pop up all the time with big promises and specials which often in the long run are unsustainable.

In conclusion I would suggest after doing a bit of research, trying out the classes you are interested in. Martial arts are broad and it is impossible to see all they have to offer in two classes, but you can also get an idea of the teaching quality and culture of the club.

I hope this helps you get started on your martial arts journey.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Helping competition be positive for your martial arts training.

Competition within martial arts can be a very good and positive aspect to the training. Remembering that it is a Martial Art with a sporting aspect and not the other way round. The martial code or Tenets should also be practiced in the sporting aspect.

If competition is to truly benefit the training the first pit fall to avoid is comparing yourself to others. By all means look to others to inspire you to improve. It is all about improving on your previous self as opposed to bettering others.

Using a task oriented approach instead of an ego oriented approach is more beneficial. Having said that the ego or confidence is still very important if under control, as it fuel's one to do better. The problem comes in when some get totally disheartened or give up due to not "winning" against another.

Entering is never losing! Looking at the many aspects in your particular category entered, there are many victories and losses in one match. You should pat yourself on the back if you improved on a certain aspect from the last time because have been working on it or tell your self to focus on a particular weakness you may have come across during the match. This task or climbing the ladder approach yields fruit over time, as I have seen time and time again. Seeing someones perseverance pay off is extremely rewarding to the individual and to me as an instructor.

Perhaps someone has a mental block against a certain category or entering in general. Just getting over the hurdle and doing it is a win in itself. You see there are many victories to be had !

Also if only comparing ones skill to others is totally unrealistic. As there are so many factors involved. Imagine the person you always go up against happened to be Bruce Lee or alike. Not winning and improving time on time would not be a loss. Infact the tougher the opponent the better one gets. Sharp blades sharpen each other.

The many lessons learned through competition can help forge positive characteristics for everyday life. The highs, the disappointments and how you react all reflect to many aspects of ones life. They could range from gaining tenacity, courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self control, indomitable spirit or endeavoring to remain humble. Each persons journey will dictate the lessons to be learnt from competing.

I mentioned some pitfalls in my previous red flags article which should be avoided in order to make competition more valuable for the martial artist.

Also remembering the martial arts and ITF Taekwon-Do in particular is one of the hardest disciplines to judge in competition. Some descisions can be very disappointing to a competitor, coach or parent. I have been on all of those sides of the coin. Until technology can fully catch up with the needs and even then Patterns for instance can be very much up to individual taste and the many organisations and even clubs emphasis.

Until then we rely on humans and sometimes even though doing ones best to have fair decisions it can slip. One has to make it extremely obvious and be many points ahead to try to guarantee a decision.  It is better to take what one has improved on as the main motivation at the end of the day. As difficult as it can be sometimes.

All of that was not even mentioning the many health, fitness, skill, camaraderie and general improvement gained from the training for a competition, which is actually the biggest reason to compete in the first place.

Competing is exciting & winning is exhilarating, but the true prize will always be the self-knowledge and understanding that you gained along the way.” Sebastian Coe

Red Flag warnings to look out for when joining a club or instructor.

Staying with the theme of knowing you are in the correct martial art for your self and acknowledging all of the difficulties of what to look out for in order to make the martial arts training a long term positive aspect of ones life.

There are some red flags to look out for after witnessing some negative aspects through my years involved in the scene.

Sadly as in most aspects of life martial arts aren't immune to sub-par or downright fake or copied to the point of losing its essence.

One needs to look at the heritage of the instructor, club and overall organisation. There are many big world wide organisations that are not authentic. Taekwon-Do being the largest martial art group in earth is also very prone to that with many organisations under the name Taekwondo.

Quite often there are tell tale signs and sometimes very subtle. The further one gets away from the source,  effectiveness of technique will suffer even though to the lay mans eye it may be hard to tell. Often the uniforms of traditional martial arts become more and more colourful, filled with badges and starts to look a bit like a Christmas tree.

Marketing similar to fast food outlets or cheesy pictures of the instructor in over posed often very low stance positions or with a katana sword (unless an actual style that uses swords like Kendo or Hedong Kumdo) all  aiming to get massive numbers including offering to 2 or 3 year olds etc. There is a term in the martial arts industry, McDojo. If it looks like one and feels like one it probably is one. If there are 6 etc year old jnr black belts, run.

Many styles claim they are the holy grail when it comes to effectiveness in self defence. If one can't acknowledge the advantages in other genuine styles they lack knowledge, are miss guided or arrogant.

The reality is it depends on how each style is taught and the mindset behind it. This is also why it is important to find genuine article styles and clubs because taking self defence advice form sub par sources can be dangerous. Pleas dont just only look at the style name, as most all styles have many separate organisations, each differing in authenticity and linkage to the original style or founder.

Many fighting classes or combat sports can also be opened up by anyone. In Authentic styles a person would have to have years of training, a black belt in most cases unless very specific circumstances. Learning from just anyone who says they can fight is often a dangerous decision, instruction requires far more than that.

By the way, if real world self defence is a big motivation for you and you are taught to take the fight down to a grapple on the ground on purpose right away, it is not the place to be. (One needs to know what to do if there but only if necessary, there are too many dangers to tying yourself up on the ground when one should be aiming to firstly avoid if possible or inflict damage very quickly and get out of there extremely quickly. If wanting to do it with sport as your main concern and knowing the difference, that is a different story and it can have many benefits.)

Poaching of students

For any looking for a martial art or for some within a club who get approached by others, some red flags should be looked out for: One of the largest red flags is a clubs members being contacted (poached) either by a similar or same style club “instructor or owner” (often less authentic organisations).  Or another fighting style, often being one such as explained in my earlier article as only focusing on the fighting aspects. Lately, some clubs are being started by non martial artists, but "business" men.

Though “poaching” might happen in the business world perhaps. It is definately a red flag for True Martial artists. There is an unsaid code! I have never approached anyone from another club to poach them (even when in the early days our club and organisation had large attempts to stop us) . Firstly, I am not that desperate to lower my standards and secondly I consider myself a martial artist, following the moral code of especially integrity (also mentioned in the earlier article). Having said that, I have been around a long time and my compatriots from most other organisations  respect that I would not do that to them and in turn wouldn’t do it to me or even in times have stopped any rogue rookie newcomers in their tracks.

Generally many promises get made by these fly by nights , normally unrealistic to maintain a steady club in the long run. Very, very few new martial arts clubs go the distance. Again, I emphasise, a martial arts instructor, like it or not will have a big influence over a practitioners life and even more so on your children. Is a person who is willing to go so low as to break a warrior code, and possibly having practiced less than savoury practices on other occasions, be the person you would want to train under or have your kids train under?

Even though rare in happening to my clubs, I take it as a positive. It allows me an insight into peoples loyalty, integrity and actual goals for themselves or children.

I also never say blind loyalty, if there are very good reasons to leave a club or instructor such as the instructors moral compass going in the wrong direction, if after following the correct avenues in the the club and organisation don't work out. I also know that not all puzzles pieces fit and one of the reasons we have become successful time tested clubs is that we have parted ways with some in order to keep our clubs main goals central.

Winning at all costs

Of the many red flags to look out for, many show up in the sporting aspect. Remembering that our training must be balanced and primarily build characteristics through the training that are positive which influence our everyday lives.

Sadly, there are many instructors/coaches out there who's focus on winning in competition can cloud moral judgement and therefor damage what martial arts is supposed to instill. I could write a book on the many different ways I have seen to cheat, go into very grey areas or influence a persons aggression in an unhealthy way.

Without going into too much detail, some that upset me is when illegal techniques are done by "accident" and taking into account sacrificing a warning etc. This would normally be done to try break the opponents spirit etc and hence give an advantage. Also annoying is when one pretends to have a glove etc come loose or fall or the worst of all run out of the ring near the end if ahead (Not even talking about skillful dodging, but turning and running) in order to avoid having a point scored. If an instructor encourages favour for club members in competition judging or umpiring even by shunning a person for not voting in the way of a fellow member, this is a huge lack if integrity.

Gladly, these are rare but can happen. If instructors are encouraging less than clean ways to win a match, this can clearly lead to people taking that sort of behavior into the real world which could be a gateway to leading to more serious crimes etc.

We do teach the nastiest techniques in our Hosin Sul and self defence oriented part of the training for use only in the direst self defence situations, but within competition the rules must be obeyed to the letter.

I often say. Even if you become a world champion. You could still have lost. As is it worth "winning" if not done with integrity or if one becomes arrogant thereafter?

Monday, March 20, 2017

What makes a true Martial Art ?

Having been around martial arts, training and teaching for much of my life, I have seen a lot. I also know how confusing and misleading the martial arts scene may be to someone looking to get themselves or children involved in all of the positive aspects of martial arts.

The word Martial Arts conjures up many images in one’s mind.  Some examples are martial arts movies , their stars like Bruce Lee and alike. Martial arts popularity definitely was boosted a lot by the rise in the way martial arts movies exploded onto the scene especially in the Seventies.

Hopefully, many see martial arts as a way to hone one’s mind and body with discipline and a moral code, although sadly, that image has seen some misconception or confusion with the rise of “martial art” entertainment or combat sports, which image generally is the opposite of humbleness, balance & projecting a moral code to the public in general. There are of course exceptions to the rule, this is a general observation, which I would not think twice about except for the fact the the use of the word Martial Arts is used. Using the word Combat Sport, Cage Fighting etc is perfectly acceptable because it explains what it is.

I have no problem with it necessarily and many have great match fighting skills,   except that it gets confused with martial arts sometimes due to the name, causing confusion with what a traditional martial art wants to display to the public.

The many styles that focus only this type of sport or the sport aspect mainly, unknowingly take themselves further and further away from what a true Martial Art is. As said before, if it is called or classified as something else other than martial arts, I have no issue and have even been part of  an enjyed that coaching aspect in preparation training for people that love that route and keep their martial arts routs prevalent in that world. As long as it is understood that is a combat sport and that the moral culture of traditional Martial Arts should also be prevalent in their conduct in that sport.

We have always tried to stay as true as possible to the martial arts code in our clubs. We practice ITF Taekwon-Do under the Original founders Son, showing loyalty and the importance of being closest to the original source. I have remained in our art so long not because of pure blind faith or habit, but the fact that it meets my requirements. What are my requirements? Not only for me but my children as well.

It is an all round martial art if taught correctly. It is brutally effective in pure self-defence, with people of appropriate age learning simple effective techniques to undo pretty much all holds and scenarios (this of course takes tons of training and hard work, including being put under pressure in order to utilize it if necessary instead of freezing  and is by no means magical).

It has a centering, balancing and focusing effect with many aspects including Patterns.

It has a great and challenging fitness aspect to it. It challenges one to have a body that can withstand a lot more pain, be flexible, strong , healthy and harder bones. (Again all from years of blood sweat and yes tears.)

It has a great sporting aspect for those keen on being competitors. I find it the most exiting to watch and in my opinion puts most combat sports to shame in terms of blinding speed and combos as well as the breaking, specials and patterns categories being fantastic. As an instructor this allows me to also enjoy a coaching role.

It is also important to note that a martial art cant only be judged on that styles competition sparring aspect. The traditionl aspect is actually where most of the self defence and power generation is prevalent. The Sports side to any style is toned down for safety reasons. Often different styles can compete with each other in common combat sports rules. While some are more suited to certain rules and excel often, it cannot be seen a test of style vs style, especially since the majority of techniques in authentic Traditional Mrtial arts are barred from the combat sport aspect. The common mistake is to think a style is superior only based on the sport side. I generally look at the quality an understanding of the traditional, self defence and moral culture side as well to guage the quality of a style. Sadly this is where it is easier to overlook or not know what to look for.

The moral code. General Choi Hong Hi, the founder of Taekwon-Do was sure to include many moral teachings in his art. We all recite the Tenants at the end of class: Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self Control & Indomitable Spirit. These all being very positive objectives to try to strengthen through our challenging physical training. Sadly, many might say them but not take them seriously or even care.

Many, dare I say most fighting styles have only a focus on the fighting side of the style. Many also not having patterns or balancing aspects to the training. I am personally not a huge fan of that. Why? Because the person runs the risk of becoming unbalanced, overly aggressive and basically project a bully or unsavory demeanor . A club should endeavor to forge powerful  warriors who are positive ambassadors in society  who can use the many, many life lessons gained through their training to enhance their life in a positive way.

"I know a pattern"

I always find it amusing when a student says they know a pattern or technique. This is very common, especially when requesting to grade or young members get bored with a pattern because they "know it". It is understandable as to why this is so common, mistaking knowing the sequence of steps for knowing the pattern. The truth is, to know something is to have reached perfection. It is impossible to reach perfection! It is therefore impossible to ever fully know a technique.
What should be strived for is to get as close to perfect as possible. That is our aim, with this mountain that has no peak.
This can also be said especially when one reaches black belt first Degree. Many see this as the end goal, while it is actually only the beginning of ones training after passing through the basics.
Also some believe that once they believe they can beat another person, they now know Tkd and need not continue anymore. Well, that is a whole other story, with a person not understanding that the training is about self improvement as discussed before.
Lets try to persue perfection in every technique and aspect of training and not rush through to only know the sequence without a deeper understanding of the mechanics of each technique.