The beginning of the test

April Test

This past Friday we held a very important test. David Kiester tested for his Cho Dan Bo, and Felicity Patch tested for her green belt. Every test is important, and a huge part of the students’ journey in the Martial Arts, but this test was especially important for numerous reasons.

Felicity has been training with us for a couple of years now, and it’s been incredible to see her growth over time. Green belt is a true beginning in Martial Arts, a time when you realize how much you have learned, and how much you have yet to learn. It can be a difficult and frustrating rank, but we have no doubt that Felicity will continue to grow and become an amazing Martial Artist. It’s not just her technique that has impressed us, it’s also the way she’s helped with the younger students by showing up early for the Little Dragons class and taking a leadership role with them. We are very proud to have her as a student. She shows great perseverance, as you can see by her video below:

David Kiester has had an amazing amount of growth over the years. Cho Dan Bo is a remarkable milestone for anyone, but for him it holds a special importance. In his own words: “There was a time when I felt that physical limitations like bursitis, bad knees, old age and excessive girth would max out my potential at about red belt, so now that I’ve exceeded expectations it is onward to black belt.” Dave’s first instructor was also invited to attend, and we were grateful that he took the time to stop by and see how far Dave has progressed. We have no doubt that he will go above and beyond in his training over the next year as he works toward earning his black belt. He rarely misses a class, tries his hardest, works to thoroughly understand every technique and practical application, and shows leadership in helping teach classes. Check out his breaks:

We would also like to acknowledge how well Jeremy and Todd did at this test. They participated in order to prepare for their next test, and they both did extremely well. Jeremy had solid techniques and focus, and we’re excited to see him test for his stripe on his green belt. Todd has only been with us for a couple of weeks, and it can be a lot to jump in on a test but he did very well with all of the new techniques that he was being asked to try. We know that both of them will go a long way in the Martial Arts.

Check out some kicks from the test:

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2016 TAC Tour with Grandmaster J. John St. James

Colorado Tang Soo Do and Colorado Martial Arts Academy were fortunate to host an Atlantic Pacific Tang Soo Do Federation event on February 13th, 2016. 8th Dan Grandmaster, J. John St. James flew in from Georgia to teach our students “Real Deal Self-Defense” techniques and tactics. He started off with our Little Dragons group, and then moved on to the Beginner/Intermediate groups, and finished it off with the Advanced group. Everyone learned valuable self-defense strategies designed to help them in real life situations.

Many thanks to everyone who participated, and an extra thanks to Kwan Jang Nim St. James for teaching the event!

Tang Soo!

 

 

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Colorado TSD – Community Workshop

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On Saturday, April 25th, Colorado TSD – SE Aurora provided their first Community Focused – Project Based Leadership workshop at the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colorado Inc. office in Denver, Co.  

Leading the workshop was Mr. Jesse Bernal with the assistance of his students, Connor and Ella Bernal, Amanda and Ashton Smith and from Master Farquharson’s School, David Kiester and his lovely wife, Daisy, who did an excellent job as the event photographer!

The Team Big Organization (their own nickname) has an outstanding mission; easy for any Martial Arts School to support:

The mission of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colorado is to provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better, forever.

As members of the community, practitioners of Tang Soo Do work towards a similar goal – we strive to help others overcome adversity and become the most successful and happy version of themselves possible.  The best way to engage people and change lives is to get off the mats and into our community

Approximately 26 clients of the Big Brother Big Sister organization were in attendance for the event.  Numbers were split almost evenly between Big Brother and Big Sister pairs; with everyone participating in some basic Punching drills…

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Kicks…

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Rolls and Falls…

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and Self-Defense…

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Everyone enjoyed themselves and showed real Tang Soo Do Spirit!

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To see more photos from this event, check out the Colorado Tang Soo Do Facebook page here.

Tang Soo!

 

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Review of Whistlekick foot gear

Anyone who has used foot gear knows it’s not exactly comfortable.  The straps on the bottom interfere with grip on the floor, they bunch and pinch, not to mention (eventually) rip.  In my search for better fitting, more comfortable foot gear, I ran across Whistlekick.  Jeremy Lesniak was kind enough to supply me with a pair to try out and review.

At the Atlantic Pacific Tang Soo Do TAC tour in Lubbock, TX, I had the opportunity to put  these kicks through the paces during a Black Belt sparring session at West Texas Karate.

Whistlekick sparring boot in its natural habitat


First Impressions

Upon opening the box in which the gear had been shipped, I was greeted by a nice, black, mesh style, drawstring bag with the Whistlekick logo on it.  I felt like I was the recipient of something better than “normal” foot gear.  The bag is large enough to easily accommodate the foot gear and sanitary wipes if desired.  Even better, the breathable fabric means no additional effort required before storing your kicks!  If you decided not to use the bag for your foot gear, it’s large enough to hold other sundry martial arts items (hand wraps, mouth guard, water bottle etc.).  It’s a nice bonus piece of swag, no matter how you use it. 😉

This bag comes with all sparring gear ordered from Whistlekick. Nice Touch!


Performance 

My feedback on the gear was similar to three of the four other people I had in my sample group: Chad (3rd Dan, West Texas Karate, Lubbock, TX)Peter (3rd Dan, Tang Soo Do Ho Sin Sul – Abiline), Tom (2nd Dan, Thunderbird Martial Arts Academy of Albuquerque, NM ) and Alicia (2nd Dan, West Texas Karate – North, Lubbock, TX).

Getting used to no bottom straps holding the kicks in place required some mental adjustment; however, we all agreed, once the gear was “broken in” and less stiff, any feelings of an awkward fit would be forgotten.

**One note on fit: the feet seem to run a tad small.  Chad, Tom, Peter and I, had (USA) shoe sizes of 10 or 10.5, while Alicia wore a (USA) women size 10 (equivalent to USA men size 9).  Unanimously, the men agreed the kicks didn’t quite cover the toes enough, while Alicia felt the fit was perfect for her feet.

In terms of use, everyone agreed the gear was very comfortable, light and had excellent air flow.  Alicia actually commented:

“My feet usually sweat in my foot gear, but the ventilation on these kicks is great.  My feet didn’t sweat at all!”



Final Thoughts

The overall quality of the gear, in comparison to other industry leaders like Century stacks up well.  The price point for the kicks (39.99) is comparable to Century P2 Kicks, with better ventilation, comfort and decent protection (not to mention, more foot to floor ratio for increased traction).  These kicks will definitely make it into regular rotation for me and become recommended gear for my students.

If you’re interested in purchasing a pair of these kicks for yourself, click here to be taken to the Whistlekick store page.  Jeremy can also be found on Facebook, at his Whistlekick page.   I’m sure he will be as helpful to you as he was to me.

Jesse Bernal
Owner/Instructor
Colorado Tang Soo Do – SE Aurora

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TAC Tour in Lubbock, TX

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This past weekend, a small group of us were lucky enough to attend the APTSDF TAC Tour down in Lubbock, TX. This event featured clinics with KJN Washington and Master Reinhardt from Australia, who worked with us on practical applications of techniques. I won’t go into too much detail and ruin the excitement for anyone who has yet to experience this event, but it was amazing.
 
This was my second time visiting Lubbock, and while I once again had a cold, at least this time I was at the end of it and was able to actually have conversations. It was fun getting to know my colleagues in the Southwest region. Having previously been a part of the TSD Northeast region for about 23 years, it can be a little daunting to jump into a region of completely new faces, but everyone was welcoming and friendly and eager to learn. Next time, we’re going to try to get to Lubbock earlier so we have more time to spend with the other studios, and maybe even get a chance to explore the city a bit!
 
Once we arrived on Friday, my brother (Dave Farquharson) and I immediately jumped into the black belt test as pre-testers. It was a great workout, and I think it really helped us prepare to test later this year. Not only was it a testing experience, it was also a learning experience as the Grandmasters and Masters running the test made sure to take the time to talk with us and have us try new things. It was a great test, but it was also the event that made us think that we should try to get to Lubbock earlier so we don’t jump into a test after a very long drive and very little sleep.
 
On Saturday we had the clinics with KJN St. James, KJN Washington, and Master Reinhardt. Their wealth of knowledge in the martial arts was almost overwhelming, as I wanted to remember every single detail they said. I think between myself, Master Farquharson, Mr. Dave Farquharson, Mr. Jesse Bernal, and our gup level students, we can work together to retain our new knowledge. I only wish the clinic was several days longer, since there is so much we have left to learn. Hopefully KJN Washington and Master Reinhardt are able to visit again.
 
On Sunday, the Grandmasters and Master Reinhardt had to leave early to catch a flight. Master Farquharson and the rest of us were able to go to the West Texas studio to work with our colleagues on sparring techniques and forms. It would have been nice if we could have stayed later to keep working with them, but unfortunately we had a long drive back to Colorado.
 
My biggest takeaway from this event was the knowledge that there will always be more to learn, even with seemingly simple techniques such as a low block. The understanding is that we learn techniques differently depending on our skill levels as we move up through the ranks, adding on more meaning to each piece of a form, and building upon the basics. We should not be teaching our white belts every single practical application of a high block, since the knowledge is to be built upon as students move up in rank. Even master instructors are always learning new techniques and applications. Master Farquharson, for example, is always excited to work with other masters since each one teaches him something new every time they meet up.
 
It’s not about changing how we currently do everything now, but understanding a deeper layer of martial arts and where our techniques originated. The TAC tour was about sharing a wealth of knowledge about the historical impact of martial arts, the development of techniques, and the trust that KJN St. James and KJN Washington have with the new generation of martial artists to carry on the Tang Soo Do legacy.
 
 
Megan Farquharson – 1st Dan
 
 

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12 fortune cookie tips to being a Pro

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What’s the difference between a “Pro” and an “Amateur”?  In one word: Dedication

In more words – dedication to something bigger than themselves and to the virtues that make their pursuits inspire others to greater heights of success and happiness.

The second you think about the money, you stop being a pro.

– James Altucher

Greed and Money undermine purity of purpose. Respect, humility, passion, open mindedness and a plan are the building blocks of success.

And Tang Soo Do, that is a building block too!

Without further adieu, a brief list of 12 tips to being a “Pro”

  1. Ownership of the unnecessary – Objects, memories and dreams must have use. If they aren’t helping us grow, discard them.
  2. Polite over politics – Earning the animosity of another person to satisfy your ego is always a loosing proposition.
  3. No friends are better than fake ones – Friendship should be beneficially symbiotic; each of you should build upon the other.
  4. Feeling good is as important as looking good – The first must perpetuate the other. Inner beauty always comes through.
  5. Play by your own rules – Don’t let someone else set your ceiling for success. If you aren’t happy with your prospects, be brave enough to travel a different path.
  6. Enjoy the ride – Don’t just reflect on the good times. Some of the most difficult times in life will provide you with your best lessons.
  7. Build something daily – Be creative, make something! Do things that will improve life tomorrow, for yourself and others, because of what you did today.
  8. Pursue the right kind of “new” – New Friends and new experiences always provide the highest ROI.
  9. Manage expectations and engagement – Setting goals for interactions and outcomes isn’t just for the work place. If you make your desires known in every situation you enter, your chance of obtaining the results you want increase substantially!
  10. Win-win needs to be equal – It’s not win-win if one person is less happy than the other. Win-win takes sincerity, cooperation and work. The product is always worth it. Everyone wins!
  11. Honesty is efficient – It’s not always easy, but it requires less effort in the long run. Lies need to be tracked and nurtured to maintain belief. If discovered, the cost is trust and honor. Better to be known as someone who tells difficult truths, than someone who can’t be trusted.
  12. Invest effort in fact, not fiction – Don’t fall victim to Propaganda; personal or otherwise.  The lies we tell ourselves are always the most convincing. Perform due diligence, for internal and external questions. Seek answers of your own accord, then confirm them with a reliable source. Propaganda is fiction.

**Full disclosure: this post was inspired by James Altucher (his version can be found here).

 

 

Dave K

Student Profile – David Kiester (in his own words)

 

In my opinion, Colorado Tang Soo Do’s most enthusiastic student is its oldest, Me, age 63.

I started martial arts with my son and long after he dropped out I stayed with it. My experience at Colorado Tang Soo Do is the best, a great workout, a well stretched body, tangible skills improvement as I progress through the belts but at a pace I can absorb well and a great learning environment.

I am sometimes asked whether I am in the deep end of the pool still practicing a young man’s sport at my age. My response is; Colorado Tang Soo Do keeps me young and I look forward to sticking with it through age 70 and beyond.

David Kiester

Dave K

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Resolutions are for chumps!!

Every year, approximately 45% of adults in America make New Years Resolutions*.  Of that group, 8% are successful.  The odds are stacked in favor of the house (the “house” being your old habits or lack thereof).

There’s still hope!  Goals and Habits are the key.  People who make explicit resolutions are 10x more likely to be successful. When a resolution becomes explicit (no, we’re not talking about adult content – shame on you), it has terms and parameters. In fact, it takes on the form and shape of a GOAL!  If this “resolution” is something repeatable (like exercising daily – GASP!), it can grow up to become a habit (YES!).

I’d like to challenge those of you who were brave enough to make the commitment to a New Years Resolution.  Take it a step further.  Make that resolution explicit, refine it into a goal and a habit that can be maintained into the 46% of resolutions that make it to the 6 month mark and beyond.

 

 

 Health, Wealth & Happiness to all in 2015

 Want more info on creating good habits?  Check out this article: 5 Scientific ways to Build Habits That Stick

*Note: Statistics taken from www.statisticbrain.com

Rites of passage and Martial Responsibility

     I answered a post on G+ (here from April 6, 2014) which asked how a hobby like Martial Arts – where a person trains to defeat their opponents, can also result in promoting personal character, mental and spiritual discipline and good morals.

     As I see it, our lives are a series of “rites of passage”. It begins with minor things after birth like a baby holding up its own head. The first peals of laughter, even being able to roll over. As we age, the rites become more complex: Riding a bike, first kiss, first school dance – maybe your first fight.

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     By the time we are considered adults, we have completed many years of school, likely had a few romantic relationships, learned to drive and probably voted at least once. Every event added to the development of us: spiritually, mentally, morally. Hopefully for the better.

the-martial-arts-rites-of-passage,-dramas-of-persuasion-39     Being a Martial Artist is the same. A person is an infant when they begin, only to grow into adult hood and beyond as they continue to study and practice. The natural progression, in my opinion, of someone who is a “good” Martial Artist is as follows: Begin and learn. Attain proficiency and share. Be a good member of any community to which you belong. Foster the potential of yourself and the people who look to you for guidance.