Mi Guk Kwan News: January 2022
In this edition:
Mark Your Calendars! Upcoming Mi Guk Kwan Events
June 22 - June 26, 2022 - 25th / 26th Annual Kodanja Shimsa / Clinic
What is the Significance of Earning a Dan?
By Kwan Jhang Nim Charles Ferraro (firstname.lastname@example.org)
In Tang Soo Do Mi Guk Kwan we place a strong emphasis on our practitioners earning their Dan. To those who do not train in martial arts they are probably more familiar with the term “black belt” instead of “Dan”. While from a purely verbally descriptive perspective these terms are interchangeable from a philosophical perspective Tang Soo Do practitioners understand that there is a vast difference between the terms.
To begin with the color of the Tang Soo Do Mi Guk Kwan Dan belt is midnight blue as opposed to the black color that commonly is associated with a “blackbelt” of many other styles. The midnight blue color is the same color of the evening sky. As one gazes into the cosmos above one can see its deepness, its infinity and its color of rich midnight blue. From a philosophical perspective it can be said that the study of martial arts, the knowledge that one seeks, its potential is as infinite as the cosmos.
Once a Tang Soo Do Mi Guk Kwan practitioner reaches the first level of the Dan ranking system they enter into a pool of the many thousands of practitioners who have achieved the same level before them. Members who achieve their Dan ranking are known as You Dan Ja. The quality and expectations of practitioners who pass to the dan level has remained relatively consistent over the decades. Tang Soo Do Mi Guk Kwan is approaching its 27th year while the art form itself is in its 74th year.
Just what is the significance of reaching such a milestone? What are the expectations of Tang Soo Do Mi Guk Kwan Dans?
Basic Character - The life purpose of a Dan is to live a life of service to others. The goal of any Dan is to leave more than they take. In this way it is guaranteed that the next generation of Dans will evolve to an even higher level of understanding. Some people study the martial arts to harm others or to better others. One must always remember that man’s highest calling is in bettering himself not in bettering others. Finally, the last word in Tang Soo Do (“Do”) means “the way”. Choosing Tang Soo Do as your way is a solemn oath.
Achievement - Someone who through perseverance achieves their dan is an extraordinary and exemplary martial artist. Their dedication to consistent training has allowed them to integrate their mind, their body and their spirit so that they can live life in balance with nature and the people they come into contact with. They are the living, breathing examples of Tang Soo Do Mi Guk Kwan.
Loyalty - Because of the years of working closely with their instructor and attending numerous Association events a dan is completely loyal and motivated by the pride and honor of their art to help their studio, their instructor, their Grandmaster and their Association.
Public Service - A Dan volunteers to help those who are in need. Dans should be available to assist in all Tang Soo Do Mi Guk Kwan activities. Dans should draw upon the training and knowledge to assist in improving human welfare in their communities and to endeavor to provide public service where needed.
Truth and Conviction - A Dan is a person who must be able to clearly discern between truth and falsehood, between right and wrong, between justice and injustice. A Dan must be a person of conviction who is not afraid to stand with the truth no matter how difficult that choice may be.
Professional - A Dan is always a professional even when martial arts isn’t their profession. A Dan may be called upon to teach in his/her instructor’s dojang. At all times a Dan should hold themselves professionally. They must strive for perfection of techniques, their ability to communicate professionally to others how and why a technique is performed the way it is. Lastly, a Dan should always through professional action enhance the prestige of the Tang Soo Do art form.
Leadership - A Dan is a leader in Tang Soo Do Mi Guk Kwan and in all social events in and out of the dojang. This means a Dan should lead a respectful life according to the eight key concepts, the seven R’s and the twelve tenets of Tang Soo Do Mi Guk Kwan training.
Fellowship - A Dan is a person who shares an intimate bond of fraternity and sacrifice with his/her fellow Dans. Disagreements are always done privately and respectfully in order to preserve the dignity of all Yu Dan Ja members.
Heritage - A Dan is responsible for the continuation of Tang Soo Do. They should be proud enough in what they have learned and how they have grown to want to bring others to the dojang so that they too may grow and learn. Recruiting new students is essential to transferring our Art to the next generation. Teaching them properly guarantees the quality remains constant.
Application - A Dan is a person who is capable of applying skills and knowledge from their Tang Soo Do Mi Guk Kwan training to their everyday life. Additionally, a Dan is a person who can apply those same skills and knowledge in helping others improve their lives. The ultimate goal of a Dan is to improve the quality of life, mentally, physically and spiritually.
I Can’t Make You Compete, But If I Could, I Would
By SBN Brett Riley (email@example.com)
Competition makes you better, period.
The purpose of Tang Soo Do training is to experience personal improvement by harmonizing the mind, body, and emotions through rigorous and disciplined training. So, if personal improvement is the goal, then why not use one of the best tools available to achieve it? Tournament participation is a tremendous tool that will increase the Tang Soo Do practitioner’s ability to perform well under pressure, to be courageous in the face of adversity and to practice good sportsmanship, all regardless of outcome. When it’s over you will have gained personal relationships that are far greater than plastic trophies or shiny medals.
Performing in front of family and friends can be nerve-racking. Throw in five judges and a standing room only crowd and the pressure mounts. Top that off with a fellow competitor right next to you whose seemingly sole purpose is to distract you, and your ability to block out distractions to do your best will be tested, judged, and rewarded. This kind of test, and the ability to be successful at it, is not unlike the many tests taken throughout our everyday lives. However, the physical and mental training required in Tang Soo Do will increase your ability to be successful regardless of the type of test, provided you work hard and do not quit. Being judged or graded on your performance is nothing new to most people. This process will highlight your strengths, but more importantly it will shine a light on your weaknesses. Then you will be able to improve on those weaknesses once again making yourself better. Consistent participation will result in consistent improvement; consistent improvement will bring about success. This is a true reward.
Courage is the first of the eight key concepts. A student demonstrates courage every time they compete. It takes a boatload of courage to put yourself out there to perform and be judged to see who is better. This is the same courage that it takes to walk through doors of opportunity at your work, or at school, or in your relationships. Demonstration this kind of courage with consistency will make you physically and mentally tough which also has benefits in other aspects of your lives. This toughness is particularly important when adversity strikes. Every tournament presents itself with a set of challenges that must be overcome. Showing up and performing your best will accomplish most of this. The more adversities you overcome the tougher you become; it’s that simple. In sparring competition, every match will be different. The techniques and strategies that work against one opponent may not have success against another. This will cause you to adjust your techniques and strategies, and then force you to come up with alternate solutions to bring about success. It all must be done quickly, instinctively, naturally. The skills learned throughout this part of competition will be invaluable in your everyday life.
Demonstrating sportsmanship in a respectful and disciplined manner is also an important benefit of competition. Humility is your greatest tool to achieve this. How do you act when you lose? If you are humble, you will recognize the things that made others better and learn from them. This will bring about growth within yourself. How do you act when you win? If you are humble, you will be gracious and encouraging to others who were not as successful. This will also bring about growth. Either way, win or lose, learn to check your ego before a competition. It may not be today, it may not be tomorrow, it may not be in Tang Soo Do, but there is always the possibility that someone is better than you at what you think you do best. With this humbling attitude you will always be able to learn from others and discover ways to improve yourself.
Perhaps the most underrated benefit of competition is the brotherhood/sisterhood that exists between competitors. There is a bond that comes from being a part of the Tang Soo Do family and is developed among those striving to be their best in moments of competition. Neither success, nor failure will impede this connection if humility exists among competitors. Lifelong friendships are the result. I met my wife at a tournament twenty-three years ago, we got married at a tournament a year later. Eighty percent of our closest friends are Tang Soo Do practitioners. Eighty percent of those are competitors.
I can’t make you compete, but if I could, I would.
Rejuvenation Through Martial Arts
By SBN Gail Davidson (firstname.lastname@example.org), edited by SBN Susie Cuseo
Rejuvenation is defined as, “the act of making someone young again or restoring them to youthful vigor.” How is this possible?, you may ask. The Song of the Sip Sam Seh (The Song of the Thirteen Influences – found on the back cover of our Gup and Dan manuals) has KJN Hwang Kee stating the most complete description of why we train and continue to train saying, “What is the purpose and philosophy behind the martial arts? Rejuvenation and prolonging of life beyond the normal span. So an eternal spring. Every word of this song has enormous value and importance. Failing to follow this song attentively, you will sigh away your time.”
In our early stages of karate training we generally rely on the skeleto-muscular system to produce gross movements. Refining these movements requires repetition. Everyday movement utilizes the same system but with practice our techniques increase speed and precision. This skeleto-muscular system, however, has physiological limits; our bodies are aging (yes, all of us) and we begin to lose the muscular strength and stamina of our youth.
The report published by Harvard Medical School in March of 2014 paints a pretty clear picture of what to expect as we age. The study showed that men and women go through the same aging process. For those who are healthy and have managed to avoid major medical problems, the changes are slow and gradual, but eventually add up. Between the ages 25-30 the heart rate declines one beat per minute, per year. The heart’s peak capacity declines by 5%-10% per decade. A 25-year-old heart pumps 2 ½ quarts of blood per minute while a 65-year-old heart pumps only 1 ½ quarts/minute. An 80-year-old heart’s capacity is reduced to one quart/minute, even if it’s disease-free. Diminished aerobic capacity can produce fatigue and breathlessness with even modest daily activities. Blood vessels begin to stiffen and blood pressure goes up. The number of red blood cells declines as blood thickens which makes it harder for the heart to pump possibly resulting in cardiac arrest.
Gaining 3-4 pounds/year after age 40 usually results in fat because muscle is on the decline. There is generally a rise in LDL (bad) cholesterol and a lowering of HDL (good) cholesterol that brings about a higher level of blood sugar. Type II diabetes is very common in senior citizens. Muscle continues to decline and will eventually be reduced by 50% resulting in weakness and disability. Bone calcium is lost resulting in the increasing risk of fracture from low bone density.
The nervous system also changes: reflexes are slower, coordination decreases, memory loss is more frequent (at embarrassing times), depression starts to set in and individuals receive less sleep. Sadly, this is what happens to healthy people; if there are medical issues, those symptoms start even earlier. Aging is not for sissies. If you deny your body a healthy diet and exercise, Father Time will take his toll.
“The clock ticks for all men, and with each tick comes change.” No one can stop the clock but you can slow down the ticking. Research shows that most of these aging symptoms are a result of disuse. Dr. William Buchan, an 18th-century physician wrote of, “the causes which conspire to render life of a man short and miserable, none have greater influence than want of proper exercise.” At about the same timeframe, British poet John Gray stated, “exercise thy lasting youth defends.” Exercise is not the fountain of youth but it is “a good long drink of vitality”.
In 1966 the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School conducted a research study involving five healthy young men. Each subject was to spend three weeks of his summer vacation being inactive. At the end of the study, there were alarming health changes: faster resting heart rates, higher systolic blood pressure, a drop in the heart’s maximum pumping capacity, a rise in blood fat and a significant decrease in muscle strength. During that experimental timeframe, these 20-year-olds had the physiological characteristics of men twice their age. To complete the study these test subjects were put on a rigorous eight-week exercise program resulting in not only correcting the damage but all measurements were improved.
Here’s a summary of what happens to the body with aging and with exercise:
Exercise vs. Aging
Effect of Exercise
Effect of Aging
Heart and Circulation
Resting Heart rate
Maximum Heart Rate
Slows the Decrease
Maximum Pumping Capacity
Heart Muscle Stiffness
Blood Vessel Stiffness
Number of Red Blood Cells
Blood Viscosity (Thickness)
Maximum Oxygen Uptake in Lungs
Speed of Emptying (Intestines)
Calcium Content & Strength
Muscle Mass & Strength
LDL (bad) Cholestorol
HDL (good) Cholestorol
Nerve Conduction & Reflexes
Quality of Sleep
Risk of Depression
Much research has been conducted involving aging, sedentary lifestyle, exercise, and diet. What seems to be obvious is that regular exercise allows us the opportunity to live a long, healthy, and happy lifespan.
Endurance training is the best way to protect the body’s metabolism from the effects of aging. Exercise reduces body fat, sensitizes the body’s tissues to insulin, lowers blood sugar, boosts HDL (good) cholesterol, lowers LDH (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides (fat in the blood). There are many forms of exercise that are healthy for us, i.e., walking, biking, aerobic dance, rowing, cross country skiing, swimming, etc. The list goes on and on, but there is not a form of exercise that can compare to regular martial arts training. It is the ultimate form of a well-rounded physical and mental activity. Martial arts is more than exercise; it is a lifestyle. It is beneficial in so many ways: physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually. We develop confidence and become more creative. These lasting effects from practicing martial arts are carried from the studio into our daily lives, whether it be at home, school, church or work.
Injuries and increasing years will affect our ability to perform the way we did in our youth but with a kind instructor who recognizes that this is a life where we can still continue to train to our best ability. The saying “Mediocrity is a handrail” teaches us to do our best and not to use our age or injury as an excuse not to be the best that we can be. Mediocrity will not keep Father Time at bay.
Tang Soo Do Mi Guk Kwan Studio Profile: Nunan's Martial Arts, Cedar Park, TX
By SBN Susie Cuseo (email@example.com)
Did you know that Nunan’s Martial Arts will have their 20th anniversary in early December? This studio was established on December 3, 2001. They will hold a Dan promotion ceremony and celebrate their fantastic journey on becoming 20 years old. SBN Hoke Nunan found a beautiful location at 2051 Cypress Creek Rd in Cedar Park, TX. This space has several windows that are 15 feet high and a square footage of 5,100 that is used for Tang Soo Do Mi Guk Kwan, Kodokan Judo and Pekiti Tersia Kali. As a licensed childcare facility, Master Nunan and his staff offers afterschool care, All Day Camps for children during holidays, Summer Camps that can go for 8-9 weeks as well as regular classes six days a week. The motto for this studio is “Dare to Achieve” while learning the traditional values of martial arts. Discipline, focus and the history of all the arts is offered by Master Nunan through the wearing of the uniforms, learning the proper protocol throughout class, respecting senior students and instructors and learning the language of Korean (Tang Soo Do), Japanese (Judo) and Spanish and Elongo (Kali). Students also learn competitive training and fellowship where they support each other while cheering and building confidence in themselves.
With a staff of three paid employees and three volunteers, they support approximately 80 students in their afterschool programs and about 50 children for summer camp. Of their 180 students, there are 100 6-10 year olds, 23 are 16 and older, while 49 are between the ages of 11-15 years old. The remaining 8 students range from 3-5 years olds.
Nunan’s Martial Arts boasts the fact that they have eight International champions from the 2018 World Tang Soo Do Federation Internationals held in London, England. Their competition team participates in every tournament they can attend. They love the camaraderie and mutually beneficial competitive environment found at the Mi Guk Kwan tournaments.
SBN Nunan is a 6th Dan who started his martial arts career in 1977 learning judo and jujitsu. Then in 1985 he began studying Tae Kwon Do and Hapkido and finally in June of 1991 he started with Tang Soo Do. In 1994 Master Riley became his instructor and the rest is history. Master Nunan also instructs adults in judo and Kali. As some COVID restrictions are still in play, younger students have not returned to these classes.
Master Nunan states, “We are a traditional martial arts school in a community filled with modern martial arts schools. Students crave the regiment and self-disciplined culture found in a traditional martial arts environment. We offer many activities for students to get together outside of regular classes. This helps create a healthy and supportive environment which strengthens our ‘NMA family’.”
You can contact Nunan’s Martial Arts by calling them at 512-335-1890, email address: firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook.com/nunanmartialarts. If you’re ever in the area of Cedar Park, come, visit, check out the studio, bring your uniform and take a class or two.
Sa Bom Spotlight: Master Gail Davidson
By SBN Susie Cuseo (email@example.com)
Martial arts is not a sport; it is a way of life. This is the belief that SBN Gail Davidson carries to heart every single day that she trains. She believes that if you had to use your martial arts training you would be up for the task. Learning Tang Soo Do also means that you try to find a peaceful way out of conflict or any difficult situation. She has grown to love the camaraderie shared among students and instructors making them another family for her. Tang Soo Do has everything a person needs to stay healthy in mind and body. It takes care of both your spiritual side as well as the physical side. It also teaches you the philosophy to know when to let things go and when to defend yourself. It defines what a good person is – someone kind, generous, and a good person to oneself, the world around you and others. Comrades in arms, family, respect, compassion, support, inspiration, honesty and bravery, are just some of the words that come to her mind when she thinks of her 30+ years in Tang Soo Do.
Although she currently resides in Madison, Connecticut, SBN Davidson grew up in England for her first fourteen years of her life. The United States was putting into effect a “Great Brain Drain” in England, Germany and Italy where it was looking for engineers to come to the US and work. In 1967, she and her family moved to Milford, but after six months everyone felt homesick. In order to defer the costs of moving the family yet again, they decided to stay. She attended Jonathan Law High School and then the University of Bridgeport to study dental hygiene. If she was given a do-over, she would have studied law or forensic pathology towards the path of becoming a private investigator. SBN Davidson received her hygiene license and then a degree in dental hygiene education. Since graduating at the age of 19, she had been working in the clinical area of dental hygiene for more than 45 years. Today, she works fewer days while helping out in the office with insurance, billing, deposits and sporadic IT issues.
Throughout her entire life, SBN Davidson has been active whether it was with gardening, walking, biking, aerobics, gymnastics, tennis, netball, jazzercise or dancing at home. She has a saying: “If you rest, you rust”. She eventually got married, had two daughters; Amanda and Emily, got divorced and remarried and enlarged her family almost threefold. When her daughters were five and three they wanted to take karate. At that time, SBN Davidson had a full-time job and was taking care of two young girls. There wasn’t enough time to study martial arts; nor could she take class with children in tow. She thought that karate would be tough because she did not know anything about it, just that it was punching and kicking; therefore, too violent for her children. She loved learning how to box from her father but they did not spar or punch at partners, only air boxing to learn the techniques. When she met her second husband, Jim, she would watch him and his son, Peter, practice Tang Soo Do in the backyard and realized that the martial art was not a rough and tumble sport but something that she could learn while doing something that kept her active. At the age of 35, SBN Davidson shopped around secretly to a variety of studios and none would allow her to just come in and check out a class without obligation. She came upon West Haven Academy of Karate and took a trial lesson with Master Talavera. About a month later, she discovered that Jim and Peter took class at the same location. A few months later, her daughters, who were now 10 and 8 years old, came to the studio and began their training. Amanda earned her 1st dan while Emily got as far as 1st gup. Life and other things got in the way, so they put their martial arts career on the back burner. If given the time, Amanda would continue to train. It was a family affair when they would all travel and compete in tournaments that were held locally and nationwide. They all took classes at least three times a week. SBN Davidson was under the tutelage of KJN Ferraro, SBN Kopf, SBN Davidson and SBN Krause. Jim continued his Tang Soo Do training and attained the rank of 6th dan.
Master Davidson received her Cho dan rank in
1993 and continued to test at regular intervals. She started testing with SBN Barbie Goldberg, SBN Ed Chiarmonte, SBN Davidson, SBN Ferraro and SBN Bankowski. Her last two testing bouts were only with Master Bankowski. This just proves the dedication, commitment and devotion that she has towards Tang Soo Do and keeping herself focused on improving her body, mind and spirit.
She believes that you should never advertise that you’re a martial artist and that the best part of your defense is to surprise your offender. She talks of her Thai Aikido instructor during her college years who told her, “Walk softly and carry a big stick”. His English wasn’t very proficient but he took the saying from US President Theodore Roosevelt who stated in a 1903 speech, “speak softly and carry a big stick”. President Roosevelt wanted to convey the idea that while you attempt to make peaceful negotiations you should also be prepared for confrontation by using what you’ve learned and using whatever force necessary. Master Davidson also holds a 1st degree black belt in jujitsu and has learned judo.
SBN Davidson loves to teach Tang Soo Do. She and Jim opened up a small studio in Guilford and had SBN Talman and SBN Murphy help teach their 26 students. Their large family and working full time made it difficult to keep the studio open. So after two years they sold it off and for the past four years SBN Davidson trains with SBN Kopf in North Haven. If given the chance she would love to teach a class or two.
When thinking back on her 30+ years of sparring competitions, she remembers the 1993 tournament held in Dallas, Texas when she competed in team sparring with SBNs Peter Krause, Brett Riley, James Savidge, James Bergers, Rich Welsh and Howard Dugan as coach. Team competition took place at 10PM after individual forms and sparring took place. After several bouts, the team learned that they were competing for first and second place. Excitement mounted as the result of this last fight would determine whether or not they would bring home the trophy. In case of a tie, the team with the most points would place. Their team tied the first three fights and Master Davidson was sent in knowing that she had to win and score a ton of points. She had lost earlier in individual competition with the same woman, so she decided to take a different approach as to how she was going to fight against her. At the end of three minutes, Master Davidson succeeded in overpowering her opponent. The final round was dependent on SBN Bergers who was just 16 years old at the time and fighting a much bigger, older and more experienced competitor. Close to the end of the round, Master Bergers was down by four points when he threw a fabulous spinning kick that earned him two points. Final score was 4-2 and disappointment ran through the team. This meant that the number of points each team earned was the deciding factor in determining who the winner was and it was their team. It was the biggest trophy she’d ever seen and the next memorable experience was trying to figure out how to get it home. She remembers this like it was yesterday. Her love of sparring is quite evident in the way she describes this one experience and how she felt as part of a team striving to work together.
SBN Davidson has been married for 26 years and together with Jim have 11 grandchildren. She has the opportunity to spend time with one of them, Mason, who enjoys biking with her in Maine. Master Davidson will keep training as long as she’s walking and talking. This truly reiterates the fact that Martial arts is not a sport; it is a way of life for Master Davidson. It’s in her mind, body and spirit.