Mi Guk Kwan News: July 2021
In this edition:
Mark Your Calendars! Upcoming Mi Guk Kwan Events
September 25, 2021 – 44th Annual All Tang Soo Do Connecticut State Championships - Edith E. MacKrille Gymnasium, West Haven, CT - Contact: KJN Charles Ferraro 203.932.5335.
October 2, 2021 – 52nd Region 1 Dan Shimsa / Clinic - West Haven Academy of Karate, Inc., West Haven, CT - Clinic 9:00 to 10:00 am: Dan Shim Sa - 11:00 am
October 15-16, 2021 - “Weekend with the Masters”, NMA, Austin, TX - Region 6 – Contact: SBN Brett Riley 830.660.7280 or Hoke Nunan 512.335.1890
November 12-13, 2021 – “Weekend with the Masters”, WHAK , West Haven, CT – Region 1 & 2 – Contact: KJN Charles Ferraro – 203.932.5335
January 19-23, 2022 - 25th / 26th Annual Kodanja Shimsa / Clinic
The Concepts of Chil/Ho: Its Application in a Defence Against a Stick Attack
By SBN Ricardo A. Longinotti (firstname.lastname@example.org)
CHIL: means "FULL"(also means "SEVEN")
HO: means "EMPTY"(also means "exhale", this meaning is included in HO HUP CHO CHUNG: breath control)
In the West, the study of the function of the human body has always been based on "what you can see and touch" (organs, nerves, bones, muscles, etc.), while in the East, they have traditionally focused on the concept of vital energy (Ki in Japan, Chi in China). Asians understand that this vital energy circulates within the human body following defined channels and that imbalances or interruptions to the flow of this vital energy produces weaknesses and/or diseases.
In the East, CHIL and HO are concepts associated with the idea of "FULL of vital energy" (CHIL) and “EMPTY (or lacking) of vital energy” (HO) and the traditional medicine sought to control that vital energy flows to obtain better health.
CHIL and HO in Tang Soo Do
In “The Song of Sip Sam Seh”, also known as “The Song of the Thirteen Influences”, you will see how everything is related to the vital energy that circulates and is activated within the body. Specifically, its third line says: "Pay attention to the slightest change from full to empty." If we use the translation of CHIL/HO we would understand it as: "Pay attention to the smallest change from CHIL to HO", that is, "Pay attention to the smallest change from FULL of ENERGY to EMPTY of ENERGY".
KJN Hwang Kee wrote in his book Tang Soo Do (Soo Bahk Do), (pg. 181, title B) Energy distribution for Ha Dan Mahk Kee (low block): "While standing in Choon Bee Jaseh (ready stance), all parts of the body are equally provided with one tenth of the body’s total strength… Keep in mind that the most important points during this movement are: assuming the completed stances and positions, maintaining correct balance and correct location of the body, and delivering 100% of the total strength to the fist at the proper time… You employ 100% of your strength for a decisive defense against a strong attack, and secondly, to move efficiently and effectively.” If the strength (energy) is distributed equally throughout the body at one time (Choon Bee Jaseh), you can later be “delivering 100% of the total strength to the fist." This means that your vital energy can be controlled and directed by your will within your body so you can generate faster movements and more powerful techniques.
How can I apply CHIL and HO concepts in a fight?
Following KJN Hwang Kee’s instruction, when the attacker throws his fist or leg to hit a defender, his fist or leg is CHIL, full of energy, while reversely, another part of the attacker’s body should be HO, empty of energy. That area will be weak and vulnerable and that is the area the defender must focus his strike.
While it is true that vital energy remains, at least for the vast majority of mortals, within our bodies to defend us, it is key to imagine the space which surrounds our body is also “filled” by the same energy. For instance, if an attacker moves his hand or foot to hit the left side of the defender’s head/neck, all that area begins to be filled with the opponent’s energy (becoming CHIL for him). If the defender moves his head/neck away from his original position, this area become as HO for the defender.
This way the defender does not need to identify which attack is exactly coming. He only needs to identify from which zone the attack is coming from to begin his defensive actions.
How can I identify my opponent’s weak and vulnerable areas?
Consider this visual:
Imagine a vertical line along the middle of the body, a horizontal line at the height of the shoulders and another at the height of the hips, so that there are six defined sectors which represent the six posible zones where an opponent's attack can come from. They are six separate areas where I have to focus my attention to defend myself. We could imagine these six sectors as if they were “the six walls of our castle.”
Usually, when somebody moves to attack, his HO zones are located at the opposite side and at a different height from his attack zones (CHIL zone). If you make a strike from your Sector 1, it becomes CHIL, but your own Sector 6 becomes weak (HO), consequently.
This is conversely true for your attacker.
My focus will be to find the attacker’s Ho zones and to protect my own Ho zones as well.
How can I attack my opponent’s weak and vulnerable areas?
One theory about the origin of the Um/Yang symbol states that many years ago, someone observed two koi fish fighting in a pond and each fish, instead of attacking frontally, was trying to maneuver around its adversary to attack it from behind and, as both fish did the same, they ended up turning around each other for a long time.
Sun Tzu, the author of The Art of War, would have applauded those fish, who instinctively acted as he recommended in his book avoiding frontal collision and always looking for the enemy's weak and vulnerable points.
This is the best tactic to follow to defend an attack: firstly, try to move your body away (creating a HO area) from the attack (CHIL) as primary defense, maybe using a defense as a secondary defensive action (but never crashing/stopping abruptly your opponent’s attack), and then, continue to counter his attack by hitting the opponent's HO zone with my CHIL (attack).
When someone attacks me with a stick at Sector 2 (see the following pictures), this Sector will be filled (CHIL) by the attacker's energy along with his fist/foot energy, attention and will are concentrated at that moment there, but, for the same reason, the attacker’s zone in front of my Sector 5 becomes weak (HO).
I must move my Sector 2 very quickly away, therefore, it becomes a HO zone of mine – empty of my energy. The flow of energy then moves towards the areas of my Sectors 1-3-5 (my right side) to counterattack my opponent’s HO zones which are empty of energy.
This way I will be acting the same way the koi fish do.
The nine photos demonstrate how to apply CHIL/HO to defend from a stick attack to my Sector 2.
I move away from the attack to my right, leaving Sector 2 void (Ho),
I move to my attacker’s weak side (his left),
I administer a Jang Kwon Kong Kyuk (palm heel strike) to the jaw,
I keep stepping and I hit him with a Yuk Soo Do Kong Kyuk (ridge hand strike) to the back of his neck,
I set up for a Yup Podo Cha Gi (side kick),
I apply the Yup Podo Cha Gi to the leg from the side,
I get ready for a Soo Do Kong Kyuk (knife hand attack),
I finish with the Soo Do Kong Kyuk to the back of his neck,
I prepare myself for any other assault from my opponent.
Note that all of my actions are similar to that of the koi fish circling and looking for the back of the attacker to make my strike.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The application of CHIL/HO concepts allows women, teenagers and children to easily apply the motions successfully to defend themselves against an adult man’s attack because they do not need to abruptly stop the attacker's body or limbs. I strongly recommend this type of counterattack as a defender’s focus. For this type of situation, I would change the Jang Kwon Kong Kyuk (palm heel strike) to the jaw by a Ban Jul Kwan Soo (knuckle spear hand) or Jip Kye Son Kong Kyuk (plier’s grip) to the attacker's throat.
In conclusion, most students are initially focused on clearly identifying the attack, and then applying a defense/counterattack with the techniques they have been taught. They repeat the sections many, many times to make this instinctual.
But if the attacker is skilled enough he will be able to hide or disguise his attack until it is too late.
The advantage of organizing your defense in terms of CHIL/HO is that, if you pay attention you will see a previous movement in the elbow/shoulder, before the corresponding hand's attack begins and the same in the knee/hip, before a corresponding leg's attack. These slight tells could be understood as an indication of the increasing flow of vital energy within the corresponding limb. This is the reverse of "Pay attention to the slightest change from full to empty", but it is valid, too.
If you pay attention to the attacker's knee/hip or elbow/shoulder movements prior to a stike, you will be able to know where the attack will come from (CHIL) and thus you can move away and make the void (HO) to the incoming attack that will give you more time to build a better defense and/or counterattack.
Ricardo A. Longinotti is an 8th Dan of TANG SOO DO MI GUK KWAN who resides in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He started training in Tang Soo Do in June of 1975 when he was thirteen years old as a way to learn self-defense. He has been teaching students at his own studio since 1984. He understands that each individual martial artist has techniques that work for them in real life or death situations and that there are other techniques that won’t work under those circumstances. He tailors each student’s strengths and weaknesses with techniques that will be effective for them. SBN Longinotti is also a Civil Engineer who enjoys learning about logotherapy which is a school of psychology and a philosophy based on the idea that we are strongly motivated to live purposefully and meaningfully, and that we find meaning in life as a result of responding authentically and humanely (i.e. meaningfully) to life's challenges. He also is an active Catholic and has a strong interest in Catholic theology, which is the understanding of Catholic doctrine or teachings and results from the studies of theologians. It is based on the canonical scriptures and sacred traditions of the Catholic Church.
To complete this article, SBN Longinotti had the collaboration of Matías Hildt (6th Gup).
How My Martial Arts Training Made Me a Better Leader in the Military
By SBN Dan Walker (email@example.com)
Every now and then I have to explain to someone that my martial arts training and my military service aren’t (at least, not directly) related. However, the Navy did make me learn karate. Sometimes I get to use the line: “Think about it: If I’m on a ship and I have to PUNCH A BAD GUY, things have gone unbelievably wrong”. That being said, I believe my martial arts training before I joined the Navy played a key role in my military mentality.
There are a number of places for a new officer to land in the armed forces. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the general structure of military ranks, all personnel is categorized as either “officer” (management) or “enlisted” (technical expert). Most officers go to college before getting their initial officer rank. At that point there are numerous pathways to take depending on the military branch and specific community. Some go to school for their specific discipline, such as flight school or nuclear power school.
I, however, was going to be a Surface Warfare officer in the Navy, which meant I was going to work on surface ships. Surface Warfare officers don’t have an “Intro-to-ship” school. You were simply tossed in, assigned a division (small unit, around 10 to 20 personnel) and all of a sudden you were in charge of much more experienced sailors.
I learned quickly that the ROTC leadership classes only scratched the surface of what it meant to be an officer and how to lead people. My training in Tang Soo Do gave me a leg up on many of the lessons my peers were working through. Upon reflecting on those experiences, here are some of the crossovers from the martial arts to my military life.
Nothing prepared me more for running a division than teaching a Lil Dragons class.
When I was in college and training in Austin, TX, one of the scariest moments in my life was walking into the dojang and realizing that I was the one responsible for teaching the Lil Dragons.
SBN Hoke Nunan gave me a quick run-through of how to teach a Lil Dragons class. At this point of my martial arts career, I knew how to teach the class, but I could also imagine so many ways the class could go wrong. What if I lost control of the class? What a way to go, swarmed by five-year-olds wielding bopper swords. Fortunately, the class went great. It took a few weeks of those challenging classes to get the hang of keeping those young ones’ focus. Eventually, I improved at giving more complex directions to the children and I could get them all through Gicho Hyumg Il Bu on their own (I’ve considered adding that to my resume).
In the Navy I developed a new appreciation for how giving direction can be difficult. Everyone listens and processes information in different ways. It is incredibly easy to give directions and assume you conveyed the correct information, only to find out later that this was not the case. Can you guess what else is like that? A class full of excited five-year-olds learning karate. If you want them to do what you want, you need to be clear, concise, engaging and commanding. That’s just to get them started. A direction requiring multiple steps generally can’t be left alone without some follow-up. This is just so with giving worklists to a group of sailors. Precision, clarity, and follow-through will get you an incredible amount of traction.
Lead by example. Attitude is contagious. Bend your knee and dig in.
Have you ever gotten to class and just felt like coasting? Don’t lie. We’ve all been there. Sometimes you get to the studio and the stretches doesn’t quite get you warm and you think, “Maybe I’ll just take is easy in line drills.” Then, BAM! The person next to you kihaps their heart out and nails their technique. You think, “I guess I have to really put out now.” All of a sudden someone else’s energy and attitude made you perform. This works both ways: sometimes you must be the one raising the energy level, bend your knee making your stance deeper—it’s not just your practice you’re improving. You are setting the example and being a leader for the rest of the class.
Military life is chock-full with opportunities for bad attitudes. The work is demanding. The hours can be long and/or unpredictable. Someone who wants to do the minimum and complain can have a huge impact on the team which in the long run affects the group negatively. However, if you can get that person to come in strong and invested in doing excellent work, then you will see everyone around them caring more. Frequently, a leader who comes in ready to work hard every day will raise the level of performance of everyone around them. People gravitate towards those who are positive and encouraging. If you want to build and lead a strong team, you have to be the one to kihap and make those deep stances.
Train, train, train. Surprising things happen when you meet your opponent.
I remember getting ready for my gup tests, working on forms and one steps, and then one of my instructors would say something along the lines of, “If we don't rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.” That stuck with me through to my dan level training. I never wanted to go into a test hoping to do better than I know I’ve demonstrated previously and consistently.
My job right now is to train teams on ships to detect submarines. We use state of the art simulators to conduct the training, but that really amounts to playing a very expensive video game. It’s, frankly, pretty awesome. However, it relies on a skill set with a very short shelf life. By that, I mean if I don’t practice, I get worse at my job very quickly. I bring my team into our simulator as often as possible, whether or not we have students to train. We drill, drill and drill some more. Then, when we have students, we can teach them the same material without fail. After the student team completes their training, they go through several assessments, which are graded runs in the simulator. Just like performing in a test or a tournament, once the adrenaline kicks in, you can count on people to revert to the habits they’ve formed through practice. A good team has trained, identified their weak elements and found effective ways to drill and cultivate good habits and practices. Some teams accept a lower level of preparation and things fall apart as soon as the enemy submarine does something unexpected. The takeaway here is to practice hard so that when it comes time to utilize your skills, you’re ready and competent.
Thick skin helps you grow
This concept took me a lot of experience to appreciate, but it has been paying dividends for a while now. Consider your last mediocre Tang Soo Do class. We’ve all had at least one and it may have been a while ago. Your instructor frequently makes a correction to your technique or to your stances. You might start feeling worse for underperforming. There are two ways to handle that emotional response. First is to allow yourself to feel bad about needing more coaching. This will make you less focused and probably do even worse. The second option is to appreciate someone taking the time to give you feedback and take encouragement in their confidence in your ability. The latter is a more constructive approach that can accelerate your learning and keep you from catastrophizing critical feedback.
The military workplace quickly reinforced that for me. Thankfully, I was used to being told ways to improve my technique by instructors and not thinking of it as a personal failure. When I walked into my department head’s office with a brief I had prepared and he scribbled all over it with red ink, I didn’t take it personally. I made the changes and did better the next time. This carried over to all sorts of situations in the Navy. I very clearly recall sitting in a debrief: it was a room with very large screens which were replaying my console and ground truth of a combat scenario we just conducted. I was the senior person on the team and one of my decisions resulted in an inadvertent attack on one of our own fighter jets. No one had realized this happened until we watched the replay. My mentor laid into us hard for this mistake, but it was warranted. My first reaction was to get angry about how the scenario and the trainer operated, but I quickly caught myself. I remembered that this wasn’t about embarrassing us or a personal attack on me or my team. It was critical feedback which might save someone’s life down the road.
That’s one of the things I want everyone to keep in mind while conducting their martial arts training. Critical feedback or the instructor you might think of as too aggressive or serious – might just save your life. Other takeaways where martial arts is conducive to a structured life both personal and business-like is giving directions that are clear and concise, lead by example, practice hard to be strong and primed, and last but not least, criticism builds character.
Tang Soo Do Mi Guk Kwan Studio Profile: Tang Soo Do Karate Inc. -- Homestead, FL
By SBN Susie Cuseo (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Our studio profile is on SBN Michael Ramirez’s Tang Soo Do Karate, Inc. located at 25600 SW 147th Avenue in Homestead, Florida. It was established almost ten years ago on October 22nd of 2010. When asked if he intended on celebrating the anniversary, he indicated that nothing special will be held due to the COVID restrictions. Master Ramirez had 80 students training under him at three locations: Redland Koi Gardens, Somerset City Arts Conservatory and the Somerset Oaks Academy. At Somerset, classes are held during the school year while the Koi Gardens are year-round.
Imagine being in an atmosphere of beautiful outdoor space on 2.5 acres. It is opulent, serene and peaceful nearly every day. There are exotic trees that create a lush canopy and a gorgeous landscape. Elegant curved walkways, colorful Koi ponds and fantastic waterfalls can be found throughout the property. Classes are held at the Koi Gardens Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays rain or shine. There are no doors or windows, just an open space with a concrete floor under a Japanese-styled temple setting.
SBN Michael Ramirez is a 6th Dan and a member of the Board of Directors and Regional Advisory Committee Region 4 for the Tang Soo Do Mi Guk Kwan Association. He has been a Tang Soo Do practitioner since 1990. He is a dedicated teacher to his students and he displays that dedication by holding Christmas parties for the students and hosting them at the local water park for Fun in the Sun and a picnic.
I had the honor of witnessing him test for 6th Dan while I was testing for 5th. As the sole candidate for that rank, he had to feel the stress of being under the scrutiny of the testing board. SBN Ramirez rose to the challenge with resolve and tenacity when performing his self-defenses and forms to perfection. It was quite evident of the effort and training he’s put into his martial arts journey.
SBN Ramirez states, “It is special to me that my students see that no matter what rank you are, there is always room to learn and grow.” Visit his studio in Homestead, FL or contact him at 786-255-5440, by email: email@example.com or check out his Facebook page: https://m.facebook.com/TangSooDoKarateInc.
Sa Bom Spotlight: Master Bland Jensen
By SBN Susie Cuseo (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The SBN Profile for this edition is on Master Bland Jensen. She is currently a 5th Dan and is in her early 80s. She was born in Washington, DC and grew up all her life in Virginia. These days she spends her summers in Warrenton, VA where she can trail-ride her quarterhorse while training and gardening. During the winter months she travels to Florida where she continues to train with SBN Michael Ramirez, helping him out with classes, testing and clinics while still training horses. She is never idle with her time. She’s either among her gardens, horses or practicing Tang Soo Do.
SBN Jensen grew up on the family farm that has been around since the 1930s. She attended St. Timothy's high school in Maryland and continued her education with a Bachelor of Arts from George Washington University. She trained in cytology at Sloane Kettering and was licensed in 1976. She has worked as a cytotechnologist for over 40 years studying cells to diagnose cancer and other abnormalities.
As a young girl SBN Jensen rode horses and grew to love taking care of them, training them and exercising them. In her early 20s, she started to go to different racetracks in New York and Florida training and exercising horses to become winners on the track. During this time in the 60’s, female trainers were not given opportunities to do what they loved. Master Jensen met Kay, her future husband, who took her into his employment giving her the chance do what she dreamed of and thereby started a new course in her life.
Her karate journey began at the tender age of her 50s in 1994 when she responded to a Pennysaver promotion for a week of karate and a uniform for $19.95. Her interest was piqued and her love of karate started. Master Jensen’s experience with riding horses and training them gave her the physical aptitude to endure the classes, tournaments and following years of continuing to train as she does today. Her husband, Kay, did not fully support her endeavor of karate in the beginning. He had served in World War II in the Danish underground resistance who saw action in combat that was silent, effective and quite deadly. He did not want his wife involved in such brutality. However, as her love for Tang Soo Do grew, his enthusiasm and supportiveness also increased. Master Jensen learned from Master Steve Puleo at the Pines Karate Studio. With her confidence and determination, she tested and earned her Cho Dan in 2000.
In 2003 Master Jensen suffered a fall from a horse and broke her pelvis. She told her doctor that no matter what happened she wanted to leave the hospital with her legs the same length so that she could continue to kick without pain. She learned this from Master Puleo who had hip surgery and since then could not kick without pain and therefore, had to retire.
During the summer months, Master Jensen trains with Kwan Jang Nim Kun Wha Lee who teaches a traditional Korean martial arts called Whal Moo which means “Life Defense”. KJN Lee was a technical director in the Moo Duk Kwan before he left to found his martial arts style. She has trained with KJN Lee for about 16 summers now and is an honorary master at his school. She continues to teach classes for him and helps out with clinics where instructing on self-defense and ground fighting. KJN Lee has studios in Greece and Italy where he emphasizes defensive techniques, proper stances and the correct way to fall. He continues to travel there most summers to teach classes.
SBN Jensen tested for her 4th Dan at Kodanja in 2012. I had the honor of attending her 5th Dan testing and watching her and her fellow candidates in 2017 while they did their forms, grabs and self-defenses. Kwan Jang Nim Ferraro specifically called to attention the disparity of ages on the floor where Master Jensen was one among a group of about 15 testing candidates. Applause erupted when it was announced that there was a 40 year difference between her and the youngest martial artist. It was amazing to witness Master Jensen go through those five days of testing and complete it with resilience, flair and nonchalance that comes from her maturity and physical prowess. She states that, “I will continue to train as long as there is breath in my body.” Master Jensen continues, “I find as a Master that giving back and helping students to improve is most important.” There’s nothing like sharing what you’ve learned throughout the years with others willing to gain from that experience. Master Jensen is the epitome of a martial artist who displays one of the tenets of Tang Soo Do Mi Guk Kwan: Perseverance. She believes in the purpose and philosophy behind the martial arts: Rejuvenation and prolonging of life beyond the normal span. SBN Jensen is in her early 80s and still going strong.