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Advancing in Martial Arts – U.S.-Style

on MAR. / 23 / 2011 | 0 comments

By Master Erica Linthorst

If it’s advancement in martial arts you seek, this would be the path.  If it’s deeper knowledge of higher techniques, pressure points, weapons, this would be a part of your journey.  If you’re interested in martial arts business management and curriculum development, you should study here.  If it’s more advanced competition techniques, understanding of competition rules, judging and refereeing, then you should follow this program.

“What’s it all about?” you may wonder.  On Saturday, December 18, 2010 representatives from Amerstate University (Racine, Wisconsin), came to the NY/NJ metropolitan area to discuss their very special offering:  a 2-year Master’s in Science Degree Program, provided on-campus or via distance learning.

President Dr. Robert Kim, GM B.M. Kim (V.P.), GM S.H. Cho, GM D.K. Park, Dr. Lee

The information session was chaired by Grandmaster Sangho Cho (center), who energetically led the attendees through the history of Amerstate, its stated goals and implementation of courses, and the efforts its leadership are making currently to forge into the frontier of martial arts education in the United States.  President Kim, himself a PhD in nuclear physics, said that he sees great value in obtaining a recognized degree in the widely- growing field of martial arts.

You may question who is a candidate, who is eligible for this program?  When does it start?  What are the requirements for graduation and the costs?  Naturally, all the detailed answers appear on the website  or can be discussed by phoning 262-635-0614.  Good news – there is rolling admission!

In short, one mission of this University, is to build martial arts into the public school
physical education programs.  It may interest you to know that some of Amerstate graduates have already begun to do this successfully in their home states!  If you own a dojang, or hope to do so you would be a candidate.  If you have graduated from high school and have 4th dan certification or above in martial arts or are a certified master instructor or have 12 years of teaching experience, you can qualify.  If you aspire to a quality higher level of education, this is just the ticket.  If you seek advancement in the
martial arts, then Amerstate University is the place for you.

Yes – there is now a scattering of schools around the country with martial arts majors – many more boasting martial arts clubs.  (This pales in the light of the 75+ universities in Korea with such a curriculum.)  However, at the time of this writing, these other schools in the United States require on-campus study only.  Sadly, this greatly limits many potential students who also work full or part-time in martial arts already.  Future plans for Amerstate U. include expanding to include Bachelor and PhD programs.  For anyone interested, there is also an ESL Program – especially designed for foreign or non-native English language candidates.

  The administrators and faculty with some interested candidates.  Additional open information sessions also took place and student numbers began to mount.  There will be other such sessions in January 2011.

In a different ring: Grandmaster David Turgeon

on MAR. / 23 / 2011 | 0 comments

By Master Erica Linthorst

Following a thread to discover more about the competitive aspect of poomsae within the TKD tournament system, I came across a name that was vaguely familiar to me – David Turgeon.  The internet reveals a good deal these days and when I brought up his name, there was a familiar face:  a person who had joined the same Foreign Instructor’s Training and Certification Course at the Kukkiwon as had I – in 2000!

Naturally, I was able to reach him and he invited me to Colchester CT (major location of 1 of his 2 dojangs) for the reunion interview!  And what a meeting it was!

This unassuming 7th dan, in the humblest of fashions, exudes the loftiest of our TKD goals: a respectful, etiquette-enhanced demeanor coupled with vast amounts of training, research, self-improvement, and continued growth in the field.


Grandmaster Turgeon has trained in an orthodox manner – learning basics and the 3 legs of TKD – poomsae, kyorugi, kyuckpa thoroughly.  He is also well-versed in self-defense and weapons.  Yet, over time his thinking and instruction, especially regarding forms, has evolved along, what might be considered, a somewhat unorthodox path.  At this point in his career, he finds that the system currently in place for poomsae instruction and dan elevation has developed a “mystique” that needs earnest revision.  He sees forms training as a method of perfecting technique:  “It is a training tool; it offers a way to improve oneself through TaeKwonDo.”  He questions the linkage of a particular form to a certain rank.  Consequently, you will see students in his school learning poomsaes traditionally reserved for higher belts.

Teaching a poomsae seminar.

Why has he elected to focus on forms?  He knows the rings inside and out – he’s a national and international referee and a competitor! 

He feels that there are no limits to forms in who can learn and perform them and compete in that arena.  As a former sparring competitor, his overall view is that it is severely limited primarily by age.

I asked him if he felt that eventually there would be poomsae added to the current TKD competition in the Olympics.  He said that potentially traditional forms might make their appearance in preliminary rounds while creative forms might be presented in later competition.  Of course, he sees some obvious considerations and thoughtfully proposes that there might have to be a single division for the sake of simplicity.

This is a man you’d be happy to have as an instructor, a teammate, a coach (he also coaches one of the area’s middle school wrestling teams!).  It was pleasure reacquainting myself with Grandmaster Turgeon and marking his progress in TaeKwonDo since our earlier connection.

For more information, contact him directly at Connecticut Chung Do Kwan Academy or reach him by phone 860-537-6333.

The Best Just Got Better

on MAR. / 23 / 2011 | 0 comments

Master Erica Linthorst

How is that possible?  When the master comes to the student!  If you are focused on your TaeKwonDo training, you probably set goals for yourself.  You attend as many classes as possible given your circumstances, you heed the instructors and try to follow their advice ranging from diet to daily routines, meditation to mind control, fitness to fasting.  We train to become better at what we do – we practice, we compete, we attend
seminars.  We may even go to Korea with hopes high, and expectations in our pockets that the magic of being there will enhance our personal growth in TKD.
What a stroke of serendipity that the famous Grandmaster Jong-Beom Park made his first-ever trip to the United States to give his sole seminar here in New York!  If you follow this column, you will note in the article entitled “Korea Travelogue:  Our True Test - The Kukkiwon”, I had encountered this Grandmaster previously.  (In retrospect, I believe I trained with him prior to that at the Foreign Instructor’s Training Course a number of years ago!)  A seeming stern teacher, GM Park is a detail-oriented task master.  He is unforgettable because possibly no one else would have regaled us with such current and specific knowledge of poomses and testing requirements.  And, here I was at Queensboro Community College with a privileged and limited selection of “students” ranging from 7th dan to red belt!
Bolstered by a knowledgeable and accurate translator (Chris Hyojin Lee), all participants were offered the best of the best from beginning to end by the untiring, determined Grandmaster Park.  From Tae-guk 1-jang through black belt forms we reviewed over and over again with explanations that might have remained mysteries to us all.  What was clear at the end of the day is that each of us must review the basics then practice, and practice some more!
The generous training, organized by The Greater New York TaeKwonDo Association organized by Grandmaster Ben Hur, was from 10am-5pm – a long day by an standard, and included a fortifying lunch break and celebratory Korean buffet dinner following.

Content, yet yearning for more, I happily posed with Grandmaster Park at the end of the session.  Having forged a strong tie, I genuinely began to look forward to additional training and readjusted my quest for the next day, next class, next test!  What more could a taekwondoist ask?  When you have the chance to attend an enrichment activity – take it and make the most of it!  See you at the next seminar or maybe on a trip to Korea!

Korea Travelogue continued: A Visit with Grandmaster Kim, HoJae

on MAR. / 23 / 2011 | 0 comments

 by Master Erica Linthorst

    Do you know this man?  He has been one of the most influential people of his generation in the world of TaeKwonDo.  A man of simple beginnings, he is far-from retired today.

Grandmaster Kim, Ho Jae

    For over 20 years, Grandmaster KIM, Ho Jae has been Dean of the World
Taekwondo Academy at Kukkiwon, producing thousands of Taekwondo
enthusiasts who spread Taekwondo throughout the world.  Grandmaster Kim is 
retired from the academy then Vice-President of Taekwondo Chang Moo-
Kwan, Korea.  He is a student of Chang Moo Kwan founder, the late Grandmaster Lee, Nam Suk.
    His biography (as noted below) brought him to the TaeKwonDo Hall of Fame where he has been an honored member for many years.

• National Chang Moo Kwan Taekwondo Central Instructor - 1960
• Established over 1000 Taekwondo training directors internationally -
• Director of Taekwondo Technical Arbitration at Korea University - 1973
• Chairman of Korean Taekwondo Association - 1976
• President of technical development for the Korean Taekwondo Association -
• Head Master of Chang Moo Kwan Taekwondo main branch - 1991
• Training Director of the Kukkiwon. Presided over 100 trainees per training
     session. 1981-2000
• Established over 8000 international Taekwondo master instructors
     worldwide. 1981-2000
• Current president of the World Taekwon Moodoo Federation

    It was my great good fortune to meet him personally in 2000 when I attended the 3rd Foreigner’s TaeKwonDo Instructor Training Course at the Kukkiwon.  This amiable man personally oversaw every element of our training and made each attendee feel comfortable.  He saw this as a great opportunity to not only promote TKD but to also spread vast knowledge worldwide.  A man of vision, he also became a friend and supported me in my own  4th and 5th dan testing.
    No visit to Korea would be complete for me without a visit to this revered gentleman.  We spoke  about continued training and he reminded me that the World Taewon Moodoo foundation offers a large variety of programs.  If it’s inspiration you seek, by all means please contact him – tell him Erica sent you!

The Korea Tour ends – the Journey continues

on MAR. / 23 / 2011 | 0 comments

Master Erica Linthorst

 The day the tour ended, after the hottest day of training followed by another delicious meal, my travel mates quickly boarded their airport-bound bus (sweat-soaked and all) while my doban, Master Won-Kyu Cho and our close friend Master Yong Soon Lee, swooped in and loaded me into their car.
I asked him where we were going as we drove on and on across unfamiliar territory.  Before long, we reached a solitary Buddhist temple where quiet predominated.  Although the humidity persisted, the views refreshed both my mind and body.  Now, I could relax and appreciate being here.

This was a perfectly peaceful ending to an exciting trip and demanding day!  But, we continued driving through countryside and small towns until we reached another destination.  My friends are very resourceful and know a lot about my martial arts interests.  Ever thoughtful, they were excited to share more in the time we had left together.  We bumped along a country road and came to a stop by a barn.  As we made our way on foot across muddy puddles, we entered an unlikely hay-packed place where three gentlemen were practicing sword techniques.  There was a master training his student in moving haystack cuts…..they were just finishing.  I was able to observe the post-workout sword cleaning and packing.  Next up was Youn Do Huk, a master of double sword technique.  It was hard to believe how swiftly and surely he moved – fluidly over the hay-strewn floor, completely focused on each goal whether it was a hay-roll or bamboo.  It was astonishing!

 What an experience!
 Though nightfall was approaching this dreary day, moods ran high.  Doban Gilbert, as he likes to be called, suggested we have some sushi with his friends.  The meal is rather unexpected; the company terrific.  There is sheer enjoyment as we relax together. 

  Spending time with friends is a national pastime!  There will be more excitement in the last few days of this trip.

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