TKDT Roving Reporter

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TKDT RovingReporter


Action in the Arts

on MAR. / 23 / 2011 | 0 comments

by Erica Linthorst

If you have been looking for more action in your martial arts, then the place to be was Suffern, NY (August 6-8) at Soke Michael de Pasquale Jr’s Action Film Academy.

Throughout the weekend, he ran rigorous training for about 50 or so eager participants – kids and adults, from varied backgrounds and geographic locations. His goal “…to bring stunt work to the East Coast [since most of it is in Hollywood].” He proudly allowed “There is nothing like this out here.” While de Pasquale’s professional bio is lengthy and broad – he started at Kim’s Karate when he was 4 years old – one of his most heartfelt efforts has been delivered through his support of the International Brain Research Foundation. (

Working harder than hard, he takes a moment to smile , chat with me, and tell me he really wants everyone to have a good time, learn something, and get ready for skits that might potentially propel them into an action film.

People are grouped and move station to station learning acting in action – dive rolling, archery, falling, jumping from balconies, trees, off the trampoline while shooting. They run over couches, tumbling them a la Jackie Chan to “shoot” the attacker from behind the protection. They kick in doors, kick down barrels then repeat all the motions again and again. They smile, they’re intense; they gulp down water to replenish and keep alert. These are the hopefuls, excited to be here and learn, and hopefully land a job.

Toni and Michelle give it their all – from beginning to end of the day. Both are amateurs with no credits to their names…yet!

Each person there has a story to tell. I first spotted Brian Chenworth on the trampoline and thought “This guy must have been a gymnast.” Not at all: he’s been doing Karate since he was 4 years old, and made it into movies as an actor (“The Getaway Car” and others). He came to the Action Academy to build his resume and “expand [his] craft.” One thing he mentioned was that producers and directors appreciate actors who can perform their own stunts.

He looks like he’s ready to take on the world with intensity!
Next, I spotted a person I would ordinarily have overlooked. From a distance she appears older than most other participants and doesn’t look to be in fighting form. When I sidle over to Heather Baade to find out what brings her here today, a totally different picture emerges. First, I catch her tumbling the couch, turning to shoot, and hurdling tires to perform a final dive roll over tires. She finishes with a smile of satisfaction, ready to do it all over again. She’s come up from Austin, TX where she’s worked for years with Won-Ik Yi and others at the Fighting Stunts Association. In her college years she was introduced to TaeKwonDo and has also taken up Muay Thai boxing. Previously, she attended this academy in 2004 and now, recovering from a serious head injury, she sees this as an opportunity to jump start her re-entry into the arena and celebrate her return.

Then, there Sensei Thomas A. Renner – social studies teacher by day and, in his own words, “samurai by night.” In high school he was all about acting, took up Ju Jitsu and Iado (Japanese sword art). When he’s not working (off-teaching hours) with Art Camacho, Lorenzo Lamas, Sasha Mitchell, or Don “The Dragon” Wilson, he wears his single-father title with pride and manages to run the Kazan Dojo in Deer Park, NY.

At the end of my time on-site, I realized that things and people are not always as they appear. Although everyone does not always wear their ambitions / hopes / dreams in the open, it doesn’t mean they don’t have aspirations and goals and the desire to work toward them. Lesson learned!

Soke dePasquale Jr. takes great care in making certain that participants are safe and understand what they are doing. For more information on his activities go to

Korea Travelogue: The Last Hooray! - Moo Duk Kwan Training

on MAR. / 23 / 2011 | 0 comments

Master Erica Linthorst and Master Doug Cook

It seems almost impossible that such a journey could get better…yet it does. Although this is our day of departure, we prepare early for we have only just learned that we will don our doboks once more for a very special training in Moo Duk Kwan (“School of Martial Virtue”) with world-recognized Grandmaster Kang, Shin Chul. This is Grandmaster Richard Chun’s style passed down to us through Master Doug Cook and an opportunity that we would not want to miss. Our luggage stacked under the bus, we travel south to Suwon (1.5 hours out of Seoul) for what will be a major trip highlight.

Greeted personally by Grandmaster Kang and his family, his students rapidly begin a demonstration consisting of highly energetic and precise forms. His own daughter is there and we learn that she is 4-time poomse champion! This is truly being schooled!

Grandmaster Kang’s daughter, front row second from left
and performing kicking drill that led to her wins

There’s more action than a Hollywood movie and when we’re asked to take the floor for warm-up and kicking drills our bodies are hot, ready by osmosis. We bring all our focus to the ready position; then with game-faces on we follow as his students run us through the paces. We are sweating, breathless, and determined to learn and make a good show- best kick forward at every turn. The plane ride ahead is not a flicker of a thought: we are truly in the moment!

Long-term friends Grandmaster Richard Chung (seated left) and Grandmaster Kang, Shin Chul (seated right) have brought us together on a most memorable occasion. Reunited themselves after more than a decade, they are enormously proud to be flanked by their students, including Master Cook (tour leader, standing next to Grandmaster Chun).

Fairly spent, we move to Grandmaster’s museum that houses memorabilia, photos, and other items – all testimony to his world recognition over the course of his lifetime. These are awesome displays in recognition of his lifetime and commitment to excellence.

A delicious lunch nearby is a welcome finale to our journey of a lifetime. With stomachs, spirits, and minds replete with our Korea visit, we will board the bus one last time for the lengthy trip home. It will provide us the time we need to absorb the past 8 days – what we have seen, heard, learned, as we transition back to our other lives. We have bonded as a group in martial arts, practicing together and supporting one another.

One and all agree – if you “do” martial arts, you should experience this tour. We are exhausted and revitalized; we are happy and sad. For most of us, this has been a journey of a lifetime that has altered us in many ways. It’s been fun to share it with you along the way and we hope you’ll join us next time!
NOTE: For Erica, the trip does not end here. Keep watching the TKTD Roving Reporter for more updates!

Korea Travelogue: Golgulsa Temple - Home of SunMooDo Peace and Power

on MAR. / 23 / 2011 | 0 comments

Master Erica Linthorst and Master Doug Cook

We awake early to train with Master Cook on a lovely field outside our hotel. Spirits not dampened by the drizzle we continue to practice forms and one-step sparring.

We have become clock-watchers too and are ever mindful of the next point on the excursion.Off we go to Golgulsa Temple where we climb the 108 steps to a mountain cave housing a large Buddha statue and 108 smaller ones as well. It is damp and cool.

One of the monks tells us the history of this place and after a few quiet moments and several photographs, we move to the SunMuDo training center for training. More ancient than TaeKwonDo the monk smilingly explains that this practice combines yoga, qigong, meditation, and martial arts. It is claimed to be a system of healing through harmonization of mind and body. Our initiation is strenuous and has many of us marveling at the strength, speed, and power that can be generated from flexibility. I catch him chuckling as we attempt to perform an “easy” form. We have to smile a bit at ourselves as well.

The treat is when he, along with two others perform for us – each one doing something different to display the slow, controlled motions that typify this art. Then, it is time for the monk to demonstrate a form – I’m so happy to be able to shoot this in video! There are more motions than I can count and each one of them elicits an “ooh” from our rapt audience. Impossible, I think. Yet seeing is believing and I am overwhelmed to be here. (The video clips are outstanding)

After a replenishing temple-style vegetarian lunch, we move on to the nearby Tong-Il Jeon Shrine: a commemorative of the time when the Chinese Tang clan and Silla dynasty banded together to stave off foes. The silence of the surrounding protective mountains evokes a past fraught with intrigues and dangers – the stuff of movie dramas. (In fact, there have been several made!)

The glorious mountains suggest homage duly paid by our uniformed members who silently perform their poomse expelling their kihaps forcefully to echo back the power of generations past who have struggled for the good luck we receive today!

Empowered by the history and strength of those who lived it, we board the bus once more for our return to Seoul. Tomorrow will mark departure but before the trip to Incheon Airport, there is one more, very exciting visit on the agenda.

Korea Travelogue: Journey to Ancient Times

on MAR. / 23 / 2011 | 0 comments

Master Erica Linthorst and Master Doug Cook

We board the bus early to make our 5 hour journey to the heart of history: Gyeongju, ancient capital of the Silla dynasty. The history of this country is worthy of study since it provides the backdrop for our martial art: TaeKwonDo. From the spirit-evoking Namsan Mountain to the plains, to the tomb mounds of passed emperors, history surrounds us. Our wonderful lunch is in a small enclave of traditional old houses.

We move on to the museum filled with relics from BC periods that offer insight into a society based upon Confucianism; orderly, stately, strong-willed and all too often beset by the incursion of outsiders.

From here we drive to Bulguksa Temple to experience what we have, by now, read about and seen through museum eyes. The value of this on-site moment helps us soak in the past and find, once more, the grace of the buildings, the intricate and colorful designs unique to Korea, and the silence that helps center us.

There is seemingly no end to the artistic and enticing perspectives provided by the architecture which is said to be planned to perfection to be in harmony with nature.

Temple ceiling and lintels

This is considered Buddha’s country temple. We breather the clean air and feel the peace that surrounds us. We are motivated to demonstrate our appreciation – for our masters and training, for being here on this trip with old and new friends, and for the rich opportunities in our lives.

TaeKwondo friends Masters Doug Cook and Erica Linthorst

Korea Travelogue: On the bus again

on MAR. / 23 / 2011 | 0 comments

Master Erica Linthorst

On Our Own
One of the great possibilities is going outside the tour – and, with my contacts, some of us launch our own enrichment program. I contact Grandmaster Jang Hyo-Seon (of KumYeDo fame; see previous article) and we’re off and running for an evening of Korean swordsmanship. For the total experience, we join GM Jang for a Chinese dinner first, trundle off in his van, and arrive for an incredibly special session that is both instructive and personalized, as two of us have had previous training. Cutting bamboo is a privilege held back for the end of the class. We finish out the evening together with Korean-style fried chicken – definitely a delight!

       The sub-set                               Jeff practices Jeff                     cuts bamboo

The evening draws to a close and, with a sense of accomplishment, we retire, looking ahead to another wonderful day of training.

Great Grandmaster Lee, Kyu Hyun: A Treasury of Knowledge

The beautiful, winding countryside surrounded by peaceful, calming mountains relieves us from the busy-ness of Seoul. It offers us the spirit and energy to continue our quest for knowledge, self-improvement, and all things TaeKwonDo.

We descend from the bus leaving our daily personas behind and as we don our doboks we become the students we strive to be – eager, absorbent, and humble.

Tour leader Master Doug Cook has sought the very best TKD leaders for our complete experience.

Precision is the theme of this training as our bodies now begin to experience and understand shallow angles, intricate and unfamiliar foot movements, and the changes that have been brought about within this year. As one of us cleverly notes: “Change is part of the tradition.” You can fight it, question it, and compare it to what you have learned elsewhere but it is on this segment of the trip that we learn to embrace it – all the time wondering how our masters and instructors at home will view our evolution.

The session finishes all too quickly, leaving us hungering for more. The personal attention GM Lee and his junior instructor Master Kyu Bok Jung have given us this balm to our TKD selves. We are appreciative and marvel at the nuances which alter our performance. The instruction has unbalanced us – often literally – and unsettled us considerably since within each set of the novel-to-us stances and motions there is so much to take in. This is why we travel to Korea and seek out the finest; this is why, at the end of the day, we are so very appreciative, and realize how modest we must remain throughout our stay here and our TKD lives in general.

Moving on, we arrive back in Seoul, set free as travelers to explore Myong-dong and Namdaemun markets. It’s a city for shoppers with deals and unusual items in every stall and store. This too is why we’ve come here…to enjoy (as the Korea Tourism Organization proposes) “Korea Sparkling”. As the end of another fantastic day draws near, exhausted we now have some time for reflection and relaxation. Tomorrow will be another big day when we head south through this mountainous country where photo opportunities abound.

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