A: The question came up recently after class about who is higher ranking than whom and we decided to clarify.
So, why is rank even important? Firstly, we want to make the point that higher rank does not necessarily mean better or superior! It means that this particular person has put in the time and effort in the Sun Soo system to move up the ranks sooner.
In our Traditional Tae Kwon Do class, we line up according to rank with the highest ranking person standing to the right of the lower ranking students. We also ask lower ranking students to seek out higher ranking students to answer any clarifying questions. We also ask higher ranking students to remain humble and not use their rank to control or humiliate lower ranking students.
The higher ranking student is:
Higher ranking than you (as indicated by belt color).
If two or more students are the same belt rank, the higher ranking student is the one who tested into that rank first in the Sun Soo system.
If two or more students are the same belt rank and tested at the same time, the higher ranking student is the one who began attending classes first.
Please let us know if you have any other questions about rank.
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A: There are many, many ways that one can practice at home. Here are a few suggestions:
Work on specific techniques in front of a mirror (if room doesn’t permit stepping, then if it is a hand technique get into the proper stance and employing pivoting – chamber then execute and repeat — being sure to twist and snap everything into place simultaneously. if it is a foot technique, then step into fighting stance and repeatly kick with the same leg, stepping back into the original stance each time)
Practice technique and accuracy by hanging a small target from a string (like a small ball of aluminum foil) suspended (by tape) from the ceiling. This is useful for both hand and foot techniques.
Work on proper kick tracking with props. example 1: practice side kick by standing next to a dining table lift kicking leg up with knee high and supporting heel pivoted toward the table and slowly and with smooth control track the kick out above and across the table top and then back slowly and smoothly to re-chamber position. example 2: practice round house kick by getting into fighting stance and placing an object like a tall kitchen trash can just in front of the front leg — practice kicking with the rear leg lifting the knee high enough to safely track above the object, stopping at the kicking plane and then finishing the kick with the foot continuing path of travel out in the same line as the shoulder, hip and knee — and then re-chambering and pivoting back into the original stance.
Practice your forms and 1-steps in a room with the furniture moved to the edges or outside in the yard. note: practice ALL of your forms and1-steps!
Practice noticing! — at everything! the more observant you become the better martial artist you will be.
Practice stretching, especially parts of your body that are particularly sore or that do not have the range of motion that you would like
Increase your strength in your core muscles especially — twisting sit-ups, pilates exercises, leg-lifts, crunches, ect.,…
Visualize yourself executing your tae kwon do, whether you do this in the form of forms, 1-steps, sparring, or individual techniques — see yourself the way you would like to be. The more clearly you can visualize the more you will improve (the brain does not know the difference between clear, vivid visualization and actual physical experience). This means those few minutes as you fall asleep or come into consciousness in the morning can become your movie theater to the new martial artist you.
Teach a family member — as you begin to teach you begin to really learn. If you are enthusiastic and effective, your family member may eventually join you in class!
There are many other ideas that come to mind. These are just a few that come to my mind. There is great value in you creating your own as well…
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Breathing is a vital part of an authentic martial arts practice. There are a variety of different types of breathing that martial artists employ. Most of these different types of breathing are individually specific to the context of their application. Following are the four most prominent types of martial arts breathing matched with the way they are best used:
1) The first includes an emphasis on steady and rhythmic breathing. This type of breathing supports stamina, keeping the body fueled with a constant supply of oxygen in order to be able to keep pace.
2) The second is a type of “punctuating” breathing. This type of breathing emphasizes synchronizing an exhale at the moment of extension or the execution of a particular technique. This relationship ensures contraction of the diaphragm, protecting the internal organs. It further concentrates focus of the execution of technique as the simultaneous breathing requires great presence. Lastly such breathing affords the martial artist the opportunity to “ki-op” (“spirit-yell”) along with the technique creating expression of power with the capability to interrupt and demand reception.
3) The third type is “ki” or “chi” breathing – slow, intentional breathing for the purposes of cultivating energy for specific upcoming use. This breathing can be likened to “charging the batteries” with “life force” energy, as basic fortification or in preparation for extraordinary feats.
4) And the forth type is deep breathing – slow, deliberate breathing used primarily to revitalize the system – either raising the baseline energy of the martial artist in preparation for a hard workout – or – as a reprieve and re-charge after a burst of energy expenditure.
Become aware of the martial artist in you as you employ each of these primary types of breathing…
Steady and rhythmic breathing is useful to keep you going strong throughout your day! Take notice every hour on the hour. Check in with yourself. If your breathing is short and/or irregular – then see if you can re-establish rhythm in your life by developing a rhythm in your breathing. Once you do, you will notice your “baseline capability” rise commensurately.
“Punctuating breathing” can be used for concentrated tasks requiring great tasks. Ironically, most people tend to hold their breath in order to concentrate more. Intentionally breathing, during moments of great concentration, causes and fuels forward movement and progress. Sharp thinking, keen perception and the ability to communicate with increased clarity are greatly increased with the intentionality of this type of breathing.
“Ki” or Chi” breathing is generally fortifying, physically, psychically, emotionally and spiritually. While there are a variety of protocols that are prescribed for “Chi” breathing, the details are much less important than the intention to cultivate and draw upon the energy that is all around us at all times — and store a healthy dose. This type of breathing stimulates all the body’s healthy systems, oxygenates the blood and facilitates the release of endorphins in the brain – a sure-fire, short-cut recipe for a strong spirit, strong immune system and a no-cost “natural high”!
Finally deep breathing can be used to quickly wake-up or recover from over-stimulation and facilitate the beneficial processing of the input from such stimulation. A couple of deep breaths several times a day will keep productivity high, systems working efficiently, energy up and give opportunity for mental and emotional organization and relief!
Now as you contemplate these thoughts, review your own tendencies, and plan your strategies for implementing these breathing techniques….take just a moment….and …
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