Asheville Sun Soo Martial Arts – COVID-19/Coronavirus update

By now, all Asheville Sun Soo students and their families should have received an e-mail regarding the changes that will be happening at the dojang during this time. Please check your inbox and your spam folders to make certain that you have received the message. If you have not, please contact us at 828-505-4309 and update your contact information so that we can forward the message to you directly and be sure that you receive future updates as they happen. Thank you!

At Asheville Sun Soo, our intention has been to stay open as a service to our students and families and to be able to do so with the addition of several risk-reducing measures (greater distance between students during class, multiple hand sanitizers in the space, no student contact, extensive cleaning measures). We had hoped that we would be able to continue to serve our families through daily classes and our after-school-related programing were schools to close. As the week has progressed, however, it has become increasingly apparent that – in order to best serve our families and students, as well as the community at large – we must support as fully as possible, the collective and large-scale efforts being made to minimize the spread or potential spread of the virus.

Given the mandates that have been made on the state level in an effort to slow/minimize the transmission of the coronavirus, and given that Asheville Sun Soo’s mission is to “make the greatest positive difference for the greatest number of people,” we are compelled to stop all in-person programming for all students and families, effective immediately (beginning Monday, March 16th, 2020) – and until these mandates are lifted.

It is our sincere hope that we collectively will only need to be absent from Asheville Sun Soo for these next two weeks – and we also realize that it is possible that the interruption may be required to extend longer. In any case, we want to remind us all of a few things:

  • This will pass… There will be an end to this “season” and we will get to the other side. 🙂
  • We are not alone in this; we are all in this together! We, the Sun Soo family, are a loving and strong and positively-oriented collective – and we will hold space for each other and stay connected, even while we are not able to be physically present with each other.
  • We are martial artists! And real martial artists are strong!

Please know that we will have everyone in thoughts and hold a space for the greatest possibilities for us all. To this end, we are currently in the process of developing a means by which our students can practice at home (in addition to the resources that are already available). We will be sending additional details by Tuesday.

Please feel free to contact us by email or phone if you have any questions. Let’s all stay safe and make the best of this. We look forward to us all being together again soon!

Asheville Sun Soo Celebrates Our 13th Anniversary

photo of Asheville Sun Soo's storefront


Asheville Sun Soo is excited to celebrate our anniversary! We opened on January 3, 2007 – making today, January 3, 2020, our 13th anniversary! In addition to today marking our 13th year serving the Asheville area, we are also commemorating our 1-year anniversary at our current location in the River Ridge Market Place!

We would like to thank all of you for being a part of our Asheville Sun Soo Martial Arts family! Asheville Sun Soo wishes all of our students and families a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year!

Photo of Black Belt students and Asheville Sun Soo vans in front of the dojang

Asheville Sun Soo Celebrates the Holidays with December 2019 Belt Rank Testing and Holiday Potluck

Grandmaster Morris Attends UTA Grand Nationals in Louisiana

uta grand nationals photo of school ownersOver the weekend of July 25-27, Grandmaster Tony Morris represented Asheville Sun Soo Martial Arts at the annual Grand Nationals event conducted by the United Taekwondo Alliance (UTA).

The Grand Nationals serves several purposes within the UTA. It is a venue for a weekend long convention that includes professional education for member school owners and instructors, an opportunity for high-ranking (4th Dan and above) Black Belt testing and promotions, and the Grand National Championship Tournament.

Asheville Sun Soo Martial Arts is honored to be a new member of the UTA. As a function of that membership, Grandmaster Morris was invited to attend the Grand Nationals, both as a professional presenting speaker to other school owners covering best business practices and relational operations – as well as –  one of several high-ranking (8th Dan and above) judges for the Black Belt rank testing.

Asheville Sun Soo is enthusiastic about adding the UTA to our network of school associations, in addition to our home association of Taekwon-do International. These partnerships are beneficial to our students, expanding the number of sister schools we connect with, and providing opportunities for expanding outreach and service. We look forward to our continued association with both TKDI and the UTA – and to seeing students and instructors from both at our Invitational Tournament, to be held on September 28!


Asheville Sun Soo Martial Arts is Proud to be a Recipient of the 2019 Sky High Growth Award!

Asheville Sun Soo Martial Arts is proud to have been awarded a 2019 Sky High Growth Award by the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce. The Sky High Growth Awards recognize businesses for their growth and contribution to the local economy.

Asheville Sun Soo Martial Arts was selected as one of only 20 businesses in the greater Asheville area, from among the tens of thousands in its business community. Asheville Sun Soo Martial Arts was chosen in acknowledgement of its exceptionally high professional standards, innovations within the martial arts industry as well as the business community at large, along with its 12 ½ year continuous history of sustained growth, #1 ranking in the annual “Best of WNC” area voting, and contribution to the local economy and quality of life in Asheville.

Grandmaster Tony Morris and Master Michael Dickinson received the award on behalf of Asheville Sun Soo Martial Arts. Also present at the ceremony were Instructors Master Amy Dexter, Master Thabiti Sabahive, Ms. Tina Clark, and Ms. Cyd Smith, as well as Krisy Williams, our Operations Manager.

The award ceremony was held at Sierra Nevada Brewing in Mills River, and was well-attended by many local businesses, many of which also received a Sky High Growth Award. Asheville Sun Soo is thrilled to have been recognized by the Asheville Area Chamber for its business excellence.

Asheville Sun Soo Martial Arts would like to congratulate its fellow 2019 Sky High Growth Award Winners!

Asheville Arborists,  Asheville’s Fun Depot, Avadim Health, Inc., Blue Ridge Orthodontics, Center for Craft, Center for Massage & Natural Health, Hi-Wire Brewing, The Market Place Restaurant & Lounge, The Matt & Molly Team, LLC, Mind Your Business, Inc., Mosaix Group, Inc., PHYSIO Physical Therapy and Wellness, Shoji Spa & Lodge, SimplyHome, Sona Pharmacy + Clinic, Spherion, Vannoy Construction, YMCA of Western North Carolina, and Zoe Dental.

photo of Sun Soo staff members at Sky High Growth Award Ceremony

What Shape is Your Vessel…this Moment?

Several years ago, while attending a training in leadership, I saw a most remarkable demonstration.   The primary point was profound.  The materials used were familiar.  And the contrast between the profundity of the point and the commonness of the props gave great amplification to the impact of the demonstration.  It was incredibly simple — with straight forward results.  And yet I knew, in a very specific and memorable moment, that I would forever see and experience life differently — from that reference mark forward!

The materials used included two individual, uniquely and specifically shaped clear glass vessels, as well as one large pitcher of water.  The first vessel was about a foot tall and narrow, about two inches wide and square in its cross-section.  The second vessel was short – about six inches tall, pear-shaped and approximately six inches in diameter at its widest point.

Without saying a word, the demonstrator lifted the pitcher of water and proceeded to carefully and slowly pour the water into the first glass vessel.  Read more

A Martial Arts Lesson in Compassion

Compassion…the Magical Key to ONE

Contrary to some popular belief, the ultimate aim of an authentic martial arts practice is to become “one-with” “another” and in so doing there is no basis for conflict, for there is no basis for “separateness”.  The key resource for this expression is “compassion”. Read more

Q: What is the Philosophy of Tae Kwon Do?

A:  When we learn philosophy from a book, we tend to quickly forget it because it is not related to our actual lives. However, since Taekwondo is connected with every physical movement of our lives, we may never forget its philosophy. Since we experience life through the movements of daily living and we experience Taekwondo through its movements, we begin to understand the philosophy of Taekwondo by practicing Taekwondo and relating it to our daily movements.

Taekwondo is not just training in kicking, punching, and self-defense. It has roots in the many tenets held by spiritual masters and martial artists throughout history. Buddhism, introduced to the Koguryo kingdom from China in 347 AD, contributed greatly to the growth of the Korean martial arts through its aim of the “Mastery of Self.” Taekwondo provides a way to rid oneself of the ego, or what Zen-Buddhists call the “discriminating mind.”

To fully appreciate and understand the philosophy or spirit of Taekwondo, it is important to know something of Korean history, since the traditional values of the Korean people are an integral part of the philosophy of Taekwondo. Although not based on any one religion, the philosophy of Taekwondo was influenced by the many religious beliefs of the Korean (Han) people.

The philosophy of Taekwondo has evolved over time in the same way that its physical aspects have evolved. The original philosophical aspects were based on the need for survival and defense of the homeland. Ancient Koreans, in learning to deal with natural disasters and the hardships of life, relied spiritually on the movements of nature’s power, such as heaven, rain, cloud, sun, moon, trees, rocks, etc., for their consolation. As the tribal and agricultural community of the Korean people became established, so did their spirit of national unity. This developed into the principle of Seon (impeccable virtuousness), which became the basis of Korean philosophical thoughts. The idea of Seon is a very profound philosophy, it is the core of Oriental thoughts. In Seon, movements embody the spirit physically and the spirit is the inner working of the movements.

Taekwondo philosophy is based upon the beliefs that Han people developed throughout their history. It is related to the ancient principles of Hongik-Ingan and Jaese-Ihwa, and to the spirit of Hwarangdo. During the development of the Korean nation, particularly during the Three Kingdoms era, Taekwondo’s predecessor, Taekkyon, developed into a systematized martial art. The Korean warriors (Hwarang) of the Silla Kingdom adopted Seon as their martial spirit. Based on this, they professed loyalty to their country and filial piety, and believed in the virtues of courage and of having a strong ethical code.

Ancient Times

Taekwondo philosophy developed from the traditional national thought of the Korean (Han) people. In the myth of Korean foundation, in the early age, Hwan-Wung, the son of Heaven established a nation called Baedal (earliest name of Korea). He then announced the purpose of the national foundation as Jaese-Ihwa (educate with the reason of heaven) and Hongik-Ingan (universal welfare of mankind).

According to Korean legend, Tangun, the legendary founder of the Korean nation, advocated the idealism of Hongik-Ingan, Jaese-Ihwa, or Hwarangdo spirit. Hongik-Ingan and Jaese-Ihwa were a fundamental thought of Han people. Hongik-Ingan and Jaese-Ihwa appear clearly in the myth of Korea’s foundation. According to it, “In the early age, Hwan-Wung, the son of Heaven established a nation called Baedal (earliest name of Korea), and then announced the purpose of the national foundation as Jaese-Ihwa and Hongik-Ingan.” With time, these ideas developed into the Hwarangdo spirit and the Taekwondo philosophy of today.

These thoughts became the basis for the Korean traditional national philosophy, and later, the basis of Taekwondo philosophy. Hongik-Ingan  (universal benefits of humanism) means universal welfare of mankind. Taekwondo also embodies the idea of Hongik-Ingan since its purpose is to suppress fighting and induce peace. Jaese-Ihwa means that the world is educated in accordance with the reason of heaven. Since Taekwondo is characterized by the trinity of body, mind, it relates to Jaese-Ihwa since we may be educated in accordance with the reason of heaven through correct training in Taekwondo.

Three Kingdoms Period

During the Three Kingdoms period, Koreans were having to defend themselves from foreign aggressions from China and Japan. Due to this, the kingdoms tried to consolidate national unity, stressing the spirit of national defense among the people. Buddhism and Confucianism were widely practiced. The idealism of Hongik-Ingan, represented by the philosophy of Seon, was expanded by the Hwarang warriors with the integration of Buddhist and Confucian ideas into the Hwarangdo spirit. The Hwarangdo spirit is characterized by the three virtues of loyalty, filial piety, and trust, and three virtuous conducts of modesty, frugality, and restraint.

Koryo and Chosun Dynasties

Hongik-Ingan stresses respect for all human beings. The Korean people throughout the Koryo and Chosun periods were taught in their daily life to respect their superiors and treat their inferiors kindly. During this time, scholars were expressing various philosophical theories. One of the scholars, Great Scholar Yi Toe Gye, favored the theory of dualistic spiritual energy, which is represented by the four moral minds of benevolence, righteousness, propriety, and wisdom and the seven sentiments of joy, anger, sorrow, pleasure, love, vice, and avarice. Another scholar, Great Scholar Yi Yul-Kok, said in his writings, “I endeavored incessantly to achieve self-restraint until I could reach a realm of a saintly life,” “I do what is to be done with all sincerity,” and “Cultivation of the mind and learning should be continued without slowing down the tempo.” These sayings partly reflect the spirit of Taekwondo. One of the most significant ideals of the time was that of Chon-do (doing the right thing or following the right way), which has become an integral part of Taekwondo philosophy.

Spirit of Hwarangdo

The Hwarangdo spirit was based on the idea of Seon along with the integration of Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism. It contained the three virtues, the five principles of the world; and the three virtuous conducts.

Three Virtues

  • Chung (loyalty): refers to loyalty to the nation.
  • Hyo (Filial piety): means the filial piety to the parents.
  • Shin (Trust): means to have trust among human beings.

Five Principles of the World (Sye-sok-oh-kye)

  • Sa-kun-lee-chung: means to follow a nation and a king with loyalty.
  • Sa-chin-lee-hyo: means to respect parents with filial piety.
  • Kyo-u-lee-shin: means to make friends with trust.
  • Lim-cheon-mu-t’wi: means to not withdraw on the battle field.
  • Sal-saeng-yu-taek: means to not take another life, unless an unavoidable situation requires it.

Three Virtuous Conducts or Three kinds of beauty (Sam-mi)

  • Modesty: means the virtue to know courteous refusal. That is, it refers to services done for society without personal interests or gains. Also, it refers to the idea of contributing to social development rather than to that of an individual.
  • Frugality: means not to waste. If we live with the abundant materials without extravagance or waste, we will not suffer in difficult times. Also, such frugality generates the ability to help needy people in society.
  • Restraint: refers to self-denial. It means to win over one’s self or ego. Through restraint, people do not fight each other, rather, they live together in harmony.

Sam Jae and Eum/Yang

The philosophy of Taekwondo also is related to the principles of Sam Jae and of Eum/Yang. Sam Jae (Three Elements) refers to Cheon (the Heaven), Ji (the Earth), and In (the Man) and the principles uniting them. In oriental philosophy, these principles explain the changes of everything in the world.

In the orient, Sam Jae is central principle that explains the changes of everything in the world. Sam Jae and the changes of Eum/Yang constitute the Eight Trigrams for Divination in the Book of Changes The principle of Eum/Yang maintains that everything has an good and bad side. Taegeuk (the Great Absolute) represents the ultimate claim that Eum/Yang are actually one and the same.

At the core of this philosophy is the concept of duality in nature. Duality refers to the interaction of opposing forces, the Eum/Yang. The principle of Eum (the negative or darkness) and Yang (the positive or the brightness) maintains that everything has an opposite side and that the two work in harmony with opposing forces distributed equally. If one force dominates, the result is discord. For example, to defend against an aggressive hard attack, one should use a yielding soft defense to bring the situation into harmony. Taekwondo students learn to coordinate their actions and reactions with the forces of nature so they can overcome anything they encounter in life. By centering oneself and balancing the dual forces, students may begin to achieve the true goal of the aspiration to and application of perfection.

This principle explains various forms of changes. It comes from Taegeuk (the Great Absolute), which represents the ultimate claim that Eum and Yang are the one and the same thing. Sam Jae and the changes of Eum and Yang constitute the “Eight Trigrams for Divination” in the “Book of Changes.”

Taekwondo is defined and the way of kicking and punching. Students begin Taekwondo training for various reasons, such as fitness, weight loss, discipline, and self-defense. Many stop their training when they think they have achieved their reason for initially beginning the training and others stop before ever reaching this point. If students continue training until the reach the “do” phase of Taekwondo training, then their initial reason for beginning the training is irrelevant. At this point, they continue training because the basic principles of Taekwondo have become an integral part of their lives. Through kicking and punching, they have achieved the way.

In today’s society, there are relatively fewer chances to encounter a life-threatening situation. To spend several years of your life practicing Taekwondo would seem a high price to pay for the chance to defend yourself in the not-so-likely event of a deadly attack. Therefore, the spiritual part of Taekwondo is what should motivate everyone to practice Taekwondo.

Today’s Taekwondo Philosophy

Today’s Taekwondo Philosophy is best summarized by the tenets of Taekwondo that are recited at the beginning of most Taekwondo classes. Most students recite the tenets by rote without thinking about their meanings. If some thought is given to the tenets while reciting them, students would find many correlations between each tenet and what they have learned during their training and how it has affected their lives. Taekwondo philosophy is not preached at each class, instead, it is something the subtlety affects the thoughts and behavior of students over time and makes them better members of society.

Q: Why Do Martial Artists Bow All the Time?

A: Life is Rich … In the State of Appreciation

As you may know, bowing is common in the culture of an authentic martial arts practice.  Practitioners bow when they first enter the space of practice.  They bow to each other upon greeting and parting.  They bow to the flags, one representing their country of residence and the other representing the country of their art’s origin.  Students bow to their instructors and instructors, in turn bow back to their students.  They bow again upon stepping onto and then again upon exiting the official practice area (“dojang” for Korean arts, dojo for Japanese arts, etc.,.).  Then during practice, they bow again, to each new partner they engage with for part of class.  They seem to be bowing all the time!

So what’s with all the bowing?  On the surface, it would appear to be a simple mechanic of etiquette, – a gesture of respect – that seemingly occurs at every turn in a martial arts setting.  Sometimes, the gesture is misinterpreted – or even actually misused – as some sort of a power trip intended to create an atmosphere of servitude.  The true purpose however, runs deep and is powerfully effective in its original intent.  The true purpose of bowing is to facilitate appreciation – in the form of both 1) “dignified respect” and 2) “gratitude”.

The idea is to remind ourselves of all that is around us that is worthy of respect and for which we are fortunate – and therefore thankful – to be able to experience.  Through engaging the body and dedicating a moment for punctuation, the act of bowing helps the martial artist to “land” all of these moments of awareness.  In accumulating these many moments of appreciation, the martial artist experiences a profound sense of fulfillment and well-being and sense of connection to everything.  This sense of well-being is nurturing and strengthening and creates an inner stability and positive perspective that dwarfs the negativity in the world.

So how will your life be different if you practice appreciating throughout the day?  And while bowing is not part of our western culture, you may substitute whatever mechanic or gesture you are comfortable with.  A gentle nod, a knowing smile, a touch to the shoulder or an extra moment of eye-contact are just a few of the ways we can punctuate a moment of appreciation in our everyday lives.

It has been said by many leaders that we “become what we think about most of the time”.  What if we take that a step further – “we become what we experience most of the time”.  And we experience what we practice.  And we choose what we practice.  It’s all framing!  And we are the framers!  So look for — and then frame — all that is worthy of respect and gratitude.  BE appreciative and you’ll discover a world that is rich in resources and opportunity and all that is necessary to nourish the soul.  And in the process, you’ll discover the martial artist in you…


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