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Instructor’s Continuing Education Program

This Monday I returned from a weekend at the WKSA headquarters outside Houston, TX.  Each year, Kuk Sa Nim (the Grandmaster of Kuk Sool Won) invites school owners like myself to attend a multi-day session of instruction and training.  As many of us do not have a local instructor, this is an important opportunity for us to improve our skills and acquire new knowledge.  It’s hard to explain what an excellent experience this weekend was for me.  Though my words seem inadequate, I’ll try to convey a little about it.

In two separate sessions, Master Sung-Jin Suh (Kuk Sa Nim’s eldest son, an 8th degree black belt with 50 years of experience in Kuk Sool) instructed us on the finer points of Baek Pahl Ki Hyung (a Buddhist moving meditation, known as the “108 sufferings” form).  Master Suh illuminated subtle details, corrected mistakes, and guided us toward a higher expression of martial art.  Watching his performance of the form as he taught was a sublime experience.  Motions which are quite challenging for me he performs in a manner that seems effortless.  Motions I thought were simple and straightforward seem full of nuance when he executes them.   I first learned this form 15 years ago, but as with everything in true martial arts one is never done learning and perfecting such a form.  I think of it like a long slow ascent of a mountain.  Though the peak remains ever out of reach, Master Suh graciously shared with us paths by which we can climb higher.

We had opportunities to review and practice advanced weapons techniques.  This year I had an opportunity to practice traditional Korean archery over a longer range than I had previously worked with.  I enjoyed it, the complaints of my thumb notwithstanding.  (In Korean archery, the thumb is used to pull the bowstring, rather than the first two fingers.)  We also had time to practice knife throwing, which was a little less enjoyable because my skills have deteriorated a bit through a lack of recent practice.  I am determined to make time for more archery and knife throwing practice on my own before next year.

We also had the chance to practice sword cutting, which I personally find particularly enjoyable.  The experience of a single good cut when the rice straw mat seems to part in anticipation of the blade’s arrival is worth the frustration of every poor hacking attempt that precedes it.

Several masters gave lectures on different topics.  Master Barry Harmon (9th Dahn) discussed the theory of Ki and the cyclic Um/Yang flow.  Master Terry Heaps (5th Dahn) discussed the effects of different types of foods on our bodies, focusing on Asian classifications of foods and how they affect our Ki and different internal organs.  Master Alex Suh (Kuk Sa Nim’s second son, 7th Dahn) discussed recent developments in Korea involving official government promotion of traditional martial arts.  Masters Jack and Lee Harvey (6th and 5th Dahn respectively) discussed tournaments and judging.

Many other topics were also covered over the weekend.  Masters Sung-Jin and Alex Suh also reviewed several other forms and sets of self defense techniques with us.  We discussed finer points of martial arts etiquette.  I was introduced to new Korean terminology.  I understand our fundamental Ki breathing exercise (Ki Cho Jah Ki) better.  We discussed the differences between private lessons and group classes.  Several school owners offered their advice and experience on marketing and promotion of Kuk Sool.

There are some other very exciting developments in store for Kuk Sool Won that I can’t even tell you about.  As someone who has participated in numerous tournaments over the years, I am personally very excited about improvements coming over the next few years.

In a weekend filled with so many opportunities to improve ourselves as martial artists, I think one of the most significant things is Kuk Sa Nim’s generosity in inviting school owners to attend.  He asks for nothing in return other than that we bring ourselves and our best etiquette and attitude.  We come prepared to listen attentively and learn, and we are rewarded with instruction of tremendous value.  Though of course Kuk Sa Nim wants all Kuk Sool instructors to be excellent martial artists, he could ask for much more in return (and we would willingly give it).  I feel the fact that he doesn’t is just one of many ways he demonstrates how much he cares about all students of Kuk Sool Won.  I am humbled by the opportunity to participate, and I look forward to attending again next time.

1 comment to Instructor’s Continuing Education Program

  • PSBN Jon Denny

    Hi PSBN Ken,

    I have just returned from the same seminar this weekend in the UK with Master Sung Jin Suh and Master Alex Suh.

    It was every bit as excellent as you describe and I thoroughly look forward to the future of kuk sool won panning out.

    We need more practice!

    Your friend

    PSBN Jon

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