Ten months ago my friends and I started training in Haidong Gumdo at Range Martial Arts in Chisolm.
We call ourselves the Nerd Posse, and we have been training hard.
We’re all fairly recent college graduates, scraping by on what work we can find, dreaming of bigger things.
Those of us who have trained in martial arts before are familiar with the first dreams of white belt syndrome, as we take our first lessons in, the giddy excitement at becoming so bad-ass so quickly…
Slowly it dawned on us that the truth is much less exciting. We’re pretty wussy and we have a long way to go.
But we buckled down, pushed each other, studied, and kept working on it.
In truth, we’ve done pretty well, and Master K has been more than kind letting us advance as fast as we could learn. In less than a year we’ve advanced from 9th to 4th gup.
He’s known for a while now that trekking across the state to train every weekend is hard financially, and that our goal has been to get good enough to start a club/school/satellite/
cult of our own in the Bemidji area. That’s the ultimate reason that I’ve started training to try and take the master’s exam when I reach Cho Dan, so I have the right/franchise to start my own dojang.
Yesterday at HGD, the Nerd Posse asked Master K how we could work with the schedule so that we could cut our major expense (travel) without giving up on our goals (training).
His second answer was a stunner: If we get together in Bemidji and train as a group, as long as he can take some steps to verify that we are in fact training when we say we are, then he will count that towards out time in rank as well. (You could have knocked me over with a feather at that one.)
Right now that is going to mean training outside, which is no bad thing! The weather has broken early and even if we get another cold snap sometime around June (when the last snows have been known to fall around here) it will mean that we can get twice the training time in!
We’ve already started to discuss what connections we have in the community to find places to train, what rental is going to look like compared to the travel costs we’re trying to avoid, and things like that, but it isn’t really urgent.
I mean… how much trouble can we get in for practicing our baldo-chuggum techniques in the middle of town?!
We have some leads we can pursue to find enough open and warm space before winter comes.
But what Master K said next, and every time I repeat it my head starts to spin and I need to sit down. (Fortunately I’m sitting down to type this, so no nerds were injured in the making of this blog post.)
He said that if we had anyone who wanted to start training in Haidong Gumdo, we could help them get started.
We’re mid-to-upper gup levels, which means we know enough to help white and orange belts. By the time they’re green belt or better we’ll be high gup or black-belt candidates, and that will be enough to help with the middle-level gup lessons.
In other words, the dream we had of starting our own school… which I was planning to address sometimes late in 2016 or so… can begin. It MAY NOT happen… it may take years and we may never have any fresh students of our own…
But we have permission to teach the basics.
The master’s quest has well and truly begun.
In a leadership class I took back in High School, I was told that people care about information in a 3-step process. WHAT, SO WHAT, and NOW WHAT.
WHAT? We have come far enough to begin to help start our own level of beginners.
SO WHAT? So we’re very blessed to have a Master like Justin Koivisto, who isn’t just going to sit back and let us claw out what we can, but who has taken an active and helping role in training us, understanding our goals and challenges, and pushing us forward. That doesn’t sound so amazing in Minnesota’s Haidong Gumdo community, which is very much like a large extended family, but I have been to enough schools and McDojos to know how valuable it is. Master K has already given us several excellent tips for ways to start building name recognition and a client base in town.
The Nerd Posse spent a lot of time talking about this, some on the way home and had a pow-wow until about midnight. Here is my takeaway from the meeting:
- Right now our immediate goals haven’t greatly changed, only intensified. We have the rest of the month to continue as we have been doing.
- Short term goal: Focus on training to represent our absolute best at the upcoming seminar. We aren’t just going to represent our incredible experiences at Range Martial Arts, but for the first time we’re going to be making an impression as our own unit, the Nerd Posse, that we will carry with us in the minds of the Minnesota masters and black belt community. We’re going to put 100% of our short-term effort into training.
Logic Monkey has already come up with the best possible response if Chief Master Parnell repeats last seminar’s question!
“What did you do to prepare for my coming here?”
The response: “Nothing! Sir, if there was anything more I could do to train I should already be doing it!”
- Working hard for the next five weeks will prepare us well for the upcoming promotion test. After that it will be time to start seriously looking at training ground and opportunities in the Bemidji area.
- If we start the dojang as an LLC and I take the master’s test to serve the dojang instead of to “rule” it, then the LLC may reimburse me for the cost of the examination/franchise (about 6k).
- We have passed the point of “fish or cut bait”. The Nerd Posse has agreed that I’m the most logical candidate to try for the master’s exam (no newborn to take care of, not working two jobs, no past commitment to a Bemidji area martial arts franchise, and I’m totally obsessive about succeeding in martial arts). So we have reaffirmed that I basically need to start training like a professional athlete, because that is pretty much what the goal of leading a martial arts school is, your friendly neighborhood professional athlete offering lessons.
- Of course, we need to come up with some cool names. While Nerd Posse Haidong Gumdo would be accurate, it may not go over well outside of our circle of friends. Bemidji Haidong Gumdo and Paul Bunyan Haidong Gumdo are probably overdone. I’ve proposed Blue Phoenix Haidong Gumdo, because blue is the color of the state, the local HS team, and Babe the Blue Ox, and the Phoenix is both a martial symbol and a mythological symbol popular to Christianity for its rebirth/renewal aspect, and to the wider world. More brainstorming will occur.
There was one final surprise for us speaking with Master K after class on Sunday. He said that we should keep doing the blog, that he approves and enjoys it. So now blogging about our martial arts journey is a duty for the dojang!
More to come!!!
I would type more but I need to rest and then go train some more!