This weekend was amazing. 2 hours of Tang Soo Do followed by 3 hours of Tae Kwon Do and then another 2 hours of Haidong Gumdo guest-starring Master Oz of Twin Ports Haidong Gumdo, and at the end of the drive, the start of business plans for our own training opportunities in Bemidji!
I have to hit the highlights quickly because I have to be out and training by 5am to be done before the lazy muggles wake up and freak out that someone is waving a katana in the middle of town. (And yes, I get a thrill of the ninja-ness of training in the open without being caught, ever since I would sneak onto the athletic fields of my high school and Concordia College to practice sword forms while dodging security…)
First of all, the Nerd Posse agrees that we don’t want our future school to only offer an armed art, so for that reason I have started formal training in Tang Soo Do once more. That was fun.
At a seminar on Saturday led by Master Frankovich of White Tiger Martial Arts, I got to formally do Tae Kwon Do for the first time in years. It was great. It has inspired me to pick up my goal of mastering General Choi’s original 24 forms before I die. Master F had a ton of great things to say about three levels of application of moves in forms, how as our skill and understanding advance we can apply the same techniques in different ways, to different effects. A block-punch can become a block-lock-punch, can become a block-throw, with just a tiny tweak here and there, and look the same to the audience while the fight in our minds continues to move on to new levels!
Gyukgum drills are two-person pre-arranged fights to teach timing, distance, and basic combinations. They’re sort of the swordsman version of one-step sparring in TKD or TSD.
Master Koivisto called me out on a boast that I would learn them all in the fall, and I have worked hard on them before it got too cold to train extensively outside.
There were a lot of excellent details presented in class on Sunday that I hadn’t known before. For example:
- It turns out that there are only two Haidong Gumdo organizations in the region who have been given the Gyukgums to learn and train. They aren’t part of the standard curriculum, they were a gift to our Minnesota schools from Chief Master Parnell, and as such it behooves us to treat them as precious, to train, polish, and master them!
- The gyugums have a forty-five degree turn in them when done in the partnered variation. That is because they were originally meant to be done in each of the eight directions. That means these are sword forms two people should or could practice on a diagram of the oriental eight trigrams (a breakdown of their understanding of the elements of nature and life that show up a LOT in internal arts and Eastern religions/philosophies). Some martial arts like Bagua will actually have the trigram drawn on the floor.
- Chief Master Parnell has said that there’s a fighting spirit to the gyugkums. I remember him saying this fall that our partner should be nervous when we train, though of course that is because of energy and focus, NOT because we train in an unsafe fashion.
- The gyukgums, done right, are going to lay waste to our muggums. Master Parnell has said that we should keep the muggums that are ruined by training as a measure of our progress in the art. In other words, the gyukgums are to be done with energy, focus, and a warrior spirit!
- This has taken Range Martial Arts’ decision to keep the gyukgums in our training curriculum to an entirely new level. It isn’t just neat that we hang onto something cool. We have a treasure in our school’s technique. That is very comic-book martial-arts legendary, and it is also legitimate. I am flat geeking out.
- As a practical application, this means that every time I practice the gyukgums I need to practice them eight times, to start in place and work my way around the trigrams until I return to my starting place!
PS, during training Master Oz’s belt was coming undone, and I was able to get a look at the way that he tied it to keep the back level. It is different than the way I learned, so I’m going to have to practice.
Speaking of practice, I hear muggles moving around upstairs. I had better go train!