Sword Gimp’s interesting week:

In the past 10 days:

Two separate masters of Haidong Gumdo told me that my plans and circumstances meant that it was time to sign up for the master’s program!  Think of Christmas with Santa played by Chuck Norris and as he appears in the chimney you’re not sure if he’s here to kick your butt or give you a high-five (which still might destroy you anyway).

Or… in cartoon memes, I had a Po moment… you know… the moment when he falls flat on his face and finds out that he’s supposed to become the next Dragon Warrior…


(Master K is particularly amused because neither he nor Master F spoke to one another about it.  They both told me the same thing at the same moment from opposite sides of the state.  Apparently to a master the solution was obvious.  This, of course, goes to show how master I’m not (yet?!) and how far I’ve got to go.)

Kung-Fu-Panda-Master-Shifu-gives-Po-the-Dragon-ScrollI spent most of the last week figuring out finances, praying a lot, talking things over with my folks (Confucian ideals and Christianity combine on that one…), and then the moment came: Handing my master my application.

When the Nerd Posse repeatedly stated that I was the natural (I think “reflexive” may have been used once or twice) teacher in the group, therefore I was to become our school’s teacher, I was all right with that.  I had the comfortable knowledge that the consequences of such decisions were years in the future.

(The last time we had that conversation was last month I think.)  Handing in that piece of paper felt a lot like jumping off a cliff with a 50-50 chance that I may learn to fly!  I think the best thing I can compare it to was the first day of college, excitement, knowing that there are great challenges ahead, thrilled to have earned a place where I was and more than slightly secretly terrified that I didn’t have what it takes.

Shifu-young-Tai-LungThe Nerd Posse wants Northwind Martial Arts (the name we’ve chosen for our dojang) to eventually offer an unarmed style, so I get to spend a few Saturdays a month up at Range Martial Arts re-forming an unarmed style, from classical Tae Kwon Do to Tang Soo Do, which is always a classic.

Of course, I’m very much learning the introductory forms and stances, which is just fine.  This is a project that is going to take several years to come to fruition, and I know that going in!  On the plus side, due to prior martial arts experience, and great understanding from Mrs. Wickstrom, I am working on several gup levels’ worth of forms at the moment.  I have five unarmed forms for Tang Soo Do, and my very first official joong bong form!  I’m only mildly ecstatic about the chance to diversify, and it will give me something to do with a staff other than Hapkido flourishes and a handful of counters.Kung-Fu-Panda-Legendary-Warrior-With-Staff


There are two immediate changes for me in my Haidong Gumdo training.  The first and most important daily change is the start of my third job.  I have my work as a machinist, my work as an author, and now my work to become a martial arts instructor.  It will probably be a year or so before I am ready to take the master’s exam, but I am a relatively quick learner and my lifelong bachelor status means that I can do Kung Fu Monk like nobody’s business, since I am not depriving my family if I spend every waking hour that I am not in the shower, work, or eating working on some aspect of my martial arts training.

Another change is in the training schedule.  Master Koivisto was very kind on Sunday.  He took time out of his own training to walk through Ssangsu Gumbeob Yeukbeon with me.  Always before today in Haidong Gumdo I have been trying to restrain my rampant curiosity.  I want to know it all, not just know it but master it all.  I’ve had a hard time (and frequently failed) focusing on the task at hand without going off on a metaphorical bunny trail like the night I spent doing the bal-chuggeom’s left-handed just to see if I could.

Now the regular gup order of training is a thing of the past.  It’s a total and sudden 180-degree change.  Not only CAN I study anything under Cho Dan, but I should and must.  It is my duty to keep far enough ahead of the Nerd Posse that I have something meaningful to teach when we train together, and that I have enough more of an understanding on what we are doing that I can help, encourage, and correct them as best I can so that they can become the best martial artists they can be!

Four weeks ago I had to make myself work on training one new form: SSGB 5.  Now my  regular forms training schedule looks like this:

SSGB 1-4: Maintain and tweak as needed.
SSGB 5: Polish.  Get the rhythm, the flow, and detail work done.
SSGB 6: Technique: I have the sequence memorized, it’s time to make sure the stances, positions, and attitudes are correct.
SSGB 7: Discover: Learn the pattern.  Memorize it so that I can ask intelligent questions and understand the insight given in the limited time I have to train with my master.

Sae Gye 1-3
Pyung-Ahn 1-2
“Staff form name I keep forgetting” 1

That’s a WHOLE LOT of forms to work on.  (This list does not include the 9 TKD forms I need to keep up on at the moment, either.  That 9 does not include the 8 Tae Geuk Poomse, because… yuck.  Tae Geuk 1-6 are palatable only because 7 and 8 are sort of fun, and they’re mostly fun because they’re not 1-6.  Hey, I mentioned that I go off on martial-arts tangents, right?)

I want this post to be more than just an update, so here are some things I am working on.

  • Tempo.  Sometimes forms have their own tempo included as part of their “story”.  At other times the tempo comes from within.  I need to know the difference.
  • Flow comes from fundamentals.  Specifically, it isn’t enough to be fluid in a form if my stances and positions go to heck in a handbasket.  My forms need to be fluid like a mountain stream where the shore, the rocks, and the stream bed are all visible, not fluid like chunky soup, where it’s all sort of glopped together and only occasionally surfaces for inspection.  The more certain I am of the fundamentals, the more free I will be to flow!  In Haidong Gumdo forms this means that my sword always starts and ends in the correct position.  It doesn’t need to stop there, but it does need to pass through both points, on purpose, on the way to the next technique!