Few things sum up the humble family attitude of the Midwest Haidong Gumdo community as this lesson I got from Master Frankovich shortly after starting Northwind Martial Arts LLC:

Let them see you train.

It is not my job to pretend to be the enlightened master on a hill with all knowledge and skill ingrained in every fiber of my being.  I am a martial artist like all my students.  We all struggle with different areas according to my gifts and abilities.  The truth is that I am always learning, and often learning that I need to improve what I thought I already knew.

In two weeks I will be training in front of Kwangjangnim Kim again for the first time of the year.  I have set myself an ambitious goal to prepare for it: To memorize the patterns for all nine forms of Yedo Gumbeub before this spring’s master’s training.  I probably won’t hit my goal, but aiming high will push me to do my best.

So today I wanted to talk about how I go about memorizing forms.  I build them one step at a time.  First, I figure out the draw.  I may do the draw eight or ten times if there is something tricky.  Then I learn just one more move, and I do the draw and the first move until I feel comfortable with it.  That isn’t a whole lot more to memorize, so it only takes me three or four repetitions to add one move.

Then I continue on like an ant building an ant hill, one grain at a time.

Draw + 1.
Draw, 1, and 2.
Draw, 1, 2, and 3.
Draw, 1, 2, 3, and 4.
and so on until I get to the end of the form.

So, if I only do five repetitions with each move before I add the next, I have done a hundred repetitions of the opening few moves by the time I do the first repetition of the final move in the form!  It isn’t uncommon for a memorization session to be most of my workout after a quick run through kibon jasewabegi.

If there is something very physically demanding about the form (like the cartwheel in Ssangsu Gumbeub 9 or the dive roll in Shimsang Gumbeub) I may do that only three or five times a day to prevent injury, and revert to the easier versions of those moves while I am memorizing.  Remember that my priority is to retain the pattern, not to pile on the cardio or drive my muscles to exhaustion.  If I am so busy worrying if I can stand up again after a crouching sheathe, then I have stopped making progress on my primary goal of form memorization!

PS. If you are wondering how I am doing on my quest, I am working on Yedo 5 & 6 this weekend, which will give me just under 2 weeks to work on 7-9.  This is only memorizing the pattern.  It will take months and thousands of repetitions before I come close to knowing and owning the forms as part of my art.

But that is where I am at in my journey!  Where are you in yours?  Feel free to comment below!