Friday, April 22, 2011

A Whole New Language

. . . a special language developed through years of training . . .

Standing around a group of MSK martial artists and listening is a unique experience if you haven’t been in class, yet.  There is a special language developed through years of training just as doctors, bricklayers, firemen and teachers develop their own vernacular.  The only way you acquire a new language, like Moo Sul Kwan, is to live it.  Through all the practice, study, repetitions and execution of your “art”, you are able to communicate with others on a whole “new” plane.      

Mr. Jamie Sautel, 3rd dan, had opportunities to shadow Dr. Rob Madayag (a huge CTI supporter) in the ER at a local hospital.  When asked how it went, he commented, “It was like a whole new language.  From the technical phrases used during real situations that happened, to the de-briefings after those events.” Sautel added, “I didn't know what they were talking about a lot of the time, but I could see that it was just like listening to the upper belts – so you just listen and learn.”

So how do you start to learn that MSK language?  1. Start by learning all of the terms used in class – know how to say them and spell them.  2. When you kihap, know that you are communicating your spirit and more to others in your class.  3. When answering back in class, do so with respect while using proper vocal levels. 4. Listen and practice.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Everyone Wins!

Holly and Andrew Madayag Watching Competition
By Holly Madayag, red belt

As a competitor, am I ever nervous before a sparring match?  The answer is yes.

I barely have my protective gear on and I am already sweating.  I look up at the clock on the wall and notice the second hand ticking . . . for every tick, my heart beats at least two times.  I try to stretch and can’t stop thinking about the adrenaline circulating through my body.  Everything is in slow-motion.

We line-up.  My heart is beating so loudly in my head that I can barely hear when the center judge calls my name to step into the ring.  If it hadn’t been for a wave of his hand to reinforce that it was my turn to spar, I probably would not have heard him at all.  I am standing at attention stance – frozen – as he calls the person who will share the ring with me.  It is my fiercest competitor.  She is relentless in the ring.  She never gives up.  She is unwavering.      She is indomitable.  She is powerful.  She is - - my friend.

We take our respective places in the ring and share a glance.  We respectfully maintain eye contact.  What are we saying to each other that we cannot utter aloud?

I am thinking, “I have trained hard for months and am ready to challenge you to a match.  I have watched you spar and I know the moves you may try.  I am ready for those moves.  I am ready to block them and try some new things I have been working on to win.  I want to win.  But, above winning and everything else, please know that I respect you.  I respect you for the fighter that you are, for the work you do, for the woman you are.  We are both daughters, both wives, both mothers – both CTI martial artists.”  This sentiment is mutual.

We begin and the adrenaline clearly translates into external energy for both of us.  No more butterflies.  They have flown away.  The second-hand on the clock is a distant memory.  What is left is instinctual . . . what is left is all that we have learned throughout our training.  Focus, concentration, indomitable spirit.

It is tied up and we are both tired, but neither of us ready to give up.  Next point wins.  I pivot quickly to deliver what I am sure will be the defining moment in the match – a roundhouse right to her solar plexus. But, my foot never quite makes it.  As I lifted my leg, she beat me to the punch, throwing a perfect defensive sidekick right where I had left myself open.  My chest gear vibrated and instantly, I knew, it was over.  I see people talking but I hear no noise.  We return to our positions and out of the corner of my eye, I see the center judge motion to my opponent’s direction.  Point.  Match.

We shake hands, hug each other.  We walk out of the ring arm in arm.  Disappointed by defeat, I am strangely happy for her win. I have even more respect for her now that I even did before – and she, for me.

You see, in a way, I won today too.  I woke up early on a Saturday morning, when many of my friends are sleeping in.  I came to a CTI tournament to support my instructors, fellow students and my own children.  I took myself out of my comfort zone to step into a sparring ring against a division of women who are amazing Moo Sul Kwan artists.  I sparred my best – with strength AND integrity.

You see, this is how, as students at CTI, we have been “raised.”  From the time we started together as white belts, we have always been taught to be respectful of each other, courteous, kind.  We spar to improve ourselves – not to hurt a fellow student.  We spar to help each other grow – not to take each other out.  My colleague was the winner today and the fact that she is my friend makes me a winner too.
The night after the tournament, we think about things we did right, we think about things we can improve upon.  We think about our wins and our losses and how to do better next time.  We think about the kids in the program.  How we set an example for them in our actions, our behaviors, how we handle ourselves.  We think about how they are the future – the next generation of Moo Sul Kwan martial artists and how it is up to each of us to ensure they carry on the tenets of Taekwondo and traditions of the Colorado Taekwondo Institute.  My opponent will hang her medal up with pride, as she should.  She trained, worked hard and won.   As a student of CTI, she knows that that medal is for herself, her opponents, her instructor and her fellow students.  Trophy or not trophy, at CTI, everyone wins . . .

Friday, April 8, 2011

Life Would Be Easier If ...

By Eileen Lindner, brown belt

To me, integrity means being a person of honor, worthy of trust and willing to do the right thing.  To have integrity, you must strive to be honorable in all interactions with others.  Acting out of good faith, with the best intentions, helps you to live with integrity.

Merriam Webster online defines integrity as: “1 : firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values : INCORRUPTIBILITY 2 : an unimpaired condition : SOUNDNESS 3 : the quality or state of being complete or undivided : COMPLETENESS .”  Therefore, to have integrity, you must be true to your convictions, true to yourself, and at peace with yourself.  Acting with integrity in Taekwondo situations means we stay on the side of right, defend those who need help, and control ourselves.

Life would be much simpler if everyone acted with integrity, if all people were trustworthy and could be relied upon to be honest and follow through on promises.  Life isn’t that easy; but we can help by always treating others with respect and honesty.  I think everyday life in general should be approached with integrity; but specifically in work or school situations, coworkers and students with integrity will do well.  They will achieve higher goals since they are not only looking out for themselves; but acting in accord with their convictions.

A simple example of integrity in MSK Taekwondo would be during poomse practice.  Lately I'
ve been confusing several poomses and overlapping them.  It would be easy to say that I understand and am fine with them; but integrity requires me to admit my mistakes and ask for help.  Even when no one notices my mistake, if asked, I own up to it and improve my concentration to improve my poomse.  Without integrity, I could just go through the motions, watch the others around me and fake it.  That cheats everyone, most especially myself.

Since I am at the CTI to learn and improve, the best way for me to do that is to act with integrity, pay attention, give my whole effort, and learn from my mistakes and confusion.


Friday, April 1, 2011


By Ryan Lindner, red belt

Integrity is sticking to what you know is right.  It is standing up for what you believe in, being honest about everything.  It controls how much people believe you, how much they can trust you, and, indirectly, how much they care about you.  Also, integrity can be used to describe how much you have messed things up, and your reliability to not do that again.

Integrity is very important.  It makes your life a lot easier, not having to convince everyone they can trust you every time you make the slightest mistake, and people don’t tend to care as much if you almost never do something wrong and you slip up one time.  Integrity leads to lenience, lenience leads to trust, and trust leads to rewards.  However, lack of integrity leads to distrust, distrust leads to corruption, and corruption is not good.

Integrity should be used everywhere if possible.  However, no one can actually do that, so home, school and civilized society are big areas where it can help everyone be happier.  If you can trust someone to do their job, you can do yours better, knowing you don’t have to worry about them.  Also, if you are playing with a friend, they know you won’t do anything bad, or influence them to do bad things and get them in trouble.