What is Martial Arts
There is always Tae Kwon Do. It is timeless. It is eternal. It exists outside of season. Outside of sports season. Outside of the earth/sun yearly rotation through the heavens. Whether it is football, baseball, basketball, summer, spring or fall, there is always Tae Kwon Do.
It exists in all practitioners at all times. You carry it with you like you do your name, like your spirit. Like your religion. Like your self-esteem and identity. No matter how much you have practiced, even. Whether you dropped out as a 6-year-old Yellow Belt, or are waiting the 8 years to test for your 8th degree Black Belt as a 75-year-old, the amount of Tae Kwon Do energy you have accumulated serves to improve your life by that amount. So stick with it.
Even if it is hard. We have a saying in my home: sometimes it’s hard to get to Tae Kwon Do, but we’re always glad we did. This reminds us that, even if work has been challenging, even if school has been boring, it’s important & good for you to force yourself to put on that Dobok, get out the door, and perfect yourself. Because you only get one self. And one shot at getting that self in shape to succeed in life.
Even if it is repetitive. You may think you know a side-kick as a Green Belt because you broke your board during jump reverse kick on the first try during test. Good job, but don’t stop there. Don’t be lured by the novelty of the hooking kick as a Blue Belt and fail to practice your basic side kick, or jump reverse. There are ever deeper levels of excellence that you can only achieve through focused repetition.
The benefits of Tae Kwon Do are too numerous to mentioned. Since I have begun practicing, I have become more confident, more attuned to my body, and in better shape. I have lost 60 pounds. I have become a Personal Fitness Trainer. I took a 200-hour Yoga Certification Course. I trained for a triathalon. I have gained the physical prowess, discipline and leadership skills to coach multiple youth sports teams. Everyone should do Tae Kwon Do.
I am a Black Belt. And then some. I will continue testing, and practicing until I have harnessed the very life essence, the very Chi, the very Force that joins my Earthly body with the Heavenly forces that lie behind this visible world to such a subtle degree of balance that perfect, endless unity has been reached. I will never, ever give up.
Special thanks for this achievement go to:
Rick Janney for forming, maintaining & inspiring the West Liberty Dojang. Your continued dedication and expertise is an inspiration.
Jen Henderson for diligence, kindness and caring. Your commute to town, and the kindness with which you shepherd wave after wave of new practitioners is truly amazing.
David Bailey for setting the current standard of excellence for Tae Kwon Do practice. Your pure, methodical interpretation of the art is that to which I aspire.
Chance and Charlie Thrasher. Boys, you’ve hardly known a life without TKD. It has become part and parcel of your existence, with good results. It has created mindset for you that has enabled you to achieve in school, other sports, and life. Thank you for sticking with it, with me. I am more proud of you thank you know. I hope you continue far beyond the time when you are in my direct care.
My dear, sweet wife, Katie Thrasher. Your love and support made this all possible. You endured hundreds of evening meals without the boys and I. You wash our doboks, tend to our bruises, drive with us to the main dojang, all at the expense of your own time and desires.
Jan 2009 Publisher’s Page+Cover
In September 2008, General Choi’s son, Jung Hwa Choi, returned to South Korea
from Canada after 34 years. His return prompted an interview with the JoongAng
Daily in which Choi’s son claims that North Korea disguised its agents as Tae KwonDo masters working for the International TaeKwon-Do Federation (ITF) and dis-
patched them around the world. Choi also stated that in the 1980s, there were threeattempts by these agents to assassinate the then South Korean President, Chun Doo
Hwan. Choi’s claims stunned news readers, but for most of us familiar with the world
of TKD—there was little shock factor. His statements were simply an addition
to all the other political controversies the art of Tae Kwon Do has endured and
become entangled with over the years—whether it has been with the ITF, the WorldTaekwondo Federation (WTF), North Korea’s government or South Korea’s government.
The art of Tae Kwon Do is riddled with more politics and stories of espionage
and assassination than a Tom Clancy novel. There is no excuse for a martial art as
beautiful and as inspiring as TKD to be soiled upon by its leaders. It is the people at the top that fill our art with these degenerative attributes—it is not those that practice it. And yes, I said our art. Tae Kwon Do was created in Korea, by General Choi, but it no longer belongs to Korea or Koreans alone. It belongs to the world. It belongs to the little girl in Kentucky whose first perfectly executed form has filled her with the knowledge of accomplishment and the wisdom of patience; it belongs to the 70-year- old man who lost his wife two years ago and found a solace in TKD; it belongs to the mother of three, making it on her own, empowered by her new found agility and self-confidence; it belongs to you and it belongs to me.
The governments, policies and administrators of TKD have claimed their “right”
to Tae Kwon Do for far too long. Whether they feel a sense of entitlement or of
ownership is irrelevant to the common practitioner. They need to understand
that the world is watching. They need to understand that for Tae Kwon Do to be
openly embraced by the millions of people watching and the International Olympic
Committee for another four years—that the madness must stop. We need the ITF
to merge together all three of its factions and then merge with the WTF if Tae
Kwon Do is to be taken seriously on the global stage. The people of Tae Kwon Do are aware of the battles that have been fought over TKD, over the founding, the running, and the establishment. But those battles must be kept in the past. They do not do this martial art justice. They only detract from its beauty. I want all practitioners to understand, TKD is not about the politics, it’s not about the governments and it’s not about the in-fighting in the ITF and WTF or among them. True TKD, pure TKD, captures your spirit, your essence, your soul. It wraps you up at night and holds you, and unleashes you and your confidence to the world
each morning. Their battles—their fights—they are not ours. This is our TKD—we
claim it and we take it just for us. It is no longer theirs. Let them fight—it is futile.
Make TKD yours. Make it your escape. Make it your safe haven. Use it for its good-
ness and reject their negativity. We do not need it and we do not want it. We must all stand up together and tell them, this is not your TKD anymore—it belongs to us—the practitioners. And we demand better for our art—for TKD—we demand it—NO POLITICS IN TKD!