HOW IS TAEKWONDO DIFFERENT FROM KARATE AND OTHER MARTIAL ARTS?
Karate simply means empty-handed fighting, so all styles of martial arts that fit this definition can be considered karate. Taekwondo is the Korean style of karate. We use the term “karate” in our name, because it’s more recognizable to most people as a martial art.
ARE YOU ACCEPTING NEW STUDENTS?
Absolutely. We have always and will continue to accept new students who are interested in joining our school.
ARE YOU A FULL-CONTACT MARTIAL ART OR A SOFT STYLE?
Twenty years ago, when I started karate, the term “full contact” meant one person would be disabled in any match. “Light contact” (or “soft contact”) meant the same as our contact point system today — you must make contact with your opponent to score. We vary our degree of force in training, according to the rank and skill of each student, but students are not disabled.
I often hear about other instructors closing schools because they can’t make any money. Master Young Taek Yu and some of his friends always believed if you wanted to teach for money, you would be neither a good teacher nor wealthy. Instead, you need to teach because you love it and want to pass along the art to others. I love teaching because the art has enriched my own life and I enjoy the reward of watching others develop confidence and a well-grounded sense of self-esteem.
THERE ARE A LOT OF MARTIAL ARTS. WHICH STYLE IS BEST?
No style is the best. Instead, the best martial artist is the one who trains the most and keeps an open mind. One of my students said it best. When he felt “cocky,” the student said, he looked at himself as a cup holding knowledge. When the cup got full of himself, he would pour it all out and fill it up again with understanding.
I DON’T WANT MY CHILD FIGHTING. CAN HE OR SHE STILL BENEFIT?
Training in martial arts provides many benefits. Children age five through eight learn how to develop memorization skills, follow patterns, understand instructions and participate in groups — all critical for success in school. Children eight through 12 develop self-esteem, based on real accomplishment, and confidence that it’s OK to be wrong, as long as mistakes are corrected. Young students also learn that everyone struggles with something and that goals can be achieved with dedication and practice.
HOW OLD IS TOO OLD TO TRAIN?
Nobody is too old to train; my oldest student was 72! A knowledgeable instructor can adapt physical movements to the ability of each student. As the student’s physical strength and flexibility increase, the instructor changes those expectations.
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO EARN A BLACK BELT?
It all depends on the amount of time a student spends training. On average, if a student gives 100 percent effort for two or three days each week, he or she can earn a black belt in about three years. We grade students on a percentage scale, using grades of A, B, C, D and E, and have a minimum requirement to pass testing for the black belt. Obtaining a D is required to receive the black belt, though you always want to be an A-student in any attack situation!
CAN I LEARN OR IMPROVE MY KARATE WITH A BOOK OR VIDEO?
You certainly can copy or memorize moves, but to become a competent martial artist, you must train the mind and body together through repetition — learn to react without thinking. This takes time. You need your movements to become a natural reflex. This is achieved only through hours of physical training and training in pairs with others having different body sizes, body shapes and personalities.
WHAT WILL I HAVE TO DO TO OBTAIN (OR PASS) MY RANK TESTS?
Tests are given every three months, and anyone who has completed a minimum of 20 classes in that three-month period may test for the next rank. The skills you demonstrate depend on your age, physical ability and experience. Most examinations test students physically and mentally, and also assess discipline (control of your body). Most tests also include some form of breaking using boards — or concrete blocks or bricks for very experienced students who have trained to perform this kind of breaking.
HOW DO YOU TEACH DIFFERENT LEVELS OF STUDENTS IN THE SAME CLASS?
Though students train together, each belt level executes techniques appropriate to their belt color. A trained, experienced instructor will immediately spot students needing more instruction on how to position the feet, hands, hip or shoulder to perfect each movement. Here’s a good analogy. If all students wear white uniforms, but one shows up in black pants, he will stand out. The wrong movement also will stand out among the perfected ones. The instructor needs to have enough knowledge to observe a student and explain how to move a certain part of his body to successfully learn each skill. Students of different sizes and physical abilities may need different instructions to obtain the same end result.
WHAT PROGRESSION OF BELT COLORS IS USED AT YOUR SCHOOL?
Students begin as white belts and then progress through yellow, orange, green, purple, blue, brown and red. Students train about a year at red belt before qualifying to take a rank test to achieve the black belt (1st Dan).