22 July 2015

Introductory Workshop in Seoul

I'll be teaching an Introduction to ITF Taekwon-Do Workshop on behalf of the Seoul Global Village Center, Yeoksam Branch, in Gangnam, Seoul next Friday, 31 July. Participation is free but the space is limited. There is still some space left though, so if anyone is in the area and interested, please contact the Yeoksam Global Village Center directly via the contact details provided in the image below.

Martial Arts Lessons in China

During my recent trip to China I participated in a nine day long camp with (mostly high school and college aged) Chinese students, who I taught various classes. Among the classes I taught were basic martial arts -- a combination of Taekwon-Do and Hapkido. They enjoyed a lot. I focussed mostly on low kicks, basic strikes, and some joint manipulation.

With some of the older students who had a little Taichi Quan experience I did slightly more advanced techniques, including pushing hands drills.

In Korea where Taekwon-Do is losing popularity, Taekwon-Do is gaining popularity in China. Taichi Quan, it seems, is now associated with training for "old people". The opposite is the case in Korea, where Taekwon-Do thought of as a kids activity.

02 July 2015

The 'Soo Shim Kwan' Name

I recently saw a Bruce Lee interview again in which he advises one to become like water. Of course, this immediately made me think about our federation's name: "Soo Shim Kwan" [水心館]. The Chinese characters 水心 that is pronounced Soo-Shim 수심 in Korean, literally translates as Water-Mind.

Originally the name of our federation was Potchefstroom Regional Federation. At the time the federations in South Africa were named after the geographic regions they catered for. This changed in 2003. Many instructors had expanded their dojang representation well beyond particular regions. A chief instructor might have instructors with dojang in multiple provinces. It was then decided that federations need not be confined to particular regions anymore and so the original 11 federations in South Africa chose new names. As one of the original federation heads I knew exactly what name I'd choose, as I had already decided on a name many years before. (Read about the Soo Shim Kwan history here.)

In 1997 I had read an interview in Tae Kwon Do Times in which the Korean concept of Soo Shim was mentioned.

“It is, as the Korean people say, ‘Soo Shim’, water-mind; meaning one who practices the arts will be like water.” Byung Lee, 1997. "Legends of Korea : The Tree" (In Taekwon-Do Times. July.)

It very much resonated with me, and I knew that if I ever have the opportunity to start my own group, that is the name I'll choose as it represents my understanding and approach to the martial arts. These water analogies found in the works of Taoist authors and other Oriental philosophers and also implied in the teachings of great martial artists have always been very important to me. Now, as I live in Korea and study Oriental philosophy, I'm even more convinced about the appropriateness of the name Soo Shim Kwan.

Ironically, few Koreans are familiar with East Asian philosophy and not many know much about even Korean philosophy. When I mention the term Soo-Shim 水心 to the average Korean, they are unlikely to understand the philosophical meaning. One of the meanings of Soo-Shim, based on a different Chinese characters combination denotes the "depths of the ocean" 水深. This is often what Koreans think of when I say Soo-Shim. Another meaning of Soo-Shim, based on another Chinese character combination is "anxiety" 愁心. Unfortunately the study of Chinese characters is not part of the modern school curriculum in Korea anymore. It is, however, the older, more learned Koreans whom have studied the old Chinese characters that immediately grasp the philosophical meaning of our name 水心, and often nod in approval.

I provided a summary of the meaning of our name on our Philosophy page.

A very big congratulations for the great performance by Soo Shim Kwan's Horangi Dojang at the South African National Open Championships that took place in Randburg recently. Instructor Gerhard Louw reported that: "Out of 7 students we brought home 7 gold medals, 2 silver medals and 1 bronze. Maria Ramona Truter performed outstanding by getting 3 gold medals and Best Veteran female of the day trophy. I am extremely proud of you all."

Congratulations Instructor Gerhard, you and your team are hot stuff!