A new student of Taekwondo is entering a very ancient system for training both mind and body. Taekwondo is a martial art, which developed in Korea over thousands of years. Taekwondo means literally “the art of striking with the hand and kicking with the foot.” It is known for its many beautiful kicks. Our style of Taekwondo is known as Choong Sil Kwan. This means, literally, the School of Constant and Never Ending Improvement. In other words, everyone in our school, even your instructors and black belts are working to become better.
As a new yellow belt, you have taken the first step on the ladder to success! As you begin to learn new material, remember to keep practicing your old material. Everything you are learning now will form the foundation for your advanced training in Taekwondo.
You are now ready to build a strong root system; strong stances. Practice your basic techniques and develop them to the best of your ability. Taekwondo developed from a very strong foundation developed over the centuries. Taekwondo is a martial art that utilizes only the weapons of your own body: hands, feet, mind, and spirit. In this way, those who train are always prepared as they always carry their weapons with them. During the 7th century in the Silla dynasty in Korea, martial arts were very important. But the Koreans also recognized the importance of the arts of the mind, and these were equally emphasized. The most elite of their society were young men, known as the Hwa Rang Do, skilled in both mental and martial arts. Over the following centuries, martial arts training was not as emphasized until the early 1900’s when the Japanese occupied Korea and forbade the practice of any form of Korean martial arts. Because the martial arts had a strong root system among the Korean people, some continued to train in secret and were able to keep the martial arts tradition alive in Korea through their dedication and perseverance.
When you achieve the rank of Green Belt, you have moved from the beginner into the intermediate class. This means that you have acquired the basic Taekwondo skills that you are now working to develop. You will begin to Free Spar and more will be expected of you. Now there will be many students newer than you, and you will need to set a good example for them. Now that you have the basic skills to begin achieving your goals, you must believe in your abilities and inspire yourself to work hard to achieve these goals.
Many students frequently ask, “Why must we learn patterns; why not just spar?”
Patterns were first developed as a means to practice offensive and defensive moves in a logical sequence. Until recent years when safety equipment was developed, free sparring was not a safe and enjoyable sport. It was too dangerous to use as a regular training technique. Instead, patterns were developed. When you practice your patterns, consider what move your opponent might have made which you are now countering. In this way, patterns can come to life for you and become a much more memorable training experience.
In the Choong Sil Kwan system we study 24 traditional patterns, the Chang Han series, developed by General Choi Hong Hi of Korea, the father of modern Taekwondo, and 4 Choong Sil, or discipline, patterns developed by Master Robert H. Hardin, founder of the Choong Sil Taekwondo Federation.
The reason General Choi developed 24 patterns is likened to the 24 hours in a day.
Twenty-four represents a complete cycle, his entire life, that he has devoted to the development and spread of Taekwondo.
The four Choong Sil patterns consist of 180 total moves that represent 180 degrees, a half circle, or a complete reversal of direction. With a very small, for example, one degree, change each day, you can attain complete change in only 180 days.
As you can see, patterns are an integral part of our Taekwondo tradition. They also represent our reward as we advance to new ranks. A student is not entitled to learn a pattern until he has achieved the rank associated with the pattern. In order to learn all the patterns, one must attain the rank of 6th degree black belt. This is a lifetime goal!
Once you reach blue belt, you have been training for a year or more, and you have laid the groundwork for more advanced training. You must now refine your techniques to develop maximum power. Board breaking as a power test is now a part of your testing procedure. Now you must begin to focus more on this aspect of your training.
Before advancing to red belt, you must build a good foundation of free sparring techniques and develop sufficient power in your techniques to be able to break boards with both a hand and a foot technique. As you add power to your techniques, you must also begin to develop control in free sparring to avoid injury. This is a good test of your self discipline! Modern taekwondo is an outgrowth of the Korean War.
General Choi, the father of modern taekwondo, taught martial arts to his elite 29th infantry division, and, following the war, set out to develop and promote a system of martial arts training. There were a number of different styles of martial arts in Korea at that time but, through his leadership, he was able to bring most of them together under the banner of Taekwondo. Taekwondo quickly became the national sport of Korea. Following the Korean War, Foreign soldiers who had been stationed in Korea took Taekwondo home with them and began its international development. Today, Taekwondo is practiced by millions worldwide and enjoys recognition as an Olympic Sport.
You’ve done it! You’ve been awarded a red belt, that coveted level just before Black Belt. What does it mean to you? You are now considered an advanced student, ready to refine and polish the basic techniques you have already learned. You have demonstrated that you have power with your board breaks. You must now realize the importance of controlling yourself and your techniques to prevent injury to others. All basic techniques are now available in your sparring sets. It is time to focus on improving your existing skills. You must also learn patience since this is usually a lengthy process. You will no longer be able to test at every school testing.
Hyun Sil is the third discipline pattern in the Choong Sil series. Hyun Sil means actualization or the development of a strong work ethic. To advance to Black Belt requires dedication, perseverance and hard work. As you refine your technique, many of the changes may seem small, but each one is important. The Hwa Rang, the flower of Korean manhood, were a group of elite young men who trained not only in martial arts, but also in painting, calligraphy and other arts during the Silla dynasty. Most of the future leaders of the country developed through the Hwa Rang. General Choi Hong Hi trained the elite 29th Infantry Division during the Korean War in special martial arts techniques. They became the equivalent of our Special Forces. Following the war, General Choi organized the various kwons (schools of martial arts) into a new system of martial arts known as taekwondo. General Choi later formed the International Taekwondo Federation (ITF), which exists today and is headquartered in Toronto, Canada. The ITF is one of the two primary international taekwondo federations. The World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) was formed by and is still the official arm of the Korean government. It, too, is international in scope and has thousands of members worldwide. These organizations have undergone many changes in recent years but they represent the two principal types of Taekwondo practiced today.