Friday, August 30, 2013

"Oldman's Bubishi" From Prairie Martial Arts


Now available from Prairie Martial Arts. "Oldman's Bubishi", is a richly illustrated introduction to the Bunkai of Karate Kata. The book by Mark "Oldman" Cook focuses on the widely practiced kata series, the Pinan / Heian / Pyung Ahn series. If you have learned this kata series or even the Hyung and Poomse variations they inspired in Korean Karate and Tae Kwon Do, this book is for you. Let Oldman and his nemesis introduce you to the bone breaking beauty of the kata / Form. Dance class is over. It's time to put the function back into your forms.

Oldman's Bubishi, is the visual record of a deep dive into the waters of Karate Kata by Mark "Oldman" Cook. It is an 8.5 by 11", 136 page, spiral bound butt kicking. Written in the international language of line, it's not meant to sit on a shelf, look pretty and collect dust. It is a workbook for you to take onto the mats with you. What's inside? An artist's perspective on Kata. Insights on finding form, function for yourself. It's time make the art your own. There are sequential drawings of each of the five Pinan / Heian / Pyung Ahn Kata and an insightful, practical step by step analysis of each.




Are you a Karate student? Have you gotten to the point that you're asking yourself "Why do I even waste my time doing stupid kata?". This book can help YOU answer to that question. Are you a Sensei or Sabumnim? Have you finally realized the you are not getting faster and stronger with each passing year. Not interested in competition sparring anymore. Have you become bored with the whole "Karate thing." Are you considering hanging it up? DON'T DO IT!!! Take responsibility for YOUR training and growth. Get fired up. If you are not satisfied with where you are or where you are going, you NEED a big dose of "Oldman's Bubishi" STAT!

Now keep in mind this Oldman fella has a vested interest in getting you to buy this stuff so you might want to think twice about what he says. You would be much better off listening to some of the worlds most respected Karate instructors and researchers.


What are they saying?.....


"Very impressive. What a great way to reach a new generation of learners."

Patrick McCarthy, Hanshi 9th Dan
International Ryukyu Karate Research Society


"I love this book! Oldman's Bubishi includes some really interesting kata applications in a very easy to follow and engaging way. The applications are deadly serious and I found the cartoon illustrations much easier to follow that the vast majority of photo sequences I've seen. Dont make the mistake of assuming that the humorous illustrations mean the information is not for the serious martial artist! This is solid stuff! Theres no denying the illustrations are very humorous though! I found myself giggling more than once at the factual expressions of both Oldman and his unfortunate uke. I guess the best description for the book would be serious information delivered in a light-hearted way. Just what good martial arts should be!" 

Iain Abernethy 6th Dan with the British Combat Association, author of Bunkai Jutsu and recognised expert on applied Karate. 


"Oldman's Bubishi was fabulous. Love the illustrations and the bunkai — worthy of my own analysis (I hope that is a complement!). It is lighthearted, obviously the illustrations are intentionally cartoonish yet clear and accurate. Presently, there are many books out on kata analysis, but yours is more simple, more clear, and more fun. Congratulations".

Tony Annesi, Hanshi, author of "The Principles of
Advanced Budo" and "Cracking the Kata Code"


"Mark Cook, a brilliant artist is his own right, created Oldman’s Bubishi as a way to pass his
own efforts to understand kata’s technique applications for all of us. I see Mark’s expression of his own kata application studies in the Oldman’s Bubishi as a personal notebook using his creation “Oldman” as the instructor. And what an instructor the Oldman is. He most frequently tries to diffuse an attacker’s intent by seeking peace. However when the attack comes he responds with his full art including striking, grabbing and takedowns. He presents various applications to the Pinan / Heian /
Pyong An kata which with appropriate training clearly show the techniques potentials.The illustrations of Oldman’s Bubishi are brilliant. They more clearly show the applications
than most karate works have done. And occasionally a sly humor inserts itself during the 
Oldman’s response."


Victor Smith
Bushi No Te Isshinryu



Sunday, July 14, 2013

Oldman's CRASH COURSE


To my martial arts buddies, I just posted a video to youtube to share a bit about the Oldman's Crash Course. The course is an introduction into the principles behind my book "Oldman's Bubishi". I will be doing a class in Urbana, Illinois on July 27th at the Kobudokan. The get together will be a great opportunity to hang out with old friends and meet some new ones as well. We will cover not only the Heian, Pinan, Pyung Ahn kata but I will also share the keys on how to find "meaning in movement". If you are in the area don't miss it. If you are not, make the drive! There is no fee for the class but people can make donations to the support the school. There are other seminars in the works for the K.C. and  the Chicago area. 

The posted video shows multiple applications from the first movement of Pinan Shodan, Heian Nidan, Pyung Ahn Edan. The movement can also be found in the WTF form Taebaek. Keep in mind what you see on the video is only ONE movement of ONE Kata. I hope you enjoy it. And of course I hope to meet many of you on the 27th.


Oldman's CRASH COURSE
Saturday, July 27th
5:00 - 7:00 p.m.
KOBUDOKAN
1717 Philo Rd Ste 11, 
Urbana, Illinois 61802-6043


Thursday, May 30, 2013

Oldman's Bubishi: Kata and Cartoons Collide

I don't speak Japanese. I don't even speak English very well but I do love words... and pictures. Occasionally I'm invited to teach a class I developed called "The Language Of Line". I have taught it in corporations and classrooms. I have taught it in colleges and kindergarten. It is not unusual for the first thing for people to say to me when we begin is "I can't draw a thing!". By the end of the class I have everyone introduced to, and "speaking" an international language that is independent of sound and text. It is really very fun.

Oh, back to the Japanese reference. I remember Dave Lowery defining and explaining the word "Kata". He defined it as "How one behaves". It reminds me of one time I was watching a man plastering a wall. I said to him "That is so cool. You make that look SO EASY". He responded "Oh, thanks, it's nothing it's just what I do". The same thing happens with me. When people say nice things about my drawing I feel the same way the plasterer did... "Oh, thanks, it's nothing it's just what I do".

I have made my living as an artist for thirty years now. I have been practicing karate for eighteen years. Over those years those arts, the visual and martial have merged. Kata and cartoon have come together and ended up as my book "Oldman's Bubishi".


"Oldman's Bubishi" started on the mats in the dojo with lots of sweat and repetition. Just because I use cartoons as my method to share information with people I would not want folks to think that I'm not serious about training and teaching. I have a few dedicated students that train with me in a very small very sweaty dojo in the lower level of my home. Occasionally after class we will use a flip camera to take visual notes for friends out of town or students that aren't present. Here is an example of one of those high humidity post class clips...



In this photo you can see my Flip video camera connected to my computer. The Flip certainly has it's limitations but it is really easy to use. After a few minutes of being distracted by emails and LOL cat videos... Badda Bing Badda Bang Baddah BOOM!. The video from class is on YouTube. 



The lessons and learnings from the classes then get practiced an pondered. Because I am a visual learner doodling often helps me "get" things.  On the left you can see a stack of 3X5 cards and some pens. Nothing special.  I grab a 3X5 and a pen start drawing. It might take 30 seconds to 10 minutes for me to have a rough idea about how to convey the essential movement. Many times I can do a drawing, scan it and have it on the web to share with someone in about 5 minutes. The drawing on the right is a rough for a Bubishi page and is much more complicated to do. They start with roughs, inking, scanning and then more digital work after that.



In this photo you can see file folders for each kata. They hold both the roughs and the finished drawings done on vellum and ready to be scanned.


The workbench / assembly line.


This photo shows how good posture and correct ergonomics are essential to the practice of cartoon and kata. This is the stage of the cartooning process where I add the man boobs and double chins. You can clearly see in this photo that the stresses of producing cartoons daily has taken it's toll on me. Some days I just don't feel funny. On those days I may resort to an old trick I learned from Gary Larson. I go to the fridge and grab a sandwich. Maybe some lunch meat with mustard. Then I put the sandwich in my pants and go back to work. It is almost impossible not to feel funny when you have a sandwich in your pants.


So, there it is. A look at the "Oldman" behind the curtain. I'm like many of you out there. I have a job, kids and a (very understanding) spouse. Like most of you I'm not and will never be a world champion or run a large organization. I just practice karate. Oh, and of course draw pictures. Over the years the lines between the different parts of my life have become less defined. I just do what I do. It's "how I behave". I guess that is kata.

Words of wisdom from an Oldman...?

Train seriously but safely. Work hard. Keep going, step by step. Share what you learn with others as honestly as you can. And lastly, don't forget to have fun.

Friday, September 7, 2012

"Oldman's Bubishi" From Prairie Martial Arts


Now available from Prairie Martial Arts. "Oldman's Bubishi", is a richly illustrated introduction to the Bunkai of Karate Kata. The book by Mark "Oldman" Cook focuses on the widely practiced kata series, the Pinan / Heian / Pyung Ahn series. If you have learned this kata series or even the Hyung and Poomse variations they inspired in Korean Karate and Tae Kwon Do, this book is for you. Let Oldman and his nemesis introduce you to the bone breaking beauty of the kata / Form. Dance class is over. It's time to put the function back into your forms.

Oldman's Bubishi, is the visual record of a deep dive into the waters of Karate Kata by Mark "Oldman" Cook. It is an 8.5 by 11", 136 page, spiral bound butt kicking. Written in the international language of line, it's not meant to sit on a shelf, look pretty and collect dust. It is a workbook for you to take onto the mats with you. What's inside? An artist's perspective on Kata. Insights on finding form, function for yourself. It's time make the art your own. There are sequential drawings of each of the five Pinan / Heian / Pyung Ahn Kata and an insightful, practical step by step analysis of each.




Are you a Karate student? Have you gotten to the point that you're asking yourself "Why do I even waste my time doing stupid kata?". This book can help YOU answer to that question. Are you a Sensei or Sabumnim? Have you finally realized the you are not getting faster and stronger with each passing year. Not interested in competition sparring anymore. Have you become bored with the whole "Karate thing." Are you considering hanging it up? DON'T DO IT!!! Take responsibility for YOUR training and growth. Get fired up. If you are not satisfied with where you are or where you are going, you NEED a big dose of "Oldman's Bubishi" STAT!

Now keep in mind this Oldman fella has a vested interest in getting you to buy this stuff so you might want to think twice about what he says. You would be much better off listening to some of the worlds most respected Karate instructors and researchers.


What are they saying?.....


"Very impressive. What a great way to reach a new generation of learners."

Patrick McCarthy, Hanshi 9th Dan
International Ryukyu Karate Research Society


"I love this book! Oldman's Bubishi includes some really interesting kata applications in a very easy to follow and engaging way. The applications are deadly serious and I found the cartoon illustrations much easier to follow that the vast majority of photo sequences I've seen. Dont make the mistake of assuming that the humorous illustrations mean the information is not for the serious martial artist! This is solid stuff! Theres no denying the illustrations are very humorous though! I found myself giggling more than once at the factual expressions of both Oldman and his unfortunate uke. I guess the best description for the book would be serious information delivered in a light-hearted way. Just what good martial arts should be!" 

Iain Abernethy 6th Dan with the British Combat Association, author of Bunkai Jutsu and recognised expert on applied Karate. 


"Oldman's Bubishi was fabulous. Love the illustrations and the bunkai — worthy of my own analysis (I hope that is a complement!). It is lighthearted, obviously the illustrations are intentionally cartoonish yet clear and accurate. Presently, there are many books out on kata analysis, but yours is more simple, more clear, and more fun. Congratulations".

Tony Annesi, Hanshi, author of "The Principles of
Advanced Budo" and "Cracking the Kata Code"


"Mark Cook, a brilliant artist is his own right, created Oldman’s Bubishi as a way to pass his
own efforts to understand kata’s technique applications for all of us. I see Mark’s expression of his own kata application studies in the Oldman’s Bubishi as a personal notebook using his creation “Oldman” as the instructor. And what an instructor the Oldman is. He most frequently tries to diffuse an attacker’s intent by seeking peace. However when the attack comes he responds with his full art including striking, grabbing and takedowns. He presents various applications to the Pinan / Heian /
Pyong An kata which with appropriate training clearly show the techniques potentials.The illustrations of Oldman’s Bubishi are brilliant. They more clearly show the applications
than most karate works have done. And occasionally a sly humor inserts itself during the 
Oldman’s response."


Victor Smith
Bushi No Te Isshinryu



Thursday, July 12, 2012

Sunday! Sunday!! Sunday!!!


   Sunday nights are usually one of the highlights of my week. I love teaching my classes at Hallmark and at the Paul Henson Family YMCA. That being said there are a few things about Sunday nights that make them unique and enjoyable. First, three great young men. The training happens in my home, often after a nice meal. There is no commute. My home dojo as opposed to my other locations has mats throughout. This allows for throws and some groundwork that we can't do in other locations. With my young dogs I don't worry as much about injuries as much as I do with my senior guys. I also don't worry about potty breaks. At the Y, one person having to go to the potty  can cause a chain among the kids that becomes a ten minute diversion. I love all my classes but Sunday night is hard to beat. Did I mention there is room for one more student?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Sword of Hard Work


 This is a photo of "The Sword of Hard Work". It is a traveling trophy that goes home with the student that works the hardest in class. Tonight it went home with Colin. At five years old Colin is my youngest student. Tonight Colin worked very hard at standing still and not talking, Standing still and not talking can be very hard work for some of us. If you knew me you would know just how true that is for me.


Of course there is a story that goes along with the sword. The sword is not only a trophy but is is a lesson for the students and a reminder for myself. The sword is ancient by my young students standards. It was "smithed" in December of 1988. Hand forged by me in my basement before it had become a dojo and before I returned to martial arts in 1994.

On December 13th I started a new job at Hallmark Cards Inc. In Kansas City Mo. I moved my family from The Windy City. In doing so we put almost all of our equity from the sale of our home into our little house on the prairie. I also learned that I would be receiving a paycheck only once a month. Ouch. Merry Christmas.

In one day I had gone from holding the biggest check I ever held in my life to having next to nothing in the bank or in my pocket. This began what my wife refers to as "The Toast Years". "What's for dinner dear? I don't know, how does toast sound." "Would you like toast with your toast?" "At least it's warm in here. One might even say it's toasty." In those lean years we never missed a meal. As long as you consider toast a meal.

Back to the "Sword" story. Because there was not much left in the bank as Christmas approached my wife made a suggestion. She suggested that we make our gifts and added the stipulation that they be made from something that was already in the house. No cheating by going out and buying supplies.

That Christmas I made the sword for my son who was almost two at the time. He was also very in to Pirates. I made the sword from a shelf from the family room. I painted it with leftover wall paint and added some flourishes with a sharpy. In the following weeks, months and years there were many sword fights. Some over honor. Some over bedtimes. Often we fortified ourselves for long campaigns with toast. We did not have much during that time but my memories of that period are still pretty sweet. It really doesn't take much to enjoy life.

For my students "The Sword of Hard Work" is a trophy. A kind of silly one at that. For me it is a reminder. It is a reminder that when times get hard, be creative. A reminder to work hard and persevere. Hard work can pay off but don't forget to have fun.  Most importantly, remember, to do those things with and for the others. 

I'm still employed by Hallmark. We paid off our mortgage a few years ago. We own our house. A house with a dojo in it. I teach karate classes. What is the curriculum. Avoid fighting but be prepared to enter the fight. Work hard, persevere, have fun, love people.


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Oldman's Bubishi



The trailer for the much anticipated release of "Oldman's Bubishi ". Oldman's Bubishi, is a richly illustrated introduction to the Bunkai of Karate Kata. The book by Mark "Oldman" Cook focuses on the most widely practiced kata series, the Pinan / Heian / Pyung Ahn series. Many modern Karate and Tae Kwon Do form, hyung and poomse can trace the roots of their movement to these kata created by Anko Itosu. If you have learned this kata series or their derivative modern heirs, let Oldman introduce you to the bone breaking beauty of the kata. Dance class is over. It's time to put the function back into your forms.

What are people saying...

Iain Abernethy on "Oldman's Bubishi"...

I love this book! Oldmans Bubishi includes some really interesting kata applications in a very easy to follow and engaging way. The applications are deadly serious and I found the cartoon illustrations much easier to follow that the vast majority of photo sequences I've seen. Dont make the mistake of assuming that the humorous illustrations mean the informa...
tion is not for the serious martial artist! This is solid stuff! Theres no denying the illustrations are very humorous though! I found myself giggling more than once at the factual expressions of both Oldman and his unfortunate uke. I guess the best description for the book would be serious information delivered in a light-hearted way. Just what good martial arts should be!



Iain Abernethy 6th Dan



Tony Annesi, Hanshi, author of "The Principles of
Advanced Budo" and "Cracking the Kata Code" on "Oldman's Bubishi"

" Oldmans Bubishi was fabulous. Love the illustrations and the bunkai — worthy of my own analysis (I hope that is a complement!). It is lighthearted (obviously the illustrations are intentionally cartoonish) yet clear and accurate. Presently, there are many books out on kata analysis, but yours is more simple, more clear, and more fun. Congratulations".

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Reality Programing "The Bachelor" and "Survivor"


There is a lot of talk about "Reality Programing" these days. "Jersey Shore", "The Bachelor", "Survivor". Not to be left out, I have created a bit of  reality viewing entertainment as well. This video is from the Corporate Karate class at the fitness center at Hallmark. Both of these guys have been training around five years. These guys show up for class two times a week, sometime three. Both are in their 60's. They have outlasted folks half their age.  Joe even had hip surgery just last year and is back at it. They knew starting out that they would not be becoming world champions ( then again neither will I ). I have had 17 years olds ask me if it was to late for them to start training. Of course, I reassure them that they are not too old. Why start if you are 19, 23, 35, 40 or even over 50?  Because it is good for you brain and your body. Because you will learn things about yourself and others. It keeps your mind and body invigorated and challenged. It might even save your life. 

I once had a person ask me regarding Karate... "When are you gonna give that stuff up ?'   I replied "I don't know, when did you stop taking care of yourself and  doing things you enjoy?".   O.k., that may have been a bit snarky but they had it coming.

One reason I both love and hate video is that you get a chance to see things as they really are and lose any illusions you have about your skills. You can see reality. On the other hand, that is the same thing I love about it. Once you experience it you can accept it, deny it, or work to change it. Some "Keybored Warriors" out there might look at this clip an think to themselves "Ha look at those old dudes" (including the teacher). The truth is I have seen a lot of "those guys" come and go. If some of "those guys" do see this video they will probably watching it on a computer their parents paid for, between marathons of "Call of Duty" and "Keeping Up With the Kardashians". That's Reality. 

Reality, Embrace it, Accept it or Change it.




p.s. Shelly IS a "Bachelor" and Joe is a "Survivor" i.e. Ex Marine

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Beginning Again


Another New Year. Another year practicing Korean Karate. Another year negotiating with Father Time. As you look ahead at the new year make time for taking care of you. Find a practice that you enjoy and works for you. Let go of perfection and enjoy practice.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Iain Abernethy seminar in Missouri

Some of you are already familiar with the work of Iain Abernethy. For those of you who are not familiar with him or his work, here is a short bio from his website. http://www.iainabernethy.co.uk/

Iain Abernethy is one of the UK's leading exponents of applied karate and kata application (bunkai). His martial arts DVDs and books have sold worldwide and have been translated into other languages. Iain holds a 6th Dan with both the British Combat Association (awarded by Peter Consterdine 8th Dan and Geoff Thompson 6th Dan) and the EKGB (awarded by Doug James 7th Dan). Iain is in great demand on the seminar circuit and teaches many seminars on his approach to practical karate both here in the UK and overseas. The bunkai that Iain teaches are not prearranged karateka vs. karateka applications. Nor are they static, complex, elaborate or reliant upon finite movement. Iain's approach to karate makes kata application practical, simple, direct and accessible to all.


Iain's seminar began on Friday evening with Funikoshi's 9 throws. I was surprised to find myself being invited to be the first "Uke" of the weekend. For those of you that are unfamiliar with the term it would be one who "receives" a technique. The first throw he used me to help demonstrate was "Kubiwa" (To encircle the neck). After that I got to experience "Komanage" or (Spinning top) throw. Over the next two hours we cover all nine throws. Iain shared that of the nine, six, in his opinion had a higher percentage of working and were very practical.

On Saturday we began to go through the Pinan / Heian Kata as a complete fighting system designed by Ankoh Itosu. Iain has a very interesting approach. His kata based drills are based on the premise is getting the opponents arms out of the way to get to the head. More specifically the chin and jaw which Iain would refer to as "The on off switch."A the drills included a focus on awareness in regards to self defense. One primary goal was not being so focused on an attacker that you lose sight of what is going on around you... "Watching out for his mates". The drills start with no resistance. Resistance then increases and moves toward kata based sparring rather than tournament styled sparring. In many drills we started in a clinch or "Boss grip" and pummel for position.

One drill that was very fun went like this. Each member of a pair is given a number either 1 or 2. You begin grip fighting then when your number is call you have to break free, and escape. We did this One on one and one on three. We even trained biting and groin grabs. For the groin grabs the target was the belt knot. During grip fighting if you could grab your partners knot you scored a point. For biting it was just chomping BY the ear. The point was not to forget that an assailant might go for those and not to be lax in positioning to protect your assets. Good clean fun.


One thing I was most proud of was during a grip fight. we spun our belts around in back and the goal was to get your opponents knot in back. From the clinch I dropped to my right shoulder drove my right arm through his legs and got his knot. As I still had his lapel we both went down but I ended up in side control. We never stayed on the ground our goal was always breaking free and escaping.

Sunday came and we moved on to the Tekki/ Naihanchi/ Chulgi series and KuShanku. We looked at individual techniques and then worked them into drills that flowed from one response to another. This went on in earnest for the next six hours.


By the end of the weekend both my brain an my body had been well worked. I had the opportunity to work with Iain Abernethy, an internationally recognised karate instructor and meet sixty practitioners from all corners of the U.S.. One other pleasant surprise of the weekend being recognised by people who were familiar with my online cartoon persona "Oldman". Some had seen "Oldman Boobishi" on Chris Caile's www.FightingArts.com and others had seen pages from it published in Iain's online magazine, Jissen. It was a pleasure to work with Iain. I have always felt encouraged in our emails sent and received over the years. I felt that many time over with Iain in person. That to me is one of the marks of a great teacher.

Many thanks to Iain. I'd also like to offer a special thanks to Eric Parsons for putting the seminar together. Also, thank you to Sal Belahi a shotokan third dan from Urbana, Illinois. Sal was my training partner for the majority of the weekend. I very much appreciate a training partner that can help keep a fifty one year old karate guy in one piece.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Relaxation Response

Starting Monday, I will introduce a small group of people to "The Relaxation Response". Dr. Herbert Benson first coined the phrase 1974. In our first class will look at the warning signs of stress an impliment simple, yet proven methods to manage, reduce and even eliminate stress. We will spend twenty to thirty minutes each day for the rest of the week getting together to practice engaging the relaxation response and encouraging each other to take time to breath and relax.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Onward and Upward

  On Wednesday the 22nd, Prairie Martial Arts held it's first rank test for the new Chung Do Kwan, Tae Kwon Do program at the Paul Henson YMCA in Prairie Village. Six students participated. I'm happy to report that each of the students that tested performed very well and gave their best efforts. Amy and Sam submitted test papers. Both papers were insightful reflections of where they are in their training. As always, testing points out our strengths as well as areas we can improve.  This is true for the students and for me as an instructor. We are all learning and growing. I'd personally like to thank everyone involved for your effort and support. I'm very proud of you all and the program that we are building at the YMCA.

























Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Meekness not Weakness



This post was inspired by an exchange with Sensei Richard Kimura and Sensei Takeshi Tamura. 


One of the beauties of Budo as a spiritual path is that it both encourages the practitioner to strive, persevere, and push ourselves at times to the end of our abilities. In any spiritual discipline there is the danger that ones accomplishments may lead to arrogance and grandiosity. Injury, infirmity and losses suffered in training and in life can remind us of our frailty and weakness which can be an effective path to humility. We are reminded that many of our losses and even successes have come by good fortune, divine providence, and the efforts of others. Embracing or acknowledging our weakness does not mean that we coddle ourselves but that we see ourselves realistically and honestly. In acknowledging our weakness we are able to lessen or eliminate fear that is based in the desire to conceal the truth. I'm remined of Christs words "My strength is made perfect in weakness". Disciplined effort to embody a spiritual truth through physical training can get us to the top of the mountain. I believe it is the acknowledgment of our frailty that can take us even higher.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tae Kuk Chodan

Here is a little help for all of you that are getting
ready to test for you white belts. Train hard and have fun.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Step By Step.


Hello everyone. Our Tae Kwon Do program at the Paul Henson YMCA continues it's steady growth. I think the neatest thing that is that is developing is the number of families that are training together. We  have students that are inching forward, step by step, toward testing for their first belts. As these folks are finding out, this class is a great introduction to traditional martial arts and what it can do for you. If you are looking for a fun class and a challenging workout come on in and give us a try. Whether it's on your own or with the kids, join us for a free class any Sunday at 1:30.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A Karate Kid



I have to start this post by saying that the title "Young Karate Master" is a bit of a misnomer. It is probably just a friendly, sweet, way of saying "Wow this kid is really great". To anyone familiar with grading in traditional martial arts the idea of a ten year old master would be ludicrous. On the other hand a ten year old black belt is possible. The majority of my time spent teaching over the last year has been focused on adults. It has been refreshing and invigorating to work with kids again. I found this video on YouTube. It was a reminder to me. It reminded that children are capable of remarkable things. The video also represents the hard work of a student and a very good teachers.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Early Chung Do Kwan

This is a repost of a previous post. As new students are visiting the Prairie Martial Arts site I want them to get just a taste of our groups history. A while back two online friends helped me with the translation of some historic Chung Do Kwan photos.The first comments are from Tashigae... "OK, here we go. The first three characters, in case you haven't recognized them by yourself yet, are 'To' - 'te' - 'do' ('Tang' - 'shou' - 'dao' in Chinese), 'Chinese' - 'hand' - 'way', in other words Tode-do, the old name of karate-do. The three next characters are Chung Do kwan ('qing' 'tao' 'guan' in Chinese, 'guan' being 'kwoon' in Cantonese and 'kan' in Japanese, as in 'Shotokan', Bujinkan', etc.) and mean Green Wave school (in Chinese, 'guan' actually refers to a building with only one or two floors but a very large surface. Didn't know how to translate that, so I chose to translate contextually as 'school', since it's often used as a metonymy for a school or style in Japanese). The next three characters mean 'the [N]th time' ('di [N] hui' in Chinese, don't know how to pronounce them in Japanese). The next character is unknown to me (sorry), but the next one ('cha' in Chinese, Japanese pronounciation unknown) suggests me that the two together might mean 'examination' or something like that. The next one ('hui' in Chinese) means 'meeting', 'gathering'. The last two characters ('ji nian' in Chinese) mean 'keep record', 'keep memory' (I must confess I had to ask my beloved for this one ).To sum it up:'record of the [N]th (examination?) meeting at the Green Wave dojo' ([N] being 3, 5, 7, 2 in that order)".

So the above photo is a photo to commemorate the third promotion examination at the Chung Do Kwan. The other numbers in his quote are from other photos he saw which I have not posted yet.

Here is a bit more from ButterflyPalm a friend from Milasysia

"You were doing so well I thought you should carry on.

However the problem with translating single words only in any language has pitfalls.

But generally you are right most of the time. It is obvious different generations of Koreans wrote those non-simplified Chinese words in the best calligraphic style he/she could muster. The best and the clearest was the last one, perhaps representing a gradual improvement in Korean education.

I am surprised that up to the 50s the Koreans were still using the Chinese characters for such auspicious occasions as the founding or setting up ('Chuang Li') of Song Moo Kwan, which the Koreans may have pronounced "Song" as "Chung" (hence Chung Do Kwan) which is also the Cantonese pronunciation of the pine tree.

The pine tree has some cultural significance in China (see all those Chinese black & white ink paintings where pine trees grew out of high barren rock cliff faces?) It shows fortitude and courage, qualities which the founding fathers of Song Moo Kwan obviously wanted to instill in the "Green Wave"

Green Wave ("Qing Tao") when read together in this context most likely means an 'Eternal Youth Movement' (a 'wave' so to speak) as both characters have respectively 'young & longevity' radicals in them. 'Qing' also has the meaning of young crops and so we have the idea of planting the seeds of future greatness in these Korean youths that will eventually and eternally grow into manhood achieving great things.

The word you had problem with is the word before "Cha" (to investigate/examine) It is "Shen" -- also having the meaning of 'to examine as in a court of law' Read together in this context it simply means a grading test.

"Ji Nian" in this context simply means a commemoration ceremony. Ji = to remember; Nian = to think of in remembrance. "

I was suprised by the word "Green". I was expecting Blue wave. I have read that Funikoshis's "Shotokan" could be translated as Pine Wave Hall or school. In " Karate do My Way of Life" he spoke of the pine trees in his native Okinawa. I later asked Tashigae about the color question. This was his reply..

‘Qing’ should actually be translated as ‘dark bluish green’. I’ve seen it translated as ‘green’, ‘black’ and ‘blue’ depending on the circumstances, although ‘green’ remains the most common one.

ButterflyPalm's comment about the founding of the Song Moo Kwan was also in regard to another photograph. Both Won Kuk Lee and Yong Taek Chung were present in the photo commemorating the opening of that Kwan.

Friday, July 8, 2011

"Ladies Night Ouch" at Paul Henson YMCA


Prairie Martial Arts will be hosting a "Ladie's Night Ouch" self defense class at the Paul Henson YMCA in Prairie Village. The class will be held Saturday, July 16th from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.. This class is for women only, ages 12 and up. The costs for the 3 hour class is $5 for members and $10 for non members. 

Check out this link for more information and testimonials from past participants.


Thursday, July 7, 2011

One-Punch One-Murder


In Karate, there is a concept called "Ikken Hissatsu". It is sometimes translated as “one punch one kill”. Many people believe this means that a fight should be finished with one decisive blow. Some see this as either impractical, improbable or worse, magical thinking. It may be a concept but it is not impossible. Consider this example from today's news.

LAS VEGAS -- A racial comment in the restroom of a Las Vegas Strip casino restroom preceded a single fatal punch that left a tourist from Utah dead and a Florida tourist jailed in Nevada on a murder charge, authorities said Wednesday.

Benjamin Gerard Hawkins, 37, of Gainesville, Fla., took offense to John Massie's comment about "a black man in a yellow shirt" while both men were in the restroom at O'Sheas Las Vegas Casino shortly before the fatal 12:45 a.m. confrontation, according to a police report.

Moments later, Massie was felled by a single punch to the jaw. Massie was pronounced dead less than 30 minutes later at Desert Springs Hospital in Las Vegas.

"One punch," police homicide Lt. Lewis Roberts told The Associated Press. "He was out. Never got back up."

Hawkins was held at the Clark County jail pending a Thursday court appearance in Las Vegas. It wasn't immediately clear if he had a lawyer, and he police said he refused jailhouse interview requests.


Statistically the odds that you would drop an assailant with one strike may be small but it does happen. The point that I would like to make is that it could happen to you. The reality is you could be in either man's shoes. Are you prepared for the ramifications of that possibility. In the news story we see two small choices that have enormous and lasting consequences. If you are practicing Karate and being trained well you should be learning two foundational skills. The first, "Holding your tongue". The second, "Walking away". Good training should prepare us to respond rather than react.

The outcomes of this sadly common and foolish situation were death and jail. Sad indeed when you consider the options were life and freedom.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Grand Master Son, Duk-sung Passes.


Grand Master Duk Sung Son, 88, of 375 Thames Street, Newport, RI, died Tuesday, March 29, 2011 at Newport Hospital, Newport, RI. Son, Duk-sung, was born in Seoul, Korea, on June 17, 1922. Grand Master Son was a student of Lee, Won Kuk at the Chung Do Kwan  and considered by many as a founding father of the Korean Martial Art Tae Kwon Do, and was the founder and first president of the World Tae Kwan Do Association. Grand Master Son was the original chief instructor to the Republic of South Korea Army and taught the United States 8th Army that was stationed in Korea after the Korean conflict ended. He immigrated to the United States in 1963 where he taught at the Military Academy at West Point, New York University, Princeton, Brown, Fordhan and many other Universities in the tri-state area. He was the author of two textbooks on the subject; Korean Karate – The Art of Tae Kwon Do and Black Belt, Korean Karate. He taught his martial art form all over the world.