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Yes. I’ve been away.

In the spring of 2012, I received word that there were issues on the home front back in Baton Rouge, LA that demanded my attention. I literally had to shut down “this” side of my life.

….remember that I always say, “life will get in the way”. It just happens. 

So now, here I am, battling back from an extended absence. Time to get back to being in the world. Time to prove that  training is a way of life, not a fad or a phase. 

….time to, once again, be the master. 

Where I’ve Been

If you look back (way back), you’ll see a blog post I did long ago about “life getting in the way” of your martial arts training. It’s a fact. It happens. You sometimes can’t predict when or why it happens, but it happens.

Life gets in the way. Do you quit, or do you keep training? The decision is ultimately yours.

Anyway, back in April, I was presented with a family situation that necessitated a move back to Baton Rouge, LA. This meant leaving behind my beloved school, Texas Coast Karate, a difficult decision indeed. Anyway, it worked out that it had to be done, and here I am; back in Louisiana.

 

With a wife & kids, I do have a family to maintain. This means I had to go out and find another job – hence putting the “warrior-scholar” persona on hold for a while. Husbandry calling, y’know…..

 

…and, with patience, things start to even out. The schedule starts to open up, and my free-time to train becomes more and more apparent to me.

 

Needless to say, sorry, for the absence, but I’m back…..and that’s with a vengeance.

 

I turned 40 recently, and I still have a 5th Dan test to prepare for (that is, when Grandmaster CS Kim decides I’m ready). This will be better than my  4th degree test. I can pretty much guarantee that.

Look for more posts, like soon!

SBN Wayne Boozer

 

I’ve been working on the ITF 4th Dan hyung Sip Sam since I was promoted to the rank back in 2008.

In those years, I’ve discovered (through practice and research) that you don’t pay attention to the footwork involved, you’ll miss the essence of that hyung. I’m not saying that it’s any less important in other hyung; but this one is rather unique, especially if you take the time to explore it and it’s equivalents in other arts.

Sip Sam, by the way, was the first hyung that I largely had to practice on my own after learning it from Masters YD Kim of Arlington and Ben Johnson of Austin, TX. This means that for the first time in my training, I had to be responsible for my own corrections and proper technique after spending a weekend learning it from those two gentlemen. That’s made learning it, and exploring its history that much more of a unique experience for me.

Learn the how, then explore the why.

(Master) Wayne Boozer

Changing the Game

I’m very candid about the fact that I studied other arts before deciding to concentrate on the art of Tang Soo Do. To this day, I still find it to be challenging and for my purposes an all encompassing art that covers a broad range of defense and attack for a self-defense system.  At the same time, I have over the years developed a sincere appreciation for the other arts that I studied prior this one, namely Shotokan Karate and Aikido.  I now have a collection of books on all three arts, which I avidly read and return to often.

One of the books that I own, as you probably know, is Grandmaster Hwang Kee’s original Tang Soo Do Soo Bahk Do text.  If you study the art, you owe it to yourself to get a copy of this book, especially if you plan to stay involved for years to come. Within the pages of this book are the tenets of what Hwang Kee decided would make up the art that he coined; but there’s more to it than just that.

If you look around, you can see that there are other arts that are obviously similar to Tang Soo Do. There’s no hiding it, especially in today’s internet age. Just about everything that was once “secret, guarded technique” is now available for all to see.  Still, the neat thing about the original text is that it was all put out there for everyone to see.  I have my original Shotokan text, Karate Do Kyohan. I actually still refer to it often; but look (if you have one) at the difference between a middle level sword hand block in that book and its equivalent in Hwang Kee’s text. The difference is in the details. Not only did Grandmaster Hwang Kee put it all out there for everyone to see, but he also included the physics of why it worked.

That changed things.

One of the things that got changed was the details. Never before had anyone attempted to explain why techniques worked the way that they did, especially using physics and angles. Heck, he even included the pitfalls of doing things improperly. Considering when the book was originally done (as everyone was trying to gain followers for their art), I think it was a pretty bold move. Here, finally, was a genuine, comprehensive guide to the Korean methodology used in the art.

Now, granted, you have to be realistic about when the book was made, the differences in the available information out there between then and now, and the fact that Tang Soo Do isn’t the only game in town. You really have to pay attention to that last statement because it gives you a much clearer picture of the art and its contribution to the martial arts world. Are there other forms similar to our Pyong Ahn Sa Dan (for example)? Of course! There are also different interpretations for the moves too! That being said, once you’ve developed proficiency in and an understanding of the way it’s done in your respective art, the more you can appreciate the other “definitions”. In other words, discover what else is out there.

I know I’ve rambled quite a bit on this post; but I also know I have quite a few friends that know exactly what I’m hinting at. A journey in Tang Soo Do is a lifelong, rewarding climb up a mountain, but there’s no reason why you can’t appreciate the entire mountain range.

(Master) Wayne Boozer

I’ve been commenting a lot about turning 40 later this year. Now that I’m finally on the threshold of doing so, I can say that it’s not so bad. I’ve often lamented on Facebook and twitter that I would sometimes be told by older, sedentary “friends” that I wouldn’t get around so well once I hit this age. Statements like that have become a running joke for me; and I’m happy to say that I feel every bit as healthy as I was at age 25 (if not more so); but it doesn’t come without some precautions……

Constant Motion

I’m a firm believer that aging starts when you stop moving. I entered the active lifestyle at age 13 and never let go of it. Today, that means that I do other things outside of my Tang So Do training in order to satisfy that need. Don’t get me wrong the martial arts training is plenty; but as I’ve gotten older I’ve discovered that the cross training enhances the training inside the dojang. I’ve managed to retain much of the flexibility that I boasted as a high school gymnast. My point is, you have to get out and do things. Challenge yourself. See what you’re made of. That’s one of the most important lessons I learned when I tested for 4th Dan; and that still drives the way that I do things.

<yup, I can still rock the 100 push ups in one set, although I’m a little out of practice>😉


You Really Are What You Eat & Drink

My father passed away at the tender age of 52.  He died of a heart attack that I think really would have been preventable if he would have paid more attention to the warnings that he’d been given. His passing marked a supercharge to the attention that I paid to my own diet. One of the things that has indeed changed over the years is that I must pay attention to how I fuel my body. If I do it improperly, there’s no way I could keep up with what I put myself through. I eat to prepare, I eat to recover. Is it ALL health food? Oh, absolutely not. As a matter of fact, I was just joking with a friend last night that love McDonald’s; but, you have to find balance. A fast food treat has to be evened out with something more consistent to an active lifestyle. A sedentary lifestyle, combined with poor eating habits all the time (i.e. my father) will put you in an early grave. Period.

One of the other things that I’ve become very sensitive to over the past few years is my water intake. It’s something you have to think about. Don’t drink enough and it’ll effect everything. Your eyes get dry. Your mood changes. Things start to go wrong. Hydrate, and hydrate often.

Pay Attention to Pain

You really have to experience this to understand it. When I was younger, it was, of course, the macho thing to do to push through pain. I mean, it makes you stronger, right?

….not always….

I’ve learned that there are certain types of physiological pain that equate to “slow down” or “you need to get that checked out”. Try to push through those and you’ll wind up taking an unwanted break from EVERYTHING. Your body has its own subtle, and obvious, ways of telling you when something ain’t right.  Learn to listen and pay attention.

Pay attention to pain, or a simple injury can become a complicated one!

Take Time to Rest

I often joke with my students about my daily schedule when I was a 2nd degree black belt. I held down a full-time job, went to night school, trained, and worked nights as a bouncer. On some nights, 2-3 hours of sleep was an absolute luxury. I was younger. I ran with it. Today? Not so much. My twitter and Facebook updates both reflect a hellacious amount of activity; but I do know when to shut down. If I don’t cycle in some quality rest, I’ll over train. If I don’t give myself a day to reset my batteries, I’ll burn out. You have to experiment to find that balance. I know my limits, and when to rest more that work.

On this same subject, you also have to know how to relax at the end of the day. Have an activity that unwinds you and that you can consistently return to. My personal favorite is a hot bath followed by a cup of tea and a good book. My second favorite is a movie on the couch with a glass of wine. Regardless of what it is for you, have something that allows you to downshift from 6th gear to 1st before trying to get some of that quality rest.

Regiment Your Life

You don't get to where my senior instructor Choong Jae Nim CS Kim is without training on a DAILY basis!

Of all the little rules that I follow, this is probably the most difficult one to work into your system. There are a lot of interviews with people who have been blessed with longevity. One of the things that I find common is the fact that they all lead pretty regimented lives. There are certain activities that are part of who they are each and every day.  This is what I did with my Tang Soo Do training. I put myself on a daily regimen. I meditate, often. I exercise, 3 – 5 times per week (outside of all the martial arts). I MAKE time for the things that are important to me. Regimenting things, particularly the things that you enjoy, creates an atmosphere that allows you to de-stress. It gives you something to look forward to, and if you let it permeate all aspects of your life, it keeps you organized.

Don’t Stop Being a Kid

Simply put, I still watch cartoons. I love cheesy movies, and I love cookie crisp cereal. Find something that allows you to re-embrace your childhood. It does wonders when you indulge in it.

Look, folks, these are not secrets. It’s just an abbreviated list of things that I have noticed slows down the aging process. It’s difficult for me to see friends that are my age and look like they’re 10+ years older when they don’t have to. I’ve said before that I intend to go into this year’s World Tournament in better shape than ever because quite frankly I haven’t given myself time to age. I still have physical goals that I want to achieve. I still have abilities that I want to master. I have books to read. I have a lifetime of discovery, and a grocery list of things I want to do.

…aging is not on that list.  Here’s to another 40 years. Tang Soo!!

(Master) Wayne Boozer

My Training Matrix

Yeah, constantly trying to build a better mousetrap…..

I’m sitting in my house, trying to decide how best to evolve my Training Matrix. You see, back when I lived in Baton Rouge, while running a school at a local YMCA, I took the individual techniques taught by my federation and compiled them into an excel spreadsheet. This allowed me to really examine when to teach a technique.

Sure it’s a tad anal, but that’s how I think.

My first Training Matrix helped get me through my first years of teaching. It's now time to evolve the process....

For example, why would I teach dwi cha gi (back kick) before I’m sure the student has a basic grasp of stances? Honestly, I rarely even touch upon that particular technique before yellow belt. I’m too concerned with establishing solid groundwork with front stance, back stance, horse riding stance, and other basics that are slightly easier to grasp at that stage of training.

My first accomplishment was to do this with basic techniques, like low block (white belt) and wheel kick (green belt). That way, as I saw it, I could concentrate on focusing a student’s energies on the techniques that I felt were most relevant at that given level. It kept me from being random in what I taught (which is something those close to me know is one of my pet peeves). The result was something I was able to use to carry the student from white to black belt. Eventually, I wised up and applied the same agenda-driven technique to weapons, throws, and even choke holds and other various supplemental aspects of training. I find it works for me.

Fast forward to Texas Coast Karate’s almost 3rd year in existence (yeah, wow) and this approach still formulates the basis for my weekly training agenda. It’s kinda nice to be able to quick-reference what needs to be taught; and it serves as a track record of my style of teaching. Still, with a growing school, things have to evolve. The past couple of years have been a big lesson for me as well. Different people pick up things at different rates. Person A may pick up the concept of a side kick well before person B. Would it not be unfair for me to hold person A back at person B’s rate of learning? That kind of defeats the purpose of the study of martial arts being a personal journey (I always tell students to ‘never compare yourself to the student standing beside you’). What this has forced me to do is carefully keep track of the individual progress of each student. The matrix still applies, but it’s no longer strictly slaved to belt-level. Still, there are plenty of techniques in which the gain proficiency at each juncture, and certain things in which I expect proficiency for each belt level. For example, there should me minimal (if any) corrections that I make on a red belt’s front stance. By then the red belt knows exactly what I expect to see.

What you’re seeing here is an example of a teacher learning from his students…

Recently, I put the training matrix on Google Docs because it needs updating; and I want to be able to do so from my tablet if I choose. There are also a few techniques that need to be added to it as well. After all these years, I still like the concept through; and it helps to fuel my need to evolve my teaching abilities. Find what works. Use what works for you. Grow with it,and recognize when it’s time to change it.

(Master) Wayne Boozer

I have, on more than one occasion, cautioned my students about throwing a hand out in the opposite direction to compensate for balance on kicks. It’s a natural, although counterproductive, habit that many of us go through when learning a new kick.

When I bring it to the student’s attention that they’re doing it, I often advise them that they don’t want energy going in two directions at once. Instead, concentrate the focus of energy by drawing in the hands and exploding through the kick. 

When you think about it, that applies to life as well.  Attempting to focus on two things at once makes the energy you’re putting into both things less than efficient. Concentrate on one thing at a time, then move on to the next thing. That’s one of the most important lessons I’ve learned in my few years of martial arts training. 

 

(Master) Wayne Boozer

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