When I was in training, I often spoke about sparring with different students and utilizing a different strategy depending upon my opponent’s approach to the match. When you first start training in martial arts, you learn the basic rules for sparring and you start applying those rules when faced off with another student. Experience, as time goes on, normally shows the the student which attacks and defenses are useful against certain opponents, and which ones to avoid. Eventually, your sorting strategy develops a personality of its own, which can bed both good and bad if you’re not careful. 

I have very distinct memories of watching seasoned (and I mean 2 or more years of training) students that would consistently attempt to apply the same strategic principles to opponents if varying abilities and skill levels. More often than not, it resulted in that person losing the match. Let’s examine this a bit.  If you are an intermediate student that had become quite proficient in throwing rear-leg side kick, what good will that kick do against an opponent that quickly closes the distance and wants to fight at close quarters? If it’s not valuable against that particular opponent then you may have to shelve that tool until you can use it where it’s effective. Unfortunately, not everyone learns this “evolution of strategy”, and the result is a one-dimensional fighter. 

You know there’s an easier way to do this, right?

I chose sparring as an example because human interaction often works the same way. Depending upon who are communicating with, there are certain strategies you can use to make forward progress, and certain strategies to avoid, resulting in pitfalls. Like sparring, everyone is slightly different. I may, for example, tell two different people the exact same thing; but, having learned how they communicate by careful observation, my approach with each person may be completely different. Pulling something like that off takes multi-dimensional communication skills, which is something we get better at with practice. 

In martial arts, I was taught to believe that the best fighters after never overly aggressive or defensive. I think communication works the same way, particularly at work. You don’t want to dominate the conversation, not do you want it to be one sided from the other person either. There’s give and take in each “match”. While we want to “win” when we spar (communicate), each student should come away from the match having learned a little more about one another, but with no hard feelings.

There really is a lot more to explore on this subject, cause I’m only scratching the surface here. Still, if you train, take time out to observe the parallels between a sparring match and communication. Sometimes you teach. Sometimes you learn. Sometimes you’re the aggressor. Sometimes you take your lumps. Resolve yourself to learn both on multi-dimensional levels. 

When I actively trained in martial arts, I personally defined “mastery” as the ability to recall a conglomeration of techniques as taught by your chosen art and perform those techniques proficiently. By that definition, I dedicated years of my life to training and teaching Tang Soo Do, honing myself both physically and mentally to as close to perfection as I could possibly get. I was never satisfied. Every day presented a new opportunity to train even more and get even better. I powered though everything I was taught. I learned as much detail as I could. I practiced ALL the time and I literally absorbed everything. Finally, I was promoted to the rank of “master”.

ha dan me

Back in the day. Total badass….

As I’m siting here writing this blog entry, I’m nearing 45 years of age. I’m 4 years retired from martial arts practice. I used to tell my students that “martial arts is a lifetime practice and once you get as deeply involved as I once was, you never really quit”. When I retired, I spent a considerable amount of time fighting with following my own advice. I had disconnected myself from my students and exiled myself from my instructors. My perceived path of learning had been totally cut off, and I was alone. Still, it gave me the time I so desperately needed to reconnect with my wife and kids, and also teach myself what it was like to be me outside of the “Master Wayne Boozer” persona. In short, my pursuit of my definition of mastery had led me to forget what it’s like to be a normal human being. I was too busy trying to be Superman.



Unless you speak in cartoon bubbles, you’re probably not this guy.


Nearly 45 years on this planet has taught me to laugh at myself…a lot. It’s also forced me to come to terms with a lot of personal experiences (both good and bad). In your 40’s, physically, things start to hurt inexplicably. You can’t run as fast. You’re not quite as strong. The trade-off is that you have a much better understanding of how your body and mind work. Upon retirement from martial arts, I launched myself into the “normal” workforce. I went through two “normal” desk jobs. I settled into the quiet life of family, church and work. I hung up my belt and just became “Wayne Boozer. While the loss of immersing myself into a regularly scheduled training environment sometimes gnawed at me, I pushed the feeling aside and kept plugging away at “normal” life.

Still, the longer I stayed away from the training hall, the more parallels I saw between life outside of the dojang and lessons I’d learned there. In fact, I’ve since noticed so many similarities that I can no longer ignore them. Nowadays, I will often find myself quoting a lesson learned while training to a friend, a co-worker or even a family member. My latest job is much more physically demanding than any previous breadwinning positions I’ve ever held; and, I’m finding that I’m much more cognizant of my health and well-being, thanks to all the years spent in martial arts. I’ve actually started re-integrating physical training back into my life. I attempted this same venture on two previous occasions since retirement. Both of them failed. The first was an attempt to re-enter the dojang. The second was an attempt to recapture the physical prowess that I enjoyed in my 20’s and 30’s. They both failed because I was doing it for the wrong reasons. I understand that now. This time around, it’s for survival at work, personal longevity, and peace of mind. That makes for a world of difference.

Getting back to my original point for this blog entry, I can genuinely say that my definition of the word “master” has changed. Earning the rank of master in martial arts is just a step in the process of mastering life. Don’t get me wrong, the tenacity, consistency and physicality of years of dedication is no small feat. It’s really just for a few to take it that far; but true mastery, to me, now means applying those lessons in real life. It means integrating how all that training changed who you are as a person, and cannot, or should not, be simplified into a series of static, physical techniques. It’s getting in touch with who you are as a person, physically, mentally, and spiritually. The WORLD becomes your dojang. Life itself becomes your teacher. Reaching the rank of my style of martial arts still means the culmination of 16+ years of blood, sweat and long hours in training. What many of us “masters” believe is that once you reach rank, you remain in your controllable environment and you teach within. I have long preached about stepping out of your comfort zone. Stepping into the real world and applying your training hall lessons to LIFE is doing just that. Get out there and apply those lessons! It’s just like training! Some things will work. Other things will fail miserably. Still, like martial arts, when you get knocked down, you get up, resume your guard and have another go at it.


Probably not the best reference, but you get my point. “Go walk the earth, like Kaine in Kung Fu” – Jules from Pulp Fiction


Having said that, I now know that the title of this blog, “Be the Master” is not about learning how to properly throw a side kick. It’s about facing off against the opponents in life that you’re afraid to fight. It’s about self-discovery, acceptance, and self-mastery. It’s about endeavoring to never stop learning.

It’s taken me little more than a very necessary 4 years to be able to do this article and effectively get my point across. Will I ever strap on my belt and uniform again? Not sure; but I’m finally comfortable with the fact that I don’t necessarily have to. I start training when I wake up every morning.

Wayne Boozer


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