Tang Soo Do – Day 28
This week is martial arts week, where I am going off to try the Korean art of Tang Soo Do (or as my son impishly remarked, Scooby Do) and Krav Maga. First up was Tang Soo Do with ISK Martial Arts.
With all of my challenges, I like to find myself in the newbie/beginners class, where I can usually find an equally clueless kindred spirit, but somehow, in a gargantuan administrative error on my part, I had found myself booked into the advanced black belt class. Clearly, I am more a white or peachy colour - anything but black.
I was welcomed to the club by Master Rob James who runs the club and holds an impressive CV, which includes being the British and European Champion numerous times and competing in the World Championship. It sounds really cheesy, but I have a huge amount of respect for people at the pinnacle of whatever they achieve and felt privileged to be literally learning from the Master.
Master Rob’s favourite saying is: “The more you sweat in training the less you bleed in battle.” Initially when I read that, I baulked slightly at the literal interpretation but thinking about it, this is all about hard work and preparation and can be related to anything in life. My mantra is more: “The more you chat in training the less you have to talk about in battle” – maybe I need to revisit that?
So preparing to sweat, I joined the black belts. Master Rob explained that the class would be going back to basics, which I guess is good to do occasionally in all sports and disciplines. Warm-up started with gentle jogging and stretching, which was fine. The stretches then went to a new level, which my body is unaccustomed with. When I stretch and it tweaks, I stop. When you stretch with a partner, you can’t cheat and my partner, Xena ensured that all cobwebs were dusted off my hamstrings and quads.
Next up, Master Rob went through a variety of moves. Similar to Aikido, I learnt the best self-defence is to be able to run fast but if that is not an option, there are techniques which can negate an assailant’s assaults. We practised a number of them with rotating partners. However, unlike Aikido where I got to beat people up at will, the black belts respected me enough to equally share out the pain with me.
One tip I learnt is that the internationally recognised gesture for “ouch that hurts, let go!” is to tap yourself on the leg. I did not have this knowledge for my first two takedowns, as I found my arm twisted around my head. We finished with kicking. Who knew that round house kicking a padded mat releases pent-up kids off school/summer holiday/too much work to do stressful tension so well?
I really enjoyed my time with the advanced class. I like the discipline and respect which is shown in the martial arts classes I have tried so far; something which can be lacking in some mainstream sports. I found Tang Soo Do to be a defensive art, with measured aggression that was founded on technique, rather than brute force and that these Eastern philosophies are definitely piquing my interest.
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