This fall, during the 126th Dan Classing Championships, we created history as the Youth Ambassador Program was unveiled to each of the 10 Regions that represent the US Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan Federation. This program was a result of Kwan Jang Nim Hwang’s wishes that regional and national seminars would begin to have a new track for kids, teenagers, and young adults that would suit their unique needs, interests, and abilities. The Regional Examiners from each of the 10 Regions appointed one Youth Ambassador representative and one of those representatives would become the US Youth Ambassador and represent the USA at an international level. That person is currently Katie Worley, Jo Kyo.
The Youth Ambassador’s mission is to create fun, dynamic training opportunities for kids, teenagers, and young adults while still aligning the trainings with the same theme and purpose as the TAC seminars for that year. This year’s topic being Moo Do Jaseh and a fusion of Chun Jin and Hu Jin motions in the form of Sam Soo Sik Dae Ryun, the Youth Ambassadors decided to give a seminar with a similar focus.
The following are some major takeaways from the seminar that will be useful for instructors and students alike to add additional repetitions to the exercises taught.
Bodhidharma was an Indian Buddhist Monk born into either the Brahman or Warrior class. This high status gave him a good education and a privileged life. After seeing the suffering of those under him, he gave up his status and birthright and became a hermit, hiking over the Himalayan Mountains into China. He eventually encountered a monastery of feeble monks who could neither provide for their physical needs nor protect themselves from bandits. He tried to teach the monks to protect themselves and improve their physical strength and health. Unfortunately, his guidance was not wanted and he was sent away.
Bodhidharma spent the next 9 years in a mountain cave meditating. Showing perfect stillness and discipline, he meditated on how to best help the monks. Legend says that once he lost his discipline and fell asleep during his wall gazing. He was so upset by his lack of discipline and awareness, he ripped his eyelids off so he could never fall asleep again. As he continued to meditate, his eyelashes became seeds of the tea plant, which today helps monks stay awake during very difficult meditation practices.
Bodhidharma eventually left the mountain and returned to the monastery. It is said that what he taught the monks was the beginnings of the Shaolin style (So Rim). He is considered not only the founder of Shaolin Kung Fu (So Rim Jang Kwon), but also of Chan (Zen) Buddhism.
There are many oral and written legends about Bodhidharma. There is substantial evidence that Bodhidharma did exist, however, various conflicting stories make it hard to decipher truth from legend. What we can extract from this is that what we consider to be traditional East Asian martial arts began with a strong foundation of moo do jaseh. This story is the very embodiment of moo do: discipline, stillness, and awareness that will lead to self-mastery.
The following two exercises will challenge the practitioner in discipline, stillness, and awareness. This was the heart of the routines taught in the Youth Ambassador Seminar.
Two participants are tied to each other, one moving forward with Choong Dan Kong Kyuk and the other retreating with a Hu Gul Jaseh and a natural block (Pahkesu Ahnuro Mahkee). Neither side should pull on the rope or allow the rope to drag. Keep the rope tight at all times.
This next exercise comes from Chil Sung Sam Lo (pronounced Sam No) and Chil Sung Yuk Ro (pronounced Yoong No). The following videos will do a good job explaining how it works. In the first video, please pay attention how I break down the sweep. It is important to get the hand positions correct on each step of the sweeps. Use the strength of your legs as you transition from one sweep to the next. As you perform each sweep, don’t emphasize moving your leg, rather the twisting of your body using your waist (Hu Ri). Don’t forget your foundational Soo Bahk training! Remember, this is not an easy combination and is very physically demanding. Only extreme effort will result in success.