South Hills Karate Academy

South Hills Karate Academy

What Tang Soo Do Means To Me

This article was submitted by Mrs. Nancy Titus
as part of the requirement for advancement to
Cho Dan Ranking in Tang Soo Do

On the eve of testing for Cho Dan/Black Belt, I have occasion to reflect upon what my 7+ years of practicing TSD has meant to me. I can honestly say that when I began taking classes I did not have the goal of becoming a black belt. In truth, I sought to enroll my children in karate because I felt my kids, especially my twin boys, needed a physical outlet for all their excess energy. I was hoping to find a way to encourage self-discipline, particularly in my boys, and I had the vague idea that karate would help.

I really had no true grasp on Tang Soo Do or martial arts in general. Like many people, I grew up seeing commercials for Jhoon Rhee Korean Karate and an occasional Bruce Lee film. I also remember seeing a few reruns of the show, Kung Fu, starring David Carradine, but at the time, I was more interested in watching the Bionic Woman (Wonder Woman was a little too campy for me). It never crossed my mind that I could take karate myself. In my generation, it just wasn’t something girls did. When I was in college, I remember seeing a karate class practicing in the gym. I was intrigued, but there was only one girl in the group, and she was Asian, so I figured it was a cultural thing.

When I sought karate lessons for my kids, I didn’t know Tang Soo Do from Ju Jitsu—where to start? Fortunately, South Hills Karate Academy was recommended to me by a friend, so I went there. I believe in God’s providence and so I see now that He I led me to the right place. Master Garbowsky was professional and friendly; he didn’t seem put off by my lack of knowledge or all my questions. When he encouraged me to try taking a class with the kids, and I saw their terrified faces cling to that possibility, I thought, ‘Why not?’ My intention was simply to accompany them through a few starter lessons until they got over their initial fear. But, from the first ‘ha dan mahk ki,’ I was hooked! I can honestly say that day opened up a whole new world of possibilities for me. Me, a middle-aged wife, minister, and homeschooling mom, a student of martial arts? Me? No way! Way.

That was over 7 years ago and for me, Tang Soo Do has been way more than an avenue for physical fitness, though it has certainly helped me with my flexibility, agility, and balance; way more than a hobby or dabbling interest. For me, Tang Soo Do has been an avenue for developing and strengthening the connection between body, mind, and soul/spirit. My Christian faith (which was pulled in and applied from day one by Kwan Jang Nim Garbowsky, bless him!) was continually reinforced and supported by what I was learning and doing in the do jang. Pushing myself, setting goals, engaging my body and my mind, putting myself ‘out there,’ becoming vulnerable (and sore), being out of my comfort zone every single time I stepped on the mat, has helped me to grow physically and spiritually. Making mistakes, failing to grasp a simple concept, and looking foolish, has gone hand in hand with accomplishing a difficult move, finally learning a form, and reaching out to help a less experienced student; this has been the yin and yang of my experience with Tang Soo Do. I have been greatly challenged and humbled and yet have also found an enormous sense of accomplishment and encouragement at the same time. For me, this combination has been the soil for personal growth.

The atmosphere at South Hills Karate Academy has been a significant factor in keeping me involved and committed for all these years. Seeing other students who started after me advance in rank before me has not been easy. That, and other factors having to do with the demands on me from my work and caring for a disabled child, almost made me quit a number of times. But, inevitably, when I was feeling my most discouraged, Master Garbowsky. would reach out to check on me/us, see how we were doing, and as always, encourage us to get back to the mat! You just aren’t going to get that kind of personal investment and involvement from every karate school or instructor. Aside from the outstanding instruction, the family atmosphere and the intergenerational nature at South Hills Karate Academy is probably what I value the most. Being able to practice and learn with my kids and to see them overcome fears, obstacles, and achieve goals, has been a tremendous blessing and a life-long memory for all of us. I don’t just ‘drop them off’ for their class, we take it together. As a family, all the students at SHKA not only learn from each other, we care about one another. We laugh, we practice, we groan, we practice, we test together, we talk, in and out of the locker room, and we practice some more. Although many students come for a while, but don’t stay, others do and those relationships matter. I’ve learned a great deal from fellow students; people large and small, young and old, agile and not so agile, wearing every color belt there is.

For me, Tang Soo Do has reinforced the truth that being and doing are inseparably connected. Faith without work is dead. We are numinous beings who live in a physical reality. The ancient Hebrews knew nothing of the Greek idea of the separation of body and spirit—they are connected. It is the same in Tang So Do. Admittedly, I am anxious about my Cho Dan test—not because I don’t know the material, but because I do. I don’t want to ‘blank out,’ I don’t want to disappoint my instructor, I don’t want to disappoint myself. But I am reminded that the meaning of midnight blue is ‘beginner.’ We are all on a journey of learning. What matters is not just how perfectly you do the form on the day of the test, but understanding that by God’s grace, TSD becomes part of who you are and what you do. If you stick with it, it will not let you down; you’ll keep on learning and growing as a person if you love it. I do.

Tang Soo!
Mrs. Nancy Titus, Cho Dan

A Special Message From The ITA TAC

Hello Everyone,

With the tournament fast approaching, we wanted to take a moment to discuss the benefits of participation. The tournament is a great opportunity to showcase everything that Master Garbowsky has taught us as well as to share our knowledge with other martial artists. Preparing for the event provides us with a goal and a chance to push ourselves to become better. Since our tournament attracts martial artists from various schools it provides us with the opportunity to see other martial art styles and meet new people.

To all of the black belts, it is especially important to set a good example by helping our Tang Soo Do family. You can do this by participating as both a competitor and a judge. Lower and younger belts will be watching not only your technique, but also your participation while judging. As part of the Tang Soo Do community, it is imperative that we continue to lead by example by providing martial artists with the best possible tournament experience.

If you have questions about how you can help, please talk to Master Garbowsky or any of the Technical Advisory Committee members. We need everyone's participation in order for this to be a success!


Mrs. Christine Wilson (Dan Bon# ITF36073)
Mrs. Karen Garbowsky (Dan Bon# ITA USA 09-04)

Senior Members
Independent Tang Soo Do Association's Technical Advisory Committee

Seeking Help With Your Training

Submitted by: Kyo Sa Nim Mary Cayte Reiland

In our martial art lives and practice, communication is a key to the success of every student. Interaction between Gup level or "beginner and intermediate" level students and Yu Dan Ja "black belts" is encouraged at each class you attend at South Hills Karate Academy. As a new student, or even students at the intermediate level, you should always seek help and guidance from seniors. Any help that you receive from a senior and even Sa Bom Nim Garbowsky or Kyo Sa Nim Jeff Weir at the Elizabeth location will help to improve your martial art experience. For newer students asking for help with you're training can be an intimidating proposition. It doesn't have to be nor should it!

As a Kyo Sa or certified Tang Soo Do instructor, I see sometimes that Gup students are intimidated by the Yu Dan Ja, and often don’t approach us when they feel they need help. Sometimes this can be caused by a feeling of intimidation. If this is the case, remember that there is only one difference between being a Gup Member and being a Dan Member, and that is time. Dan members have been doing Tang Soo Do longer, and as a result are more knowledgeable because they have had more exposure to Master Garbowsky's teaching and approach to Tang Soo Do. Additionally, many seniors at South Hills Karate Academy have had more opportunities to learn from other very senior Ko Dan Ja (Master level) instructors that have visited our dojang. Don’t be intimidated, black belts were white and yellow belts once too, and they made it to their current rank through hard work and support from their seniors. All Yu Dan Ja at South Hills Karate Academy are willing to share their experiences with you. Learning to ask for help with you're training is one of the most important keys to be successful with your study of Tang Soo Do!

Additionally, I see many students who come just in time for the start of class and then leave immediately after. Really, spending 10-15 minutes after class practicing or seeking some assistance on one of the many facets of Tang Soo Do training, can make a tremendous positive impact on your own training experience.

With respect to approaching a senior there is what we call "Moo Do" protocol or a specific method of asking for assistance. Ultimately, you should always be respectful. Walk up to the black belt that you want help from, bow, shake hands, and then ask for assistance. This can be simply to ask for help on a specific form or hyung, practical application or free sparring. I can tell you that all of our Black Belts at South Hills Karate Academy get really excited to share our own knowledge or get in some additional practice time. When you practice with a partner or someone who has more experience than you Tang Soo Do becomes more fun and interesting!

For Yu Dan Ja Dan, we are required to mentor Gup students for five to ten minutes before or after class. This means that we are to seek out Gups to help with their practice. The easiest way to pick a student to work with is to keep an eye out and see who is struggling during class, or who needs to learn a new form. Remember, it is said that you never truly know something until you teach it to someone else.

In conclusion, communication and interaction between Gup students and Dan members is one of the keys to the growth and development of the individual students, the school, the Independent Tang Soo Do Association and the martial art system known as Tang Soo Do.

Staying Motivated!

By Master Gene Garbowsky

If you are struggling to get to the dojang this holiday season or your life just seems to busy to get in and training just seems to hard or too much of a task, you can use the tips below to help you get back into the swing of things.

The benefits of regular exercise and in particular training in the Martial Arts or Tang Soo Do are hard to ignore if you want to both look and feel good about yourself. Still finding excuses? Below are some of the benefits of Martial Arts training:

  • Tang Soo Do training improves your mood! Ever notice how you feel great after a Tang Soo Do class? Tang Soo Do training or for that matter any physical activity such as strength training releases various chemicals and endorphins that make you feel better. This goes hand in hand with the increase in confidence that you get from knowing that you are learning and training in techniques that may in fact help to safe your life!
  • Tang Soo Do trains you to defend your self! This is obvious, but sometimes we need to be reminded of how important this is! All you need to do is watch the news and see how important this is especially today.
  • Tang Soo Do helps you to control your weight! Martial Arts training burns a tremendous amount of calories. Not only during your training session but for many hours afterwards. The more intense you make your training the more calories you’ll burn!
  • Vigorous and regular physical activity such as Martial Arts training, boosts HDL (high-density lipoprotein) or "good," cholesterol and decreases unhealthy triglycerides. This helps keep your body running smoothly which can decrease your risk of cardiovascular diseases. In fact, regular physical activity can help you prevent or manage a wide range of health problems and concerns, including stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, depression, certain types of cancers.

You need to find your motivation to get in and train at least twice per week! You can use these tips below to help you find that motivation:
  1. Make your training a priority! Plan out your week and mark two days that you will get to to the school and don’t let unexpected things stop you. It’s easy let something that comes up during the week provide an excuse for you. Use technology and set up reminders on your smart phone to help motivate you. Also, we’ve included in our weekly schedule 1/2 hour belt specific training sessions on Wednesday to provide a quick training session on belt specific requirements. Get in and train for a half hour if needed!
  2. Change your perspective and visualize! Start to look at yourself as a Martial Artist! View yourself as Martial Artist! Don’t see yourself sitting on the couch watching TV and eating poorly. Grandmaster Andy Ah Po taught visualization as one of his key components to being an effective martial artist. Visualize yourself executing prefect Tang Soo Do techniques. See yourself getting to the dodging and training and working out.
  3. Set a goal for yourself! Pick on or two techniques that you want to learn or prefect and get in and work on them. Watch our senior Ko Dan Ja and You Dan Ja perform! Pick a new hyung (form) that you want to learn and start to work on it. Our Tang Soo Do curriculum is rich with many different forms to pick from and set a goal for yourself to become a ‘school resource’ on that particular form.
  4. Switch things up! We offer so much here at South Hills Karate Academy. Pop in to Lori’s yoga class. It will help improve your flexibility! Come in and train in Tai Chi Naibu which will help to increase your Chi or ‘life energy’. Still not enough? We can help you get into strength training in the MartialFit gym which can help you improve your strength and speed as well as weight loss. Use technology. Pick up a fitness band to record your calories that you burn during class times! These are a good source of motivation.
  5. Find a resource or a even a new resource! Seek out a Tang Soo Do mentor. We also have so many resources here that you can take advantage of. All of our senior Masters and Black Belts are here to help you improve! They can help you set a new goal, work on
    new techniques or a new form.
Concluding, find ways to build Tang Soo Do into your life. After all Tang Soo Do is a way of life. Start to think of yourself as a Martial Artist and not just look at Tang Soo Do training as something to do or just a recreational activity. Mark your training sessions on your calendar and use technology to help you stay motivated and make your training fun. Use Tang Soo Do to set yourself up for a lifetime of better health, more happiness, and more energy for everything else in your personal life!

2014 Traditional TSD International Championship

Submitted by: Mr Garrett Treager, Cho Dan

Over the July 4th weekend, a small contingency from South Hills Karate Academy made the trip to Philadelphia to compete in the international event hosted by Master Fred Scott and the AMKOR affiliation of schools. Participants from all over the globe, from New York to Oklahoma, Kansas, Florida, Georgia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania and many other states as well as visitors from the United Kingdom, competed in a two day long tournament in team-forms, individual traditional forms and individual Chil Sung forms across many divisions and many age groups.

A special visitor, Grandmaster
Song Ki Kim, came in from Korea, was honored, and gave an enlightening glimpse into Chi (internal energy that flows in your body) as well as charging and re-charging your Chi.

Competition was absolutely fierce and culminated in some great sparring matches to end the grand champion sparring events. Those who stuck around we able to witness some team sparring matches as well where the scoring was based on points over time in the first round and by matches in the second.

SHKA Metal winners:
  • Master Garbowsky claimed a silver in the over-35 Master's Division forms with Oh Sip Sa Bo.
  • Mr. Treager pulled a bronze metal in a combined 18-and-up, 1st and 2nd Dan Chil Sung Forms division wtih Chil Sung Sa Ro.
  • Eric Arnold took a solid kick to the throat in the 18-35 year old Green Belt Sparring division and still landed a bronze metal.
  • Korvyn Johnson won 3rd place in the 9-10 year old Green Belt Forms division with a very strong Pyong Ahn Sa Dan.

Other participants included:
  • Mrs. Christine Wilson
  • Mr. Dan Wilson
  • Mr. Kevin Fedorchak
  • Colton Boring

Tremendous job for all of those who attended and competed! Remember - anytime you train, including competition at a tournament, it's not about winning or losing, only in doing your best and striving to do better each and every time.