South Hills Karate Academy

South Hills Karate Academy

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.