Elwood 5566

Parts of Sword

Posted in Haidong Gumdo, swords by 노강호 on May 10, 2012

naming of parts

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©Amongst Other Things –  努江虎 – 노강호 2012 Creative Commons Licence.

My First Lesson in Haidong Gumdo

Posted in Haidong Gumdo by 노강호 on April 16, 2012

the entrance to my new school

I was slightly worried about my first gumdo lesson mainly because I’m six-foot six and the dojang ceiling is not high. I was worried that first, my sword would gouge chucks out of the ceiling and second,  that having to lower my stances would make my legs ache. The leg ache lasted a few days and now, several months down the line, I’ve only brushed the ceiling with a sword tip twice.

The biggest problem, and it is one that still persists, are the aches from muscles in the wrist and around the elbow joint. However, the aches haven’t been severe enough for me to cancel or change my training routine. The wrist ache is on the little finger side and is caused by letting the blade swing to far out and then, when your arms stop your wrists take the strain. Despite constantly working on the problem, by controlling the arc of the blade with the arms and the wrists locked in place, the ache hasn’t entirely gone and I’m sure some pain is caused by having to extensively rotate wrists especially for upward slashes. I initially remembered finding some positions quite unnatural and uncomfortable but over time the body adapts.

gumdo, taekwondo, piano classes, an English academy and a maths school

For a good six weeks I had quite sore arms around the elbow joint most especially around the brachioradialis muscle. The ache is greater in the right arm is definitely caused by the constant practice of drawing the sword and re-sheathing it. Both the movements involve extending the sword so that most of the strain is on the elbow joint.  I’ve been using a fairly heavy mok-geom (목검) which increases the workload on the muscles. I’ve since noticed the muscles in that area are taut and perhaps even slightly increased in size. But even two months later there is still some residual ache.

The basic cut technique that caused the most problems was a horizontal slash at waist height (평베기 – pyeong-begi)). Not only is the wrist problem caused by the technique, but my sword didn’t travel on a level plane and when it passed the point of cutting, would rise upwards. I started to cure this bad habit by slashing along a piece of string I’d set up at waist height and focusing on the movement of the arms more like that of a punch.

Currently, I’m still working on this and you can see my notes on it in anything related to mija-begi (미자 베기 – 米), or horizontal slash (평베기 – pyeong-begi)

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©Amongst Other Things –  努江虎 – 노강호 2012 Creative Commons Licence.

First Step – Yet Again

Posted in General, Martial Arts by 노강호 on April 8, 2012

I took my first lesson in the Oh Do Kwan style of taekwon-do on Thursday March 3rd, 1977. I was twenty-one, a soldier in the British Army, stationed in Osnabrück, West Germany. The school was the Song-Do-Kwan and my instructor, Georg Soupidis, then a 3rd degree black belt.

I took my 1st dan exactly 5 years and one month later, on Saturday 3rd of April, 1982. I remained in Osnabrück where I ran my own club in a neighbouring barracks and then, from 1985, became ronin, wandering from club to club never able to settle down because of a spat of short postings, followed by university, teacher training and employment in various schools and towns.

Training for my dan grade with Frank Zippel, left (1981, Osnabrück)

My taekwon-do lineage is close to the roots. Georg Soupidis studied under Rhee Hi-ka in the 1960’s while Rhee Ki-ha was introduced to taekwon-do, by one of, if not the founding father, Choi Hong-hi. Indeed, around 1973, Choi stayed in Georg’s house in Osnabrück.

Georg Soupidis and I in 1982

I actually started martial arts in 1973, in Münster, West Germany, from Peter Dominic’s, ‘Teach Yourself Karate.’

Song Do Kwan, Osnabrück, 1977-85 (1st dan). I trained here under, Georg Soupidies, then a 3rd, and later 4th Dan (now 6th Dan).

ITF taekwondo in London (1980). Under Richard Koo, 2nd Dan.

Wing Chun Kung Fu under Master Simon Lau – London (1980)

Close to a years one to one training with Wai Po Tang – when he was 15 and before his travels to China and Thailand. At the time he’d only just taken up Wing Chun. (1980)

Oh Do Kwan taekwon-do Paderborn, Germany 1986. Under Master Song?

ITF taekwon-do, Aylesbury, Bucks. 1988. (green belt). Under Leroy Soutar, 2nd Dan

Traditional shotokan karate (TASK), Aylesbury, Bucks. 1988 (green belt). Under Master John van Weenen.

Self defence instructor Essex University 1988-1992.

Yoseikan Karate (Essex University) 1988-1992. Under Master Mark Bishop, 4th Dan.

Shotokan Karate (Goldsmiths College, London) 1993-1995. Under Gabriel ? 2nd Dan.

Daegu, Korea, WTF taekwondo, 2000-2001 (purple belt). Under Master Bae 7th Dan.

Daegu, Korea 2011, Oh Do Kwan, taekwon-do, (no school)

Daegu, Korea, Monday, April 16th,  2012, Haidong Gumdo. (white belt), Under Master Kwon Yong-guk, 5th Dan (Haedong Gumdo), 6th Dan (Korean Traditional Weapons), 4th Dan (WTF Taekwondo).

In 2001 I had to stop training because I developed an umbilical hernia and had to travel back to the UK for surgery.

In, 2003, I was back training in Daegu, in the school I trained in in 2000-2001. Once again, right before taking my red belt I did a high axe kick and re-birthed a para-umbilical hernia. I later discovered it was part of the first hernia. Once again I had to go back to the UK for surgery under the same surgeon who again managed to bodge a second operation. The operation failed to close the tear in my abdominal muscle and over the next few years a substantial lump grew on my stomach that I named ‘Billy.’

I now considered my training in martial arts over. Indeed, that’s what I wrote in my diary after leaving the consultant’s surgery. In 2008, the hernia was successfully repaired and I returned to Korea. I had put on a lot of weight and considered myself highly unfit but after three years regular gym workouts, which initially began extremely lightly, I eased myself back into martial arts training and eventually took up haidong gumdo.

My Current Instructor – Danny – 권용국

My heart has always been with Oh Do Kwan style and despite having practiced other styles and compelled to take a break between hernia operations or when I ‘was lost,’ I have always practiced my patterns. Gumdo was a way back into full TKD training but I have quickly grown to like the style and unlike TKD, I’m not competing with past expectations. For now, Haedong Gumdo is my focus.

It’s now my goal to take my first dan in gumdo. TKD is too stressful on the knees at my age and the gumdo ideology much better at adapting to suit your own development.  And in a comforting way, practicing gumdo provides a continuity so that I do not feel I have abandoned my style and all it meant to me.

This blog chronicles my journey.

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©Facing A Single Opponent –  努江虎 – 노강호 2012 Creative Commons Licence.