2011 New England Regional Black Belt Camp & Dan Shim Sa

Mon, 07/04/2011 - 1:21pm — webmaster

The 2011 APTSDF New England Black Belt Camp took place May 13-15 at Camp Winadu in Pittsfield, MA.

Eight students took part in the Dan Shim Sa: 2 for Sam Dan, 2 for E Dan, 4 for Cho Dan. The Best Test award for youth went to Haley McClure of Southbury Academy of Karate. The Adult Best Test award was given to Noelle Drewicz of Cambridge Tang Soo Do.

During the Dan Shim Sa on Friday night, the rest of the group rotated through three exercises. Mr. Mark Farquarson, 4th Degree Black Belt worked with us on forms and flow sets, Ms. Kayla Turgeon led a drill on Tang Soo Do combinations, and Mr. O'Sullivan offered Ho Sin Sul techniques.

After dinner, Grandmaster St. James spoke about "Moo Do", the martial way, introducing the philosophy of the Moo Do warrior focusing on one’s inner life, as well as their combative skill. The Grandmaster asked us to think about and practice our Moo Do in even the smallest ways, all day long, not just when we are training physically. When we do engage with our partners, let us learn to sense the other's energy, and be mindful of what we are sending out in thoughts, words and behavior. This should also guide our Ho Sin Sul responses as well as our daily behavior or actions: To meet fire with its opposite---water---makes the most effective use of our energy, and reflects the circular, cyclical nature of the Um/Yang. We accept a great responsibility when we develop the ability to hurt, harm, maim, or kill someone, and the philosophy of the Tao offers wisdom to help us continually perfect our character, as well as the work that we do.

Saturday morning, students divided by rank to work with the Masters on various open hand and Bong forms. Then came break-out sessions, which included knife defense with Senior Master Klacko and Senior Master Sattler, sparring with Master Trevor Becker, and focus mitt training with Senior Master Rivera. After lunch, we had an opportunity to do two of the following: Chil Sung Il Ro with Master Trevor Becker, technique sparring with Mr. Mark Farquarson, breaking with Senior Master Becker, or a non-traditional approach to Tang Soo Do forms with Mr. & Mrs. Hebert, Sam Dan.

Cho Dan Bo's and above gathered in the afternoon with Kwan Jang Nim and the Masters to discuss the certification of judges for tournaments. We now have a Technical Advisory Committee to develop a course for training judges, with Senior Master Rivera as the General Coordinator. As the program committee, Mr. and Mrs. Hebert had prepared handouts, and scenarios for Hyung and Dae Ryun competitions. We split into several groups, tasked with addressing the issues in our given scenarios. The complications that arose made it all too clear why training and experience are so important to handle these situations well.

We had four presentations from the Masters after dinner:
Kwan Jang Nim returned to his theme of the Moo Do warrior, practicing not just the Weh Kong (the external power), but the Neh Kong (internal) and Shim Kong (spiritual) as well. The key is to persevere and grow, cultivate a vital student/teacher relationship, and seek to break through our fears and limitations.

Senior Master Becker described an equation for fulfillment, relating our passion to our actions. He coached us to accept uncertainty as we grow, and to open our minds creatively to what leadership roles we might be able to assume at the Black Belt camps in the future. He shared with us an initiative he is planning for the coming year, to break many thousands of boards in one day, as an inspirational fundraising event.

Senior Master Sattler guided us through the history of the Pyung Ahn forms, showing the Chinese calligraphy characters which illuminate their meaning. In addition to the turtle image which symbolizes their energy, he shared the meticulously detailed Chinese-style drawings and paintings he has been doing. This was a beautiful reminder of how inspiring the artistic dimension of our Tang Soo Do heritage can be.

Mrs. Hebert's presentation about nutrition explored her choice to be vegan. With the help of her daughter, Samantha, she made a personal and passionate appeal to consider our diet's impact on animals, and make healthier, compassionate choices about our food. Whether we consume animal products or not, this was valuable counsel about paying attention to how our sources of food have been grown and treated.

Sunday morning, Kwan Jang Nim led the group in "Real Deal Flow Sets" for self-defense. The next break-out sessions included sword one-steps with Senior Master Sattler, Dan Bong with Senior Master Rivera, and cane with Senior Master Becker. Students and Masters joined together for a group form to the drum, led by Kwan Jang Nim. Graduation and Belt/certificate presentations followed.

On a more personal note, an experience at camp that left a deep impression on me was the story Noelle Drewicz (Best Test) told me about her recovery from a rare and usually fatal cancer. I feel at liberty to mention it, because she herself announced it to the group when Mrs. Hebert's spoke about organic food. What made it so moving was her courage, determination, and an element of the miraculous, which I found unforgettable. I'm grateful to her for sharing it, because we often have more impact on each other than we realize---even when we're not trying to be role models. These days, so many of us have battled cancer---or other life-challenges---in ourselves or people we know. All of the sensibilities we cultivate as Tang Soo Do warriors can become more relevant and critical in our private fights for survival.

Tang Soo!
Deborah Winograd, Cho Dan
Southbury Academy of Karate