Plus se change

Greetings Readers…

I’m writing this post as a fabulous but bittersweet weekend of training with Master Pearson draws to a close.  Why bittersweet you ask?  Well for many reasons, categorized by type below…needless to say we have a few announcements to make…



– We learned some great stuff this weekend (so far!).  We worked extensively on learning how to flow with a partner from technique to technique, be it joint locks or striking/blocking. This ability is an important part of martial arts development.  On the one hand, from the perspective of practicality, flowing requires the practicioner to become both proficcient and efficient at every single motion – no technique is wasted.  Additionally, from the perspectives of aesthetics or the “art” of martial arts, learning to flow from one technique to the next also makes one’s techniques look graceful and beautiful whilst still being deadly and efficient (think Kung Fu movie fights between two opponents…the flowing choreography just looks stunning!).  In the Shin Ho Kwan curriculum we have three distinct types of these flowing techniques, which we call “two-person forms.”  The first is a joint locking form in which there is only one attacker.  The attacker executes a series of locks against his opponent, each lock flowing into the next, with the final lock bringing everything back full circle, allowing the pattern to be repeated indefinitely.  Also the joint locks flow in such a way that one never needs to break contact with one’s opponent (in other words, you don’t let go to change the lock or the grip).  The second style of “two-person form” is similar to the first, only in this style both partners play the role of attacker and defender, trading joint locks back and forth so that at the pattern may be repeated indefinitely by both individuals.  And lastly, the third form in this style is identical to the second only the joint locks are replaced by blocks, low kicks, and strikes.   So, in groups of two on Saturday and Sunday, we first learned the SHK curriculum two person forms and then worked together to create our own form in the same style.  This was a great challenge, but also great fun.  It forces you to think about techniques in a whole different way…like chess, you have to be mentally at least one, if not two or three steps ahead to figure out how each technique will flow into the next and how the pattern can be repeated by each partner.  It was a lot of fun and we recorded what we came up with.  You can check out the videos here…but please note that they are very very rough!  We only had about 20 minutes to both create the forms as well as perform them!

– This weekend was also sweet because it provided me with the opportunity to practice with people that I’ve never really trained with extensively before.  In Hagsaneg Naebu our group is always the same so we have gotten very used to one another, how each of us moves, how each person’s energy is, etc.  But this weekend it was outside of the regular Hagsaeng Naebu experience.  I happened to have a free weekend and asked Master Pearson if I could come up to Rochester and take some classes.  He agreed but required me to find my own partners, so I reached beyond the Hagsaeng Naebu community to extend this opportunity to others within our association.  I missed my fellow “uchis” very much but it was also great to get to work with different people.  Many many thanks to the Cheungs, Mr. Holt, Mr. Harrison jr., and Mr. Alessi for being so awesome this weekend!


– As I said, this weekend was also bitter. What actually prompted me to ask to take some classes was Master Pearson’s recent announcement that starting this summer he would no longer be in Rochester on a full or really even part-time basis.  A rare opportunity to travel around the country and eventually around the world has recently fallen into his lap and so, in just a few short months, we will be saying goodbye to our beloved teacher who has been such a fixture not only in our lives but in the entire Rochester community.  We are, of course, incredibly sad to see him go but we are also so excited for him and Kat and all the amazing adventures that they’ll get to have!  We’ll still get to see him, of course, at special events like the Winter Retreat and learn from him at special online webinars and through the articles and thoughts he’ll continue to post to this blog, but things will change…that is for sure.  Gone are the days when a student can take for granted that he will be there to teach them (hence why I wanted to get in as many classes as I could before he leaves).  Kind of makes you think differently about every time you said “oh, I’ll just go to black belt class next week,” or, “oh I can’t come to Hagsaeng Naebu this time because (fill in the blank)!”  You can’t take back the past but it’s something to think about for the future (2014 Winter Retreat is January 2nd-5th — just a heads up!).

– Another reason this weekend was “bitter,” was that it forced us to recognize how much Hagsaneg Naebu has changed since it began over three years ago.  What started out as a such a promising opportunity with enthusiastic and passionate people has become a little sad and weak.  As of two weeks ago, only myself and Ms. Doll remain as “active” members.  Mr. Dillon, Mr. Walsh, Mr. Worden – all decided that Hagsaeng Naebu couldn’t fit into their schedules, even after the requirements were significantly relaxed.  I don’t blame them, nor do I hold a grudge – everyone has their own baggage and has to make their own decisions – but it is unfortunate that we find ourselves in circumstances which require us to either shut down or recast the very idea of Hagsaeng Naebu.  This plan is still in the works and as soon as it is ironed out, our readers will be the first to hear about it.  The blog will evolve as well – instead of weekly articles of interest charting our experiences, successes and failures, and new insights gained as Master Pearson’s inside students, the blog will now also serve as a repository for martial arts articles and papers.  Master Pearson, Ms. Doll, and myself will continue to be contributing authors and you’ll be able to learn an incredible amount by culling through what’s posted there.  We invite you keep reading and learning with us and most of all we thank you for your loyalty and readership over these past years.

Our future as martial artists is indeed about to change drastically.  It is both exciting and scary, both bitter and sweet.  Who knows what the future will hold for each of us, for our teachers, and for Shin Ho Kwan but we must be open to whatever is yet to come.

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”  — Lao Tzu

Something to think about…

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