First blog post for LTMA

Wow! It has been quite a ride, a long one at times, in getting things off the ground, but we are EXCITED to have such an awesome partner in the YMCA to start classes in the Tristate!

It is our intent to help you become the best martial artist and person you can possibly be! What you learn here will help you in every area of life, if you apply the principles we teach.

To that end, in the interest of bringing something instructive to this first post, I’d like to discuss the purpose of hyungs. What’s that, you ask? If you are familiar with martial arts at all, perhaps you’ve heard the Japanese term “kata,” or maybe another way of saying it in Korean, “poom sae.”

The words all refer to “forms” or “patterns of movement” in traditional martial arts. If you scour the web, you’ll no doubt find people on both sides of the issue regarding the usefulness of hyungs. Some feel they do absolutely nothing to teach you how to defend yourself in any useful way, while others actually feel that each movement is truly applicable in a self-defense situation.

In my view, both are wrong, but only because they each take such an extreme view. Allow me to explain:

Hyungs, particularly for beginners, help develop focus and strength, as you are taught to look in the direction you are striking or blocking. Also, the stances used are often extremely exaggerated compared to anything that would be typically used in self-defense. These exaggerated stances help develop strength, control, balance, and flexibility. Also, in the instance you should be knocked off balance, you may find yourself actually standing in one of these exaggerated stances, and able to do so capably, in order to return to a more natural stance/position, rather than falling over.

Furthermore, in practicing these forms, you learn how to more fully engage your body in your techniques. Many of the blocks, punches, and kicks you practice would not be executed the exact same way “on the street” or even in the tournament ring, but by practicing in the traditional manner, you learn how to develop power that, even when abbreviated or modified in real-life situations, will enable you to deliver a more effective technique.

As one advances through the ranks, I believe that, while you certainly get to practice new techniques, the hyung becomes more of an expression of the art, as well as further development of focus, calm, and discipline. Many experienced practitioners say they are a form of meditation for them.

At LifeTrek, we value hyungs greatly, and all ranks are expected to practice and perfect them over time. In our dojang (training hall), you will not hear us teach that practicing these patterns, in and of themselves, will make you a competent martial artist or self-defense expert. They simply will not. However, as a part of the tradition in martial arts, we respect our heritage, and enthusiastically incorporate these forms as a part of who we are.

We look forward to practicing these hyungs, as well as many other martial arts concepts with you very soon!

Tang Soo!

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