The Philosophy of First Tang Soo Do of Fremont is expressed in three essays by Sah Bum Nim David Bell:
The three essays are presented here as one essay in three parts.
Having grown up in South Carolina in the 60's and 70's, going to a high school that only integrated in 1970, made way for a vast amount of racial tension and anger. On the other hand, coming from a very close family of a mom and dad, four sisters--two older and two younger--made for a very protective environment. These are just some situations that made it very hard to grow up and find out the real man inside.
The journey started in 1973. Joining the U.S. Air Force ... basic training and Tec School in Texas and then off to England for nearly two years was a "pretty good start, wouldn't you say? LET'S PARTY!!" I'm still not taking the time to find out ... who is this man inside?
Well, just over a year later, two sisters were home pregnant, one married to a navy man just killed in a car accident; another wants to get married at 16. Dad's having a hard time.
After being discharged in 1975, it's back to Carolina only to find that problems of that nature had ways of working themselves out. I looked around and nothing had changed.
During my time in England I had managed to acquire a giant stereo system. My friends loved it! Soon, I was invited to all the little country clubs to spin records. For a small town boy, this was big business. The phone started ringing on Wednesday.. ."David, where is the party this week?" After about two years of the "GoodTime Disco" reality began to set in. I was a professional DJ now ... one who could lead the party ... without really being there. Still not knowing the man inside.
I remember the spring of 1978. At one of those parties, a man walked in carrying such a presence you would think the turntable just stopped. He was about 5'6" tall and 160 lbs.--so confident--possessing so much character. "He's Darnell Leak", a friend said to me. My friend went on to tell me about this man and his expertise in the art of karate. A few minutes later he came over to the stage to request a record, "I'm Darnell Leak" he said, with a very firm hand shake and eye contact that I haven't forgotten to this day. We talked for a few minutes and he told me how much he enjoyed the music. I gave him a business card and in return he wrote his name and number on the back of another and exchanged with me. I would see him from time to time for about a year... he'd always ask when I was coming to "work out".
I think it was in the fall of 1979 when I opened the newspaper one morning and spotted the photo of Darnell Leak in a white karate uniform trimmed in black. He was holding a silver cup representing Grand Champion in an Atlantic City Tang Soo Do Tournament. That was enough for me!! I contacted him in the next few days to congratulate him and ask for a schedule of classes. We set up a time where we could sit and talk. First Darnell wanted to know about my interest in karate. He spoke often about my "life on the edge". He could tell right away there was something missing. He had a firm hand on the art of fighting ... but more importantly, he chose when tD fight. He also expressed deep feeling on respecting "the right that mankind is entitled to his own space."
He went on to talk about the inner energies and feeling of ones self. He pulled out a small Tang Soo Do hand book and read to me the five codes of Tang Soo Do and seven tenets saying, "by these codes and tenets, and very intense exercises ... this is my way of life." After about an hour of this conversation I was exhausted but even more impressed than the night he walked into that dance. My physical exercises started the next day. I learned to coordinate the body parts and move muscles I never knew I had! That class became my other family--an escape from the world--it gave me the time and training to study that man inside. I soon learned that in life, I was my biggest challenge. I studied with Mr. Leak for about four years before moving to Miami in 1983. That family was almost as hard to say "goodbye" to as my biological one. I remember Mr. Leak saying, "remember the Tenets and live by the codes."
I stayed in Miami and the Virgin Islands nearly three years. I visited a lot of karate schools there, but never really joined any. I cam back to South Carolina for only three months before moving on to the Virginia and D.C. areas where I lived until 1987.
N i nteen- Eighty- Seven was the year to go West ... Arizona. While looking through the yellow pages one day I saw the First Tang Soo Do of Phoenix. The Master Instructors name was Darryl Khalid. I remembered seeing that name on some Do Bohks in 1983 when Mr. Leak and I were in San Diego at a National Championship. We spoke briefly on the phone and I was in the car and on my way! When I walked in the studio I had an immediate feeling of warmth ... the students showed the utmost respect for Master Khalid and for one another. The way they excepted me made me feel right at home. I looked around the studio, and on the walls was a list of the same codes and tenets. I joined the school, traveling about 40 miles each way--three times a week. I studied with Master Khalid until 1989 when I moved to Fremont, California. When I was settled in, I called him to give my phone number and address. I told him that I was starting to look for schools. I knew he felt very confident in my ability to take care of myself, but I remember him saying, "don't let them hurt you out there, David!"
Socially, I feel very secure and confident with myself now. People are starting to reach out to me for endurance, the same way I reached out to Mr. Leak and Master Khalid. My dream now is to start my own family of Tang Soo Do here in Fremont, California.
He is Sah Bum Nim
The relationship of Sah Bum Nim to the Dojang is very difficult to define. It encompasses many varying aspects of life. Sah Bum Nim must flow through the student in many levels of communication and reach to the far corners of the students life. He is father, and, at times, a mother, an advisor and a chastiser.
Sah Bum Nim, though different, is the same as everyone else or is he? He is human in a controlled way and deserves respect. He is often mistaken.
Traveling far, Sah Bum Nim often speaks of the "Do" of others. He feels it is important to 'understand their way of life, highly respecting their space. He is sometimes confused as to where he should live, where he was born, with his own . . . who is his own? He feels most gratified when he can help or share his worldly knowledge.
Spending time alone is also pleasurable to Sah Bum Nim. Breathing and meditating gives him a chance to stay balanced. He talks about the person who lives inside him, "the inside connection."
Sah Bum Nim is a dreamer. He thinks dreams are important. Dreams are visions, dreams turn into plans and plans direct life. "A man with no dream is a man that has no plan, he is defeated before he starts."
A Sah Bum Nim should be a good teacher by conveying to the student, at the correct time, the appropriate knowledge in the best possible manner. He must be able to see the students and their problems, impartial, as they never can. A Sah Bum Nim shows no favoritism. Indeed, as progression is attained, he or she becomes harder on those that progress; however, he is firm, yet kind, to those beginning on the path. Many people are unable to see Sah Bum Nim properly as some of them tend to categorize him as a teacher or a friend. He is neither, he is both and he is more. He sees the student in a free way, unmoved by the external face or appearance; and he helps in the best way befitting the student. If this means he must be
hard, then he is so! But, always it is in the best manner for his students, for Sah Bum Nim's heart is forever with them.
Sah Bum Nim forever seeks peace. He believes peace starts from one person. . . the whole person. Again, he speaks to his students about "the inside connection," using the Ying and Yang philosophy to convey his point on balance. Connecting the internal person to the external person makes way for a very peaceful one. Sah Bum Nim envisions his peaceful world this way.
He is devoted to his art. Sah Bum Nim advises, in an appropriate manner, on the inner spiritual aspects of the art and is always a friendly ear who listens but is not moved. He believes to truly master the art takes a lifetime. He also believes in the tenets and lives by the codes of his art. The serious approach is his practice, giving his all-out effort.
Silence is often the best form of praise that a Sah Bum Nim will give to his students. He will note what affects his students in and out of the Dojang, how the student acts with his friends, his family and his work; and, he will act upon the student accordingly. Sah Bum Nim knows that too much verbal praise could breed arrogance. This could cause serious problems in the student's path of learning.
He gives while others take and asks no reward. He is sad, sometimes happy or unhappy, let down, and often abused; but, he forever holds to the "Do" for that is his life.
Outsiders may change. The Sah Bum Nim does not. He can
adapt, at will, completely. The inward ideals and principles are always there. He persists when there is no apparent reason.
Sah Bum Nim becomes a part of his students. He has seen and listened to them on their worst days. He has spoken and helped them see clearly through his worldly experiences. His heart is forever with them. He is forever active, even in a subdued way. He listens when his students speak and can see the inner reasons for their speech. He is unmoved but can move.
That is why he is Sah Bum Nim . . .
The Whole Person Concept
(Mind, Body, and Spirit)
Growing into the roll of a teacher, it is very Important to have some understanding of the whole self ... Mind, Body, and Spirit. In this essay I will attempt to briefly discuss the three levels of the self, in hopes of showing a connection to a well-balanced person. In my experience as a teacher the spirit has been the most difficult to connect with and understand. In this essay the major focus will be on the spirit and the respiratory system.
It seems universal that all traditional martial arts practitioners will use "Mind, Body, and Spirit" as a headline for their philosophy of training. In the past twenty years I have been to very few classes that actually made the attempt to show the connection on the floor or even in a detail book. Maybe this is one reason for the mysteriousness of the martial arts. My mission in these next few years is to study the three levels of the self in a greater detail. I would like to be able to explain verbally as well as in writing this connection to a more balanced person, this essay will be only the beginning.
The mind ... Webster describes the mind as a place of memory, the seat of consciousness and way, state, or direction of thinking and feeling. The brain is described as the mass of nerve tissue; it is the center of thought that receives and transmits impulses, the main organizer of a group activity. Understand one as a place, and the other as an organ to create a high level of focus and concentration. When preparing the mind for training or total balance we sometime use the technique of meditation. Meditation: to think deeply and continuously to the point of thoughtlessness.
One basic form of meditation is as follows. Physically, sit in an upright position with your back straight as if you were against a wall. Bend your knees, crossing your feet directly in front of you. Close your eyes and lower your head from the upper neck. Breathe deeply in through your nose, with your mouth closed, allowing the air to drop to the lower abdomen contracting your diaphragm, instead of using the upper chest muscles. Then, exhale controlling the air with your esophagus out through your mouth. This is
called controlled or corrective breathing, and will be referred to throughout this paper as such.
Mentally, think of the most peaceful place on earth with some activity occurring. For example, think of a large eagle on top of a mountain. Try to see through the eagle's eyes as he soars along the valley, in the early morning. Trying to stay with the eagle creates a sense of mental discipline and control. As far as time is concerned, five minutes are good for the beginning. This will free the mind of stress and relax the brain. If the brain is relaxed, and the mind is free of stress, you become mentally sharper.
The body is the whole physical substance of a person. It will serve as the vehicle to carry your thoughts and ideas through life. This physical substance is compelled by a number of systems that interact with each other. In this essay, I'll briefly discuss three systems ... The Skeletal, The Muscular, and The Respiratory Systems.
The skeletal system can be looked upon as the frame of the body. A frame composed of bones. This is a moving frame, and it is important to understand how it is made and how it moves correctly. For example, when executing a thrusting sidekick, it is important to understand the entire set of motions necessary. Begin, by stepping the right leg backward into either a Chun Kul Ja Seh (front stance) or a Hu Kul Ja Seh (fighting stance). In the front stance, the weight should be balanced on both legs. In the fighting stance, the weight should be on the right leg balancing the body center there. Move forward, the weight and center of balance should shift to the left leg, the left foot should have pivoted to become parallel with the target. The right knee is then pulled high to the chest, across the centerline of the target. During this move, a deep inhale should occur,
using corrective breathing, and the practitioner should be mentally focusing on the target area. Using the leg muscles (hip, thigh, and calf), push the right foot's heel on direct line through the target, while exhaling from the lower abdomen. The left foot should have pivoted the second time allowing the heel to follow the path of the centerline. After completing the kick, withdraw the leg quickly using the same route used to execute the kick and resume the original stance. An important note is all pivots are done on the ball of the feet. Let's call this studying the mechanics of the skeletal system as it applies to Tang Soo Do.
Muscles ... any of the body organs consisting of bundles of fibers that can be contracted and expanded to produce bodily movements. These fibers are often layered and woven throughout the body, connected by tendons, censored by the nervous system. The muscles are fueled by the blood stream. Tense movement of the muscles bum oxygen, the balance of oxygen in the blood stream becomes very important. Oxygen enters the body through the respiratory system.
The Respiratory System ... during breathing, air is inhaled and exhaled, allowing exchange between the atmosphere and the lungs. The diaphragm is the major respiratory muscle. As the diaphragm contracts, the volume of the thoracic cage increases, causing airflow into the lungs. As the diaphragm relaxes, the elastic tissues of the lung passively recoil, decreasing lung volume.
The nasal cavity, trachea and bronchial tree form the respiratory conducting pathways. Air is warmed, filtered, moistened and delivered to and from the gas exchange area of the lung.
The primary lobule is the functional unit of the respiratory system where oxygen is provided to the pulmonary arterial blood and carbon dioxide is removed from the blood. The thin, moist alveolar walls permit gas exchange between the alveolus and the capillary meshwork.
Again, Webster describes spirit as the life principle or the soul in human beings. Sometimes it is regarded as immortal, a supernatural being. When I think of spirit I recall individual personality, internal energy, power or simply ... the person that lives inside of me that is as real as the one you see. My spirit is the way I see myself
Balance, occurs when my physical self is presented and the way I think of myself is the same. I am mentally and spiritually balanced. To the best of my understanding at this time, breathing is the only "physical connection" between body and spirit.
Researching for this project has given me a greater understanding of my own gratifying experiences from physically practicing this art. First, having a sense of clarity of the individual mind, body and spirit makes way for a sense of wholeness or balance. As a teacher, this clarification is of the utmost importance.
It feels good to have a mind without stress and a relaxed brain. When explaining to the student, the mind as a place and the brain as an organ, meditation as a technique to become mentally sharper is more gratifying. Making it known that the same oxygen in the blood that fuels the muscles that wrap around the bone in the leg fuels the brain. Being able to explain the simple concept of breathing, for example inhaling through the nose with your mouth closed warms, moistens, and filters the air entering the lungs, gives a greater sense of awareness.
I started this paper with hopes of showing the connection to a well-balanced person through Mind, Body and Spirit. What I have found is the clarification of each individual level creates that balance.
CLARIFICATION OF EACH, INDIVIDUALLY
As Tang Soo Do practitioners, we are very fortunate to have such a thorough fighting art form to study the whole person. My hat is forever off and heart very humble to those instructors before me, that have preserved techniques, defensively and offensively, that are unmatched by any. We enjoy the beauty, gracefulness and strength of the hyungs (forms), handed down from generation to generation with every movement
having awareness and purpose, and a clear pattern of breathing from the abdomen. Tang Soo Do stands, without doubt, at the forefront with its traditionalism of strong character.
Being teachers, we are presented with many of our community's problems. Our society today seems to be in the age of computers; for our workplace this may be fine, the problem comes when our lifestyle follows. Typically, an adult will work an eight to ten hour job that is only mentally challenging. Then, sit in a car one to two hours, both to and from work, easily totaling twelve hours of a 24-hour day. The child will attend a school that is slowly deleting physical education from its curriculum. A large portion of his leisure time is with television, Sega or surfing the net. Half of our day only being mentally challenged the "whole person" becomes unbalanced.
Physically, the body (the vehicle to carry your thoughts and ideas through life) starts a rapid deterioration. Unused muscles start to disappear; loosing the frame, being replaced with fatty tissue. The diaphragm starts to weaken making it harder to breathe. Today's lifestyle will be harder on the children and young adults, since their bodies never get a chance to fully develop. Unless you use your body, you don't really become knowledgeable of it.
Spiritually (the way you see yourself) unbalanced, can easily result in low selfesteem or low self-confidence. Little or no self-discipline can lead to following peers for identity, possibly into a life of drugs, alcohol, gangs, etc. Often times, the spiritually unbalanced adult will take the unsatisfying way he sees himself, out on the ones he has pledged to protect.
Finally, after recognizing there is a problem; in a desperate attempt to appear normal, we turn to the medical community, for identification and the miracle drugs!
At the First Tang Soo Do of Fremont, California, we offer our expertise of training and studying the martial arts to our community, as an alternate measure for some of our problems. We focus on creating a high level of concentration, self-defense, physical fitness, self-discipline and peace of mind. With strong Integrity, Concentration, Perseverance, Respect, self-control, Humility, and Indomitable Spirits, WE WILL BOLDLY EMBRACE OUR COMMUNITY!
With Dan promotion comes more responsibility. To our association, the Dans pave the way to the front of the mysterious world of the martial arts. To our individual schools, we accept promotions as avenues of information for advancement of ourselves and for the molding of Tang Soo Do's next generation.
TODAY, A TEACHER; FOREVER, A STUDENT