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Frequently Asked Questions - (Judo FAQ to be added shortly)
The comments below are the views and explanations of the instructors of High Desert Martial Arts Academy and may not reflect the views of the World Tang Soo Do Association. Kenpo and Brazilian Jiujutsu Instruction is separate from the WTSDA, but is taught as part of the overall martial arts experience. Boxed questions are updates.
Q. What does High Desert Martial Arts Academy teach?
A. HDMAA primarily teaches a Korean Martial Arts called Tang Soo Do, as well as American Kenpo, Judo, introductory Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Israeli Military Fight Skills. Introductory weapons training in the long and short staff, nunchucks, escrima, knife and gun disarms, and sword.
Q. What is Tang Soo Do?
A. Tang Soo Do and similar styles is a traditional military method of training soldiers in discipline, conditioning and fighting skills used by oriental cultures over the last couple of thousands of years. Tang Soo Do techniques are based on the principals of yielding, circular motion and penetration in its striking and blocking movements.
Q. What is the World Tang Soo Do Association?
A. The WTSDA is the largest (and best) international Tang Soo Do Association of independent schools that subscribe to a rigid set of standards as set by the Board and the Grand Master, it assures quality training and excellent oversight. You can go to any WTSDA school in the world and be accepted at your current rank. The teaching methods may vary, but the content is always the same. The program has not been changed in more than 30 years. The instructors, based on their experience, have chosen the be affiliated with the World Tang Soo Do Association over others because of its professionalism and shared brotherhood and their traditional arts program. We thank the Association in accepting our school as one of their own.
Q What is Kenpo?
The "Ed Parker System of Kenpo" also known as American Kenpo, is a contemporary fighting system. Ed Parker was considered a pioneer in the martial arts field, he literally disassembled, analyzed, and rebuilt Kenpo to fit today’s environment. Kenpo blends circular movements like those found in Chinese Kung Fu and linear movements like those found in a Japanese system. Kenpo instruction is not affiliated with the World Tang Soo Do Association.
Q. What experience does your staff have?
Glenn Olsen is the senior instructor with experience in Tang Soo Do, Tae Kwon Do, Wrestling, Jiujutsu, Boxing, GuJuRyu, Judo, Jeet Kune Do, and Haganah . He is a former Marine and routinely enrolls in other styles to constantly gain more experience. Sherry Courvoisier is a professional and certified cardio-fitness instructor. In addition to teaching Tang Soo Do, she oversees the yoga, cardio-karate and body conditioning segments of our training. Bryan McEntyre has 15 years experience in the Korean Martial Arts and Jiujutsu. Jake LuDuke is a Police officer and is experienced in Tang Soo Do, Tae Kwon Do, Kenpo, police grappling tactics and kickboxing. He is currently training in mixed martial arts. Larry Frye is a police officer/Marshall with extensive training in American Kenpo and law enforcement.
Additionally, there are six assistant Black Belt Instructors with 5 or more years training in Tang Soo Do.
Hence, our school is more disciplined than most. All senior instructors have a least one Black Belt rank and all have trained in more than one style. Instructors routinely train in seminars to upgrade their training. All of our assistants have more than four year in training in Tang Soo Do.
Q. How is Tang Soo Do different than Tae Kwon Do?
A. Tang Soo Do is a traditional Korean martial art, which was taught to the Korean military for two centuries and continues to this day and practiced by much of the general population. For those whom are familiar with Tae Kwon Do, its origins are similar except Tae Kwon Do was developed as a National Sport of Korea by the government. South Korea export this sport product to the world to enhance its national reputation. Tae Kwon Do today is an Olympic Sport - therefore its focus is on sports related techniques not necessary self defense. Many Tae Kwon Do Schools are independent and have incorporated self defense segments. Traditional Tang Soo Do emphasizes more than just a tag sport focused on the physical. The Art of Tang Soo Do teaches empty hand and foot fighting, fighting forms, self-defense, weapons and is much more comprehensive than most systems. Much of the past development of the Tang Soo Do has been directly influence by the heritage of the Chinese, the Tang Dynasty in particular. This was also developed over the centuries to help people live a healthy and harmonious life despite their hardships. Whereas we do not incorporate any religious dogma we do attempt to incorporate the mind, body, spirit concepts. The traditions of the Korean Tang Soo Do martial art are preserved and advanced through our network of affiliates headed by Grandmaster Jae C. Shin.
Q. My child is younger than your starting age of 7, can they join? What if I want to train with them?
A. As a rule we do not allow children under under (7) to train in traditional karate and fighting skills - but there's always an exception to the rules. . . We separate training for adults/youth and children. We treat adults as adults, and expect more of them. With children we are much more strict with as most parents desire disciplined training for their children - and this is a military art. Parents may train with their children, however, children must be prepared to handle situations without out mom/ dad and to related properly with their peers. Parents that join children's classes must expect to play some children's games and the pace is usually slower. Sometimes is not advisable for parents to be in the same class as its hard for some to let go - even for an hour. On the other hand many parents use this time to be in an activity with their child. Just remember for the term of the class allow the instructors to do any corrections and discipline when they feel it is appropriate. Give the children this time to relate to you other than as a disciplinarian. Adult classes are more comprehensive than the children classes. Adults that prefer to train with their children will miss out on other advanced training practices designed for adults. Training is limited to the highest child rank in the class. Eventually to advance (above Red Belt) in rank adults must be in the adult classes.
Q. How is one martial art different than another?
A. The concept the “one shoe does not fit all”, applies here. Every person is different in their needs, physical characteristics and aspirations. Different styles provide different approaches and emphasis. Obviously a young male will desire training with a different focus than and older male based on physical condition, maturity and outlook on like. And like wise with women as typically they prefer self defense over sport sparring and cardio fitness over ground fighting.
Q. What is the best martial art?
A. Good question - what is your definition of “best”? What is great for one, maybe not so great for another? Call around to studios and ask. Most people wouldn't know one from the other. The correct answer is that all systems have a particular focus, they all have strength and weaknesses. Some focus on children and game playing, some on street fighting, some on tumbling and dance, some on sport sparring, some on one-on-one grappling; this list goes on and on. Most of us will never get in a fight nor want our children to. The focus should be providing a well-rounded program presented with respect, discipline and professionalism that develops your character and enhances your life yet also provides the skills necessary to defend oneself if called upon. We at HDMAA strive to provide a well-rounded program to develop the mind, body and spirit.
Q. I really just want to do a kickboxing workout, can I receive that from this school?
A. Development in any martial arts is a skill that is learned and built upon over several years of training. We do provide fitness training in cardio karate, yoga, weight conditioning and contact pads training. Our focus is on the Art of Tang Soo Do and our training program normally follows an instructional period then an practice period. Performing a repetitious choreographed set of moves to music does absolutely nothing to develop timing, split second decision making and proper technique. However, to be able to perform in a confident and proficient manner you must be fit. Cardio training does certainly increase your fitness level and you will enjoy the training much more the more fit you become, and plus you will look good. If fitness kickboxing is your primary desire we recommend you sign up at a gym that provides a fitness program as opposed to a martial arts program.
Q. What is best for me and how can I choose a good school?
A. Do some research, visit some schools, talk to people taking the classes, ask friends, and take a couple of lessons. Figure out what you really want. Don’t be so eager to sign any agreement, no matter what they offer as an incentive. Contracts are just a marketing method to maintain cash flow. Be an informed consumer – picking a school is very important. Its will greatly influence how you feel about the martial arts. We want this to be a wonderful experience for you. Too often we hear horror stories of unscrupulous operators who take full payment up front, then close their doors.
First and foremost - look for Instructors who love martial arts – really love it. Are they professional looking - are they fit? Do they handle people well - can they instruct or are they just good at kicking and punching? Don't fall for a fancy back flip kick. Ask them about their background? Most people like to talk about themselves. What is their emphasis on - why are they teaching (there's certainly no money it)? How do the students relate to the instructors? Is there respect? Is it a disciplined class or is it romper room? Finally – try it see if you like it. Remember though, your not going to be Jackie Chan or Bruce Lee overnight. It is equally important to be a good student - show up to class regularity and be ready to go! A good instructor thrives on attentive students and they will give you everything they have.
Q. How long will it take to be good at Martial Arts – How long does it take to be a black belt?
A. To answer the first part you need to look inside yourself. This varies with each person and their experience . The instructors provide the knowledge to be “good”. It is up to the student to train consistently and properly. Remember, “If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.” In other words we cannot (and would not) wave our magic wands and make you like Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan. You need to have the desire and then work with it, and then work some more. Then do it all over again. With the right attitude you can properly defend yourself with simple white belt techniques from common attacks - usually acquired in 2-3 months. To attain a Black Belt it normally takes a minimum of 3-4 years of continuous training. Typically in our style it takes 4-5 years. By the way, a black belt means you have finally mastered the basics, now its really time to learn. This is when the Martial Arts World truly opens up to you. You will see things in a different light. You will appreciate things differently. You will be different.
Q. How many classes should I attend?
A. New students will receive several introductory lessons to cover the basics prior to joining regular class. This will enable the student become familiar with the physical nature of the exercises, rules, and mental mindset to become more comfortable. New students will participate in at least 2 classes per week. Experienced students should take three or more. Anyone can take the fitness classes. You should practice on a regular basis and review your manual frequently. We only have you for 2 to 3 hours per week so to be good you have to practice. Don’t be sloppy, perfect practice makes perfect!
Q. Are there only group lessons?
A. No, there are private lessons available as well as different types of classes when instructors are available. Private lessons will improve your progression more rapidly by having personalized attention. Training in private lessons can be customized to fit the individuals fitness and self defense desires. Instruction is 50 minutes to 1 1/4 hours at $45.00 per session at our location. Check the website for details regarding training courses or see the instructors.
Q. Do I have to spar or grapple?
A. Martial arts does deal with aggressive situations so we do spar. It is performed in a controlled manner when you are ready. It helps develop timing, speed, and control, and knowing what’s its like to be hit and to hit. Also, its helps to experience the normal body adrenal rush effect and learn how to control it. Sparring in competitions in encouraged for those who desire it, but it is not mandatory. We prefer not to focus only on winning a game of tag, but it does have it benefits in training.
Often fights will end up on the ground, we teach defensive grappling to counter and recover to your feet. However, it is our thought that striking is faster and more decisive then grappling. Grappling is an excellent proven defense for one on one. Attackers often come in more than one and this is where attacking and or counter attacking in a upright position is preferred. Being on the ground is a disadvantage when faced by more than one attacker.
We practice several levels of sparring, as one gains experience they are allowed to perform more aggressive actions against like minded opponents. World Tang Soo Do Association rules involve very controlled point sparring. No head contact and light touch to the body (tag sparring), no blind techniques - as safe as one can be and still be sparring. Each successful tag stops the contest, a point is awarded as determined by the judges, then the match is continued until time runs out. We also train for open tournament competitions which also allow for head and groin contact in point and continuous sparring rounds. The 3rd level involves sweeps and takedowns (not ground fighting) as well most techniques excluding knee strikes - very fast paced in rounds.
Q. Will Martial Arts training make my child too aggressive?
A. Martial Arts is not an act of violence but a trained and learned response to solving a threatening confrontation in a confident and safe manner. To properly build a child’s self esteem aggression should/can be channeled into responsible assertiveness. and then directed toward discipline and character development. The students discuss and recite codes of conduct to encourage and to shape their mind and spirit. We do not create school yard bullies, students who misuse their training or purposely don’t follow directions are suspended (usually forever).
Q. What if I have a question or am not sure about something?
A. Don’t be afraid to ask, no question is stupid. Don’t understand a command or a technique, can’t just get it right? Ask any of the nearby instructors – usually there are three per class. Martial arts training should not be a frustrating experience. Learn it right, from the start.
Q. Will I have fun?
A. Yes, absolutely – you will experience and do things you have never experienced before in your life. You will work hard and sweat, learn and feel new things that you will even amaze yourself with. One day it will all come together and you’ll say to yourself, “why did I wait so long”?
Q. What should I do to join?
After observing the classes, talk to the instructors. We are not car sales people so we will not hunt you down. Take a couple of classes (just sign the wavier), check out the information on the website or printed material. We are a non contract school - meaning you pay for only the months you are practicing. Take a couple of free classes. Pay the first month, buy a uniform if you stay (we know you will). Check the rate schedule for other miscellaneous charges. Then jump in and have some fun.
This FAQ will be added to on a regular basis.