On Tuesday 30th June 2017 I had the honour and pleasure of greeting DoJuNim Khalid as he arrived at London Heathrow airport. Travelling alone DoJuNim had made the eleven hour flight to England as a guest of the Saenghwal Hohup Kwan Tang Soo Do Federation (SHK). ‘Saenghwal Hohup Kwan’ approximately translates into English as ‘Breath of Life school’. The drive from London to our base in Rugby, Warwickshire (birth town of the famous ball game) is only a couple of hours so DoJuNim was soon in his hotel and able to rest after flight delays and an arduous journey. After resting at the Dunchurch Park Hotel DoJuNim was able to meet local Dan Members for an informal welcome dinner. The Federation had been talking about and eagerly anticipating DoJuNim’s visit for many months.
The ensuing week’s activities had been planned to encompass Tang Soo Do and Chi Gong training and connecting with SHK Members as well as our English material heritage a little sight seeing time. To that end DoJuNim Khalid visited Warwick and Kenilworth castles. In truth Kenilworth castle was only a fly-by viewing as little remains of the former glory. Ironically it is this type of mostly ruined ancient building that has the greater history. The castles and monuments standing in good order, such as Warwick, obviously haven’t seen too many fierce battles. Although English martial heritage is no longer practised outside of reenactments DoJuNim was able to catch a glimpse of its former practices and the way in which a castle is built with defence in mind and the many varied weapons on display. For example; The castle’s spiral staircases run downwards anti-clock so as to give advantage to the defending right handed swordsman. A right handed attacker cannot wield or swing his sword against the inner pillar of such a staircase as he climbs to his attack. Earlier martial practices do pervade our modern lives although they often do so unseen. For instance; The right handed ‘hand-shake’ became a tradition when sword carrying enemies submitted their sword arm when agreeing a concord. You cannot lop off your enemies head while your sword bearing hand is holding his. Additionally, the practices of martial chivalry colour our common interactions as deeply as any commandments.
Staying on the theme of sight seeing; setting out from his Milton Keynes base Master Adam Preston escorted DoJuNim Khalid on a day out in London where DoJuNim enjoyed a river boat ride on the Thames and a circle on the London eye. The river Thames was once the heart of London and hence the nation. In times where trade ran on the water the partly tidal river offered ingress to the booming city for merchants as well as invaders.
Our training endeavours began with a full day of sessions that opened with Chi Gong practice and concluding with a review of the SHK Gup il-soo-sik deh-ryun. The Federation uses bun-hae from Ki-Cho, Pyung-ahn and Bassia, one per Gup rank on the way to Cho Dan rank. The objective of the session was to heighten the efficacy of those il-soo-sik techniques for practice above Cho Dan level utilising vital point attacks. We remain grateful for DoJuNim’s input in augmenting these highly effective Dan-versions of the junior one step.
On Saturday 3rd June DoJuNim observed the first of our bi-annual Dan-Day events. The SHK so names its Black Belt assessments due to the fact that we take a full day to review the necessary curriculum and assess the candidates for rank progress. I had politely asked DoJuNim to become involved with the procedure as he saw fit offering feedback to Master Preston and I as examiners as well as observations on the candidates. That turned out to be a good move as we learned much about ourselves and our activities that only a very experienced third party can see. The four hour review of curriculum preceded a fifteen minute comfort break that was followed by the test-hour. Feedback sessions and photos concluded the testing portion of what had been a very special day. In the evening DoJuNim accompanied Dan Members to ‘The Rose’ in Willoughby, a traditional English country pub for a celebratory dinner and a pint of foaming ale, ably assisted by a nice Cuban.
Sunday 4th June offered younger and Gup SHK Members the opportunity to meet, greet and learn with DoJuNim Khalid. The First of the day’s sessions was open to our under 10 years of age Members and covered everything from correct bowing protocols to vocal assertions. The feedback on this session was nothing short of ecstatic from enthusiastic participants and eager parents alike.
The longer afternoon session saw SHK Members of the age of 10 participate in a fantastic session wherein DoJuNim taught his sparring combinations including partnered applications. This session really managed to bridge the gap between our hyung heavy SHK curriculum and the UTA deh-ryun excellence. We all felt as if this was something that we can achieve. That meant all grades and all participating ages, no mean feat for an Instructor to achieve. DoJuNim Khalid took the time to sign participation certificates and sit for photographs for both sessions. A most welcome gesture.
I hope that I will not appear selfish if I take a moment to publicly thank DoJuNim Khalid for the one to one time that he afforded Elle and I in coming to dinner and sharing an evening of personal insights into his Martial Arts experiences. These are already proving invaluable for our organisation.
Wishing you all that you wish for yourselves in 2018.