Since I am only 5’2” I have always struggled with keeping my weight in proportion to my height. In my attempts I have tried many different cardio exercises such as step aerobics, boot camp, and normal aerobics but to my dismay I found the weight just came back on as quickly as it went off. The cardio exercises did enhance my figure, giving me a more rounded look, but I then looked more stocky than lean. This was not the look I was going for. After building up my cardio endurance, I started looking at martial arts as I wanted a way of marking my achievements i.e. belt gradings. I also wanted to learn to defend myself if the need ever arose. I enrolled in a kickboxing class and practiced for three years without missing a single class. I loved my training in kick boxing, but felt I needed to progress further so I began training in Taekwondo and Thai Boxing. These styles were good for my overall fitness, but inside I was still searching for more. I then heard about a Master Instructor who was reputed to be the one of the best, if not the best, martial artist in the U.K. He taught the Korean Martial Art of Kuk Sool Won. When I began training in Kuk Sool Won I continued training in kick boxing, Taekwondo and Thai boxing, as, being somewhat of a cardio fanatic, I didn’t believe that Kuk Sool practice contained enough of a cardio workout for me. After years of Kuk Sool practice, I have discovered that I was very much mistaken. Kuk Sool contains an array of cardio exercise; inculding kicking drills, falling drills, punching drills, jumping and bounding drills, martial acrobatic drills. The combinations are limitless, as is the kuk sool syllabus, as I was about to learn in my first steps into "true" martial arts training. It was myself that wasn't practising properly to achieve maximum results. It takes many years of training both physically and mentally for your body to adapt to the proper practice of kuk sool. After six months of practicing Kuk Sool, I had reached the level of yellow belt. This is an important belt as my master explained, due to the mistakes and errors at white belt level that we reflect in our “actions” and “mannerisms”. This is “corrected” through encouragement and “example”. The yellow belt grading includes stretching, body conditioning, kicks, punches, hand strikes, stances, joint locking, falling, breathing and meditation. And yes, the cardiovascular training one could only dream of. I had improved so much that I was honestly quite shocked. I was honoured to have the privilege of having an instructor who not only taught me how to practice but the essence behind the martial art itself.
Prior to my Kuk Sool training,I had only wanted to kick and punch, and the idea of an “essence” to a martial art was beyond my comprehension. When I achieved Black Belt Candidate (DBN) status, my master instructor stepped up the pace with me. Every day he would have me practising foot conditioning for my kicks, in conjunction to joint, tendon and muscle conditioning for the legs. Single, double, triple, spinning and three directional kicks were practiced in there thousands (during one class he locked the doors and we practised kicks non stop for nearly two hours!!) This was in preparation for the “covered” black belt. When it was time for punching and specialized hand striking techniques, we practiced “specialised” (seemingly bizarre to me at the time) hand conditioning techniques and exercises, which consisted of developing the skin, nails, joints, ligaments and tendons. And also the muscles in the hand. He taught me that through “patience” the body, joints and bones can adapt gradually. If you lose patience and feel burning, swelling of the joints then you are “abusing” your body. True body conditioning is about “adaptation”. Ididn’t understand these actions at the time, but after a couple of months and years I soon realised what those seemingly bizarre exercises had done for my martial arts training. Not only did they make my punching, striking, grabbing and joint locking skills superior but they prevented me from being injured, enabling me to practice my skills to their full potential. I learned that martial arts training goes far beyond kicking and punching. I trained with my master every evening and practiced alone at 6am every morning. I would practice every weekend, park training outdoors in “ALL” weather conditions. At first I thought I was actually insane, however over time I began to not only get into the mind of a serious martial artist, I was starting to take on the same form as a serious martial artist in every sense, at the same time trying to combat my “ego”. This wasn’t an easy job at the time, and I can say honestly that “I’ve been the most difficult student to teach” but over years I’ve learnt to be a humble black belt.
I promoted to 1st degree black belt in 2006 and was told by my master that I was now ready to start martial art training (oh my goodness - I though I'd done it :0). I then spent 12 months teaching what I’d already learnt to ensure I absorbed what I’d been taught thus far. I thought I had already developed the “basic” skills to progress to the next level, 2nd degree b.belt. This contained another 200 joint locking and defence techniques, in conjunction with my already 226 for 1st dan. And another form with 108 movements to be practiced “PARALLEL” and weapons, sparring and sword form and various breaking and specialized breathing techniques. I learnt that torque or torsion generates power. This is very evident in my pad work where I learnt this. My master said I was ready when his arms stretched two inches due to my power!!
After another four years “diligent” practice and hard training, I attained my 2nd degree black belt. My master told me it was a long hard journey, I learned “PATIENCE” and “PERSISTENCE” and boy did I “persevere”!! But more importantly I was becoming a “TRUE” martial artist with “ESSENCE” and traditional knowledge and values. 11 years in to my training, I'm currently a 3rd degree black belt. I am well versed in Korean swords, short stick, staff, double long and double short sword. I still practice my hand, feet and even throat conditioning. Exercise in conjunction to my ki or breathing exercises. I'm currently learning, focus, concentration, train of thought and projection skills towards my 4th degree black belt syllabus. Being a woman in a Martial Arts industry hasn’t been the easiest. Especially when faced with the stereo typical male ego. I’ve learnt to deal with this on my own, along with may other situations that may have occurred during my eleven years' practice. I’ve encountered highs and lows, but I never gave up. “It’s easier to leave than to be left behind." After my years of hard style training, I have progressed to the softer style of training and meditation. I am now a fully qualified yoga teacher after going to India to study. The postures (moving meditation) seated mediation and specialised pranayama breathing techniques that I have learned have enhanced my martial arts immensely, but the ideals and values of yoga have also taught me to be non-competitive and chipped away at my ego. I integrate breathing techniques depending on the type of training I’m doing. I use Ujjayi breath to calm the mind in my yoga practice. And Ki Breathing to develop internal power or “ki” when I practice martial arts. The ki Hahp done during forms and technique practice and done prior to breaking allows you to focus ki and to use it as internal power. I practice meditating sitting in a quiet room or in the the great outdoors whenever the opportunity arises. Like all practices, living and being in the moment has been the most beneficial to me. “Master the mind and body to work as one!” My current objectives are to “impart” my knowledge and skills to anyone who wishes/desires to learn from myself and to follow the values of traditional Korean Martial Arts