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First Annual USTA Seminar – Warwick, NY

On November 2, 2019, RVTKD instructors William Tuman and Matthew Roncone traveled to Warwick, New York for the first annual United States Taekwondo Association seminar. Organized by USTA President Doug Cook Kwanjangnim (also Founder and Head Instructor of Chosun Taekwondo Academy), the seminar boasted many high-ranking instructors, chiefly Kyu Hyun Lee, 9th Dan, from South Korea and Master Kim Gylling, 6th Dan, from Finland.

If you’ve never trained in a massive group (approximately 130 people) you may want to attend next year, as it’s a memorable and energizing experience. It’s especially rewarding to be part of a large group of students who have come from many countries and US states to one location to be part of the traditional Taekwondo movement, i.e. people who have chosen to prioritize the historical interpretation of our martial art over the contemporary competition-based mainstream.

The day began with study of basics, in which instructors from several USTA affiliated dojangs offered short sessions about a particular concept. Attendees were then divided into two groups: practitioners holding Dan ranks learned Osipsabo—an obscure and interesting Moo Duk Kwan poomsae with 54 movements (94 steps), significantly longer than the typical black belt form. This session took some two hours, which was enough to lay the foundation for individual practice of this form for those who want to add it to their core practice.

After a short break for rest, hydration, and snacks to keep blood sugar at acceptable levels, Lee Kwanjangnim led a methodical return to the most basic building blocks of Taekwondo as practiced in 2019 at the Kukkiwon. It was fascinating to see the logic behind the current technical interpretations of everything from joonbi to horse, front, and back stances. After a rousing series of combinations, the technical training ended with a fast-paced and useful Ho Sin Sul (self-defense) session that resembled Hapkido, but with a more direct and practical focus.

Seminars like this require a staggering amount of planning, logistical work, volunteer coordination, and administration, and we are grateful that Cook Kwanjangnim regularly creates these memorable occasions for large groups of fellow travelers in the world of traditional Korean martial arts.

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