At World Martial Arts Center, developing the whole person is central in our curriculum. Meditation and ki training are part of many classes, and we offer special seminars throughout the year for both novices and experienced meditators.
Breath is central to life and also HapKiDo form and technique. Being aware of our breathing means that we can stabilize our emotions and bodies, while increasing both power and speed. When we are focused on breathing our minds are empty and in the moment, ready to respond.
SIM HO HUP BUP (Breathing)
The breath is what continues and prolongs life. When we breathe deeply and often, we develop better health, a stronger immune system, a calmer nervous system, balanced emotions, clearer perceptions and understandings, better focus and more power for life. When our breath is shallow, we experience weakness of the body, a weak immune system, poor health, an easily agitated nervous system, unbalanced emotions, flawed perceptions, misunderstandings, poor focus and less power for life. When we don't breathe, we die. Throughout nature, all life forms that have short, quick, shallow breaths have a short, quick, shallow life. All life forms that have long, slow and deep breaths have a longer, slower and deeper life.
The breath grounds body, mind, spirit and soul. The breath also can alter, transform and heal the body, mind, spirit and soul. The breath can make the body impervious to decay and resistant to attacks from viruses, lethal blows of the martial arts, and to many weapons such as clubs, stones, chains, knives and even fire. The breath can change a person's mental and or physical state in an instant. People's emotions (energy in motion) are affected by the way they breathe, so they can control their emotions by controlling their breath. Every emotional state has a specific breathing pattern to match it. When you are angry, afraid, happy, sad or feeling loved, check your breathing, and then begin to alter your state at will by controlling your breath. To review breathing sequences of the morning HapKiDo class, click here.
OUR ENERGY SYSTEMS
While thousands of meridians run through our bodies, our 7 main chakras primarily condition our experience of ourselves and our world. They are energy centers where our two side channels knot around our central channel. The goal of yoga and internal martial arts is to open the knots so our energy eventually only flows in the central channel. When this happens, we are pure wisdom and bliss - all of our misconceptions stop.
The central channel is unity and wholeness: no division between "me" and all else. It is pure love and bliss, no misconceptions, no mistakes, no negative thoughts or actions. The side channels are separation: the misconception of "I am separate from all else" and negative emotions and thoughts. Wrongly perceived objects create negative actions and thoughts and perpetuate negative cycles (I react with anger, so I increase anger energy, and then see more things to be angry at, then react with anger, etc., etc.)
Master Won Hyo taught that everyone has an original mind (self). Some are able to find it but most don’t. Most of us are not conscious of the false self (mind) that gets in the way of seeing our true self (nature).
One example Master Won Hyo would use is “The sun shines everyday but sometimes we don’t see it because of clouds that get in the way.” Everyone agrees that although we might not be able to see the sun, it is known to still be there. In the same thought, we have our original self/mind (sun) but are unable to see it because of our false self/mind (clouds). The clouds of awareness and consciousness keep most of us half awake.
Master Won Hyo also said, “The mind is like the sea. Although the sea is always moving, its true nature remains unchanged.” Master Won Hyo defined the waves as our illusionary and discriminating mind and the sea as our true self or original mind.
Master Won Hyo, 617-686, a teacher of the Hwa Rang, a specialist in master sword fighting.
Beginner’s Handbook reference pg.94
The principles and practices of Won are essential to the growth and progress of a black belt.
A wise student seeks to learn and understand the principles and practices early before achieving their black belt. It is the principles and practices of Won Yu and Hwa that dictate what type and what quality of black belt you will become. A wise black belt will diligently study, practice and apply these principles to their physical techniques and their life.
Won represents the circle, cycles, seasons, circular energy, wholeness, fulfillment, completion and peace. It can also mean redirecting or returning an opponent’s energy, power or force; it also can loosely symbolize cause and effect. The principles of Won apply on the physical micro cosmic plain of the atoms, protons, electrons and smaller, to the macro cosmic solar systems, galaxies and universes.
Everything has cycles. Our sun completes a cycle around the center of our galaxy every 225 million years. Earth completes a cycle around the sun every 365.2 days, our moon completes a cycle around Earth every 28 days, and Earth completes a cycle around its axis every 24 hours.
You could think of your life as a multi-dimensional clock, where all of these cycles are interconnecting gears that work together like the cycles of the 24 hour day that include eating, sleeping, etc. The 28 day cycles of the moon that include menstrual, emotional, blood and tidal cycles; the effects of the 365 day year that effect the seasons of the Earth and the seasons of your physical and emotional body are small examples of the interconnecting multiple aspects of Won in our lives.
When we are attacked with an overhead downward strike, the first defense skill taught to respond to that is basic defense number 1. When we execute that technique, we are applying Won with five circles.
1. Pivoting foot work 2. Turning body work 3. Outside circle arm work 4. Inside circle arm work 5. Rotating wrist work.
When all five circles are synchronized, the defense technique works like water flowing down a stream. When the circles are not well synchronized, the technique works more like boulders rolling and crashing down the side of a rocky hill. When Won is in alignment with the Way, you move with ease in technique and your day. When you are out of sync, out of alignment, everything – even yourself - seems to get in your way. The principle of Won works in the mental realm, the dimension of thought. Those who have square minds are defensive, sharp edged, stubborn rigid, hard, dense and will take things that happen to them in ways that would cause them to hold on to negative energy and cause them future illnesses. When we hold on to negative thoughts, thoughts become energy. That energy attaches itself on to your body somewhere. For some it’s the head, the jaw, the neck, the shoulders, or the back. Before long every time you think that negative thought or see a person you have negative thoughts or feelings towards, that part of your body will pay the price from everything from a simple headache to some kind of terminal cancer. Besides doing damage to yourself, this negative energy radiates out into the dimension of the soul and it does affect your family, your friends, your team, your community in ways that can be extremely harmful and yet totally oblivious to you. Negative energy also impairs insight and far sight.
Those who have round minds are open, flexible and accepting; they tend to learn easier and grow faster and have more mental and emotional stability and agility. They don’t have many issues with others and if they do, they don’t hold on to them in their hearts or minds for longer than it is worth. They tend to have greater far sight and deeper insight; they have an overall greater level of self-awareness and how they affect the world around them. They embrace love, peace and openness; they inspire others.
WON IN TRAINING
In training we must understand and be aware of the seasons. For example, in summer we need less and lighter warming up, but we can handle more impact and falling. In winter we need more and deeper warming up but should have less impact and falling. Spring is better for lower body and UM KI training, and fall is better for upper body and YANG KI training. The principles for Won must be applied to your diet and also your age. If you are 25 years old, you are in the spring season of your life; if you are 45 years old, you are in the summer season of your life; if you are 65 years old, you are in the autumn season of your life. Every season of life requires different training that must be in alignment with the natural order of the Universe, our world and the Do. In the springtime of our life we can afford to make mistakes, in the autumn we cannot. By the time we are in the summer of our lives, we must have our own profound personal practice that will keep us happy, healthy and strong well into our autumn and winter of our lives.
When we are new to Martial Arts we look at big things but only see small things, when we have deep understanding we look at small things but see greater things. In the spring of our lives we view training like this: I stretch, I get more flexible, I kick higher, I train for my next test, I get my new belt…repeat. This is a simplified but very true example of Won for most Martial Arts students based on the average level of depth and understanding. By the summer of our lives our understanding of the cycles of training should be as such: stretching supports flexibility, flexibility supports range of motion, range of motion supports circulation, circulation supports KI, KI supports health, health supports strength, strength supports speed, speed supports power, power supports stability, stability supports calmness, calmness supports meditation, meditation supports inner peace, inner peace supports stretching. It all supports progress, progress supports happiness.
If you want to stay happy and continue to progress, you must live wisely and train intelligently. There are many minds, but there is only one path set by the master. Choose your steps wisely because every step takes you one step closer or further away from your desired results. Go deeper into your training and into yourself, study the principle of Won and make greater use of it in yourself, your training and your life.
Are you a fighter or a martial artist? To answer the question you must first understand, and then know the difference. It’s very easy to be fooled with so much misinformation out there that's being backed and promoted by millions of dollars. Many fighters believe they are martial artists, and many martial artists believe they are fighters. Yes, a fighter can practice and use martial arts, and a martial artist can fight, but there are core differences right from the beginning, and vast differences five, ten, fifteen and twenty years down the line. In the beginning, both are learning basic moves and concepts, developing a foundation with their basic training. They both seem very similar with just a few exceptions. The fighter trains and learns in a gym or club, the martial artist trains in a dojo or dojang. The fighter learns from a trainer, and maybe this trainer will have a 1st, 2nd or even 3rd degree black belt in one or two martial arts systems. The martial artist learns from a master or grandmaster that learned from a grandmaster who learned from another grandmaster going back maybe hundreds of years. Even though the fighter and the martial artist seem at times to be playing on the same game board, the fighter is training to play checkers, while the martial artist is training for chess.
The fighter is training to fight; the martial artist is training to live. The life span of a fighter’s life and active career is short, and ends with ill health, injuries and lack of fulfillment. The life span of a martial artist’s life is long, with good health and an abundance of personal fulfillment. A fighter’s mindset is all about how to beat and be better than someone else out there; the mindset of a martial artist is about how to better oneself, how I can win against my own personal challenges, how I can defeat my bad habits and become a true champion of my life. The fighter strives to fight and build up his ego, the martial artist strives to develop inner peace, understanding and humility.
Many come to our school with the wrong mindset; many come to be a fighter. They come with the mindset that says “If you are not struggling, you are not training.” “if you’re not getting banged up, you’re not learning,” “If it’s too easy to do, it must not be very effective.” So they practice the way of struggle in every aspect of their training. They unnecessarily struggle during stretching, forms, punching, kicking and most of all with other people. They will struggle with people physically, mentally and emotionally. All of this struggle is a result of deep insecurities, of not feeling and/or believing they are good enough. It is all a manifestation of an unanswerable question and deep fear: “Am I good enough?” This state of being makes people difficult to teach or train with. It also always leaves them unfulfilled, and with a feeling that something is always missing in their training, especially if the training doesn’t match their mental blueprint. It also leaves no possibility for true inner peace.
Fighters tend to go and work against the natural laws of physics, physiology, anatomy, etc. That is always a losing strategy in the long run. The Tao Te Ching (verse 31) says “Even the finest warrior is defeated when he goes against natural laws.” The martial artist strives to stay in alignment with natural law. The fighter’s way is to go against any obstacle or force. The way of the martial artist is to yield, flow and to take advantage of the force. Fighter's follow the motto " no pain, no gain". Martial Artists listen to their bodies and practice adaptability and wisdom. The Tao Te Ching (verse 40) says “The way of the Tao is to yield.” The fighter values power, speed, endurance, fighting skills, and winning the game or the fight. This is a checkers one dimensional mentality, and lower level values. Martial artists have a chess or multi-dimensional higher level of values. We value self-respect, respect of others, respect for nature, wisdom, self-discipline, commitment, peace, power, courage, integrity, compassion, loyalty, leadership, health and life.
The development of our bodies is also for the development of our whole being. Balance development in our bodies stabilizes rationality of our minds; rationality of mind aids balance of body. Power develops confidence, and confidence helps generate power; timing helps punctuality and punctuality sharpens timing. Endurance strengthens perseverance, which in turn promotes endurance. Flexibility generates gentleness; fluidity increases peacefulness, and peacefulness generates fluidity. Focus develops willpower and willpower develops greater focus. Control develops trust, and trust develops greater control. Both the fighter and the martial artist can be a human weapon with the ability to injure cripple or kill. The difference is the fighter, just like in checkers, will be limited to only a few weapons, while the martial artist, just like in chess will have many. The fighter trains to fight one opponent; the martial artist trains to fight many. The fighter follows the way of the world and is quick to fight. The martial artist understands that his or her skills are a weapon just like a knife or a gun and should only be drawn when we are prepared to leave a body lying in the streets after we are done.
The calligraphy for martial arts is composed of two symbols, one meaning sword and the other meaning "no" (stop). Together they read "martial arts" or "not to draw the sword." It means not to fight, not to struggle. A martial artist should never want to or look forward to fighting, but if you get to a point where you don’t have a choice, you should unleash hell, and pray for their souls and forgiveness later. I’d like to end with a quote from the “Sword & the Mind”, the classic Japanese treatise on swordsmanship and tactics. “Weapons are unfortunate instruments. Heaven’s way hates them. Using them when there is no other choice – that is Heaven’s Way.”