Can you help me confirm information regarding the association I trained in as a kid?

Discussion in 'Tae-Kwon-Do' started by NikOnder, Dec 22, 2016.

  1. NikOnder

    NikOnder White Belt

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    Hi guys,

    First time posting. Please let me know if there is a better place or way to post this...
    So, I have a five year old who is a very scrappy kid and has been getting into trouble for fighting at school. I was at the mall recently and saw this big kiosk with TKD information, magazines, etc. and kids decked out in black belts milling around. It got me to thinking that perhaps getting him involved in a martial art might be a great way to channel his energy. I spoke to one of the adults at the kiosk, a clearly overweight guy with all the regalia to indicate at least a 2nd or 3rd degree black belt, who didn't seem very helpful at all but was keen to let me know all about their holiday promotions and that they had locations in every major suburb of my city. Still interested, though, I took some literature and, thankfully, did some research when I got home. I think by now most of you have guessed that this was an ATA franchise. I'm not trying to put down the association at large, but as far as what I saw from the particular franchise that has the monopoly in my area, I was glad I took the time to do the research.

    Now, I said all that to say this: TKD is near to my heart because I spent several years training in this art when I was a kid and as such would prefer it be the art I start my kid in. When I was training I knew nothing about different styles, schools, associations, etc. It was just Tae Kwon Do to me. I had an excellent experience and would love to try to capture as close an experience for my kid as I can. So, I'm hoping that maybe if I can provide some of my anecdotal memories as well as the website for the school I went to, maybe you guys can point me in the right direction?

    This was the school I went to: Memphis Kims Martial arts - Taekwondo and Judo / Memphis, TN

    Master Kim was an exceptional leader and I was extremely fond of him. Based on what I can gather from the website I must have been studying Kukkiwon/WTF style at the core, although some things I remember don't seem to add up. Granted, this was the early to mid 90's, but here's what I remember: Mainly, the belt system was different as I recall. I was one stripe away from black belt when I quit (by then I had become a petulant teenager and failed to see the value in it anymore. I have regretted quitting pretty much my entire life since). The way I remember, there was red belt, then 1st stripe, 2nd stripe, then brown belt, then 1st stripe then 2nd stripe then black belt. I may have the order of the colors backwards, but I was ranked whichever belt before black with 1st stripe when I quit. I should also add that it took me somewhere in the area of 3, maybe 4 years to reach this rank.

    I also remember, to the best of my memory, we did full contact sparring. This also seems to deviate from Kukkiwon norms as far as I can tell. We had only head pads, gloves and feet pads. I remember this vividly because I often got paired up with a kid twice my size and I would always go home sore and bruised because he would really wail on me. Also, almost everything we learned directly related to the art we learned the Korean names or words for; English was not used for sparring, forms, call and response during drills or anything of any symbolic or formal nature.

    It may also just be a fact that back then it was a "different time", but I remember at least once or twice when Master Kim had to use the dreaded bamboo sword to paddle a kid in front of the class who just would not stop acting up and get his **** together, but we respected him to death and didn't fear him at all. It was definitely tough, but I feel like it was a genuine experience and I would rather impart a similarly genuine experience for my kid, rather than the sterile, suburbanite, "after-school-activity" that the ATA franchise around here seems to offer.

    So, my questions are: First and foremost, given the anecdotal info I've given and the information from the website, can anyone here more knowledgeable than myself suggest a school in the Raleigh-Durham, NC area that would be a similar match for my child? I know it sounds like asking strangers to do homework for me, but the fact is I just don't have enough inside knowledge to know what to look for to find the best school out of the non-ATA options available here.

    Secondly, I know it's been at least 20 years since I practiced, but do schools generally keep records of students and rankings, etc? I don't presume that I could just call and request a transcript or whatever then walk into a random dojo and wave it around now, at 34 years of age, and be like "Hey, I'm a red belt first stripe, let's get that black belt!" ....but, I sure would love to have some kind of documentation from that period of my life and the effort and time I put into it, if nothing else at least for my own satisfaction and so I can show my son that I was a TKD kid, too, once upon a time.

    Sorry for the insanely long post, but I appreciate whatever input you guys can offer. Sincerely.
     
  2. Balrog

    Balrog Master Black Belt

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    Well, I might be just a little bit biased, but you should go back and try one of the ATA schools. Most of them are owned by either Master Wegmann or Master Allen, both of whom I know to be excellent instructors. I'm quite sure they have some kind of intro program where you can "get your feet wet" and get a feel for the school and the teaching style.

    Please trust me when I tell you that there is nothing "sterile" about training in the ATA.
     
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  3. TrueJim

    TrueJim Black Belt

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    If you go to Kim's Facebook page, you can see that they are wearing conventional sparring gear nowadays, so what you experienced may have just been a product of that era. Schools that do Kukkiwon/WTF-style can have wildly different color-belt systems, so you can't really use belt-colors to judge how Kukki-ish a school may be. I don't know if any schools still paddle nowadays; at our school punishment is usually doing pushups with clasped hands (they hurt!). There's definitely schools out there though that still stress discipline.

    I have some TKD friends in the Raleigh area...I pinged them for some school recommendations, but let me ask...is there a specific region within Raleigh-Durham that would be more convenient for you? (I went to grad school at NC State -- Go Wolfpack!) Raleigh-Durham is a big area.

    Generally speaking, I don't think most schools keep records for many years of color-belt ranks. Black-belt ranks yes, but not color-belt ranks. I think your best bet is to go take taekwondo with your son. ;-) That's what I did -- best decision ever! After many, many years away, I restarted at white and worked up through the ranks with my son -- it was fun!

    (Aside: just took and passed my 2nd dan test this past Saturday.)
     
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  4. NikOnder

    NikOnder White Belt

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    I apologize if I came off sounding rude, that was just the impression I got from the mall experience and looking at the materials I was given, it just seemed awfully....corporate...to me. Researching online later didn't help to change that first impression. Personally, I want a place that my kid would get his butt spanked for goofing off and not taking things seriously, which is the experience I had. Not an experience tailored to him that he can take lightly or for granted. That's what I meant when I said "sterile". I wasn't doubting the merits of Songahm, just the overly kid-catered culture. I'm sure the adult programs are great.

    Thanks a bunch for the input, yes RDU is a big, sprawling area. That has benefits, though, in that you're never that far of a drive from anything. That being said I am in Apex, which is a hop skip and jump from Cary. I may be relocating to Wake Forest next year, but that is not for certain yet.
    Yes, I was thinking that I may join with my kid if my schedule permits. That's partly why I was wondering if schools hold on to records. Like, I wouldn't expect to just jump back in as a red belt now 20+ years later, but it would be nice to have some sort of documentation showing that I put time in in the TKD world.
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2016
  5. Gwai Lo Dan

    Gwai Lo Dan Black Belt

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    It's a WTF/Kukkiwon school, meaning they register their black belts with the largest TKD organisation, and likely entering Olympic-style (i.e., no head punching) TKD tournaments. This is from their website:

    upload_2016-12-22_11-9-19.png


    In terms of discipline, hitting kids is not my style. My viewpoint is that TKD for kids is for fun; it's not the military. To the extent the kids don't like it, eventually they will convince their parents to let them quit.

    I did see a muay thai class yesterday at the UFC gym I attend, where the instructor was gently hitting the shins of a student for conditioning, but that is a different rationale. I hadn't seen that before at a gym, but I was impressed.

    Good luck in finding the right school for you. :)
     
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  6. TrueJim

    TrueJim Black Belt

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    My Raleigh peeps tell me that this school is da shizzle yo.

    Raleigh Martial Arts | Master Chang's Martial Arts

    It's on the north side of Raleigh though. Like the school I attend here in Virginia, Master Chang's is run by a former K-Tiger.

    (Did you ever wonder what happens to older K-Tigers? Apparently they come to the US and open schools here I guess!)
     
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  7. WaterGal

    WaterGal Master Black Belt

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    I don't think many places, if any, these days will use corporal punishment on your kids. Push-ups or kicking a kid out of class, sure, but hitting them with a shinai is very very old-school and not something I think you'll find anymore.

    As far as contact sparring goes, while KKW/WTF TKD uses more equipment now than it used to (though I think your school was behind the times on that front), the equipment is meant to facilitate a high level of contact. The styles that have kids spar with the kind of equipment that you used as kid, they usually do light-contact or no-contact sparring. However, there are definitely KKW TKD schools that do eff-all in the way of sparring, so you can't generalize.
     
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  8. NikOnder

    NikOnder White Belt

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    Thanks! I'll look into it. Looks like he has similar credentials to my old instructor.
     
  9. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    Welcome to MT, Nik.

    We have a lot of knowledgeable TKD guys here.
     
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  10. Earl Weiss

    Earl Weiss Senior Master

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    Instead of showing him what was, how about showing him what is and starting with him as a white belt?
     
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  11. JR 137

    JR 137 3rd Black Belt

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    I don't agree with the shinai as punishment either, but that's just me. I'm not judging.

    Forget styles, and look at schools. As you've just witnessed, teacher's teaching the same curriculum can vary greatly. What's far more important than the style is who's teaching, who you're (and/or your kid) are training alongside, and how they're training.

    I'm not familiar with Raleigh nor do I know anything about the MA scene there. But a quick Google search of Martial Arts Raleigh brought up 2 places that I would definitely visit -

    Gracie Jujitsu. Not sure if you're familiar with Brazilian Jujitsu or the Gracie name. There's a good level of quality control.

    Oyama Karate. Oyama karate is a full contact system started by Shigeru Oyama, who was a legendary Kyokushin fighter and teacher. I don't know the dojo nor teachers, but Oyama karate is tough, strict and very "traditional" in values. Their website sucks. But as with every other Oyama dojo, I'm quite sure they're not out to sell you anything. They've typically got the mentality of "this is what we do and we're not going to cater to you. If you want to join up, we'd love to have you. If not, best of luck to you." I don't advocate full contact/bare knuckle for kids, but I don't think they do that. I'm pretty sure there's a progression in protective gear and level of contact, at least for the kids anyway.

    Only way to find out if these schools or any other schools are worth your time is to visit. You'll get a sense of the atmosphere pretty quickly.

    The best advice I have is give your kid options. Don't make joining a mandatory thing nor let it come across as punishment. Don't tell him it's to instill discipline or the like. It'll drive him away. Let him know it's something you loved to do and want to do with him. Let him love the MA for his own reasons, not yours. Train with him. He'll see a different side of you.
     
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  12. NikOnder

    NikOnder White Belt

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    I should point out that the one or two times I saw my instructor paddle a student it was really just a light tap, not a full on beating. Obviously I don't want someone beating on my kid, but the point is about respect and discipline and being held accountable in front of your peers when you are out of line, as it affects everyone in the dojo. I'm wary of a place where the kids run the show rather than the instructors.

    The Oyama Karate definitely sounds interesting, I will look into it. I lean towards TKD as, obviously, it's what I have knowledge of. Also, this is strictly my opinion so please take it with a grain of salt, but I think of TKD as being a bit more of a "fully-formed" style than Karate, if that makes any sense. Of course, I'm only saying that based on my limited knowledge so I'm willing to admit I could be completely wrong.

    I also agree with not forcing my son into it. Trust me he is totally ready to start, like, yesterday.
     
  13. gpseymour

    gpseymour Grandmaster

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    I'll give my experience from observing two schools that teach NGA (my experience) to kids. In one school, the instructor is very strict and stern. The kids are very well-mannered and organized there. He never paddles them, but uses exercise punishments others have referred to (push-ups, etc.). In the other, the instructor has given up (he used to give push-ups and laps, to no effect) and basically runs a recess session for the kids. Both sets of kids seem to enjoy their time, and one of them is actually learning something. Discipline comes from the instructor's attitude, and needs no corporal punishment.
     
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  14. Balrog

    Balrog Master Black Belt

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    We don't spank in our schools. However, he'll definitely get an upper body workout from doing extra push-ups. They're not handed out as punishment per se, they are used to get the blood circulating up to the brain so that he can remember what the proper behavior in class is supposed to be. :D
     
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  15. TrueJim

    TrueJim Black Belt

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    We do clasped-hands pushups. Interlace the fingers and clasp the hands, as if about to pray. Get down into pushup position, your body's weight is on your clasped knuckles now. It hurts! It does exercise your grip though. The arm motion is a bit like a diamond push-up, since your two interlocked hands are a single point on the floor. I've never seen these done anywhere else.

    Like you, the joke is that this isn't punishment...we're just making our hands stronger. The threat (never executed) is that if you don't do them well on the mats inside, you'll be invited to do them on the concrete outside! Ouch!
     
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  16. gpseymour

    gpseymour Grandmaster

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    My hands hurt just thinking about those. I'm going to go have a hot cider to console them.
     
  17. JR 137

    JR 137 3rd Black Belt

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    We're on the same page with the shinai thing; I thought you meant it as how you described it. Again, no judgment from me.

    Not sure what you mean by "more fully formed karate." I'm not a TKD guy, so take what I say with a grain of salt too - TKD may be more organized in that the various associations are larger and there's more curriculum parity between the various schools, but TKD came from karate. It's basically a Korean's version of karate, more specifically Shotokan karate. That's in a nutshell and I'm sure TKD guys will pick that apart, but that's my short version. Please don't take that as argumentative.

    At the end of the day, what matters most is finding the right fit for your son and you. That boils down to teacher and classmates more than anything else IMO, karate vs TKD vs BJJ vs insert art name here.

    Look around at your options. You'll know which place is the right place when you find it.
     
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  18. JR 137

    JR 137 3rd Black Belt

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    Reminds me of my kindergarten phys ed class yesterday. They came in way too tired up. They were all over each other, and a few were literally (I hate to use that word, but I'm using it right) bouncing off the walls.

    About 5 minutes into the fiasco, I said "we've got way too much energy to play the game I wanted to play, so we're going to play a game called Get the Energy Out."

    Get the Energy Out consists of the students all standing on the end line of the basketball court. I blow the whistle, and they sprint to the opposite end line. That goes on until it doesn't sound like the playground at recess. I usually go two more sprints after the last kid stops screaming. That was the 3rd time I've done that one in my 6 years teaching.

    No kid has ever looked at it as punishment. At least that I know of. This group is slower to catch on than the others. They went 27 minutes of sprinting.
     
  19. Balrog

    Balrog Master Black Belt

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    I remember doing knuckle pushups on a wooden floor. Ouch is right!
     
  20. gpseymour

    gpseymour Grandmaster

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    I've done a few of those. Nobody to blame for that but myself.
     

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