To spare most of you the pain of having to listen to my story again, I will keep it short. I studied Tang Soo Do for 2 1/2 years and obtained my 2nd gup rank. I felt that my practice became stale and boring as there is no new material to learn between 3rd and 2nd gup and it is a year's time between the ranks because you can test for 1st. Anyway, in the middle of October, I left the Tang Soo Do school. Not to go anywhere else, but for a break. I was not happy. I went to an MMA school after sitting around for a while and, well, this is my story. I came back last Thursday and the test that I should have been testing for 1st gup in, past that Saturday and they did not let me test. (rightfully so, as it would have been my 2nd class back)Tell me what you think and if any wise masters out there can help me because I can already see myself getting bored again if I have to wait until March to test for 1st gup.......or am I being selfish? Before this, my record was spotless! I attended every class without missing any (outside of the common injury here and there) so I am failing to see why I have to wait to test again. Anyway, help! My Return To Tang Soo Do by Kaygee on Saturday, December 1, 2012 at 12:03am · Well, what a crazy two months it has been. If you are taking the time to read this, then you are somewhat interested in the reason why I chose to go back to Tang Soo Do. I think it can be summed up in a single phrase: "You don't know what you've got, till it's gone." I do regret the fact that I took the time away from the art, but at the same time, I don't. I was becoming increasingly bored and I needed a break, and I got one and realized where my heart truly lies. I also do not regret the month that I spent at the MMA/BJJ school. I learned a lot, and I am glad I experienced it because it provided a completely different perspective of what Mixed Martial Arts actually means to me. Mixed Martial Arts is not really a Martial Arts system.....It is a monster workout that turns your body into a machine.....a machine with endurance and the knowledge to really do some damage to an opponent. But the thing is, I don't want an "opponent". I mean, I thought I did, but the opponent that I was facing was myself....I just didn't know it. I went in there, guns-a-blazing, four to five times a week....three hours a day! On Saturdays, I would go to the fitness classes from 10am until 10:30am, wait in my car for an hour for the children's karate class to get done, and then go in from 11:30am until 1:30pm for BJJ and MMA. No one can ever question my dedication. Why did I do that? Because I liked it. I was learning things that I have never learned before. However, I started to notice things. I started to notice that I would leave right from work and go to the gym. My days would start at 6am, and then I wouldn't see home until 9:30pm. Then it was off to bed to start over again. This could not be sustained......not by me anyway! I missed my relaxing times at home and things like making dinner for my family and such. Sure, I could have chilled out a bit and not went as often, but that is not how I do things.....I put my heart and soul into everything! I was thinking about quitting and going back to Tang Soo Do (which will be referred to as TSD from this point on) two weeks into my MMA training. Something was missing. It was the incomplete journey that I started. One of the three reasons that I joined martial arts was to make friends. Well, I fell into one of the largest stereotypes of jerks that is possible.....I chose quantity over quality. The MMA gym had loads of people my age. None were really approachable, but they were really, really nice and willing to teach me things! No, I was wrong! It didn't matter that I was surrounded by people my age....I had made a true friend at TSD, and I left behind a true friend. Mike Lombardo. Here is a guy that I spent three nights a week with, taking him under my wing and trying to help him. He was always gracious of my help, and never, EVER doubted what I showed him! This was a guy that would text me back and forth all day as we spoke about the art. This is a guy that would stand in the parking lot with me for an hour after class and ******** with me about stuff. This is a guy that drove thru a five lane crossroad and nearly got us killed on the way to summer camp. (Sorry buddy, I had to bring that up....I thought I was going to die, lol) Mike, allow me take this moment to say, you are a great guy and I value your friendship! Again, as I stated in my previous note about martial arts, I had three goals: 1. To get into shape 2. To learn how to defend myself 3. To make friends I had #3 on my list complete, and I failed to see it! Mike is a great friend, and I am not going to trade his friendship for 15 other guys that I may just say "hi and bye" to and then not speak to them again until they come to their next class. There is also another guy from Master Ott's school (our sister school) Dale, who I have practically "grew up with" when it came to TSD. Why would I throw away the feeling that I had of looking forward to seeing this guy during tournaments and tests? And who else would forgive someone as easy as he did, when I kicked him in the eye pretty hard during a tournament? Again, I am sorry about that, Dale..... Now, #2 is a matter of opinion. Many consider MMA to be a sport and TSD to be a traditional martial art. It is said that MMA has "rules" and would never work in a real fight. Although I beg to differ a bit, I could see how it might not work in a life or death situation, but it would sure help you beat the piss out someone if you got into a fight. But is that what I am looking for? The boxing that I learned would let me stand toe to toe with someone, and I am happy I learned it because in TSD, they really don't show you much to do with your hands, but none of it is something that would "end" the conflict of the situation that you may find yourself in. TSD is a system of simple techniques! Techniques that you practice over and over and over and over and over again. But they are techniques that are meant to end a fight with one or two moves. There are many groin attacks, knee attacks, throat attacks, corroded artery attacks, and other pressure point attacks. The good thing about the MMA classes, was you went at each other full blast. And I do feel that there is nothing that will prepare you for a fight more than fighting on a regular basis! It helps control your adrenaline and puts you in the situation where you have to do what you gotta do to survive.But let's face it, this is all done in a cage, and it has rules. TSD has point sparring, which really doesn't simulate combat at all. That would be my gripe between the two. I also like hitting targets, something that we did in MMA on a nightly basis, but something that my TSD school rarely does. However, I can always get in there early and do that kind of thing with Mike on Thursdays during the private class time! Let us touch on #1 on my reasons I joined martial arts list: I got in great shape while working out in the MMA gym, but it's nothing that I cannot duplicate at home. I have ordered a kettle bell and a medicine ball and they should be here next week! There are so many things you can do for your core and strength training with these two instruments alone. Combined with other work out combinations that I learned while I was at my MMA school, I see no reason why I cannot maintain the shape that I am in now. I was 193 lbs when I left TSD in the middle of October.....I am down to 179 now and I even have abs.....yay!!! So here is the kicker. I am not going to get too much into it, because it was just the straw that broke the camel's back. I am very, very cheap and careful with my money, just ask my wife. The TSD School is priced moderately. The MMA school was $40 more a month, which I was never a fan of paying, but I had the support of my wife, and that was all that I really needed. However, just one month into my time there, they informed me that they were raising the tuition another $10 a month. Now, to those that were there for a while, a $10 increase isn't much. If they would have told me that they were raising my tuition by $10 in my TSD school after being there for three years, I would have been like, whatever.....but now, in reality, I was paying $50 more a month to attend the MMA school. I belong to a martial arts forum that has a lot of martial art school owners on them. They all stated that they thought it was a "sneaky" move and that I should have been told straight up from the beginning that the tuition was going to go up. But things happen, and I understand that....rent goes up, cost of living goes up, **** happens. I wasn't mad at all. The instructor makes his living off of that school! Not to mention, he was a damn good instructor, so he deserved whatever he asked for! However, the other owners on those forums asked me if I thought that the price that I was paying, which was about $30 over the "normal" price for MMA classes these days, was worth the training. So I started thinking........ I was never a fan of the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ). Rolling around on the ground and getting my arms and neck tweaked and twisted 10 times a night was not my thing. I am old, remember? Also, being choked out numerous times a night to the point of nearly passing out is not fun. I do not understand how these guys like this stuff. Ask my wife, I had to come home every night after class and put ice on my neck and arms. But, do not fool yourself, BJJ is just as much of a sport, if not more, than an actual martial art. It is not very practical, and could get you seriously hurt or killed if you were to defend yourself using it. It's not that it wouldn't work, but there were many fables that I heard that BJJ was THE martial art for the streets. This is not the case! It could work, but it would be hard to get someone to actually move the ways that would you need them to in order to pull off one of the moves. Not to mention that if you did wind up on the ground and had someone in your "guard" (which means you are on the bottom with your legs wrapped around your opponents waist) you would be getting hit with a flurry of punches. In the actual sport of the art, being in this "guard" is actually a preferable position. In the real world though........I don't think so. I did love the boxing! I learned a lot of foot work and head work and combinations. I learned how to let my energy flow into my punches instead of forcing it, and the small amount of muay thai training that I received will be helpful, if needed, as well. The "clinch" and the elbows and knees will come in handy in a close combat situation. But, in reality, the stuff I learned in TSD is more hardcore than the stuff I learned in MMA. TSD is a system used to end conflict in a single blow or break! Boxing is more like going back and forth with someone on the street, and I am not out to "win" a fight if one occurs, I am out to "survive" the fight and ELIMINATE the threat in front of me! Not beat him to get "street credit" or to impress anyone. So, I was welcomed back with open arms last night and it was good to train with my FRIEND Mike again. The bad news is that there is a test tomorrow, and I should be testing for my 1st gup rank, but I will not be. I kind of have an issue with that, because I never stopped practicing my criteria and was pretty on point last night after being gone for six weeks, and I have witnessed some students passing the 1st gup test that are nowhere near my level, but it is what it is. I went to class three times a week from June until the 2nd week of October and mixed six weeks of class, but it wasn't enough to allow me to test. My master said he will "test me", but I am not sure what that means. Hopefully, it means that he will test me earlier than the next available test date (March), but he forgets things often, and I fear that I have traded in six weeks of MMA training, for another four months of being my current rank in TSD. Also, let us not forget, that it was boredom that made me consider leaving in the first place. I really hope he tests me before a class one day within the next month. Otherwise, I may just get bored again. I think I deserve that chance to test! I made a choice, and I will live with it, but they have bumped students up in rank before, totally skipping the time requirements and they have provided students with ranks that they clearly did not deserve. I am talking about 1st gups that cannot do a center punch or a center chop block. I am talking about black belts that do not know any of their junior forms. I know this sounds like Anakin Skywalker, but I made a mistake and left, I should be punished for it, and I am, by not being able to test tomorrow! But I believe that if I train for another week or two, I will be right back where I was 6 weeks ago, if not better! The bottom line is, it is clearly at my master's discretion on if someone can/should test or not, regardless of the time requirements set forth by the holy gods of TSD! I even believe I would pass the test tomorrow if I was allowed to take it. But my master said that his master would not go for a student being gone for six weeks and then testing. I understand that, and would not want to put him in that position anyway. In the end, I am glad things worked out the way they did, because everything happens for a reason! That is why I am going to remain positive and have faith that my master will see that I never stopped practicing and still know my criteria, inside and out, and deserve that chance to test! If I fail, then I fail! It is MY fault if I fail! But I do not believe that I will! I will miss the boxing, the full contact sparring, and the feeling of being surrounded by other students of my age. I will also miss the head instructor there....this guy was down to earth and he did a lot for the community and really cared about his students! But sometimes we have to make tough decisions in our lives, and sometimes we have to be humble and admit that we made the wrong choice and ask for forgiveness! But I really like how my opinion on MMA has changed now that I experienced it. And I really like how I missed TSD from being away from it. Let's face it, there is a reason I have all of those trophies and medals....I am good at this! Why mess up a good thing? I did mess it up though. Hopefully I do not get punished too much for it. I want to start my journey to obtaining my black belt as it will be a huge accomplishment! Thanks for reading!