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A series of handy references for current Kuk Sool students

Stretching the Truth

05 Jun

At the beginning of every Kuk Sool class, we spent 10-15 minutes “warming up.” What exactly is the purpose, and why do we dedicate such a significant portion of class time to it? The NY Times published an article several years ago on this very topic. Its worth a read, but here’s the summary:

Static stretching (holding a stretch for 20 or 30 seconds) can actually weaken your muscles. Kuk Sa Nim has known this for a long time. That’s why our warmup routine uses a lot of dynamic stretches, which are designed to get the blood flowing, loosen muscles and tendons, and to increase the body’s range of motion.

Though we always go through a routine warmup exercise during class, we don’t necessarily stretch after class is over. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it! Stretching after a workout, even for just a few minutes, will help reduce muscle fatigue and help your muscles recover faster.

Ki is the Key

05 Sep

The “yelling” that we do in classes is referred to as a “kihap” (literally, “power yell”) and it serves two distinct — and very important — purposes:

First, the kihap is not so much the noise you make as what you do with your air. When you kihap, half of your air goes out and half is pushed down into your belly. Proper use of a kihap will give you more power by forcing the air down into the diaphragm and converting your body into a more-efficient weight-bearing mass. This is important not only in generating power for strikes, but also in helping to protect your body when taking a fall.

The second important reason we kihap is to startle an attacker or an opponent. A kihap delivered unexpectedly in a loud, sharp burst can have the effect of temporarily disorienting an attacker to give you a split second “window” to counter or deliver an attack of your own.

Kuk Sool for Adults & Busy Professionals

31 Aug

Some people are fearful of martial arts training and use the excuse “I’m too busy” or “I’m too old for that kind of thing.” But nothing could be further from the truth. Kuk Sool is for everyone; all you have to do is make the commitment. We have students of all ages in our classes, from children and teens to busy parents and retired adults.


Busy professionals don’t want to walk into the office one day with a black eye or broken nose. We understand that! Unlike a lot of more competitive martial arts schools, training at Greater Rochester Kuk Sool Won is extremely safe. Actual contact is minimal and well-controlled. Students are taught to apply their techniques slowly and smoothly, always aware of the safety of their partner.

Tumbling, Acrobatics and Physical Exertion

So you’re 65, retired, and have never done a cartwheel in your life. Does that prevent you from martial arts training? Absolutely not! You can progress — and even earn a Black Belt — in Kuk Sool Won at whatever level you may be at.

Because all of our training here at Greater Rochester Kuk Sool Won is self-paced and personal, age or reasonable physical limitations are never a problem and we are able to structure your training around any old injuries or restrictions that you might have. We have many adult students, and a good number of them started training in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. The traditional martial arts training program at Greater Rochester Kuk Sool Won follows the philosophy that your health should be your primary consideration in training, while self-defense is just a useful by-product. Remember, you may not ever be in a fight, but you have to get out of bed every day of your life.

Our training curriculum at Greater Rochester Kuk Sool Won is based on the individual — not the group. Therefore, when you see some students doing advanced gymnastics and spectacular falls or kicks it is because they worked hard to get to that point. Everyone will have certain strengths and weakness that they bring to class, and our goal is to build on your personal strengths while at the same time helping you to overcome any weak areas that you might have.


We know your life is busy and hectic. There are children’s birthday parties. Business trips. Family vacations. Sick kids to take care of. While we do expect you to commit to two classes per week, sometimes things get in the way. If you miss the occasional class and would like to make it up we offer an open class on Friday evenings for all ages and all ranks or, if necessary, you may make arrangements to attend a class during a different time. If you’re going to be gone for a week or two, just let us know and it shouldn’t be a problem.

You can’t really be charged for a missed class because, like a health club or gym, we are set up on a monthly, rather than a per-class, basis and offer you plenty of opportunities to make up any classes that you miss.

However, should you be away for an extended period just let us know in advance and we might be able to add any extended absence time to the end of your agreement at no additional charge. Again, just speak with our Program Director or Instructor about this if you have any questions.


A lot of people overestimate the amount of time necessary to progress in martial arts. At Greater Rochester Kuk Sool Won, if you are able to attend at least 2 classes per week (and spend just a couple hours a week training at home) you should be able to progress regularly. In fact, our lesson plans at Greater Rochester Kuk Sool Won are set up with this schedule in mind. We understand that you have other activities going on with a busy career and family life. That’s why we offer several different class times during the day and evenings so you can pick what is most convenient to you.

At Greater Rochester Kuk Sool Won the only person that you are ever judged against is yourself. All we ask from you is a commitment to do your best, and to try to grow a little more in your abilities every day. We promise you that if you will just make the commitment to try, one day you will look back and be surprised at just how far you have come.

Kuk Sool Forms

10 Feb

A “form” (called a “hyung” in Korean) is a prearranged series of movements performed in a dance-like manner, and is probably the most important training tool that you will have in the martial arts.

A traditional form is designed to not only allow you to practice patterns and techniques, or to train your body and build muscles and stamina — it is also extremely important in helping your body to learn the “vocabulary” of the martial art.

Every style or system of martial arts is different, and each has it’s own particular “flavor” as different from one style to the next as apples are from oranges. Practicing forms helps you to internalize the particular “flavor” of your style of martial arts through consistent practice, which will help you in every other aspect of your training. In Kuk Sool Won forms are an integral part of your training, with an empty-hand form (and, often, one or more weapons forms) required for each rank.

In practicing forms, the student should strive for balance, coordination, and smoothness. Over time the student will be able to add power and speed to his/her movements. The student should concentrate on the following 5 principles of Jae Se while practicing forms:

  • Eyes: Bright and Clear
  • Mind: Calm and Focused
  • Stance: Low and Stable
  • Feet: Slow and Precise
  • Hands: Fast and Controlled

Below is a list of the empty-hand forms in Kuk Sool. This list is not complete, as there are many more high-level forms that were intentionally left off.

  • White Belt: Ki Cho Hyung
  • Yellow Belt: Cho Geup Hyung
  • Blue Belt: Joong Geup Hyung
  • Red Belt: Goh Geup Hyung
  • Brown Belt: Dae Geup Hyung
  • Black-Brown Belt: Guhm Moo Hyung
  • 1st Degree Black Belt: Beak Pa Ki Hyung
  • 2nd Degree Black Belt: Kyuk Pa Hyung
  • 3rd Degree Black Belt:

Respect, Etiquette & Bowing

19 Jan

Bowing is a respectful way to acknowledge or greet your instructors and fellow students, and will quickly become a regular part of your martial arts training.

When to bow

When you enter the Dojahng, you are entering a place where the customs of Korea are observed. Bowing is a Korean custom that shows respect. As martial arts students, you will bow frequently.

Bow whenever you first enter and when you last exit the practice area and the Dojahng. This bow is executed by bending 90° at the waist, eyes lowered, and saying “Kuk Sool.”

When you first see an instructor, bow to him/her as you greet him/her. When you leave the Dojahng, bow to the instructor as you bid him/her farewell.

If you are in the Dojahng when a class bows in, always bow with the class, even if you are not ready for class or not staying for class. In such a situation, if you are in street clothes, you may perform the bows from a standing position — called an informal bow — at the side of the practice area, keeping your arms at your sides. If you are in uniform, then you hands should be holding your belt in the attention position.

Bowing in to Begin Class

When your instructor is ready to begin class you will be given the command to line up. Students will shout “Yes Sir” and quickly find an open space to line up, at attention, by belt rank. After the students are lined up the instructor will give the following sequence of commands:

  1. Juhng Jah: This means kneel. You will face forward with your eyes up and hands in attention position.
  2. Kuk Ki Da Hae Kyung Nea: This is the bow to the two national flags: the American and Korean flags.
  3. Won Ki Da Hae Kyung Nea: This is the bow to the Kuk Sool Won Association flag
  4. Kuk Sa Nim Ke Kyung Nea: This is the bow to our national Martial Arts Teacher, Grandmaster In Hyuk Suh.
  5. The next series of bows are to the black belts, starting with the highest rank and decending to the lowest rank.
  6. If a class is beginning, the instructor will say: Soo Ryuhn Shee Shak Kyung Nea.
  7. If a class is ending the instructor will say: Soo Ryuhn Geut Kyung Nea.
  8. The last bow thanks the instructor for class: Dae Dan Hee Kam Sa Ham Nee Da.