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   Sa Bum Nim’s Corner

            by Jason G. Lee


Over the years I have attended many Kuk Sool Tournaments as well as half a dozen open martial arts tournaments.  I have competed at the World Championships in both Houston and Korea.  I’ve competed all across the eastern United States and now in April of this year I’m going to get to compete at my first home Kuk Sool tournament here in Western New York.  I’ve always enjoyed tournament.  I haven’t always won, but I’ve definitely enjoyed my fair share of success.
I think that tournament is very important for several reasons.  First off, it’s good for the organization.  When students and instructors from across the country get together it builds comradely.  You get to know you are part of a really large and excellent group of people.  This helps Kuk Sool become stronger.  Instructors and school owners realize that they can count on each other for help and that when their students relocate for school or employment that there is a great network of other instructors out there to carry on with their training.
I think tournament is good for students.  It’s a great place to meet new friends.  To show off your skills and if you are striving for success it lets you gauge how you stack up against your peers.  It can either reward you for your hard work or show you how much more you need to do.
My first Kuk Sool Tournament was in Houston in 2004.  I didn’t place in a single event.  I did meet many people for the first time that I have now been training and competing with for the last 15 years.  Many of us are now running classes or schools across the country and are all poised or have already earned the title of Master.  At my second tournament I won a fourth place medal in one of the six events I took part in.  I didn’t find success right away but I kept going back.  Now over the years I have won many events, I have two Regional Grand Championships and a World Grand Championship but that all started by going to a tournament and not winning anything.  That was my first step.  The act of losing was a great motivator of my success.  I’m not an athletic superstar.  I’m just some guy, a guy who listened to his instructor, kept working hard and had a great day at the right time.  But I didn’t have more fun at the tournaments I won than at the tournaments I didn’t.  Some of the best tournament memories I have are of either losses or have nothing to do with the actual competition.
Tournament is about community.  It’s about hard work.  It’s about success and failure.  If you fail to reach your potential it’s not the tournaments’ fault.  It is about the choices that you make as you prepare for tournament.  Sometimes you can’t control if you are sick or injured or a host of other things, but you can control if you are prepared.  If you are prepared, go out and do your best and get third place, then you have had success.  If you aren’t prepared, then what can you do differently to be so next time?
As a fourth degree Black Belt I am coming to the end of my tournament career.  I have had the opportunity to compete against some of the greatest Martial Artists of my generation.  I have made great friends.  Tournament has brought acclaim to me and my school but it didn’t just happen.  Hours and hours of training has been my path to success.  When my instructor gives me specific things to work on I take the time to try and absorb those lessons.  I’m not always successful at first but if there is one thing I know from 20 years of practicing Kuk Sool Won it’s that “We need more Practice.
Cha Ryuht!  Kyung Heh.  Bah Roh.
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