In March of 2011 I had the pleasure of visiting McDowell county West Virginia as part of Mission Time 4:13, a Christian missions group based in Florida. We were there to develop a Strongman event and Power Expo, complete with a Christian revival in the evening. During that visit, and my follow up visit that fall, I had the pleasure of working with some of the youth during field day events and holding a mini karate camp. I also was able to hold two women self defense seminars for the ladies in the community.
It was at this time that God placed on my heart to start an ongoing martial arts program for the youth of McDowell county, and I began looking for a suitable person to work with as the instructor. I wasn’t able to find the right person, and no matter what I did, the program came to a halt. It was my timing, not God’s, but the goal had been set. From 2012 to 2017 I had some job, health and surgery issues, not even being able to train myself. During this trying time, the youth of McDowell county and the goal of that program stayed in my heart and mind until July 2017.
Six years have passed, and the kids I worked with on my initial visit to West Virginia graduated high school this year! The knocking on my heart to complete this goal got louder and I am answering …
This is the McDowell Youth Karate Initiative!
The program will be similar to other karate schools and yet, very different. The program will consist of in person classes with a qualified instructor AND classes done through an online martial arts academy.
Neither part can stand alone, the student needs to do BOTH to be eligible for rank testing and certification. The online academy will teach the parts of the system such as history, anatomy and targets, class rules, codes of conduct and well give detailed explanations of the techniques.
This will free up time in the in person classes to be spent practicing hands on, getting critiqued and corrected, as well as working with fellow students. While students can learn the techniques online, it is absolutely necessary to attend classes as often as possible to ensure they are doing things correctly and learn even more than what is presented in the online program.
Once the student completes all of the online requirements for their current belt level and successfully passes the online examinations, they will continue to practice on their own and in class perfecting their physical skills. When the instructor feels the student has a firm grasp of the requirements needed for the next belt level, they will schedule the student to test. Tests for the intermediate level belts (black stripe) will be held periodically throughout the year. Belt testing for the next color belt will be held once or twice per year at an annual training camp.
Neither the student, not their parents should be overly concerned about the rank they are at or what color their belt is. The belt color system was invented to signify where a student was in the learning process. The belt and the certificate mean nothing if the skill level possessed by the student doesn’t match it. The belt color and rank certificate means that on that day, at that time, the student possessed all of the strength, skill, speed and knowledge representing that rank. If the student slacks off in their training after test time, after a while he/she will no longer be at that level or still have those skills. If you don’t use it and practice, you WILL lose it!
This is very important for anyone studying martial arts to understand. Too much focus these days is on the rank and belt color, not the skill level.
This program does not and will not give away belts, we earn them!! This is not a McDojo where you just show up and walk out with a black belt in 6 months. On average it will take a student three year to earn their black belt, if they work hard at it. Our main concern is that the student achieves the proper skill level before being awarded their next belt. The last thing I would ever want is for a student to be faced with a self defense situation on the street and not be able to defend themselves.
Every student will know that when they achieve their next belt level, they EARNED it, WORKED for it, and can be proud of their accomplishment!
Some of you may be asking and wondering “What are we going to be learning?”
The art that will be taught is a Korean style of Karate called Tang Soo Do. It has it’s roots in Shotokan karate from Japan, Okinawan karate and Kung Fu in the Fujian province of China. It was brought from Japan to Korea in 1944 as Shotokan karate and was then mixed with the ancient Korean arts of Taekyon and Subak, giving the style it’s kicking technique. More circular hand techniques are seen compared to the Shotokan style and these came from the Chinese martial arts the were mixed in with the system.
Tang Soo Do was first taught by Grandmaster Won Kuk Lee, who originally brought it from Japan to Korea as Shotokan karate. The style was learned by and further developed by Grandmaster Hwang Kee into what most people know as Tang Soo Do today. Hwang Kee continued to evolve his personal system into what is now known as Soo Bahk Do, which no longer resembles the Tang Soo Do he originally taught.
Other martial arts styles have also been mixed in with the Tang Soo Do taught in this system, and are mainly used in self defense techniques. These techniques come from other arts that I have studied and include Shotokan karate, Chung Do Kwan Tae Kwon Do, Aikido, Hapkido and Kenpo. These arts and their techniques help to make the student more rounded and better able to handle a wider variety of self defense situations.
There is not enough room to explain everything about the program in detail here and more information will be coming out as the program nears completion. The expected date for the program to be complete and begin is the fall of 2018. I know this sounds like a long way off, but there is much to get done and in place prior to getting started. The goal is to build a solid foundation and ensure that the program is not only a success, but is around for a very long time.
A location for classes and an instructor has been secured in War, WV and we would also like to have a location for classes in Welch, WV as well to give students two options to make it to class. The online academy and lessons are currently under construction as well and should be complete after the first of the year (2018).
An online fund raising page, such as a Go Fund Me account or something similar will also be coming to raise funds for equipment, mats and other needs of the program.
Make sure you Like and Follow our Facebook page to get all of the most current updates on the progress of this program and to get any questions you have answered. Also feel free to look around the rest of this website, Thelonewarrior.com, and get a better feel of what Tang Soo Do is, articles on the martial arts and self defense and some of my journey in the martial arts.
God Bless and Thank You for Your Support!
Let’s Make This Program Great!
This is a short promo of our former martial arts ministry, Trinity Christian Martial Arts, which has given birth to the McDowell Youth Karate Initiative!