Hey Bgajdor1 thanks for the question. I trained at Choi's until about 8 weeks ago and at that time there was no hard sparring. The sparring that was allowed was non and very light contact sparring as part of the normal class. I have heard that Master Choi started doing a little more sparring during class but be aware that he goes through phases where he may have the classes spar for a couple of weeks then it won't be seen again for several months.
the Southerntier doesn't have many TKD schools that I'm aware of. I think there's a club over at BU and maybe the JCC in Vestal as far as local places. This area is stronger in Karate, MMA, and TSD. I don't know of a WTF TKD school that's even close or I would've checked it out when things ended at Choi's. I'll put my ear to the ground though and let you know if I hear of anything.
Thanks for the prompt response pj66. I'm currently training in Ithaca at CW Taekwondo, but it's a long commute there. Great place to train though for WTF Taekwondo. What is JCC? I've attended the BU Taekwondo club before though.
Jcc is the local jewish community center. I dont know a ton about what programs they offer but I remember hearing that they may have tkd. Other than those options I really havent heard of anything else close.
I see. You mentioned Binghamton being a hot spot for Tang Soo Do training. Do you have any recommendations for schools that spar and compete regularly with hard full-contact in TSD? Thanks again.
Sorry it took me till now to check back in. there are a few tsd schools in the area but I just don't know enough at this point to say which school or schools is good. There was/is a school on Washington Ave in Endicott but there was some trouble there a few years ago.
I belonged to what was Sang Lee's TKD Academy in the late '80s during high school and early college years, and left w/my bo dan (red belt, 2 black stripes). I started under Master Lee and "Everyone" LOVED him! He commanded respect, treated everyone fairly, and was a gentle man everyone liked to see demo the kicks. Sparring was ev. Friday, and punches were allowed below the neck. No broken bones that I remember. Kicks were allowed to the head, but not full contact, and we had to use the hoogoos (how it sounded) w/headgear. This was b4 all these lawsuits.
Master Choi, to my knowledge, did not train under Master Lee, but came when M. Lee was preparing to go to Colorado Springs for the Olympics. Master Lee attracted students (white belt classes were 40+ and the place was packed), demo'd poomses and the kicks (which were taught at various levels: back kick for green belt, hook for red belt w/spin hook, etc.). He had a grace and appeal no one else had and was missed terribly! I forget the details, but the taeguk forms were req'd for TKD or something, and we had to learn them w/in 2 weeks (maybe it was a month; it was short, I tell you), and were belt-tested on both palgway (sp) and taeguks. It was tough, but fun, and everyone was under the same pressure to learn them, so we worked together.
Master Choi took over after Master Lee left and ostracized people quickly. The white belt class dropped to 3-5 for the night classes (usu. full). I thought he was not a nice man, esp'ly to women. He essentially told the black belts, who'd been there for years, that they weren't doing several of Master Lee's methods correctly, and everyone had to do them the "right way" (which only he knew!), and everyone had a hard time doing them! When one upper belt was asked to demo some of the palgway forms in front of the class -- which Master Lee showed us to be long, stretched-out stances -- Master Choi stomped on the guy's outstretched leg, saying it was too long!
One of the lower belts (white or yellow) had come in on his Saturday and painted in large calligraphied letters on the back wall an ode to Master Lee; something to the effect of "Sang Lee, grand champion of Korea, started this academy years ago...." Please don't quote me on this, but the text really praised Master Lee. It was grand and I felt great pride reading it and practicing in front of it. Master Choi had it painted over shortly thereafter...!
I had a year to go before I got my black belt, but was quite busy w/college (chemistry major), so I didn't attend as much. I went back for the summer after my freshman year, and Master Choi called me into his office, saying that I'd have to attend year round, no matter how hard my classes, otherwise he would not allow me to be his student. He smiled and asked, "Do you understand?" I smiled and said yes as I'd paid for the summer in advance. I finished the summer and never went back. (Master Lee never ever would have said this!) I met up with several people years later and they said they'd left shortly thereafter too b/c it "wasn't the same w/o Master Lee." No, it wasn't!
At the time, TKD was taught at the Court Jester, a health club across from the Oakdale Mall. You can try the JCC (Jewish Comm. Center). Hidy Ochiai was big b/c he advertised constantly and his students opened schools elsewhere. These days I'm into qigong (sounds chee-gong), a standing, moving meditation that's much easier than tai chi, and good for health. Wikipedia says there are 10,000 styles (doubtful, but a good sev'l hundred). It's good for health, as it deepens the breath, and is easier than running! Not really for self-defense, but taught in health clubs, colleges, mini-courses, etc. Better for health than yoga (good for bone density). I'm now 46, and break easier than I did in high school!
Good luck to you in finding a school and an instructor that's right for you. Master Lee brought in lots of new people, who gradually winnowed down as the belts got higher. To my knowledge only 1 of my white belt class got his black belt (& he already had one!). I would've sworn I would've been another, but it didn't work out. So now I'm doing something else and am quite happy. I hope you are, too. :-)
Glenn Allen (Jr.)
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