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TKD as first MA- how many?

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    #61
    I first trained in TKD in the summer of 74. I grew up the only white kid (okay, there were maybe 20 of us) in an all black city. Fighting (and fighting "dirty") was a possibility every time I stepped out my door. But the year I ETS't out of the army I got a job screen printing table cloths, etc; There was a guy there who had been stationed in Korea and had earned a blackbelt in TKD.
    He kept daring me to come to a class. I wasn't afraid of anyone in his class. By age 20 I had been in so many fights it didn't really matter much if I got beat.
    He then invited me to go to St. Louis with him and watch a MA expo. I was very impressed with several things I saw. Some which seem to defy natural laws. One thing was when some small Korean guy who weighed maybe a buck and a quarter stepped up to a stack of concrete blocks that went above his waist. He screeched, jumped into the air and bare-knuckle punched right through them. They put a close up camera view of his fist and aside from a small scrape, it was undamaged.

    So I trained with him. Our dojang was a basketball court outside the local grade school. During the winter we went to a one room school house.

    We sparred every night. To my knowledge at that time (1974) sparring gear consisted of a cup and a mouth piece. We never went to tourneys. Instead we would visit schools of other styles and fight the students. It was interesting for sure. Oh, classes were ten bucks a month. All he taught was fighting. Forms were an after-thought. There were no children around that I saw and the few women were treated as equals. (which they were not)

    He gave no rank or testings. After 2 years I could not say that I was such and such rank. With him there were but 2 ranks. White belts and black belts. Training was very tough. There wasn't a one of us whose feet did not have the blow out blisters one gets from spinning barefoot on asphalt. I was knocked out by an advanced student I had just kicked in the nads. (Unintentionally) This guy went apesh*t on me until the next thing I knew I was on my back looking up at laughing faces. No one seemed concerned about my safety.

    I then moved to El Paso but could not afford to train at the dojo's that were begining to pop up in the cities like mushrooms inn the woods. So I found another TKD blackbelt. We would warm up, practice our kicks and then fight. Every night, fight, fight, fight!
    I liked it as I was fighting without getting in trouble for it. But after almost a year with this guy, (who also gave out no rank) I realized that for the most part, we students were raw meat for him. He would have us spar each other (still, a cup and a mouth piece) and go hard. Then he would spar us and beat the crap out of us.

    It seemed that MA training back then was more like that than it is now. Over the years I flittered back and forth with MA until I finally married and the wife and I decided to really get in to it. We spent tons of money but I will say the actual training was good, even though there was no doubt this guy was in it for the $$$. As he became more and more about the money the quality of instruction began to suffer.

    I wish I could teach TKD without having to make it a business to even be in it. But "clubs" like the one I was in in 74 just don't stay around. I do charge less than any other TKD school in my area even though my facilities or better. Now I teach TKD but train in any art I can get my hands on. My personal development must stray from TKD for obvious reasons. But I (and my wife) teach a very good TKD class. I know TKD is not taken seriously by some who train in other arts, but I have yet to meet a master of any other martial art who laughs at TKD. Rather like me, they see the value in all arts with no one art that can claim to be the best.

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