Sunday, November 27, 2016

Jack Scott- United Karate Studio- Cookeville, TN

Jack Scott- United Karate- Cookeville, Tennessee
Around 1988, I arrived at my inlaws who had relocated to Cookeville from New Jersey.  We had brought my four year old son there to visit his grandparents and spend some quality family time.  After being there a few days I casually leafed through the yellow pages to see what karate schools were around.  My eyes landed on Jack Scotts United Karate Studio and I decided to call.
I explained I was visiting family and asked if I could come down and watch some karate classes.  Mr. Scott said it was not a good night to come down but the next night would be better.  Of course that prompted me to go down and see why I could not watch.  Well he received me with open arms and let me watch for several hours.  We talked for a long time and then he asked if I would like to take a class the next night.  I responded I would like to but had not brought my uniform.  He loaned me a uniform and Black Belt and we had only just met!
The next night I showed up early and began to warm up and introduce myself to his students.  Class started and we swung into a very dynamic warmup and did many, many,many kicks.  The class ran on for a few hours and then we took a break to spar, and yes he loaned me sparring gear.  I sparred all the students and then of course my new friend Jack.  Wow what a workout!
Then when I though we were all done he said, "Lets you and I fight some full contact", so of course we went several more rounds.  It was a tremendous workout.  Mr. Scott was in shape and could really fight and bang.   Later when I was in the locker room changing, one of the red belts asked if I were coming back the next night.  I told him I was flying back to Connecticut and was unable.  He let out a big WHOO Hoo!  Great he says,  That is the hardest training session we ever had!  I couldn't take another clas like that tomorrow.
It was the start of a glorious friendship.  The following two years I attended his tournament and had a blast.  I met many of the UKS members included the senior Master Ben Kiker, Jesse Thorton, James Hobby and mitzi Tyler, all well known competitors who I saw frequently on the national competition circuit.
A few years went by and we had lost touch.  One of my students was attending a martial arts business seminar by Hartford and she told me he had bumped into Jack Scott and he told her of our friendship.  The next night we met for dinner and we just picked up where we left off.
I stayed in touch with him and knew he had some health challenges but had been doing better.  Since he had moved locations after my last visit he sent me this video tour of his new school and I know he was so proud of the school and students.  Martial arts was his passion.
A few years later Jack lost his fight against cancer and we lost one of the greatest martial artists, teachers, and men I have ever known.  After I found out he died I wrote a letter the the local Cookeville newspaper teling what a loss I had felt.  His wife sent me a nice letter along with a school t shirt.  I sent her a copy of this video.  She didn't even know he had made it for me.
I hope many of his students will enjoy the energy of this great man and the pride he took in this journey as a Karate teacher.
Mike Bogdanski, Jack Scotts friend.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Ho Sin Sool

Ho-Shin-Sool (호신술) consists of three characters and their meanings are as follows.

Ho (호) is to guard, to protect, to defend or to keep us safe from something against such as physical assaults, diseases, and/or even from harmful spirits.
Shin (신) refers to our body, and
Sool (술) is a word for skills or techniques. Therefore, ho-shin-sool is all and any techniques used to guard our body.

How Do You Spell Relief? It’s not r-o-l-a-i-d-s!

Feeling of Relief CartoonIn my life I have seen many bullying situations.  From children to teens and even adults I have seen some of the worst cases of mental and emotional abuse go on.  As a teenager I feared confrontation and hated to see the bullies work against helpless and timid people.  When I was younger I wished I knew martial arts and had the courage and fortitude to stand up to these mean and angry people.

Should I stand up to these big, mean intimidators?  No not me. There is always a chance that they would turn their attention my way.  I couldn’t risk that, or could I? 

Several years ago one of my little skinny blond students, while riding the bus, would get picked on.  She was a good student but a little shy.  She may not have been a bruiser in sparring class but she always managed to hold her own but these were not the skills needed on the school bus.  The verbal taunts and abuse would leave her in tears both on her way to school and the way home.  This fifth grader was growing more afraid of the bus ride each day.  The bus driver couldn’t or wouldn’t address this issue.  The principal attempted to help but was ineffective.  The bullies were warned of punishment but just ignored the threat.  Does this sound familiar?

Many schools, families and children live this same fear and situation on a daily basis.  It has been going on for decades in every country in the world.  I decided as this time that a solution was in order and I was lucky enough to have the answer.

In the television commercial the way to spell relief is Rolaids, the anti heartburn suggestion.  On the school bus relief was spelled t-r-a-n.  I found out that one of my Black Belts named Bang Lee Tran was an eight grader on the very same bus.  He was an average size boy with a pleasant disposition, heart of gold and tons of confidence.  I asked if he would speak to the group that was the problem.  We practiced what to say, what the responses might be and how to deal with those too.  And yes by the way he mentioned he was a Black Belt and suggested they did not want to see a display of his skills.  Within a few days all the kids that picked on Barbie had found new manners.

There was no violence, detention or telling the driver or principal.  There was just one strong willed and confident boy who was willing make a stand for someone that needed help.  In studying martial arts I was taught of the concept of giri, which means obligation or duty.  We must teach our children that it is their responsibility and their duty to stand up for what they think is right, protect the innocent and let people know that this behavior is not acceptable.

 Now is the time.


Sunday, November 20, 2016

Bouncer Chronicles - 3

Once I got settled in as the solo bouncer I devised ways to keep myself safe in my role.  New Britain had a mixed population of gangs, bikers and offbeat characters and I never knew who was going to show up.  I kept a quarter over the payphone in case I needed to call the police and in the eventuality things went bad quickly, I hung my jacket by the door.  I kept a pair of nunchaku with one piece down the sleeve and one piece hanging out so I could retrieve it quickly.

Things kept fairly calm at the bar.  I made friends with the football team and they became my backup in case things got out of hand.  It is easier to be a bouncer when you have a couple of 250 pound linebackers standing behind you.

Little did I know that at the end of my graduate career I was going to postpone returning back to my old high school as a counselor and get into the nightclub business where bouncing took a more serious track.

Just when I got the hang of working the college crowd I was introduced to little old Northeast Connecticut.  At the time (the 70's) it was like going back to the fifties!

Sunday, November 06, 2016

My Years As a Bouncer-2

Being a Black Belt does not make you a bouncer. 
Fighting in tournaments does not make you a bouncer.
Knowing martial arts does not make you a bouncer.

Learning on the job helps make you a bouncer.

Most of the time when people were unruly in the college bar we just had to break up fights, cool people down and then kick them out.  It became a matter of restraint rather than a brawl (although I will go over those episodes too) and we had to keep people safe in spite of themselves.

One night during a busy night there were three very big college football guys drunk at the door.  I had stopped them from entry because they were already drunk.  We began to argue and knowing that the odds were against me I came up with an effective strategy. 

                                      I closed the door and held it shut.

The door knob was small so only one person could grip it to try and open it.  After several minutes of frustration they left.  No fight, no fuss, no muss.  This is what Bruce Lee must have meant when he said "The art of fighting without fighting"

Saturday, November 05, 2016

My Years As a Bouncer-1

Attending college as a Black Belt and needing a part time job, it was only a matter of time before applying to the local college bar as a bouncer.

The bar was a local restaurant and prominent college student hangout.  The drinking age was 18 so every weekend students flocked to Elmers Place for lots of fun.  The first night I was there the owners had friends show up to visit.  They invited me to sit down with them and plyed me with drinks.  At the end of the night I told them I would quit the job if that was to be the standard. Drinking and bouncing is not a good idea.

I was the solo bouncer in a crowd of one hundred and fifty patrons!  No backup, no one to cover my back, another lack of planning because I had not thought much of it.  About two weeks in, it was alumni weekend and the school was populated by an extra thousand people visiting and that Saturday night they all wanted to be partying at Elmers.

There was an unruly group of alumni in the dining room.  One of the guys was sitting in his chair and driving it around the room like it was a car.  I tapped him on the shoulder and asked that he refrained from the activity so as not to possibly injure anyone.  He stood up, reached out and grapped me by the shirt and raised his fist.  I hit him so hard he flew back with my shirt still in his hand.  He had ripped it completely off of me.

After throwing him out, I asked the bartender (a biker guy) why he didn't help me.  He responded " I wanted to see what you could do"!

Friday, September 02, 2016

Five Moo Do Values


The Five Moo Do values of History, Tradition, Philosophy, Discipline/Respect, and Technique, are the backbones of our proud Moo Do identity. These values coexist interdependently with each element strengthening the meaning of the other four. When we apply the Five Moo Do values to our daily training we strengthen our self not only as a Moo Do practitioner, but also as an individual who provides a positive influence within our society. – HC Hwang
1HistoryYuk SaYuk – taking part, experience
Sa – History, Recording
2TraditionJun TongJun – transmit
Tong – govern
3Discipline and RespectKi Khang / Jon KyongKi Khang – principle, rule ethics
Jon Kyung – respect, high regard
4PhilosophyChul HukChul – sagacious, bright
Hak – learn, study
5TechniqueKi SoolKi – skill
Sool – artifice

Monday, May 30, 2016

Sensei Bob Thivierge

When I was a teenager I guess I was karate crazy.

I trained two nights and Saturday with my karate teacher.  A friend of mine had karate classes two nights a week in Jewett City so I trained there also.  If we had free time we went to Chuck Merriman's school in New London and watched class.  There was a Pai Lum Kung Fu instructor in Ledyard so we checked him out.  We could not get enough karate.

In the Jewett City school, under Rusty James, I met Bob Thivierge.  He came early, stayed late and was always perfecting one technique or another.  When he received his green belt I started to notice him more because of his hard work and dedication to the school.  His teacher eventually moved on and he took over the training and became the resident Sensei.  My life had moved on with working and family but I always kept my connection with Bob.

His teacher, Rusty sponsored a small competition in Voluntown.  We got a group of Black Belts together and did point sparring under the tent one summer.  We sparred on a wood floor that was set up for dancing later that night.  Little did they know what had ahappened just hours earlier.  We had about a dozen guys show up from around the area.  Martial arts was a small culture in those days and we knew about all the schools in the area.   I sparred a Phillipino guy who showed up.  With his first move he drilled me with a front kick that knocked me out of the ring.  It was a real WOW  moment for me.  I received a second place losing to the sponsor Rusty James who was a great sparrer.

 The following year Bob took over the competition.   Kickboxing waas now the vogue and was the competition of choice.  My brother John fought and there were some great matches that day.  They all took place in the field outside the tent.  Bob fought and had an amazing match.  He was seriously tough and never backed down.  There were several bouts that day that were pretty fantastic.

The following year there was to be an upgrade.  A boxing ring was to be used for all the fights.  One of my fellow Black Belts Windy Winslow was to fight Tommy Champagne and I was to be in the main event against Bobby.  I was running 20 miles a week and training 6 days a week in karate/kickboxing and could not have been more ready.  I was in the best shape of my life.

It was the Wednesday before the fight and Windy and I had a 2 hour training session.  Our main KO technique was to be the spin backfist (it was to be our "secret" weapon).  After sparring many rounds we decided to drill it some more, with no equipment on.   An errant spin backfist knocked my front tooth loose.  It was hanging by a tiny little ligament and was almost knocked clean out of my mouth. 

I went to the dentist the next day to have him look at it.  As soon as I opened my mouth and he saw it dangling there, all he could say as his eyes popped out was, OOOOOH!

I knew it was not good.

He asked how it happened and I had to tell him, kickboxing! And then I had to tell about the big match coming up in a few days.  I spoke to him about all of my preparation and how important it was to me.  He gave me two choices.  Fight and lose the tooth (because very little was keeping it attached to my gum) or wear a tooth cast and maybe keep it.  It was both an easy and tough decision because I wanted so badly to fight.

Well, I skipped the fight and got a substitute.  Larry Kelley of Amhurst, Massachussets was the number one point fighter in New England and the country.  He is a fantastic kicker and once even knocked out Billy Blanks with a front leg hook kick.  Bobby and he went toe to toe for three rounds.  Even though I was rooting for my substitute, Bobby held his own and went the distance.  I couldn't have been prouder of him.

Bobby was a hard worker and when he got layed off he traveled to Florida by himself and had been working 7 days a week for over 6 months.  It was hard for him because his wife and children were still home but he had to work.   He finally had a day off after working like a dog all these months and went to the beach.  While body surfing a wave overtook him, flipped him upside down and the accident made him a quadraplegic.  After some hospital time he returned home to Jewett City.

His students, friends and family flocked to support him.  I remember they quickly built a ramp in anticipation of his need to make his house wheelchair accessable.  I was competing heavily around New England and had a big entourage of friends who traveled the karate circuit.  I tapped in to them to do a fundraiser for the Thivierge family to try to help them with some expenses.

It was a great turnout.  Larry Kelley, Jeff Goldberg, Steve Best, Lenny Stavrou, Gary Wilcox, Doug Peoples, Neil Hoffler, Wali Islam, Frankie Baker, Arvo Laats and many more turned out to demonstrate and pay homage to Bob Thivierge in his time of need. It was a "Who's who" of New England martial artists!

Bob stayed active teaching karate in his garage and then in a commercial school.  He affiliated with the Enshin karate group who gave him support and helped his school become a succcess.  I am sure Bob inspired many people in that group too.

I had kept in touch with Bob occasionally over the years and often thought back about the kickboxing match we were meant to have.  Maybe someday when we meet again and we can give it a go.

Sensei Bob Thivierge, through your life you continued to inspire me and I will work to pass on your P.M.A.- positive mental attitude as long as I am able.

We will miss you Sensei Bob Thivierge, you were one of the good ones.

With love and respect,