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Just because your child doesn’t love sports doesn’t mean they’re not an athlete. See why they might love martial arts!


By Rachel Stamper
http://blog.activityhero.com


Great news: Your kids don’t have to be “natural” athletes to excel in martial arts. In fact, this type of organized physical activity offers all of the perks of team sports (and a few extra benefits, too, such as self-defense skills) — without the aspects that tend to stress some kids. We asked one ActivityHero provider to share her observations on why this is true … and what kids can gain from trying a class in karate, taekwondo, or another type of martial art.

Here’s what we learned …
Sports can boost your child’s self-esteem, improve coordination, enhance fitness, and encourage lifelong healthy habits. If you’re like many parents, though, you may have found that your kid didn’t dig the team sports vibe. One team member of ActivityHero from San Jose, California, says her daughter, Anushka S., thought that team sports were cool … until she was actually playing them.

“When she would go to soccer games, all she was interested in was sitting by the side and playing with the grass,” says her mother, Shilpa D. “She was happier to be subbed out so she could socialize with her friends.” Since trying martial arts, though, Anushka has found an activity that challenges her in a way that she thoroughly enjoys. “She likes that it is not competitive with others,” says Shilpa. “But at the same time she has her own milestones to achieve. She loves moving on to the next belt-level. She is very persistent about achieving her goal.”

Maybe your child, like Anushka, isn’t the competitive type. Or perhaps your kid played sports as a youngster and lost interest when the age level — and intensity — increased. Or maybe you don’t see team sports as a good fit for your child who has special needs. Whatever the reason, if you are looking for a positive alternative to team play, you might want to do as Shilpa and Anushka did and consider adding martial arts to your child’s after school activities.





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I am a Martial Artist
by: Master Karen Eden
 





"I am a martial artist." I see through different eyes. 
I see a bigger picture when others see grey skies. 
Though many can't conceive it, I stand...facing the wind. 
My bravery, not from fighting, but from my strength within. 
I am a martial artist. I'll walk the extra mile. 
Not because I have to, but because it's worth my while. 
I know that I am different, when I stand on a crowded street. 
I know the fullness of winning, I've tasted the cup of defeat. 
I am a martial artist. They say I walk with ease. 
Though trained for bodily harm, my intentions are for peace. 
The world may come and go, but a different path I'll choose. 
A path I will not stray from, no matter, win or lose. 


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Black Belt At 64 Years Old
By Flo Covell, Cho Dan

Baez Tang Soo Do, Middletown, NY
 
 
What makes a martial artist?  What is the driving force propelling us forward? What fuels our passion? Is it our desire to be stronger, to increase focus, to be healthier, to overcome fears, or just to be able to kick butt?  Each of us will answer these questions differently, as we come in different sizes and shapes, with different ages, values and backgrounds. However, despite our vast differences, we all share a deep passion for our martial art, for Tang Soo Do. 

We have experienced the indescribable energy we feel each time we enter our dojang. With each kick, with each  "ki hap", we are immersed into the powerful present moment and feel the awesome energy rippling through us. Fueled by it, we reclaim our power, we shed our false, weak selves and be who we really are. We realize the emotional, physical, mental and spiritual power that comes from practicing Tang Soo Do. With deep gratitude, we are humbled by our experience, and want to share our experience with others. We want others to join us, to take their first step, to kick their first kick, to yell their first "ki hap". We turn to a friend and say "Come, just take one class. If I can do it, you can too."  

As a new black belt, I am still defining who I am, where I've been. How did I get here? In retrospect, perhaps the many experiences in my life were part of my martial arts path. 

During my childhood there were many difficult times. However, I cherished physical mobility and freedom, running and playing outdoors. I spent most of my adult years working as a registered nurse and raising 5 children. Two of my children were born handicapped, one with autism and one with a serious neurological condition. There were many challenges throughout the years. 
After the birth of my 5th child, I was having circulatory problems in my legs and began running. I enjoyed the runner's high, the stress reduction and began to realize the benefits of exercise. At 45 years old, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Upon hearing the diagnosis, tears came to my eyes and I was scared. However, shortly afterwards, I viewed  a TV show about a 60 year old woman who had  rheumatoid arthritis, began karate and greatly improved. I felt hopeful and inspired. I said to myself "someday I'll  take karate." 
 
   
When I turned 50 years old, my husband and I attended a firewalking seminar, and walked on fire. We were very impressed with the power of human potential, how the mind affects the body, and the importance of having a positive attitude. So, we became certified Firewalking Instructors and conducted firewalks. We also walked on fire on the Geraldo Show. It was a very exciting time in our lives. However, firewalking was not about walking on fire. It was about how to live everyday, how to be fully present and how to overcome fears and challenges in life. I learned I could do anything I put my mind to.  

In my early fifties, I had to give up running. The constant repetition was hurting my joints. I was very disappointed. For so many years aerobic exercise had been an important part of my life. A few years later, at 55 years old, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Walking helped somewhat, but I was often very tired. The year I turned 60 years old, my husband, my soul mate, died after a long illness. I was devastated and immersed in grief. How would I go on?  Who would I be without him? He believed in me so much. Would I be able to believe in myself without him? He was the wind beneath my wings. Would I still be able to tap into my human potential?
Three months later, my daughter asked me if I wanted to join my grandchildren in karate lessons. Remembering the TV show I saw 15 years earlier inspired me to say "Yes". Somehow, deep inside, I felt I was already a black belt in life. I had overcome so many challenges throughout the years. It was now time to manifest on a physical level what I felt spiritually, emotionally and mentally. There was a black belt within me wanting to be released. In September of 2003, I started classes at Baez Tang Soo Do Karate in Middletown, New York (www.baeztsd.com). My black belt journey began. I kicked my first  kick, I yelled my first  "ki hap". 

I was the only senior citizen in the classes and it took me longer to warm up and to learn the different moves. But I soon realized all I had to do was "my personal best."  I was not competing against anyone else and I progressed at my own pace.   As the weeks and months passed, I felt better and better...less stiffness, less joint pain, and more energy. The exercises in classes were varied, not too much repetition on the same joints. It was an aerobic exercise my body could handle. I was delighted...it felt like I was given a new lease on life. I felt more confident, my focus improved and it was helping me deal with the loss of my husband. Tang Soo Do was healing me physically, mentally and emotionally. I was hooked.  Thank you, Tang Soo Do. 

Two years after my first class, after attaining a red belt, I was diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm and a leaky aortic valve. Both of my parents died of ruptured aortic aneurysms. I was scheduled for open heart surgery at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. I felt in top physical condition before the surgery, because of my previous two years training in Tang Soo Do. I was so grateful for Tang Soo Do. As a result of my training, I was able to remain hopeful and positive about the surgery. I focused on healing thoughts and told everyone I was going on a "Columbian Cruise." 
 
One of the first questions I asked my surgeon was  "When will I be able to start training again?". I could not imagine my life without Tang Soo Do. Ironically, my surgeon was a black belt in karate and assured me I would be back in class one month after the open heart surgery. I went under anesthesia listening to a positive affirmation healing tape that played continuously throughout the 7 hour surgery and for the next 21 hours while in intensive care. My aortic valve was repaired and the aneurysm was fixed. I came through the surgery with flying colors. Thank you, Tang Soo Do. 

One month to the day, after surgery, I was back in class. Of course I had some restrictions and made sure I followed all the doctor's orders. I did forms in slow motion and could barely say "ki hap". Week, by week, I became stronger and stronger. I was determined not to let anything stop me from achieving a black belt in Tang Soo Do. My instructors, my family, and my friends were very supportive. Six months later I entered a local tournament and placed 2nd in weapons and 3rd in forms, competing against adults 20 years younger.
Then, in May 2007, eighteen months after the open heart surgery, I  passed a 6 hour black belt test and was awarded  "Cho Dan".  I was 64 years old. Finally... the black belt in me was released!  I felt proud and delighted. Although, I was sad my husband was not by my side, it felt so good to be able to say  "Yes, I can go on in life, be who I want to be and do what I want to do." Tang Soo Do became the wind beneath my wings. Thank you, Tang Soo Do! 

Come...take just one class with me. If I can do it, you can too!  The journey to the black belt  begins with the first kick, with the first "ki hap".  I'm sure you, too, have overcome many challenges in your life. Let the black belt in you out!  

Visit Ms. Covell's personal site at www.karategrandma.com
Original article found at: http://www.tangsoodoworld.com/articles/Black_Belt_at_64.htm



Why Martial Arts Training is Great for Children

Written By: Dave Kovar.   [email protected]
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         I believe that martial arts have the answer for nearly every challenge that a child might face. Whether it’s bullying, obesity, a short attention span, a lack of athletic skill, low self-confidence, or a poor self-image, the martial arts can help. If you’re reading this I’m guessing you may feel the same way.

How Does Martial Arts Develop a Child’s Confidence?  One of the ways the training in the martial arts helps, children to become more confident is by showing them how to set and accomplish short, medium and long range goals. This is done through the progression of belts. As a child experiences success in training, it naturally transfers outside the martial arts school as well, making him or her more likely to set and achieve other goals. Remember, success is the backbone of confidence.

Martial arts training also helps children face their fears are a safe, nurturing environment. As children learn to defend themselves, they become threatened by those around them. Without any training, they normally send out signals that convey, “I’m weak, I’m not sure of myself, I’m a victim” with adequate training, they start sending out signals that communicate, “I’m strong, I’m confident, I’m a nice person, but don’t mess with me.” 

Why Martial Arts is Good for Shy Kids.   Martial Arts are the perfect activity to help shy children come out of their shells. It starts with small things like learning to look people square in the eyes, standing straight and speaking clearly.  Eventually, children progress to more advanced movements. As they begin expressing themselves physically on the mat and become more outgoing in class, it automatically carries over into other areas of their lives.

How Can Martial Arts Help Children to Become More Courageous?  Some kids are naturally fearless. They were just born that way. Others can be quite timid. Some children have had bad experiences that have made them fearful. Either way, it’s important to understand that true courage is not fearlessness, it is overcoming fear. That’s exactly what the martial arts teaches children to do – overcome their fears.  As a child progresses through the ranks, he or she is given a series of challenges that are with their ability to overcome.  Some examples might be board-breaking, sparring, performing self-defense techniques on a larger opponent or demonstrating a solo in front of their peers. As a child experiences success in these endeavors, it helps them to more easily face other fears, therefore helping them become more courageous.

How Does Martial Arts Help Develop Focus, Concentration and Self –Control in Children?  Very few things teach children to develop focus, concentration and self-control better than the martial arts.  To begin with a good martial arts class is usually quite fun.  That makes it easier for a child to focus ad concentrate.  During training, children learn to control their body through general exercise, powerful movement, stillness, posture and breathing. Once they learn how to do this in class, these skills become more readily transferable to other activities.  Also, there is a strong emphasis placed on understanding three rules of concentration: focus your eyes, focus your mind and focus your body.

Why Martial Arts is Good for Overactive Children and Children with Learning Disabilities.  For most overactive children or children with a learning disability, martial arts is the perfect activity. It is fast-paced, fun and requires a high level of physical activity. This is usually exactly what they need.  When taught correctly, martial arts helps students get into the ideal performance state, which is a combination of mental clarity, physical energy and emotional calm. So, it is rarely boring and helps overactive children learn to focus their energy in a productive manner.  On top of that, a well-run martial arts class naturally facilitates the three main learning modalities – visual, auditory and kinesthetic so that every child’s learning needs are met.

How Does Martial Arts Training Make Children Less Violent?  It’s amazing how often you might hear parents state that they’d like to get their child involved in martial arts, but they don’t want them to become violent. In almost every case, the reverse is true.
Martial arts does not make children more violent, it makes them less violent. There’s a quote that you’ll often hear in the martial arts, “Practice the fight, so you don’t have to “  By practicing martial arts, children become more confident. Therefore they are less likely to become a target for bullying. Also, the martial arts gives children a safe environment in which they can embrace their shadow, blow off some steam and relieve stress.  On top of that , as a child develops a stronger self-image, he or she is less likely to feel the need  to prove him or herself. With a stronger self-image, children also become less interested in tearing others down.

Why is Martial Arts a Good Choice When Compared to Other Sports?  For many children, when it comes to choosing a sport or an afterschool activity, the martial arts is the perfect choice. There is a team atmosphere, but there are no bench-sitters. Everyone participates at his or her own level, so there isn’t as much pressure put on any one individual. Because of this, children who might not excel in other sports have a chance to excel in the martial arts.

How Does Martial Arts Help Children Excel in Other Sports?  There’s a reason why professional athletes from multiple sports cross-train in martial arts. It is a perfectly-balanced form of exercise using the right and left side; strength; flexibility; endurance; timing; and eye/hand coordination. For children who are involved in specific sport, the martial arts is the perfect off season-training activity.

When is the Best Time of Year to Begin Martial Arts Training?  You can begin martial arts training at any time. Most team sports especially those primarily played outside are seasonal; the martial arts is practiced year round. This consistency helps build discipline and allows children to progress at a quick pace.

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Power Vs Speed: The Evolution of Tang Soo Do Fighting

Written By: Nicky DeMatteo is a sixth-degree master who has trained under Dominick Giacobbe for 26 years. 
​​The fighting art of tang soo do is believed to have originated 2,000 years ago during Korea’s Three Kingdoms period. Silla, the smallest and least populated region of the peninsula, was under constant attack from the larger and more powerful Paekje and Koguryo kingdoms. After a few centuries, the Silla rulers are believed to have allied themselves with a skilled fighting force created by the Tang dynasty monarchs of China (618-907). It was then that the tang soo warriors were born. For years, this elite group of combatants trained on the rocky beaches of southern Korea, where they honed themselves into a fierce fighting force. Their combat system was a combination of a traditional Chinese art known as the “Tang method” and a set of powerful kicks native to Korea. It was during this time that tang soo — the “hand of Tang” — became respected and feared. The fighters garnered a reputation that was so intimidating that as recently as 30 years ago, Korean parents would discipline their children by threatening, “The tang soo man is going to get you!”

To propagate their morality, the tang soo warriors developed the Sesok Ogye, or Five-Point Code. Its tenets were the following:
  • Show loyalty to one’s king or master.
  • Be obedient to one’s parents and elders.
  • Honor friendships.
  • Never retreat in battle.
  • In killing, choose with sense and honor.

With the Five-Point Code as their philosophy, the warriors went on the offensive and eventually conquered Silla’s neighbors, unifying Korea for the first time. The consolidated dynasty lasted from 668 to 935 — cementing Korean solidarity through the Koryo dynasty (935-1392) and Yi dynasty (1392-1910). During the unification period, tang soo saw its greatest development.

At the time, the art consisted solely of fighting techniques; there were no forms. The traditional style of combat was swift, aggressive and relentless. Its guiding principle was, Don’t give the opponent an opportunity to attack. The fighting strategy emphasized the fourth line of the Five-Point Code: Never retreat in battle. Quite simply, practitioners were taught to never move backward in combat, Dominick Giacobbe says. Instead, they were instructed to charge at their opponent, attacking with a punch and following up with a series of kicks, forcing the other person to retreat. Soon the adversary was rendered unable to defend or counterattack.The tactic was not unlike that of the elite fighting forces of our era: Overpower the enemy and kill him. After peace was established, the word do, or “way,” was appended to tang soo. Tang soo do then came to refer to the peaceful pursuit of the warrior arts, and it remains that way to this day. To further drive home the transformation, the fifth line of the code saw the word “killing” replaced by “conflict.” The new term doesn’t refer to only physical confrontations; it also applies to mental, emotional and spiritual battles. During the Yi dynasty, arts and crafts rose to a high level, and Koreans learned the necessity of protecting their hands and fingers. Consequently, tang soo do evolved into a system that focused 80 percent of its arsenal on leg techniques — especially those that relied on the more powerful and less-likely-to-be-anticipated rear leg.

Dominick Giacobbe’s first experience with traditional tang soo do fighting came around 1970 when as a green belt he received his first opportunity to spar with J.C. Shin, his first instructor at the Burlington, New Jersey, school. J.C. Shin used a series of forward-moving punches and kicks, driving Dominick Giacobbe backward and leaving him unable to defend himself. When C.S. Kim came from Korea in 1972 to assist J.C. Shin, Dominick Giacobbe experienced the traditional fighting method to an even greater degree. A sparring champ in Korea and Japan, C.S. Kim displayed an ultra-aggressive style that brought to life the true combat roots of the ancient art. From 1972 to 1978, Dominick Giacobbe had the opportunity to welcome numerous Korean masters brought to the United States by J.C. Shin. Upon arrival, they would first spend time with J.C. Shin to learn the language and the business of teaching. Then they would be sent to various locations across the United States to establish their own schools. But while they were in Burlington working out at J.C. Shin’s studio, Dominick Giacobbe would take advantage of every opportunity to spar with them and pick their brains for fighting secrets. Shortly thereafter, J.C. Shin advised Dominick Giacobbe to spend some time in Korea so he could learn more about the art and its traditions. In Korea, the American was immediately impressed with the way the locals blocked attacks without using their hands. Instead, they used body rotation and spins to negate kicks. That facilitated a quicker counterattack because the defender didn’t have to waste any time with hand techniques. Dominick Giacobbe also noted that the Koreans favored an aggressive free-sparring style very similar to C.S. Kim’s, but of course he was quite used to dealing with it by then.

Because of the popularity of tournaments, modern tang soo do fighting is a “point-conscious” method of sparring. It usually involves standing upright with the hands held in front of the body for blocking purposes. Some 80 percent of the leg techniques used in competition are executed with the front leg because of its speed and control advantages. The extra speed, generated at the expense of power, makes it easier to score. And because tournaments require maximum control — light contact or none at all, in most cases — sacrificing power is not a problem. Furthermore, with front-leg kicks there’s less chance of being disqualified for excessive contact. Tang soo do in the modern era also emphasizes defending and countering. No longer is the traditional attack-only methodology the be-all and end-all of fighting. But that doesn’t mean tang soo do is no longer relevant for fighting. Dominick Giacobbe maintains the old style is more effective for self-defense, partly because of the adage that holds that the best defense is a great offense. Seek out an instructor who teaches it if your primary interest is street defense. But if you’re into competition or if you’re an instructor who teaches women, children and professionals, you’ll probably want to reduce the risk of injury in class by sticking with the modern method. The old style of tang soo do served an elite class of warriors who made up an extremely small percentage of the populace. Today, they might be compared with the Navy SEALs or Army Rangers. The majority of Americans don’t want to engage in the type of training the tang soo warriors underwent in preparation for war, and that’s fine because tang soo do is comprehensive enough to offer spiritual, mental and physical health in addition to self-defense suited for the average person.


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HISTORY OF TANG SOO DO

Written By: Master Deb Rohr
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           The very first evidence of this ancient form of Korean martial arts appeared during the Three Kingdom era (57 BC-935 AD) as Hwa Rang Do. Since then, 2,000 years have passed. The indigenous martial arts quietly developed through generations of the Korean people. During some eras it flourished and other times it diminished, according to the political, economic, or cultural environment. The art was known by various names throughout the eras as Hwa Rang Do, Moo Sul, Kyuck Too Ki, Soo Bahk Ki, Soo Byuck Ki, Taek Kyun etc. respectively.

            In 1936, at the age of Twenty-one, Hwang Kee was already seen as an expert in the art of Soo Bahk Do, a kicking style. During the same year, Master Kee fled the Japanese occupational force in Korea, which had outlawed the study of traditional Korean martial arts and traveled to China to study martial arts. In China he studied the hand fighting style of the Tang system. Kee combined the kicking style of Soo Bahk Do with the hand techniques of the Tang system and returned to Korea after the end of World War Two.

            Following the 1945 Korean independence, the Korean martial arts were again merged and flourished throughout the entire Korean Peninsula. Many organizations were founded with various names such as Soo Bahk Do, Tang Soo Do, and Tae Soo Do and so on. On November 9, 1945, Master Kee organized the "Korean Soo Bahk Do Association."

            At the beginning of the modern era of the Korean martial arts, Tang Soo Do was the most popular term for these arts, however at that time; the Korean political leader was concerned about establishing Korean value based on Korean nationalism. The political leaders recognized the popularity of Korean martial arts around the world but were opposed to the use of the name Tang Soo Do for the art, as it sounded like a Chinese martial art, because the first word "Tang" could be interpreted as representing the Chinese Tang Dynasty (617-907 AD). In 1964, a government sponsored small group created a new name for the Korean martial arts: Tae Kwon Do. This was considered to be a great political achievement, to bring strength and prominence to the Korean government in International politics. Many martial arts followers and schools joined and only a few Tang Soo Do schools maintain their separate identity. Master Hwang Kee was the head of the Tang Soo Do Moo Duk Kwan Federation with followers worldwide until his passing on July 14, 2002.

             In Grand Master Kee's own words: "It is not a sport. Though it is not essentially competitive, it has great combat applications. It is a classical martial art, and its purpose is to develop every aspect of the self, in order to create a mature personality who totally integrates his intellect, body, emotions, and spirit. This total integration helps to create a person who is free from inner conflict and who can deal with the outside world in a mature intelligent, forthright, and virtuous manner."

            The Traditional Karate Club of Cascade continues to respects the original term, Tang Soo Do, and intends to preserve its heritage and value as a traditional way or path. We, as Martial Art practitioners, are striving to maintain traditional values of respect, discipline, self-control, self-improvement, etiquette and ultimately to live a healthy and harmonious life, physically and mentally.

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GrandMaster Hwan Kee
United States and Korean Flag with Tang Soo Do written underneath
Kids Karate class asking when they can learn the midair slow-motion karate skills

TAKE MARTIAL ARTS IN YOUR 50’S, 40’S, OR 30’S? THE ANSWER? YES!

Written By: Andrea Harkins for Way of Ninja
At 50 years old, a mother of four, wife, writer, and full time paralegal, you might think I have l little time for anything else. But let me tell you a secret. I have time for that and much more. In fact, I think I do more in a day than most women half my age.

HOW DO I DO IT?

I’ve learned how to be, of all things, a Ninja.
Let’s start with twenty-five years ago when my husband dragged me to my first martial arts class. Break boards? Spar? No, no, no… that is not for me, I thought. Fast forward twenty five years and I stand before you as a second degree black belt, an instructor in our family-owned martial arts program, and a martial arts writer, but my life is oh so much more than; that is what it means to me, to be a Ninja.

CAN YOU DO IT TOO?

Yes, you can, The benefits are numerous. Physical strength, flexibility, keeping fit, and aging beautifully. People often comment that they think I look younger than 50 years old. This, my friends, is due to a lifetime of martial arts practice, thought, and participation. And, in fact, I feel much younger than 50 years old, too and find a way to fit so much into my life each and every day.

There is no good or bad time to learn a martial art. There is a smorgasbord of different arts out there so the key is to find one that works for you. Mine has been Tang Soo Do, a Korean karate. Its techniques include kicking, punching, kata, sparring, and some ju jitsu (grabs and throws). I never was one to be great at a running jump side kick over twenty crouched down people to break a board, so no surprise that I don’t do that now that I’m 50. The things I did do well when I was younger, I still do well. And so, the fountain of youth that I lovingly call karate has kept me young physically and mentally. But that’s not all. My martial arts has kept me active in all kinds of other exercise- Zumba, weight machines, aerobic classes, and Yoga. I can do it all.

WHAT IF YOUR GOALS HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH AGING GRACEFULLY OR EVEN KEEPING IN SHAPE?
There is so much more, just for you. Do you want to break free if attacked? Feel confident? Learn how to throw someone with just one finger? The options are limitless. Each instructor, sensei, or master, has strengths and weaknesses, both mentally and physically but each one can turn to his/her martial art to find an answer. I am looking to learn Tai Chi now, a Chinese Martial Art, because of the awesome health benefits it offers. So, even those of us with years of experience often delve deeper in our journey.
Yes, martial arts is many things- a way to keep physical fit, a confidence builder, a method to overcome stress, a self-defense. More than that though, martial arts is a lifestyle worth trying no matter how old you are. Who knows, when you are 50 you may look at yourself and the mirror and think, like me, “I have truly accomplished something. I’m a Ninja.”







About andreaharkins  
Andrea Harkins is the owner of the Family Martial Arts program and is a 2nd Degree Black Belt in Tang Soo Do. Being a wife and mother of four kids, she is also a published author, whose passion is teaching Karate to children and women.



Seven Tenets of Tang Soo Do
Integrity
Concentration
Perseverance
Respect and Obedience
Self Control
Humility
Indomitable Spirit