Summer Seminars / Black Sash Training / Black Sash Examination
Rome, Italy 2022
On August 26 through 29, Grandmaster Taejoon Lee (Kuksanim) was invited to Rome, Italy for special Black Sash Training to prepare two of his oldest students Chief Instructor Marco Mattiucci (in charge of Italy) and Chief Instructor Alex Krijger (in charge of the Netherlands) who are both currently 4th Dan for their 5th Dan examination which will take place in Luxembourg in July of 2023 in the presence of our Founder Supreme Grandmaster Dr. Joo Bang Lee (Dojoonim). This is one of the most important and difficult examinations as they will be testing for the title of “Master”. This is also a historical event as it will be the first time that two people will be testing for the coveted rank of “Master”. Also, Instructor Giuseppe Catania from Genoa was present as he is preparing for his 4th Dan exam for the title of Chief Instructor.
It had already been three years since Kuksanim was in Rome, so he took the opportunity to also conduct seminars for all the Tae Soo Do® and Hwa Rang Do® Students in Italy. Due to being vacation season and being last minute planning as it was not the primary focus of the trip, not everyone could attend, however many students were present from Rome, as well as Genoa, and Pisa. There were two seminars: 1 - on more technical practical self-defense applications; 2 - how to enhance and improve our techniques for demonstration purposes. The seminars were much needed and were well received, which rejuvenated their spirit after the difficult three years dealing with the struggles of uncertainty, isolation, and anxiety of the pandemic. Everyone was excited and happy to reunite as one family to do what we love, Hwa Rang Do, the blood that binds us all as family.
Each morning, Kuksanim met with his higher Dan Students and trained them for the preparation of their upcoming examination. As he demonstrated and taught the highly advanced Black Sash techniques, his students were amazed at the harmonizing of the juxtapositions of simplicity being so complex yet complexity being so simple. It is a hard concept to grasp, but it brought greater in-depth understanding of the essence of Hwa Rang Do - beauty without effort, strength without force.
The summer event ended with the Black Sash Examination of three students of Hwa Rang Do Roma-Centro Academy: Alessio Baiocco (Owner of the Academy) for his 2nd Dan; Rosario Rengifo for her 1st Dan; Yassine Ouahid for his 1st Dan. It was a grueling examination which tested their mental, physical, and spiritual fortitude that consisted of 2 hours of written exam, 2 hours of compulsory physical exam, and ended with 2 hours of continuous fighting of Yongtoogi (Standup Kick, Punch, Quick Submit Frighting), Gotoogi (Submission Grappling), Bongtoogi (Stick Frighting), and ended with Gumtoogi (Sword Fighting). This was the first time we implemented all our fighting dynamic applications into one continuous, non-stop regimen in which the candidates had to fight all of the existing Black Sashes on all four categories of fighting. Needless to say, it was an exhausting, arduous, and brutal exam for the candidates which was exasperated by fact that Rome was suffering from a heatwave with temperatures above 35˚C.
All the candidates survived and passed the exam with an emotional conclusion filled with congratulatory hugs, praises, and tears. It was an exceptionally emotional experience for Alessio and Rosario as they are a newlywed Hwa Rang Do couple who were able to share the struggles to overcome the challenges of such a monumental accomplishment together as a married couple. The new addition of the continuous fighting to the Black Sash Examination really heightened the experience as it was truly a test of the spirit with their bodies being pushed to the limit and their minds losing focus and clarity, the only thing that kept them going was all the other Black Sash brothers and sisters motivating, pushing, and encouraging them that they were able to finish with one desire in mind, to never give up. Although the candidates knew what was coming and they trained hard for it, as Kuksanim had previously said that there was no way to prepare for it.
We ended the event with a wonderful dinner in a beautiful nostalgic setting outdoors on the restaurant rooftop that had closed to serve only our party. Everyone shed themselves out of their dobok (uniform), warrior armor, transforming into handsome, beautiful ladies and gentlemen once more. We shared our tales of battle and triumphs of victory, rekindling and fortifying our familial bond of Hwa Rang Do. We sadly saluted and said our farewells as we greeted each other goodbye, but with longing that we will not see other soon enough yet comforted knowing that we are forever connected through our blood that is Hwa Rang Do.
Hwarang Forever and God Bless,