WHRDA 2022 Digital Event Recap
On July 9th & 10th, 2022 the WHRDA hosted another year of Global Digital Seminars. While the association of schools and its students normally attend an in-person gathering each summer, including a week long training conference, world championship tournament, and black sash exams, the challenges of the COVID era restrictions on venues, travel, and other logistics were still too present earlier this year which prevented the ability to plan & organize the in-person event. Nonetheless, the connections of our martial art family run strong, and the gathering for seminars was able to be conducted via zoom.
The first session was a memorable one, as Grandmaster Taejoon Lee (8th Dan Degree Black Sash) led everyone through a flurry of hand striking techniques. With Hwa Rang Do's unique foundation of um/yang, the balance of hard and soft style movement is incorporated into the system. While we generally start off with basic hard style movement for beginner level students, as one progresses and advances in rank, the ability to throw fluid, circular, and vibrational type striking comes to light. Especially in the Hwa Rang Do sash levels of the art, this type of soft movement comes to the forefront. Staying relaxed and balanced allows one to flow the kinetic energy of the body outward to a whipping and snapping type strikes which allows one to perform extremely fast and explosive types of moves. Through his many decades of practice, Grandmaster Lee, Kuksanim, has perfected this style of movement and the speed and precision of his combinations were almost beyond visual comprehension they were so fast. This was definitely a seminar to remember as Kuksanim moved like a tiger through a tornado of hand strikes, and the participants did their best to keep up and hopefully with their continued practice they will be able to apply this style of striking to their sparring & self-defense.
The second session of the day moved inward with Dojoonim, Dr. Joo Bang Lee (Founder & 10th Dan Degree Black Sash) conducting a session on proper breathing exercises for health and vitality. Of course a basic understanding of traditional Asian medicine and philosophy is important, so Dojoonim expanded on some of these important basic healing concepts such as the 5 elements, Ki & meridians, and how both of these connect through the body organs and express various heath and sickness conditions. Generating a balanced flow of energy for the body is not only extremely beneficial to one's health, but it also activates a more vibrant framework allowing people to overcome lethargy & apathy. Through proper deep inhalations & exhalations combined with psychical positions & stances, one can focus the energy toward different sections of the body and its organs. Additionally, through the practice of Ki Hap Cha Gi exercises that use breath-work and tensed movement patterns even more energy can be produced by the body which awakens a peak state of the body and mind. The healing and internal energy component of Hwa Rang Do is significant and also just another reason that this art is the most comprehensive in the world!
The following day the seminar sessions continued with Kuksanim taking the flowing, vibrational, and snapping hand motions that were worked on previously and applying those concepts to the legs and kicking. Everyone must be cognizant that purpose and intention of a specific situation drive the functional goals of one's movements. Just like the hand techniques, there are times when a hard style and power movement is called for, however, more often than not a properly timed relaxed strike will not only conserve more energy through the duration of a match, but you will find that your speed is increased exponentially. When it comes to speed, excess muscle actually only gets in the way! This is why Hwa Rang Do always stresses the idea of maximizing one's potential, which means striving for the greatest efficiency when it comes to martial art movement. Furthermore, it is not only the muscle that gets in the way of properly flowing moves, but mental and emotional tension (and fear), often are significant barriers as well. In order to truly flow with tremendous speed and accuracy, one must take the brakes off. Kuksanim highlighted this approach to kicking, starting with the snapping version of front, chop, and side kicks, and then moved onto quick spin kicks and other combinations all the while detailing the proper form of each kick.
Continuing the theme of proper movement, Dojoonim concluded the seminars bringing the study of movement together via the practice of forms, the traditional choreographed patterns of various strikes. However, prior to jumping into the forms, Dojoonim reiterated the need for getting the body prepared. Warmup exercises should be done daily to wake up the body & mind for the day as well as for one's martial art practice. He also suggested that even getting outside to a park, including one's friends & family, and making general exercise and stretching a part of one's daily lifestyle can make a tremendous difference in uplifting everyone's well-being. Jumping into forms, after one has the patterns of movements memorized, it is essential to make the form flow into the various sections of the patterns. Each mini combination is a line, a phrase, just like music, and the performer should execute the movements ending each section with a strong kiap, powerful movement, and balanced stance. Then using one's breath to transition to the next direction of the simulated battle, the artistic elements can be expressed. Hwa Rang Do forms are especially beneficial as we age, as the movement, flow, and active lifestyle is what preserves and continues life. On the contrary, stagnation, idleness, and inactivity only invite death and decay.
After 2 days of insightful seminars, the global event concluded with the WHRDA's annual award ceremony followed by an online party. It was wonderful to have so many people from around the world all together again for training and camaraderie. We look forward to the return of the annual in-person event next year in Luxembourg.
Full results of all award recipients and digital tournament winners can be found here: https://hwarangdo.org/news/2022/july/15/whrda-2022-annual-awards-and-tournament-winners