A LIFE TIME OF MARTIAL ARTS

I’d like to say that my inspiration for martial arts was a deep seated need to be a world champion martial artist, truth is I was bored! Thankfully, at age 15, myself and a friend stumbled upon a Karate class being held in the Holbrook community centre in Coventry, just a stone`s throw from where we lived. Now some forty six years later, I can honestly say, at that point, the only thing I wanted was….. never to be bored with anything again!!
 

Fortune favoured me that day… 

We didn’t dive straight in (I was too timid in those days), my friend and I peered through the windows and watched, trying desperately not to make eye contact with the class members, about two weeks later my friend talked me into taking a class and from that first session, I was caught, hook, line and sinker!

The Martial Art was Wado-Ryu. I trained once a week, to start with, but quickly stepped up to twice a week & then three times a week. Finally, I had found something that was to become my lifelong passion. I have experienced many Martial Arts over the years and I enjoy learning the history behind them. 

Tang Soo Do came my way by pure luck! 

I joined the local Tang Soo Do club in October 1998 with my daughter Claire. I couldn’t believe how nervous I felt on the way there, even though I had trained many times at various clubs. It wasn’t too far into that first lesson when I realised that this was the system of Martial Arts I wanted to stick with. Everyone there welcomed us and was very patient with us. I picked everything up quickly and was put in for my first grading after only 5 weeks training. At the grading I sat at the back of the hall waiting to take my turn for what seemed like a life time. Myself and another student, who had come over from Shotokan, were last to grade and the whole club was watching whilst we demonstrated what we had learned, we passed with flying colours and I was promoted straight to 7th Gup, not bad after just 5 weeks! 

Through martial arts I have enjoyed many seminars and foreign trips, the pinnacle of which was in 2004 when I and four other students went to Korea, the home of Tang Soo Do. We trained for 12 days, what a great experience. We went to some very remote places, one of which was deep into the Korean jungle. There were still wild white tigers roaming around and thankfully we didn’t come too close to any… that we know about anyway! 

Whilst in Korea, we performed a demonstration for Masters and Grandmasters, this was televised, but unfortunately, I have never been able to get hold of any of the footage. I have also performed on the same stage as the world famous Shaolin monks on several occasions. I have participated in endless demonstrations in front of hundreds of martial artists and the general public. These have been all over the UK including, Birmingham`s NEC, “SENI” an annual Martial Arts show. 

I finally achieved my first degree black belt in 2000. What a great feeling of satisfaction and pride. I am now a 6th degree black belt and still feel enormously proud and passionate about Martial arts. The great thing about entering a Martial arts class is, everyone makes you feel welcome and you soon relax into it. 

In March 2008, I founded `YU KANG DO`, this basically means `the soft/hard way`. There is far more to the meaning, but it is a system that allows the student and myself to develop better and Concentrates on what works best for all practitioners. To sum it all up… Learn everything you can and focus more on what will make you a better Martial Artist and Person! 

Teaching Martial Arts is my passion, every student that comes through our doors is an opportunity to share all that I have learned and help them develop their confidence and all that I have benefited from.

-Master Paul R Pears 6th Dan-
Chief Instructor & Examiner

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UM-YANG PRINCIPALS

Um-Yang represents a theory that the Korean people believe in. They believe that: within the universe,  there co-exists equal elements of opposites and these are: Light/dark, heaven/earth, right /wrong, love/hate, good/evil, strong/weak etc. The ancient scholars believed that, it is the interaction of these two forces, which makes up the dynamic shape of movement of life that we see all around us.

The symbol for the Korean Um-Yang is a red top half and blue bottom half and has a squiggly flowing line through the middle. It has been said that, the symbol represents two dragons swallowing each other in a constant rotational pull that is without any beginning or any end. It is really important to understand that the symbol is not just a circle divided into two halves.

It is always good to note that, the interaction of the different degrees of opposites, are always equal. All things, human or animal, must learn to co-exist and learn to create a harmonious balance to develop the ultimate good within nature, mankind and the universe.

Using the analogy of building a house

Building your ‘Moral Character’ and ‘Physical Attributes’ are the fundamental basis of Martial Arts and is to my mind, likened to building a house. First you must lay your foundations (Basic techniques, stances and combinations). Then one would build the structure which gives the house strength (forms and their applications). You would not build a house on a foundation of sand or lose gravel, because if you did, the house would surely move or collapse in a heap of rubble. Not learning the basic development of any Martial Art from white belt through to black belt and beyond is like using inferior materials for your houses foundations. It is this concept that the Um and Yang utilises to develop a harmonious balance within “Oneself,” Humanity, Nature and the Universe.

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WHY I CREATED YU KANG DO

In March 2008, Master Paul Pears created `Yu Kang Do`. This was after he had witnessed over the years, so many people being turned away from learning Martial Arts, because they did not fit that clubs criteria!

You need a Martial Art that can adapt to the way YOU are, regardless of age, gender or ability!!! You do not have to be fit or flexible, that will come with time and the right teaching and we welcome anyone who wants to train in a Martial Art and learn Self-Defence.In the Self-Defence techniques that we practice, the students safety comes first!

That is why we only use `light contact`, as it keeps things as real as possible and it will not be as much of a shock if you are ever attacked. The use of Pads are essential, as they give you instant feedback on how it feels to strike, block, kick etc. It is not enough to just learn the various physical movements within our art, you will also learn about its history and be able to know and understand the 5 Tenets and the meanings of each one.

You will learn to have more respect for yourself, as well as for other people. Knowing where your art comes from and all the hard work and sacrifices of past and present masters, will give you a better understanding of how Martial Arts have evolved over the years.

Yu Kang Do emphasizes breathing using the Diaphragm, where the abdomen pushes out when inhaling and is pulled in upon exhalation. Normally, we would expand and contract the chest as we breathe. Using the diaphragm, creates quicker movement and develops more power within yourself.

Yu Kang Do practitioners, will always try to avoid any trouble, however, if they were to be attacked, they would stop an attacker as quickly as possible using their Martial skills. The philosophy behind Yu Kang Do is like any other  martial art, one of Pyung Ahn (Peaceful Confidence).

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FACED WITH AN ATTACKER

SO, WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO?

Trust your `gut instinct`, it is usually right. It is a primeval built-in indicator that our ancestors had to live by every day just to survive. Very rare it will be wrong! Once you are certain you are in a situation that is uncomfortable, I recommend that in response, you do the three things below and in the order I have put them.

TRY TO TALK THEM DOWN
 

If you have the opportunity to talk, do not be a smart arse! By that I mean: Do not use words that will make them worse, like “hey mate, you need to calm down” or “don`t you think you are being a twat”. That is a sure way to anger and incite a `would be` attacker. I say `would be`, because maybe they just want to be verbal to someone and you are it. Trying to stay calm and talking to them just may sway them from causing you bodily harm! Now, most of us have an ego and we do not like being called names and threatened. But, unless they show definite intentions of attack, do not wade in with your size 9`s…. So what if they call you a “fucking idiot” or other fanciful names, they are only words…. `Sticks and stones may break my bones` and all that!!!

CCCTV does not usually pick up sound, so someone saying those nasty names to you cannot be heard. But, if you start laying into them after they just verbally threaten you, all the cameras see is, YOU attacking THEM!!! Then, YOU are nicked. There is a saying “the Cemetery is full of dead heroes”. Live to fight another day.

RUN

Run or walk away if at all possible. Remember, the best battles are won without fighting. They can’t hurt you if they can’t catch you and it’s far more difficult to cause you any physical harm if you’re `high tailing it out of there`. Lots of noise attracts attention! They are less likely to stick around if attention is being drawn to them! Shouting, `Help`, will not necessarily make people come to your rescue. In fact, most people will go in the opposite direction, so they do not have to get involved! However, shouting `FIRE` will have a greater effect… We all love a good fire!!

That `Adrenalin Rush` will kick in at some point and it can give you some heightened capabilities or make you incapable of moving. It is also worth mentioning that, adrenalin can work as a pain barrier. Remember that fall when you were worse for alcohol and fell over, or you got in a fight at school and got hurt? You did not feel any pain until sometime after! That is because chemicals are released by the brain to safe guard us at that moment of being hurt. It is only when the adrenalin wears off that we have flashbacks of those events. Learn to control it by taking a deep breath in, slowly, taking a deep breath in too quick, will certainly make you slightly light headed. Try to avoid ‘freezing’ with fright. With regular training, you will recognise the feeling and will be able to control your breathing and use the added control it will bring you and `get the hell out of there`. If you ladies out there like your high-heeled shoes, kick them off…. You can run faster. Make sure you take them with you, as they make a useful weapon if needed! May be just the difference between them attacking you or not. Who in their right mind would want to take on a woman with six inch heels in their hands!

FIGHT

If you absolutely sure that you have no other choice than to fight, strike fast and definitely strike hard! If this person gets the better of you, then it could be `good night Vienna`. As mentioned, if you do not have a choice, take the initiative and surprise the hell out of them with the ferocity and commitment of your attack. Attack whatever targets are available, especially their vulnerable zones. Once again, using lots of noise such as, shouting or screaming can give you that slight edge. Attack with such force that, they are so surprised by your actions and they are driven back by your attack. Never just rely on one strike! Oh no….. in fact, keep on going until you are certain that they are no longer a threat and they know that you are not giving in to them.

Hopefully, just making lots of noise will most likely be enough for them to give up and go somewhere else. They are looking for an `easy target`, do not let it be you! If there is more than one person, try to keep them all in sight. Try your absolute best to attack and finish off the first one and use such ferocity that the others may think twice before they commit to coming at you. You must know when to stop your onslaught. If your attacker is running away from you, you MUST let them go. Do not chase after them. Once again, that CCCTV will see you as the aggressor. Always stay on the right side of the law!!!

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TRAINING ADVICE

The best advice I can give you is: Learn as much as you can in each class and practice at home! Coming to class once a week and doing nothing until your next class, is pointless and you will have achieved…. nothing! Learn what I teach in your class, go home and practice the same thing over and over again until it becomes second nature. I make every class different, that way, you will always have something new to practice at home.

Basics

These are the Foundations of your art and without a good foundation, everything will eventually collapse.

Forms

These are the Structure of your art and each form has its own Combat Applications and Self-defence Techniques. 
 

One-Step & Grabbing Techniques

These are your Self-Defence Arsenal. These build up your knowledge and prepare you for any situation from a would be attacker.There are a lot more that goes into making your art a great civilian Self-Defence System! Collectively, what you learn is developing you into a more Confident, Well Developed and Self Disciplined person. Martial Arts are something you can practice all your life and will keep you strong and mentally alert, even into your older age. Now….. Go and Train!!!
 

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THE FIVE TENETS

All Martial Arts these days should have their own codes that they live by. As a Martial Arts practitioner and as an instructor, I have a responsibility to live by these codes and in turn, pass them on to my students.

1. Always be proud of who you are and where you come from
You should be proud of your country and promote it in a positive manner.
 
2. Always be loyal and loving to your parents & loved one`s
Look after your parents in their later life, as they looked after you growing up. Always be Respectful and be Considerate of your Partners feelings.
 
3. Have trust and honesty amongst your friends

Honesty and truth is what makes for a great lasting friendship.

4. Never retreat in the face of an enemy or a problem 

Facing a difficult situation and not running away, will make you a much stronger person.

5. Never misuse or abuse your Art 

Don`t act the fool and show off, especially to impress somebody!

 
1. ALWAYS BE PROUD OF WHO YOU ARE AND WHERE YOU COME FROM.

In ancient times, Korea was constantly being invaded and people had to learn to fight to defend their beloved country. The lives and well-being of their families depended on their skills in both armed and unarmed combat. The invading armies would take no prisoners…

Loyalty to one’s country doesn’t mean just defending it in battle; one should strive to show pride of one’s nation both at home and abroad. Football hooligans for example, have loyalty, but only to themselves, lager and violence! When they go abroad to football matches, their main ambition in life is to make trouble. The world then sees their country as a country to avoid and views its people in the same manner. It is therefore essential to show other countries a truer picture of loyalty other than that shown by football hooligans.

In the two world wars that have passed, people from many countries came together in alliances to defend any nation under threat from invading armies. This would, in turn, stop the invading armies eventually reaching the homelands of the defending alliances. Many gave their lives in so doing – the ultimate display of loyalty.

2. ALWAYS BE LOYAL AND LOVING TO YOUR PARENTS & LOVED ONE`S.

Does the mere act of being born mean you owe your parents respect and all the help you can give them? I believe so! The children of today are all too often competing with each other – they have to have the best trainers, designer-labelled clothing etc. As with most parents, the money tree in the garden is not always blooming. Children expect so much in modern day society and if their demands are not met, they rebel. They feel so hard done by.

The greatest gift they have is right in front of them, the people who care for them. Whether it be, Mum, Dad, Nan or whoever has chosen the undeniably difficult task of parenting. Who best to guide them through their life, than the people who have their best interests at heart. Parents may not be perfect, but we have made all the mistakes that children are making, so who best to advise them of what lies ahead if they choose to take the wrong path!

Ideals such as respect and obedience begin as just words to children. We at `Paul Pears Karate`, make sure they understand exactly what they mean. The second rule in their licence is ` You shall obey your parents`. As they grow mentally and attain the martial spirit, obedience to their parents becomes second nature. 

3. HAVE TRUST AND HONESTY AMONGST YOUR FRIENDS.

How many people can you call true friends? To trust someone and to gain their trust takes time, sometimes years. Once trust has been earned amongst friends, then that relationship goes to a higher plain and with trust comes the Respect, Honour and Honesty. You get a sense of well being and security. How many of us can say we have these or even one these qualities in our friends?

In battle, you have to know you have your back covered. During the wars and skirmishes of times gone by, giving your life to save a friend from being wounded or killed was quite common. Without the aid of their comrades, warriors of yesteryear would surely have had their lives ended by their enemies attacking them from behind. When faced by certain defeat, soldiers would stand back to back and fight till their dying breath. If you were wounded, who would carry you to safety? Even when chancing death by being impaled upon a sword or spear, not having a hand free to defend yourself, true friends would strive to remove their comrades from the field of battle.

There are many stories of people risking their own lives to save their fellow man/woman. So why do they do it? Maybe the life of another human being is far more important than their own! The pain and suffering of another is not nice to watch. There are many surviving veteran soldiers and even today they are still haunted by nightmares of the Second World War, Vietnam War, the Falklands War and many other conflicts. Memories of watching their mates, comrades and even their enemies being killed are too much to bear. Killing someone or something is as easy as pulling a trigger, but we humans have a conscience! Living with the act afterwards is a different thing. The thought of the suffering you have caused eats you up inside. Many murderers give themselves in to the police because they cannot live with the torment and need to confess their sin/s. Without friends in our lives, life would be awfully lonely!

4. NEVER RETREAT IN THE FACE OF AN ENEMY OR A PROBLEM.

Over the centuries, retreating in battle meant that your home, land and possessions would be captured. You and your family could be raped and killed, and your country taken over by the marauding armies. Retreating can only lead to defeat, not only in battle but to your self-respect.

Armies such as the Samurai Warriors, always stood their ground and only moved forwards, giving their lives freely in the process. Sometimes without even getting the chance to draw their weapon as arrows hailed down upon them.

Once you have taken a step backwards, the path ahead gets longer and harder to achieve.

Principals and morals seem to have disappeared from the society of today and sometimes life doesn’t seem to go your way. So what are you going to do – take a pill? There seems to be one for everything these days. Where is the courage in that?  Is it not better to face or at least try and face your fears? You will become stronger and happier for it.

5. NEVER MISUSE OR ABUSE YOUR ART.

People who train in any martial art are less likely to be violent and go out killing other members of our society. Attacking people just for the hell of it, should never be in a martial artists nature. We learn to control ourselves through our training. Wouldn’t it be better to control a situation that has gotten out of hand, by words rather than by aggression? If you can defuse the other person’s anger by using your wit and cunning, doesn’t that make you the winner anyway? Fighting never has a winner. You knock the other guy out, so what does that prove? It proves you have no self-control.

Being attacked is a very different story. Once you are attacked, then the gloves come off. You can use whatever means necessary to defend yourself. Once you have got the better of the attacker, walk away. You are not justified in kicking the guy’s head like it’s a football. Once the threat or danger has passed, then stop. You have done what is needed to take control. If you do more than necessary, then you become the one police come looking for and end up with a criminal record and may even face prison! 

If you are attacked and severely injure your assailant, then you are duty bound to call for an ambulance. Or at the very least, call for assistance from any one that can help in any way. Take responsibility for your own actions! Don’t put yourself in that situation. Avoidance is the key here!

Learning a martial art should teach you how to spot and avoid potential dangers. Your instructor should be telling you and showing you, how to avoid certain areas and spot `would be attackers` etc.

Somebody famous (Bruce Lee) once said of his martial art “The art of fighting without fighting” and as a martial artist, that should be very true. But when faced with that mugger, rapist, etc, then you have the right to defend yourself with what ever means necessary to subdue your attacker and put an end to the threat.

“Always make sure you are just in what you do, because it has a habit of coming back to haunt you”

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FORMS & TRAINING

Hyung, Kata, Poomse etc are combinations of self-defence moves put together in a pre-arranged pattern

There are forms in nearly every Martial art and knowing the moves, are really just not enough! The student and teacher should know what the combat applications are and how they are applied. If you only know the moves on their own, then what`s the point! Forms are a great way of training, especially when you do not have a training partner. When you execute the forms in the manor they were created, then you will not only gain a great way of self protection but attain a high level of fitness and awareness of your own body mechanics.

Most traditional styles of martial arts have the same forms, but are executed slightly different. What I mean by this is, the originator of a certain form passed their knowledge and system on to their student/students. Over the generations, the `translation` of forms have changed.  As we have evolved, so has certain aspects of the forms we learn. Here in the western world, we do not need a system of fighting to protect our land and families from marauding armies. So, the emphasis is going to be different in how we learn and execute our martial skills.

I personally believe that, how you train in class whether it be doing forms, sparring, one-step etc, is how you will react in the street. I have seen many instructors/teachers teach forms with a `calm face`. If you were attacked by someone, your facial expressions would change according to how bad the situation is. So, if someone tried to stab you and you got the upper hand, you would hit them as hard as you can. When you feel anger or are aggressive, your facial expressions change, so use that when doing your forms. That is a truer reflection of what you will be like in a `real` conflict situation.

In a class room environment, when your partner punches at you, it is in a controlled manor. This avoids injury and gives you time to react. If you were to video yourself being attacked by your partener in a controlled manor and then attacked at full speed with the intention of taking your head off, look at how your body movement and facial expression change. They have to, because that is how we humans are. 

The same could be said when we are having a conversation, in that, we use our arms, body movement and facial expressions to convey how we wish a word or a comment to be excepted. In telling a story or a joke for example, we use the whole of our body to put our point accross. Standing still and not moving any part of our body to tell the story/joke etc, would be boring and most of the translation would be lost!  

When I practice a form, it is with intent and using maximum force and power. Therefor, I have a true feeling of myself and how I would look and feel when I am under attack. I have seen people scowl and pull all sorts of scary faces, it works! When someone has been angry with you or verbally aggressive, do they look serene and have a `calm face`? do they heck as like!! They look like they want to cave your head in… and that`s if your lucky.

So to sum up my philosophy on forms, One-step, Self-defence etc, use your entire being. Stay in control of your body and emotions, but put EVERYTHING into your training. Don`t be satisfied with half measures, for if you are ever attacked (god forbid), you will need to summon up all of your might and put your Martial skills to the test!

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MY THOUGHTS ON TRAINING

With each belt test that my students take, I expect more from them than the last test. Sounds straight forward enough, right?

Well that is not always the case!

Some get complaisant and stagnate, whilst others, progress at a greater pace. This is down to the individual, as some are quite happy to just come along and use it as a hobby and/or just self-defence, which is fine and you can still achieve a reasonable degree of competency.  However, as with anything in life, you only get out what you put in! The ones who want more from their training, will do something more about it!

So what is the answer……..?

Home Training!

It does not matter whether you are a white belt, advanced or a black belt/master, you MUST train outside of your club (home, park, beach etc).

Most adults drink tea, coffee etc, while the kettle is boiling, do something positive with those 2 minutes. You can do your basics, blocks, punches etc, or do a form in a stationery position, who says you have to move in different directions to perform your form? Altering your stances to suit your space, will make your art more realistic and more interesting, no one is going to attack you (heavens forbid) in any given way.

Yes, of course, there are certain situations where you can only be attacked in a particular manner, maybe due to your environment; being in a crowded place, tight space etc, like being in a car for example. So being able to do all your techniques/forms from standing or sitting position, can only make you better at your art!

I am sure a lot of Martial Artists, teachers/instructors will disagree with me on that one, well that is their business. I am only interested in developing students who WANT to progress and become better, stronger, healthier, (both mentally & physically) and most important, to me anyway…… happier! You will learn more when you enjoy what you are doing.

Students come and go in every Martial Art out there and it really doesn`t matter how good you are as a teacher/instructor. It is the nature of people to start something and never see things through. For every 100 students that start, maybe 10 will go on to black belt (1st Dan) and maybe 3-5 will go beyond that (2nd Dan and above).

The Martial Arts are very forgiving, as you can achieve a good level, regardless of who you are and regardless of your ability. If you have to leave your club for some reason (injury, move to another area etc), you can always come back, start at another club and carry on with your training, although to be respectful, stand at the back with the beginners/lower ranks, in a T shirt etc, until your teacher tells you that you are ready to resume back to your rank, even if you are highly ranked!!!

-Master Paul Pears 6th Dan-
Founder of Yu Kang Do Karate