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Hong Ik Martial Arts of Brewster

Hong Ik Martial Arts of Brewster

HST (Hyunsa and Susa Training)

December 19, 2021

On December 19, 2021, a group came to the Tarrytown location for HyunSa and Susa Training  (HST). Since Covid protocols are still in place, we had a smaller group than usual, but all the  students present were determined to make the most of the experience.  

We started out with some self-stretching, and when Ji Do Ja Nim began the class, it was with a  modified standing warm up. The first thing we did was to “shake off the dust.” Not literal dust,  but the figurative kind that settles into spaces in our joints and minds when we are idle for too  long. We stood, feet shoulder-width apart and with our heels off the ground. With only toes and  the ball of the foot in contact with the ground, it makes it more difficult to keep balance. At the  beginning, we had our eyes open, and Ji Do Ja Nim played a drum track from the speakers. 

We swayed and shook out all the negative thoughts and “dust” from our minds and began  warming up our joints and bodies slowly. Then we closed our eyes. Immediately, I lost a little  balance and leaned a little bit forward, but I regained it by gripping the mat strongly with my  toes. Once you have closed your eyes, your brain can no longer use the visual signals it was  receiving to keep your body from toppling. At that point you must concentrate fully. It also  helps to relax. Then instead of trying to control your body, you’re using a feedback loop and it  becomes almost automatic, but you can’t be thinking at that point, only feeling or sensing. 

Once the music stopped, and we planted our feet on the ground, eyes still closed, we were  instructed to direct our attention to our palms, specifically. Our whole bodies felt energized, with  warmth and a tingling sensation, but you could also feel waves. So we used a technique of  balance training to achieve high concentration, and also slowly stimulated our energy and got our  blood running to get ourselves warmed up. 

Next, we did some basic training to further open our energy channels, while continuing along the  exploration of balance. Moving into forward stance with lower block and punching, again  forward to inner block and double punching, then outer block and punching, and the last step to  forward stance, rising block and triple punching. The 180′ turning was a graceful pirouette into  another forward stance and punch, and we began again. In these exercises, we learn to use our  upper bodies fluidly, while maintaining a strong foundation with our legs and feet. 

In order to move your feet, you must shift balance, so that one foot keeps you upright, while the  other moves into the next position. We do not think about these actions when we are walking  down the street, but in practice like this, we place all of our awareness on our body and what it is  doing. Ji Do Ja Nim explained that the brain has separate areas which control motions: the  cerebrum and the cerebellum. The cerebrum is the larger part of the brain, and the cerebellum, a  smaller part, by volume.

The cerebrum supervises sensory, motor and higher mental functions; it is the manager of  planning and initiation of motor movements. The cerebellum’s main functions are motor  coordination, posture maintenance and balance; it coordinates motor activities. The cerebrum  records and comprehends visual stimulus; the cerebellum coordinates eye movements in  response to a sensory stimulus. Here you can see why as soon as we closed our eyes, we had to  use a completely different part of our brains to maintain balance. 

The training continued to some intermediate qigong exercises, again on a series of planned steps,  and coordination of the upper and lower body, with blocks and strikes, steps, spins, and  kicks. Once we opened up our energy channels, and also connected the synapses in our brains,  these simple exercises transformed into high concentration training, and the benefits were  multiplied. We moved on to partner training, where our own kicking had to coordinate with the  energy of the pad holder. It is nearly impossible to think of anything while you are completing  this type of training; the speed and accuracy that is required can only be achieved with full  concentration. 

With our energy levels now at their peak, we did one more set of qigong exercises. Slowly  shifting our weight into a set of simple postures. Our palms open, one floating in front of the  lower belly, one slightly pushed forward at sternum level, after a few minutes we bring our hands  in front of our chest facing each other, and can feel a magnetic sense, and if we have been  focused, can feel a wave of what feels like low frequency waves rolling over our palms. 

The difficulty in these postures is actually staying still and concentrating. When we are not  actively moving, it is easy for thoughts to creep in; even the pain of a joint or muscle can be a  distraction. You might start to ask yourself questions and your mind may wander. This is the  difficultly of this training. It’s purpose, done correctly, is to return all of the good, vibrant energy  we have just created by training, back into our lower dahnjun for storage: recharging our  batteries, recovering this tremendous energy, and storing it away for future use. 

If we can avoid the distraction, remain focused, unite the hemispheres of our brain, we can create  an incredible clarity and tap into a higher energy, a higher self. We closed the class with su-shik  meditation, where your open palms rise on the inhale, and float down on the exhale; following a  general pattern for a few cycles of eyes open first, then closed, and then opened again. A final  settling-in to a higher state of consciousness, with our bodies warm, and our spirits bright. 

— by Master Sara Simonetti

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