Today I learned... Today something that was once the mystical speculation of other peoples experiences became something familiar to me and instead of being a source of uncertainty, because a source of confidence. That's right, I attended the Haidong Gumdo Sword Cutting Seminar in Philadelphia today. I learned how to and did very well at cutting straw, bamboo and paper. We trained under 7 Grand Masters, including Master Park, the leader and founder of the United States Haidong Gumdo Federation. Also Present for the Event was Great Grand Master and President Kim Jeong Ho, the singled highest ranking and most respected person in all of the Art as he is responsible for the Creation of the World HDGD Federation and refining and spreading the art handed down to him from the late Grand Master Jang-Bak_san. The president as well as several of his closest officials travels from Korea to over see the event.
Today I had my first experiences cutting straw and bamboo, and I learned more about the art, myself, and martial arts today than I ever have in any single day or week for that matter. I was almost a natural at cutting straw once I got the hang of it, and though Bamboo was significantly more difficult I developed fairly well over the course of the seminar and culminated my experiences in a left/right combination cut that worked out very well, producing me a nice little bamboo souvenir. I didn't get to cut as much as I would have liked today, but I learned what I needed to learn to take myself and my training to the next level. The thing I am most happy with is my form. Compared to everyone in the beginners my form was very good, I won't say the best because I couldn't watch myself to compare it to everyone else, there were probably 2 or so others in the group that had comparable form and I wouldn't want to take anything away from them so I won't judge myself against them. I should also add that I was one of the highest ranking students in the "Never cut bamboo before" group so that might have contributed to my form as well. My Form was comparable to most of the higher ranking students in the "intermediate cutting experience" group and wasn't to far from being able to play in the "advanced experience" group. My biggest problem at first was angle, either too flat of a cut or too vertical, but I managed to tune that into the right area by the end of the day. My second and largest problem was my wrists being either too loose or too tight causing the blade to hit at an off angle or roll a little half way through. By the end of the Seminar though I had worked out most of the bugs in both of these problems. Speed was good, blade line save the obvious problems was good, power was good, staying calm was good, confidence was very good, form was very good, aim was constantly being tweaked and got better, control also could have used some improvement and found a great deal of it by the end.
All in all, I am very proud of how I matched up against my peers and to help represent my Dojang at the event, more importantly though I am very proud of how much I learned and developed throughout the course of the event. I honestly wish I could have been in the more advanced groups to do more cutting, but I just have to remind myself that this was a huge step in and of itself, and I am much better off for it. My experience and knowledge base's both were greatly and invaluably increased and I even got to meet a few of my Fellow Online Gumdo practitioners (Ann and Cheri aren't just great people but they do actually exist in real life!!!! *Winks*)
My only true regret is the language barrier. Most of the Grand Masters and the President don't know or speak much English and it makes having a conversation with them(one that isn't vital anyway) very difficult. So I found myself not asking as many questions as I would have liked to do to the poor communication abilities between us. I suppose it's up to me to learn to speak Korean Fluently, but I'm still struggling with my English :P