Tang Soo Do: Child’s Play
Text by Chuck Sereff Photos by Clark Aiken first in Black Belt Magazine November 1965
I became acquainted with the Moo Duk Kwan association about three years ago when I studied with a Korean officer, Choi, Sung Hak, at Lowrey Air Force Base in Denver, Colorado. After he left, I met Robert Thompson and Fran Heitmann, both 2nd-Dans, who had trained at Osan Air Force Base in Korea. By studying with these fine teachers for two years, I made Sho-Dan. Then I opened my own club, the Denver Tang Soo Do Academy.
After a short time, the idea of a children’s class frequently passed my mind, but I wasn’t sure if Tang Soo Do would be able to hold their interest. I decided to experiment with my oldest son, Scott, eight years old. One of my students, Fred Criswell, also had a son who was the same age. So with these two, we began.
It was slow going at first and took a great deal of patience. But gradually the boys became interested and took the training seriously. Coordination and balance began to improve through repeated basic blocks and strikes. Soon they were advancing to the many kicking techniques that Tang Soo Do is famous for.
When Scott started training, his report card in physical education at school read, “Needs improvement in coordination and competitive play.” Six weeks later, his report card read, “Outstanding in physical education, coordination, and self-confidence.”This convinced me the training had done wonders for my boy and encouraged me to develop the children’s class. Slowly we began to fill the class. Another of my students, Ralph Krause, with great patience and care, became the boys’ instructor. He taught awkward, self-conscious boys to become graceful and self-confident. They were also taught the value of self-restraint and the high honor code of the Hwa Rang Dan warriors.
Advanced Rapidly Scott and Fred Jr. advanced rapidly and were soon doing formal exercises or Hyungs. Next they began mastering flying kicks and semi-free fighting. The boys took part in many demonstrations and were always received well by the audience. Doing Hyungs in front of as many as 200 persons really built their self-confidence. Then in November came a very proud day for me; I presented Scott and Fred Jr. with their green belts.