Christie’s Karate Newbie Tip of the Week: The Art of Bowing

Writing Contributor: Christie McGowan
Student at Choe’s HapKiDo of Loganville
Info Page:

**Past Posts on Karate Tips:
Tip #1: Karate Etiquette
Tip #2: Hands & Wrists

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Types of the common half bows:


Tip #3: Know that there are methods and etiquette when it comes to bowing.

Mostly used In Japanese and Korean culture, a bow equates to a Western handshake for “hello.” However, this long-respected gesture is far more complex. As the act of bowing calls attention for methods and etiquette, it signifies an act of respect. Especially when a martial art such as HapKiDo originates from Korea, it is good to continue adding to the pool of knowledge of how any culture operates.

As full bows are used sparingly for special occasions and towards highly respected people, the various types of half bows are used daily. One executes a bow when seeing for the first and last time an instructor or peer, regardless of being inside or outside of a martial arts school. When entering a martial arts school, greeting an instructor or upper belt with a bow signs readiness for class. Bows are also executed during and after class. It is also good to bow to the instructor when momentarily leaving the mats of a Do Jang (training studio) for water. Now, when instructors and peers are seen at places like the grocery store or a pizzeria, bowing to greet and to say goodbye still applies.

In regards to half bows, there are three types: the full half bow, the quarter bow, and the one-eighth bow. Depending on who is associated yields the method used. In Choe’s HapKiDo, one executes the full half bow towards Grandmaster Choe, the school’s founder. For the masters and instructors, a person uses the quarter half bow. Finally, towards assistant instructors and students, the one-eighth half bow.

In addition to showing respect when addressing instructors and peers as “sir” or “ma’am,” bowing may appear overwhelming. But it is honestly not when one is open to adapting and welcoming a culture that he/she chooses to engage in. If people can adapt to new job environments, then why not the same to a martial arts culture.

When bowing, the hands are at the side, the feet are together, the eyes and the head are straight forward.

When bowing, the hands are at the side, the feet are together, the eyes and the head are straight forward.

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The Secret to Obtaining a Black Belt in Karate

Writing Contributor: Christie McGowan
Student at Choe’s HapKiDo of Loganville
Info Page:

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How Long Does It Take to Get a Black Belt?

Beginner student in between two upper levels.

Beginner student in between two upper levels.

Questions about the longevity of an activity or service all have the same answer—it depends. Regardless of wondering how long it will take to eat breakfast or hike a mountain, the time length depends mostly on the individual.

This idea also relates to the common martial arts question, “How long will it take to get a black belt?” The answer to this question is not only indefinite, but can distract one’s mindset when training. The desire of a black belt in martial arts is a fantastic goal. However, always remember that there is more to learn.

As one can only do so much with a trophy or a certificate, walking away with applicable skills beats a dusty shelf. According to Loganville HapKiDo Instructor John Gasstrom, a black belt means, “Beginning of a new cycle.” Exactly like a high school or college commencement ceremony, the black belt symbolizes the accomplishment for learning the fundamentals, and the readiness for starting a new phase.  In fact, the overall concept with education or martial arts training is that one continues advancing. The existence of Ph.Ds. and higher black belts (ranked by years of training) are proof. One does not simply stop moving, to keep moving is a natural instinct and desirable.

With anything in life, moving on to the next level requires motivation and commitment. At Choe’s HapKiDo, both concepts are encouraged as the culture emphasizes on the importance of mental strength. In addition to engaging in a physical activity, working with the HapKiDo instructors and peers are aspects to also look forward to. On top of that, having the opportunity to cultivate in a new hobby is beyond compare. For more information on Choe’s HapKiDo, contact us at any one of these locations for a free trial.



Christie’s Karate Newbie Tip of the Week: Hands & Wrists

Writing Contributor: Christie McGowan
Student at Choe’s HapKiDo of Loganville
Info Page:

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The benefits of training in HapKiDo are plentiful, for I am seeing personal changes outside of training. As it is wonderful to kick and scream at a place where they are greatly demanded, the workout relieves so much stress and results in a relaxed state-of-mind. I am also impressed with the increasing physical strength, and specifically more with my hands and wrists.

I am still very much a newbie at Choe’s HapKiDo of Loganville, but problems with my hands and wrists are old.

Tip #2: Spend at least once a day exercising your hands and wrists.

The wrists and hands are like the ankles and feet of our arms; they take us everywhere else that our legs do not. We use them daily for multi-purposes, but it does not mean they are being exercised. By spending time to stretch out the activities from the hands and wrists, their strength can increase and also become healthier.

Taking care of your hands and wrists produces positive results such as preventing hand cramps, improving wrist support, and bettering the core. One instance where all of these benefits come into play is my music playing. It is always a performer’s desire to get better. Although piano practice has taught my fingers and hands muscle memory and how to be flexible, they would unfortunately cramp. After weeks of HapKiDo instructors showing me various types of push-ups, and me returning to hand/wrist exercises learned from physical therapy, the strength in my hands has greatly increased. My hands cramp less, and I have better wrist support and posture, which betters my overall performance.

I relate to how exercising can be a drag sometimes, but once you experience the benefits, it becomes enjoyable and turns into a rhythm.

HapKiDo Students Engaging in Push-Ups.  Note: Some hands are faced inward, while some planted straight.

HapKiDo Students Engaging in Push-Ups.
Note: Some hands are faced inward, while some planted straight. Follow Choe’s HapKiDo of Loganville on Facebook!

The following hand/wrist exercises are what work for me, and maybe they will work for you.

You may be familiar with push-ups being done with the hands placed on the floor and using the arms to push the body up and down. Now, this exercise can be formulated to fit your physical level. The hands can be placed straight, inwards, on knuckles, or on fingers. But if the weight of your body is too much for your hands/wrists, do push-ups with the knees also on ground to reduce the weight being pressed. Other tools you can use to assist in weight distribution on your hands/wrists include a wall, dumbbells, or an exercise ball.

Wrist Curls
This exercise is like stomach crunches but for your wrists. Make a loose fist. The idea is to curl the fisted-wrist upwards on three sides: inside of forearm, side of forearm, and outside of forearm. You can do these with light weights, but use a pillow for your forearm to rest on.

Hand Stretch
This exercise is like a single leg hamstring stretch but for your “arm ankle.” The following exercises are better when altering between exercises 1 and 2. Suggested reps: 3 sets of each kind, they will take up a minute of your time while getting a good stretch.

  • Exercise 1: Extend an arm to about shoulder level. With the other hand, stretch the hand being stretched to about ninety degrees. Stretch and hold, starting with 10 seconds.
  • Exercise 2: Extend an arm to about shoulder level. With the other hand, slowly push down the hand being stretched to about ninety degrees. Stretch and hold, starting with 10 seconds.

Last Week’s Tip: Tip #1: Address everyone as “sir” or “ma’am” in a clear loud voice, and you won’t go wrong.

How Children with ADD/ADHD Can Benefit From Studying Martial Arts

Writing Contributor: Christie McGowan
Student at Choe’s HapKiDo of Loganville
Info Page:

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If you are a parent of a child with ADD, martial arts may be a new and fun after school program. Such as one like Choe’s HapKiDo in Loganville, the child will be entering an art where respect is one of the most emphasized concepts. In addition, the child will have the opportunity to work alongside other kids who are also training at their own pace. This social and physical activity will also benefit the child’s mental health as interpersonal skills naturally develop when studying martial arts.

As the child will see others messing up on a kick or roll, he/she will learn that it’s okay to also make mistakes. It becomes a valued lesson to learn to shrug off something that could be taken as negative.

Whether it is kicking a target, or a spot on the mat to prep for a somersault, the child’s attention is required to at least one object. In fact, any opportunity to practice concentration skills will payoff in the long run.

An endless cycle of “Yes, sir!” or “Yes, ma’am!” fills the karate studio. Everyone is addressed this way, and sometimes reminded if forgotten.

Not only will the child notice he/she getting faster and stronger at certain moves, the improvements and constant interactions with peers will boost self-esteem.

Confidence is the result of the child trying and not giving up. This attitude will encourage him/her to use this muscle with other tasks that school or otherwise may demand.

Students at Choe's HapKiDo Eagerly Wait to Take Their Belt Tests!

Students at Choe’s HapKiDo Eagerly Wait to Take Their Belt Tests!

All of these skills the child, with or without an attention deficit, walks away with because he/she has found a safe and open environment to do so. If interested to see if your child would be interested in karate, any of Choe’s HapKiDo studios will arrange a free trial. For more information on Choe’s HapKiDo, visit

Why Martial Arts Is Great For Children With ADD!

Now as a parent, there’s a chance you’ve noticed instances where your child may be easily distracted, uninterested, or unwilling to listen (at least the first four or five times you alert them of something that requires their help.)  The truth is…your child is incredibly smart! However, their keen perception can cause them to act up at times and even challenge authority-not because they mean to, but because they have a difficult time controlling their minds. Nowadays, we commonly refer to this as ADD, or in cases where this also applies from a physical standpoint, ADHD.

Though I have never officially been diagnosed (and many children haven’t), I would easily fall into one of the two categories. This has been the case my entire life, which is also almost as long as I’ve been a martial artist. Choe’s Hap Ki Do in Loganville, GA provides excellent martial arts classes for children, especially in cases of ADD or ADHD, because Hap Ki Do is both a mental and physical exercise.

At Choe’s Hap Ki Do, through our martial arts classes, children will learn to concentrate to as a second nature. We place a strong emphasis self-control and the ability to focus in everything that we do. Though your child may not realize how they have improved, I’m sure that you will! Visit us at! You won’t be disappointed!

Christie’s Karate Newbie Tip of the Week

Writing Contributor: Christie McGowan
Student at Choe’s HapKiDo of Loganville
Info Page:

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It is very common to be the new kid within an instance. Even when you move up a level at work or in a video game, the new stage makes you feel vulnerable. As a new student at Choe’s HapKiDo of Loganville, everything appears wide and shiny from my perspective, the experience is such an eye opener. Even though I am supposedly a young adult, my age honestly goes out the window every time I go to a lesson. This is a good thing. It means there are many people to receive advice from BECAUSE I am new. As I become more acquainted with the karate world, I hope to share a weekly tip that some may find useful.

Tip #1: Address everyone as “sir” or “ma’am” in a clear loud voice, and you won’t go wrong.

Similar to how people address each other in the South, responding to a karate instructor’s call with a, “Yes, sir!” shows a sign of respect. Rule of thumb- address upper level belts as “sir” or “ma’am.” However, a sense of respect is returned when an instructor or upper level student addresses a younger student with “sir” or “ma’am.”

The instructors at the HapKiDo studio do more than yell out instructions, they sometimes give out a compliment. When this happens, it is still good to yell in return, “Yes, sir!” In this case, the response allows you to acknowledge the comment, address the elder respectfully, and still continue the rounds of kicks that need to be finished.

I admit, the first and only time I have responded with a “Yes, sir!” because of a compliment, cool instructor John Gasstrom responded with a surprise, “Thank you!” From that instance, I think instructors really appreciate it when you acknowledge them for noticing your improvements.

All in all, anytime an instructor or peer says something to you, respond with “Yes, sir!” or “Yes, ma’am!”


The Balance of Life—HapKiDo Karate Style

Writing Contributor: Christie McGowan
Student at Choe’s HapKiDo of Loganville
Info Page:

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HapKiDo, a Korean style of martial arts growing in the United States, literally means the following translation:

“The way of coordinating your inner strength with your outer strength.”

The translation is a beautiful way to understand the intentions of HapKiDo because it can also be applied to life in general. Without the disciplines of inner strength or the sense of personality, the body would appear as random blobs everywhere. In fact, the philosophical ideas of the full name, Chung Mu HapKiDo, promotes a simpler way of looking at the art.

Chung (pronounced Choong)
Three meanings come from this Korean symbol: Loyalty, sincerity, and faithfulness.

Mu (pronounced Moo)
The meaning for this part of the name includes military and martial art.

Hap (pronounced Hop)
To coordinate, to gather, and to combine are the three understandings of Hap.

Ki (pronounced Key)
This Korean symbol represents an important factor to the meaning of HapKiDo because it translates to air, internal power, and internal spirit.

Do (pronounced Doe)
Road, method, and enlightenment resemble Do.

In HapKiDo, sometimes called HapKiDo Karate, it is a belief that practicing these concepts out of order will result in disharmony. A person would not be able to coordinate internal power or method if he or she does is not loyal to a commitment. With anything, if there is a lack of faithfulness, then how does someone continue to serve.

Take running for example. If you have taken a break from the routine or decided to start, it is difficult to run a mile immediately. You have to gradually build up the art of running constantly for long periods of time. It takes dedication. After a few days, maybe two weeks, dedication to running up to a mile or two becomes a test. You may try to find an excuse on day ten. Perhaps the weather is bad, or you have morning sinuses, and pushing through takes every ounce of determination—especially if you are trying to maintain your groove. Then, if pushing through does not sound appealing, then think of why you wanted to run. What was your goal. If you did not have one, it is okay to make one on the spot.

Other examples of applying HapKiDo to life include making choices such as keeping a job, maintaining a diet, reading a long book, and studying for an exam. You could even make a commitment to do nothing. As long as your heart is involved, somehow everything follows through.

The translation of Chung Mu HapKiDo is really a fancy term for perseverance. After the consistency of enduring hard work, victories and accomplishments are made greater.

For further information on Choe’s HapKiDo philosophy, visit

Choe’s HapKiDo Hosts Premier Karate Birthday Parties in Loganville, GA

5 Reasons Why: Martial Arts Birthday Parties Rock at Choe’s HapKiDo in Loganville, GA!!

Reason #1: The Staff at Choe’s HapKiDo of Loganville

Parents, you can assure that your children are in the safest hands when you’re at a party at Choe’s HapKiDo! Meanwhile, your child will benefit from real Martial Arts training with our HapKiDo Instructors. The experience is safe, educational and exciting, and our staff is the best in town!

Reason #2:  We are trained to interact with high-energy children!

You won’t find birthday activities quite like ours anywhere else! At Choe’s HapKiDo in Loganville, we learn authentic ninja moves from karate masters, train with staff, and learn about martial arts! Our staff demonstrates black-belt kicks, defense techniques, and our favorite-flips!

Reason #3:  Parents Always Welcome!

That’s right, folks! Here at Choe’s Hap Ki Do in Loganville, not only do the children get to have a great time – but so do their parents! Parents are encouraged to take pictures, interact with their kids, and share the experience with other parents. Parents and children enjoy Pizza and Birthday Cake together in our main room.

Choe's HapKiDo and Martial Arts in GA

Choe’s HapKiDo in Loganville Best Instructors


It’s a birthday party, of course! And what is any party without food?! You’ll be happy to know that we include the full package in our studio! Plenty for everyone to go around! We save the food for last, of course. We don’t want anyone getting sick while they’re practicing their karate kicks. The birthday guest-of-honor is encouraged to cut the birthday cake with our authentic Samurai Sword! Get ready for a one-of-a-kind photo opportunity!!!!!

Reason #5: There’s no Place Like Home…or Choe’s Hap Ki Do!

Here at Choe’s Hap Ki Do in Loganville, GA we make you feel at home in our studio! With our trained staff catering to your guest list, you will have the freedom to sit back and enjoy your friends and family! In fact, don’t be surprised if your child asks to come back! We would LOVE to book a FREE Trail lesson for any guest that is interested in giving HapKiDo a try!