July 2014 Karate Belt Test

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

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The karate world still looks shiny to me. Six months into training, and no has pushed me to wax a car or paint a fence. But I did earn my first belt recently (White!). I thought it was going to be intense, and I thought how crazy the instructors were to almost talk me in to taking my next belt test so soon after. I didn’t understand until later that the yellow belt test consisted of many of the things I’ve worked on since January. But still, the white belt test looked like a midterm compared to what I saw the other day. Instead of testing alongside the other belts, I gratefully took the opportunity to spectate at Choe’s HapKiDo‘s July 2014 test at Grayson, GA.

I am not sure how others normally view the belt tests, but I found myself watching the recent HapKiDo belt test as entertainment. As the event went on with the kids and adults taking turns for a new segment, it was like a ten-course meal—I gorged event after event, but without ever getting full! However, it wouldn’t have been wise to blink.

For an hour-and-a-half, thirteen hopefuls braved through various portions of the test, with the goal of passing on to the next level of training.

Like watching a film, the audience became attached to the testers. Of course, the observing eyes belonged to the parents of the testers, but they have all been watching the other testers for the last couple years, along with their own. There were times when the audience held its breath, and a couple of times when they sighed in relief.

With every segment, I couldn’t help but look over at the judges’ panel to look at their reactions. I think they had reactions similar to the audience, but they had a more crucial role. However, the judges resumed their roles as Martial Arts instructors several times during the test. Maybe someone’s technique was off, or maybe everyone’s technique was off. Depending on the situation, sometimes a judge would leave the table to advise a student, and sometimes another judge would advise from his chair. But regardless, the judges/instructors wanted to see everyone succeed.



I hope to be cool as them when I test next!

For more information on Choe’s HapKiDo Karate & Kickboxing, visit: http://www.loganvillekarate.com/index.php.  Come in and sign up for a free trial!


Driving and Martial Arts

Writing Contributor: Christie McGowan
Student at Choe’s HapKiDo of Loganville
Info Page: http://www.loganvillekarate.com/

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A little bit of martial arts training goes a long way. For instance, it improves a driver’s ability to drive better because martial artists work towards similar ethics.

While driving provides a way to travel, it still requires drivers to use their senses in order to avoid accidents. They must train their minds to multi-task and their bodies to control the vehicle. By spending time practicing a martial art like Choe’s HapKiDo, drivers will have the opportunity to work on their body capabilities. As a result, practicing on skills outside of driving time will improve one’s concentration, anxiety, and respect for others.

The elements of the road to success:

  • Focus. Driving requires people to watch out for multiple hazards: speed, tailgaters, trash, pedestrians, drivers chatting on the phone, drivers changing lanes without signaling, and much more. Missing these hazards can be the result of low concentration. At Choe’s HapKiDo, students learn quickly that lack of concentration has consequences—from messed up kicks to kicked fingers; it requires attention of the whole mind. For instance, the eyes have at least one spot to concentrate on when practicing to roll, flip, and kick. By spending time practicing to focus on at least one object at a time, one increases his/her attention span.
  • Relax. Drivers can make other drivers’ day harder. With all the honking and drivers doing insane things, stress builds up. By spending a few times a week at Choe’s HapKiDo, people learn and have the opportunity to meditate, which promotes better breathing and a time to get into focus mode. On top of that, tension is relieved from the exercise, specifically from the kicking and yelling. Finding ways to let off steam also prevents health problems and contributes to a healthy mental state.
  • Respect. Lives on the road are at stake, at the mercy of other drivers. From training with peers and instructors at Choe’s HapKiDo, martial artists develop respect on different levels. There is the necessity of showing respect to others, but there is also necessity to place trust in each other’s hands when training. As everyone there is learning how to defend for his/her life, it is eventually understood the value of life. It can easily be taken away. So when on the road, stopping to let someone out of a parking lot will make his/her day easier. In fact, being courteous to other drivers allows control over many situations.

Driving is harder than it looks, but practicing martial arts will make the job easier. By having a more relaxed state-of-mind and an increased attention span, driving and other activities are seized with more ease.

For more information on Choe’s HapKiDo Karate, visit: http://www.loganvillekarate.com/index.php. Take a look at our kickboxing classes too! Both are fun, and you can come in to trial both for free!

How Martial Arts Has Positively Affected My Life – By Instructor Luca

How Martial Arts Has Positively Affected My Life – By Instructor Luca

Martial Arts has had incredible impact on my life over the past decade. Having grown up with the inability to sit still or concentrate for several minutes, it has taught me self-control and the ability to focus through extensive training and emphasis on disciplinary action. Hap Ki Do has been an outlet for anger, stress, and other overwhelming emotions. Taking Hap Ki Do at Choe’s Hap Ki Do in Loganville, GA has been rewarding.

As somebody who has positively been affected by Martial Arts, I can only hope to see others have as much joy and excitement as I have gotten over the years. Hap Ki Do isn’t just a simple hobby, but a lifestyle. There is always more to learn and improve upon your techniques. I enjoy it today as much as I enjoyed it ten years ago when I first started, and it never once lost its entertainment value.

It does not matter who you are. Martial Arts is for everybody. It is a great way to improve upon your life. You will get in better physical shape, be able to approach problems with a clear mind, and have an increase in energy and spirit. It will teach you how to be confident yet humbled, contented yet ambitious, and how to improve upon yourself. There is a lot that goes into Martial Arts which is what makes it one of the best decisions of my life, and hopefully yours as well.

Be sure to visit iLoveMartialArtsGeorgia.com and sign up for your free trial lesson! Join us at Choe’s Hap Ki Do in Loganville, GA if you want some of the best life experiences from some of the best people!


Christie’s Karate Newbie Tip of the Week: Be Patient

Writing Contributor: Christie McGowan
Student at Choe’s HapKiDo of Loganville
Info Page: http://www.loganvillekarate.com/

**Past Posts on Karate Tips:

Photo featuring Instructor John Gasstrom with a student passing a belt test.

Photo featuring Instructor John Gasstrom with a student passing a belt test.

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Tip #6: Be patient with martial arts training because you will see other areas of your life improve. 

The other day, Instructor Gasstrom shared that HapKiDo is best known for its self-defense techniques. He was then led to advise that the self-defense portion of training should be taken seriously as it could save a life. I agree with his advice because I have seen other parts of training crossover to other parts of my life.

  • Driving. Changing lanes has never felt better. I have never had real problems with lane changing, but checking my blind spot feels different. The result of this improvement is from specific neck stretches and kicks, as they require turning the head to look behind you. I now know that before martial arts, I was not looking fully into my blind spot.
  • My day job. As my day job is to tutor college students on their papers, busy workdays sometimes produce stress and wear. However, as a result of putting time aside to practice HapKiDo, I am calmer and more patient.  On top of finding an opportunity to kick and yell a few times a week, learning meditation/breathing exercises have also contributed to the new level of calm.
  • Practicing Music. Practicing music is one of my stress relievers, but I also have to take practicing time seriously. The result of HapKiDo training has bettered my posture and strengthened my hands and wrists. I thank Choe’s HapKiDo for the reintroduction to stretching and pushups.
  • My Health. Finding a form of exercise that I can like and keep up with is amazing. Especially when I was sick for the last few months, the recovery track took a while. Months later, I soon discovered that exercise makes me feel better. I will honestly come to a HapKiDo session feeling awful but then leave feeling better. It has worked better than medication!

Overall, I see that the last few months of training have taught me how to focus and relax. And the cool thing about getting involved in martial arts, you eventually realize that training is paying off. It is beautiful to see how the lessons learned in the Dojang also apply to life.

For more information about Choe’s HapKiDo of Loganville, please visit us at http://choeshapkido.com/loganville/. You can also follow us on Facebook.

****Reader’s Question: Has martial arts affected your life in anyway? Please share!****

Christie’s Karate Newbie Tip of the Week: Seek Experience

Writing Contributor: Christie McGowan
Student at Choe’s HapKiDo of Loganville
Info Page: http://www.loganvillekarate.com/

**Past Posts on Karate Tips:

Tip #1: Karate Etiquette
Tip #2: Hands & Wrists
Tip #3: Bowing Methods & Etiquette 
Tip #4: Value Self

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My first martial arts competition—board breaking!

2014 Summer HapKiDo Tournament: My first martial arts competition—board breaking!

Tip #5: Theories are wonderful to have, but experience is also needed.

My friends know me as many things. If I bring it up, they remember that I tried getting into music school on the violin. That audition and its outcome changed my life forever. As the intensity of that auditorium increased from everyone’s angst, the goal of the fellow competitors never changed. Every musician that day was competing for him/herself. There were no groups, and no one cheering or wishing others luck. So many strings were at stake that day.

Since that audition, I have not experienced anything that serious until I arrived to my first martial arts competition. As soon as I walked through the gym doors, black belts were tumbling and running around to hopefully earn their new black belts. The day also consisted of injuries and constant yelling from children and adults, while they broke boards and sparred for points. The whole day was in constant motion.

For the last few weeks, I had been studying and taking notes on manners, bowing styles, and board breaking techniques. However, the moment I arrived to the competition scene, I found myself panicking because of anticipation, and asking questions to my Loganville HapKiDo peers in fear that I would forget something.

Thankfully, the day progressed. Although I almost tried competing under age thirteen, and looked confused half the time, I found a way to rid the nerves. This was a breaking point for me because when I get nervous, I hyperventilate and my entire body becomes tense. So after my nerves went away, I felt I could conquer the world. I credit my success in my board breaking performance to the following reasons. First, I had brought a friend to the competition, and she kept me distracted. I then tried meditating and found that oxygen and water worked like anesthesia. Lastly, there was support from instructors and peers from Choe’s HapKiDo in Loganville. Most importantly, on top of turning practice into experience, the event gave everyone an opportunity to get to know each other better. Seeing peers, parents, and instructors bonding with each other confirms a healthy environment at the Dojang.

People have favorite days, and I know that my first martial arts competition is one of them.

Martial Arts Lesson of the Week – Connecting Mind and Body

Different styles of martial arts all have one common theme; using the mind and body as one. It is easy to dismiss it simply as a physical workout, but important to remember that it is much more than that.

With any kind of martial art typically comes meditation, one of many methods in exercising the mind. It is usually done in a manner of sitting down, eyes closed, breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth, and preparing your mind and body for what is about to come. Most importantly, it allows for oxygen to run through to your brain and relieve stress.

Additionally your mind plays a significant part when doing physical training and conditioning as it will determine how long you will be able to handle the intensity of the workout. Therefore, by training your mind to overcome greater lengths and amounts of workout, you will be able to have even better results.

The mind and body work together in order to achieve excellence. One allows the other to improve. As you’re practicing martial arts, your mind will memorize how much your body can handle and send it signals; on the other hand, your body will perform against the limitations you set for yourself and improve with repetition.

For more articles and information on Choe’s Hap Ki Do in Loganville, GA, visit our website at iLoveMartialArtsGeorgia.com. Come in and sign up for your free trial lesson!  


Meet Your Fitness Needs With Choe’s HapKiDo

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

Info on Karate & Kickboxing Classes:

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Have you considered karate or kickboxing?

If you are finding the need to drag yourself to the gym, or looking for an excuse to skip exercise, then it is time to try something new. Not only is exercising healthy, but enjoying the workout time contributes to a healthier lifestyle. Surprisingly, once you find a likeable form of exercise, you naturally want to do more. With a workout studio like Choe’s HapKiDo, people lose weight and increase strength by learning self-defense and/or kickboxing. This environment works out well for people because the classes reel in other benefits.

Here is how classes at Choe’s HapKiDo can work for you:

 They Are Suited for All Family Members.
At Choe’s HapKiDo, karate classes are offered to anyone ages 3 and up. And every Saturdays, there is a class that is opened for family members to train together. If you try martial arts, you may also be inspired to try kickboxing.

They Help Add Exercise Into Your Schedule.
You will see that you have time for exercise. Especially if you find kicking and screaming an enjoyable stress reliever, you will naturally want to fit it into your schedule. The more you go, the more you and your body benefit.

They Provide Group Support.
By joining a fitness class, you do not need to find a workout partner. Ten or more participants will meet you there. If that is not enough, joining a new community allows you to make new friends and expand connections. And who knows, maybe you will be the one persuading a friend to join!

They Teach Skills That Can Be Practiced at Home—No Gym Required!
The karate and kickboxing classes train people how to move their bodies. If you find yourself not being able to make it to a class, you can walk yourself through a whole workout routine.

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Find us on Facebook!


To find out more information about HapKiDo or Kickboxing, visit: http://choeshapkido.com/ and http://www.ilovekickboxing.com/. Any Choe’s HapKiDo Karate location will offer a free trial.

Christie’s Karate Newbie Tip of the Week: Value Self

Writing Contributor: Christie McGowan
Student at Choe’s HapKiDo of Loganville
Info Page: http://www.loganvillekarate.com/

**Past Posts on Karate Tips:
Tip #1: Karate Etiquette
Tip #2: Hands & Wrists
Tip #3: Bowing Methods & Etiquette 

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Tip #4: Do not underestimate your self-worth.

My first few months of training with the Hap Ki Do instructors have flown by, and the atmosphere has stayed consistent up until last week.

As a result of the upcoming 2014 Summer Championship this Saturday (July 12th), the current vibes spreading throughout Choe’s Hap Ki Do of Loganville feel like the week of prom or a talent show. Especially when the last couple of weeks consisted of my new peers asking me if I am going to the tournament, training has become more serious. Also like prom, a talent show, or even a high school football game, participating in these events forces people to care more—if not as an audience member, then as a competitor.

I admittedly thought I was going to participate with the audience, take pictures, and find news to blog about, but now there is a twist. I still plan on playing writer, but now I am competing in board breaking.

The 2014 Summer Championship will consist of different events: black belt test demonstrations, board breaking, and sparring.

The 2014 Summer Championship will consist of different events: black belt test demonstrations, board breaking, and sparring.

Because I am currently working on obtaining my first belt, I had automatically eliminated myself from competing. Who knew no-belts could compete in a board breaking tournament? I obviously did not, but cool Instructor John Gasstrom knew well and talked me into it. The day of signing up, I went to one of the last three remaining board breaking sessions this past Thursday (they have been going on at least since June). Although I took notice that the session was full of little tykes with belts of all colors, at the end of the day, I broke through my first 11 ½ in x 0.75 in x 8 in board. It was beyond fantastic!

With final touches of more practice, as the board breaking performance is also critiqued on presentation and speech to the assigned instructor, I will feel more than ready.


Choe’s Hap Ki Do in Loganville, GA – Building Confidence

When contemplating attending a martial arts class at Choe’s Hap Ki Do in Loganville, GA, one may wonder whether or not it is helpful in building confidence. Martial Arts is key in achieving a state of mind in which it is easy to feel better internally. It is a method of exercising that works not only the body, but the mind as well. As we are taking classes and becoming better martial artists, it becomes apparent that not only have we gotten fit, but we have also gained a greater sense of focus and understanding. That is our minds achieving results.
In addition to these improvements we’ve become more relaxed and less agitated. This is because whatever stress was on our mind before was likely eliminated in the studio during our physical workout. Therefore, internal struggles that have been on our minds for ages have now likely become much smaller and easier for us to take in. Don’t build stress upon yourself to meet unrealistic expectations, or you risk feeling as though your confidence has done the equivalent of jumping off of a cliff. Instead, go to class,exert physical energy and stress into a positive light, and clear your mind. After class, go home feeling relaxed, on top of our game, and ready to rest.
Hap Ki Do is not just a physical exercise, but a mental one as well. Come join us at Choe’s Hap Ki Do in Loganville, GA to experience what is truly too great for words! Visit our website at iLoveMartialArtsGeorgia.com for more information!