Christie’s Karate Tip of the Week: Aim for Consistency

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

Last Tip

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The other day, I attended my first HapKiDo class in three weeks. When I picked up a second part-time job, I knew my new schedule would reduce HapKiDo time. I finally make time, and I try out the family Saturday morning for the first time – it was full of four other kids more or less than eight-years-old. When I was confirmed that it was the right class, I proceeded anyways. Although I’m a young adult, I felt like an eight-year-old again. During my time away from Choe’s HapKiDo Karate in Loganville, I thought I would be temporarily fine by practicing at home, but that rarely happened. So, training with the youngsters was actually a great refresher course. If it was not a light smack on the head for not coming to class, it was definitely a lesson: make time for consistent practice!

Tip #7: The more you’re around influential people, the more you’ll likely practice. 

Life has its seasons. We realize that when we become adults and witness the many changes. Sometimes your days pace slowly, and other times it rushes past your head. Regardless of what life is throwing at us, we are still forced to make time for everything and around everything.

But the juggling of time is the exciting part!

On the faster days, you may envy how the slower days were spent. There was danger of wasting time because there was no rush, no deadlines. But it’s the faster days that make you finish everything necessary and at the same time wish for more room.

But if you’re lucky, you still have space to work on life goals – short and long!

The next belt up at Choe’s HapKiDo in Loganville is a great, reasonable short-term goal. To achieve black belt level, that is an even greater goal, and is a long-term goal. HapKiDo students are encouraged to practice inside. Students who train frequently are gradually led to practice outside of class, and they have fun doing it! As a result of consistent training, students become great because they’re continually around encouragement and positive atmosphere.

For more information about Choe’s HapKiDo in Loganville, visit us at You can also follow us on Facebook!  

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HapKiDo’s Self-Defense Tactics: Still Targets vs. Moving Targets

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

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HapKiDo’s style of self-defense teaches people how to block in three ways: hand against hand, hand against weapon, and weapon against weapon. From day one of training, students learn the essentials of defense such as kicking, punching, and escaping strategies. Overall, training consists of practicing on still and moving targets.

Students at Choe’s HapKiDo in Loganville experience hands-on the differences between practicing defense on still targets versus moving targets. Still targets include kicking targets of all sizes, while moving targets consists mainly of sparring opportunities.

With more experience, students see how practicing both styles complement each other. For example, still targets permit one to practice moves at his or her own pace. It is a chance to practice theory and technique. If the student misses a target, he/she can try again. On the other hand, sparring has a complete opposite effect to where missing has consequences. As a result, sparring demands speed, timing, and accuracy.

Out of the two styles, sparring looks more intimidating. But like everything else, it is less scary with more practice. Sparring may seem extreme, but this part of training is to help prepare the body and mind for self-defense in real life.

For more information on how to try Choe’s HapKiDo in Loganville, visit We love to give everyone a free trial!

**More information on sparring:

Check out our YouTube Page!



I Took My First Legit Karate Test…and PASSED.

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

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I couldn’t believe where I was Saturday night. As I sat down to join strangers and peers of Choe’s HapKiDo for a celebration dinner, the accomplishment of passing my yellow belt test that morning had finally sunk in. A test that I had been anticipating and obsessing over since having spectated July’s belt test…was strangely over. Somehow, the calm feeling that came over me the second I entered Grayson’s HapKiDo studio finally wore off by dinner time. A couple chairs down from me at the celebratory table, Instructor Gasstrom explained the feeling was the result of positive inner energy and strong focus, a karate concept that is also identified as ‘Ki’. He also explained how the energy could have easily turned negative.

There were good reasons to be nervous:

  • The test required students to demonstrate in front of a panel of judges – all whom are the head instructors of different Choe’s HapKiDo studios.
  • Not knowing how the judges were going to run the test.
  • If you were a white belt (first belt rank in HapKiDo), this test initiated the first of many to be demonstrated in a public and collaborative setting. This reason applied to me and ten other students.
  • Feeling not so confident with certain moves.
  • Any miscellaneous reason or reasons that could affect a student’s performance. For some it was emotions; for me, I was testing with a elbow/wrist injury.

I am beyond glad that none of these factors affected my mind negatively.

My surprise of the day: One of the students who I competed against in a board breaking competition this past summer – we became pals during the test. There is definitely some comfort in seeing someone experiencing the same things as you. At Choe’s HapKiDo summer tournament, neither of us had a belt or the required uniform federation patches. And now we had the opportunity to test for our yellow belts…AND PASSED!

But my favorite part of the test, aside from passing, was getting to watch peers from Choe’s HapKiDo in Loganville test and pass too. These are students who I have had the pleasure of working with and hope to continue as long as possible. Watching them gives a younger belt a sneak peek of what to expect next. From what I saw, sparring is definitely something I am going to work hard at in order to not fear it so much…..Hopefully all works out!



For more information on Choe’s HapKiDo Karate and Kickboxing, visit and



Keep and Carry On Through the HapKiDo Way

Writing Contributor: Christie McGowan

Student at Choe’s HapKiDo in Loganville

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It is common for people to harbor negative energy such as stress, anxiety, depression, and anger. In fact, focusing solely on these emotions and the problems from which they derived can make people sick. Participating in Choe’s HapKiDo a few times a week could be the distraction needed. Yes, the kicking and yelling helps a lot, but sometimes all a person needs is an opportunity to get out of the house. Bottom line – HapKiDo stabilizes emotions.

The benefit of HapKiDo, aside from receiving a great workout, is that it soothes the mind. From meditation exercises to stretches benefiting the entire body, the addition of music playing in the background transports the mind to a calm, relaxing state. The low energy is soon kicked into high gear as individuals continually fill the air with yells while practicing various kicks and self-defense moves. The workout concludes by guiding the body back to a calm state.

As individuals are setting aside time to let off steam, positive vibes are received from the fun working with others and the confidence built from persevering through hard work. Plus, individuals are surrounded by caring people. As a result from this wonderful distraction, the mind gets a break from chaos. A person in a struggling state-of-mind will experience these positive reinforcers by engaging in HapKiDo.

For more information on Choe’s HapKiDo karate and kickboxing, visit and


**Image found at


Did You Know? – Information about the Do Bok

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

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The different uniforms of Choe’s HapKiDo.

Uniforms can be different depending on the martial art school. At Choe’s HapKiDo, the various kinds of uniforms differentiate based on status: student, assistant instructor, instructor, master, and grandmaster. But regardless of rank, there is general uniform knowledge that applies across the board.

Things to know about the HapKiDo Do Bok:

  • “Gi” is the Japanese term for martial arts uniform, “Do Bok” is the Korean term.
  • When fixing the uniform, it is part of HapKiDo etiquette to turn away from everyone to fix it.
  • One must also turn away from the country’s flag when fixing the uniform.
  • Students earn patches for the uniform as they do belts.

Like other sports, martial art uniforms scream school spirit, and they resemble loyalty and respect for the school. They also eliminate the hassle in figuring out what to wear for class. In addition, putting on the uniform before each class initiates the preparation and focus needed. When individuals come to class with uniforms on, the class suddenly looks like a team. And in a way, it is one. The students work together to help each other improve, and in turn creates a healthy environment.

For more information on Choe’s HapKiDo karate and kickboxing, visit and

Reaching Goals through HapKiDo Karate

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

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Rocky-2S U C C E S S ! ! !

 Part of the success in advancing in life comes from making and achieving goals. As the idea of making them sounds like a tedious task, they prove to work well because people aspire to do their best. And regardless of the outcome of set goals, they lead people to make new ones; they show the reality of ideas. It is okay to take breaks from goal setting, but living without them for long periods of time result in aimless running.

In a martial art like HapKiDo, students realize how making daily goals affect the mind when aiming for long-term goals. This idea can relate to trying to run a mile. To think of the mile as one long trip may be a turn off, but if the runner makes mini milestones throughout the journey, it becomes doable.

When people think of goals with smaller steps in mind, they almost act like safety nets from quitting. People are less likely to come up with excuses to take a break because the goal looks more realistic, more approachable.

Students at Choe’s HapKiDo see that there are many possibilities to accomplish. Examples include earning belts and developing strength, flexibility, and stamina. And with each day that someone shows up to training, there is some goal in mind. Maybe it is to nail a specific kick, or maybe it is to progress in another kick because one might take four months to perfect.

Through all the training, the students learn to persevere. They observe that they are not alone when trying to reach goals. Their peers are cheering them on, and the Martial Art Instructors are there to guide them. The experience gained during training will help them approach other obstacles in life because they understand that they take hard work, dedication, and patience to overcome.

For more information on Choe’s HapKiDo Karate and Kickboxing, visit here. Come on in for a free trial!

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:  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:

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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: Take a look at our kickboxing classes too! Both are fun, and you can come in to trial both for free!

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

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

**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 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:

**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.