This is probably the most common question we hear — because of the media exposure of other arts, people are much more familiar with them than they are with the more specific name of Kuk Sool. Kuk Sool is composed of different aspects of the warrior arts of Korea and of techniques, forms and methods derived from the 31 indigenous martial arts of that country.
PHILOSOPHY: Kuk Sool is distinguished from other arts by being a “hard-soft” system with techniques that are very flowing and circular, pleasing to the eye but devastating to an attacker as the Kuk Sool practitioner uses these soft, circular movements to redirect and upset the attacker’s balance and equilibrium before applying a counter technique to one of the hundreds of sensitive joints and pressure points they are trained to attack. This “hard-soft” philosophy is embodied in the 3 Principles that guide all Kuk Sool techniques: Yu-Won-Hwa (Soft/Yielding-Circular-Harmony/Blending). Not only does this philosophy of “hard-soft” lend itself to very effective defensive techniques, it also allows the practitioner to develop a more relaxed and refined power and to develop and maintain a high level of health.
CURRICULUM: Kuk Sool is a complete martial arts system and includes aspects of all traditional Asian fighting methods in its curriculum: Striking and kicking, throwing and grappling, joint-locking and arresting techniques, pressure point striking and manipulation, techniques based on the movements of certain “martial” animals (such as the tiger, crane, preying mantis, etc.), falling techniques and martial arts gymnastics, body protection and internal development, traditional Korean forms, traditional Korean weapons, and much more. Containing 3608 techniques, Kuk Sool appeals to the beginner and the advanced practitioner alike, and has been described as a “graduate level” martial arts program.
TRADITIONAL WEAPONS TRAINING: Kuk Sool is very unique in the types of weapons we teach. Kuk Sool, on the other hand, being derived from the three main sub-groups of traditional Korean martial arts (Tribal Martial Arts, Buddhist Martial Arts and Royal Court Martial Arts), tends to favor weapons from a military or aristocratic background:
- From Buddhist Martial Arts: Long staff, hooked walking cane and short stick (single and double)
- From Royal Court Martial Arts: Straight sword, inverted sword, double short swords, double long swords, spear, halberd, throwing knives, folding fan, rope/belt and Korean archery
- From Tribal Martial Arts: Stone throwing and spreading sand (these can almost be considered “artifact” weapons and are still taught at the higher levels of Kuk Sool for historical purposes)
Because of the extremely comprehensive nature of Kuk Sool, weapons training is a valuable and integral part of the training of our students at Martial Art Fitness Academy.
Of course the length of training time necessary to get a Black Belt in Kuk Sool will vary slightly from person to person, the actual time it may take is surprisingly short when you consider what you will be learning to get there.
Our instructors are always conscious of your progress, and try to keep you current on your testing cycle. If you come to class consistently, train seriously and practice for at least a few hours a week outside of class you can generally reach Black Belt at Martial Art Fitness Academy on the average of 4 years.
All students (colored belts) are required to have a minimum 1 – 3 months and 16 classes between tests. Black Belt testing begins when a student achieves the rank of Black Brown Belt (Dan Bo Nim or Black Belt Candidate). Black Belt Candidates are expected to take quarterly progress exams to ensure that progress is consistent and 24 classes are required for each progress test. A student must be a Black Belt Candidate for a minimum of one year and must take each progress exam to qualify for graduation to Black Belt.
The introductory program is absolutely FREE. Regular program costs can vary depending on which program for which you qualify. Other than being sponsored by a current member, the Introductory Program is the best way to determine if our training is right for you, by allowing you to check out the facility, experience some of the training, and evaluate if the program is right for you. Once you have completed the introductory course, the instructors will be able to recommend the best program to suit your needs. Then, you will be given specific information about options on class schedules and program fees.
Unfortunately, a Black Belt in another style will not really translate into the same rank in Kuk Sool. Does this mean, then, that any prior training or rank that I may have had will be wasted? The BEST answer to that is “No,” for several very good reasons:
- Training in any martial art has certain benefits, and you will always have these benefits; they are never wasted — the confidence, knowledge and skills you have learned (whether in martial arts or any other endeavor) will always be a part of you.
- Prior training will generally help you to progress faster in Kuk Sool than those students who have never had martial arts before. Many of the basics are translatable, even when the more “style specific” techniques are not.
Kuk Sool is often described as a “graduate level” martial arts program with a training curriculum that goes far beyond what is available in most other styles, and because of this we very often attract students who already have training in some other style. Regardless of what other style you may have studied, it will often provide a good foundation for you to begin your training with us.
Unlike some activities like baseball or soccer, you can begin classes at Martial Art Fitness Academy anytime. There really isn’t a martial arts “season,” and it is an activity that can be practiced year-round.
A lot of people overestimate the amount of time necessary to progress in martial arts. At Martial Art Fitness Academy, if you are able to attend at least 2 classes per week (and spend just a couple hours a week training at home) you should be able to progress regularly. In fact, our lesson plans at Martial Art Fitness Academy are set up with this schedule in mind. We understand that you have other activities going on with work, school and family. That’s why we offer several different class times during the day and evenings so you can pick what is most convenient to you.
Absolutely! You can progress — and even earn a Black Belt — in Kuk Sool at whatever level you may be. You will never be required to do something beyond your personal ability just because another student may be able to it. At Martial Art Fitness Academy the only person that you are ever judged against is yourself. All we ask from you is a commitment to do your best, and to try to grow a little more in your abilities every day.
Remember that our training curriculum at Martial Art Fitness Academy is based on the individual — not the group. Therefore, when you see some students doing advanced gymnastics and spectacular falls or kicks, it is because they can. Everyone will have certain strengths and weakness that they bring to class, and our goal is to build on your personal strengths while at the same time helping you to overcome any weaknesses that you may have.
Talk to some of our students and ask about their accomplishments — they may all be different, but they are all important.
We promise you that if you will just make the commitment to try, one day you will look back and be surprised at just how far you have come.
A “form” (called a “hyung” in Korean) is a prearranged series of movements performed in a dance-like manner, and is probably the most important training tool that you will have in the martial arts.
A traditional form is designed to not only allow you to practice patterns and techniques, or to train your body and build muscles and stamina — it is also extremely important in helping your body to learn the “vocabulary” of a particular martial art.
Every style or system of martial arts is different, and each has it’s own particular “flavor” as different from one style to the next as apples are from oranges. Practicing forms helps you to internalize the particular “flavor” of your style of martial arts through consistent practice, which will help you in every other aspect of your training.
In Kuk Sool forms are an integral part of your training, with an empty-hand form (and, often, one or more weapons forms) required for each rank.
At Martial Art Fitness Academy we practice several different types of sparring (beginning at Yellow Belt level for adults, Blue Belt for children).
We begin with sparring drills, and then advance to very light Kuk Sool-style tournament sparring (no-contact), open-style tournament sparring (light-contact), Korean rules sparring (continuous 3-minute rounds with moderate contact). We also teach grapple sparring (more of a self-defense training which teaches you to apply techniques in a fluid and changing manner), yudo sparring (consisting of sweeps and body throws) and martial arts sparring (a controlled freestyle sparring which allows striking, kicking, throwing, sweeps and grappling — this is restricted to Brown Belt level and above).
Competition is not a required (or even an overly important) aspect of Kuk Sool, although we do participate in tournaments on a limited basis.
It is important to realize that traditional martial arts training is not a sport and, while some competition can be pursued on a limited basis, we do not limit our training to what will help you to score points in a tournament setting.
This goes back to the “sparring” question above. Kuk Sool is not a tournament style art, although there is some tournament participation available to students who are interested.
We do try to attend any area or regional Kuk Sool tournaments, if possible. These tournaments are geared specifically to allow students to complete in all areas of training — not just forms and sparring. In a Kuk Sool tournament students may compete in empty hand forms, weapons forms, sparring (with strict no-contact rules), techniques (appropriate to belt level), self-defense and breaking. After Black Belt level, additional categories of competition (such as demonstration techniques, knife-throwing and archery) are also often available.
Again, tournament participation is NOT a requirement at Martial Art Fitness Academy but we do offer this type of training for those students who might be interested.
Any type of activity can potentially be beneficial for children, but a traditional martial arts system teaches not only physical skills and competitiveness (which, if not taught properly, can easily lead to aggressive behavior), but also positive values such as respect, self-confidence, self-discipline, goal-setting, etc. A good martial arts school, like Martial Art Fitness Academy offers young children a supportive environment with positive role models to help them develop into confident, polite and respectful citizens. Remember, it has been said that “values can’t be taught, the can only be caught” — at Martial Art Fitness Academy we feel that it is our job to give our young students the opportunity to “catch” as many good values as possible.
At Martial Art Fitness Academy we generally start children at about 6 years old (based on attention span and other factors), although we do start them at a younger age if a parent or older sibling trains with us, as well. This is because younger children are still able to learn and progress if they are able to get help at home.
To allow both parent and child to progress, however, classes are split into age- and rank-specific groups which allows both adults and children to progress at their own pace.
The great thing about families training together is that, very often, the kids are able to help the parents to learn forms or techniques — we have found that this is a tremendous confidence builder for your kids!
Because all of our training here at Martial Art Fitness Academy is self-paced and personal, age or reasonable physical limitations are never a problem and we are able to structure your training around any old injuries or restrictions that you might have. We have many adult students, and a good number of them started training in their 40’s (some even started in their 50’s or 60’s!). The traditional martial arts training program at Martial Art Fitness Academy follows the philosophy that your health should be your primary consideration in training, while self-defense is just a useful by-product.
Remember, you may not ever be in a fight, but you have to get out of bed every day of your life.
While there are minimum attendance requirements to be eligible for belt testing, there really shouldn’t be a problem. If you miss the occasional class and would like to make it up we offer open make-up classes on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings for all ages and all ranks or, if necessary, you may make arrangements with our Program Director to attend one of our other classes at another time.
One of the great benefits of training at Martial Art Fitness Academy is that the main lesson that we want to impart to our kids is “martial arts etiquette” — simply respect and good manners. We emphasize to our kids that the techniques they learn in class are for self-defense ONLY and should never be used against their friends or siblings.
Many times an aggressive nature is little more than too much physical energy with no appropriate outlet to channel it away — martial arts training is a great outlet for kids and the perfect activity to channel their aggression into a more positive area.
This is the other side of the coin to the question above. While some kids might be loud and aggressive, many other children are quiet and shy. Martial arts training helps to inspire confidence in children in a way no other organized activity is able to do.
Unlike most organized sporting activities like baseball or soccer, the martial arts really doesn’t have “stars” and “benchwarmers” (and what destroys a child’s confidence more than being involved in a sport where they are always sitting out on the bench because of a coach who cares more about “winning the game” than developing the children on the team?). In a martial arts class everybody participates, and there are so many different elements in traditional martial arts training that all of the kids can be “one of the best” at something.
In addition, at Martial Art Fitness Academy part of the training is allowing the kids to come up in front of the group (when we feel they are comfortable with it) and leading the rest of the kids in part of the class (such as exercises, punches and kicks, etc.). This is not only a GREAT confidence-builder in itself, it also helps to teach the child associated skills such as leadership, speaking in front of a group, and so on that will help them throughout the rest of their lives.
Punching and kicking are great, but at Martial Art Fitness Academy we believe that the MOST valuable lessons we can give to a child are the intangibles that will help them to be more confident, out-going and successful citizens.
Everything you will need for our regular program is included in your monthly tuition. Should you choose to participate in a regular basis in sparring class, tournaments, etc. there will, of course, be some additional fees for equipment purchase and tournament or workshop registration. We will do our best, however, to keep any additional fees as nominal as possible and always try to give you your best value for your money.
In addition to your tuition, there are also testing fees that are quite reasonable and which occur only every 2-3 months. You will never be “surprised” by a fee, and we will notify you about any possible fees well in advance.
The techniques in Kuk Sool are, indeed, “ancient” — drawn from hundreds of years of Korean martial arts history.
The art of “Kuk Sool” (“National Martial Art”) was first developed in the late 1950’s in Korea, but the actual system of “Kuk Sool”, was founded in the early 1960’s. Putting together a complex and comprehensive system of forms and techniques based on historical Korean martial arts and containing techniques from all of the indigenous martial arts of Korea, Kuk Sool was the intent to “return” their martial arts history to the Korean people by bringing together techniques that had been practiced in secret for many years (and in some cases almost lost forever).
Because of this, even though the style itself is relatively new, Kuk Sool is often described as a “living history of the Korean martial arts” and represents the most comprehensive system of traditional Korean martial arts in the world today.
Actually Tae Kwon Do is considered the Korean national sport. Widely practiced in Korea, and even part of the public school curriculum, Tae Kwon Do in Korea is about like baseball in the United States.
That is a great question, and it is mostly based on an extremely persistent misunderstanding. In point of fact, Tae Kwon Do is not really a traditional Korean martial art at all but is, in fact, more similar to Japanese karate.
The reason for this is that after the Japanese “annexation” of Korea in the early 1900’s the practice of most Korean arts (including martial arts) was forbidden by the occupiers, while the practice of Japanese martial arts was encouraged. Because of this there resulted an entire generation of Koreans trained in Japanese martial arts.
At the end of World War II when the Japanese were thrown out of the country, many Korean martial arts masters got together to form “kwans” (or “schools”) and, in the spirit of nationalism, “glossed over” the fact that the styles were really Japanese — basically, forms and patterns based on the Japanese Heian kata with some Korean kicking thrown in for “spice.”
A prominent Tae Kwon Do master (who is also a history professor at Rice University) researched the origins of Tae Kwon Do for years, and in the late 1980’s reported that (even though he had desperately hoped to uncover a traditional Korean origin), in his learned opinion, “the founder of Tae Kwon Do was really Ginchin Funakoshi” — the founder of Japanese Shotokan Karate.
This is why Tae Kwon Do forms and movements are so hard and linear (as opposed to the circular, soft and flowing movements of Kuk Sool) and why they so closely resemble Japanese martial arts.
[NOTE: In the mid-80’s in order to “distance” themselves from their Japanese roots, Tae Kwon Do developed new forms that were different from the Japanese-based forms they had practiced for years — effectively “brushing their Japanese roots under the carpet.”]
Unlike a lot of more competitive martial arts schools, training at Martial Art Fitness Academy is extremely safe. While there may be the occasional pulled muscle from overexertion, the actual contact is extremely minimal and well-controlled. Students are taught to apply their techniques slowly and smoothly, always aware of the safety of their partner, and sparring (if you choose to participate in the sparring, which is not required for advancement) is closely supervised with no- to light-contact.
The “yelling” that you are talking about in a martial arts class is called a “kihap” (literally, “power yell”) and it serves two distinct — and very important — purposes:
- First, the kihap is not so much the noise you make as what you do with your air. When you kihap, half of your air goes out and half is pushed down into your belly. Proper use of a kihap will give you more power by forcing the air down into the diaphragm and converting your body into a more-efficient weight-bearing mass. This is important not only in generating power for strikes, but also in helping to protect your body when taking a fall.
- The second important reason we kihap is to startle an attacker or an opponent. A kihap delivered unexpectedly in a loud, sharp burst can have the effect of temporarily disorienting an attacker to give you a split second “window” to counter or deliver an attack of your own.
Almost any type of traditional martial arts training will give some degree of self-defense benefit, but because of the “hard-soft” nature of Kuk Sool, the emphasis on attacking the sensitive joints and pressure points of an attacker and the idea of not trying to meet force-with-force (after all, most attackers will be bigger and stronger than you), Kuk Sool is an excellent system for self defense.
You will begin learning defensive techniques right away (remember, Kuk Sool is a martial art, not a sport), and many of them will be immediately applicable. As you progress in Kuk Sool, learning more and more techniques and developing a more comprehensive “toolbox” of techniques, the self-defense skills that you develop will become progressively more effective.
In addition, Martial Art Fitness Academy offers classes specifically for women, taught by a woman. With the vast array of techniques in Kuk Sool and our emphasis on having our students understand the principles behind them, Kuk Sool is one of the very best systems around for learning self defense.
Absolutely. In fact, Kuk Sool especially after the Black Belt level is extremely weapons intensive and covers the full spectrum of traditional martial arts weaponry: bladed weapons, impact weapons, flexible weapons and throwing or projectile weapons.
At the under-black belt level the student first learns weapons etiquette — the proper way to handle and use weapons, followed by basic weapons handling, techniques and forms and the finally, in some instances, 2-person weapons sets (a pre-arranged form with choreographed patterns of attack and defense).
The weapons available at the underbelt level include the jool bong (a flail-like weapon commonly referred to as “nunchucks”), long staff (spinning motions, only) sword meditation and single short stick.
After Black Belt level there are quite a number of different weapons taught (in addition to empty hand forms, techniques, sets, etc.). The weapons after Belt Belt (categorized by type) include:
- Impact Weapons: Long staff, hooked walking cane, double short stick, staff sparring set
- Bladed Weapons: Straight sword, inverted sword, double short sword, double long swords, spear, halberd
- Flexible Weapons: Jool bong, sahm jool bong (three section staff), rope/belt
- Projectile Weapons: Throwing knives, Korean archery
One of the things that Kuk Sool practitioners are noted for is their extensive repertoire of weapons forms and techniques.
Okay, we may be a little biased here, but the short answer is that Martial Art Fitness Academy offers you the very BEST value around for your martial arts dollar in Missouri City, Stafford and Sugar Land — great instructors, spacious and modern training facilities, a superior martial arts system and the camaraderie and support of fellow students. In fact we offer a MONEY BACK GUARANTEE to that effect: If, during your first month of training with us, you find any other school in the area that offers a more complete and comprehensive martial arts program, then we will gladly refund your money.
Although most new students are sponsored by current members, many people still enroll through our introductory program. Simply call the office at 281-969-8644 and make an appointment for your introductory program.