I went to Houston and what did I see?

I took the opportunity this year of tagging along with Steffen PSBN on his annual trip to Houston for Instructor Training at the World Kuk Sool Headquarters. Although I wasn’t able to participate in the official Training, there was still plenty to do and learn “from the sidelines” as Mel JKN has put it.

The first thing I learned was that, despite our grumbling as his students, Steffen PSBN is NOT actually a testing maniac compared to other school owners. In fact, the word from on high was this: testing is good practice and we all need more practice. At dinner with Master Jeff Green and Sa Bum Nim Ben Mitchell, we got the wonderful idea of giving practice tests to black stripe students who aren’t quite ready to test for Dahn Bo Nim. I got to see our first two students take practice tests on Saturday, and, as an instructor, I’m convinced that they will significantly help. As a mom, it was a little heartbreaking — one of the practice testers was my son, and his emotional unreadiness was obvious. But by practicing, I know his readiness to test will improve. Besides, we came home with testing plans that will be affecting allour black belt testers, and my turn will be coming. It’s always only a matter of time before testing begins to affect you personally.

I also had the pleasure of seeing Pu Sa Bum Nims and Sa Bum Nims testing. It was awe-inspiring, as usual. It also reinforced the practicing of odd-side forms at black belt. Master Daniel Jolly emphasized this point during Houston testing in October — as black belts we must practice forms on both sides equally. And Su Suhk Kwan Jahng Nim Harmon certainly reinforced it during this test.

I got to meet a delightful group of women from the San Francisco Bay area who have trained under Sun Im Kwan Jahng Nim Suh for years. These “California girls” are the students who took up the mantle of school owners when their head instructor moved. None of them went into Kuk Sool with the plan of school ownership, but when the need arose, they jumped into the role. We swapped ideas and stories, compared notes on training pre-schoolers, and had a great time. I look forward to next year and the chance to reconnect with them.

The one thing that I missed that I wish I had been able to witness was Master Daniel Jolly’s speech about loyalty. There are some organizational changes going on in the big wide Kuk Sool family, and, as with any change, there are some grumbles, worries, and doubts. Master Jolly spoke about his loyalty to Kuk Sa Nim and the loyalty that is returned to him in kind. It occurred to me that, ultimately, we are all Kuk Sa Nim’s students. I know how I feel about my students and the lengths I would go to for each one of them, and I trust the same is true of Kuk Sa Nim.

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