Dojahng Protocol and Ancient Lessons

2016 Kuk Sool Won of Muncie team at Super Seminar

This article was originally published in our June 2007 newsletter. 

Dojahng Protocol is confusing for many students and parents. Why? Simply put it is all foreign to them. The art we teach and all of what we do is related to Eastern philosophy. A person who has never studied these concepts will have a difficult time understanding them. Many who have studied Eastern philosophy still have a hard time with some of it. The fact is it takes years of study actually to get it. It is simply a different way of thought.

Here are a few examples of how a martial artist friend of mine made a fool of himself because he didn’t understand Eastern culture: Continue reading “Dojahng Protocol and Ancient Lessons”

March 9th is the WKSA New Year

It’s time to set your goals!

The ninth of March is the anniversary of the founding of Kuk Sool as the traditional martial art of Korea. Fifty-nine years ago, our Grandmaster, In Hyuk Suh, organized and systematized Korea’s indigenous martial arts, becoming one of the most important figures in Korean martial art history.

This anniversary is the perfect time to reflect on the past year and make plans for the next. Continue reading “March 9th is the WKSA New Year”

Blackbelt Reading List

I’ve been working on this project for over ten years. It’s not finished, but I’m sharing this work-in-progress in the hope that it will become a community project.

So, the original idea was to have a list of books that will guide the Blackbelt Candidate and help focus their mind on training. It has expanded, instead, to include books to read after achieving Blackbelt, and before we get to that level as well. Continue reading “Blackbelt Reading List”

Why Everyone in Muncie Should Train at Kuk Sool Won™ of Muncie

My last post ended with me saying that Kuk Sool Won™ of Muncie might not be the right martial art school for you. This post will tell you why we probably are the right school for you.

When people come to me looking for a martial art school, I always ask them why they want to learn a martial art. These are the answers that I usually get:

  • Self-Defense
  • Discipline
  • Fighting
  • Fitness
  • Social Interaction
  • “It’s just something I’ve always wanted to do.”

Kuk Sool Won™ in general, and Kuk Sool Won™ of Muncie specifically, focuses on self-defense instead of fighting. What that means to me is that our focus isn’t on sport or hurting people, we focus on helping them. If someone comes to you with aggressive intent and you have no training, you have only your instinct and fight or flight response to call on. When you have martial art training, you have choices. You can decide how to respond to aggression and use the least possible force to keep yourself safe, potentially saving your aggressor from harm as well.

I’ve been practicing Kuk Sool Won since about 1999. I met the grandmaster that year and had the opportunity to take a seminar in which he taught us Zen meditation. (”Zen” is a Japanese word, also used in Korea, that comes from the Chinese word “Chan”, which means “meditation”.) Even though Zen is a Buddhist tradition, there is no religion involved in the meditation practice. It is a tool to focus the mind, maybe to refresh the connection between the mind and the body, and to develop some control over the body’s autonomic functions. When Zen is practiced, new thresholds of physical ability are achievable.

Since that year, I’ve had the privilege to attend many of Kuk Sa Nim’s lectures, both public and private. Unfortunately, I haven’t learned any “secret” techniques like walking through walls or over water. What I have learned is that the ultimate goal of the best martial artists that I know is to become the best people that they can be. Not just physically the best, but the smartest, the fastest, the calmest, the happiest, the most polite, the most fulfilled people on the planet. That is self-defense, Blackbelt Familyand that is what we’re teaching at Kuk Sool Won™ of Muncie.

Are there people in Muncie that need help being the best possible people that they can? Yes, all of us. We all need help. I saw a statistic the other day that Indiana is one of the least fit states in the Union, and Delaware County is one of the least fit counties in the state. I think it’s obvious that when the body is unfit, the mind and spirit are also unhealthy. The lessons we have to teach at Kuk Sool Won™ of Muncie can turn things around. Muncie can become a lighthouse for the rest of the state. Indiana can be an example for the nation (rather than stumbling behind the rest of the country with a pathetic “me too” attitude.)

Maybe this sounds idealistic. Maybe I sound like a wannabe guru or something. When I talk about our little school helping, it has nothing to do with me personally. It’s the message, not the messenger. There is so much information available to each of us now that we don’t have to rely on teachers as dispensers of knowledge. What we need is the community of a school and the atmosphere of learning to keep us motivated and moving forward. You need that, and I need that.

So, should you and your family be members of Kuk Sool Won of Muncie? Only if you care about yourself and want the best for your family. Only if you want to be an example of what humans can be and accomplish if they apply themselves. Only if you have the desire to see how much you can grow and to explore the limits of what your body can do.

I’m not a guru, whatever that means to you. I’m a martial art teacher, but more importantly, I’m a martial art student. I’m better this year than I was last year. My students are better this year than last year. You can be too.

What is Kuk Sool Won?

I want to take some time this week to talk about the martial art system that we teach at Kuk Sool Won™ of Muncie. These are questions that I frequently get when talking to potential students. If I missed yours, let me know in the comment section.

What does Kuk Sool Won™ mean?

Kuk Sool Won literally means Korean National Martial Art Association. It is the only martial art taught in East Central Indiana that is recognized by the Korean government as a traditional Korean martial art. There are other martial art styles but according to the Korean government, they either have foreign influence or are technically “sports” rather than “arts”.

Where does Kuk Sool Won come from?

As mentioned, it comes from Korea. There are three roots to our system: Tribal or Family Martial Arts, Royal Court or Military Martial Arts, and Buddhist or Temple Martial Arts. Kuk Sool Won™ is truly an eclectic system made up of many styles, all indigenous1 to the Korean peninsula.

Who invented it?

There was no single inventor per se. Our grandmaster, In Hyuk Suh (we call him Kuk Sa Nim {Korean National Martial Art Teacher}), compiled the curriculum and established the system in the 1960’s based on his experience with his Grandfather, one of the last Royal Court instructors before the Japanese occupation, and other traditional teachers in his youth.

How did it get to Muncie?

Like most martial arts in the area, through the military. During and after the Korean War, servicemen stationed in Korea spent time learning martial arts from local teachers. In the 1970’s a serviceman came back after earning a Black Belt in Kuk Sool Won™. He started a school in Galesburg, IL, and from there it has spread through the Midwest. Kuk Sa Nim eventually emigrated to the U.S. and lives now near Houston, TX. From there, the Wold Kuk Sool Association has spread over the globe and is the fastest growing martial art in the world.

Why should I learn Kuk Sool Won™ instead of Karate or Tae Kwon Do?

Maybe you should and maybe you shouldn’t. Kuk Sool Won™ isn’t for everyone. It’s hard and requires dedication and hard practice to be able to learn and apply the principles taught. Of course, it is physically challenging but students find themselves growing mentally and spiritually2 as well. People who are primarily interested in winning fights should apply elsewhere.


Did I answer your question? Feel free to email me at if you have other questions. Or use the comment section if you want to share your questions (and the answers) with the world.


1. Can we say that there was never any influence on indigenous Korean martial arts from countries like China, Mongolia, or Japan? Obviously not. What we can say is that the curriculum in Kuk Sool Won™ covers arts that the Korean Government has declared to be traditionally Korean.

2. We absolutely do not teach any form of religion or worship. Any ceremonial bowing is strictly secular. The hierarchy common to traditional martial art schools is in place to help the student learn humility and provide fertile ground for learning. Even though some of the curriculum comes from the Buddhist martial arts, there are no religious teachings involved.

Simple, But Never Easy

Six year old KSN Ken

Six year old KSN KenI’ve been working on some very time-consuming projects lately and have ignored my blog. I have missed three posts in a row, and that’s just not acceptable. I need to continue to make time for this, as well as my other business-related writing and creative writing.

And that kind of comes down to the topic of this post, which I chose weeks ago. Life, like Kuk Sool Won, is simple, but not easy. I can remember sitting on my swing set that my dad built for us when I was five or six years old. This was around 1972 and the news was full of stories of Viet Nam, racial tension, drugs, and violence. Not much different from now, I suppose, but I remember being deeply affected by it all.
Most of all, I remember sitting there and trying to comprehend why people chose to live lives of violence and crime. I couldn’t understand why people wanted to do “bad things” to each other. It seemed easy to my young mind, just to choose to do the right thing. And, I suppose, it is easy. But it’s not simple.

When people have been mistreated for a long time, sometimes violence seems like the only option. For whatever reason, our culture is steeped in violence and laced with unhealthy sexuality. The combination seems designed to induce the death spiral of our society.

Well, what my six-year-old-self didn’t realize is that humans seem to need that magnetic draw of the shadow, the darker part of our nature, to contrast our higher nature. Without darkness, we can’t appreciate the light. If we weren’t drawn to that aspect of ourselves, we wouldn’t value the work required to rise above it. I’ve seen this over and over in my life and as an instructor.

We’ve all been there. We start a diet, and someone brings donuts to work. We decide to start running on Monday, get up early, and it’s raining. We think that maybe we should start drinking less, and get invited to a party. The call of the shadow is both unavoidable and, as it turns out, helpful.

The shadow, the magnetic draw towards entropy and decay, is actually a tool to help point us in the right direction. When we begin something that we know is “good for us”, fate seems to throw obstacles in our path that make it easy for us to quit. We need to learn to take a step back from those events or situations and look at the bigger picture. When the easy thing to do is quit, that’s when we need to work harder. KSN Ken, age five or so, riding a Big WheelWhen you want to skip class, that’s when you need to be there the most. When people are being idiots and traffic is making you late, you need to keep going.

When you hear that internal voice telling you to cheat, to quit, to take a day off, to give in to the inevitable, you need to know that what it is really saying is that if you want to be better than you are, you should do exactly the opposite. That internal voice, so much easier to hear than the one telling us the right thing to do, can give us the same information if we just learn how to use it. We have to become aware of ourselves as observers; take a step back from the emotion and drama of our lives and pay attention to how we’re living and what’s going on around us.

You may have heard that when you make a choice to begin something, the Universe conspires to help you in any way that it can. The voice of your shadow is one way that the Universe points you toward the right path. The obstacles that appear in your path are another. Don’t assume that because something is the right thing to do, that it will be easy. Sometimes the best thing that you can do for yourself, is also the hardest.

Martial art training is hard all by itself. The concepts are easy to learn, but the practice is hard. Making it to class two or three times a week seems hard, until you make it a priority. When it becomes a habit, and you see the changes that happen to your body and your life, in general, you become greedy for that time spent practicing, and making the choice to be in class is much easier.

Please don’t fall into the trap of following the lead of your shadow. The shadow is like a clown. It’s there to show us what not to do. Our society has chosen to follow the clowns rather than use their example as one to avoid. (I remember writing a longer post about that, but I can’t find it. I’ll get back to you on that.)

Kuk Sool Won is simple. If you find it difficult, usually you’re doing something wrong. Training is simple, getting to class is hard. Doing the right thing is simple, figuring out the right thing can be hard. We get caught up in our lives and forget that we’re simply players on a stage. When we take a step back and look at the bigger picture, things come into sharper focus and we can see our choices and their consequences more clearly.