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Martial Arts

From Karate Kid to Practical Tae Kwon Do


From Karate Kid to Practical Tae Kwon Do

By Matthew Sylvester

What an interesting tool the internet is. Somewhere, there is a post about the Karate Kid and how it influenced me. Someone else, whom it also influenced, spotted my post and contacted me, asking if I wanted to take part in a documentary.

I agreed to do this and suggested it would be really good if the makers could train as they went across the world and that they were very welcome indeed to come and train with our class.

I think nothing much of it, swapping emails with them as I continued to look for a new job until I got an email saying that they were coming over and that my invitation to train was the deciding factor!

The documentary examines the impact of the film, The Karate Kid. Travelling across the globe, the film will expose the far-reaching effects of the classic 80’s hit.

Guiding us through the journey is Sean Cunningham, who is following his dream to take karate. As a child, Sean’s karate dreams were cut short when the local karate instructor quit on the first day of class. Now, at age 26, Sean will train and compete in a karate tournament.

The crew have now gone and what an experience it was. From the very start they were filming me, driving through Exeter, sat in the lounge talking, filming Rick Clark footage (I thought I’d show them what Sean was letting himself in for), me squeezing Sean and the cameraman man on Spleen 6 at home, interviewing me as we walked through Topsham and then filming the entire class (so no pressure) as well as doing a wrap up at the end.

Sean took part in the class and, considering it was his first time ever training, did very well.

He managed to make it through the pad work despite being kicked in the stomach by one of the other students, performed Sajo Jirugi well (again especially as it was his first time) and was very game at performing the techniques we have derived from Sajo Jirugi for white belts.

All the time Alex, the cameraman, was filming so the pressure was on my students to do well, especially when paired with Sean. Senior student, Karen, is known for ‘putting techniques in’ if you ask her and so it was comic to watch Sean flinch as the first elbow strike came crashing towards his face.

After doing the first 5 techniques, we moved on to simple pressure points incorporating Low Block, Rising Block, Bending Ready Stance (upright and on the floor), Spleen 6 (using hand and heel), Large Intestine 7, Bladder 57 and Gall Bladder 31, and Large Intestine 10.

Because we had a number of new students attending, I explained Prof. Rick Clark’s ‘Just Hit Here’ theory, saying how one point can lead to others opening up and therefore creating a predictive response and getting students to look at what happened when a point was hit (lightly) and how the opponent moved.

In order to make sure we got plenty of footage of showing Sean training, Alex requested that I use him for the majority of the pressure point applications. I’m sure that they’ll be able to edit the sniggering out later.

After that it was back home to freshen up, to drink some more excellent Cyder (having gone to Dart’s Farm in the morning to sample and stock up) and have a curry with some of the less tired students.

It was a really exciting experience and I can’t wait to get hold of the stills, the raw footage and (in a good few months) the actual finished documentary. Then, they’re off to the film festivals (including Sundance and Cannes) where, hopefully even more people will get to see the documentary.

What a brilliant experience, a great opportunity for Practical Tae Kwon Do and Practical Martial Arts as a whole and what fun!

I wish Sean good luck in his endeavour and hope that the next few months (including the build up to the tournament) are not only filled with quality training, dedication but also fun!

He has taken the first big step towards achieving his goal of training in the martial arts and I for one think that to do so and to film it is very brave indeed.

Anyone interested in finding out more about the documentary can find it at http://home.earthlink.net/~sean427/karatekid/id3.html

About mattsylvester

Father of two beautiful daughters and married to the beautiful Karen, Matthew has been reading and writing fantasy and science fiction since he first read the Hobbit at the age of 7. Matthew was Features Editor, Technical Consultant and regular columnist for magazines such as ‘Fighters’, ‘Combat’, ‘TKD & Korean Martial Arts’ and ‘Traditional Karate’. These are the four leading martial arts magazines in the United Kingdom. He is also the author of the critically acclaimed 'Practical Taekwondo: Back to the Roots', which has been sold around the world. With regard to his martial arts background he has been studying martial arts since 1991. In 1995 he hosted Professor Rick Clark of the ADK and since then has been studying pressure points and their uses in the martial arts and on the street (initially as a Special Constable and as a Door Supervisor). All of this practical hands-on experience means that he is uniquely placed to write fight scenes that are not only plausible but some of which are based on personal or anecdotal experience. Matthew has had a number of short stories published by Fringe Works, KnightWatch Press, Anderfam Press and Emby Press.

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