Articles and Reports from PSMAG Members
Reflecting on Four Good Years
by Michael Eccker
Over the last 6 semesters, I have had the opportunity to be an officer for the Penn State Martial Arts Group. In my time serving as Vice President and then as President, I have gotten not only to learn and develop leadership skills, but also to see the club from a different perspective. Coordinating club events and working with the other officers to help promote the spirit of Tang Soo Do has taught me even more about what that spirit entails. The reality is that my duties as an officer were made both easy and enjoyable by the club members. Members of this group take responsibility for the club in ways that I never would have expected before coming here, my fellow officers even more so.
I couldn’t possibly express all of my gratitude to Master Kaye and to all of the club members that I’ve gotten to work with while at Penn State. I know that this club’s tradition of excellence will continue, and I hope to bring some of it with me as I leave Penn State.
April 26, 2017
Penn State Martial Arts Group in the WTSDA Tournament for Region 22
by Susan Nahvi
As part of the World Tang Soo Do Association, our club makes the trip each spring to our regional tournament. This year’s tournament took place on Saturday, April 22, so on that Friday, Master Kaye and the competitors drove out to Monaca, Pennsylvania. The competitors were Adam Bolotsky, Anthony Guidotti, Susan Nahvi, Austin Steltz, Michael Eccker, Carl Morandi, and Ema Chen. Despite not being entered in the competition, Tonya Pick, Dr. David Pick, and Davie Pick also came to the event to volunteer their services in running the hospitality suite.
Every tournament, one studio is asked to organize a room in the hotel where competitors, members of the WTSDA, and their families can come to socialize and grab a bite to eat. Thanks to the meticulous preparation of Master Kaye and the club’s volunteers, the hospitality suite ran smoothly and had a welcoming atmosphere. Various members of the WTSDA stopped by, including an appearance from Grandmaster Strong, and the senior members indulged everyone with their humorous and thought-provoking stories. Earlier that evening, around 30 black belts were invited to train at Master Homschek’s River Valley Tang Soo Do Academy under the tutelage of Grandmaster Strong. It was both an honor and a unique opportunity to learn from one of our Grandmasters. Those of us who attended look forward to incorporating those lessons and principles into our daily practice.
During the opening ceremonies of the tournament the next morning, Anthony Guidotti returned the Grand Champion Cup, which he had won in last year’s tournament. What followed was a day of high spirits, camaraderie, and excellent competition. The competition events were forms, weapons, and sparring. Michael Eccker won first place in all categories and took home the trophy for the adult gup division. Competing in the same division, Carl Morandi won third place in weapons and second in sparring. Susan Nahvi received co-third place in forms and third place in sparring in the adult female black belt division. Ema Chen placed second in both sparring and forms in the adult female gup division. Adam Bolotsky took home two co-third medals in sparring and weapons, and in the same division, Austin Steltz took first place in sparring and third place in forms. Anthony Guidotti placed second in both forms and weapons for that division as well. For those of us who will be leaving at the end of this semester, it was not only a wonderful way to round out the year, but also a chance to see our fellow club members demonstrate what they have learned. While I will be graduating, I look forward to seeing what else our members can achieve practicing the art of Tang Soo Do.
April 26, 2017
Penn State Martial Arts Group Worlds Experience
by Austin Steltz
Hello! My name is Austin. I am a first degree black belt in the World Tang Soo Do association, and an active participant in the Penn State Martial Arts Group. This past summer, I had the privilege of joining other World Tang Soo Do members from across the world for the 2016 World Championship, held in Greensboro, North Carolina. I entered the Greensboro coliseum on Friday morning and was taken back by the number of cultures represented in the association. I remember watching the flags of the different countries, held by the students and masters who practiced there, walking toward the head table, laying them to rest beside the Korean and American flag. I’ve read about the global presence of the World Tang Soo Do association in the Gup and Dan manuals, but seeing so many cultures and people from across the country and globe come together to compete in a common art ignited in me a realization of the sense of unity the World Tang Soo Do Association possessed.
Before I knew it, they were calling us to the floor to compete. I’ve been to my fair share of tournaments. This one dwarfed them all. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous, but overshadowing that emotion was another; excitement. Here was my chance to compete with Tang Soo Do members from across the globe. The Masters and Senior Dan students collected our tickets, and it was time to compete. First was weapons. In my division, everyone was competing with staff forms. I was taken back by the different styles and variations applied to the same form I performed. Next came empty hand forms. I competed with Sip Soo, a form learned immediately before testing for Black Belt. The final event was sparring. If you ask anyone at Penn State Martial Arts Group, they will inform you unanimously that sparring is my favorite event. At Worlds, sparring is ran as a single elimination tournament style event. I was the first match. Dripping with excitement, I bowed to the Master running the ring, then to my opponent. The match started. I had four matches in total. All of my opponents were very skilled, and I learned much from sparring them. The last match was for first place, and it was by far the closest. In the end, I was able to pull out a victory, winning my sparring division at the 2016 world tournament.
My experience at the world tournament was a great one. However, this experience would likely have been very different if not for the companionship of my fellow club members, both at the tournament and at Penn State. We are a close knit group here at PSMAG, and if you are curious about Tang Soo Do, we’d love to have you.
September 5, 2016
WTSDA Region 22 Overnight Black Belt Camp 2016
by Michael Eccker
On the weekend of June 25th, Region 22 of the World Tang Soo Do Association held its annual overnight Black Belt Camp at the University of Pittsburgh Johnstown campus. I attended the event for my first time with Anthony Guidotti, one of our current black belts, and saw many familiar faces of club members that have graduated and started training, or even teaching, at other studios.
The camp itself consisted of WTSDA Masters from across Western Pennsylvania and Ohio coming together to instruct and train with the black belts and black belt candidates of the region. Most students of Tang Soo Do often only get the opportunity to learn from the instructors from their own studio on a regular basis, so having the chance to learn from such a variety of experienced and qualified instructors is an experience not to be missed.
For me, the camp showed a perspective that I had not had in quite a while – that of being the lowest ranking member in the room. I’m used to having all of the Gup (colored belt) students in the class standing to my left and behind me, but at black belt camp, as a Cho Dan Bo (black belt candidate), there was no one in the room that didn’t outrank me. This feeling was one familiar to me and to every black belt and Master at that camp, since I and every one of them at some point had a first class. We all started as white belts, not knowing the path that lay ahead of us.
The weekend was a huge success, as we managed to avoid the 3-day rain that had confined last year’s camp to train inside of the gymnasium for the whole weekend. Knowledge was shared, intense training was done, and, of course, stories of the old days were told. There isn’t a person that I spoke to after camp that hadn’t learned even more than they could have expected to.