National Physical Fitness Month Challenges!

sit ups

May is National Physical Fitness Month!

As martial artists one of our goals is to work on maintaining a healthy lifestyle. That includes exercise both in and outside of class.

Every week in May we will be issuing a new challenge! All students, parents and siblings are encouraged to participate!

Week One (May 3-9): SIT UPS! Do 100 sit ups (vary them) daily. It doesn’t have to be all at once. If you need to, spread them out through the day.

Week Two (May 10-16): LUNGES! Do 100 lunges every day! They can be varied (stationary, walking forward, jumping) and spread throughout your day.  Keep up the good work!

Week Three (May 17-23) CARDIO!  Add an extra 10 minutes of cardio to your daily routine. It’s your choice – running, jump rope, fast feet, etc.

Week Four (May 24-31) PUSH UPS! Do 100 push ups every day. Again, it’s okay to do them a few at a time. Let’s see how many the school can do!

Have fun! Remember if you have questions about adding to or improving your fitness routine, please see one of your instructors. We are here to help!


Focus on Family!

Family CollageOver the holidays we are focusing on FAMILY! One of the best things about the study and practice of Martial Arts is that it’s something children and adults can do together!

Children are working on earning their FAMILY patches for their uniforms. Think and talk about what you can do to help your family. Some ideas from our mat chat yesterday included: Listen the first time! Play nicely with cousins (even if they’re not your favorite). Help with cleaning and cooking. Visit relatives and actually talk with them – not just play on your phone. Say please and thank you.

To earn the badge, students can write us a short paragraph about what they worked on and how it helped!

If you are new to our academy, Merit Badges compliment our life skills education for children. It’s another innovative Learn to Earn character development system for our students in preschool through 6th grade.  Like many of J.K. Lee Black Belt Academy’s programs, the merit badge program introduces and reinforces valuable life skills such as Focus, Discipline and Confidence in a manner that is age specific and fun!  Merit Badges are much more than badges. They motivate your child with the incentive of earning through the life skills they learn. It builds their self-esteem and inspires them to always do their best!

Adult students don’t typically earn badges but we do take time to reflect on ways we can help and nurture our families. We encourage you to share ideas and suggestions!

All of our instructors and staff are thankful for all of our wonderful families! Your commitment and support help make teaching joyful!

Top 5 Things We Learned from Tournament!

Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance

Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance!

The week following Tournament we reflect on what we’ve learned. The emphasis is always on learning rather than winning. Here’s our top five answers:

5. People are helpful! Staff and high belts were in abundance to answer questions but it’s also wonderful how supportive and encouraging people can be even when competing against them.

4. Holding is key! A properly held board can be the difference between breaking and not. Make sure to check the holds.

3. Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance! A quote from a 6 year old student, “It was just like you said, practicing made it easy!”

2. We learn by watching what others do! Whether in sparring, breaking or forms competition, seeing what others do well helps improve our own techniques.

1. I can do it! Most of us are nervous prior to competition (children and adults) but we persevere. It’s a super reminder that a POSITIVE ATTITUDE is key.

Thanks to everyone who helped and competed! We are super proud of all our students and families!

Tournament Ready: Exploring the Five P’s

TournamentWe are working in all of our classes to get ready for the upcoming Fall Tournament of Champions. Our Academy hosts two annual tournaments which take place in the Fall and Spring. We encourage everyone to participate, beginners through Black Belts; children and adults. Tournament is not about winning and losing.  It is about learning how to compete, deal with pressure and use self-discipline to achieve a goal. Participation builds patience, self control, confidence and good sportsmanship.

Our discussions with all students have emphasized the 5 P’s: Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance! In order to do well at anything, we need to practice. We don’t merely go through the motions. We practice how we would want to perform. It’s important to find time every day. Even 10 minutes helps! This adaptation of an old military adage is also a good reminder that our self defense fundamentals should be practiced with that same intensity. It’s difficult to think under stress, but your muscles will remember what they’ve done.

Investigating the 5 P’s  led us to review what it means to be a good student, whether at Tae Kwon Do, grade school, college, music lessons, continuing education, etc. A good student is:

Present – Physically and mentally. Let all those other things wait. Focus on the here and now.

Prepared – Review the previous lesson on your own, with your family or in a study group. Bring all materials or equipment.

Productive – Stay on task. Ask questions. There’s time before and after class to visit and sometimes play!

Polite – Showing courtesy and respect to everyone, including parents, teachers and peers, is part of our core values. Be welcoming and encouraging to others.

Positive – At our Academy “can’t” is considered a bad word. Our school greeting is “Pilsung!” A Korean word meaning “certain victory” or for the children “I can do it!”.

We encourage you to take stock of where you are in relation to the 5 P’s as a competitor, student, parent and professional!

If you want to learn more about our Tournament click here:

Stay Safe this Halloween!

Please read and share the following Trick or Treat tips! Stay safe this October!

Family Safety Tips for Halloween

Renowned safety authority, Dave Young, offers his top ten family safety tips for Halloween 2014!  Dave Young is the president of Arma Training, US Fighting Systems and Your Family Defense. He has more than 30 years of combined civilian/military law enforcement training and experience. He is recognized as one of the nation’s leading tactical trainers for personal survival and safety. Dave has been featured by People magazine, Fox and Friends and CNN. He also hosted National Geographic’s Crash Test Human for three years. Dave has trained the instructors at J.K. Lee for many years.
Halloween is a time for fun but for some it’s unfortunately an opportunity to take advantage of others! It is a time where home invasions, assaults and robberies occur in the open and innocent children go missing. Please be prepared!
1. Be ALERT:  Be ALERT of what you see. A toy gun may be REAL. Guns, swords, knives and other weapons could hurt you. Do you have a family action plan?
2.  If your gut tells you to leave … go! Tune in and listen to that inner voice when it tells you something isn’t right or safe, and that you should leave now. Watch for vehicles that maybe be slowly approaching you and your child, and pay attention while you walk through your neighborhood. Do not walk around with blinders on or listening to your iPod.
3.  Be prepared: Don’t dash off without making sure your cell phone is charged and all of the important emergency numbers are loaded in your phone. People forget their numbers under life-threatening situations. Walk your trick or treat route to get an estimated time or identify possible issues you may experience. Have a planned response.
4.  Make sure your flashlight has new batteries: Test beforehand to make sure you are happy with the brightness (something at least 80 Lumina in candela ratings), with a lanyard so you can attach it on your wrist or belt loop (not your neck). Make sure it is readily accessible. Don’t dig through a purse or backpack.
5. Monitor your surroundings: Predators hide within other groups of people, and walk within your OWN groups. Make sure you know everyone in the group. Take a picture of your children on your cell phone and email it to yourself in case you need to give the police a picture of how they were dressed.
6. When accompanying your child, do not dress in costume: This makes it hard for your own children to identify you and/or find you! If you do dress up, have something distinctive about your costume so your children will know you immediately. Watch for traffic! Use the crosswalks together.
7. Make YOUR children’s costume stand out: Children often wear the same thing so put an identifier on their person or costume. For example, give your princess a glow band on her right ankle and left wrist and tell her not to take it off.
8. Do not accept refreshments or beverages closed or open, UNLESS YOU KNOW THEM. There was a situation in which a parent allowed their 10 year old to accept and taste a drink. Their boy needed to immediately use the bathroom. The child went into the house of someone they DIDN’T know which was exactly what the predator wanted.
9. Go through your candy together when you get home. Check original packaging, look for clear tape on the candy, folded corners, etc. If you find anything wrong with the candy you were given, immediately stop searching the candy and call the police. Or better yet, avoid this step all together by throwing all the candy away — that’s right, all of it — and have some of your child’s favorite candy or treats on hand at home instead.
10. Don’t be home alone when you are answering the door for Trick or Treat. Have a friend stay over. Light up the front and back yards. This is the one time of year an intruder can walk right  up to your front door. There is a reason criminals wear a MASK!
For more information about Dave visit, or Facebook at Your Family Defense.

Have a safe and fun Halloween! 

The Movie The Surface and Perseverance

We talk often in class about what it means to be a Black Belt, and how, as children and adults, we strive to make the Tae Kwon Do tenets: Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self Control and Indomitable Spirit, an integral part of our daily lives.  Trying to maximize potential is what sets our academy apart from other programs and why it is such a positive complement to every other activity children and adults engage in, from family life, school, work or sports.

Our Principal, Mr. Gendelman, always encourages us to set goals for ourselves and has provided us with an amazing example of living the tenets! He has been involved with martial arts for over 40 years, and 30 of those years also worked as a professional in theater, television and film.

The Surface facebook still

Eighteen years ago he had an inspiring story idea that has developed into what The Surface is today.  As with everything, Mr. Gendelman had high ideals for the screenplay.  He could have sold it or allowed it to be made somewhere else, although it was written for Wisconsin. He could have given up, considering the time involved, effort necessary and countless obstacles, but instead, he persevered and for the last six years he has been actively working late at night to make The Surface happen. He exemplifies the tenets as he continuously faced the numerous setbacks and exhausting challenges of producing a feature film.

The Surface, starring Sean Astin (The Lord of the Rings, Rudy, 50 First Dates, The Goonies) and Chris Mulkey (Captain Phillips, CSI, Boardwalk Empire, The Mentalist, 24), was honored as the Closing Night film at the 2014 Milwaukee Film Festival! Congratulations to Mr. Gendelman and everyone who worked on the project.

The film’s incredibly powerful and positive message highlights the importance of friendship. It explores the strength needed to hang on to the next day despite emotional or physical trauma. It’s a story of hope.

The Surface will begin an exclusive release the weekend beginning Friday October 31 at both Marcus Cinemas North Shore and Marcus Cinemas Menomonee Falls. Please check local listings at The movie is currently not rated but will likely be PG 13. There is no sexual content or gratuitous violence.

See the trailer here:

You can learn more about The Surface visiting the website at: The Surface Movie

Back to Basics!

Last week we encouraged students who had been absent over the summer months to return and recapture forgotten forms and flexibility lost over vacations. All our classes focused on fundamentals! We spent extra time on our stretches, stances and technique.

Working on Flexibility

Working on Flexibility

We found that it was just as beneficial for our students who come regularly! Our foundation makes us strong. Remembering to re-chamber our kicks, use our core muscles for blocks and punches, and think about our breathing give us a better work out.

We encourage you to practice at home! Try adding one or two things from the list to your routine this week.

  1. Begin or end the day with mediation. Even five minutes makes a difference. Set a timer, sit comfortably, and think only about your breathing.
  2. Stretch! Find the time and focus on what you feel needs the most conditioning. Make it a screen time break or after class must do.
  3. Counter Kicks! Place on hand on a counter or back of a stable chair. Start with 10 side kicks and 10 round house kicks. Increase repetitions as it gets easier. Try varying the height!
  4. Small arm circles! Keep increasing your time. Try for two minutes alternating directions.
  5. Start and end your day with sit ups and push ups. We are working towards 100!
  6. Balance! Stand on one foot while brushing your teeth. Extend and hold a kick for 7 seconds.
  7. Move! Go for a walk, run or bike ride.
  8. Shadow Box! Start the timer and work your jab, cross and hook (1, 2, 3 combination).
  9. Do your forms slowly, quickly and facing different directions.
  10. Think about what you are eating and be sure to get enough rest.

Never hesitate to ask for help! As Grand Master says, “The Black Belt is a white belt who never quit.”

Exercising Your Mind

One of the many good things about the study of Martial Arts is that it involves mental and physical challenges. We learn about different cultures. We explore the science governing our spinning kicks and breaking techniques. We work our memories while practicing the many movements in our forms. We train to keep ourselves present in the current moment which helps us increase productivity.

Studies show that exercising your brain helps lower your risk of dementia.  Check out Your Brain Matters for some additional suggestions and brain training!

At our Academy, we post a weekly Brain Stretch (puzzles, riddles or did you know questions with varying degrees of difficulty) on a white board to challenge our children and adults. Students with the correct answer write their names on the board.  It’s a wonderful way to encourage thinking and discussions about problem solving.


A Little More Snap

Sometimes, after a long day at summer programs, children are tired. Occasionally, following a long day at work (inside or outside the home) adults are exhausted. We find ourselves just going through the motions of our kicks, blocks and punches.

Launcher Practice

Practice as if it were a performance!

We remind and reinforce that no matter the exercise or activity, you get out what you put in! Practice how you want to perform it. As martial artists we acknowledge that we are not immediately the best at everything. There is always a way to do better.

Koryo Defined

Koryo Kingdom

By the year 935, the Silla Dynasty was destroying itself.  The Three Kingdoms, once united, were now at war with each other. Internal conflicts weakening a battered infrastructure allowed ever encroaching outsiders opportunities to conquer.  And the Mongols were waiting for an opening.

An important part of learning black belt forms is finding your own way – assimilating lessons from all of the instructors, practicing, listening to feedback, practicing and acknowledging there is always room for improvement.

This could have been the end, before they had a history, their traditions trampled and overrun, because the foreign campaigns meant to subjugate and eradicate cultural identity.  But out of the civil wars came an insightful and talented officer, Taejo Wang Geon, who with some powerful friends overthrew an increasingly oppressive king (Gung Ye – who had begun to believe he was the Buddha incarnate).  Under the Taejo, the Later Three Kingdoms were forcefully unified as the Kingdom of Goryeo (Koryo).  He strengthened the fledgling state through astute political maneuverings – welcoming the defeated into the new government, grants of land and titles, and marrying well and often – a daughter from most lords in the Kingdom.

As we learn the movements of a new form, we are exposed to a little of Korean culture.  They are all named for someone or something important.  But when we reach Koryo there is a break in the pattern – no definition.  It is the first WTF form we learn, and we are not required to memorize it, but of course, there is meaning…

The dynasty repeatedly struggled with Mongolian invaders. Powers pushed and pulled.  Territories lost, regained and lost again, but more importantly, through it all they began to establish a national identity.  

Koryo’s most obvious legacy was the name taken by the new county, Korea, which was derived through pronunciation.  The WTF sites contain similar variations of the following definition:

The people from the Goryeo defeated the Mongolian aggressors. It is intended that their spirit is reflected in the movements of the pumsae Koryo. Each movement of this pumsae represents the strength and energy needed to control the Mongols.

The stories behind the names connect us with a time and place, which we would otherwise never know.  Every time we practice we honor them, what they sacrificed and celebrated, what they lost and loved.