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A Good Teacher Needs to be a Good Student 

About 6 months ago, my instructor, Grandmaster Park, said that it was time for me to test for 8th dan. 8th dan is another way to say 8th degree black belt.

I have never been one to seek out rank. I don’t really believe in training for rank, I just love training. But, when Grandmaster Park say it’s time to test… you test.

He gave me the option to test with my good friend Master Zang, which was a nice surprise. Grandmaster Park also allowed me to bring a group of exceptional students from our dojang to test for ranks under him as well. So, a crew of nine from our school, Master Zang, and two of his students went to Toronto to test under Grandmaster Park, along with about nine of his students.

Now, when I test my students, I tell them exactly what is going to be expected of them. We even have them go through four black belt test prep classes to make sure they get everything lined up and ready, so that their test runs as smoothly as possible.
Grandmaster Park did the same for my students. He gave them each a detailed list of patterns, self-defense, board breaking, etc., that they would be expected to perform in order to pass.

With me, though, it was a different story. All Grandmaster Park gave me was a handwritten list that was impossible to read. When I finally was able to ask him what it said, he replied simply: “Don’t worry about it. It’ll be okay.”

Since we were testing for the highest ranks of the day, Master Zang and I were the last to go. I spent all day studying the tests that came before me to try and figure out what Grandmaster was going to have me do for mine.

When my turn finally came, things started out smoothly. But then, Grandmaster asked me if I had my self-defense scenario prepared.

“Yes sir,” I replied.

I didn’t. I never even knew about it.

Apparently, one of the things Grandmaster Park scratched on that piece of paper was for me to prepare what is essentially a choreographed fight scene, like one you would see in an action movie. I, of course, had nothing prepared. But I didn’t come this far to not make 8th dan.

So, I grabbed one of my best students, Tyler, and told Grandmaster Park that not only was I prepared, but that I worked out the scenario with Tyler and asked if I could perform it with him.

“Huh?” Tyler said.

“Just do what you gotta do,” I whispered. “Punch me, kick me, grab me, choke me… whatever you’ve gotta do.”

Tyler just stood there, stunned.

Do something.” I said, through my teeth.  

Eventually, he did, the test went well and, of course, I earned my 8th dan.

I tell this story because I think it’s funny, but more so because it illustrates something that I believe in deeply: in order to be a good instructor, you must also remain a good student. This is something I tell all of my white belts (new students) when they’re first starting out. While I was preparing for 8th dan, I was Grandmaster Park’s student again.

As a teacher, I have to be able to remember and understand what it’s like for my students to struggle. The worst things that I teach are the ones that came more naturally, because I never had to struggle through them. The things I struggled with on my journey are very easy for me to teach because I had to overcome so many obstacles to get over them. It helps me figure out what issues and challenges students will be facing along the way, so that I can prepare them better.  

It takes a long time to get to an eighth-degree black belt. Close to 40 years. But, the public doesn’t seem to care much about what degree black belt I am. Instead, they’re concerned with whether I am a moral and ethical person, and if I am teaching their child well.

My journey to 8th dan allows for me to do that. Very often, white belts will be intimidated by how long or intense that journey can be. But, I can function as both teacher and student. I know what the goal is. I know where you’re going to be one, two, six months, a year down the road.

There’s kind of a duality. White belts are at the bottom looking up, going: “I don’t think I can do it,” and I’m at the top going: “you can definitely do this.”

Trust me… I can get you there.

Master Gorino’s Tae Kwon-Do offers a trial program for individuals and families in Buffalo, NY and the surrounding areas that allows you to get a feel for the different classes, meet our instructors, and experience our dojang. It’s a great way to see if Tae Kwon-Do is right for you. To learn more or to sign up, register online or call (716) 836-KICK (5425) and a member of our team will follow up with you on next steps. We look forward to helping you achieve your goals. Pil-Sung!

The post A Good Teacher Needs to be a Good Student appeared first on Gorino Tae Kwon-Do.

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Gorino Tae Kwon-Do by Master Gorino - 1w ago

Win or Learn

The mantra at our dojang is: “Pil-Sung.” It is a Korean phrase that we interpret to mean: “Certain victory through indomitable spirit and courage.” We yell it at the end of each  class, and during handshakes.

What this means to us is that with everything we do in life, we either win or we learn. To illustrate this, let me take you back to the day I lost everything.

I went to college at Berklee College of Music in Boston. After rehearsal one day, I returned to my apartment to find that there had been an explosion in the building which completely decimated it. I lost everything. All of my possessions, except for my trumpet and the clothes on my back, were destroyed. Unfortunately, this included my dog at the time as well.

The fire should have been the worst thing that ever happened to me. And, at first, it sure felt that way. But, in the aftermath of this disaster, I learned lessons that I still use and teach to this day.

Losing all of my belongings forced me to declutter my life and to re-prioritize what I needed vs. what I wanted. And this was way before Marie Kondo.

My friends let me crash with them for weeks at a time while I saved money to get a new apartment. I was able to learn about and bond with people I may have never had the chance to, otherwise.

To earn the money that I needed, I began taking more and more trumpet-playing gigs. This allowed me to expand my musical horizons, and gain experience playing with people whom I never would have thought of.

The Red Cross was “kind” enough to give me $25 for food, and another $25 for clothes. That doesn’t get you very far, especially in Boston. So, in turn, I learned to be thrifty and smart with money.

I also gained an overall appreciation for life and started seeing things through a much more positive lens. This was absolutely a tragedy. But, for some reason, I never really saw it as that.

Victory is often boring because you rarely learn from it. Defeat teaches you how to get better, stronger, quicker, etc. Defeat forces you to dig deeper for positivity, and teaches you both appreciation for and humility toward winning.

I once overheard a student from our dojang reflecting after losing a tournament. “Aww man, I lost,” he said. “But, I ended up making friends with the guy.”

That’s “Pil-Sung.”

When facing important moments in their lives, people tend to say to one another: “good luck.” At our dojang, we say: “good skill.” We know that luck has very little to do with the outcome of a situation. It is skill that determines how the things that happen to us ultimately affect us.

And developing a “Pil-Sung” attitude is one of the most valuable skills one can ever possess.

Master Gorino’s Tae Kwon-Do offers a trial program for individuals and families in Buffalo, NY and the surrounding areas that allows you to get a feel for the different classes, meet our instructors, and experience our dojang. It’s a great way to see if Tae Kwon-Do is right for you. To learn more or to sign up, register online or call (716) 836-KICK (5425) and a member of our team will follow up with you on next steps. We look forward to helping you achieve your goals. Pil-Sung!

The post Win or Learn appeared first on Gorino Tae Kwon-Do.

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Whenever someone first signs up for Tae Kwon-Do, I tell them the same thing:  There will be at least four times in your training that you will face an obstacle and want to quit.
My way of teaching is to make things pleasant and exciting to learn. But, as soon as you’re getting good, I’m going to put an obstacle there that’s going to make it hard to get past. That will be a moment when you’re going to want to quit. Some students do, and we never hear from them again. But those that don’t quit, continue on and become extremely strong.

An obstacle is the thing you see when you take your eye off of the goal.

Say that you have to run and jump over three people to break a board. If you’re focused on the people you have to jump over, you’ll probably end up running into them. However, if you shift your focus to the board itself, you’ll make it over your obstacle and break the board, more often than not.

Obstacles are something we should welcome, not fear.

They are the way that we become stronger, sharper, and smarter. When you’re able to look at it from that perspective, obstacles stop being obstacles, and they become opportunities.

Bruce Lee famously suggested that we should all “be like water.” Water that is pushing against a rock will never move the rock. But, over time, the water will wear the rock down until it eventually goes through it.

It’s the same with life. You might not be able to move that obstacle today, tomorrow, or even the next day. But, if you remain focused and persistent… that obstacle is as good as gone. It’s just a matter of time.

The sense of achievement, accomplishment, and relief you feel when you overcome an obstacle is a really good feeling. And, the more good feelings we have in life, the better.

So, when that time comes in your training that you want to quit, remember: that obstacle was put there on purpose, and trust that I have given you everything you need to overcome it.

Never quit. Ever.

Master Gorino’s Tae Kwon-Do offers a trial program for individuals and families in Buffalo, NY and the surrounding areas that allows you to get a feel for the different classes, meet our instructors, and experience our dojang. It’s a great way to see if Tae Kwon-Do is right for you. To learn more or to sign up, register online or call (716) 836-KICK (5425) and a member of our team will follow up with you on next steps. We look forward to helping you achieve your goals. Pil-Sung!

The post Focus on the Board, Not the People appeared first on Gorino Tae Kwon-Do.

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Gorino Tae Kwon-Do by Master Gorino - 3w ago

There is a lesson that I work hard to impart on our instructors: “Teaching Tae Kwon-Do is 10% instruction and 90% motivation.”

People are often their own worst enemies, constantly struggling to get out of their own heads. I like to refer to it as “stinkin’ thinkin’,” and I’ve seen it happen too many times. A student wants to improve. So, naturally, they focus on the  areas in which they need improvement. In turn, though, they often forget to balance their mind by remembering areas where they excel, and become fixated only on the negative.

The way we overcome this at the dojang is by nurturing an environment of encouragement amongst our students and our staff.  We have found that the job as an instructor becomes much easier if we’re encouraging students more than teaching them. As such, the main responsibility of an instructor becomes not merely teaching a student how to kick or punch, but rather to help them to clear their head. For only once that path is clear, can a student truly learn.  

Encouragement takes on many forms.

Encouragement is crucial because everybody appreciates getting feedback that they’re on the right track, that there’s hope, or just that they’re doing a good job. It can be as simple as a reassuring hand on a shoulder. Sometimes, it means going out of your way to show someone the right way to do something; not to show off, but out of solidarity. Other times, if someone is struggling particularly hard in life or in Tae Kwon-Do, it may require a longer dialogue to help them re-tool their thinking. To clear the path, as it were.

Praise. Critique. Praise.

We find what we call the “P-C-P Method” to be a very effective and constructive way to provide encouragement. “P-C-P” simply stands for “Praise, Critique, Praise.” In other words, beginning with something positive, making a suggestion about something that needs work, but then closing with more positivity.

Here’s how it works: say that, for instance, one student notices that another student’s L-Stance needs work. We encourage them to approach the student by saying something like: “I really like the way you’re doing your pattern. Your L-Stance could use a little work on this part right here, but hey man… your yell is really scary! It’s a good K’ihap!

“Good Finders”

Our D.E.L.T.A. team students are also known around the dojang as “good finders.” They represent an exceptional group of leaders amongst our students and their sole responsibility is to do exactly what their name suggests: to walk around during classes, find good things to say to encourage their fellow students, and assist or teach when necessary.

Never Overcorrecting

We recognize that words of encouragement from our staff can carry more weight with a student, since they are coming from an “authority figure.” Our staff is trained to respect this when approaching a student who needs correction, and to be careful not to “overcorrect,” which can actually have an adverse effect by causing a student to feel worse about themselves.

The “Tae Kwon-Do Boat”

We also recognize that encouragement is about so much more than correction. True encouragement comes from the comradery that we inspire; the feeling that we are all in this together.

I like to  illustrate this idea using an analogy of a boat. The way I see it, we are all in the same boat. A “Tae Kwon-Do Boat,” if you will. One student may have a “Red Belt” paddle, I personally have an “Eighth-Degree Black Belt” paddle, and another student may have a “Yellow Belt” paddle, but we’re all trying to paddle the same boat, in the same direction, and each of us needs the others to do so.

All of these encouragement practices contribute to the family atmosphere for which our school is so well-known. My hope is that these lessons will spill out of the dojang and inspire our students to become more encouraging individuals in their workplace, at school, and in their home lives.

Master Gorino’s Tae Kwon-Do offers a trial program for individuals and families in Buffalo, NY and the surrounding areas that allows you to get a feel for the different classes, meet our instructors, and experience our dojang. It’s a great way to see if Tae Kwon-Do is right for you. To learn more or to sign up, register online or call (716) 836-KICK (5425) and a member of our team will follow up with you on next steps. We look forward to helping you achieve your goals. Pil-Sung!

The post Encouraging Encouragement appeared first on Gorino Tae Kwon-Do.

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Gorino Tae Kwon-Do by Master Gorino - 1M ago

“It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”

Self-defense is a state of mind. Being physically fit is important, but so is a strong and focused mind.

Be self-aware.

Know your environment and check out your area at all times. When I go out to eat, I like to sit with my back to the wall at a restaurant so I’m aware of the people in a room. Locate all the exits. I even count the seat handles on an airplane from the exits. Bottom line, if something happens people will panic. You will need to know your environment to protect yourself and help others.

State Of Mind

Have a certain state of mind so you can size up any situation and react in a moment’s notice. Calm, cool, and without being paranoid.

If you encounter a situation where someone wants to hurt you, I teach my adult students the same thing I teach the children…

  1. Run! An attacker can’t hurt you if you’re not there.
  2. Find an adult or police officer. Do not take matters into your own hands.
  3. Fight to win.

It’s a very similar formula for adults as well. Extract yourself from the situation, get out before it escalates into something bad. If someone is trying to pick a fight with you, calm it down, try not to get in the fight. You might think it would be a fair fight, but that’s when the four other guys jump in or you get stabbed or shot.

But if you are cornered and can’t run, and there isn’t any help around, then you fight, and you fight to win.

Tae Kwon-Do

Studying Tae Kwon-Do involves sparring. We spar not only to teach you how to hit, but also to prepare you to be hit. Sparring helps you understand that if you get kicked in the stomach you’re going to be okay. Or if you get punched in the face, it’s okay. You’re not going to go down.

In Tae Kwon-Do, we constantly train so that your body and mind never forget how to react and respond correctly when encountering a situation.

There is no better self-defense than that.

Master Gorino’s Tae Kwon-Do offers a trial program for individuals and families in Buffalo, NY and the surrounding areas that allows you to get a feel for the different classes, meet our instructors, and experience our dojang. It’s a great way to see if Tae Kwon-Do is right for you. To learn more or to sign up, register online or call (716) 836-KICK (5425) and a member of our team will follow up with you on next steps. We look forward to helping you achieve your goals. Pil-Sung!

The post Size Of The Dog- Part II appeared first on Gorino Tae Kwon-Do.

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Lessons Learned In The Dojang

Inside the dojang there are positive vibes. People arrive knowing we’re going to train, we’re going to learn, and we’re going to have fun. It’s a safe environment where everyone is respected. We support one another knowing the best support is positive support.

We can take that same positive energy found inside the dojang, outside into the world through different means, including goal setting.

Dojang Goals & Every Day Life

The same goals set for ourselves inside the dojang can be applied to our everyday lives. At work we’ll set a goal to get a raise or a promotion. At school we’ll aim for better grades. Every time somebody does well, they feel good. Nothing breeds success like success.

Set reasonable goals and make them attainable. You don’t need big goals to be happy. Achieving little goals, one after the other, will make you feel good.

We teach manners and respect that easily carry over outside the dojang:

Yes, Sir.

No, Sir.

Thank you, Ma’am.

Bowing.

Firm handshakes.

Want to impress someone? Show them good manners. People will respect you if you respect them. They’ll feel good about you, which makes you feel good about yourself. It’s a chain reaction. The positive vibes explode and grow.

Bringing Your Goals Outside Of The Dojang

Having a well-balanced posture is important in Tae Kwon-Do so that your body will react properly when training. Outside the dojang, your posture (how you carry yourself) reflects your attitude. Leaning against walls and slouching are signs of laziness. Folding your arms closes you off from others. People indirectly interpret you as unapproachable.

It’s the little things that keep the positive energy flowing outside the dojang. Keep your spine aligned. Carry yourself with respect. Don’t close yourself off. Let people see your confidence through your body language.

We work together inside the dojang to attain our Tae Kwon-Do goals. And we teach you to take that same positive energy out with you into the world for a more prosperous and happy life.

Master Gorino’s Tae Kwon-Do offers a trial program for individuals and families in Buffalo, NY and the surrounding areas that allows you to get a feel for the different classes, meet our instructors, and experience our dojang. It’s a great way to see if Tae Kwon-Do is right for you. To learn more or to sign up, register online or call (716) 836-KICK (5425) and a member of our team will follow up with you on next steps. We look forward to helping you achieve your goals. Pil-Sung!

The post Lessons Learned In The Dojang appeared first on Gorino Tae Kwon-Do.

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Why Tae Kwon-Do?

Before I even had children, I knew I wanted to get them involved in martial arts. When I realized that I was going to be a parent of two special needs children, though, it became even more important to me than ever. 

Tell us about your children…

Rose & Dante are both on the autism spectrum. Dante has been training at Master Gorino’s for 7 ½ years, Rose for 3 ½ years. In that time, they have both earned black belts, but Tae Kwon-Do has been an immense help to both of them in many other ways as well.

What are the benefits of training at Master Gorino’s?

Training at Master Gorino’s has given them increased focus and much better self control. Their increased mental strength allows them to tackle problems better. It has also given us a better understanding of important character traits like integrity and courtesy; traits that we practice daily both at the Dojang and in our community.

For children on the autism spectrum, social skills are difficult. But, because Master Gorino’s dojang considers all of the families that attend to be part of their own, my children see their classmates as more than just “Tae Kwon-Do buddies,” but true friends. When it comes time for birthday parties, the Tae Kwon-Do kids are the first to be invited.

Additionally, Rose and Dante love getting involved in all of the Dojang picnics and socials, movie nights and Halloween parties, all of which have really helped them with their social skills and their ability to connect with other people.

How did you know this what the place for your children?

We have found a home here at Master Gorino’s that has fostered friendships, built our character, and helped my children become physically fit.

We could not imagine going anywhere else…

Master Gorino’s Tae Kwon-Do offers a trial program for individuals and families in Buffalo, NY and the surrounding areas that allows you to get a feel for the different classes, meet our instructors, and experience our dojang. It’s a great way to see if Tae Kwon-Do is right for you. To learn more or to sign up, register online or call (716) 836-KICK (5425) and a member of our team will follow up with you on next steps. We look forward to helping you achieve your goals. Pil-Sung!

The post Benefits of Tae Kwondo for Special Needs Children appeared first on Gorino Tae Kwon-Do.

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John & Public Speaking

John was a drill sergeant in the Marines who later became a state trooper. He then went to law school and passed the bar exam. John is tough, smart, and driven to succeed.

He was also terrified of public speaking.

The mere thought of talking to a jury or in front of a judge and other attorneys crumbled John into a panic ball. His energy level dropped and anxiety overcame him.

As a yellow belt student, John told me, “If you get me to black belt and fix this, I’ll give you free legal services for life!”

What John didn’t realize is that the mind and body work together. When your body feels like crap, your mind will sink lower. Conversely, when your mind is down your body will follow and become weak. All this leads to anxiety, stress, low energy, and fatigue.

Mind & Body

We train both the mind and body at the same time, to use and help one another.

When you workout, your body becomes tight, lean, and strong. You build up your energy. You wouldn’t need a remote control for the television, because your body will want to get up off the couch. Grabbing a snack for a loved one or getting up for a Kleenex, these are all things you’ll want to do because you have all this excess energy.

And when your mind is clear you become more alert. You make good decisions and have a better outlook on life. There’s a real sense of accomplishment when you have this energetic body that wants to do things and a mind that is willing to give it orders and tasks to do.

Overcoming The Fear

For John, we started working on his fear of public speaking by sparring. He discovered that physically sparring was very much like mentally sparring. Focusing your mind to react in the same manner your body would gave John the edge when presenting in court.

The patterns and techniques we train our body to do helped John place his thoughts in a logical order. It helped him organize his cases so that speaking to a jury became second nature. The fear was gone.

It worked out really well for John. A few years later he successfully opened his own law firm.

We’re still friends today…and he still gives me free legal services.

Master Gorino’s Tae Kwon-Do offers a trial program for individuals and families in Buffalo, NY and the surrounding areas that allows you to get a feel for the different classes, meet our instructors, and experience our dojang. It’s a great way to see if Tae Kwon-Do is right for you. To learn more or to sign up, register online or call (716) 836-KICK (5425) and a member of our team will follow up with you on next steps. We look forward to helping you achieve your goals. Pil-Sung!

The post The Mind & Body Work Together appeared first on Gorino Tae Kwon-Do.

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Hamza’s Mother Describes His Journey

It has really been an amazing journey for Hamza at Master Gorino’s!

Throughout the years, Hamza has achieved so much studying Tae Kwon-Do.

What Changes Have You Seen In Hamza?

His motor skills have developed tremendously, particularly his balance. At home, there is a noticeable improvement in his overall manners, and he is performing better in school than he ever has.

What Do You Like About Master Gorino’s Tae Kwon-Do?

Most of all, the welcoming and kind staff, and fellow Tae Kwon-Do families at Master Gorino’s have been exceptional, which definitely means a lot to us. Every time I think about it, it makes me feel very proud of my son, and so happy that I made the decision to enroll him.

Through Tae Kwon-Do, Hamza has learned what success is.

And, more importantly, what failure is.

So, is safe to say that training at Master Gorino’s Tae Kwon-Do has made Hamza stronger not just physically, but mentally as well.

Master Gorino’s Tae Kwon-Do offers a trial program for individuals and families in Buffalo, NY and the surrounding areas that allows you to get a feel for the different classes, meet our instructors, and experience our dojang. It’s a great way to see if Tae Kwon-Do is right for you. To learn more or to sign up, register online or call (716) 836-KICK (5425) and a member of our team will follow up with you on next steps. We look forward to helping you achieve your goals. Pil-Sung!

The post An Amazing Journey: Hamza’s Mother appeared first on Gorino Tae Kwon-Do.

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Gorino Tae Kwon-Do by Master Gorino - 2M ago

”It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”

There are misconceptions about self-defense. Some people think it’s all about a bunch of tricks and quick moves. Others think it’s about being a tough guy, that the biggest and strongest always wins the fight.

Strength is deceiving.

Just because someone is bigger than you doesn’t mean you automatically lose. It’s the person who can focus and combine both physical and mental strength that always shines through.

So before I can teach you to defend yourself, I must teach you how to get ready to defend yourself.

First we get you physically fit. Jumping jacks, push-ups, sit-ups. Exercises that will harden the body and tighten up the muscles. A person needs to be fit with loose ligaments and joints so that the body is limber and fluid.

As your body strengthens, we teach you foundational techniques. Some simple, some complex.

People react differently to specific situations. I take a person’s natural reactions and turn them into self-defense techniques, rather than teaching a “one size fits all” approach.

If you find yourself in a situation, you want your body to react naturally.

I don’t approach self-defense as, “Here’s an 8 week course and that’s all you need to know.” You won’t be ready for anything, other than ready to get hurt.

If I stop training my skill level goes down, my strength goes down, and my timing goes down. I won’t be prepared physically for an altercation.

Once you’re physically ready for self-defense we can focus on the most important aspect…your mind.

The post Size Of The Dog appeared first on Gorino Tae Kwon-Do.

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