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Indiana Martial Arts
Martial Arts Indiana
Martinsville Martial Arts
Martinsville Karate
Martinsville Indiana
Taekwondo Tae kwon do

   dedicated to the cultivation of the martial artist
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GMA Frequently Asked Questions

What is GMA?

GMA was not formed as simply another martial arts organization to collect membership dues. It is not intended to be a stand-alone organization, but rather it remains loyal to and supports the parent organizations because we believe them to be some of the best curriculums and martial arts experiences that we can offer our students. GMA is a family of schools that share a philosophy and an attitude of excellence. We believe that such a family experience with shared goals can further enrich the student's experience while at the same time ensuring some consistency and quality control in several locations, while at the same type allowing us to reach and improve the lives of more people from a variety of backgrounds.

The GMA experience is a comprehensive, cross-disciplinary approach to martial arts training and personal development. GMA instructors have made it a point to study as many aspects of the martial arts and related fields as they can in the hopes of creating a more "complete martial arts education." We believe the resulting curriculum, approach to study, and environment is unique and of value to the martial arts world. We are not interested in starting another new style of martial arts named after ourselves, we simply believe our experiences have grown into a methodology and philosophy that can make excellent martial artists and more importantly, better people. We hope to do our part in raising the professional standard of martial arts instruction in an industry that lacks quality controls-this is what the public deserves. Similarly, we hope to develop a culture of excellence (though not elitism) in our students.

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Why choose GMA?

Professionalism. Especially in the smaller markets, many times the consumer is forced to turn to leisure instructors or hobbyists with suspect personalities, debatable teaching ability and teaching methods, and educational backgrounds questionably suited for the profession. GMA was formed based on the conviction that potential students deserve quality, professional instruction in an industry that lacks quality control. All GMA instructors are professional or semi-professional martial artists that have taken the time to gain the knowledge (both academic and technical) needed to be professional caliber instructors. Couple that with a strong customer service orientation and we believe we have one of some of the best martial arts school around.

A complete experience. Closely related to professionalism, we have worked hard to develop a comprehensive program. Our slogan, "a complete martial arts education", implies just that. This is not just martial arts training, this is an education in all aspects: the physical skills of multiple styles; both self-defense and sport; the history, culture and traditions of the arts; associated academic, sport, and fitness theory behind the arts. Our goal is to make you the most well-educated, well-rounded, and skilled martial artists we can. Of course, how much attention you give to a particular aspect is your personal choice, but we want to offer the opportunity to have as many resources as possible available at your fingertips.

We care. While we may be concerned about being professional, that does not imply we are motivated by money. We do this because we love what the martial arts have a done in our lives and we want to help others enjoy those same experiences. Your development as a student and as a person is important to us. This is a labor of love and we think it shows in how we approach your martial arts education. It is this intangible that makes our martial arts experience something special.

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What is Tae Kwon Do?

Tae Kwon Do is a form of Korean Karate. It is unique (as compared to other styles of Karate) in its predominance to kicking; the rationale being that the legs are stronger and have longer reach than the arms and thus should be the weapon of choice. One can see this emphasis in kicking in the martial sport of TKD, which is an official Olympic sport. Many organizations have allowed this sport element to overshadow all other aspects of training, but the GMA (TTCA) curriculum is not as weighted in sparring as others. Other staples of training include forms practice (hyung or kata), or the solo practice of a series of pre-arranged movements to develop the basic skills and attributes, and step-sparring, pre-arranged attacks and defenses that develop awareness of spatial relationships and control as well as introducing self defense theory. It is sometimes hard to see the immediate self defense value in some of these traditional training modes, but these exercises often develop the key attributes needed not only in self defense but for a healthy, functional life in general. Benefits often cited include increased stamina, muscular endurance, speed and explosive power, better flexibility, and improved proprioception (body awareness) and coordination.

Because of the nature of the training, TKD is often highly structured, which enables the practitioner to train the mind in addition to the body. The "training culture" develops not only a fighting spirit but also the mental qualities needed for personal growth: respect, focus, discipline, self-confidence, and self-restraint. Classroom etiquette is prevalent, both for cultural appreciation and for purposes of decorum. Highly regimented training requires continued attention, making TKD an appealing martial art for children who need to work on focus and discipline. Older students commonly cite that the mental aspects add to the therapeutic effects and the potential to relieve stress. It also adds an intellectual component that makes the training more interesting.

Because of the structured, clearly defined curriculum and etiquette, GMA considers TKD a great foundation martial art. It gives a person a very good idea what the martial arts are about while developing both physical attributes (that carry over into other martial arts and self defense) and mental attributes (that carry over into life in general.)

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What is Hapkido?

Hapkido is a Korean martial art that, like TKD, has an emphasis on kicking. But Hapkido has had several other influences, including Daito-ryu aiki-jujitsu, which has given Hapkido some of its other major characteristics: joint locking, throwing techniques, and the associated falling techniques. Hapkido is translated as "way of coordinated power," which can be interpreted as utilizing one's body through proper mechanics, along with taking advantage of the opponent's own energy and aggression, to overcome a disadvantage in size and strength. It is often described as a indirect, circular style that uses an opponents attack against him. Hapkido is also grounded in the water principle, a very profound concept that can be superficially summarized as taking the path of least resistance and flowing with the opportunities the opponent gives you.

Hapkido is very pragmatic and self defense oriented. This is particularly true of the GMA (USHF) curriculum, which takes a more modern, Westernized, or eclectic approach to Hapkido. It emphasizes "situational self defense" or responses to various "what if" attacks. Here it supplements its repertoire of striking with joint locks and other body manipulations to effective defend against a variety of grabs and holds. In the more advanced stages, weapons (both the defense against and the use of) is incorporated. There are no forms in our Hapkido curriculum, although other organizations have invented forms practice for Hapkido. Because of the self defense emphasis, Hapkido tends to be a more conceptual and individualized martial art, making it better suited for more mature practitioners. Accordingly, the curriculum and classes are less rigid, although some of the etiquette and culture of the martial arts is still retained.

Note: Unfortunately, several TKD practitioners learn a limited number of joint locks and how to fall and then consider themselves to also be well versed in Hapkido. Hapkido is distinct martial art with its own unique philosophies and biomechanics. It deserves separate and complete study. However, since TKD and Hapkido are different (linear versus circular, striking versus joint locking) but do share a Korean heritage and emphasis on kicking, we feel that studying the two arts in tandem can create a more complete, well-rounded martial artist. Yet this does not mean one should irresponsibly cut and paste between the two arts.

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What is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?

Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is a grappling martial art that employs position, transitions, timing, leverage, and technique to subdue an opponent. While the sport of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu has exploded in the United States (tournaments abound, and this avenue is available if desired), the applicability of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu in the realm of self defense is real. When studies say that a majority of fights end up on the ground, common sense tells us that learning what to do while there would be beneficial.

Part of the beauty of jiu jitsu is the ability to train against 100% resistance and test the techniques for practical success. GMA's curriculum for jiu jitsu is to find the moves and positions that work for an individual and work on mastering them while spending little time on moves that have low percentages of success. The result is a dedication to fundamental positions, transitions, and submission. Classes are a structured differently than our more traditional arts (Tae kwon do, Hapkido) because of the importance on drilling against live resistance. While the classes are structured more informally than the traditional arts, the practice of jiu jitsu requires, discipline, attention, and maturity.

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What is Tai Chi Ch'uan?

Tai Chi Ch'uan is a Chinese martial art that is more commonly thought of as a health and stress-relief exercise. To be sure, Tai Chi is like chi-gong and offers many health benefits (both in the Asian and Western paradigms of medicine and the body). Its slow, graceful yet purposeful movements provide circulation without taxing the heart, making it a favorite exercise in cardiac rehab and among the elderly. It has also been shown to improve balance, strength, and even combat osteoporosis (again, most commonly among the elderly). There are even accounts of more serious afflictions being cured by Tai Chi practice, although these are certainly less scientifically documented. Perhaps equally important is the mental benefit. The slow movements of Tai Chi are commonly referred to as "moving meditation," and many practitioners find it a wonderful source of relaxation and stress relief.

The health and wellness movement has done a great deal to promote these benefits of Tai Chi, but unfortunately this is commonly the only aspect that is taught (or for that matter, understood). Tai Chi Ch'uan, or Grand Ultimate Fist, is a highly sophisticated martial art, and GMA feels it would be remiss if it did not also teach the martial component. Tai Chi fighting theory can best be summarized by the phrase "maximum effect with minimal effort" Tai Chi is represented by the yin-yang symbol, which describes its approach. If someone attacks with force (hardness) you neutralize it with suppleness (softness). One does not try to oppose incoming forces but rather negates them, letting the opponent over-commit to the attack, and then takes advantage of the opponent's instability. This requires a fine degree of listening-feeling or reading the intentions and force vectors of the opponent-so one can respond accordingly. Such attuned sensitivity requires a high degree of relaxation. Tai Chi is also concerned with proper architecture, or body alignment. A finer sense of force vectors and body alignment ensures that each technique has no wasted or dispersed energy. Thus, neutralizing the opponent and proper mechanics allows the defender to remain relaxed yet still be effective….maximum effect with minimal effort. Training consists primarily of forms practice, done slowly to get a feel for tai chi mechanics and relaxation, and the study of form applications. Push hands is a drill/game that teaches the student how to relax, listen, neutralize, and counter the incoming attack of a partner. It is a form of sparring for Tai Chi, where the objective is to offbalance or push your partner away. Boxing mechanics, free style boxing, sword form, and sword play can also be studied, all of which still utilize fundamental Tai Chi mechanics and strategies.

While Tai Chi can be an awesome martial art in theory, it takes a long time to develop, and most people interested in self defense would get a more immediate return on investment in another martial art. Since Tai Chi fighting theory is extremely sophisticated and detailed, it is often appealing (but not limited) to professionals and academics. But anyone interested in relaxation and stress relief, health benefits, or the challenge of learning a refined method of movement and fighting style can benefit from Tai Chi Ch'uan.

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Why do we bow?

Without a doubt the most recognizable display of martial arts etiquette is the bow. A lot of attention has been given to this gesture for all the wrong reasons, and sometimes not enough attention has been given to it for the right ones. The bow as it is performed in TTCA etiquette does not have any religious connotations. Rather, it is simply a display of respect, much like a salute. It is believed that the outward display of respect to the flags and training hall, to the instructor, and to our partners will ultimately instill a greater degree of respectfulness in the individual. It further helps to foster relationships among practitioners, ever reminding us that the other person or competitor is not an hated enemy but another individual who has made the same commitment and sacrifice to self betterment through the martial arts. Often, the bow also serves as a powerful symbol: a gate between the realm of the dojang and the outside world. Once we bow when we step into the dojang, it signifies we have entered a place very distinct from the outside world-one that should command our full attention until we bow back out of the dojang realm. Since the bow is performed several times throughout a class, it is often taken for granted once the individual becomes accustomed to the action, but the student must take care not to take this display of respect too lightly or lose sight of its significance. Taken from the TTCA Student Manual (written by GMA instructor Brandon Sieg) copyright 2000

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Why all the culture and terminology?

Learning Korean terminology in class is sometimes met with resistance, and other schools may not teach it (or may not know it in order to teach it). While we try not to overburden the student and make them feel that they are in foreign language immersion program, we do feel that some basic competency in foreign terminology and culture is important for several reasons. Most importantly, it is done out of respect for and to gain an appreciation of the parent culture. Learning how to appreciate a different culture and gaining a larger world-view is just another benefit of martial arts training. And one would be surprised just how much knowledge one can accumulate during martial arts training. GMA instructors have witnessed or heard accounts of other American instructors, who have not bothered to learn such intricacies, offending esteemed Korean masters out of ignorance. Never realizing what they did wrong, they are always left asking "What's that guy's problem."

Second, it aids in our martial arts education. Many times such cultural nuances and the philosophical elements of the martial arts go hand in hand, so understanding the parent culture enables one to get more out of the martial way. There are also instances in which only a marginal understanding of the Korean word will add additional understanding to a meaning that is lost in the translation to English. The word Do (as in Tae Kwon DO or HapkiDO) is a classic example. Often there are nuances to technique or concept hidden in such connotations. GMA doesn't pretend to know all of these, but we are still learning, and we don't want to deprive our students of the opportunity either.

Third, sometimes it is simply easier than English. Certain Korean words and phrases more clearly and summarily convey descriptions, specifics techniques, and ideas better than the English versions. Rather than saying "middle double forearm block or strike, depending on the application," it is easier to simply call it a song su. In essence, since most all of the descriptions of technique are probably not familiar (and thus foreign) to a beginner, one is learning a new "language" even if we use English. We might as well learn the Korean!

Lastly, French and English may be the diplomatic languages, but the diplomatic language of TKD is Korean. A colleague once told an account where he was in a TKD class with a practitioner from Africa. There was no other common language between them besides Korean. They were able to work out together using fragmented Korean terminology.

One final story. One day I was touring the campus of University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. In the admissions office was a young Asian fellow looking rather distraught. It seems he was a foreign exchange student, with no English skills, that had miraculously found his way there but couldn't get a hold of the necessary people. From the mumblings of the staff I had gathered there was a miscommunication on when to arrive, accommodations, etc. In short, he was stranded and knew no English. The staff was trying to help and was looking for a Japanese dictionary, except I realized he was speaking in Korean. Granted, I wasn't able to say much more than hello, introduce myself, and things like that, but I take some satisfaction in thinking I could have put his mind at ease a little, and at least I got the staff looking for the correct type of interpreter. The ironic part is that I chose not to go to UNC, in part because they didn't have Korean language classes. All I am saying is that you never know what type of opportunities may arise if you take the time to learn something new for the sake of self-improvement.

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Why do this as opposed to soccer, little league, going to the gym, etc.

Studies indicate that teenagers are happier when doing active leisure activities than passive activities like watching TV. Active leisure activities also help prevent the feelings of inferiority that are associated with a sedentary lifestyle such as poor body co-ordination or lack of accomplishment.

Other activities are also known to develop the same or similar qualities as those gained through martial arts practice. The legitimation through sport is often based on the building of character and leadership, a sense of fairness and sportsmanship, teamwork, etc. Lots of various activities will provide the means to get fit and improve coordination or improve development. So why should one to elect to do martial arts rather than pursue alternative recreation? Obviously we are biased, but here are our reasons. One can rationalize that lots of sports teach valuable life skills to your child, but how many make it explicitly part of the curriculum. Respect, discipline, focus, self-restraint, appreciation of culture are all stated goals of training that are reinforced daily. In some sports, qualities such as leadership and confidence only apply if your child is a team leader. I spent some time in right field, and I didn't learn very much out there, except that baseball wasn't my sport. The point is that the martial arts is an individual sport-the individual is always active, never sitting on the bench. I also got lots of trophies for my time spent in right field because I was on good teams, but that doesn't mean my baseball career was a success. The martial arts student learns that success is up to him or her and no one else (although there are always people there to help you along the way). And while lots of different activities can improve fitness, only the martial arts also provide the practical skills of self-defense in addition to physical skills.

For the older population, participation in recreational activities is probably more self-actualized and the motivations for participation may be more specialized. One of the great things about the martial arts is that many times the student not only improves in one particular area, but many other areas of life are also impacted. The martial arts can be an interesting intellectual endeavor, making it more interesting (in our opinion) than simply working on a stairmaster for 45 minutes. One learns a great deal about oneself in the process of becoming fit or learning how to defend oneself. Rather than going to aerobics, taking a meditation class, taking a language and culture course, and listening to self help tapes, wouldn't you rather simply accomplish it all at one time through a martial arts class? Perhaps this last statement is a bit of a stretch, but you get the idea.

Of course, there is always the social component as well. While the martial arts may be more individual in nature, the seriousness of the training fosters bonds among members that are almost fraternal. You rarely get that kind of camaraderie with the person on the adjacent treadmill. Additionally, the martial arts can be a family endeavor-offering a unique and constructive social interaction for the whole family.

Various components of fitness, sport competition, self-discipline, self-confidence, improved focus and mental health, self-discipline and respect (either in oneself or in one's child) are all valid reasons for participation in the martial arts. Perhaps that is what makes the martial arts student base so diverse. To be sure, each training goal requires a modified training approach, and the effort of the individual plays a big part in success, but we try to include all elements in our lesson plan to some degree, and we make an effort to find out what you want out of training. But chances are, after training for a little while, you will find you are getting more than you bargained for, and for the better.

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At what age should/can a student start TKD?

Any adolescent or adult can take TKD; the only question is how young is too young. Of course, a lot depends on the nature of the child, and the degree of parental involvement and support can be instrumental as well. The youngest recommended starting age is around 6 years, although we have seen rather well focused 5 year olds do well. While anyone can benefit from TKD training, children can especially benefit from having TKD as a foundation martial art. The structure and discipline of class teaches qualities such as discipline, focus, and respect while also making classes more conducive to learning. The performance of physical skills teach several attributes that are important in a child's development or an adult's health, such as balance, flexibility, body control and proprioception, hand-eye and hand-foot coordination, etc. For older adults who may have lost (or never had) some of these attributes, TKD is a great place to gain them. Keep in mind however, that being able to kick over your own head is not a pre-requisite or even necessarily a requirement down the road. What matters is relative, individual improvement. Hapkido also develops many of the same attributes, but perhaps does not have as much of an emphasis on several of them (such as flexibility.) In short, you are never too old to start. You simply do what your body allows you to do and strive to do little things you previous couldn't.

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At what age should/can a student start Hapkido?

GMA reserves instruction in the art of Hapkido to a more mature age group, the youngest recommended starting age being around 15-16. The reason for this is twofold. First, the nature of our Hapkido curriculum is very conceptual and individualized. This requires a more discerning student to appreciate the nuances of Hapkido. More mature students can simply grasp the more complicated subject-matter. Secondly, the art of Hapkido involves joint locking and other more dangerous maneuvers. This may pose a potential health risk to children whose bones and musculature are still developing, but also may be a risk to the partner of an immature student that cannot appreciate the potential harm that can occur or that cannot use discretion in applying techniques.

We at GMA believe it is better to err on the side of caution on this matter. Additionally, the TKD curriculum may be more beneficial to younger students in other areas of life. (see the other question).

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Is there a convenient time to start classes?

Depending on the upcoming schedule of events, GMA lesson plans may be focused on a particular aspect, such as tournament sparring or testing requirements. But rest assured, everything in the curriculum will be covered in a cyclical nature. Where a person starts in the cycle doesn't really matter, so long as they complete it.

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What opportunity is there to compete in tournaments?

While GMA does compete in TKD tournaments, the degree or emphasis sport plays in one's overall training is largely determined by individual interest. Research suggests that an over-emphasis in sport can lead to the negative consequences of martial arts, not the positive consequences. But when approached correctly, Tae Kwon Do sparring and competition can be a vehicle for learning both mental and physical lessons. For these reasons, GMA is selective in which and what type of tournaments we participate in.

Nevertheless, we believe it is important to provide the opportunity to excel in the sport realm, so long as it is not to the detriment of the student's overall martial arts education. GMA instructors do their best to stay educated on coaching techniques, and we take pride in our high success rate at tournaments as testimony to the quality of our students. But such performance is also a testimony of our students' hard work. If you want to compete, we can help you get to level you aspire to, but the rest is dependent upon your personal commitment.

For those not interested in tournament competition, rest assured that it is not our primary motivation, but realize that limited and controlled sparring is a part of the curriculum. That doesn't mean you have to be able to hold your own against a Korean National Team player, but we would be remiss if we did not teach you something about this aspect of training.

TKD students are encouraged to review sections of the TTCA manual for an elaboration on this subject. Please refer to "the value of tournaments" and "the benefits of tradition"

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How do I write the black belt report?

Both Hapkido and TKD students have to write papers for promotion to black belt in the respective governing organizations. GMA strongly recommends a rather specific format for the writing of this paper. Although it may seem the paper is simply an exercise in perseverance, it's main purpose is one of introspection on the part of the writer-forcing him/her to evaluate his/her own life and how the martial arts can improve it. The following format gives the writer a good outline to start from, and at the same time, ensures that the student contemplates the real issues and learns a valuable lesson from the exercise.

Part I. The concept. GMA derives its name from the warrior-sage tradition. In the GMA logo is the lettering for Kunja (Korean) or Chun-tzu (Chinese), the virtuous or model man. Such a man (or woman) is classically educated and morally and culturally refined. He was a pillar of society - not only on account of his position, but more importantly, on account of his example. Through his service and behavior he not only brought good into the world, but inspired others to live their lives in similar manner; above reproach. Perhaps this description is a bit romantic, but that is the ideal that all of us should strive for: a disciplined, virtuous life that makes an impact in society. That is the inspiration behind the name Gentry Martial Arts, not to imply we want to be remembered for the wealth and social status of the aristocracy, but rather out of respect for the level of personal refinement expected of this class.

Part II. The philosophical tradition. Many people who write the kunja paper state that kunja is a relative term that can mean different things to different people, and this simply shows that they never understood what kunja was to begin with. Of course, it is easy to write a paper when they can simply spew out thoughts about "what a good person" should be like, making it up as they go along. They get to redefine the concept of virtue and decide what characteristics are represented in kunja. More important than what they include, however, is what they omit. By redefining the qualifications, one will naturally include those attributes that they deem important but will probably leave out those they deem not essential. This leaves the student with an interpretation that is their own relative morality, and it is this type of relative morality, taught in the school system today, that results in the moral crises in America. No one thinks that they are a bad person. As Proverbs 16:2 states, "All a man's ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord." Even serial killers can rationalize and legitimate what they have done with their version of relative morality. It is relative morality that allows kids to think they can shoot up a school because they are being picked on. It is relative morality that tells 65% percent of teenagers in Rhode Island that it is OK to force a girl to have sex with them if they have been dating longer than six months. Of course, those of us with higher standards (along with the legal system) would call that RAPE.

It is evident that we need a higher standard an ideal a benchmark. Kunja is such a benchmark. There may be latitude for interpretation but not a total re-invention. One can even supplement it with other standards, such as religion and other codes of conduct. The primary concern is that we adopt an external standard against which we measure and evaluate our lives. Then when we write the kunja paper, in our introspection we may be forced to face and address our shortcomings. In contrast, without an objective reference, we are left to simply emphasize our own good points, and writing the kunja paper becomes an exercise of patting ourselves on the back rather than one of internal reflection.

Specifically, the concept of chun-tzu or kunja can be found in just about any introductory East Asian textbook. One does not have to become a follower of Confucius to appreciate the noble intentions of the tradition. As previously stated, this can be supplemented with other objective philosophical and/or religious doctrines, including those from Part III:

Part III. The martial tradition and the warrior ethos. It is the codes of conduct in the martial tradition that distinguishes the martial arts for mere violence and separates true warriors from mere thugs. Indeed, when learning such potentially dangerous tactics, it is necessary to the dangerous knowledge is coupled with an equal dose of morality and empathy to prevent the abuse of such knowledge. Many aspects of these Asian warrior codes are based on the same principals as the kunja concept, so there are natural parallels. One only has to look at the 5 rules of the Hwa Rang Do and the precepts of Bushido laid out in Nitobe's book to see the influence.

Part IV. How does these traditions apply to modern life? Here lies probably the greatest room for interpretation. Maxims such as be "be loyal to ones king," "never retreat in battle," and "make a sensible kill" require slight adjustments in modern times, though granted, great stretches are not necessary. The paper should demonstrate an in-depth analysis of points raised (not merely mentioning them) and discernment as to what situations are or are not proper examples of the aforementioned principles. For example, what is the difference between honor and pride, and what cases-if any-is it acceptable to fight in the name of honor?

Part V. How do the martial arts instill these qualities. Black belts are often described as having the same virtuous characteristics as the kunja. Our vehicle of choice for personal growth and development is the martial arts, so how do the lessons learned in the dojang carry over into other aspects of our lives. How do they supplement other guidelines for life such as religious doctrine? What do martial arts teach us that legitimates their continued practice in the age of firearms? Those qualities discussed earlier should naturally be the focus here.

Part VI. How have you personally benefited from the martial arts. Topics should include issues already discussed in the paper, but can also include many other aspects of life. Again, the focus should be on how the martial arts have made you a better person. That the martial arts have gotten you in shape is certainly a benefit, but more importantly, how has that impacted other aspects of your life-the mental, moral, and spiritual (though not necessarily religious) aspects?

Even with the suggested outline above, there will certainly be great individualism among papers. What matters is that the writer truly makes an effort at self-reflection and doesn't merely try to write about himself in a positive light. In the end, we hope that the paper requirement helps to inspire students to recommit themselves to the pursuit of self-betterment through the martial arts and to attain a life emblematic of the Gentry image.

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Why do our instructors sometimes dress differently?

While TKD students wear white uniforms, some Hapkido students wear black uniforms. Often, there is not much of a chance to change from one dobok (uniform) into another, so the instructor may opt to remain neutral and mix both colors. At GMA, mixing colors is an honor reserved for those who have attained the rank of black belt in both Hapkido and Tae Kwon Do. Even then, this fashion statement applies only to less formal classes, never to testing, tournaments, or other more formal/special events.

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How do I address the instructor?

First, at the current time, GMA instructors are not, nor have we ever claimed to be, professors. Sensei is a Japanese term and does not apply to Korean martial arts. The Korean equivalent is sabomnim. BUT, both of these terms are honorific, and Asian language and custom dictate that one cannot glorify or honor himself. Consequently, anyone who puts sensei on a business card, signs things as such, or demands to be addressed in such a way has no understanding of the application of the term or Asian custom and would probably be laughed at by anyone who did. Therefore, if a student feels compelled to honor the instructor with such a title, then that is acceptable, but the instructor can hardly stipulate the way he is to be addressed. Simply "Mr.", sir, or even calling us by our first names is acceptable.

If in a more formal setting, such as a testing, tournament, etc., then a more respectful language is expected to both your instructor and any higher ranking guests or officials. This may include the more honorific (albeit Americanized) titles of Master or Grandmaster as the situation is called for.

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What if there is not a uniform size that seems clear for my personal measurements?

Very few of us fit exactly onto the sizing chart. The key thing here is that there is not a lot of fashion involved in these uniforms (no relaxed fit, etc.) It can be a little long or a little short without mattering. This leaves the answer a lot to preference. You can order it a little big and simply roll it up or try to shrink it, or you can order it a little shorter. Generally, it is recommended that you go more by height than weight as the determining factor. Please feel free to ask the instructor for further estimates.

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What if I have rank/experience in martial arts coming into the class?

First, GMA is not an organization that feels threatened or looks down on other martial arts or previous experience. Lots of time experience helps. GMA is not interested in telling you how wrong the other style is, but at the same time, we ask that you appreciate our opinions. You will probably be expected to start over through our classes or club, but depending on how much experience you have and how hard you work, you may be able to move at an accelerated pace. Keep in mind that it is not completely about how good you are. If you want rank through the GMA, then you should know the GMA curriculum. We are not one of those organizations who simply sells belts and says the rank "carries over". GMA instructors tie on a white belt each and every time we start another art, or in some cases if we attend a seminar in an art in which we already have a black belt. We might have black belts, but we don’t have THAT black belt. To wear ours is presumptuous. If you have rank or experience, talk to the instructor. Perhaps the beginning class is too remedial, but attending the club might be of benefit. If you are not interested in rank through GMA but simply want a place to train, we may be able to accommodate that as well. Decisions are best made on an individual basis.

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Can I wait and test once for several belts?

Obviously, it is not fair if one student pays one testing fee and other students pay for all the testing fees in between. Such "skip promotions" are not allowed. As stated before, students can make up belt exams to get them to their true competency, so students can take each test in a more rapid succession (providing they previously had put time in without testing.) But keep in mind that the belt exam offers valuable feedback on things the student needs to improve upon before the next rank, and make-up testing in rapid succession can make it difficult to truly internalize the advice from the previous test, a detriment to the student.


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Last modified: July 05, 2012


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