Grandmaster Kwang Jo Choi first graced the cover of Tae Kwon Times in July 1986, with the article “Revolution or Evolution?” His system Kwang Duk Kwan was the forerunner to today’s Choi Kwang Do. For nine years, starting in 1978, Grandmaster Choi studied, consulted, and trained, and after exhausted research, Choi Kwang Do was born. The art was introduced on March 2, 1987 from CKD headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia.
Differences in CKD from other arts include the abandonment of tournaments, free sparring, board breaking and competition. The only competition in CKD is within the practitioner, challenging one’s self to be the very best. Long gone are the traditional methods of partner stretching, knuckle pushups, forearm conditioning exercises and the myth that hard physical training was the only and best way to become proficient in martial arts. In essence, activities and practices that are detrimental to one’s mental, physical and spiritual well being have been eradicated. Why? Because “Choi Kwang Do is not scripture,” states its founder, Grandmaster Kwang Jo Choi. As science and technology advances, so must martial art techniques, training practices and teaching methodologies; Choi Kwang Do is an evolving martial art.
So the question is: “What makes Choi Kwang Do so different from other styles that are available today?” The answer is S.I.M.P.L.E© or Special Integrated Movements Promotes Learning Efficiency. This is a concept unique to CKD. Simply put, the techniques found in CKD are designed to “switch on” both hemispheres of the brain at the same time. These movements are known as integrated movements which facilitate whole brain learning. Whole brain learning occurs when the brain is functioning at its best and promotes learning efficiency. In contrast to CKD, the majority of styles tend to perform basic techniques that only work one hemisphere of the brain at a time. These practices over stress the brain and the individual, diminishing learning efficiency.
But S.I.M.P.L.E© is only one part of the equation. CKD training not only challenges the brain but simultaneously works the cardiovascular system. This method of training releases a series of neurochemicals, known as neurotransmitters and neurotrophins, which bolsters existing connections while creating new connections in the brain; all of which can be directly related to enhancing an individual’s holistic well being, academic performance and character. Currently in the United Kingdom, Master Keith Banfield of Wembley Choi Kwang Do is conducting a six month study: “How Exercise (Choi Kwang Do) Can Boost Academic Performance and Develop Character.” Overseeing and guiding this research is Professor John Ratey, a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and author of several books including Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain.
Choi Kwang Do has introduced a training method known as P.A.C.E. or Progressively Accelerating Cardiopulmonary Exertion. This method fits perfectly into CKD’s current methods of Speed Drill and Equipment Drill training. P.A.C.E training allows you to burn fat in an extremely efficient manner while boosting your health and reserve capacity. Reserve capacity is the biological process which your heart and lungs use to deal with stress. Your heart’s reserve capacity allows you to cope with stress in a more efficient manner by allowing it to pump blood faster to the parts of the body which need it. Conversely, your reserve capacity for your lungs allows them to deal with situations that require a high exertion of energy, such as lifting a heavy object, punching or kicking a heavy bag or running up the stairs. One should think of reserve capacity as a ‘good health credit,’ without which you are more susceptible to heart attack and serious illness.
Competition in CKD is downplayed, especially for young children. When a child loses in competition, it’s easy for them to feel they have lost in life. Since the child is still forming their sense of self, this is negative and detrimental. At Choi Kwang Do, children learn that they really can achieve their goals! Even in school, children are competing against each other for high grades and praise, with much of the school curriculum teaching abstract analytical skills and facts. Learning comes not only from the brain but also from interactions with other people.
Choi Kwang Do does not have competitions, but instead Hosts Choi Kwang Do Seminars. The CKD Seminar was organized so students from different CKD schools worldwide can meet, train, exchange ideas, and in the spirit of brotherhood and camaraderie, enjoy martial arts fellowship.
Another area CKD has proven successful in is reducing some of the effects of aging. As people age, their physical capabilities decrease, in fact, starting at age 25 the body degenerates approximately one percent per year. This obviously is not good for our self-esteem or our endurance. At the age of 60, heart and lung capabilities are usually 40 percent lower than they were in our early 20s. About 20 percent of muscle composition is also lost. Speed, flexibility and balance all decrease, making it easy to fall and become injured.
The good news is, studies have shown that after three to four months of regular, low to moderate exercise, the body’s metabolic rate can increase by ten to fifteen percent, even in people over 60, giving them the metabolic rate of a person ten years younger. Muscle composition and overall physical ability can also increase by ten to fifteen percent. The human body has many complex systems that work together to generate life, and as we age, we need to keep these systems active by exercising so we can live longer.
Because CKD’s concept is based on each individual’s physical condition, ability and skill level, people can train regardless of age, physical limitations or disabilities. CKD is a goal-oriented program that helps the practitioner achieve increased mobility, better physical and mental health, and greater levels of dignity and pride. Psychologically and emotionally, achieving goals can be much more pleasurable and satisfying than training without a purpose. No matter your age, it’s never too late for your body to respond to CKD training.
World champions and seasoned martial art instructors alike are taking note of the benefits Choi Kwang Do has to offer. Master instructors from South and Central America have traveled to the International CKD headquarters to train with the art’s founder, Grandmaster Choi, and introduce Choi Kwang Do to their respective countries.
In one instance, 19 Tae Kwon Do schools converted to Choi Kwang Do from Peru. After training with Grandmaster Choi, master instructors from Eastern Europe, Moldova and Russia, have also joined in the CKD martial arts revolution.
Because of the popularity and rapid growth of Choi Kwang Do, the CKD organization has begun ramping up to provide affiliate schools with not only solid martial arts curriculum, but also proven marketing and school management support with a new division for member schools called, “The CKD Business Mentorship Program.” The program will provide access to well known martial arts business consultants such as Master Rick Bell.
In April 2010, Grandmaster Kwang Choi traveled to Puerto Rico for the first time to conduct a Choi Kwang Do seminar for the people of Puerto Rico. He also conducted seminars in Moscow, Russia, and Kishinev, Moldova, in May.
Grandmaster Choi’s dream of introducing Choi Kwang Do to Korea, his birth place, has become a reality. For ten days on October 10, 2010 (10-10-10) Choi Kwang Do enthusiatists from all over the world gatherd in South Korea to celebrate 23 years of martial arts excellence. The celebration and festival included Choi Kwang Do International seminar, instructor training, demonstrations, dinner banquet, and sight-seeing.
As time passes by, Choi Kwang Do will undoubtedly continue to evolve. Who knows what you may be reading in the next 30 years in Tae Kwon Do Times!