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2021 First Annual Atlantic-Pacific Tang Soo Do Federation
Texas Leadership Camp and Dan Shim Sa

by Mr. Paul Lopez


June 25 - 27, 2021 - Butman Camp and Retreat Center, Merkel Texas

The newly formed APTSDF Texas Region held its first annual Leadership Camp and Dan Shim Sa this last June much to the excitement of all who were in attendance. This camp was unique in that given all of the travel and stay at home restrictions of the last year and a half, this was not only the first Leadership Camp for most attendees, but their first Federation event as well!

Distinguished guests at the event included Kwan Jang Nim John St. James, Founder, President and CEO of the Atlantic-Pacific Tang Soo Do Federation as well as Sunim Sabom Nim Rachel Lynn-Chisum and Sabom Nim Chris Chisum of Eagle Leadership Martial Arts located in Gainesville Georgia. From the region were Master instructors Sunim Sabom Nim Peter Estrada, San Antonio Karate Academy of San Antonio
, Texas as well as Sabom Nim Paul Dulaney, Cornerstone Martial Arts and Leadership Academy of Arlington Texas.

From the start, all attendees were encouraged to empty their cups, listen, visualize and record, be open to reflection, build their Moo Do spirit, serve, lead and inspire as well as have Fun!

Friday afternoon started with camper check in followed by the Dan Shim Sa for those reviewing and an adventurous 'Hike and Strike' for all other gup students.

With Dan holders from San Antonio Karate Academy, Cornerstone Martial Arts and Leadership Academy and Colorado Tang Soo Do reviewing, in person, in front of Federation Masters from outside of their respective dojangs for the first time in over a year's time, participants in the Dan Shim Sa pushed themselves, taking advantage of the opportunity and growth that can only come from putting yourself out on a testing floor and exposing yourself to the scrutiny, critique, mentorship and advice based on the years of combined, invaluable experience that is the Masters who make up the Shim Sa Kwan Nim.

Afterward, to wrap up the evening, all campers attended camp orientation which was kicked off by Sabom Nim Chris Chisum with a history of the Tang Soo Do uniform - perfect for a camp full of primarily new gups - followed up by the orientation and safety briefing by Sunim Sabom Nim Peter Estrada. Campers then had some down time after which it was off to bed to get a good night's sleep in preparation for a full day of training, learning and laughing on Saturday.

Saturday kicked off with an early morning Healing Warriors Society session on stretching and mobility lead by Sunim Sabom Nim Peter Estrada. For all who took advantage of the session, it was a great reminder of the importance of all three aspects of our art, the Neh, Weh and Shim Gong. Attendees were now mentally and physically refreshed and well prepared for an action packed day!

   

The rest of Saturday morning saw many incredible training sessions offered to campers ranging from topics on hyung to escrima, proper rolls and falls and staff work as well as the first of three detailed and focused sessions on real-world self-defense for adults taught by Sunim Sabom Nim Rachel Lynn-Chisum who in addition to being a fifth degree Master Instructor in Tang Soo Do, also has 12 years of training and holds a black belt in Krav Maga. Concurrently, the younger campers got to enjoy a breakdown and introduction to the 6 Perfect Principles of Self-Defense taught by Sabom Nim Chris Chisum.

Campers then broke for lunch followed by some much anticipated extra-curricular time in the swimming pool and slip'n slide, giving the gups a chance to cool down from the June/July summer heat. For Dan holders, it was a much valued opportunity for focused hyung work, time and instruction with the Masters.

Saturday afternoon again provided many wonderful training opportunities for campers. From one-step sparring and sparring combinations to staff introduction, kicking biomechanics as well as board breaking theory and techniques followed by part two of Sunim Sabom Nim Rachel Lynn-Chisum's real-world self-defense for adults. During part two of the adult self-defense class, younger students were treated to the opportunity to again train with Master Chris Chisum, this time focusing on "pounding the pads"!

From here it was on to dinner followed by a very special leadership presentation given by Kwan Jang Nim John St. James on the Hero's Journey along the Master's Path. During the presentation, Kwan Jang Nim St. James discussed the line of courage, stepping up to level up and the six levels of the Hero's Journey and what it means to be on the Hero's Journey and how the success principles contained within the Hero's Journey relate and reinforce not only the lessons learned in our martial arts training, but our own internal and personal development as we each walk our own individual paths - the Master's Path. "You're going to live anyway. Why not live exceptional"? - Kwan Jang Nim John St. James.

Saturday evening wrapped for the younger students with a movie and some "chilin" time, providing campers with the opportunity to build comradery and the kind of friendships that not only can last a lifetime, but it is said by most, is one of their most cherished reasons for attending regional camps.

For the adults it was off to part three of Sunim Sabom Nim Rachel Lynn-Chisum's real-world self-defense class, bringing together everything from the first two sessions (empty hand and combatives, weapons defense - gun & knife) to combine it all with a deep-dive of probably the most important aspect of self-defense - a proper mental mindset and well defined mission and understanding of why you as an individual train in self-defense to begin with. Add to that a mentally and physically challenging gauntlet designed to both exhaust and push students beyond their perceived limits which was then capped off with a three minute 'man in the middle' three on one consistent and persistent eye opening attack scenario, and students were left with an experience which powerfully brought home the concept and core understanding of the basic truth that in the real world, self-defense isn't pretty. When it was all said and done, all attendees of the part three session were as equally exhausted as they were proud (of themselves and each other!) for having put themselves through such a challenging session, coming out the other side having gained two very important and valuable life and personal growth lessons. The first being a broader awareness, realization and sense of what real-world aggression and violence may look and feel like. The second a deeper understanding of their own individual personal perceived limits, and how each could break through those limits when they simply don't allow themselves the option of quitting.

As is tradition at regional camp, the cessation of Saturday classes was capped off with more comradery and recounting of the day's experiences and fun all around a wonderful camp fire. Campers laughed and shared stories of the classes they attended and the fun they had in each. From there it was lights out for all of the youth campers.

For the rest, this year saw something new, different and special offered to adult students. New this year was the first ever Saturday midnight session. During this informal session Sunim Sabom Nim Rachel Lynn-Chisum and Sunim Sabom Nim Peter Estrada made themselves available to adult campers who had attended any of their earlier sessions, giving students the opportunity to get together in an informal setting and dig deeper into the day's topics and training. This session gave campers a very unique and special one-on-one opportunity to ask questions, share challenges, deep dive and train with the Masters. Everyone who attended was grateful for this unique training opportunity.

With Sunday being the last day of camp, for those taking advantage of the extra curriculum, the day was kicked off with a pre-breakfast, early morning Healing Warriors Society session. This time focused on meditation. Attendees were walked through breathing and relaxation techniques allowing them to clear their mind, center their thoughts and head into the last day of camp fully recharged.

After breakfast campers gathered for the traditional group photo commemorating the event and capturing the smiles of all who attended. Old friends and new. Campers were then treated to one final volley of sessions being able to take their pick of advanced sparring techniques, belt sparring or advanced take-downs. As camp drew to a close, camper assembled for the traditional group hyung. For a group that was comprised of mostly new gups, this was for many their first group hyung. They were able to experience the hyung as more than just a series of memorized movements as they were lead by Kwan Jang Nim St. James through the deeper meaning of our hyung while performing and moving through each technique.

Camp culminated with a graduation ceremony, belt and certificate presentations and closing remarks from Kwan Jang Nim St. James and the Masters. During the ceremony Kyosa Jeremy Westbrook was awarded his permanent belt and Cho Dan rank ending his probationary period and recognizing his hard work and dedication to his training, his school, the Federation and the art. Kwang Jang Nim John St. James as well as Sunim Sabom Nim Rachel Lynn-Chisum and Sabom Nim Chris Chisum were awarded certificates of appreciation for all they had done to help make the first ever Texas Regional Leadership Camp a success. A very special thank you was also given by Sunim Sabom Nim Peter Estrada to Ms. Shannon Chambers and Ms. Erika Carbaugh for the countless hours and behind the scenes work, time and effort they both dedicated to making the Texas Regional Leadership camp a reality.

All campers departed the Butman Camp and Retreat Center Sunday afternoon, tired, happy and excited - minds whirling in an effort to remember all they had learned over the weekend. Returning campers were happy to have had the chance to see and reconnect with old friends throughout the region and Federation. All campers were happy to have made new friends. For the first time Federation event attendees, there was the excitement of being exposed to students, instructors and Masters, not only from outside of their dojang, but from other regions as well. They were given the broader view of the Federation and our art that one can only get when they attend these events. When you go, you grow - and that alone as they say, is worth the price of admission.

   
   

 

 

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