What is Kuk Sool Won? It’s a martial arts system that encompasses, and is not just limited to, self-defense, self-discipline and body control.
Where did it originate? It’s a Korean martial-arts form started in 1961 by In Hyuk Suh. He brought it to the America in 1974. The name translates as National Korean Martial Arts Association.
So how is it different from karate, judo or other disciplines? It has elements of many of the other forms. We teach punching, kicking, throwing and the use of weapons. Kuk Sool Won has 23 weapons that we use.
What level are you and how did you get there? I’m a first-degree black belt. I’ve been doing this for seven years under the instruction of fourth-degree Amado Garcia. He’s a technical sergeant in the Air Force here. He’s been doing it for about 16 years. He started the school here at Aviano in 1997.
How much work does it take? It’s a four-year program to attain your black belt. But you’re not just automatically given it. You are tested and continually have to practice. It takes three or four years to go from one degree to another. (The highest person in the discipline carries a 10th-degree belt). Practice is usually four or five hours a week.
Is the discipline popular in Europe? We have schools in Ramstein, Spangdahlem, two in Lakenheath and those are just the on-base groups. But there are many, many schools that are not affiliated with bases in countries such as Spain, Germany, England, Scotland and the Netherlands. There are schools as far away as Iran, Brazil and Argentina. Our headquarters is in Houston, Texas.
I understand your son also participates? His name is Dylan. He started at 7 years old and got his black belt at 10. He was the first Italian junior black belt. He’s now 13 and has been regional champion three times. My daughter, Ashley, is in Kuk Sool Won, too. She’s 7.
What’s the age range for people in your school at Aviano? I’m currently the oldest. We’ve had someone who was 47, I believe ... As far as youngest, we keep it at 7 or 8.
George MejiaAge: 41Title: Kuk Sool Won senior grand champion in EuropeDay job: The former airborne soldier is an information technology specialist for the 31st Services Squadron at Aviano Air Base, Italy
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