Learning through patience, hard work

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Karen J. Tomasik
  • 386th Air Expeditionary Wing
What do kicking, joint-lock techniques, falling, push-ups and frog-jumps all have in common?

Staff Sgt. Keith Morris teaches them to his students in the kuk sool won class held several times a week at the recreation center in a forward-deployed location.

Morris, a member of the 819th/219th Red Horse Squadron, has approximately 15 students from several military branches that participate when work schedules allow. Every one participates for their own reasons, from learning a martial art to getting one of the hardest workouts available on base.

"I enjoy the class because it has taught me a lot and helps pass the time on my deployment -- all while giving me a really good physical fitness routine to work from," said Senior Airman Brenda Clark.

After watching a class session, one learns to appreciate what Morris teaches and the students go through. Various stretching routines, frog-jumps across the recreation center and back -- twice -- and different push-up techniques prepare students for the class and build up their physical ability beyond the norm for most people.

As difficult as the class seems from an observer's perspective, everything is taught one way no matter what school you go to. Integrity is paramount when instructors teach students the forms and techniques of kuk sool won. In an environment where falling into the same old routine could cost life or limb, this class prepares students to see more than the surface appearances of their environment. Being able to detect subtle differences in people and their surroundings aid deployed members.

"Everything I teach is straight out of the books," said Morris, who holds a third-degree black belt in kuk sool won and teaches at a school in Great Falls, Mont. "If a student questions anything I teach them they can check the manuals. If an instructor teaches anything other than what's in the manuals they lose their ranking and ability to teach."

All the students seem to enjoy the challenges of the class and the benefits that can come from studying a martial art.

"I think it's very effective even though it takes a while to learn," said Army Pfc. Eric Robertson, a first-time student of the class and member of the Patriot Missile Battery. "Nobody said it would be easy, but I think it can still be fun."

The kuk sool won class is only the most recent of many martial arts classes held as rotations come and go, but the benefits to deployed members is indispensable. Keeping fit is a major concern and martial arts are one way the Air Force teaches its own how to enhance their deployed quality of life.