Monday, October 22, 2012

Recipe: Corn Chowder with Chicken

I am always looking for a different recipe that I can make for my family.  This is not low fat, so you'll want to be sure to eat in moderation since it uses heavy cream.  But I can tell you, even my five year old loved this one! I made a homemade beer bread to have with it, and it went perfectly together (comfort food).

Corn Chowder with Chicken
yields 8 servings

5 strips thick cut bacon; sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
1 sweet onion, diced
2 carrots peeled and chopped
2 stalks of celery chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped (I left this out and it was still delish!)
6 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon chipotle seasoning
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (add more if you like some heat)
6 cups vegetable stock
2 cups heavy cream
2 Idaho potatoes, peeled and diced
6-8 ears corn
2 cups cooked and shredded chicken; I use rotisserie chicken from the local market
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
green onions; sliced for garnish

1. In a large soup pan, cook bacon over medium high heat until crisp; remove bacon with a slotted spoon and allow to drain and reserve for garnish.
2. Reduce heat to medium. Add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, jalapeno and thyme to the bacon drippings and cook until the vegetables are soft; about 8 to 10 minutes. Dust the vegetables with flour, chipotle seasoning, crushed red pepper flakes and stir to coat well.
3. Cook vegetables, flour and seasonings for 2 minutes; stir frequently.
4. Pour in the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Add the cream and the potatoes, bring to a rapid boil. Allow soup to boil hard for about 7 minutes, until the potatoes break down. This process will help thicken the soup.

5. Cut the corn kernels off the cobs and add to the soup. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add in the cooked chicken. Simmer until the corn is soft and chicken is heated through; about 10 to 12 minutes.

6. Stir in the parsley. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with the reserved bacon and green onions.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Recipe: Lighter General Tso’s Chicken

 Another fabulous recipe I found here.  Kelly, from No Thanks To Cake only posts the best recipes, and I have to say, there hasn't been one I've got from her site that I haven't enjoyed immensely!  I have a hard time eating regular Chinese food since having bariatric surgery.  I think they must add too much fat to it, I am not sure, but it makes me sick as a dog!  So, I have found some lighter alternatives to it and boy does it taste better too!  I think the only thing I will change (for my daughter's sake) is use a smaller amount of red pepper flakes, it was too spicy for her.  I used the full 1/2 teaspoon.  My husband & I loved it spicy, but when cooking for the family, I will tone it down a notch so she'll eat it.  I made rice for the family, but you really don't even need it with all the extra veggies giving it so much volume. DELICIOUS!  You need to try it...super easy!
Lighter General Tso’s Chicken

Adapted From No Thanks To Cake
Serves 4

  • 1/4 cup cornstarch (1TB of it for sauce, the rest (3TB) for chicken mixture)
  • 1 pound snow peas, trimmed and halved crosswise
  • 3 cups of broccoli cuts
  • 1 small onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated and peeled
  • 3 tablespoons light-brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 2 large egg whites
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, (I tried using PAM Spray but it kept sticking and added a TB of oil for each batch of chicken)

Cook rice according to package instructions. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir together 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 1/2 cup cold water until smooth. Add ginger, brown sugar, soy sauce & red-pepper flakes, set aside.

In another bowl, whisk together egg whites, remaining 3 tablespoons cornstarch, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add chicken, and toss to coat.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Lift half the chicken from egg-white mixture (shaking off excess), and add to skillet. Cook, turning occasionally, until golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate; repeat with remaining oil and chicken, and set aside (reserve skillet).

Add onion to skillet and cook until cooked, then add snow-pea & broccoli mixture to skillet. Cover; cook until snow peas are tender and sauce has thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for a min or two.  Stir in sauce mixture. Return chicken to skillet (with any juices); toss to coat. Serve with rice for the family.

Enjoy! ~ Mara

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Recipe: Easy Butternut Skillet Shells

My photos are stuck on my camera that I can't get on (will add them as soon as I can)... so I am going to show you the photo that inspired me to make this the other night (below).  I can't even tell you how simple this was to make and delicious it was to eat!  The recipe made enough for 4 of us to have large servings, and then 3 lunches from it, and I still have a little bit left for a late night snack tonight!

photo & recipe from here

I LOVE butternut squash, my hubby...not so much. I normally do not make things I know he does not like but I saw the photo above and thought to myself, I NEED to make this asap!  Glad I did. I made this exactly as the recipe recommends.

 Butternut Squash Shells and Cheese Skillet
Yield: serves 4-6 Prep Time: 30 minutes Cook Time: 15 minutes Total Time: 45-50 minutes


3 cups uncooked whole wheat pasta shells
4 cups 1/2-inch cubed uncooked butternut squash (I bought it already peeled)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
1 1/2 cups skim milk (or unsweetened almond or coconut)
6 ounces freshly grated fontina cheese
2 ounces freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons unsalted brown butter
2 tablespoons fine breadcrumbs
fresh chopped herbs for garnish (sage, basil, cilantro, thyme)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare water for pasta and once it comes to a boil, cook pasta according to directions, then drain.  While water is boiling, heat a large cast-iron (or oven-safe) skillet over medium-low heat. Add olive oil, then toss in squash with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add stock and cover skillet, cooking for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until squash is soft and can easily be mashed. Remove cover and reduce heat to low. Mash squash with a potato masher or forks, smoothing it out with a spoon to remove all of the chunks. Add in milk, 4 ounces of fontina and all of the Parmesan cheese, stirring until melted and smooth, about 5 minutes. If mixture still seems way too starchy, add in additional milk 1/4 cup at a time, stirring for a while. Stir in brown butter, again mixing for a minute or so until incorporated. Taste and season additionally if desired.  Fold shells into the sauce, taking a few minutes to fully toss the shells so they are all coated. Top with remaining fontina cheese (or as much as you see fit) and breadcrumbs and bake for 15 minutes. If a bubbly, golden topping is desired, broil for 1-2 minutes on high after cooking. Sprinkle with fresh herbs and serve!

To brown the butter:
Heat a small saucepan over medium-low heat and add butter. Whisking constantly, cook butter until bubbly and until small brown bits appear on the bottom of the pan – about 5-6 minutes. Watch closely and immediately remove the butter from the heat, whisking for an additional 30 seconds or so.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Recipe: Sugar-Free Peanut Butter Cookies

Recipe adapted from

Who doesn't LOVE Peanut butter cookies??!!

These are so simple, delicious and even my full sugar eating hubby loves them!  I also love how quick you can whip these up, if unexpected company is coming over. 



Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a baking sheet.
Thoroughly mix together the peanut butter, sucralose, and eggs in a bowl. Drop mixture by spoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheet.
Bake in the preheated oven until center appears dry, about 8 minutes.

Nutritional Information
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 145 | Total Fat: 11.7g | Cholesterol: 18mg
Powered by ESHA Nutrient Database

Enjoy! ~ Mara

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Article: Women’s Self-Defense Techniques That Actually Work

Therefore, whenever I teach self-defense, I emphasize three things: knowledge of human anatomy, accuracy and commitment to executing the technique. Mastering these elements will increase the likelihood of thwarting an attack on the street.

The human body has vulnerable areas, as well as parts that make excellent weapons. Therefore, to mount an effective defense, you must know exactly where to strike, how hard and with what.

Overrated Women’s Self-Defense Techniques

In general, punching someone in the ribs is an overrated self-defense technique because most women haven’t learned how to punch hard enough to have much of an effect. Elbow strikes and knee strikes are right on the borderline of being overrated because if you’re not accurate when you throw the shot or if you don’t choose a vulnerable target, it won’t cause much damage. On the other hand, both moves are wonderful close-range tools, and they can be devastating when done properly.

Most kicks are also overrated. At the top of the list is kicking to the head. If you’re not flexible and haven’t had extensive training in kicking, or if the surface you’re standing on is unstable, your chances of pulling off a high leg technique are slim to none. Unless you’re very familiar with anatomy, even kicks to the solar plexus are iffy. Kicking or kneeing an assailant in the groin is a wonderful strategy if you actually hit the target.
Regardless of the technique—the front kick is good but the side kick is tougher—there’s a chance the stress will make you inadvertently hit him in the thigh, and that kind of contact won’t stop a man who’s used to physical aggression.

Use Self-Defense Techniques to Strike Vital Targets

Rather than kicking, I prefer to rely on my hands for striking vital targets because they’re designed to execute tasks with accuracy regardless of whether the technique involves gross or fine motor skills. For example, I know that if I palm a man in the groin, I can grab and crush his testicles with my fingers without having to use much strength. There will be no question of whether I’ve hit a vulnerable target, and the comfort of that knowledge is highly underrated. Similarly, open-hand strikes to the windpipe are better anchored and more likely to hit their target than are punches.

In general, I don’t recommend that women grapple with an attacker. Once you’re on the ground, you’re sacrificing yourself and any advantage you may have had while you were standing in terms of incapacitating him and/or running away. It’s also a lot easier for two assailants to overcome you when you’re down. However, if your attacker manages to get on top of you, you can still fight back. Go for his eyes, windpipe and groin, all which are vulnerable while his hands are occupied.

In a life-threatening situation, you can bite a vital part of your assailant’s body to get him off you and buy yourself a few extra seconds to escape. Weigh this option carefully, though: If he’s HIV-positive or has some other contagious disease, you’ll risk contracting the illness.

Commit to Your Self-Defense Techniques

One element of self-defense training that can’t be overrated is learning to commit to your techniques. Many women are put off by the “gross factor” of gouging an eye; others are reluctant to hurt the person who’s trying to rape or kill them. The only way to overcome these feelings is to practice the self-defense techniques over and over on a willing partner. Teaching a woman to pull a strike in class is not recommended because it lulls her into believing she’ll be able to use it to incapacitate an assailant, even though she’s never used it on a training partner.

The best way to learn self-defense is to slowly introduce a few basic, realistic self-defense techniques into your repertoire without using power, speed or strength. Practice them with a partner who’s pretending to be an attacker. Once you’re comfortable doing that and see the other person isn’t upset or hurt, gradually increase the speed and power of your blows as he comes at you full speed and with full power. Experiencing the way he reacts to your defense will increase your confidence, bring out your animal instinct and open all kinds of wonderful options for your counterattack.

(Kathy Long is a five-time kickboxing champion, a kung fu san soo expert and a member of the Black Belt Hall of Fame.)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Ways to add Balance and Simplify

  • Take twenty minutes every few days to turn up the music and dance with your kids.  (cardio and play time all at once)
  • Only touch your mail once.  Pick a time of day that you can spend going through it, and file it, toss it or deal with it.
  • When you make dinner double the recipe and freeze half of it for a later date.
  • Commit to five minutes a day to do your make-up.  Seriously that is all you need.
  • Know what you are going to have for dinner by noon everyday.
  • Create a menu plan each week before grocery shopping (saves $, time & energy)
  • Make your kids laugh at least once a day.  Not just a giggle, but a full belly laugh. 
  • Find something you love to do, and just do it. 
  • Try to go to bed with a clean kitchen.  You’ll thank yourself in the morning!
  • Make packed lunches the night before (include am & pm healthy snacks)
  • Stop doing what you no longer find joy in (if it doesn’t add to your life, let it go)
  • Clean up the bathroom counter after getting ready each morning
  • Sing while you cook.  Even if your husband laughs, it will be one of your children’s favorite memories.
  • Light a scented candle each evening
  • Eat dinner as a family (or with close friends) a few nights a week. 
  • Have a weekly/monthly date night with your husband.  Even if you can’t leave the house, set aside one night a week for each other with something planned.  It could even be a picnic and movie on your living room floor.
  • Allow yourself imperfections.  Then except them.  Then embrace them.
  • Make the bed every morning, even if it’s just pulling the sheets and blankets up & neatly stacking the pillows
  • Have your children set out their clothes & shoes for the next day before bed
  • Unload the dishwasher (take 5 extra mins in the morning to do so before work – you’ll be thankful that evening!)
  • Make time for the people in your life that mean something to you, listen, and just be together
  • Take 15 mins out of your nightly tv time and tidy up a bit
  • Fold laundry while you watch tv
  • Plan quarterly night out with your girlfriends
  • Sit and listen to how your loved ones’ day went when they (or you) arrive home.
  • Put all bags, backpacks, keys, etc near the door for the morning

How do you find balance in your life?  Please leave a comment… I know you want too! ~Mara

The Eggface BIG 10,000 Giveaway!!

The Eggface BIG 10,000 Giveaway!!


Eggface’s website was one of the first sites I had found when I was first looking into weight loss surgery.  I read around her site (and others) for a year before I had the surgery.  She was a huge inspiration to me and has had many years under her belt living her new life after weight loss surgery successfully and had awesome recipes too!  She does some really cool giveaways on her blog… check it out! ~ Mara


Her site hit 10,000 friends mark on The World According to Eggface Facebook page! To say thank you for taking this journey to better health with her and for always sharing the blog and Facebook page with your pals. She’s doing a HUGE GIVEAWAY!

The Prize: A Nike Gym Bag Hit the gym, pool, or dance class in style and it's jam packed with some of my post weight loss surgery bariatric favorites...

Celebrate Vitamins Calcium Plus 500 (Chewable Berries and Cream) 90 ct.
Celebrate Vitamins Multivitamin (Chewable Pineapple Strawberry) 60 ct.
Celebrate Vitamins 30mg Iron + C (Chewable Grape) 30 ct.

3 single serving packets of Celebrate Vitamins ENS in Vanilla Cake Batter, Chocolate Milk, and Strawberry flavors (each delicious shake contains a high potency multivitamin, 500 mg of calcium citrate, 4 g of fiber, and 25 g of whey isolate protein in each serving)

5 single serving sticks of Celebrate Vitamins Multivitamin and Calcium Drink Mix (Cranberry Grape flavor)

1 30 ct. Box Calcet Lemon Cream 500mg Calcium Citrate Creamy Bites

1 tub of CLICK Espresso Protein (Mocha Flavor)

2 single serving packs of Syntrax Chocolate Truffle and Vanilla Bean Torte Protein Powder

1 Oh Yeah Ready-to-Drink Vanilla Creme Shake

3 Quest Protein Bars (Wild Berry, Apple Pie, Vanilla Almond flavors)

2 Premier Titan High Protein Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

2 Sample Packs of PB2 Peanut Butter Thins

Chike Nutrition 6 packet Protein Variety Pack (1 of each flavor: Chocolate Bliss, Very Vanilla, Strawberry Burst, Banana Magic, Orange Creme and High Protein Iced Coffee)

1 Mini Sampler Set of Sugar Free Torani Syrups (4 - 150 ml mini bottles in SF Caramel, SF Raspberry, SF Vanilla, and SF Hazelnut)

Big Train 5 packet Fit Frappe Protein Variety Pack (1 of each flavor: Chocolate, Espresso, Mocha, Vanilla, Vanilla Latte)

Big Train Reusable Tumbler Cup

1 Blue 28 oz. Blender Bottle Shaker
 Go to her site to find out how to ENTER!!
Contest periods ends: Sunday October 7th, midnight (Pacific time)
 While there, check out all the awesome recipes and tips for weight loss surgery patients.  Even if you aren’t a weight loss surgery patient, you will just LOVE her recipes and great weight loss tips and tools!  You won’t be sorry!!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Recipe: Homemade Meat Sauce

I love fall Sundays where I have the motivation to clean the entire house, get all the laundry done, and cook some amazing Sunday dinner with football on all day in the background of it all.  Well, that was THIS Sunday and I loved it!!!  I found this recipe for a homemade meat sauce and knew it would be great!  I got up and before I even had a cup of coffee.... I know, I know...  Don't know exactly how that happened.  But once I started chopping and getting the sauce together, there was no stopping me!  I tweaked the recipe a little.... two things different than the recipe was that 1) my mushrooms were looking pretty sad, so I decided to toss them out, so there weren't any in my sauce :( 2) My husband the chef and food snob (wait, did I use my outside voice there??? lol) told me to cook veggies, then remove them, cook meat, then remove it, cook tomato paste then add everything back to the pot....  Which I did.  I can't tell you the difference it would have made it it was just all cooked together, but I thought this sauce was pretty amazing.

 Homemade Meat Sauce

1.5 lbs ground beef (or turkey)
1 lb hot Italian sausage
20 oz sliced mushrooms
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1.5 tbsp olive oil
1 28-oz can tomato puree
1 12-oz can tomato paste
24 oz tomato sauce
BIG splash red wine (whatever “big splash” means to you: anywhere from 1/2 cup to 2 cups will do fine. Heh heh)
6 oz freshly grated Romano cheese
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp dried basil
1 bay leaf
1-2 tbsp sugar
garlic salt + pepper as needed
spaghetti noodles + additional grated cheese for serving
(I also had a giant tomato from a farmers market, sliced that up and threw it in too)

look at all the pretty colors!

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion, bell peppers and sliced mushrooms. Saute for about six – eight minutes, until mushrooms are soft. Remove veggies from pan and set aside.

Add ground beef and sausage meat. Cook until meat browns, stirring frequently with a large rubber spatula. Drain fat, and then set meat aside.

Add tomato paste to the pot, and cook for a few mins alone, then add tomato puree, tomato sauce, veggies and meat back. Stir well. Then, add the bay leaf, wine, spices, sugar and cheese. Stir well and bring sauce to a simmer.
Simmer sauce for an hour and a half over low heat, stirring occasionally. Taste it as you cook, adding more wine, spices or garlic salt to suite your taste buds. The longer the sauce cooks, the better it will taste! This actually simmered in my house for about 5-6 hours, stirring every so often and tasting...

Serve sauce over hot spaghetti noodles with extra cheese. Sauce can be refrigerated for up to five days or frozen for up to three months. Sauce will taste better the next day, after flavors have time to meld.
2 hours (or more)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Simple Ways to Self Nurture

From WLS Lifestyles Magazine via Melting Mama -  Simple Ways to Self Nurture

"Ok, so if you are going to maintain a healthy weight you really do need to change your lifestyle. Compassionate Self Nurture needs to become a way of life for you. As I’ve said before I do believe over eating is often an attempt to self nurture. You must put attention to creating new more positive self nurturing behaviors: below are some simple ways to consciously create a living style that is truly reflective of self love and respect:" - Melting Mama

  • When you wake up in the morning take a few moments to remember your dreams, meditate, think happy thoughts, set your intention for the day.
  • Consciously nurture each of your senses every: (i.e. listen to a favorite cd, write in your journal, read a page of an inspirational book, moisturize your body with a great smelling lotion, look at/notice special pictures around your house, eat and savor the flavor of a piece of fresh fruit).
  • Before leaving the house do a body scan and release any tension you might be holding in your body. Pay attention to your breathing.
  • Be on time for all appointments.
  • When you are driving in a car listen to a cd of some beautiful music, or an inspirational/motivational speaker, or ride in silence so you can listen to you/your higher power, your inner wisdom, etc.
  • When you are stopped at a traffic light, pay attention to your breathing. Relax any tight muscles in your body and say an affirmation out loud (“I treat myself with love and respect every moment of every day”).
  • Keep a fresh flower or plant on your desk at work, and in your bedroom at home.
  • Throughout the day take a few moments to go outside to breathe in some fresh air to re-center and reconnect.
  • Set boundaries.
  • Acknowledge and celebrate what you accomplish during the day… no matter how small the task might be (i.e. I returned a phone call, I mailed some letters, I said a nice thing to myself, I said hello to a stranger, etc..)
  • Create a transition ritual for yourself when you arrive home from work to release your work day (change your clothes, take a shower, do some exercise, etc.. )
  • Don’t rush through meals, even if you have after meal obligations, Take the time to be present and enjoy your food. Keep the conversation positive at the dining table: (have everyone tell the best thing that happened to them that day!).
  • Allow yourself to feel.
  • Acknowledge and express gratitude for everything that goes well in your day (i.e. got a good parking spot, kept my word to myself, had a great conversation with a friend, etc.)
  • Create a bedtime pampering ritual (take a bubble bath, spend some time meditating, read a book, write in your gratitude journal, listen to beautiful music, etc..)
  • Sing, Dance, Play!
  • Take an art class.
  • Drink 8 glasses of water every day.
  • Go outside and notice the miracles and beauty of nature.
  • Get a massage.
  • Paint your nails.
  • Pluck your eyebrows.
  • Go on a weekend retreat.
  • Learn Yoga.
  • Learn to play a musical instrument.
  • Every time you look in the mirror say something loving to yourself.
  • Plant a garden.
  • Paint a room in your house a wild color!!
  • Go to a town you’ve never been to before and window shop.
  • Refute any unloving thoughts.
  • Know that you are perfect in this moment!!!
  • Lift weights.
  • Say a silent prayer for yourself.
  • Say a silent prayer for someone who drives you crazy!
  • Count your blessings.
  • Surround yourself with loving and supportive people.
  • Watch a sunrise or a sunset.
  • Hang inspirational and meaningful pictures in your house and at your work.
  • Keep affirmation and inspirational books around your house and read at least one page every day.
  • Spend some time near water.
  • Learn to say “no”
  • Louisa Latela, MSW, LCSW

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Learning the History of Tang Soo Do

As I am learning the history of my new style I am learning a lot about other styles and differences as well.  I found this article very interesting.  It tells about both the early & modern history of Tang Soo Do.  I hope you enjoy it. ~ Mara


The originating influences of Tang Soo Do date back many centuries to early Korean military culture, much of which exists with very little detail or documentation. The modern Tang Soo Do that we study, however, has origins that are considerably more well-known. It is important to learn about the International Tang Soo Do Federation and its goals and mission, as well as the history of Tang Soo Do to fully appreciate our art's origins.

The Early History of Tang Soo Do

The fighting art of tang soo do can trace its roots back almost 2000 years to Korea's Three Kingdoms period. The smallest of these three kingdoms, Silla, was under consistent and relentless attack from the larger and more powerful Koguryo and Paekje kingdoms. The Silla rulers found respite in the form of an alliance with an elite fighting force from China's Tang dynasty. This force, the tang soo warriors, trained on the rocky beaches of southern Korea and honed their skills to become ever more indomitable.

Their method of fighting evolved into a combination of a traditional Chinese art commonly referred to as the "Tang method" and a set of powerful kicks with origins in the Korean culture. This combination -- tang soo, or the "hand of Tang" -- produced excellent results in combat and this success ensured its continued refinement.

In addition to combat techniques, the tang soo warriors developed a moral code -- the Sesok Ogye, or Five-Point Code. This code has the following tenets:

1-Show Loyalty to one's king or master
2-Be obedient to one's parents and elders
3-Honor friendships
4-Never retreat in battle
5-In killing, choose with sense and honor

This moral code bonded the tang soo warriors like no fighting force Korea had seen. The tang soo warriors of Silla attacked and conquered their stronger rival kingdoms and unified Korea for the first time.

The tang soo art was a combat art -- its emphasis was on fighting techniques, and there were no hyung, or forms. Its central theme was drawn from point 4 of the Five Point Code: never retreat in battle. Tang soo warriors were taught to be continuously on the offensive, charging and attacking their opponents with kicks and punches. This onslaught would cause the opponents to retreat into positions where they were unable to defend against further attacks, much less counterattack, thereby yielding victory to the tang soo warrior.

Following the establishment of a peaceful dynasty, the tang soo warrior art was extended to include a "way", or "do", of studying these martial arts. Hence the term "tang soo do" to refer to the art which we continue to study today, albeit somewhat different from that studied in tenth-century Korea. Subtle changes were made in this transition to a peaceful art, such as changes in the Five Point Code to replace words like "killing" with "conflict", and a deeper emphasis on the moral and spiritual aspects of training.

A Modern History of Tang Soo Do

This essay was written by Adrian Bates (1st Gup, Pyle Tang Soo Do) to satisfy the terminology requirements of the Chodan test, taken 2nd February 2003 at Bridgend, South Wales, UK.

It covers the history of Tang Soo Do from the time the name was first used, which is as recent as 1945. The roots of Tang Soo Do, however, date back thousands of years, but that is beyond the scope of this essay. In order to gain a better understanding of the events and external influences that led to the creation of Tang Soo Do, we must first look back nearly half a century earlier than 1945.

The Korean peninsula had been under Japanese rule since 1909, when the Japanese had invaded, forcibly ending the Yi dynasty, which had ruled for over 500 years. Japanese rule in Korea was very oppressive, and all forms of Korean culture were suppressed. The Korean people were forbidden to practice any martial art, and the only martial arts the general public was aware of were the Japanese arts of Gum Do (Kendo) and Yu Do (Judo). However, traditional ancient Korean martial arts such as Tae Kyun were practised secretly by a handful of students; among them a young boy called Hwang Kee, who, as we shall see later, had a pivotal effect on how the Korean martial arts of Tang Soo Do and Soo Bahk Do spread around the world.

The story of Hwang Kee’s life is fascinating, and as he sadly passed away in July of [2002, Ed.], I shall include a brief prĂ©cis of it here.

Kwan Jang Nim (Head of School) Hwang Kee was born on November 9, 1914 in Jang Dan, Kyong Ki province of Korea. His father, Hwang Yong Hwan, had a dream in which he saw the bright star (Sam Tae Song) before his son's birth. He named his son "Tae Nam", which means "Star Boy". Later he changed his name to "Kee." His father was a scholar who had achieved a high level of academic recognition from the last King of the Yi Dynasty, Ko Jong.

Young Master Hwang Kee was not exposed to the martial arts until he was 7 years old. This was in 1921, during the traditional Korean festival of “Dan O”. While visiting a neighbouring village, where there was archery, wrestling and other attractions, he saw a group of seven or eight men arguing heatedly with a single man. The argument soon developed into physical violence, but the single man prevailed using hand and foot techniques the young Master Hwang Kee had never seen before. With grace and agility the man avoided and countered their attacks until he had defeated them all. Hwang Kee asked other bystanders what these techniques were, and they answered him “That is Tae Kyun”.

Young Master Hwang Kee was very impressed, and followed the man home. He sought audience with the man, and asked to be his student. Refused because he was considered too young, Master Hwang Kee did not give up, but watched the man practice outside his home and tried to copy his movements. As he grew into an adolescent man and graduated from high school, he never forgot the strange man and his fighting techniques, and he never stopped practicing his Tae Kyun diligently. The experience was to shape his entire life.

Grand Master Hwang Kee - Founder of Tang Soo Do

During the Japanese occupation of Korea, many Koreans escaped oppression at home by emigrating to study and work in other countries, including China and Japan. No restrictions on unarmed martial arts training existed in these countries, and for the first time in over a thousand years, Tae Kyun students were exposed to other forms of unarmed self-defence.

Hwang Kee left Korea in 1935 (after his graduation from ‘high school’) to work for the railway company in Manchuria, China. A huge advantage of working for a railway company was that it allowed one to travel; with the added bonus that such travel was free of charge.

While in China, he met a gifted martial arts master called Yang Kuk Jin, who, after much persuasion, taught him the Tang method of martial arts. Hwang Kee was already a master of the traditional Korean martial arts Tae Kyun and Soo Bahk Ki at the tender age of 22, and later blended these martial arts with the Tang method into what we now recognise as Tang Soo Do.

Master Hwang Kee studied with Master Yang until 1937, when he had to return to Seoul. He was able to return to China once more in 1941, but this was the last time that young Master Hwang Kee was to see his instructor. The creation of Communist China in 1946 prevented free movement – just as Korea was being freed from oppression, so China entered into it.

Always thirsty for knowledge, Hwang Kee also studied Okinawan karate, from books that were available to him when he worked for the Cho Sun Railway Company around 1939. The only books permitted in those days were Japanese, and the Cho Sun railway happened to have a small library.

Back to 1945 – the 2nd World War ended, and with it also ended the long Japanese occupation of Korea. At last, Korea became an independent state. In Seoul, on November 9th, 1945 (his 31st birthday), Hwang Kee finally realised his dream, and formally registered a new martial arts school called Moo Duk Kwan, of which we are still a part today.

Moo Duk Kwan has more than one possible meaning. “Moo” can mean “martial “ (i.e. anything to do with war), “to stop spear”, “not want war” – seemingly contradicting terms. However, this makes incredible sense, as the basic precept of Tang Soo Do is to avoid fighting if at all possible, and even then only to fight in self-defence or the defence of others. Also, Tang Soo Do does not only consist of attacking techniques, but has just as many defensive techniques. The first technique a beginner learns is Hadan Mahkee (low defence), which reinforces this point. “Duk” means benevolent, or virtue. “Kwan” means school or institute. So Moo Duk Kwan can mean “Benevolent martial arts school”, “Institute of martial virtue”, etc.

The Moo Duk Kwan philosophy is based on Do (Tao), No Ja (Lao Tzu) and Lee Do Ja (Confucius).

Grandmaster Hwang Kee also borrowed the Five Doctrines of the Hwa Rang ("the flowering youth corps"), an ancient Korean fighting society:

1) Be loyal to one's country.

2) Be obedient to parents and elders

3) Honour friendship

4) Kill only in justice and with honour

5) Never retreat in battle.

These principles became the "literary" foundation of Tang Soo Do, and remain as part of our 10 Articles of Faith to the present day.

As head of the school, Hwang Kee takes the title Kwan Jang Nim.

Contrary to popular opinion, Tang Soo Do was not Kwan Jang Nim’s first choice of name for his new art. His first choice was "Hwa Soo Do" (art of the flower hand). He had meditated long and hard on this name, which celebrated the flowering independence of the newly re-established state of Korea; the “Hwa” also hinting at a connection with the Hwa Rang. Kwan Jang Nim Hwang Kee tried very hard to perpetuate his teaching of Hwa Soo Do, but the general Korean public refused to accept the new art, opting for the more popular Gum Do (Kendo) and Yu Do (Judo). One day Kwan Jang Nim Hwang Kee met two gentlemen in Seoul, both prominent martial arts instructors. One was the founder of Yeon Moo Kwan (later changed to Ji Do Kwan), and taught an art known as Kong Soo Do. The other gentleman founded the Chung Do Kwan and called his art Tang Soo Do (An open handed style heavily influenced by Okinawan Karate).

The following passage is quoted from History of the Moo Duk Kwan, by Hwang Kee, 1995:

"After he met with these gentlemen, the Kwan Jang Nim meditated and re-evaluated the future of the Moo Duk Kwan. It was here where Kwan Jang Nim Hwang Kee discerned that the natural flow of the thoughts of the Korean people was centred on Japanese influenced martial arts. Although Tang Soo Do was not as popular as Gum Do or Yu Do, it was at least recognisable to the public as a whole. Kwan Jang Nim Hwang Kee humbly accepted and followed the law of the great nature, and Tang Soo Do was then integrated into the teaching of the Hwa Soo Do discipline”

It should obvious by now that Tang Soo Do is a blend of the best attributes of several martial arts: its main constituents are Soo Bahk Ki (60%), Northern Chinese (30%) and Southern Chinese (10%). Its kicking techniques are based on Soo Bahk Ki, and the soft flowing movements from the Southern Chinese Systems.

There are many possible translations of Tang Soo Do – some say that Hwang Kee included “Tang” in the name to show the influence that his studies of the Tang method in China had upon him. Other meanings for “Tang” are “Chinese” – i.e. relating to Tang dynasty, which was a very good time for China, or “worthy”.

“Soo” means hand, and “Do” means art, way or method. “Do” suggests not just a technical method, but more a way of life, covering spiritual as well as physical aspects. Soo and Do used together can mean “knife hand”, e.g. Hadan Soo Do Mahkee (low knife hand defence), giving yet another possible meaning.

So Tang Soo Do can mean “Chinese hand method”, “Chinese knife-hand way”, “Art of worthy hands”, etc.

Tang Soo Do gained in popularity in Korea, but it was first noticed by the government during the Korean War (1950 – 1953). South Korean military leaders soon noticed that Korean soldiers trained in Tang Soo Do did much better in hand to hand combat than those trained in other martial arts. They won many battles, often outnumbered ten to one by the North Korean communists. The Korean president, Syngman Rhee, ordered that all soldiers should be trained in Tang Soo Do, as well as their normal military training.

The Korean government was not happy with the name Tang Soo Do, because of the Chinese connotations of “Tang”, so a research group was formed in 1955 to come up with a name for a Korean national martial art. This art was intended to unite all Korean martial arts under a single name and governing body. The group was composed of archaeologists, historians, masters of the martial arts and scholars. They suggested the name Tae Kwon Do, which derived from Tae Kyun and means; Tae, to kick or strike with the feet, Kwon refers to punching with the hand or fist or knuckles, Do means way or method of life and philosophy.

Most of the Korean martial arts schools joined the new Tae Kwon Do Association, but Grandmaster Hwang Kee was not happy with the idea, and decided to keep Moo Duk Kwan independent, in order to preserve its purity of form and traditional values. Part of the Ji Do Kwan also stayed independent.

In 1957, Grandmaster Hwang Kee discovered in the warehouses of the National University of Seoul a copy of the ancient “MOO YEI DO BO TONG JI” (Martial arts manual from the 17th century), written in ancient Chinese characters. This book included ancient Korean techniques from over 2000 years before the colonial occupation, records of which were all thought to have been destroyed during the Japanese occupation.

The Moo Yei Do Bo Tong Ji described in detail: soo balik (damaging hand) techniques and Soo Bahk forms and techniques. Hwang Kee recognized what he had found and incorporated the ancient Korean martial arts teachings into Tang Soo Do Moo Duk Kwan. On June 30th 1960, he renamed his art in honour of his discovery as Tang Soo Do Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan. The ancient Soo Bahk techniques that Hwang Kee discovered are different from those of today. They represent ancient teachings and ancient ways from thousands of years ago. Hwang Kee published what he discovered in Korea and in the United States so that others would be aware their existence and their significance.

Another blow came in 1965, when the Korean government wanted to reduce the influence of Moo Duk Kwan, as it was presenting too much competition for the government-sponsored Tae Kwon Do. Moo Duk Kwan’s application to join the Korean Athletics Association was turned down, and many senior Moo Duk Kwan members voted to join the Korean Tae Kwon Do Association.

This literally split Moo Duk Kwan in two – Tae Kwon Do on the one side, and Tang Soo Do/Soo Bahk Do on the other. The Tae Kwon Do break-away group also kept the name Moo Duk Kwan.

Hwang Kee successfully appealed against the Governments decision in the Supreme Court of South Korea in June 1966.

Several attempts were made to reunite the two Moo Duk Kwan organisations, but all failed. In Hwang Kee’s lifetime, Tang Soo Do gradually spread across the world, and is now taught in at least 36 countries, including Korea, United States, United Kingdom, Australia, South Africa, Germany, Italy, Greece, Thailand, Malaysia, Formosa, and, surprisingly, even Japan.

Moo Duk Kwan Grandmaster Hwang Kee died on Sunday, July 14, 2002 at 7:05 pm Korea time, at the age of 88. He passed away at Joong Ahn Gil Byong Won Hospital in InCheon, South Korea, where he had been ill since June 29th. He is survived by his son, Master Hwang, Hyun Chul, and his two daughters.

Tang Soo!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

40 Simple Ways to Show Your Child Love

I had found this list here, a long time ago and pasted it into a Word file.  From time to time I try to look at it and read it and take one of the ideas to do with my daughter.  These are some simple ideas to make your little ones feel special and make you both make some long lasting great memories.  I hope they inspire you and you can create some great memories too!

I have to tell you the funny thing about the photo above.  We were dining in one of the fabulous restaurants on the Disney Cruise and I was doing a "magic trick" covering my watch with the cloth napkin and saying, "Bibbiddi Bobbiddi Bo" and moved the napkin and my watch was gone!  It took her a few times for her to realize I was taking the watch off under the napkin and it wasn't disappearing on it's own.  This was her first introduction to "Magic tricks!" It was a fun memory!!!  I am glad one of my sisters snapped this photo!!  thank you Sis!

40 simple ways to show your child love:
  1. Take them to a movie they want to see.
  2. Go on a treasure hunt (collect all the loose change around the house/car) together and then make a trip to the arcade with your findings.
  3. Take a long nature walk together, at their pace.  Let them lead the conversation.
  4. Find qualities about them that you genuinely love, and compliment them in front of others.
  5. Frame a photo of the two of you, and display it in their room.
  6. Put a few Hershey’s Hugs in one of their coat pockets, and Kisses in the other.
  7. Play a game with them.
  8. Let them win.
  9. Make bath time special.  Add lots of bubbles, colored soaps, maybe you could purchase a new tub toy or let them play with things found around the house.  I let my kids play with things like colanders and funnels from the kitchen—they love it.  Don’t forget to warm the towel!
  10. Send them a handmade card in the mail with a coupon to go get ice cream with you.
  11. Gather all the home movies that feature them as the “star” and have a movie night complete with popcorn and treats.
  12. Using blankets and chairs, or a card table, build a clubhouse together and have a picnic inside.
  13. Read “I love you” books together.
  14. Let them stay up past their bedtime with you and watch cartoon classics together.
  15. Do a chore that is normally reserved for them.
  16. Tuck an encouraging note inside their lunchbox.
  17. Give them your full attention.
  18. Tell them some of the ways they make you happy.
  19. Make them laugh.
  20. Laugh with them.
  21. Make their favorite treat to welcome them home from school with.
  22. Show them your joy when they arrive.
  23. Ask for hugs and kisses.
  24. Listen, and let them make their own decisions whenever possible.
  25. Make them a coupon book filled with things they’d enjoy doing, or things they’d like to get out of doing.
  26. Take a day off from everything: work, household duties, technology, etc. and focus entirely on them.
  27. Cook together.
  28. Write them a poem using the initials of their name.
  29. Decorate their room for no reason.
  30. Create a sign that lavishes them with praise.
  31. Kidnap them from school and take them out for lunch.
  32. Make home a fun place to be.
  33. Make a treasure box from an old shoe box, fill it with “gold” (chocolate coins) and make an official looking treasure map with clues for them to locate the hidden treasure with.
  34. Go to the store and let them pick out all the ingredients to make banana splits.  Make and eat them together.
  35. Wrap up in a warm blanket together and take turns making up stories to tell each other.
  36. Make a list of things you love about them and put it on their pillow before bedtime.
  37. Talk about what they did in their day at dinnertime.
  38. Sit down together and write a list of fun activities to do in a day.  Write each idea on small slips of paper, roll up the papers and stick them inside balloons.  Blow up all the balloons and then pop one balloon at a time until you’ve completed all the activities.
  39. Play back rub/tickle games—ie; Spider crawling up your back…
  40. Make a CD with all their favorite tunes and have a dance party.
Have fun!!!

Monday, September 17, 2012

5 Health Benefits for Adults in the Martial Arts

After posting the benefits for children in martial arts, I HAD to post some great reasons for adults to benefit from the martial arts as well! You are never too old, or too out of shape to start karate classes.  It is in my opinion the best workout in the world! Do it now!!

Here is a great article this karate school in UT posted. (source)

5 Health Benefits for Adults in the Martial Arts

(img source)
If you are an adult who is looking for a way to lose weight, strengthen your body and otherwise get healthy, you might want to consider signing up for martial arts classes.
Not only do martial arts help you gain more confidence, learn self-discipline and become better prepared for self-defense, but it offers a wide variety of health benefits as well.
Here is a look at just a few of the health benefits adults who take martial arts classes enjoy.

Build Strength

No matter what type of martial arts training you pursue, you are certain to increase your muscle strength while also improving your musculoskeletal health. This increased strength will help prevent injury from normal day-to-day activities while also reducing your risk of experiencing aches and pains as you grow older.

Increase Endurance

Martial arts will also help you increase your endurance in a number of ways. Not only will the regular training sessions increase your aerobic cardiovascular endurance, but your muscles will build more endurance as well. As a result, you will be able to engage in physical activities for longer periods of time without becoming winded or developing sore muscles.

Improve Flexibility, Speed and Balance

As you master the moves you are learning in your martial arts class, you will experience increased flexibility, speed and balance. All of these things together will help to improve your functional strength while also helping your body become better prepared physically-demanding tasks.

Reduce Risks of Obesity

Martial arts burns a significant amount of calories while also increasing the metabolic rate and making the body stronger. As a result, you are likely to lose weight after you start taking martial arts classes. Or, if you are already at your ideal body weight, you will be better able to maintain your weight. By reducing your risk of obesity, you also reduce your chances of developing obesity-related conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

Exercise the Heart

The exercises and routines you perform in your martial arts class will force your heart to get to work. As you reaching your target heart level and continue to engage in physical activity, your heart will grow stronger and better capable of working for longer periods of time. As your heart grows stronger and healthier, your risk of developing heart disease decreases.
Start improving your health today by taking martial arts classes for adults. You’ll be glad you did!