Since moving to south Texas, our study of the martial arts has dropped off considerably, with our hour drive to and from work and there not being a school near our home.  We do still train, however irregularly, in our garage when time and weather permit. 

Marla began her study of Taekwondo with Mike Johnson's Martial Arts PE class at the University of Texas at Arlington in January of 1993.  I followed her in this endeavor in May of 1993, joining the University Martial Arts Association at UTA.  Little did we know how fortunate that we were in our choice of instructors or in the school affiliation.  For both the UTA PE class and the UMAA club were outreach programs of the Roy Kurban's American Black Belt Academy.  We could not have found a finer Martial Arts school had we tried.  We began full time at the "Academy" in August of 1994, and we achieved our 1st degree Black Belts in October of 1996.  Marla quickly made her mark upon the North Texas martial arts scene by winning a 2 grand champion trophies in women's fighting (a feat I didn't match until 2001).  We both competed regularly in tournaments (mostly those of the Traditional Karate League or TKL) in both forms and fighting from 1993 until 2001.  We both earned the rank 2nd degree Black Belt on September 26, 1998.

The following are a varity of photos of us at our 2nd Dan exam (held at UTA's Lonestar Auditorium). 

The first four pictures demonstrate the various forms required for the 2nd Dan examination.  Forms are a choreographed series of moves performed against multiple, imaginary opponents.  Forms allow you to demonstrate balance, precision of technique, and focus.


Below, I demonstrate the finishing move of a one-step self-defense.   "One-steps" are a bridge between traditional forms and free sparring.   They allow you to practice timing and distance against an opponent and to orchestrate a series of natural responses to an attack. Below, Marla demonstrates the finishing move for a self-defense against an attacker with a knife -- she has pinned and locked her attacker's elbow, forcing him to the ground, where she has disarmed him.

Sparring has always been my favorite part of Taekwondo training (although in recent years, I've gained a much better appreciation of the meditative qualities of performing forms).  However, I'm still a better a fighter than I am a forms practicioner. Breaking demonstrations require focus, control, and (of course), power.  Always impressive for the crowd.
Marla & I with Master Roy Kurban (now Grandmaster) - our primary instructor at the time of our 2nd Dan examination (from 1994-until 2001). Marla with Christina Erickson and Mike (now Master) Johnson - our original University instructor, and later (from 2002-2004) our primary instructor.

Marla & I with Christina Erickson and Jody Reimers - the four of us tested together from Brown Belt through 2nd degree Black.