2010 Interview/School Background

OB Collective Collage I

OB Collective Collage II


At the Ocean Beach Martial Arts School (OBMA), our specific style of Tae Kwon Do is "Chung Do Kwan" or "Sea of the Blue Wave".  Chung Do Kwan was the original and largest of the Korean Karate Schools (Kwans), and was founded by Grand Master (GM) Won Kuk Lee - GM Lee passed away March 3, 2003.  GM Duk Sung Son a 9th degree black belt (Dan), was a senior student of GM Lee and served for a period of time as head of the Chung Do Kwan School in Korea.  In 1963 GM Son brought Tae Kwon Do Chung Do Kwan to the United States (Sponsered by his student, Joon Rhee - The Father of American Tae Kwon Do) and formed the World Tae Kwon Do Association (WTA) with Headquarters in Manhattan, New York.  One of many students to emerge from GM Son's School was Mr. Glen Sweeny.

The following is a small list of schools that can trace their beginnings to GM Son and his WTA organization: Harvard Univ. TKD, Princeton Univ. TKD, Cornell Univ. TKD, MIT Univ. TKD, UNC Chapel Hill TKD, The Citadel TKD, UC Santa Barbara TKD, etc.

While students at Oregon State University (OSU), a husband and wife team studied Tae Kwon Do under Mr. Sweeny and achieved belt rankings of green & yellow respectively.  After completing their studies at OSU in the early 1970's the two moved to San Diego to attend UCSD's graduate school.  The first school, run by Mr. Larry Santoni, was in North Claremont and in 1975, Ms. Patricia Santoni moved to Ocean Beach and started the OBMA School.  After numerous years of teaching, Mrs. Santoni retired, handed the class down to one of her senior students, Mr. Rocky Burks.  Mr. Burks ran the class from 1988 to 2000 and produced a handful of black belts including Mr. Scott Gustafson and Mr. Tom Blamey.  During his tenure, Mr. Burks had two senior instructors assist him with the class (Mr. Todd McCracken and Mr. Scott Gustafson).  In 2000, Mr. Burks officially stepped down as head instructor and handed the class over to Mr. McCracken who ran the school until 2004.  While teaching at OBMA, Mr. McCracken produced one black belt -Mr. Lee Morgan, two junior black belts and numerous other colored belt students.  In 2004, Mr. McCracken officially stepped down as head instructor and handed the class over to Mr. Tom Blamey (Chief Instructor) who runs the school today.

The school has a wide range of students and instructors, including Joe Montanez, who started his (WTA) Tae Kwon Do studies while attending Harvard University.  Gabe Nunez, is a graduate of Stanford University and tested for his first degree black belt at the OBMA.  Ryan Johnson earned his 1st Dan through OBMA and is a freshman at Berkley.  Currently stationed in Iraq, Ian Preble, an Army Green Beret and first degree black belt, claims OBMA as his current school.  Westly Johnson earned his 1st Dan through OBMA and is in Marine Corps.

Although the OBMA school started as and continues to be focused around Tae Kwon Do, it has incorporated instructors with different styles of martial arts in the past.  One such instructor, Mr. John Ramos, holds differing degrees of black belt ranking in Judo, Jujitsu, Kempo, and Escrima.  The influences of these past and current instructors can be seen in our school today (mixed martial arts or distance fighting strategies).

It is generally believed that techniques similar to what we now call "martial arts" were developed in the Far East many centuries ago. There has been much differentiation over time and any current martial art style is simply the most recent version of its predecessor. The term "martial" refers to the practical utility of techniques in combat. During peaceful times, practice for personal development, self-knowledge, and mind-body unity resulted in the "art".
A given martial art may be "hard" (powerful, strong, fast) or "soft" (smooth, flowing, dance-like). It may or may not include the use of weapons. In free-style sparring, painful offensive blows may be delivered (this is called "contact" sparring) or withheld just short of the target (called "non-contact" sparring).
It is possible to develop the martial skill aspect and ignore the art aspect of martial arts. This tends to occur in schools where self-defense and free-style fighting, particularly contact fighting are emphasized. Research indicates that such training tends to increase ones aggressiveness and physical acting out of negative emotions.
Schools that emphasizing the “art” of traditional teaching, produce students who become less aggressive, less anxious, feel more self-confident, possess more self-disciplined, and feel more empowered to deal effectively with many other aspects of their lives. These results are achieved by adding the following regime to the curriculum: basic exercises, forms and philosophy. Students soon become aware of the social appropriateness and its important role as a vital component of training to develop the "art" aspect of this discipline.

Tae Kwon Do is the modern derivation of older Korean martial arts. It means "the study of kicks and punches". As such, no weapons are used. Being partially based on the tiger, it is a strong, fast, and powerful – or a "hard" martial art. Taught traditionally, it utilizes non-contact sparring to underscore safety and non-violence. All components of training are used to work through the "martial" and on to the "art".

Basics are attack and block techniques that are rudimentary to Tae Kwon Do. Each technique is practiced by students taking a sequence of steps forward and performing punches, blocks, or kicks with each step. It is difficult to master Basics, for you can always go faster and demonstrate more power and focus as you maintain balance in delivery. In fact, balance, control, speed, power, and focus are indeed the five tenets of Tae Kwon Do. Control is more fully discussed in the context of sparring.

Forms are choreographed movements integrating the techniques practiced in Basics. Each belt-level has one or two Forms associated with it. Forms become more complicated as the students go up in ranks. All techniques should be done with power and speed. Those who put in everything they have during forms begin to realize their true motive, those who don't, may as well do thirty minutes of calisthenics. Amazingly, if you remain true to the intent of the forms, your hands quicken, your balance gets better, and you react to your opponents’ attacks more swiftly during sparring.
We practice all forms leading to and including the forms designated for our belt-level. Not only does this build stamina, but more importantly it is intended to promote a simple idea--you must always strive to do the forms better, regardless of the number of years that you have trained in Tae Kwon Do. An important side-effect here is that that lower belts get a chance to observe the ways of the upper belts. Students are always encouraged to learn by watching upper belts.

One or Three-step is where the fundamentals of sparring are learned. Students practice these in pairs of two. One student steps forward and throws a punch with each step while the other student steps back and blocks each punch coming at them. Punches must be thrown with control, targeting above the lip area of their partner without making contact. The opposing student learns to step back and block on the wrist. As the name indicates, the attack stops after one or three punches at which time the student on defense end executes one or more offensive techniques.

Sparring in our style has No Offensive Contact. Students must show focus and self control in executing powerful techniques. All offensive techniques must target critical regions such as: the temple, ribs, or solar plexus, but no contact is made. All attacks must only target above the waist and the front of the body. Blocking is taught as a critical part of the art of sparring. We don't smash our partner's wrist or ankle, but rather blocks are designed to deflect punches or kicks and to protect you. We do not want to hurt our friends in class.
During demonstrations, we typically use the same techniques used in sparring. It is never acceptable to fight with contact unless required for a self-defense move in an actual encounter.
Furthermore, men and women spar with one another in class. There are no weight or age categories for sparring during class. White belts (beginners) do not participate in Free-Style sparring until promoted to Orange or Yellow belt. Olympic style sparring will be incorporated at certain times; this includes pads and light contact, but participation is on a voluntary basis.

The breaking of wood is a classic test of the skills learned in the Do Jang. On special occasion such as a demonstration, a senior black belt may demonstrate the art of brick or concrete breaking.

A small part of self defense is “fighting back”. The majority of self defense is not being at the wrong place at the wrong time – risk avoidance is the bulk of true self defense. Only after all possible alternatives to a physical encounter are exhausted, does the martial artist use his or her training. It is always best to use common sense when graduating the scale of self defense – avoidance, then non-physical techniques (walking away, posturing, yelling), then “soft” physical techniques (grappling/joint locking), and only if there is no other choice does one use “hard” life-threatening physical techniques (striking) against another human being.