K is for Kuk Sool Won – #AtoZChallenge Special Post

K is for Kuk Sool Won

Yesterday, Saturday April 13, 2019, my son and I participated in our first tournament in the traditional Korean martial art called Kuk Sool Won.

The first-ever Fingerlakes Kuk Sool Won tournament, organized by my school, Kuk Sool Won of Greater Rochester, NY.
Ribbons for all the divisions and events.

My son has studied Kuk Sool Won for about 3.5 years, and is very close to starting the two year cycle that leads ultimately to a black belt. I started a little over a year ago and will be promoting to my blue belt in a couple of weeks.

I put The Boy™ (my son*) in the local Kuk Sool Won school as part of all the things we do to help him with the challenges of his autism. Kuk Sool Won has helped him with his physical coordination and balance. It’s helped him with patience, and working with others. More than anything, it’s taught him about the importance of etiquette, accepting failure, and worrying about the needs of other people – social skills which are especially difficult for him.

I joined Kuk Sool Won when The Boy™ promoted to red belt, at his request. I wanted to make sure he had internalized his success at Kuk Sool Won as his own, then when I later joined he wouldn’t feel like I was forcing him to participate because I wanted to do it. Me being junior to him has provided him an opportunity to learn how to know something that his parents don’t know, and how to appropriately and respectfully teach something to an elder person.

In all ways, The Boy™ has benefited incredibly, and has grown substantially in his social abilities in these last few years so much so that I’m more confident than ever that he’ll be able to be an independent, successful adult with minimal support.

A year ago, we tried to go to a Kuk Sool Won tournament, but The Boy™ wasn’t ready. It was obvious he was not going to be able to tolerate the long waits and the noisy, chaotic atmosphere. This year, we both competed. I was delighted to see how poised and patient The Boy™ was. He didn’t do as well as he had hoped (though everyone who knows him would agree that he did fantastic), and he gracefully accepted the positions he earned.

The judges gave The Boy™ a special discussion to help him improve his techniques, and to explain the scoring.

I have to wonder if this is what it feels like to raise a neurotypical child. I mean, I walked away and did other things (like was a partner for someone else as they competed in techniques). And I didn’t worry. It was astounding.

I didn’t perform as well as I had hoped either, but I placed in my events (turns out there aren’t many 40+-years-old yellow belts).

I couldn’t be happier that I survived. And I got a medal!

The Boy™ and I had a great time. We feel as though we were immensely successful, and have now hung our 5(!) medals on our Kuk Sool Won wall of fame. I could not possibly be prouder! Doing Kuk Sool Won has brought us closer together than ever.

Five medals. Four fourth-place and one third-place. The third-place ribbon was earned by The Boy™.

I also learned an important lesson yesterday. Turn your head when doing a front fall or you squish your face into the mat. Yeah. Oops.

*I refer to my son as The Boy™ intentionally. He is autistic. He unfortunately trusts anyone who knows his name. I will not publish his name on a public site, and I appreciate it when friends who know him also refrain from posting his name, so I needn’t be afraid for him. He is my everything.

My everything.


  1. C.E. Flores says:

    kudos to you (to go with the K topic). Being a parent to the boy sounds like a challenging and rewarding experience! Keep it up!


  2. Marybeth says:

    Congratulations on a beautiful family success!


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