Local instructor earns 7th degree black belt

Only when you meet Gary Muma will you begin to understand the long-time instructor’s philosophy about the sport — or rather, the art — of Taekwon-Do.

Unlike most sports, where athletes only have other athletes to compare themselves to, the ancient Korean martial art of Taekwon-Do is highly individual.

“I’m not too concerned with belt ranks,” said Muma, the owner of Northwest Taekwon-Do who recently earned his seventh-degree black belt. “My ultimate goal is to continue training and keep getting better.”

Muma explained that the “Master level” is more about self-improvement than rankings, and it is the mental aspect of the sport that drives him.

“When you hit 20 years of studying martial arts, new things begin to come into focus,” he said. “You still must train every day to maintain a peak level. But the only person you are comparing yourself to is you.”

Muma had been training an extra three hours per week for the past few months to get ready for his promotion ceremony, held Feb. 27 at his studio in Hood River.

He said that the key to long-term success in Taekwon-Do is conditioning and a deep understanding of the ancient Korean code that governs the sport.

“Earning a place within your belt class is much more than ego,” said Muma, a former competitor and senior judge who trained with the renowned Master Kim in Portland for many years.

“Once you reach the highest level, you focus on performing techniques the right way. And the more I improve, the more I can pass along to my students.”

Muma instructs approximately 100 students every week, and his subjects range from elementary school kids to adults — 15 of whom helped judge his Feb. 27 promotion demonstration.

“I demonstrated the highest seven fighting forms in the ITF system, including a series of power punches and kicks,” he said. “A lot of it has to do with hand conditioning and focusing on the target. And when I strike the target, I just try to visualize myself going through it.”

One break that Muma demonstrated was a seven-board break with a side kick. He also broke four of the one-inch-thick boards with a power punch. In the end, he passed with flying colors, and has no plans of slowing down.

“Now I’m only eight years away from the next one,” he said.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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