43106 Christy Street.                                                          Published: Summer 2023

            Fremont, CA 94538                                                  Editor: Mr. Elanchezhian Palanivelu

            Phone (510) 226-0520                                                       Publisher: Master David Bell

            E-mail: Firsttsd@aol.com                                          Web: www.Fremonttangsoodo.com   

YouTube: www.youtube.com/@FremontTangSooDo


Master Thirumoorthy Gunasekaran, 4th Dan

Mr. Elanchezhian Palanivelu, 2nd Dan

Mr. Akhil Palanivelu, 2nd Dan

Mrs. Vimaladevi Rajakanthan, 2nd Dan

Mr. Akshay Palanivelu, 1st Dan


The Spirit of Tang Soo Do

By Elanchezhian Palanivelu


We planned our 2023 summer trip to India to visit our family. Master Bell visioned that training with Master Thiru in Chennai during this visit would be historic. July 9th, 2023 5pm to 7pm was the day we set up to train. Vimala, Akhil, Akshay and I started the day like any other day. We trained in the morning, took care of a few things at home and got ready for the ride to Mappedu. Mappedu is a suburb in Chennai about 10 miles from our home, where Master Thiru invited us to train with his students.

        The day was hot and humid, with a peak temperature of 101°F. We were sweating just sitting in the house. Can we sustain Tang Soo Do training with black belt dobok in this temperature? The story Master Bell often shared about his outdoor training with Master Leak on a hot day like this, helped us to dismiss any self-doubt. Also the previous day Akshay had a palm size burn in his right thigh from spilled milk. We got a burn ointment, applied thoroughly on the burn and tied a bandage around his thigh tightly to cover it. He felt confident that he could train. We were ready to show up.

        The air conditioned Uber ride helped to escape the sweltering heat for a while. We would be riding for another 30 minutes. We passed through flyover constructions to solve traffic congestion, new road constructions, towering offices and residential buildings. We noticed a city expanding and developing, people consumed by mobile phones, cashless mobile transactions everywhere including street vendors, abundant eateries, hospitals and pharmacies in every corner, and private schools to feed increasing demand for knowledge workers. Even through modernization, the spirit of India as we knew was there, the comfort of home was there. As we got past the bustling city, we could see more open fields, large water bodies like ponds and marshlands.

        The open space allowed me to think about the first day I met Master Thiru. When we were signing up for Tang Soo Do class with Master Bell, he was there. At that time he was a second degree black belt. His quiet presence and straight posture was noticeable. Since then I have seen him in every class. His consistency, relaxed manner, and smiling face made him approachable. I trained with him in the class from white belt to black belt.

       As I learnt and grew from the martial art teaching and training, I understood the Master’s role in a student’s growth. Master seeing the students beyond where they are now, orchestrating and putting energy towards creating a well-balanced human being. The result of that effort shows up in a student as a calm, peaceful and disciplined person. I have seen Master Thiru go through ups and downs of his life and progression in the Tang Soo Do belt system.

Master Thiru has awareness of this whole process. When he decided to open the Healing Arts school in Chennai, I was happy for him. Because I know that this would give him an opportunity to solidify his understanding of his growth, and continuous growth in the process of helping students. Now he could orchestrate growth for his students. The role of Master may not be popular all the time, but in the end as Master Bell says, it is rewarding with the level of patience and tolerance gained and becoming effective in impacting other humans.

This day would be an opportunity to see the young Master with his students. For the students, it would be the day to train with a family of four black belts coming from the same source as their Master.

As we reached closer to the dojang, we felt a pure, gentle breeze coming through open fields. New residential buildings were popping up here and there in the neighborhood. We located the address and pressed a calling bell at the gate. Master Thiru opened the gate and steered us inside the house. Curious minds met us. Mrs. Vaidehi, her twin sister Mrs. Vaishnavi and baby boy greeted us.  An 8-year-old boy Bala looked at us and popped the question immediately “are you all black belts?”. Then his parents Mr. Nellai and Mrs. Meena (orange belts) greeted us. They were thrilled to meet a whole family of black belts. We were settling down, getting to know the place and people. The house was a three story building, the dojang was on the 3rd floor. We switched to black belt dobok and got ready for the training.

We got introduced to Mr. Moppi and Mr. Saravanan, other two orange belt students. After a quick chat, we lined up for class.

In the front of class, Master Thiru and behind him Akhil and I stood as his sidekicks. Vimala and Akshay in the first row and rest of the students in the back rows. When I saw the structured line up, it brought the Tang Soo Do class feeling, and a tingling feeling in my body. New place, some new people but a very familiar setup.

Master Thiru led us through some jumping jacks, opposites and head-to-toe exercises. I was feeling the class, paying close attention to all students, what’s there and what’s not there, what could be their needs. The session was set up to train as well as share our experiences with the class. Master Thiru asked the blackbelts about our relationship with the art and how it helped us grow. I shared my experience of the need to grow to be healthy, a better father and a spouse. When I saw Akshay (as a five-and-half years old) logically following Master Bell when he talked about not touching his mother’s personal bag without her permission (to get her phone). And he was able to change his behavior based on this one conversation. We were shouting and threatening him to bring the same change but it never worked. It showed me the possibilities of learning a different way than what I had. This allowed me to invest in learning the philosophy and practicing the art offered by Master Bell. Vimala, Akhil and Akshay also shared their experiences and their growth through the system of healing arts in a profound way.

      In the drills we did all the hand techniques in the Pahl Put Ki stance. This was a new experience for me as it needed complete mental engagement, doing it like this for the first time. We better get used to expecting surprises. At the end of it I experienced an elevated sense of focus and sharpness. After a quick check up, we transitioned to kick exercises.

During this time I felt the sultry weather increased my sweating and breathlessness. Time to step up my focus and concentration to not give in to any emotion. Logically I knew that so long as I kept hydrated and maintained my focus and proper breathing with the move, it was just a matter of going through the training. With that awareness, I started enjoying the training.


        Junior students went to the side, Master Thiru and black belts went through the basic forms. My main focus was to do the basic forms at black belt level, with definition for each move, all out effort and Ki Hap that goes with strong technique. After three forms, we were closing in on the 2-hours session. In the final few minutes, some more questions directed to Akhil and Akshay on how they were handling being different from their peers. Their response: though challenging initially, got used to being different standing out from peers than accepting being the same. The two hours class was over and Master Thiru ended the class with his appreciation for having the same experience as training with Master Bell.

The class was over, but the feeling of incompleteness remained. I requested Master Thiru to continue with the remaining forms with him. We did basic forms and Pyung Ahn forms. Junior students were watching and recording the forms. For us it was enjoying the forms with all little intricacies to tell a story. A story free from feelings and comforts, demonstration of tenets and the ways that became part of us.

Four of us continued with Bassai, NaiHanChi, Sip Soo and RoHai forms. As I did the forms, I noticed the depth of challenge in some of the moves that could address any type of behavioral issues. It was clear how practicing the forms with the way, molds the character of the person.

We capped our training with  Il Soo Sik Dae Ryun, both Soo and Chagi from 1 to 15. Simple moves with precise definition and a good sense of reality. Through the training, I felt all four of us together demonstrating the same level of strength and tenacity.

At the end of it, I felt a complete presence. Quiet mind, light body and contended feeling. Junior students expressed that they saw an example of black belt level training. Master Thiru expressed that he saw the strength and humility in us. The result others see in us, came from a strong philosophy we trained by consistently. Hopefully we were able to demonstrate the breadth and depth of the Tang Soo Do forms and techniques,  tenets and attitudes in our training.

        The whole experience of watching us training at this level could overwhelm orange belt students. But they were all adults, spouses and parents. I shared my experience of starting Tang Soo Do in my early forties, wilting under the responsibilities of being a spouse and father and to honestly recognize the growth I needed to go through to be effective in my responsibilities. Without integrity, I could have gotten stuck complaining about my spouse and kids for all the problems rather than learning and growing to make my choices work. So this level of training was what allowed us to do well in life. Adopting a way of life to learn and practice the art is fulfilling.

        Mr. Nellai shared his challenge of communicating with his son. It is always a challenge when we are pressed for time and we don’t listen. I emphasized the importance of listening to the kid's needs so that we know what to tell. We need to go to their level, instead of speaking from the level of adults. I shared a story from my childhood to make the point.

      Few days later, we again met with Master Thiru to visit his new home/school building under construction. I could see his level of engagement in every aspect of the building. While driving back, he shared how his spiritual journey started. Since his college days, the martial art practice gave him a good foundation for his existence.

      Then training with Master Bell elevated his understanding of human make up, behaviors and using the arts to experience the simplicity and  profoundness of life. My reminder to him was to train consistently, practicing the way in everything he does, seeing the students beyond where they are and orchestrating their growth, and  skillfully listening to understand students’ behavior. Then he could be surrounded by strong people.

        I felt pretty good about our time with Master Thiru. I experienced a sense of brotherhood throughout the time. I sincerely appreciate him welcoming us to his school and home and making time for us. His students showed humility in listening to what we had to share. With his commitment to the students and sharing learnings from his growth as was passed on, Chennai could make him a True Master for the community.

        I’m beyond words to express my gratitude to my family. Vimala is the superstar in the family, she keeps us grounded and gets things done. Akhil is a cool-headed and reliable one in the family. Akshay is the blessing of our family, keeping our life in order. I enjoy being with them, feeling their strong presence.

        My heartfelt appreciation to  Master Bell for being there in every step of the way, orchestrating and guiding us through his vision for a better life.

        Was it a historic visit? I’m not in a place to answer this question yet, we may need to wait for the answer!

A Historic Training with Master Thiru

By Mrs. Vimaladevi Rajakanthan

We were visiting India after five years so it was a special trip for me. When Master Bell said that this would be a historic trip when we train with Master Thiru, it made me curious. I was in a unique place since I was representing myself as a trained black belt and also as a wife and mother of black belts. I was open to see how this training experience would unfold. We had known Master Thiru for almost 10 years now. I have seen him carry himself very calm and poised. I learnt from him how to be humble and appreciative when challenged. Master Thiru’s techniques and his flexibility have always inspired us in our growth in the path of Tang Soo Do. Trained by the same instructor, this trip could be interesting for us to share our experiences with his students.

On the day of training, I was waiting on the training floor for students to join. Mr. Nellai and Mrs. Meena, both orange belt students, joined. Master Thiru talked about Mrs. Meena’s challenges with her emotions. She had been given the tools of jumping jacks, breathing and other calisthenics to calm her emotions. The tools and training would work for sometime and she would easily go to an emotional place because she lacked her sense of self. I remembered my early days of Tang Soo Do with my own share of emotional drama and watching the same in other students.

As I was reminded of that, Master Thiru continued that male students tend to be logical because of the investment made in them from their childhood, while female students without much investment dip into emotion easily. I humbly expressed my thoughts that being emotional is not a gender thing. Anyone not raised with a good sense of self, act on their impulse and emotion because that is all they have. As we build character through consistent training and dissecting situations that trigger emotion, we build self-esteem of the student. That’s my story of growth into an emotionally stable person.

The training session started with students lined up. Master Thiru formally introduced us to his students. I felt the excitement and energy in the students. There was enthusiasm in juniors to see a family of black belts and appreciation to train with us. Mrs. Meena said that she was fortunate to train with legends. I reminded her that we were human beings just like her but we have trained consistently and that’s what she is experiencing.

After warmups, we did drills for both hand techniques and kicks. Master Thiru asked us to share what the art of Tang Soo Do was to each one of us. I shared about my personal growth and my growth as a spouse and a mother.

As an individual from childhood I was given more responsibilities in the family than the investment in self. So I was an angry and disappointed person even though I had academic achievement. Through the art and its philosophy I learnt about the 2 forces, logic and emotion. I trained consistently to overcome my emotions and make logical choices. I did not let being a woman be an impediment for my growth. This built my confidence and self esteem. I learned that women don’t take credit for orchestrating the family, rather let their role be belittled. When I accepted my role as an orchestrator, I took responsibility for my choices and took pride in it. This further boosted my self-esteem and this is how my sense of self was built.

As a mother I took responsibility for my choice to have kids. My commitment to raise my kids and teach them, gave me tolerance and patience. The end result is now I can take pride in myself and enjoy my kids and my family.

As a spouse the relationship between me and my husband has strengthened over the years. Initially, as we faced the reality of life we provided emotional support to each other. We learned how to communicate as equal partners, which gave me a sense that my opinions mattered. This increased the trust and respect between us. On a daily basis we stay connected, to bridge any gap between our understanding. Me, being part of Tang Soo Do along with my family has been very instrumental in the overall growth of the family because we all learnt the same philosophy. So it was easy for me and my husband to raise kids and for kids to communicate with us and we can count on each other for support at all times. I ended with the message that Tang Soo Do philosophy is the foundation for the strong and stable black belt family that we are now.

Elanchezhian, Akhil and Akshay shared their path of growth and what benefits they got from the art. We continued the training with some Basic Hyungs. Master Thiru concluded the training with the message that it was refreshing and gave him the same experience that he had with Master Bell. After some group photo shoot, we resumed our forms to complete the set of Basic Hyungs and Pyung Ahn Hyungs. As juniors watched and filmed, the harmony and stability in our family was displayed when we as a family did all the higher level forms and one-steps. Hopefully the juniors were able to draw lessons from it. At the end of the training session, I felt a sense of pride for what we could share.

A few days after this training experience, we visited Master Thiru’s new house/dojang that was under construction. We were happy for his new endeavor and wished him the best in his journey. He wished us a safe journey back to Fremont, California.

Training with Master Thiru and his students along with my family gave me a sense of contentment that we were able to give our best. It was humbling to train with them and the students also reciprocated their humility towards us. Master Thiru made us feel like his family during this trip and we are thankful to him. Wishing him all the best towards his dream school.

A Historic Visit to Healing Arts Center, Chennai

By Mr. Akhil Palanivelu

        Our training at the Healing Arts Center Chennai started Sunday morning on the 9th of July, moments after waking up. I was still half in jetlag, while also trying to adjust to the heat and humidity of India that was so different from the laid back and balmy weather of California. When I woke up, I did not exactly have excited thoughts about 2-3 hours of Tang Soo Do training in my Black Belt uniform. But even though I had all these feelings, I didn’t take them too seriously because I knew that once I started training, my feelings would become irrelevant. At the end of the session, I could look forward to an elevated sense of presence and awareness, where the heat wouldn’t even bother me.

We booked a taxi to get to the DoJang. Nearing our destination, our cab driver started driving through wide open grass fields, with roads paved through the middle. The winds were blowing a faint breeze and the air was pure and fresh. The atmosphere of the training area was very good. I thought we might be training out on the grass, in the open. I still had to wait and see where exactly this DoJang was. Our arrival was at a tall building. Master Gunasekaran greeted us at the gate, and we were welcomed inside Mr. Nellai’s house. The building was three stories tall, with the training floor on the topmost floor. Mr. Nellai showed us into a room to get dressed in, and then we went to the top floor to start our training.

In the DoJang, we met with the three other orange belt students and exchanged names. Then, we lined up, and finally our Tang Soo Do class started.

In the beginning, the class felt different as we were in a new environment, with a new Master and new students, and a different climate. However, as soon as I got into the jumping jacks and opposite toe touches, I felt all those feelings of unfamiliarity go away, replaced with the comforting knowledge of the strong art of Tang Soo Do. Breathing and concentration were like old friends whom I welcomed back in this new place. As a result, the three hours of training we did flew by quickly.

Master Gunasekaran led us through a basic warm-up, involving a head-to-toe, jumping jacks, opposites, and then basic drills. One thing that was different about the drills we did is that we didn’t do them in Shun Kul stances. Instead, we went into a horse-riding stance, and did all our drills from a stationary position. This required more focus from me, to create an opponent whom we were blocking without moving our lower body. It made me emphasize body balance even more, to push and pull the upper body to make up for the power of the lower body that wasn’t moving.

After drills and punches in a horse-riding stance, we moved onto our basic forms. Through focus on keeping the same pace, maintaining long stances, and bringing it all out while kihap’ing, we were able to do the Kicho Hyung and Sae Kae Hyung forms at the Black Belt level we knew to do them at. Doing the forms in the presence of Master Gunasekaran was also an enjoyable experience for me.

Lined up on the side were the junior students, who were watching our forms. I saw that we were able to display the art of Tang Soo Do in its pure form, because we were training at the level we were taught. The junior students could see the discipline in our movements, as our eyes concentrated on our opponents with our minds focused on every inch of our bodies. There was a profound sense of reality being exemplified in the art of Tang Soo Do. Watching us do forms, the students were witnessing the true art right in front of their eyes, and it was leaving an impact on them.

Our training time of two hours was up as we were going through the fourth basic form, so Master Gunasekaran ended the class. However, we asked to continue the rest of the forms with him and went through them up until the last Pyung Ahn form. Afterwards, Master Gunasekaran stepped aside to lead us and we as a family went up until Ro Hai. After the forms, we decided it would be good if we could also walk through some one-steps, which we did, both hands and kicks.

At the end of the training session, we took a picture as a class, and after this is where the real class started. My parents started talking with the other students about their training and parenting experiences, and how Tang Soo Do helped them grow as parents because they grew as people first. They talked about the benefits of having a structure at home to follow and live by, and how chaotic and unfulfilling life was before when there was no structure. Me and my brother also talked about our experiences growing up with a structure and how it differed from the rest of society. I could especially talk about how I felt “standing out like a sore thumb” from the rest of society and my peers. I explained how strong Tang Soo Do made my parents, because they weren’t hesitant to let go of clutter to simplify our life, even when I used to despise them for it. But now that I’m older and a little mature, I can see that it was completely worth it. This talk went on for about half an hour.

When the class was over and I changed back into my street clothes, my experience left me in a quiet and proud place. I was able to overcome the feelings I had about the heat and go through proper Tang Soo Do training. In the process, me along with my family, were able to represent the philosophy of Tang Soo Do in action. The words that were spoken about balance and discipline now had actions that proved them. As we were sitting in the living room getting ready to leave, Mr. Nellai’s son, Bala, was coughing a lot. It might’ve been a cold or an irritated throat, but we as Tang Soo Do students know more than enough about the respiratory system to just leave it at that. My mom called him over and took him through corrective breathing, in through the nose, out through the mouth. He looked uncomfortable at first, but as he started to breathe, he slowly started calming down. Looking back now, I see that it was the Spirit of Tang Soo Do in action.

Overall, I think the connection between the two schools of Tang Soo Do set the stage for the Making of Black Belts at the Healing Arts Center Chennai, and eventually the Making of Masters. Our presence there was historical because it set the standards for students as to what they can expect for themselves from the art of Tang Soo Do.

Training with Master Thiru

By Mr. Akshay Palanivelu

      Hearing about how this was going to be a historic moment, I was genuinely excited to experience it. Since we arrived in Chennai, we trained in different places like parks, rooftops, and even inside the house. So no special preparation was needed and it was like any other training session.

      But on the day of training, I was unsure due to a burn on my thigh from hot spilled milk the previous day. I could not do training without having to wear shorts or loose pants so my dad bought a bandage from the pharmacy that morning and with that, I could train. However, I was still concerned that it would hurt too much and that I would have to step aside during the session. Arriving at the dojang, it was sweltering; hotter than California during the summertime but I had to overcome that feeling and put on my black belt uniform. Class started and I went along with the structure. I consciously did the exercises because I didn’t want to touch or put pressure on my leg. Eventually, we went into drills and kicks, and in between, I had to adjust the bandage because it was coming down. After that, I continued the kicks and eventually, I had to stop thinking about it and just go on with the training. I realized that thinking about it a lot required too much energy and nothing bad would happen to it if I did training properly. We continued the training to do forms with Master Thiru. We did the basic forms and the Pyung Ahns with Master Thiru, and after that continued to do our highest forms separately with my family.

      After doing the forms, I was feeling energized and I demonstrated the one-steps as well. We took some pictures with all of the students afterward and my dad and mom sat down and talked to the students while my brother and I got dressed and sat quietly with them.

      As I walked down the stairs, I felt hungry just like a normal class and I had to wait. While we were waiting, Bala had trouble eating because he was constantly coughing. I noticed that he wasn’t focusing on his food but rather the TV in front of him so Akhil went to go talk to him about nourishing the body. After he was done eating, my mom did acupressure on him, and using CHI and knowledge of the meridians, she was able to stop his continuous cough. We then got ready to go home and when we arrived, it was about 9:30 pm. Finally we all ate and then we reflected on the evening training experience. I was proud of myself that I didn’t have to step aside but I could demonstrate the art to all of the students.

Our sincere appreciation to Master Thiru and his students for their warm welcome and allowing us to share our growth from Tang Soo Do practice. Hope we were able to demonstrate the stability and balance we could gain from Tang Soo Do philosophy and practice. We will continue to remain humble to this art and life. Tang Soo!

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