A Different Kind of Artist: Dr. Ronald Stone
Dr. Ronald Stone is an artist, but he does not use a paintbrush. At the age of 68 most people would be surprised to learn that Dr. Ronald is a martial artist who still practices the ancient Korean self-defense arts of Hapkido and Taekwondo. This is the same art that is taught to the Presidential bodyguard detail of the US Secret Service, the C.I.A., F.B.I., D.E.A. and countless Police S.W.A.T. and Special Military Units around the world. The American Dragon Martial Arts Academies where he trains is the only school in the area officially certified by the world headquarters in Korea to teach this dynamic self-defense method. Dr. Stone is a 7th Degree black belt level Master certified by the Korean Martial Arts Instructor’s Association and the Korean Hapkido Federation. His title as an instructor is KwanJangNim, which means that he is the senior master instructor of the school. He is the primary instructor of the Hapkido program and Taekwondo classes at the American Dragon Martial Arts Academies in Ocoee, Florida. For Dr. Stone Taekwondo is not a sport but a way of life. He is very influential in the world of Taekwondo as the Chairman of the USNTA Education and Ethics Committee.
When asked about being a martial artist Dr. Stone had this to say: “Because of how they are portrayed in television and movies most people believe that to be a martial artist you have to look like Bruce Lee and practice all day long. I would argue that while you have to be a professional baseball player to end up in the Hall of Fame, hundreds of thousands of average people play ball every day at parks all around the country, have fun doing so, and stay in shape exercising The benefits to the average person are tremendous. I personally know of people who are blind and yet train, and I know some with even more severe physical disabilities that they have learned to overcome thanks to their martial arts training. Many seniors use their martial arts training to help maintain flexibility, respiratory, and cardiac status.
One of the most common misconceptions in the media is that all martial artists are young gymnasts with six pack abs. Remember, Babe Ruth was a world renown professional baseball player but wasn’t lean at all. The reality is that martial artists come in all ages, sizes and shapes, and practice the arts for a variety of reasons. Some seek the friendship and camaraderie that a martial arts center offers. Others have medical or physical problems they need help with (controlling weight gain, diabetes, loss of flexibility, etc.). Others want to learn the self-defense techniques to help them survive in an ever increasingly violent world. Some wish to become professional instructors while others, like me, have another profession and merely want to train for one or more of the above reasons.
One of the best benefits I have personally gained from my martial arts training has been the ability to spend more time with my daughter. When Andrea was five she expressed a desire to learn the martial arts and that gave me the excuse to re-train after a long hiatus. We have been training together ever since. (Andrea now holds black belt rank in three different Korean Martial arts.) Here at American Dragon we have had several parent-child, and husband -wife teams who train together and cherish the experience. It certainly is better than being self-absorbed in video games.
Aside from physical and health benefits children learn self-confidence, respect for others and the obedience to elders that is the hallmark of martial arts training. It goes without saying that in this era of bullying and with a sadly growing number of pedophiles at large, the self-defense aspects are extremely important for children and for a parent’s peace of mind. I would argue that the self-defense aspect for children is so important the martial arts should be part of school training here as it is in most all of Asia.
Hapkido is noted for its varied yet simple to learn defense techniques that make it so attractive to women. What is less known is that the Korean arts are also internationally known for their cane techniques. Seniors will be astounded to learn how effective a simple hooked-end cane can be for self-defense. In this era of increasingly restrictive gun laws and airport security measures, knowledge of cane defense techniques has become very attractive to seniors.
Currently our classes include men and women, professionals and laymen, young and old, high-end athletes and out of shape beginners. What they all have in common is recognition of the personal benefits of the martial arts and the fun and enjoyment they get from training. Twice in my life I have been attacked by someone and survived the incidents. More importantly, and perhaps more pertinent to this discussion, is that in the 1990’s I was diagnosed with diabetes. Since reentering the arts on my doctor’s advice I have dropped 50 pounds and my diabetes is now well under control.
Aside from my duties as Chief of Staff of the Veterinary Trauma and Medical Center in Groveland, Florida, I horseback ride, target shoot, and write western novels. I still train several days a week in the Korean arts and now, not surprisingly, I no longer accept the excuse from others, “Well I just don’t have time to train.”
Do I look like a young Bruce Lee or Chuck Norris? Sadly, now at my age I don’t. Am I a competent martial artist? The answer to that is that after 50 years I am still learning, sharing, benefitting, and enjoying the experience.”
When Dr. Stone isn’t busy writing his next best seller or teaching martial arts you can find him sharing his knowledge with the traditional Korea martial arts community at https://www.facebook.com/groups/koreanmartialarts/ Learn more about his expertise at http://expertwitnessforthemartialarts.webs.com/
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