Kung Fu

Sgt. 1st Class Tearanie Hoyle practices a Kung Fu kick while training at a martial arts gym in Killeen.

Sgt. Dominique M. Clarke | Army

Martial arts, with all of its elaborate movements, high-flying flips and kicks and Hollywood appearances often overshadows its basics. Martial arts are based more on physical and mental discipline and it takes a resilient person to deal with the high physical and mental demands required.

Sgt. 1st Class Tearanie Hoyle, the maintenance supervisor for the 504th Military Intelligence Brigade, applies resiliency and discipline to his professional and personal lives through the experiences he has gained from practicing Kung Fu. The Fort Worth native is a first-degree black belt and has five gold medals and one silver medal, including those he earned in events at the 2016 World Star Chinese Martial Arts Competition from March 18-20 in Houston.

“Kung Fu is like a way of life,” Hoyle said. “It takes a lifetime to be a master at one thing. The way you do Kung Fu has a lot to do with how you live life, too. If you dedicate your time to doing Kung Fu, and dedicate your time to learn the form and skill, you will apply that same discipline to everyday life.”

Hoyle said he believes the will and discipline required to master a martial art is the same applied to work, goals, life and oneself. While the intellectual demands are intense, the physical stresses require practice and vigor.

Kung Fu is challenging, with long periods of certain positions, interval training for strength and dexterity and thorough stretching to improve flexibility.

Hoyle practices his martial arts at Martial Zen in nearby Killeen under the instruction of Earl Henderson, his “Sifu,” which is Chinese for “master.” Henderson has coached Kung Fu for 10 years and practiced it for 11.

Henderson echoed Hoyle’s belief about martial arts and said it requires discipline and resiliency.

“Kung Fu is skill obtained through hard work,” said Henderson. “It takes discipline to build skill. It takes discipline to be consistent and that’s what most people miss — consistency.”

Much like the military rank structure, martial arts practitioners practice at graduated competition levels to earn colored belts, which essentially becomes their rank. Beginners go through five solid-colored belts, intermediates go through the same color stages with one stripe in the belt, candidate members have the same process but have two-tone belts and upon completion of the final two-tone belts, the candidate receives their black belt. Black belts go through a system of degrees.

Hoyle said it is hard to maintain and compete in his martial arts training with constant military moves and deployments. Henderson, the “Sifu,” said that Hoyle has grown in his physical and mental abilities.

“His awareness has improved, from self-awareness to surrounding and relationships all have grown,” Henderson said. “He has developed a better way of being resilient in situations. He looks at a situation, breaks it down to see what it really means.”

Improving strength and range of motion are the biggest benefits of Kung Fu training, said Henderson. He has become stronger in his ligaments, tendons and smaller muscle groups.

Henderson added that in the martial arts world, tensile strength and muscle dexterity have the potential to outlast bigger muscles.

The two agreed that people overcome challenges through the difficulties of earning a Kung Fu black belt. They learn that overcoming the small physical and mental challenges in Kung Fu helps them to meet everyday challenges with the same strong mind set.

Hoyle also applies these philosophies to his soldiers and at home with his family.

His wife Ericka said his increased discipline and resiliency have affected life at home with their children as they also train and learn the qualities in Kung Fu.

“It has helped my husband to stay focused and live a healthy life,” she said. “The positive influence he receives from his mentor has made him mature positively within himself, our relationship and with our kids.”

As a direct impact of their father’s training, their children have also been positively affected.

“The discipline that is being instilled in (the children) is teaching them to look toward a future goal and stay committed to reaching that goal, for instance their black belt,” said Ericka Hoyle.

While martial arts focuses on a mixture of unarmed and armed hand–to–hand combat techniques designed to give an advantage, true martial artists do not willfully use their years of training for combative purposes, because discipline and resiliency are gained through hard work.

Hoyle said he embodies the martial-arts saying, “To master something you have to do it 108 times. Once you master it 108 times, you do it another 108 times and repeat the process to truly master one thing.”

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