Ok, where to start, why at the beginning of course. Last week was
spent trying to get the kids at YangJeon to behave. Yes, i am having
some trouble with them, one student in particular. I persevere,
but often have to kick him out of class, at least 3 times each training
session. He will not listen, to me or to the other instructors,
so i am concentrating on the other students. This really bothers
me a lot, but i have decided it's not fair to the other students
to have to spend all my time trying to get one student to behave.
Anyway, last week on Thursday, i finished off the day by grading
3 students that couldn't get to the grading in the weekend. It was
a very small affair and didn't take long, but different as i was
grading on my own. No problems though, they were all good students.
Then the weekend was upon us. As Trinity mentioned we had been invited
to Park's brothers wedding. I was excited, i love weddings, and
wanted to see what a Korean wedding would be like. Well unfortunately,
i didn't get to see it, as the guys taking me there couldn't get
their backsides into gear to arrive on time, so i got there with
about 5 mins of the wedding left. To be honest, i was pretty annoyed
about that...never mind, if Korea has taught me anything, it's to
have a great amount of patience!
After the wedding i went out on the town with the boys and Trinity,
but left them to it after 11:30, i'm an old fart, and nightclubs
just aren't fun anymore. Ok, they are a small amount of fun, but
the drinks are expensive, the conversation is impossible, and i
don't like the music...my god, i am an old fart!
So at least i had a reasonably early night for Sunday's big outing.
I don't need to really write too much about that as Trinity covered
it really well, but below are some different pictures.
Sunday nights dinner extravaganza was awesome, so much food. We
wisely stopped eating about 1/3 of the way into the meal so didn't
suffer too badly. But then again i don't think the boys suffered
either, they just eat like this most of the time. Must have stomachs
The top picture you can see is of the President, holding a large
jar of marmite! Yep, had some stuff sent over and the Koreans have
never tasted marmite, and they love it. They all gather in the mornings
in the Do Jang with their fresh bagels and go nuts with the stuff.
Better than vegemite by far!
My last week in Korea has started, just 5 days to go now. I have
so many memories, so many things i will miss, and so many things
i am looking forward to seeing and doing again when i get back home.
it was one heck of a weekend!
On Saturday we finally had the grading in YangJeon Do Jang in Busan,
2 weeks after the Ulsan grading. I thought there were only going
to be my 10 students, a nice quick small grading, maybe one or two
parents. Wrong! There were also some of my WTF students and a lot
of students from the Busan University, most of whom i hadn't met
yet. Well, after getting over the surprise Roman and i again just
got on with it. This grading i called out the commands, as the students
here know my voice better, while Roman wrote comments and Trinity
assisted as well.
As we were now seasoned Korean professionals and this being our
second grading, everything went smoothly. Well, outwardly i hope
it appeared all went smoothly; there were a few hiccups. I was pretty
nervous. I had prepared myself for a small number of students, had
my plan all ready, and then had to throw it away and start again.
But as Master Davidson is fond of saying, we can adapt, and so we
As a side note, gradings here are normally very short affairs. The
WTF instructors grade their own students in groups of 5 or so and
each group takes about 5 minutes, maybe less, including senior gup
belts. I watched one last week, and then was asked to present the
students with their new rank immediately after, which i did. The
kids were nervous at having a westerner present them with their
new belt, especially as i made them line up and wouldn't let them
remove their own belt and did them one at a time.
So i guess the parents and other students watching were expecting
something like this to happen with the ITF grading. It didn't! (the
grading in Ulsan was different as it involved Gumdo and Hapkido
students, while the Busan one was for just Taekwon-Do students).
Roman and i went through all of their syllabus requirements, keeping
each group of 6 students on the floor for about 10- 15 minutes,
and making them sweat! We wanted to set a standard as we know it,
so we made sure we had examined everything. And after, we bowed
and left saying we would give the results when we had some time
to consult and discuss!
So that was Saturday. On Sunday we had been told that we were to
be travelling to the far West of Korean, about 4 hours drive each
way to see a calligraphy master, who reads and writes in ancient
Korean. A language that is almost gone now. Not very many people
can read it let alone write it. It was a 6am start and a very long
day. Along the way we collected Mr Kim’s tea teacher, and
two university scholars, one a doctor, who also wanted to see the
calligraphy master. The other scholar was studying languages (I
think he was a professor?), and I think he was also at one time
a student of the master. We were in illustrious and intellectual
After 2 hours we stopped at a highway café
for breakfast, with about 2,000 other Koreans, all milling around,
eating, talking, shopping. These highway stops are large and well
used. Next was a smaller stop where we visited a bamboo museum!
Man, it’s amazing what you can make out of bamboo. I got a
few things so I hope I don’t have too many problems with customs
on the way in, better get in the something to declare lane I think.
Finally we arrived at the masters house, and
of course it was a traditional house in every way, very old, and
well used. The master, as you can see, is old, but very sprightly,
and very happy to have guests for the day. There was a lot of bowing,
kneeling, and a little praying to the old gods as well. All great
stuff for us. Then we were welcomed into the house, while the rest
of the Koreans were left outside! Felt a little funny, we are only
martial art teachers after all, and these guys are scholars…must
be the foreigner thing. And of course the master took an immediate
liking to Trinity, after that we could do no wrong. Roman and I
just watched and enjoyed her discomfort!
His hospitality was amazing, and his wife was
very happy to see us as well. They put on a traditional lunch for
us, out of their own garden no less. And we also had to sample the
local plants that he said were for health, some of them unpleasant!
One of the things we were given to eat was this small crystal like
substance. Apparently they set fire to the large young bamboo shoots,
heat them up, mix with salt and some other stuff, then leave it
to crystallize. This takes a very long time and not much is produced,
hence it is very expensive, about $100 a gram ( I know what you
are all thinking, and I hope you are wrong, but to be honest I still
don’t know!). So we were given some to eat. It was odorless
and purple in colour, but oh my the taste. Like a mouthful of Rotorua’s
sulfurous air. In fact, a very strong sulfur/salt taste that lingered
and lingered and lingered…yep, can still taste it.
Then we were invited by Mr Kim to visit another
temple nearby, which we did, while the others talked to the master.
When we got back, he got out his brushes and proceeded to write
for us. Simply awesome, and especially with the scholars and the
two Mr Kims (Director and President) telling us how special it was
for foreigners to have this done for them with the master. Here
is a photo of the master writing for me. The meaning of the picture
is martial arts instructor, plus my name, plus the importance of
family, the date of the year based on ancient Korean history (complicated
with each age done in 16 year lots, and today being the 70th year,
making this writing so special and old), and of course the master’s
signature. I was speechless. We were told that he might write for
us, but he wrote individual pieces for Chris, Roman and myself.
Then on a roll, he wrote for the others as well, thoroughly enjoying
He joked with the other Koreans, berated and
laughed at their efforts to read his writing, made strong brush
strokes which he explained as his artistic uniqueness, and generally
loved having guests. One of the scholars asked me what I thought
of him. I felt safe in that the master spoke no English, so I said
I thought he was a cheeky old bugger, especially as he kept glancing
at Chris all the time. Well, somehow he understood what I had said,
and then there followed a long string of Korean, ending with him
smiling hard at me. Suitably chastised and realizing that the master
understood much more than he spoke, I humbly laughed. He laughed
with me, sharing the joke. If I can have half his zest for life
at his age, I will do just fine I think.
After we had some pictures taken, where
the master managed to pinch a few bums, not mine thankfully, although
Roman and especially Chris wern’t so lucky, and we said our
goodbyes and left, each with a precious and treasured gift from
the master which will be framed when I get back home. After another
4 hous drive, we arrived back, tired but what a fantastic day.
Today is Thursday the 10th March. I have just
17 days left in Korea. Boy, where did the time go! It's about now
that I am starting to think about the few short days i have left
and what i can squeeze in to them. Trinity suggested to me on Tuesday
that we visit Jeju Island in the weekend, as there is some of the
Generals calligraphy there. Anyone familiar with the Generals life
will know that he was associated closely with the Island. It's an
$80 plane ride, so not too expensive (incidentally, the same cost
as a trip to Japan for the weekend, oh what a choice to make!).
Although like i said before, there is still a travel warning in
Japan for measles. I think though that it might also be something
to do with all these pesky mosquito's we have at the moment, not
to mention the dust that is still with us. Came back quite thickly
on Saturday too.
Yes, the mosquito outbreak is pretty serious. The President was
telling me that 5 Koreans a year die from them; he says it is the
Japanese mosquito that is the nasty one, not too common here, but
i am not sure if he is joking or not. Might be that Japan/Korea
Anyway, the Do-Jang is infested with the little darlings...mosquito's
not children. We have set up several of those spray bottle mosquito
killers, but they seem resistant to them somehow. After training,
taking a shower at the Do Jang is an art form in itself. You have
to spray the bathroom quite heavily, give it 2-3 minutes, then get
your shower over quickly as the survivors try to bite you even while
(Let’s not discuss using the toilet in
the Do Jang, it’s a squatter, so you can use your imagination
about the joy of that, a cloud of mosquitos, and balancing on the
balls of your feet while using a spray can furiously. I’m
sure the little #$gg&rs know you have to put the can down at
the end and wait for that moment).
And holding your breath while showering is also
advisable, lest you also succumb to the heavy spray smell. But it's
not just the Do Jang though, they seem to be everywhere outside
as well. I am told that this is normal for this time of the year.
Crikey, first the natural dust storms, now the
insect plague, i wonder what is next? Rivers turning red? Well,
Korea is a strongly Christian country. Maybe there is a message
here somewhere? Maybe I should have kept the beard! With a stick
and my white Do Bok I could lead the people to safety!
Anyway, it has given me another training idea
for the kids. It's called mosquito training. Yep. If you can kill
more than 10 mosquito's in one minute with your hands, you get an
ice cream. So far I am out about $15…I’m not joking.
In the weekend, as Trinity has already
written, we went to a tea ceremony which was pretty cool, actually
very cool. Then we went to see another Buddist temple, as you can
see from the picture, he is a pretty happy chappy...kind of makes
you smile too. We have also been back to the markets for presents
for the family etc. And this weekend I will have to go back again,
as I found out a week ago I am to be a grandfather again, so I will
make room in the suitcase for some Korean baby gear now!
Trinity and I ended up working last weekend as
well as when we turned up at the Do Jang to do some patterns, we
were asked to take the instructors class for about an hour. They
are really getting the hang of signwave and getting their hands
and feet to arrive at the same time. Some good power happening too.
Although they are still more interested in sparring than anything
Another week in sunny Korea has drawn to
a close. It's been a pretty quiet week altogether, just the usual
teaching and learning. This weekend i have free, Yay! I have to
say that the weekends have been pretty busy helping ITFK, but they
are starting to slow down now as we build on the advertising and
training that has been done already. So i have the next few clear,
till i come home in just 3 weeks. Chris and i were planning to go
to Japan next weekend, but there is a travel warning in place at
the moment, apparently a measles outbreak. So might still be able
to go, but it's looking unlikely.
It's really cheap too, only $80 return on the ferry. Then we were
going to homestay with someone from the Japanese ITF, or failing
that, a motel probably. Either way, it's still a cheap weekend to
Hopefully everyone has seen that ITFK are asking for more instructors
to come over here and spend some of their youth learning Korean,
and teaching TKD. If you are in your early 20's and are thinking
about doing the big OE, why not start here for 6 months, earn plenty
of spare cash, and then carry on to London and Europe, and if you
run out of money, come back for another 6 months! Or travel through
China and Japan etc. Lots of options, and there is always a bed
with the guys here for anyone that wants to visit.
So, this weekend is free. I am planning to spend it shopping in
the Nampo Dong market, it's smaller than the one in Seoul, but has
all the same stuff. And they have a large art market there, which
is under the street, so hopefully i can pick up some original Korean
art or similar. I have also learned that electronic goods are definitely
cheaper here. You can get a 30 gig Ipod here for less than $250
won, which is about $330 NZ. Phones here are amazing also, but i
am reluctant to get those as they might not work correctly back
home. Telecom tells me they will, but then they also told me that
i wouldn't be able to receive or send texts here, and i can! Occasionally
they don't arrive for 4 days, but they do get here!
So that's it, a small update as things are rolling along nicely...all
the hard work is done!
It's a terrifying word for some, certainly for
Roman anyway, although to his credit, he did sing a little bit.
Chris and I had a blast. In fact, we didn't finish the night until
5:30am the next day, and that was after the grading day as well!
So, how did the grading go?
It was a complete success. What a great day for
ITFK and also for all the instructors involved here, Korean, NZ,
My day started at 6:30am when i got up and walked
to the Dojang to get ready for the trip to Ulsan. Roman had spent
the last two weeks preparing my students for their big day. It's
funny, even though he is their instructor now, i still feel they
are my students. I taught them their first Taekwon-Do, and that
feels pretty special. And seeing them on the grading floor ready
to be tested and watching their efforts was exciting, nerve wracking,
and joyful all at the same time.
I traveled to Ulsan with President Kim and Ki
Tae, and unfortunately we got lost along the way. Actually i didn't
get lost, as i was asleep, but somehow i woke up lost. Korea has
a lot of roads, and while you can expect to know a lot of the cities,
i guess they don't know everywhere.
Luckily for us we got to the centre of Ulsan
and i could direct them the right way. Neither speak much English,
but i managed just fine with Orun Jo, Wen Jo, and Appro (left, right,
and front ). They did laugh a bit though when i couldn't figure
out the Korean to tell them to go straight ahead and decided to
settle for Appro. It worked and we made it to the Do Jang only a
All the students were lined up and with a few
introductions, we got started. The Hwa Rang Hapkido kids were up
first, with the Taekwon-Gumdo students later in the afternoon. The
grading was much the same as the ones at home, except there were
only white belts, and it was a great deal noiser than i am used
to. I had prepared a grading form and sent it to Roman, and he had
made a few changes to it that he wanted, and so we sat down and
just got on with it.
I was a little nervous, not having done a grading
course, and not being an examiner. But as it was only white belts,
and i knew what we were testing them on, i felt confident. I have
to say i have a lot of respect for the examiners back home, it's
a huge job to reflect a students efforts on the grading floor in
their marks. Some of the students i thought would do well, didn't.
And some of the ones that i wasn't expecting much from, were really
good on the day. Just goes to show that as their instructor sometimes
you can only do so much.
Roman was the chief examiner; he called the students
out and called the commands, while i marked them off with what i
thought of them. I started trying to look at every aspect of what
they were doing, but it was too slow for me so i settled on looking
at their overall performance, and let Roman write with his symbols
things like their back leg wasn't straight etc. It's easy to see
what their overall standard is, whether they are an A pass or just
a pass etc.
We worked together well and before we knew it,
we had been through about 40 students. I hope one day that i can
do it properly back home, but that is a long way off in the future.
After the grading Roman performed a pattern for
the students and their families and just like that it was all over.
Then after lunch we went to the other venue, which was the local
hall, where the Taekwon Gumdo students were grading. They had two
gradings on the day. The first was for Gumdo so we saw the end of
that, and then they graded for Taekwon-Do, so a busy day for them.
In between the gradings, we were treated to another bamboo slashing
Gumdo display, which Chris hasn't seen before.
And then , another Taekwon-Do grading took place.
This one was different, and very much like the gradings at home
in NZ. There were more students to get through, and it was certainly
busier. After the grading, Roman again performed another pattern
for the parents, and then Chris was also asked to perform Hwa Rang,
to which she did well, albeit with a lot of nerves!
And there you go. The first official grading
was over. About 90 students were graded in total and they will always
have the honor of being the first batch of the new ITFK. It was
a great day for all concerned, and i have been told today that the
grading in Pusan is set for 2 weeks time, subject to change of course.
But i will be spending the next two weeks adjusting
their training slightly, introducing more theory questions in English,
and running a few pre-gradings to show them what is going to happen.
So it's back to work really.
After the gradings, i said another sad goodbye
to the students and we traveled back to Pusan, talking about how
things went. What was good, what needs changing to improve things
etc. We all agreed that the standard was most acceptable and the
grading went well, with few problems really. So it was time to start
thinking about the next one, and plan out the next set of lessons.
Once the Pusan grading is finished, the students will be well on
their way in their Taekwon-Do journey.
Back in Pusan, we decided that a celebration
was called for. After all, today was the end result of 2 months
very busy work and we decided to let our hair down, and as it turned
out, our voices out!
We had dinner together with the President and
Mr Kim, and toasted ITFK's success, and then Chris, Roman, Park,
Ki Tae, Myself and two Russian friends of Romans went out on the
We started at this Western bar where we were
the only people in it. Strangely enough, our drinks order took an
incredible 15 mins to arrive. Couldn't understand why either, it's
not like the barmaid was busy, she was just so incredibly slow.
It slowly dawned on me why there wasn't anyone else in the bar!
After that we went to a night club, which was
quite large. We ordered more beer, and for some reason Long Island
Teas. It was here that Chris, Park, Roman and Ki Tae really hassled
me and kept introducing me to all the young Korean girls nearby
as the superstar "Elton John". Some of them believed it
too and just kept staring all night long.
I got my own back though. For all you Wellington
members reading this, Chris is now called Trinity (Matrix) here,
as she wears these dark sunglasses and bears a striking resemblance
to a smaller version of Carrie-Ann Moss. Roman is Clark Kent when
he is out on the town, and his alter ego when he is in Do Bok, the
Koreans love nick names, so these have really stuck. This was to
be my undoing at the Karaoke bar we went to at 3am.
After the night club, we decided ( actually Park
decided) we should experience the joys of the Karaoke room, Korean
style. So, after finding one that was suitable, we removed shoes,
and shut ourselves away for another 2 hours of singing, drinking,
and in general, hilarious laughter. Sorry folks, no pictures!
But suffice to say that with 10,000+ songs to
choose from, I think we successfully managed to slaughter most of
them. Naturally I was asked to sing some Elton¡¦badly!
Trinity has a pretty good voice, and it didn't take much persuasion
to get her up and singing. The room was about the size of a good
lounge at home, and had a big table in the middle where we could
order lots of food (we did), and where there was a small stage at
one end of the room.
I had a great time, and did my best not to hog
the microphone too much, as I am prone to do¡ sometimes.
With that, we ended the day at 5am, and got back
to our rooms just as the sun was coming up. I haven't done that
in a long time, so Sunday was a very slow day for me. However Trinity
and I did manage a 7km walk up the side of a mountain to see the
Beomosa Budest Temple in the afternoon. We didn't plan on walking,
it just kind of worked out that way, and certainly helped to clear
Right now it's getting late again, and I am off
with Roman and Park to see his brother, who owns a sports injury/
massage/therapy clinic to have our joints manipulated. We have a
10pm appointment, on Sunday night, after very little sleep and a
long day. It's a tough life!
As you can se the new
application form for coming to Korea is up and running, so if
you are interested in coming over, drop me a line.
I almost forgot. Trinity and I taught the 240
Kindy kids on Friday. I took the first two classes and she took
the last two, but I am sure she will tell you all about it on her
Chris arrived in Korea all safe and sound!
Today is Thursday the 26th and this week
has been much the same as last, except of course that Chris arrived
on Tuesday. Then proceeded to call me a woos about the standard
of driving here. Mark my words, she will change her mind!
So, Chris arrived on Tuesday, a little bleary
eyed, but considering the mileage covered, not too bad sleep wise.
She tells me she had a reasonable sleep on the plane. Good for her,
wish i could do that.
Mr Kim and Mr Kim and i met her at the airport,
and then brough her back to the Dojang to meet the President (another
Mr Kim) after lunch, which is where we are in the photo. Interestingly
enough, we are eating at a place called 'Victoria's', just around
the corner from the Dojang. I hear Brendan was a regular.
Afterwards, Chris met with the President and
other officials etc, then watched me take the kids class. I guess
she was chucked in the deep end a little as this is the worst behaved
class i teach, but really they are great fun, just a little enthustiastic
shall we say. She will really know all about it on Friday, she has
the Kindy class to take, all 240 of them. Trial by fire comes to
Mr Kim ( the first Mr Kim, not the Mr Kim in
the photo, he's the second Mr Kim) has asked me to go with her for
the first time, but to be honest, i don't think she will need my
help. By the way, all these Mr Kim's arn't confusing at all, in
fact it is easier to remember them. If i need anything, i just say
'excuse me Mr Kim'...can't go wrong. And 3 times out of 4, i will
This weekend we have the Ulsan grading, which
we are ready for. And afterwards Chris and i are planning on spending
the weekend wandering and looking through the markets for gifts
for the family etc. And yes, planning on getting lost as well! Not
sure where Roman is this weekend on Sunday, but my guess is he will
come back to Pusan with us.
So that's the last 4 days. Tomorrow marks 1 month
to go for me, and i have been working on the documents for inviting
the next batch of instructors to Korea. They are approved in Draft
Form; a little bit of fine tuning for President Kim to do, and then
you can all see what the next batch, or for you 80's fans, the new
kids on the block, will need to come here.
So, 20,000 words,
wow, i didn't realise i had written that much. I know my family
reads them all, but they are being kind!
Right, to the weekend. and what a weekend it
was I can tell you. But first, I finished the weeks training in
Gimhae on Friday, following in Brendans footsteps. The picture you
can see on the website of me and the two little girls was taken
at the Kindergarten, where President Kim has started a foothold
there. There are about 240 students there, and I teach them in 4
classes. However before anyone goes 'holy cow batman', the students
are all 6 years old or younger, and the classes are only 30 mins
each. So they are more like exercise classes, with a little bit
of TKD thrown in. Still, it takes 2 instructors together to get
through the 60 students per class, and i am usually deaf and drained
after the 2 hours. Those kids are pretty loud. You did well with
After the last class of kindergarten kids, i
have a 6 hour break, then another class to teach in the evening
at 8:30 which has only 2 students. So you can really make things
happen with them, and they are both talented young girls, 12 years
In between, Ki Tae, one of the Korean instructors
took me back to his place for a rest. It has to be the smallest
flat i have ever been in. There is room for a single bed which is
a mattress on the floor, and about 1/2 metre of space around it.
And that's it! Even his car is bigger. There is no kitchen or anything
else etc. He says it is temporary, as the toilet is a fair way away,
and so is the shower, but it's only $10 a week to rent, so why not!
After Friday, Park sabumnim and Ki Tae took me
back to Pusan, which is 45 mins drive from Gimhae, although i can't
tell where one city stops and the other starts. We went to this
bar for a few beers, and i got talking with the girls behind the
bar, I had to use Park as a translator so conversation was slow.
But it was fun, and one of the girls gave me this giftpack the bar
had received as a promotion. It contained a necklace, and a container
with a real oyster in it, supposedly with a pearl inside which you
then put in the necklace. Well, i opened it up at home, and sure
enough, there was a pearl there. Quite a big sucker too. Korea,
it's just one surprise after another.
It was that night that I found out the grading
had been cancelled for Pusan, not sure why yet. But the one for
Ulsan is still on, so I have another week to wait for the first
grading in Korea for ITFK.
Roman traveled down to Pusan on the Friday night,
arriving late. So I caught up with him on the Saturday morning and
we discussed how he was going, and swapped notes to make sure we
were teaching the same thing, to the same standard.
After, we decided to catch the subway to try
and find the big markets, and see what we could see. This was the
start of a very long day which didn't end until 5am the next day!
Roman had met up with a Russian friend of his,
and she helped us to buy 2 subway electronic passes which is much
cheaper and you can just recharge them. Naturally the first time
i tried mine it wouldn't work, but luckily for me an ever-present
kind Korean used his and let me onto the subway. The card worked
the other end so perhaps it was just a glitch somewhere. Will let
you know when i use it next.
So, Romans friend left us to the day, and we
carried on and got off the subway in the right place for the markets.
We then somehow managed to end up in the middle of the world's second
largest fish market, rather than the tourist shopping market. Not
sure how that happened and we did look a little out of place, but
what the heck, while in Rome...
After wandering around for a while and discovering
that you really can eat anything that lives in the sea, we made
it to an exit and after refreshing our lungs, decided that we should
find a pub, have a beer, and then decide how to find the markets.
Naturally, we avoided the seafood restaurants.
We ended up in this large restaurant with a great
young Korean girl who was our waitress, and i must admit, who we
teased quite badly. I tipped her after feeling a little bit guilty.
In fact in the end, she started blushing way before she even got
to our table, fire engine red too, poor thing.
'So, Roman, do you think our waitress speaks
'Not sure Gwyn, why don't you find out by asking
her, that would be the polite thing to do.'
'Ok, I will ask her. She's quite pretty though,
don't you think.'
'Yes, i do think she is quite pretty, now are
you going to ask her if she speaks English so we can order, I'm
'I don't need to ask her Roman, judging from
the colour she is going I would say she speaks very good English.'
'Yep, i think you're right.'
So, needless to say, we had no problems getting
a great lunch. We could see our waitress embarrassingly talking
with her friends by the bar, and it's true, the colour red is really
quite visible for some distance. After getting advice on where we
had gone wrong, we paid, tipped, and found the shopping street,
or should that be streets; maybe a block or two would be more appropriate,
and selling everything you could possibly imagine for tourists.
I brought this cool army outfit for my grandson, hope i got the
right size, the little feller is growing so fast. He has really
started talking heaps since i have been away, something that makes
me very homesick.
We wandered the streets for a little bit, then
spotted this huge tower on a hill close by, kind of like the skytower
(see picture). It's amazing that when you are wandering between
tall buildings, you can't see a tower hundreds of metres tall on
a huge hill, just one street over. So, we decided to climb the hill,
and then the tower, which should give us a good view and some good
tourist shots (again see picture) (thanks so much Master M for putting
together all these articles and photo's i send you...you can cut
this bit out if you like!).
After the tower, we watched these Korean rap
singers (see pic!) who were pretty bad, although it all sounds bad
to me not being a fan of rap music, then we headed back to the shopping
area, by mistake i might add and found ourselves again lost in the
We were getting pretty tired by now and this
called for a new tactic. A coffee at Starbucks and a movie, Seoul
style. We watched this movie called Sunshine, which i really enjoyed.
It's a science fiction movie about an expedition to restart the
sun, in the name of humanity and Hollywood of course. A little like
After the movie, we were still lost, and decided
that we would try to find the baths, relax, and see what happened
after that. Well, we wandered around for another hour before giving
up and deciding to get back on the subway and ask a taxi driver
closer to the Dojang, in case we stayed out after the subway shut
at 11pm and ended up having a long taxi ride etc. You may be wondering
why we didn't just ask someone on the street where the baths were.
Well, there are two very good reasons for that.
Firstly, only the young speak enough English to help you. And two,
if you get the pronunciation wrong when asking for the baths, you
end saying the word breasts and another word which is very close
to one that means bar, or pub. Which means you end up asking for
something like a topless bar etc. This can be rather embarrassing
when asking young school kids.
So, using my tried and tested never get lost
fail safe method of finding a school kid and asking for directions,
we did just that and asked this bunch of young kids, who happily
chatted to us and then showed us the subway. Which was annoyingly
one street over all the time. I still shake my head at that.
Arriving back at the Dojang at 9:30, we rang
Park Sabumnim to see what he was doing and if he wanted to go to
the baths with us, saving us the embarrassment of having to ask
a taxi driver. He was coincidently just arriving at the Dojang,
and so the evening adventure started.
Have you ever had one of those days when you
know you shouldn't have gotten up, and things go from the sublimely
farcical to hilariously funny, and just keep getting worse? Well...
After Park rang one of his friends for advice,
he decided to take us to this large baths on the other side of town.
It was quite a drive. After driving around the block 5 times and
not finding it, Park parked the car (no pun intended) and went to
ask for directions. I suggested he ask a school kid, but he stubbornly
persisted in speaking Korean. In the end I was right, as the shop
owner he asked came out of the shop and pointed at this tall building
across the street. When we looked up, there on the side was this
huge picture, about 5 stories tall, of people in the baths (clothed
of course). To say this was funny was an understatement. But it
got better. Roman said he was looking forward finally to having
a soak in a nice hot bath, I told him to just wait, and believe
we were in the right place once we had our feet wet. As we approached
the entrance, Park discovered it was closed for renovations. At
this stage Roman and I just smiled, got back in the van, and then
laughed until we stopped.
We then drove back through town for another hour,
and managed to find a small baths house, which was bliss. Coming
out at 1am, we went to a pub where the music was really loud, too
loud to talk, so we left there after a beer or 3 and went for dinner
at 2am. The pic is of the guys getting changed into their pub clothes.
Plenty of places were still open, and as you can see, we found one
that had a jungle theme. Great food too. Restored and recharged
somewhat, we ended up at a Korean nite-club until 4am, where the
music was even louder.
Park dropped us back at the flat at 5am, where
needless to say, sleep was pretty quick coming.
Sunday was a long day. We slept till 11am and
then went to the Dojang at 12:30, where we were meeting Park for
what we thought was a small instructor session. It ended up being
a long training session (1-5pm) which Roman took with lots of new
instructors, as you can see from the photos. The president had arranged
for these WTF and other martial art code instructors to come for
a sparring session to see what ITF was about. Roman must have done
a good job, because they all signed up on the spot I think, so again
ITFK is growing bit by bit. It's really exciting to be a part of
it and to watch it grow.
After, we were taken to the Russian section of
Pusan (yep, I was surprised as well to find out Pusan has a Russian
village in the middle of it, and full of Russians too!) There, amazingly
enough, we had dinner at a Chinese restaurant (not much surprises
me here anymore. It's perfectly logical to drive to the Russian
sector and have dinner in a Chinese restaurant). This was our waitress
(see pic), who also had to be customarily teased. She didn't speak
English at all, and as we found out later, no Korean either as she
is Chinese, but she was a great sport and so we had our picture
taken with her.
One of the instructors (another Mr Kim), who
you can see carving something in the photo, spoke Chinese, so Roman
and i were able to talk to her. We had to ask Park in English, who
translated it to Kim, who translated it to the waitress, and then
all the way back again. The irony of playing chinese whispers with
a chinese girl wasn't lost on us.
Anyway, what Mr Kim is doing in the picture is
carving my name, in Korean, into a stone stamp, that i can take
home a sign letters with. How cool is that! He has been working
on it as a gift for me for a week now, and it will take him a while
longer yet...i just don't know what to say.
Then, it was back to the Dojang, where I am writing
this update for you. It's now 11:15pm, and I am going to bed. Will
attach the pictures tomorrow and send. Night night.
Well, time is flying now. I am nearly 2/3 of
the way through my journey. Funny, the grading seemed so far away,
and now it is just 2 days away, well the first one is. The one in
Ulsan is the following week, but will be the same. I have been noting
down some observations about how things are different here, the
things i like, the things i miss. No, marmite isn't one of them,
although i will probably have one or two sandwiches when i get home.
I had my second day teaching in Pusan yesterday,
at the WTF Dojang. I had to wear the WTF Dobok, which i am afraid
i absolutely detested. It goes against all my morals. But, sacrifices
have to be made sometimes...compromises. Doesn't make me feel better
though. The reason is that the WTF instructor is changing to ITF,
but can't change too quickly as he will lose his students, and therefore
his business. So, while i am wearing this pseudo uniform, at least
i am teaching real TKD. Nothing inside has changed, but you know,
i did feel like having a shower after. Strong words i guess, but
i make no apologies to anyone. The WTF instructor is another Mr
Gung, and a great guy. He has recognised what TKD actually is so
that helps...a little.
Of course the thing i miss the most is my family.
But i also miss other things. Like wearing bare feet outside, something
which is a definite no no here. The ground is considered dirty,
and so is the bathroom floor. So you take your shoes off at the
door, and there are slippers to wear inside if you wish, but you
can't wear them to the bathroom. You have to change shoes at the
bathroom door again, to a set which are kept in the bathroom and
are considered 'dirty'. So, i miss wearing bare feet. Of course
you don't wear bare feet, as they are always there, just covered
up as such. I wonder why we don't say wearing no shoes more than
we say wearing bare feet? Anyway, i am looking forward to running
around outside...wearing my bare feet. Course, it will be winter
when i get back, but i don't think that will bother me one little
I also miss being able to cross the street without
having to check 50 times first. I am reminded of the scene on the
National Geographic Channel of the wilderbeasts trying to cross
the crocodile infested river. No one wants to be the first wilderbeast,
and you sure as heck shouldn't be the last either. Best to be in
the middle of the herd (do you say herds or pack when talking about
wilderbeasts?) Course the best time to cross is when the crocodile
has already got his wilderbeast and is distracted, thank heavens
i haven't seen that yet, but the other more experienced wilderbeasts
tell me it happens, and to use it when you can. It's a jingle out
here, survival of the fittest and all that. And there are lots of
I hopped on the subway this morning to find the
markets, which wasn't too hard. Last time i was on a subway, i got
pickpocketed in Rome and had my passport stolen, so i was a little
more careful this morning. Anyway, while i was sitting there, this
old Korean guy was chatting to me about NZ and how he used to visit
there often, working on a ship etc. When he got off, this other
guy got on wheeling a big suitcase behind him, and proceeded to
set up shop selling stuff. This is common here. After all you have
a very captive audience on a subway carriage. It's not like you
can go anywhere else. So, this guy was selling these cheap camouflage
raincoats (no, i didn't get one). He has about 1 minute, maybe less,
to get his message across before half of the passengers disappear,
so he was using the fast sell routine. You don't need to be able
to speak Korean to know that. His selling gimmick was to blow his
nose in the bottom of the raincoat, i kid you not. And no, i didn't
ask why. Didn't work either as no one batted an eyelid or brought
one, especially not the one he was using. I found a convenient advertising
poster to read while he was blowing his nose, and it didn't matter
that it was in Korean. I could have told him it was a bad sales
tactic, but he moved on the the next carriage and started again.
It's not wrong, just different i guess. Although i have to say,
at least in Rome, the guys there set up puppet shows on the subway...wait
a minute, maybe they were part of the scam!
Something else that i miss is the co lour green.
Korea is very brown and grey in co lour, although now that spring
is here, it is certainly greening up so it's looks pretty again.
I also miss using a big towel. Koreans use these small towels, about
the size of a dish drying cloth. Once you have finished with it,
you just get another one, there are always plenty. But ladies, there
is no coming out of the bathroom wearing a towel on your head and
one around your body. And anyway, showing too much flesh is frowned
upon, and it's only recently that bikini's have been allowed on
the beaches. Must go there one day.
There are many things that i like here though.
I like the fat free food! I also like the 'star' status that being
a foreigner gives you (still no agent has called me yet, i am losing
sleep over this now!). I like the friendly people, they are so helpful.
Even when you aren't lost and have managed to surprise yourself
at blending in and not looking like a tourist, they still come over
and try to help you read the subway map, or buy a ticket, something
i don't need help with now. I miss driving my car too, wouldn't
even think about it here, no thank you. And I love the cheap food
and clothes, the baths, the heated floors in the houses and motels.
I love embarrassing the children in the street! That's great fun
and never feels like an old joke best not repeated.
I am still using my 'Yes, but i can't eat a whole
one' answer when Koreans ask me if i like children. I am looking
forward to the day that i meet a Korean who understands the joke.
Hopefully they won't be a policeman. By the way, there are 787 foreigners
being held in Korean jails at the moment, or so the article i was
reading in the foreigner paper said, and the jail conditions are
appalling. Certainly don't want to end up there. No bail, you can
be held without trial for as long as they want, and then there is
the language to contend with. Nope, i will watch my p's and q's.
Right, i'm off teaching, not sure where today
as i am not used to the Pusan timetable.
well, today is quite a sad day for me. I have
left Ulsan and come down to Pusan, where i am taking over from Brendan
i think, although i am doing other things as well, one of which
is putting the grading form together. Last night was very sad for
me, i even had a student start crying when they found out it was
my last time there, naturally this set me off as well. I will miss
the kids, my soccer buddies, the shop owners in the street who always
wave and say hello, but especially my two homestay families. I hope
they can make it to Pusan for the last weekend where i am planning
a farewell dinner drinks thing.
Last night Roman saw the work i had started,
and it didn't take him long to jump in with the Ulsan kids and get
to it. I have to say, he has so much more experience than me and
did things a little differently, and the children really responded
well. They are in great hands and will learn a lot from him.
So, last night i finally got to bed about 12:30,
in the 'love motel'. I took a picture for all you curious folks
back home who have been emailing me with questions. As you can see,
there is indeed a mirror on the ceiling, and the room is small,
but clean and tidy.
I am not too sure what exactly will happen this
weekend with the grading. I intend to do it just like the ones at
home, but of course i am also sure like everything else it will
I am having a chat with the President today
about another job offer he is intending to present to the junior
black belt instructors of NZ, so i hope to have that ready to show
you by the end of the week. Lets just say for now that there will
be quite an opportunity for selected instructors to also make their
mark on TKD in Korea.
Well the camp weekend is over, and i
am knackered. Although i have to say not as tired as i usually am
after the kids camp back home. I found it rather wonderful to be
a guest and not to have to run around everywhere making sure everything
was working, kids were safe, parents weren't too drunk etc (i swear
that only ever happened once).
After an uneventful couple of days since Wednesday,
where i continued with the program, teaching, eating, drinking,
and sleeping when i can, it was a relief when Friday arrived as
i spent several very late nights on Thursday and Friday, having
an unofficial goodbye party with my two homestay families. On Thursday
Master Lee and i went shopping after training. He had decided there
was only one way to say goodbye and that was to drink a few beers,
or that might have been my idea, can't remember at the moment. Anyway,
after being in the supermarket, i happened to mention that i was
hanging out for a bacon sandwich when i got back home. So he asked
what that was, and well one thing led to another. Low and behold,
about 30 minutes i found myself in Mrs Lee's kitchen cooking us
all bacon sandwiches and opening a jar of olives as an entree.
This turned out to be the best experience i have
had here, amazing what a simple jar of olives can do. It appears
that both Lee's can't stand them! Ha, finally something that i can
eat that they cannot. Naturally i was courteous and respectful to
their sour faces when they tried the olives. Revenge is a dish best
served cold... about as cold as a jar of olives actually. Although
to Master Lee's credit, he did try to acquire the taste. But after
3 olives he gave up and spent the night with eyes focused straight
ahead, and wincing at my quickly adopted loud olive eating style.
It's amazing the decibel level that can be achieved with a mouthful
of olives when one tries.
So, Saturday morning eventually arrived, and
as usual, after staying at the Gungs for the night, i had another
game of soccer in the morning. Yes, i know, probably not the wisest
decision to play soccer on the morning of a kids camp, but i wasn't
sure i would see my soccer buddies again before i left for Pusan.
They were their usual jovial selves, joking and laughing at my attempts
to tackle and pass. That all changed when i scored a goal though!
Yes, i am getting to a passable standard in soccer, will miss the
exercise when i move.
After that, it was a quick walk to the Lee's
and we departed on the buses (needed two of them in the end, there
were over 120 kids at the camp). The camp was East of Ulsan, up
in the hills. You can see from the photo's a little what it was
On a side note, Brendan has had to leave for
NZ today for family reasons, very sad to see him go as we have been
working hard getting things going here at our respective ends. I
hope everything works out for him.
At the camp, Roman arrived after about an hour
and we spent some time catching up on what he had been doing in
London. I knew most of the children at the camp, although not their
names. Most of them had english names on their tags, names like
Sarah, Betty, Thomas, James etc. Although there were some unusual
ones like 'chicken, shark, mkie (which i am sure was meant to be
Mike, but than again, might not of been either). Roman and i did
some games with the children which was a lot of fun, and we generally
spent our time being mobbed as you can see, answering hello with
'hello, how are you' etc. The children performed some dancing and
singing at night, and then we were treated to a 'campfire' evening,
as you can see. Sorry for the out of focus picture.
The children formed a large circle around the
fire and there were a small amount of fireworks as well, which was
great fun. After that the adults retired to their rooms, apart from
myself and a couple of the instructors who decided to go into the
nearest city (there is always one near you here) and get some 'supplies'.
Well, at 1:30am i had drunk only one beer, wisely i might add, and
headed off to bed.
That's Roman, at 9am the next morning.
He was supposed to be up at 6:30 with me and
the other instructors, but beer and jet lag are an effective sleeping
pill. I am sure he won't mind his picture here. ( I am also sure
he still has that old Moldovian sense of humour they are all famous
for. Will let you all know after sparring next weekend which he
is taking apparently.) To be honest though, he wasn't the only one,
most of the instructors were late getting up. Ok, ok, me included.
After breakfast, we were asked to set up an 'english
dairy shop'. This was where the children would come and see us one
by one and buy some common things, using only english words. Most
of the children were good at it too, and i had lots of fun with
this. You never can tell who will speak good english and who won't.
Then it was time for another instructors planning
session, which went well. Roman and i also found a small amount
of time to go over one of my new patterns that had been giving me
some grief with the stepping, so i can work on that now as well.
And that was pretty much the weekend.
I am off now to the baths again, to get
clean, and then an early night i hope...we will see, things change
since getting back from Seoul, i have been busy
with preparing the kids for their grading, although as the grading
approaches i have done less of the basics and more of kicks and
entertainment. It's difficult when you have a whole class full of
white belts of quite different ages. My second class of 4 at the
Gumdo school has small children of 6 to teenagers. So seperating
them has become essential for control. Here, Korean parents don't
discipline their children a lot, they let their Hogwan(after school
class) teacher do that, and smacking at school is also common. Funnily
enough, their doesn't seem to be any problems with children misbehaving
in class (Go Sue Bradford)! Anyway, i cannot smack the kids, or
hit them with the pads etc, i just can't do it, years of NZ conditioning.
So i do it in other ways, usually with pressups, or i try to make
the punishment not a punishment, but still letting the child know
i don't want them to do that again. Sometimes i make them leave
the class, but not often.
So, with some of my classes i seperate big kids
from little kids. I haven't been able to do any propper breaking,
sparring, self defence etc yet, so i don't know that the children
see where the basics are taking them, and they have no seniors to
follow their example. I have great respect for Mr Bull from Gisborne,
i can see how hard starting a new club would be, especially with
all white belt students. Most of my students have gotten used to
me though. They know when i put my hand to my mouth and say english,
i want them to repeat what i am saying to them. But i also follow
that up and explain what each english word means, so they understand
the words and can use them, which a lot of them do now. It's challenging
and fun, and i imagine that i would be very good at charades back
home now! Some of them are now coming to me and asking for the english
word for lots of things, and they are especially interested in me
naming each move to the last technical detail. They don't understand
it, but they love repeating the words, and then trying to use them
in other situations.
On Tuesday night the President and Brendan visited
me at Gumdo, which was a surprise. The President has asked me to
move back to Pusan to teach there, and to assist him in arranging,
organising instructors to come over, and advising on how ITFNZ works,
so i am looking forward to that. But i am very sad to be leaving
Ulsan, my students, and my home stay families. The Lees i can talk
to and that's great. The Gungs i can't talk to much, even with the
translator calculator thing, but we still have heaps of laughs,
so i will miss them both. I will also miss my new soccer buddies.
'What's that Mr Gung...ok, soccer time'
...excuse me while i zip off for my morning game.
Yep, every secong morning i play, when i stay
at the Gungs house. In fact this morning the guys at the field were
asking me where i go every second day...i'm one of the family, so
yes, i will be very sad to leave. And especially as i have been
really making progress with most of the students, thats sad too.
But onwards and upwards.
On Tuesday night, i had another Gumdo lesson,
as you can see from the photo i am now officially a white belt student,
and i nearly know enough to be a yellow belt, although the stances
still throw me a little, and i can't hold my sword up high for very
long. It's just like i remember my first TKD training night and
trying to sit in a walking stance for 5 mins...sore the next day!
That's me in the middle next to my buddy Jackie Chan, and i must
admit i look pretty happy with myself. (No, it's not a real sword,
just a practise one, but still heavy. Probably a good thing, i keep
hitting my head and back as i swing it round, don't really want
to come home minus an ear or two). Pity there isn't gumdo in NZ,
i am sorely tempted to take it up.
Ok, thats it for this week i think, not
much to write about, although there will be after the camp this
weekend. I do have some great news coming up though, to do with
instructor placements here, but i won't say anything yet until i
have finialised things with the Presidents, NZ and Korea.
It's been a very long 3 days, but heaps to tell!
The Lee's dropped me off at the bus stop at 11:00pm,
where we waited for Brendan to arrive. Fortunately for him, his
bus driver woke him at the right stop, or it would have been long
ride home. Then Brendan and i were left to our own devices for the
whole weekend in Seoul, once we were able to get there that was.
We so needed the trip. Don't get me wrong about working here. It's
exciting, new, an eye opener, but it's also exhausting at times.
I love my home stay families ( I stay one night at each place, depending
where i am teaching on the day), but there isn't a lot of time to
zone out and relax. So, Brendan and i were really excited about
getting away, doing our own thing, making our own mistakes, and
generally trying our hardest to get lost and have fun doing it.
Having said that, we were grateful that the Lee's
helped buy our tickets, and made sure we got on the right bus. Nothing
like a good independent start. Anyway, we got on the bus at 12:20am,
and surprise surprise, it was full, not a seat left anywhere except
right at the back, which suited us just fine. Not sure why lots
of Koreans were traveling to Seoul at that time of night, and most
of them were either asleep or didn't speak english enough for me
to ask them. Don't know how to tell the ones apart that do speak
english anyway, so perhaps that was a good thing. The bus also had
these great seats, just like a plane, they reclined a long way and
with plenty of leg room.
After a fast trip, lasting 4 hours (yep, Sth
Korea's smaller than you think, you can drive from one end to the
other in about 6 hours), but mainly due to Mario Andretti driving
the bus, we arrived all blinky eyed in the capital at 4:20am. What
to do now? Brendan wasn't too keen on the naked sleep at the baths
idea, he had been muttering about it the whole way. So we decided
to look for a Hotel close to the bus station, of which there wasn't
one, except the Marriott, and they wanted $350US for us to stay
until 10:00am. It was tempting as it had been a long week for both
of us, but that's a bit rich for us country boys. So, looking like
the cheap backpackers we were, they hussled us out the front door
pretty quick and into a taxi, where we were told we would be taken
to somewhere more appropriate for our standing in society. Made
me feel a little trashy, cheap even, but i guess we did look a little
worse for wear after the all nighter. To be honest, we were just
happy that the guy on the desk spoke enough english to help, so
i won't be too hard on them.
Anyway, this was my first Taxi ride in Korea.
I had observed them driving from a distance, and the only words
that kept coming to mind were 'lethal, wife and kids million dollars
richer due to insurance policy'. But with no choice, in we went.
Now i must apologise to the taxi drivers of Korea. Yes you guys
drive the worst i have ever seen, but we took a fair few taxi's
in the weekend, or taschi's as they are called here, and not once
were we ripped off, and they were all dammed cheap too. Best way
to get somewhere in a hurry, in my opinion, thanks guys. They all
spoke a smattering of english as well.
Not sure what the guy from the Marriott told
the driver, but we ended up in a pretty dodgy area of Seoul. Getting
out of the car, we immediately recognised (well Brendan did anyway),
that we were in the red light district, and there were 'Love Motels'
as far as the eye could see. We were right outside a beauty, called
'The Romeo'. Shaking our heads and wondering how bad we must have
looked to the Marriott and dodging the working girls in their doorways,
we made it inside to find the guy at the desk didn't speak any english,
and thought we wanted a room together.
'No, separate beds...no no, i'm sure you do separate
beds...yes, on the floor...spare mattress will do fine...follow
you to a room...ok...yes i see there is only the one bed, we want
two beds...hanna, dool beds...no we're not a couple, would you go
out with this guy?...yes, ok, i think he has got it Brendan.'
Finally, at 5am, blissful sleep. Rats, it's 10:30am,
slept far longer than intended, must have been really tired. Oh
well, this is more of a weekend to unwind, than run around like
madmen and see everything we possibly can. We took our time getting
up. After all we had paid top dollar for this room ($60,000 Won,
about $75NZ)..incidentally it was the best room they had, the penthouse
suite if you like...real tasteful too. Mirrors, lights, big spa
bath. Probably the first guests in it's lifetime to have spent 5
hours there. ( i love these love motels, they are great value, clean,
close to town, and always open. If you get stuck in Korea for a
place to sleep, they are your best option at short notice, all jokes
Deciding after our first taxi ride to brave another,
we waved one down and found our way to the other side of the city,
to where Master Lee had told me we could catch a bus that was called
Seoul City Bus Tours. This would be a great way to see the city,
and cheap too. $10 all day, including commentary. By the bus tour
company was a tourist information place, and the lovely lady there
found us a backpackers to stay at. We had a great room, TV, and
large floor all for $19 a night each! After leaving our stuff there,
we decided not to take the tour, but to walk to the Imperial Palace
which was very big as you can see in the first pic.
Brendan had wanted to visit the DMZ, but unfortunately
i had forgotten my passport(sorry mate) after reminding him to bring
his too. Never mind, after the palace we had a good stroll around
the markets which were huge. On the way to there we had pizza for
lunch, which is where Brendan became strangely attached to the pizza
box. We somehow ended up in a large underground art gallery while
crossing the road, and as he hadn't found anywhere to drop the box
off (Koreans aren't big on public rubbish bins), he probably cut
a rather strange figure, wandering around admiring the art with
Pizzy, as his cardboard friend became known.
After that and the markets it was a long walk
to find a movie theatre so we could just chill out and relax. Went
and saw this movie called 300, have to say it didn't do much for
me, too Hollywoodized. It retold the story of Leonidas and his 300
Spartans holding back the forces of Xerses and Persia. Something
the General wrote about, so i guess it was a fitting end to the
In the middle of the city, there must have been
some kind of demonstration planned, because there were so many police,
armoured water cannon trucks and armoured buses that you could have
walked across their shoulders while crossing the street, any street.
Must have been 3000 at least, or maybe we were seeing the same ones.
Also in Seoul, we were no longer celebrities, there were lots of
tourists there. It had been so long since i had seen another white
face besides Brendans, it became hard not to stare!
The next day we were again a bit slack getting
going, but the timeout was doing wonders. We walked to the bus tour
and started off, seeing a bit more of the city. This is the view
from the centre of Seoul, on one side only. As you can see the yellow
dust is still with us, although not strong today. Stopped in a shopping
district and managed to buy these T-Shirts that say 'I'm foreigner,
don't be afraid, you can stare at me'. Yep, they work too. After
a great day sightseeing, we ended up again at the movies where we
saw this bizarre movie called Perfume. Not a movie for the kids,
but strangely entrancing, with a great twist too.
The next day it was an early start at 6:30, where
we had to make our way down to Pusan, so i could get a bus back
to Ulsan. We weren't sure how we would do that yet, but that's what
makes these trips fun! After deciding it would be a shame to come
to Seoul and not catch the KTX (this is Korea's new fast 300km train),
we got a taxi to the station and made the 8:30 train to Pusan. Yep,
that sucker was pretty quick! Only travels fast for half the distance
as half the track is old, but it was still great zipping over the
bridges and valleys at nearly 300kmh. The last pic is what that
looks like. Also, you sit backwards on this train, it's safer if
Back in Pusan, we caught the subway where i said
farewell to Brendan as he departed for his stay, and i carried on
the the end of the line and found a bus back to Ulsan, and then
another taxi back to my homestay. And that was pretty much it...
Must say though that there were english signs
most places which made it easy for us, and most people selling tickets
spoke a little english, so there weren't too many hassels. I made
it back in time to start teaching at 3pm on the Monday, although
it was a long day.
Great weekend. This one coming Roman arrives
and we have the camp to do, and i still have no idea how that will
turn out, but it will be interesting i am sure
Well today is Friday morning, 6:30am, i can't
sleep in here. I don't usually anyway, which is why i try not to
get invited out too much at night as they usually turn into late
drinking and eating parties. I am getting invited out every night
though! I have become rent a guest, and it seems popular with the
locals. Must be my good looks and funny stories in english because
my party trick sucks (maybe being hairy is a party trick here?).
Yesterday i headed off to the Library with Master
Lee, but we didn't get there. Instead we ended up going to the blossom
festival, yay!, which was just like a large open air market. It's
under all these blossom trees which are now in full bloom as you
can see. That's me, the skinny one dressed in black in the centre
in case anyone was wondering. There are so many blossom trees here
that when the wind blows it's kind of like being in a white out,
or perhaps a blossom out is better.
Anyway, we went to the blossom festival market,
where half the stalls are food stalls, so heroes my second photo.
Doesn't look that interesting, until you take a second look at the
centre of the photo. That's right folks, that's whale meat. Not
sure which whale but it looks like maybe a pilot whale or something
similar. I didn't have any, neither did Master Lee, he doesn't like
My last photo is of a group of traditional performers.
You can see in the picture if you look to the left, yep, there is
a burial mound right next to the stage. Could of been part of the
act as far as i could tell. They were pretty funny, or would have
been if i knew where to laugh. I just followed everyone else and
kind of laughed along, fooling everyone except master Lee, who just
looked at me like i was on another planet. I'm trying to blend in
as it were. Was pretty successful too, until several buses of school
children arrived and blew my cover. 'Hi, how are you...i'm fine
thankyou, how are you.'
Good, now walk two steps, repeat 'Hi, how are
you...i'm fine thankyou, how are you.' Walk two steps 'Hi, how are
you...i'm fine thankyou, how are you.' Walk two....
They just love to say hello, although they often
run away as soon as they do, laughing and covering their faces,
leaving me standing there wondering if it was something i said.
Tonight is Brendans and my big day out. Not sure
if i told you yet, but we are going to Seoul. The plan is to leave
tonight, after class (this does sound familiar, dejavu?) on the
late bus. We will arrive at about 3am, then we are going to the
baths, which are open all night, to sleep in the big room with lots
of steam and other naked men. It's not wrong, just different. I
doubt we will find a hotel room at that hour, so the baths are it...yay!
Then we have two days in Seoul, although Brendan did mention something
about visiting the demilitarised zone, must remember that Nth and
Sth Korea are still at war, and to can the jokes and one liners
while all the guns are being pointed at me. (on a completely different
note, i still get asked if i like children. I always reply, 'yes,
but i can't eat a whole one.' So far no one gets the joke, which
is probably good, except Brendan, who while he still laughs, tells
me it's getting old. I think he is laughing more at the Koreans
missing the point and me getting away with saying something like
Anyway, this is the last update until i can get
near a computer on Monday sometime. Should have plenty of news i
Again, not much happening day to day. Classes
have settled down, but are still changing in nature as we refine
the syllabus for the grading this month, not far away now (April
22). And if that isn't enough to do, the Koreans have decided to
hold an english camp. Wasn't sure what this was but after Master
Lee explained to me a few things, i gather it's the same as our
national camps. Only thing is, they are having it on the 14th-15th...this
month. And they want Brendan and i to run most of it, which is the
english side of things i gather! No pressure, that gives me at least
2 weeks to organise things!
Now I know a thing or two about how to run a
camp, but i usually start at least 6 months out gathering ideas,
sending out application forms, holding meetings (ok, i am talking
%$#@, the meetings are usually pizza and beer drinking sessions
that produce some changes to what we already have settled on as
a great formula).
Luckily for me, i can remember the timetable,
the games, ideas, and most of the organising. And someone else is
sending out the forms, organising the venue; we are going to this
huge army kind of place that holds 300+ people. Should be a lot
of fun. Over here, they don't need to give months and months of
notice, they just tell them a few days or weeks out, and people
seem to be able to get there. More on this to come in the next few
weeks i imagine! Roman, if you are reading these updates, you are
taking sparring classes at the camp, and i have volunteered Brendon
as your demo partner. I'll do the first aid etc etc
My Hapkido lessons are coming along well, although
i don't have them regularly. Last night i joined in some of the
classes after TKD training, which are 3/4 of an hour, and then we
do Hapkido training. Lets face it there is only so much 4 direction
punch and block you can do with the older kids, then they need to
burn some energy. So last night's classes were rolling and falling,
flipping in mid air, summersaults, going from hands to feet to hands
to feet to hands...all down the dojang. Pretty much sucked at those.
But i can walk on my hands a short way now, and summersault from
feet to hands, flipping over and landing on my back on the practise
pad, which is the beginning stage. Pretty happy with myself about
that, although i am not sure how the kids do it all the time, made
me feel sick after a few goes.
The weight loss has settled down a bit as well,
thank goodness. Was feeling pretty weak for a few weeks there. Can't
see my washboard abs yet though, but they are there...somewhere.
Maybe they are round the back? Also, i am back to stretching again,
after having to take a break as all the sitting on the floor was
playing up with the knees and hips, but that too is better now.
I went into Ulsan yesterday with Mrs Lee. She
teaches english to kids and needed some new books, so she goes to
this english special store. Quite a big place for a Korean shop,
mostly kids books, but i did manage to pick up some more novels
to read. After, we went to her daughters school to pick her up.
I hadn't been to this school before, and it's a big one. She goes
to what we call Kindy, but it's in the school, and there are quite
a few classrooms. I got mobbed again. Don't mind that too much,
would be nicer if it was the womans college where the early 20 students
go, but it's a start i guess. And i wish they wouldn't keep trying
to pull the hair out of my arms, little buggers are so quick. It's
not stuck on you know...i have feelings.
I think Mrs Lee was a little surprised. I had
told her that it happens with the small children. She is used to
going there incognito. My biggest fear is being invited inside the
classroom, at least in the corridor i can still see daylight. I
wonder what would happen if a real celebrity came and stood next
to me, would there be a different reaction for instance if it was
Jennifer Aniston (apart from me grabbing her of course). It's tough
work being a wannabe star, i can tell you, and i don't rate a limmo
yet. Signing autographs isn't big here, but taking pictures with
your phone camera is, so i have to look my best all the time. I
think Mrs Lee's daughter Jerry is pretty popular at Kindy now. (Still
can't figure out why i don't have an agent yet, do you have to contact
these people, or do they get in touch with you?)
Right, it's Wednesday, not much yellow
dust today again, thank goodness. I'm off to the bathroom for my
morning beauty regime, shouldn't take too long.
today is the second of April. Incidentally, Koreans
celebrate April fools day here as well. They like a joke and appreciate
being the butt of one, in fact you are a star if you can make a
good joke on them. Like a red rag to a bull really.
Yesterday was really interesting as you can see
from the two photo's here. The first is a mountain shot i took about
4 days ago, which is what Korea has been like since we arrived,
hazy all the time with the 'Yellow dust' as they put it, the dust
from China and Mongolia that blows this way each spring. Well, the
other photo was taken yesterday, late afternoon, in Pusan. And as
you can see, the 'yellow dust' has well and truly arrived. Visibility
is down to less than 1 kilometre in places. I think i will be looking
at getting one of those face masks myself, man it was like being
in the middle of a large Aussy bush fire. The stuff gets into everything,
especially your mouth. I wonder if that counts as a visit to Mongolia,
always wanted to go there?
Strangely enough, tastes like dirt, and makes
some people cough. Anything outside looks like it was driven in
a rally after a few minutes, and i'm not even going there with what
it does to the old nose, but lets say that blowing it often is a
necessity, even more so than the spicy food nose blowing thing.
Incidentally, i have been forced to shave off
the beard, something about scaring small children. No, actually
it was the wife, she emailed me and said i looked like something
born from the unholy union of a Leprechaun and Ronnie Barker.
So, off it came. In fact this has had an amazing effect. All the
Korean woman i know here already keep saying how skinny i look now,
and how young. Don't mind that at all. Don't worry dear, i can't
wait to get home and 'see' you!
As i said, yesterday was spent in Pusan with
all the instructors. There is always a new instructor at
the Dojang that Brendan and i haven't seen before. And the President
thanked us very much as he believes that they are getting more and
more inquiries from, shall we say, the 'other' TKD organisation,
and it is due to us. Don't think that's the whole truth though.
He is one dedicated man, totally committed to establishing Master
Trans TKD here back in Sth Korea, and where there is a will, there
will be a way for this man. Very humbling some of the things he
said to us. But it is his ideas and his work that are the basis
for their organisation, we are just here to work.
Brendan and i did some work on the upcoming grading.
The Koreans have pretty much got it how they want to conduct it,
and we will only see the first grading, but it will be a start for
what we we know will be many to come. Would be great to
see where they get in 5 years time.
It's back to work today, but this weekend coming
Brendan and i are being let loose on our own in Seoul. We are
planning to catch the train late on Friday after my last class,
and have a weekend in the capital, getting lost, visiting the imperial
palace, gardens, shops...guy shops that is! Our secret weapon against
being lost too much is school kids who speak english so it should
be a lot of fun. If you guys don't get an update by Tuesday next
week...well you will know why.
Right, off to breakfast, rice, eggs, fish, kimchi
and a lot of nose blowing to follow no doubt. Although, the yellow
dust today looks less thank goodness.
well it's been a little while since my last update,
and to be honest, there isn't much happening at the moment (seem
to remember saying that before). I have spent this week installing
in the students here in Ulsan the basic grading syllabus that was
agreed upon last weekend.
For those instructors curious, here it is!
4 direction block, 4 direction punch, basics,
Yep, pretty much the same as ours, without the
self defence aspect (especially for my hapkido students, who continue
to laugh at my attempts to master the holds they show me...pretty
much wasting my time trying to teach them anything about releases,
learned that very quickly!)
The basics are stepping forward walking stance,
stepping back, high, middle, low punch, punching exercises, low
block, low knifehand etc and front kicks. I also have some 5-6 year
old students, and taking a page from Master McPhail, have suggested
that they sit a half grading and the Koreans come up with some kind
of different belt, similar i imagine to what is happening back at
home...usurping ideas might get me in trouble, but it's a great
All classes are done in as much english as i
can with them, and speaking english is probably just as important
as the techniques, more in some cases. If i get stuck i resort to
Korean. Eg, i say 4 direction punch, and i see some blank faces,
i just say Saju Jerigi. They say the name of each technique before
they do it, for example, step forward, middle punch, turn left,
low block etc etc. This way they do the exercise, and learn the
english for step, turn, block, punch ... essentially what we learn
in Korean. It's pretty funny though, i have to stop myself all the
time from saying saju jerigi, and to say 4 direction punch instead,
it's all upside down. We have also started on the 'Do' side of TKD,
with the tenets. They have great difficulty with some of them, but
especially pronouncing perseverance. Koreans can't pronounce the
'F' sound or the 'V' sound, so they have to try real hard.
Funny thing is though, When Brendan and i were
teaching them the english pronunciation, they all started laughing
when we said perseverance. Really laughing hard. I asked Master
Lee what was so funny and he said that this word sounds similar
to a word in Korean that means 'the task is already complete'. So
we are teaching them what it means to persevere and they hear don't
persevere, it's already finished. Guess you had to be here really.
The kids find it very amusing as well.
This week i have also been getting students to
take charge of the classes, something that isn't done here. But
it gives me the time to go around and correct stances. They are
so shocked to be standing at the front saying step forward, low
block etc. But me calling them sabum, which means teacher, makes
them very proud, and it is working well. I use the students that
speak good english, rank doesn't matter. It also shows them that
they have to practise, because next week it could be them.
I am down to 4 classes a day now, which is good.
There are probably 100-120 students in total between the Gumdo and
Hapkido classes. I have also this week been standing outside schools
giving away information to children, advertising. It's not the done
thing at home, in fact would probably get arrested as a possible
kiddy fiddler or something, but here, everyone does it. Which reminds
me, it's very liberating the amount of children contact the Koreans
have. Must say it still makes me uncomfortable a bit, i am used
to saying sorry anytime i bump into someone, but here it happens
all the time so no one even looks or bothers avoiding in a lot of
cases, and don't apologize either, which is the norm here. But the
children are constantly grabbing my hand or arm or whatever they
can and talking away to me, sometimes in english, mostly in korean.
They often sit right next to you, or on you, or lean on you...it's
great that it works here, never would at home in PC dangerous, Chch
civic creche good old NZ though.
Had a great training session last night at the
Hapkido Dojang. During the kids class which is first up, Mr Gung
interrupted me with 15mins left to go.
'What's that Mr Gung? You want me to stop teaching?
Well ok, i am used to these things i guess. Oh, you want me to follow
you, well ok. Hhmm, not sure Gung me old china what that means,
can you say it again. "Kikhe tme", Ok, nope, still don't
get that one, can you show me? Why are you getting those newspapers
out, hang on a minute, why have the children disappeared, Why are
they sitting around the newspapers. This is all a bit strange Master
Gung, but sure, i can follow along(must be some strange korean tradition
or something?)What's with all that food, Master Gung?'
Wait a minute. Brown, you bloody idiot, it's
not "kikhe tme", it's "cookie time". "Yes,
yes", Mr Gung says, "kikhe tme". Well, turns out
that every end of the month, he has cookie time at training where
students take a break and have a little party, and why not i say.
Although, this isn't doing the diet any good. Hang on, i'm not on
a diet...yeha, give me those chips, yep i'll have some of that stuff
as well...ok, is that hot, because if it is, someone is getting
100 pressups, oh, it's not hot. Go Korea!!
well not much has been happening this last two
days, although i did have another game of soccer this morning with
Master Gung. We arrived at the field to find even more koreans than
last time, and had to wait for a bit while the teams took turns
on the field. Then it was our turn again. This time though, i was
put on the left wing...rats, the only place worse than trying to
kick left footed all the time, is being in goal with everyone shooting
the ball at you all the time. And my left kicks are only average,
wait a minute, my left sidekick isn't too bad, maybe i can use that
somehow. In the end though, i did better than last time. Managed
to pass the ball a lot, quite successfully too, according to the
positive tone from the other players.
Yep, like i said, not much happening...although
last night was a little interesting, if you can call becoming the
first Kiwi to become a fully deputized member of the Korean Law
Enforcement Community!!! That's right Brendan, beat that, and i
have the photo's to prove it. I haven't been a deputy since the
time Mr Skedgewell deputized me at the Dunedin Nationals when a
suspicious character turned up and he was asked to look in to it.
I wonder if that makes me the first person to belong to two police
Anyway, let me take you back to last night, here's
how it all happened...cue the wavey lines and funny music.
After Hapkido training, where i tried out the
new ITF Korea syllabus on the kids for the first time, which went
pretty well, i got changed and waited for Master Gung to take me
home as usual. Only this time he appeared and said something about
night police? 'What's that Mr Gung, you want the police? Ok, you
don't want the police, what do you mean? Ohh i see, you are the
police, i thought you were just a Hapkido master? You're not? You
are a police officer as well? Oh, not a police officer, a night
police officer. Ok, is there a difference? Right, i get it, you
just belong to a group of locals that help the police at night,
kind of a community thing, right, sounds like fun, Oh, we are going
to go on a patrol. Yeha, count me in!!
That conversation took a long time, with lots
of gesturing, but i pretty much got it right, my guessing Korean
is getting better.
Anyway, we went to this police station, where
the night police hang out, and Mr Gung led me inside, where i surprised
a bunch of other night policemen who were getting ready for a patrol.
They were a very friendly bunch, prone to joking a lot, as you will
see. Had me going there for a bit too.
So, they thought i was pretty funny, and wanted
to have their picture taken with me. Well one thing led to another,
and before you know it, i am dressed in uniform(sorry dear, i had
to give it back), sitting in the boss's chair, and posing for photo's!!
Then it was out on patrol. Mr Gung bundled me
into that back of their police van, and he disappeared and left
me with 4 other guys, one of whom spoke a small amount of english,
and that was it, we went out on patrol. Lights flashing and battons
at the ready. Our first stop was the police station down the road.
It was here that it got a little hairy for me. One of the guys thought
it would be funny to grab me by the arm and pretend i was under
arrest and forcefully lead me into the real police station, only
thing was he didn't tell me it was a joke.
The 2 policeman inside took one look at me and
started asking all these agitated questions in korean which didn't
need any translating i can tell you, then the guys with me couldn't
keep a straight face any longer and just started laughing and let
me go. Well, great joke guys, next time let me know!
After that we went back to the night police station
and Mr Gung arrived shortly with takeaway chicken, soju, and beer.
Then the night descended into a drinking night...great, i have soccer
tomorrow i thought. Never mind, these guys are great fun. You know
it's funny, after the 3rd beer i could understand them fine...maybe
they were slurring their Korean, or maybe beer gives me a super
sense of translation. Whatever, i apparently invited all of them
back to NZ at any time(sorry dear, it was the beer, but they are
a great bunch of guys), and i also have a few new 'Brothers' as
well, not sure how that happened, apparently it's a Korean tradition
to have a close friend that become a brother for life...ive got
about 8 now!
We had a great night, until one of the guys phone
rings...yep, it's his wife and he scurry's away pretty quickly.
Then all the other guys start looking at their watches, mumbling
something to each other, and suddenly it is all over.
Mr Gung and i are driven back to his house by
the sober night policeman, who all the time was watching our drinking
and shaking his head.
Beat that Brendan!! I will let you decide the
points for this one!
26 March 2007
Well. this weekend was full of lots of stuff!
On Saturday morning i traveled with Master Lee to see the Gumdo
grading, i have attached some pictures of the display cutting the
bamboo staffs, one of the kids where they have to draw their sword
after throwing a tennis ball in the air, and they have to then strike
the ball in one draw and cut..very impressive.
The next photo is of me Brendan, the kids grading,
Jackie Chan!, and Brendan's host family.
After the grading, we decided to try being on
our own for the day, and decided to take the bus from Gimhae to
Pusan. Fortunately for us Brendan's host helped us buy the tickets
and get on the right bus. He gave us some directions for getting
off the bus, but to be honest, we kind of didn't understand him
too well. So after sitting on the bus for 1/2 an hour we figured
we were in Pusan, or thereabouts. Now, to get off the bus in the
Our master plan turned out to be, stay on the
bus as long as possible and see what happens. Worked for us well,
until the bus driver, noticed us and stopped the bus, got out of
his seat and headed down the bus towards us. We weren't the only
people on the bus, but somehow we knew. Yep, he pointed at us and
gestured for us to depart...immediately. Ok, we get the picture,
time to get off. Maybe our ticket has run out, maybe we did something
wrong, or possibly we were as close to our destination, the Do Jang,
as the bus went. We still weren't sure, but the end result was that
we got off the bus. He pointed in a direction and waved us on, he
was a bit grumpy, but as it turned out he was looking after us and
we started walking in the right direction. Although at the time
we didn't know it. We were supposed to get on the subway, and would
have of been there in 10 mins or so, but with walking, it took us
In the end to be sure, i asked some school girls
(yes, they go to school on saturday here). Once they had gotten
over their embarrassment, they were very helpful, and one of them
spoke good english, and put us on the right road, which turned out
to be the one we were walking down! Go figure. Brendan was right,
he thought he recognised the area. I had no idea, being a country
boy in Korea.
After a brief stop for a Mac attack (again, we
gave in to temptation, this time they were not spicy), we made it
to the Do Jang, where a very surprised Park sabum couldn't understand
why we had wanted to walk all that way (about 8kms). We just showed
him our hairy faces and said we were Kiwi's, and tough. (Incidentally,
the hairy face thing is for older men, younger woman don't like
it here, but they see it as a sign of maturity and respect, so we
think it is working well for us! Course, Brendan has only just started
as he keeps getting called 'Army Boy' or one he isn't sure he likes
"Sean Connery". Me, i'm Richard Dreyfuss, although after
this weekend i was very nearly Kenny Rogers, more on that later.)
Then after a rest of 5 mins or so, Park sabum
asked us if we would like to go and visit the American Aircraft
Carrier, the Ronald Regan, which was in port. Would we!!! Turns
out he is a bit of a military buff, so he wanted to see it as well.
I have attached some pictures of it and the sun going down, and
Brendan and i posing on some bloody great rock in the middle of
the ocean that he thought would be a good idea...have to say i agree!
After that we were taken into town for dinner
with Park sabum and 4 of his students, all 18 year olds, and one
of them spoke ok english so we had a good chat. Man, those kids
can put away the food. I thought Master Lee was good, but they left
him for dead. Brendan and i just sat back and watched, and the food
kept coming and coming. Then on the way out i discovered the last
photo. That's right folks, it's a singing bar, specialising in the
great Kenny Rogers hits and songs. You had to be there i guess.
Anyway, took the photo for a certain instructor in Hamilton, who
is a big fan and of course shall remain nameless.
After all the excitement, it was off to bed at
our usual hotel. Which incidentally, is a 'special hotel' where
apparently the guests stay for 'one night only' or even perhaps
a 'few hours' if you know what i mean. The mirrored ceiling and
discoe lights are a good giveaway, not to mention the special tv
channels they have...all part of the experience of teaching in Korea
folks. It's a tough job, but somebody has to do it i suppose!
Anyway, Sunday saw us teaching again with the
instructors, and at the end of the day, after much talking, language
confusion, demonstrations, advice, more talking and 1 hour of much
needed patterns practice for Brendan and i, we finally have the
beginnings of a grading syllabus for the first ITF grading (our
ITF organisation) to be held in Korea for a long time (if at all,
not sure?). Brendan and i are very happy with the days work and
feel we are making some real progress at last.
Then it was the drive back to Ulsan for me and
i arrived back home at 8:30, where my host family all went out to
dinner again. I got to bed at 10:30, pretty tired, but very happy
with the weekends work.
Well another week is drawing to an end. I am
excited about tomorrow as i am traveling to the Gumdo grading, where
my friend the Jackie Chan look-a-like is grading. Will get his pic
(and autograph) i promise. This morning i had another game of soccer
with Gung, the Hapkido master. To tell the truth i was still sore
from the game 2 days ago, so i thought i would take it easy today
and not go out so gungho, as it were.
Well, when we got to the pitch, there were about
24 koreans all ready to play. Hhmmmm, i don't think this will be
a reduced side somehow. Yep, i was right, it's going to be a full
blown game, with referee and all the rules. Rats, i haven't played
proper soccer for years, not since i was a kid. Oh well, perhaps
the ball won't come my way.
"What's that Gung? There's too many players
and will i sit the first half out. Well ok, but i'm not happy about
it, i think you have left me out just because of my skills, or lack
of them perhaps."
As you may remember i have started growing a
beard. No one here has one, and certainly no one has a flaming ginger
beard, like mine is turning into. Probably can see the dam thing
from half a mile away, stopping traffic or something. Run for your
lives, it's the foreigner with his face on fire.
"What's that Gung, it's my turn on the field.
Well ok, what position am i in? No, reply in english i don't understand
what you are saying. Yes, i know you don't speak english, but you
speak more than i speak korean. Ok, ok, stop waving at me, i get
the message, i'm on the pitch already."
So far so good, no one seems to want to pass
me the ball. Perhaps i can just kick it a little, sub off the field,
and honour will be satisfied. You know the funny thing with soccer,
is that once you have passed the ball to your team mate, and he
has it, you are no longer responsible for what happens. So if you
get the ball, just pass it to someone else. They seemed to place
me as a back, so i just passed the ball whenever i got it.
Blast it, i'm at the back and there are 3 koreans
from the other team bearing down on me and no one else is near.
Ok, NZ TKD soccer skills don't fail me now. Must of looked quite
a sight, old flaming cheeks taking on 3 koreans. We tackled for
a bit and strangely i managed to kick the ball out. Yes! Right,
now to sub off at the peak of my fame before my true lack of skill
I wave, yes, one of the other benchwarmers stands
up, runs over and takes my bright yellow shirt, while i jog off
to cries of 'well done, great defence, you can come and play anytime,
get a haircut and get a real job.'
I made that bit up, i really have no idea what
they were saying.
While i am on the subject of music, i am reminded
of being in Honduras again. Here though, they play the late 80's
hits, but they have been Koreanified. And strangely turned into
full blown orchestrated ballads. All sung in korean too. I can recognise
some of the tunes, but it's not life as we know it Jim.
Friends at Tauranga said to me when i left that
i would either come back home an expert in TKD, or would quit! Well,
not exactly. I don't have that much time to practise on my own,
maybe 30 mins a day max. But i have taken Master M's advice and
started learning my new patterns from the book, have gotten 1 under
my belt, and halfway through the second. Looking forward to having
them corrected when i get back to Tauranga, but at least i should
have the basics right.
Well thats all for the next few days, i am taking
some time off. Hopefully will do some more sightseeing this weekend.
well another first for me last night, had pigs
spine for dinner at this specialist restaurant. Was quite nice really,
spinal cord and everything. All in a large soup bowl. You had to
pick out the spine, pull the cord away, and wella, there you go.
Along with the customary hot spices of course. I still passed on
the chilies though. And right next to our table was this huge TV.
What was on while i was chewing my spine i hear you ask? Why real
life medical dramas of course, lots of blood and guts including
my dinner. I just shake my head now, must be used to it.
I have moved house, well, that is to say i am
now moving between each instructors house depending on where i am
teaching each day. Still have lots of classes each day though. This
morning i was invited to play a game of soccer with the locals.
Ok, i thought, i will give it a go. Wasn't too happy about the 6:30
wake up, but i am dedicated!
I didn't have any suitable trackpants like everyone
else, so i just wore my All Black shorts, i think they thought i
was crazy. On the way to the playing field, the car in front turned
on it's wipers, and the water coming off the windscreen hit our
The game was a 4 aside reduced field, no outs,
no offsides, and no hands game. Of course i didn't know this at
the time, as no one spoke english apart from saying 'good kick,
good kick', and some other stuff when i missed the goal. But i soon
learned the rules and we were away. Played for 1 hour and am absolutely
buggered. You know, i didn't know you could get plastic burns from
artificial turf, but there you go, a lesson for young players. Afterwards
we had our photo taken as you can see.
Good bunch of blokes. Of course as soon as the
game was over there was smoking-a-plenty, but this is Korea. Actually
there isn't that much smoking here, certainly not as much as Europe.
The other photo here is rather disturbing for
us. I spotted it on the last trip back from Pusan. It's not the
swasticker, or however it is spelt, but is a church sign. There
are lots of them here. Bothered me quite a bit when i first saw
it, but i am more unformed now. Of course this is an ancient symbol,
and was used by lots of religious groups long before Hitler stole
it, including the American Indians. I guess they are reclaiming
Was involved in a bit of an accident last night
at training. I was playing with the kids when one of the bigger
boys fell, and hit the soft matts with all of his weight on his
little finger. Drove the finger nail right back up into his finger
where it popped out through the skin at the last joint. Nasty little
looking injury too. But he was pretty brave. I just wrapped it up
with my NZ first aid skills and waited for Gung the instructor to
turn up 5 mins later, where the young man went to the doctor. Apparently
he held him down and popped it back in to the right place. At least
that's what i can gather from Gung's vivid description and words
like ouch, which are universal really. Will see him tomorrow night
to see what it looks like.
And they said this job was dull and boring...i
I have also lost 7 Kilo's. Yes, that's right
Jenny. Korea is the new weight loss program from hell. With all
the teaching, the soccer, the running around with the kids, and
the food...well it's perfect. I don't know where they have gone,
but i don't want them back. I haven't been this skinny since i was
23-4 or there abouts. Not even 4 gradings managed to shift the guts,
but 3 weeks in Korea and i feel like Superman. Which reminds me,
what do you call a man who works in the supermarket here. Yes, thats
right, he is called the Superman, at least that's how the Koreans
pronounce it and how it sounds. First time i heard that i was searching
the sky for some kind of Korean in red underwear flying past. Cultural
differences are wonderful!
well it finally happened. On Saturday i traveled
down to Pusan in the afternoon to spend the weekend with Brendan,
but on the way home, right in front of us there was an accident.
One of the mad Korean drivers decided not to stop for the lights
thinking someone would let him through, but no, he had quite a good
smash, saw the whole thing. Could have been us but there you go...always
wear your seatbelt.
So, like i said i went to Pusan to see Brendan,
training had been cancelled, or so we thought, and i didn't take
my Do Bok, for a change...big mistake. Anyway, i arrived at 3:30
and we went to Brendans hotel, where he is still staying. Had some
free time until 9pm when we were going out to dinner, so we wandered
the streets, found a mall and did some wandering inside. Had some
fun getting lost and saying hello to as many people as we could
embarrass, which was quite a few. Then out for dinner which was
nice. Then we went to another foreigners bar, where we played some
pool, got husseled by this american guy called Tim, who has been
teaching here for 6 years, and playing pool everynight since then
i would say.
As it was St Patricks day, we of course drank
Guinness, very nice drop it was too. Then we went to a shopping
mall at 1am, as you do. Got a little hungry and unfortunately Brendan
and i succomed to the desire for western food as you can see in
the photo below. Typically though, my chicken thingy was very spicey,
but still nice.
Then we were driven to the top of the highest
mountain in Pusan for a look at the city, which was quite a drive.
Very cold! Great view but i lost the use of my ears and nose with
the wind chill. On the way down we came around a bend in the amazingly
steep road and there just crossing the road was a deer, go figure.
Our driver Mr Kim was as amazed as we were. Finally got to bed at
The next day was a slow starter for us, got to
the Do Jang at 12 mid day after getting up at 10:30. We were supposed
to go shopping, but Mr Kim, the president wanted some photos taken
first. Turned into a mammoth photo session for Brendan, as i didn't
have my do bok.
Mr Kim wanted to use us to show all the pattern
moves and intermediate moves from white belt to 4th Dan. Brendan
posed for the pictures up to 1st Dan in a 3 hour photo
session and we worked together to make sure to the best that
we could that the moves and positions were correct...no pressure!
We are not sure why they don't use the legacy CD, but i guess they
want the english speaking guys in the photo's. It's my turn this
Sunday i think. Really makes you try to remember very hard everything
that you have been taught when someone is pointing a camera.
Then it was the drive home to Ulsan for
me, and back to work on Monday. I think this weekend we will have
some time off!
well the weekend is finally here, time for a
break. I have been walking around the village lots lately, just
to give me a change from the days teaching. Keep bumping into students
all the time, as you would expect. They are bringing me candy everyday
now, which is so sweet of them.
Yesterday we went to the primary school to pick
up Lee's student as per usual. However something seems to have subtly
changed. I have become a celebrity! Yes, i have finally achieved
village wide recognition as the TKD white guy who you can say hello
to, and he talks...please no pictures. We ended up in the main hall
which is where the Gumdo grading will take place next weekend, will
post some pictures of that! Anyway about 30 children followed us
in there. Lee was just showing me the place and all of a sudden
we were surrounded...well i was surrounded, he somehow managed to
slip away quietly. Must be some Gumdo special move that i haven't
been shown yet. I was trying to make the door, but the kids had
progressed from just saying hello, hello, HELLO, to deciding that
i couldn't hear them and they had better check that i was real by
grabbing me. Yep, i was mobbed by 30 primary school students. Lucky
for me it was only 30 or so. Fortunately i made the door and the
outside world only loosing my innocence! Mobbed by children, eat
your heart out Brad Pitt! I do believe that puts me one up on you
That night i was taken into Ulsan by Lee and
his wife, to a place they call Tombstone. It's a pub that is run
by foreign teachers here, so not populated by the locals. Besides,
it was very hard to find. I had a great time, met one Kiwi girl
on her first OE teaching experience...frankly she looked a little
shell shocked to me, had only been here for 2 days. (listen to me,
2 weeks and i am a veteren)
Lee and i partnered up for a game of pool with
Wolfgang and his ladyfriend, who was from Sth Africa, didn't catch
her name, but he was a german canadian...go figure with a name like
that. I think they were a couple of local pool sharks, but it must
of been beginners luck, as i hadn't played pool for ages, neither
had Lee, but we beat them...twice! Only problem was that there is
no antismoking law here, and man did my eyes water, and my clothes
and hair stink. Go the good old days back home, don't miss those
smokey pub filled nights one little bit. Next morning i had to wash
everything(actually i don't do my washing here, Mrs Lee won't let
me. Must be the celebrity thing...i don't know)
Later in the morning that day, Lee took me into
the bamboo forest to do some Gumdo. I was very impressed with his
skill in slicing, dicing and well just general lethalness. I felt
like i was on the set of the last samurai. Then he let me have a
go. Man, that thing is razor sharp, but it still took me 3 goes
to get the stroke and cut right. Simply awesome experience throwing
around a real sword, especially these ones(they are exactly like
a japanese katana which is probably familiar to us) That's 2 Brendan!!
So, today it was back to the Hapkido Do Jang
for another days work of running around like an idiot trying to
keep up with the children. Brendan is right about the foot thing
though. I have split all the skin on all my right foots toes, especially
the big toe which doesn't look pretty, like i kicked a sword or
something. Naturally the children find this fascinating. Have brought
some creme to try to soften them up again...makes putting your shoes
on interesting i can tell you, and we do that a lot here.
Anyway, had a good days training, finished at
9:00pm for a change, and was looking forward to catching up on some
sleep. Didn't get in from Tombstone till 1am (Horse threw a shoe,
had to shoot him, dog gone horse was no good anyhow...i think the
locals ate him?) Where was i, oh yes, sorry about that, went west
for a minute. Finished teaching at 9pm, and was then invited by
Gang, the Hapkido master to have a few lessons from him...ok...hmmm...no
Gang, i need those fingers...aaarrrghh...yes, that works well doesn't
it....grab you here, ok, but....oouuch..yes, that does work well
too, no no i am fine, learning heaps, thanks...what, dinner....ah,
ok sure, but i am only a little hungry.
He is trying so hard and has learn't enough english
to ask me if i am hungry, and a few other things as well. Doing
Hapkido doesn't need any english, yelling in pain is the same in
any language it would seem.
Well, instead of going to his place or a local
restuarant, we walked to another apartment block. Hhm, this could
be interesting i thought. I have had a day of teaching and i stink
from all the exercise, and we are going visiting. Ok, maybe they
will think it's a foreigner thing. Gang played a little joke and
knocked on the door, but ran and hid when it opened, leaving me
to say hello. I played along and just babbled a stream of english
at the poor woman, who looked so surprised she didn't know whether
to run or hit me. Gang practically fell over, he thought it was
a great joke. Well, inside were 11 other people, waiting for us
to arrive, all dressed up...bugger.
What followed was a dinner where i was the guest
of honour, which was nice. Had a great time, and one of the guests
spoke english well enough to translate. Then my hosts son came home
at about 10:30pm. I was sitting at the table with my back to the
door. He must have been used to his parents having guests around,
because they all said hello, then i turned around and spoke english,
well, same reaction, he jumped about 3 feet, and dissapeared into
his bedroom in embarrasment. Everyone thought it was a great joke.
He ended up sitting next to me for the night, and spoke a little
english, so we had a chat. He was a Manchester United football fan,
even had the t-shirt. The other boy there spoke good english so
translated for us, great time was had.
Home to be at 11:30, absolutely buggered i can
tell you. And tomorrow, back to Pusan to catch up with Brendan..Night
Dear Diary, Day 15
Well it's been over 2 weeks now and i feel that i am making steady
progress in my little part of Korea. The Gumdo students are very
interested in the TKD techniques that i have to show them, however
the Hapkido students are not as interested. They like the kicks
and hand techniques, but get bored very quickly with the patterns
and basics. I taught them reverse turning kicks last night, only
to see them surpass me with jumping in a few turns each...man, took
me years to get it semi right! I also had a self defence lesson
from Gang, the Hapkido master. It was good to see that the stuff
we use in ITFNZ is similar, so i wasn't too lost. They can kick
ok, but don't understand the technical motions related to the physics
of power. Unfortunately i don't speak Korean well enough to explain
it so i have to go slow with examples, which works kind of well.
I had sometime to wander yesterday, and found a market with lots
of stuff for sale, the wife would have loved it. Apart from the
fish of course. Every second shop is a fish stall, and there is
lots of varieties. Wandering through, a few of Lee's parents are
saying hello, and practicing their english, so i guess the advertising
that i do just by wandering around the town is working...hhmm, i
wonder if this is why he encourages me to get out and about!
I had dinner at a fish shop last night after Hapkido class. This
is the same shop that the old guy from north Korea owns. My 3 guests
and i had a great time, although no one spoke english. One of them
had an english/Korean dictionary on his phone! Conversation was
long, but we got there in the end. The food was fish, as you would
imagine, but Korean style, which meant it was raw. I'm ok with that,
i have sushi a lot at home. They slice it up and serve it with soy
sauce and wasabi. Although really they should just put out the wasabi
and add maybe two drops of soy sauce to it. Not the best when you
are trying to stop your nose from running due a cold.
I am also back to looking ahead when driving now, a minor victory.
I have come to several conclusions with Korean driving. One, there
is a set of road rules, but either no one can remember them, or
no one likes them, or no one cares about them. Intersections are
the best. If you get there first, you get to go through, doesn't
matter if you are crossing a main road or not, or if there are signs
or not. And strangely everyone stops, so this give way to the first
person there really works. No one gets upset, everyone cooperates,
and everyone is patient.
Speaking of getting upset, i was worried coming over that sooner
or later we would have some trouble with the WTF. Well, turns out
that fighting here is strictly forbidden. And if you do, there are
huge fines and jail time. So no one fights or gets upset really.
Except when you are late home, have been drinking and eating fish
with some NZer you just met, like one of my guests last night, whose
wife was a little irate at him...woman, they are the same all over
the world (no doubt i will pay the price for this comment when i
get home from my better half). Anyway, this huge fine for fighting
is probably a good idea with a country full of guys running around
with swords, sticks and what have you.
Have you seen the pictures of Asia where the people wear those
face masks. For pollution right. Well kind of, but not apparently
in Korea. About this time each year, the wind starts to blow through
the Gobi desert in China/Mongolia and it picks up these very fine
dust particles and dumps them on the Korean peninsular. So a lot
of people here choose to wear the surgical masks, and they are starting
to do so now. They tell me that the sunsets and rises get spectacular.
(Excuse me for a minute while i blow my nose again, for the milllionth
time since Monday. I imagine i am supporting thousands of toilet
paper factory workers worldwide at the moment...hhmmm, wonder if
i am contributing to child slave labour somewhere? will there be
a glut when i get better? unemployed slave children, what happens
to them?...why do these things bother me??)
Where was i, oh yes, the dust masks. Yesterday Lee asked me if
i wanted to go for a bush walk. He didn't say bush though, i just
put that in. So off we trekked. It's like walking through the pine
plantations at home. Korean pines are smaller and twisted, like
their lives they say. And the ground is so dry, no greenery anywhere.
Well, after walking up this huge mountain, i was surprised to see
an exercise area, complete with a weight bench, at a junction of
tracks and in the middle of nowhere. I kid you not. As we walked
more, there were more of them, here a triceps dip parallel bar,
there a situp bench, inclined on one side in case you find it too
easy of course. Lots of locals walk this track, and use the equipment...well,
there you go, surprised the heck out of me. But not too strange
when you think about it really. What was strange though, was that
every housewife out walking wore a mask, at least most of them did.
And there were burial mounds all along the track, with people kneeling
and paying their respects to their ancestors buried there...wonderful
OK, that's it for a day or two, off to lunch...again...please lord,
no more food!
Dear diary, finally some time to write.
Today is Saturday and a big day for Brendan and
i. We are being taken to Seokgulam Grotto, which is the cave where
the relief of Kumkan Yuksa is. A bit of a drive, but we got there
ok. The cave is about 700m up on the top of a mountain, in a valley
facing East to catch the rising sun. The main part of the cave houses
a large budda, with Kumkan in front of the budda to the right and
left, carved into the wall. Funnily enough, looks just like the
picture in the coloured belt syllabus. Awesome experience to be
there though. This particular cave is associated with Hwarang, so
it was only appropriate that Brendan and i do the pattern. We had
brought our Do Boks but left them in the car, so it was normal clothes,
but still a great feeling.
The Koreans are really looking after us well,
we don't pay for anything, despite our trying to. We also had these
cool tiles given to us, which are roofing tiles, where you write
a message on them and the go into a building, i dedicated mine to
the General, and Brendan to NZ.
Next, it was off to the tomb of Yoo-Sin, yes
the same as the pattern. You can see it in the background behind
me in Do Bok.This was quite an experience and moving. We got changed
and after lots of pictures we became the first TKD's (ITF) to perform
the pattern Yoo-Sin at the tomb of the late general. About 30 tourists
watched on and clapped when we finished.
Then it was off to more tombs of kings from the
Silla dynasty with a local guide who showed us around, great stuff
and really interesting. Lunch was at a traditional restaurant again,
and with lots of food. Then i joined Brendan to go back to Pusan
for the night and have the Korean specialty of Dog. Yes, that's
right, we ate dog. Actually it's rather bland. Then i was offered
some fish, which i ate and that was very nice. Turned out to be
the dreaded and very poisonous puffer fish. So the day was full
of 'different' foods again, and sights for the camera.
I stayed with Brendan at his hotel room for the
night and it was good to catch up.
The next day we had training with all the instructors
and then we talked with them about setting up their organisation,
grading procedures (we did a mock NZ style grading for them to show
them how we do it), and what it means to be an instructor. We urged
them to form their own syllabus, and ensure that their standard
of teaching was consistent.
Arriving back in Ulsan, i had dinner out with
my host family, then it was off to the traditional Korean baths.
Now this place was amazing. All the men are on one floor and the
woman on the floor below. Everyone is naked, about 100+ men, with
a huge complex of spas and saunas. I was a novelty from the beginning
as i am rather a bit more hairy than the average Korean, and when
they say my TKD tattoo, well that was then end. Koreans don't have
tattoos, and i had a TKD one. They were all bowing and calling me
sabum, rather embarrassing really. But i guess i soaked it up a
little, hasn't gone to my head though, unlike the cold from hell
that i have picked up from nowhere. Woke up this morning feeling
like crap to be honest.
well, routine is well established, and so is the cold weather.
Seems we are experiencing a bit of what the Koreans call 'Flower
cold', which means a spring cold snap referring to the flowers coming
in spring. The days are starting to roll together now. I get up
at 7:30, check email. Usually have 30 mins time to read and reply
so replies are short, sorry. Then it's breakfast and out the door
for work, open the Do Jang, errands, advertising, and then lunch.
Teach until 9-9:30 depending, then dinner. Home at 11-11.30 and
I had my first Hapkido lesson today, with what we call numchaka's.
I have got the basics, but seeing Gang the Hapkido master in action
is awesome. They use swords, staffs, bow and arrow, as well as their
arms and legs, not to mention throwing and falling. I have been
concentrating on two different areas in TKD teaching. One is teaching
fundamental movements so they can get the basics, and the other
half of the class is things like jumping, which they are really
good at, or pad work which they like. They are good at hitting the
pad, but their technique is off a little. Again though they learn
very quickly, great students to have.
Wandering around the village now is interesting, i know where to
go. There are so many hairdressers, i wonder how they all make their
money sometimes. And there is a restaurant in every second shop,
all serving different things. Speaking of food, i know Brendan and
i talk about it a lot, but it really is a big thing here. Todays
food was different, again! Cereal for breakfast, kind of like crunchy
nut cornflakes, then for lunch, well that was interesting. Lee orders
for me as all the menu's are in korean of course, so he suggested
i try something different. We had this sausage thing, cut up. Anyway
it wasn't sausage, it was a pigs intestine stuffed with noodles
and congealed blood, kind of like black pudding. I liked it although
it was quite spicy. Next came boiled pigs stomach and liver cut
into small pieces. I am ok with this kind of food coming from an
English family. But dinner was different. i was served the dreaded
Makkoli, and mindful of Brendans experiences, i paced myself, i'm
fine today, i only had half a bowlful. I also had bugs, yes, the
dreaded bugs finally appeared. These ones were silkworms, and i
had to try one. Well, to be honest, i pretty much finished the bowl,
they were yummy. Lee likes them as well, so there weren't many left.
Then his student arrived, the one going for his 3rd dan in Gumdo.
Part of their testing involves drawing the sword and cutting a piece
of bamboo that is mounted in the floor, standing upright. This is
harder than it looks, but it was awesome to watch how fast the sword
comes out, and the bamboo is sent flying...must have a go at this.
They have to have licence to have a proper sword here. Incidentally,
samauri are Korean descendents, originating here, not in Japan.
Lee's student is a well educated man in TKD, he knows all about
ITF and General Choi. We had a good chat through Lee. It was heartening
to hear that the General is reasonably well known here, even with
the WTF stranglehold. It is his opinion that they are falling apart
as well, which is good news! Also, he looks the splitting image
of Jackie Chan, i kid you not. Will get a photo to prove it, so
i had dinner with Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan...lots of laughter over
that one i can tell you.
Ok, today is Saturday, and we are off sightseeing, so i should
have some more photo's to put up soon.
Disneyland look-a-like kindergarten on our first day here.
Hapkido Do Jang, notice the name on the pants, this is the name
of the club here, Christine might like that.
My room in my hosts house that their little girl gave up for me
Undercover police van light of one of the WTF instructors learning
ITF in Pusan.
Last night i got to watch the seniors doing gumdo,
using real swords(similar to the Japanese Katana), simply awesome.
There is no way you could get near these guys to kick or block,
pretty serious stuff. They have Tuls just like TKD, where they have
to have a certain form, arms in the right place, hand changing,
sword moving in the correct arc or strike. I had a lesson, and it's
not as easy as they make it look. I should have known, i remember
my first night at TKD, with Miss Holmes and Mr Graham teaching me
Saju Jerigi. I was a beginner all over again, which is good.
I taught at the other Do Jang today, similar
amount of students, but a little older on average. They practise
Hapkido, and these guys know how to fall. The instructor there doesn't
speak english, but we get our message across with gestures so it's
ok, although sometimes we just laugh and throw our arms up when
we can't say what we want. His wife has studied NZ intently and
has so many questions, trouble is she doesn't speak english either,
so it's quite funny sometimes. But they have both started to speak
more now. I am learning a little Korean, but i spend all my time
teaching english. Although i can now say that my stomach is full,
which is probably the most valuable words i know!
The Hapkido classes are similar in length, 6
classes of 1 hour each, only there they play soccer in between,
so i don't get much rest. TKD and teaching games and fun classes
has become my normal working day, which is what i am here for. I
taught my first TKD lesson in the Hapkido class, for 30 minutes.
They learned Saju Jerigi, both sides perfectly in that time, they
learn very fast. Soon they will be ready for their first ITF grading.
After class, i was taken out to dinner at 9 pm,
and foolishly found myself in a chillie eating and drinking contest.
Yes, i know what you are saying, but honour was at stake and i had
to make the effort. Did ok in both areas, but lost of course. They
appreciated the chili effort and the shop owner wouldn't let me
eat another, he took pity on me i think. We had quite a few laughs
and i had a great night, although i am feeling a little seedy it
seems. But not as bad a Brendan; i was shown a picture of him having
acupuncture yesterday, and he didn't look comfortable at all. Must
remember not to have that stuff.
While waiting for dinner, i was standing on the
street looking at the fish shop. There are many of them here as
you would think, but they all have these large fish tanks outside
which they just grab what fish they want, and there you go, fresh
fish. Anyway, this old guy comes over and ask me what i am doing
in Korean, i just said i don't speak Korean. Then he started to
speak english, very rusty, but in 5 mins he was speaking ok. He
was in his 60's and was a north korean, he had gotten stuck on the
wrong side of the border during the korean war, and separated from
his family. Quite a story, and i enjoyed talking to him.
Today it was back to the Gumdo Do Jang, where
the children knew me, so it was an easier class to teach, and they
were quiet and better behaved. Turns out Lee had given them all
the message while i was away at the Hapkido Do Jang, and it was
much easier to teach. Almost like home. I taught the same class,
Saju Jerigi, and they picked it up quickly as well, especially Tom,
my hosts' son. I had a little extra time after class, so i kept
teaching him, and he is one of those students we all want, he learns
so fast, and just keeps practising all the time, so i was amazed
when in the space of another 20 mins, he had learned Saju Makgi
and Chon Ji.
These guys will be a world force again, mark
my words. It may take some time, but Brendan and i have made a good
start here. I teach by example, as most don't speak conversation
english, so all moves have to be acted out, or i have to physically
move the child.
The children are saying hello to me in the streets
now. Where we are is a smaller village, next to the city of Ulsan,
so i think the locals are getting to know me, or hearing about me.
The children also bring me chocolate now at class, it's so cute.
My hosts home is small by our standards, about
the size of a small 2 bedroom flat, but it's warm and cosy, and
of course scrupulously clean all the time. Excuse the spelling,
i can't find the spell check on this computer, and while there is
a dictionary, it's in Korean. To save space there are some interesting
things here, one of which is the dishwasher, which is placed over
the sink, like a cupboard. It's very long, but only about 60-70
cm high, fascinates me for some reason.
I have discovered a lot about the WTF here. 90%
of their students are children. It appears that most Koreans don't
continue with their training when they go to university, as they
don't have the time. Neither do the adults as they don't have time
either. So their attitude is that while the children are learning
a martial art, as far as their parents are concerned they are getting
exercise, which they view as being good for their health, it doesn't
matter what art they are learning. Gumdo is different as it is more
serious, and not as popular so there are less Don Jangs. So the
other teachers tend to concentrate on making the children exercise,
not learn techniques. I guess it's a case of supply meeting demand,
and this is their income as well so they must keep the parents happy.
Ok, that's it for a while, off to classes this
every corner holds something new, as well as
a WTF Do Jang of course. They are everywhere, 6 million practicing
BB's and counting..
Where i am in Ulsan, i am practically the only
westerner. However today i was coming out of the Do Jang, when low
and behold, there was an american on the stairwell! I practically
fell all over the guy, talking english so fast. He is here teaching
english, of course. It was great not to have to speak slow! He is
taking me to a westerners pub this weekend so i am very excited,
as there are other Kiwi's there...hope there are no Australians!
Ok, at the moment they would be good to see as well.
This trip is changing me. I am thinking all sorts
of different things, which is great. I expected to find it different
here, and it is. My favorite trick to date...saying hello loudly
to school students on their way home. Some of them even jump, then
laugh, then get all embarrassed. Most say hello back, and every
adult around stares. I like this game.
I have also fallen in love with the toilet...no,
not like that. But it is the only chair i see for my working day,
and i am always sore from squatting. Yay the toilet, the toilet
Oh, my working day. Well it starts at 7am when
i am woken up for breakfast. Then we head out to do errands, look
at gear, update the website, visit other Do Jangs, and eat, oh yes,
do we eat!
Then at 1pm i start teaching. 6-7 classes each
1 hour long, with 30 mins break between. It's now 9:30 and i have
been let off the last class, as there are only 4 students and Lee
is being kind!
During class is a great time for me, as i don't
have to sit a lot. Also the classes are very difficult. I never
thought i would say that i am having difficulty teaching children,
but lord i am having difficulty. They talk constantly, and argue
with each other, and sometimes disagree with the instructor, although
not me yet. This so alien to classes at home, but i guess it makes
it more challenging. It gives me time to practise my catchphrase
"it's not wrong, just different".
And today after each class, the children have
insisted that i walk with them around the block. They love watching
me playing the 'Hello' game, and laugh very loudly. They also ask
me the name for everything they see, and that's a lot. I am losing
my voice a little today, but i am sure it will toughen up.
The Koreans also cannot pronounce my first name,
so they just call me Mr Brown, works for me! By the way, Brendan's
last name 'Doogan', means bandana/cap. Lord knows what he is being
called at the moment. And the lucky bugger is still in a hotel,
not that i am complaining at all, i love my host family, they are
so accomadating...always making sure i am not hungry. The little
girl, Jerry, follows me everywhere, she is just the sweetest and
so pretty. And she speaks english pretty well.
Ok, that's all for today, i have been teaching
all afternoon and i am now asked to go and learn some Gumdo, Korean
sword fighting..with real swords. Boys, eat your hearts out!
today i am traveling back to Pusan to take a
days training session with all the instructors. I am excited, and
a little nervous, but looking forward to catching up with Brendan
and seeing what he has been doing. It's still raining, spring is
here and apparently it will rain a lot now, typical.
Training with the instructors was different to
say the least. Here it is common for students to talk during class,
something Brendan and i found hard to cope with, but hey, it's their
country. Funny though, we are more disciplined in class than the
Koreans...irony is a strange thing sometimes. Also, they insisted
on taking breaks all the time...ok, we can work with what we have.
Most of the class was spent on teaching the first 3 patterns, signwave,
and 1,2,3 step sparring. They are so enthusiastic, and very talented.
To start with there was no sign wave, by the end of the class, everyone
just about had it...look out world champs in 5 years!
At 5 pm we finished up, and i headed back with
Sangdo to Ulsan. He has changed his name on me, and wants to be
called Lee, so ok, i can call him Lee. Apparently it has something
to do with Gumdo and his martial art. He looks a little like Bruce
Lee anyway, so it works for me.
Lunch today was in a traditional part of Pusan.
We were taken there by one of the instructors in his van, which
turned out to be an undercover police van. Even had the Hawaii fiveO
flashing light which he could put out the window on to the roof
when he wanted to get to the donut shop in a hurry...i'm still laughing.
These guys don't talk a lot of english, but they are so friendly,
and want to talk to us all the time. I am finding i don't get much
time to myself. Below are some observations i have made since being
Koreans are a very shy people, and seem to find
it very funny when i say hello to them. Although they all speak
basic english, like hello, bye, etc.
I found out today after meeting Lee's wife finally,
she is an english teacher with good english. Anyway, they have two
adorable children, a girl 5, and a boy 8. They asked me to call
them Tom and Jerry...yes after the cartoon characters, whom the
children adore. Jerry is missing a tooth, so i asked her if the
tooth fairy had it, thinking she would say yes or no, not yet etc.
Well my mistake, there is no tooth fairy in Korea. They have a little
ceremony and then throw the teeth up on to the roof! I can imagine
looking down on lots of korean roofs and seeing hundreds of little
white teeth. It's for the birds to take away and then to bring back
better and bigger teeth for the kids. What a great tradition!
I hate to generalise, but i am going to anyway.
I can see why Koreans are such bad drivers. and since i am here
and see everyone driving, i can see why. I have taken to sitting
in the back whenever i can, which isn't often as i am ushered to
the front seat every time. I tried to write my journal to avoid
looking at the road ahead, and the other drivers...best not to look,
somehow it feels safer strangely. But this makes me carsick after
a while, so now i just look out the side window a lot and prey.
So far so good, and i am not a religious person, but i might be
in 3 months!
Please lord, no more food. I think i will have
to have a catchup day soon, where i eat nothing. I just don't see
how they can eat so much and not get fat. I have also given up asking
what i am eating, it is better not to know. I just eat it if it
tastes ok, no matter what it looks like.
The strangest thing here though is that i don't
know from one minute to the next where i am going to be next. I
am asked to get into the van, then out of the van into a hall where
a class is waiting to be taught. Then afterwards i get changed and
back into the van, and we arrive at yet another restaurant...ok
just smile and eat. My stomach has recently staged a cout d'tat.
I think it now hates me, and i am not even going to go where my
bowels feel about me. I think that if they could leave, they would..traitors.
But it keeps me on my toes i can tell you. I am also sore everyday,
sitting on the floor all the time is going to kill me i am sure.
If it doesn't, i will have buns of steele. But it is especially
hard on the knee joints, and my feet are asleep again as i type
So much is different, and i can honestly say
that this is such a cool adventure, not knowing what is around the
corner next..it's exciting. If you are thinking of coming, do it!
FROM MR BROWN
Part 1, Day 1 (pics to come later i hope)
Well, finally an hour to spare. It's been one heck of a ride so
far, it's day 3 of being in Korea and Brendan and i haven't stopped.
So, let me take you back to the beginning and let you all know what
this 'adventure' has been like!
I met up with Brendan at the airport and we said
our goodbyes to respective friends. It was a long flight, and we
spent it talking about what we were expecting to find in korea.
We came to the conclusion that we really had no idea at all what
was in store and we would just play it by ear.
We arrived in Bangkok tired and with sore backsides
from all the sitting. It was late in the evening and we had 3 hours
to wait. Bangkok airport is immense, and very new, so it was a long
taxi ride in the plane. Not many shops were open so we decided to
find our departure lounge and try to get some sleep there, rather
than falling asleep in the economy waiting room and having to run.
It was a long walk to our terminal, about 700 metres in a straight
line down one wing of the airport (There were 6 wings in total,
on 3 levels). Getting there we found no one, which was a little
alarming, but we were sure we were in the right place, and slowly
it began to fill up with Koreans going home. We got stared at a
The ticket lady wanted our tickets before we
were allowed on the plane, but we didn't have any, which was a worry
as she kept asking for the ticket, and she was getting louder and
louder and more irate each time she asked me. I tried to explain
we had electronic tickets, but it wasn't sinking in much. She finally
got the message though, and were allowed to get on the flight. A
much smaller plane, and with every other passenger a Korean, we
stood out like the proverbial. We were too tired to care, and i
managed to get 2 hours sleep i think. Brendan couldn't for some
reason. Funniest part was the bus ride out to the plane. We walked
all that way to the departure lounge, only to have to get on a bus
and go all the way back, giving way to planes that were crossing
the runway in front of us, to find out plane. It's not wrong, just
We arrived in Pusan at 7:30 in the morning and
headed for customs. We had spent much time talking about what to
say at customs as we didn't want any trouble saying we were there
to teach(rumours had abounded that the WTF was trying to prevent
our entry into Korea), so we just declared ourselves to be on a
holiday. We shouldn't have of bothered, nobody asked us anything,
looked at our bags, or did more than a cursory glance at our passports...all
that worry for nothing. Getting the luggage took a while, we had
to wait for all the Koreans to get theirs as they crowded the carousel
and we decided rather than to push, we would just wait.
Finally with bags in tow, we went through the
doors, to be greeted by a large welcoming committee of about 7,
including the President, which was very nice. We were made very
welcome and they carried everything for us, kind of like royalty,
but not really!
Next, a crazy drive to the Do Jang. Wow, i am
not driving in this country, no way!
At the Do Jang we talked to our hosts and found
out a little about them, and they about us. We were then taken to
lunch, which was very spicy, and our first taste of what was to
come. At this stage all we wanted to do was sleep, but all they
wanted to do was to show us around!
So, sight seeing it was. First up was a temple
and a tomb, which was fantastic. All the classic pagoda lines and
traditional houses. Then we were off to another Do Jang which was
much larger and had none other than a disco ball in the middle of
the roof, nice touch we thought. We spent some time there training
and trying to loosen up the body a little, but to be honest we just
wanted to sleep. It was then we found out we were to stay the night
in a traditional Korean house, sleeping on the floor on tatami mats
and cushions. YaY! Bring it on, this was going to be great. So we
were dropped off and told to go to dinner at 6, and be at breakfast
the next morning and then ready to go to work. Ok, we said, were
Well, dinner was an experience. The menu was
in Korean, none of the ladies dressed so fine spoke english, and
we didn't have a clue what to order, no pictures either. So, after
some confusion, i took the plunge, closed my eyes and pointed my
chubby digit at the page and said we will have that one. The lady
looked at us with a big smile, and with lots of Sum-nedas, we eagerly,
or should that be tentatively waited for the food to arrive.
First course was soup, which was yellow..looks
ok, but what does it taste like. Yes, pumpkin soup, so far so good,
i must have selected the right menu. No such luck. What followed
was a dinner of some 19 courses, including (Brendan wrote them all
down, but we are separated now) eel, chilies, kumchi(pickled cabbage
that has been buried for 3 months), whole baked fish, some gastropod
shellfish thing, shitake mushrooms (i think that was what they were),
whole baby prawns with shells on, which were crunchy, dried seaweed
pieces like very thin pastry and a lot of other very spicy meals.
We did our best, and managed to waddle back to our rooms.
Then it was straight to sleep, although i did
wake up at 4am and couldn't sleep again, curses to jetlag!
Breakfast was more of the same food, only less
quantity. The food is the same at each meal here, no cereal, all
meals are fully cooked 3-4 courses. I feel so bloated.
Part 2, day 2
Sleeping on the floor on a futon is not as romantic
as it sounds, not that Brendan wasn't charming, but lets face it,
there is nothing like a nice soft bed. Anyway, enough complaining.
The traditional house is amazing. Sliding paper doors, heated floor,
all wood and decorated in traditional with the staff dressed traditionally.
Boy, were we spoiled, and we loved it.
We were picked up at 10am, and it was off to
work. Teaching TKD, no. Well, not exactly. Today was all about marketing,
the hard sell i suppose you could say. We were taken to a kindergarten,
but not an ordinary kindy, no no, this was a finishing school. All
the kids in traditional clothes, or suites and ties for the boys
and dresses for the girls. The owners were immaculate, and the place
amazing, the photo's don't do it justice at all.
We were paraded around, introduced as the English
instructors, and in general made to feel welcome. What was really
transpiring though, was the first attempt by the ITF, to muscle
in on the WTF and start claiming back students to the true Taekwon-Do
of General Choi. We realised that the ITF here in Korea has it tough.
They are small, have to make do with using a lot of other martial
arts Do Jangs and students, just to get started. So if we have to
put up with feeling like we are on display, so be it, at least we
are on display in Korea!. We made two stage appearances in the 'Kindy'
the first in clothes, and the second in Do Bok. The president here
has a plan of getting the students young, under 6 years, and bringing
them up to ITF, so that they stay. He is using the english lesions
as his hook for parents. It's very commercialized, which is a little
strange, but if it helps grow ITF, then we are happy to be a part
Lunch again today was huge, Brendan managed to
finish his, but i couldn't...please, no more food. I hoped that
being here would loose me weight, no such luck so far!
In the afternoon we went back to the Do Jang
to wait for another instructor to arrive, who was Sangdo. He is
a Korean Gumdo(sword fighting) master, as well as Hapkido. He speaks
good english and he questioned us for a while. Then, suddenly we
were to leave spearately. I was to go with Sangdo to Ulsan, about
an hour away, while Brendan was to stay in Pusan to teach there.
So. we said our goodbyes and i got inthe car with my homestay family,
or just Sangdo as it were.
Arriving in Ulsan after getting lost twice(he
blamed me as he couldn't drive and try to speak english as well!)
we went to his Do Jang. He dropped me right in it and i took two
classes of children that night, just playing games with them in
English, making them laugh and generally having fun. In between
we had dinner. Yay, more food! I had the jellyfish, only i didn't
know it was jellyfish until he told me at the end. Okay, i get it,
make the white guy eat this yucky stuff, smile like you don't know
what you are doing and act like you don't speak english. Well done
Sangdo, you think you got me, well you didn't. I actually liked
the jellyfish, mainly because it didn't take the roof of my mouth
off for a change. Oh, the great thing with spicy food all the time,
it burns twice. Kids, ask your parents what that means.
Then he had a phone call from the other Hapkido
master, who wanted to meet me. It was already 11 pm and to be honest,
i wanted to sleep. But work first, so we went to meet him. He was
still teaching! Then i was invited to his house to meet his family,
my first look at a proper korean house. They didn't speak a word
of english, and Sangdo tells me i am to spend the later half of
my stay with them, now that will be interesting!
They were so lovely and got out snack food for
me. No, not chips and dip, don't be silly. Wahoo, at least i recognised
the strawberries. But the other stuff was dried fish skin, a delacasy...with
scales removed of course. I think i got away with eating the whole
plate of strawberries, maybe no body noticed? Maybe they were being
Finally to bed at midnight.
Today, Sangdo's wife and family are still in
Pusan. She goes each year at this time to attend a 2 day memorial
service for her father. Ancestors and family are a big thing here.
We leave at 9am and head to the Do Jang. I don't know what i am
doing today, but i am asked to get changed and meet back at the
van in Do Bok. Ok, i'll play the game, where are we going?
We arrive at the elementary school(Primary school
for us), and i have to stand on the street corner, accosting parents
arriving and handing out pamphlets on Hapkido and gumdo, in my Do
Bok. Today i learn all about sell, sell, sell and how hard the ITF
here really have it. As part of growing ITF, they are doing a deal
with some other instructors, of which Sangdo is one, to teach Hapkido,
TKD, and Gumdo, all in english, of which Brendan and i are an integral
part. It feels funny handing out brochures in Korean, trying to
get parents attention, although to be honest there were literally
dozens of other businesses doing the same thing. In places the parents
had to fight their way through just to get to the safety of the
There are also two WTF schools selling as well,
and i am afraid i am getting some unfavourable looks from a master
and 3 students. Not that i am worried, Koreans are too polite to
make a scene in public. And Sangdo looks like Bruce Lee anyway,
so all is good! Afterwards, i am bundled into a van with the other
non english speaking master, to go to another school to hand out
his stuff. I can see why they wanted us here at this time. To have
missed this opportunity would be very bad for business. First day
of school is a very big day for the kids and families, and a lot
of businesses try to cash in on it.
I get lots of stares, and lots of children come
up and try their english on me, but i am used to children and have
a great time with them, trying to get Sangdo more customers. Don't
know how successful we will be, but time will tell.
ITFNZ are offering several opportunities
for senior members to work overseas in the home of Taekwon-Do - Korea.
Applications for the positions have now closed, and we will be announcing
the successful applicants soon.
ITF Taekwon-Do in South Korea is
small, of course in competition to the WTF strong hold. ITF Korea have
a strategy to grow quickly by taking advantage of the popularity
in Korea to learn English.
For this reason, ITF Korea have requested ITFNZ assist
them by sending up to three Instructors to teach Taekwon-Do classes (in
English) to the Korean people in Busan City. The main project is to combine
English conversation class with Taekwon-Do, not only for young kids as
an after-school program but also adults as a recreation program.
This is a most exciting development in ITFNZ, and later
in the year we hope to announce details of another project for Canada.
This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for some of our keen Instructors
as I'm sure you will agree.
Details of Placements
Between 6 and 12 months
Number of people
Up to three
Men or women
who have a red belt or higher, preferably at the age from
Plus living costs, food and transportation (including
airfares to and from Korea)
Purpose of the invitation
Taekwon-Do in Korea, which is the mother land of ITF.
Each Instructor will be assigned a local Instructor
as an assistant who will attend the classes with you,
translate when required and so on.
To visit historical sites in Korea, like Kyung-Ju,
where Hwa-rang used to practice martial arts long time
ago. To participate in winter and Summer Camps for
free. To enable to participate in the Korea Championship
as staff or a player. To get Korean traditional ceramic
Jar and tea pots.
To visit places where the names of every pattern
derived, and practice there as you feel the atmosphere
of historical sites. To get a belt and Do-bok with
the Korean name on them