Hi! My name is Gordon White, I run the Blue Wave Taekwondo branch in Burlington Vermont. If you are interested in The Blue Wave Taekwondo Schools, please visit our Web site: The Blue Wave Taekwondo Association

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Korea 1991 - 92 and free Paddle Kicking

In 1991, I traveled to Korea to live for a year as a university student at Yonsei University.

Grandmaster Lee arranged for me to train at Sung Shil High School as it was being coached by one of his students, Grandmaster Lee Bae Gun. This high school was not as prestigious as some other famous Korean Taekwondo high school teams, but the training was great, and I spent about 25 hours a week at the gym with a group of dedicated athletes.

The Team (can you pick me out? ;-) Coach Bae Gun Lee and myself.

A friend of mine, Joe Anastasi had graduated from college, was painting houses and working towards his black belt (he was a red belt at the time). I convinced him to come to Korea for the last 4 months of my trip. He did and joined me at the High School. Joe was suppose to be getting ready for his black belt testing at Kukkiwon at the end of his stay. The High School training was a competition team, we trained for sparring, so Joe, relied on myself for Poomsae practice in the basement of the Yonsei Dorm and once in a while at the Yonesei Foreigners Taekwondo program. (BTW: He was successful in his testing.)

From Left to Right, Joe, GM Bae Gun Lee, GM Tae Sung Lee, me.

I recently purchased this DVD called Taekwondo Training in Korea. The reason I purchased it (other then it was only $19.95)was because I thought it featured Kuk Hyun Chung. Widely considered the best Taekwondo competitor of all time. (Much argument will ensue now that Steven Lopez has matched his World Championship record, and has two Olympic Gold to his one.) While in Korea I had a chance to take a seminar with Kuk Hyun Chung. He was very impressive, and humble and....scary. Fast, powerful, truley in a league of his own, and he was retired at this point!.

This is after the seminar with Kuk Hyun Chung, he is in the middle, my roommate Richard is to his left, I am to his right. I am not sure who the student all the way on the left is, but all the way to the right is Peter Lee, now the Master Instructor for the Harvard Sport Taekwondo Program.

Watching this DVD encouraged me to look at a video that was made on one of Joe and my last days training at Sung Shil I have included a short clip of some free paddle kicking we did that day as a lead in to the next paddle kicking drill I will cover on the blog.

A better Quality version of the video can be seen here (8MB)

There is so much more to say about the year in Korea, I will come back to this topic, and include some more pictures and video. I developed lifelong friendships while there, not just with Joe, but, my roommate Richard, and Scott Trafton,(
many of you know Scott) who also spent the last 4 months of the year at Yonsei, and got his black belt at the Kukkiwon.


Amanda said...

I am used to seeing myself as the 외국인 in photos. Seeing someone else was a bit jarring!

Speaking of Korea...

If I remember correctly, you asked about the teafields and the Kukkiwon demo.

The Kukkiwon demo held at the palace (info on the Kukkiwon's website, front page, "taekwondo for foreigners" program) is really, really awesome. I've seen it twice (both times on Saturday) now and it was slightly different each time.

But both times it was amazing. It's about an hour long and just neat. Lots of breaking, as you probably expect.

Photos are on my website under the Photo Gallery tab.

I really liked the trip to the teafields and so did my parents. It was a bit of a long day, but it was nice. Trip cost was about $60 a person. We took the train from Yongsan to I-Can't-Remember-Where. Then we took a tour hour bus ride to a beach, where we had lunch (not included). Then we went to the teafields for about an hour (?). Then we got on the bus for a bit more and went to a famous road surrounded by Metasequoia trees. After that it was back in the bus again and onto the bamboo forest. Back in the bus, a brief dinner (price not included), then back to the train station.

We were the only foreigners and misunderstood a few things but a couple of college girls took care of us (which was good, we needed it at one point!). If you have a Korean speaker with you, it would be easier. Also, a Korean will need to book for you.

I will eventually have photos up on my website. Let me know if you want more info.

Gordon White said...

thanks for the great info amanda! we will check out the demo for sure - not sure about the tea fields..as much as I would like to do this tour, we don't have all that much time and have a lot of things we want to do...sounds awesome though.