Visiting Korea

Earlier this year, my day job gave me the opportunity to speak at a conference in Seoul, South Korea.  Given my affinity for Taekwondo, I had to go for it.  While I’ve traveled in Asia many times, I had never been to Korea.  I thought it would be fun here to share a few thoughts from my trip.

Somehow, my trips to Asia always really start out like the movie Lost in Translation where I’m up in the middle of the night the first night and wind up hanging out in the top-floor hotel bar.  Fortunately, Asian mega-cities tend to be visually stunning at night.  Here is a couple of quick captures.

The next morning, I got the chance to check out a shrine near my hotel.

At the end of the trip, things worked out in my schedule that my flight didn’t leave until evening, but I had no morning meetings.  That left me some time to explore.  I hadn’t planned for time to do any touring, so I had to figure out something I could do in just a few hours.  Of course, I wanted to see some real Korean taekwondo!  I did some googling and found there were places where forigners could sign up to train for short durations, but I couldn’t set it up on short notice.  However, I did find that “World Taekwondo Headquarters” was only about a 45 minute walk from my hotel.  Now I had a destination!

The Kukkiwon, as it is known is the certification body for all WTF black belts, and various championships are held there.  Given that I’m training in ATA, and not WTF, I don’t have any direct affiliation with this place, but I just decide to invite myself in anyway.  I wasn’t disappointed!  I walked in on the middle of a black belts-only seminar with at least 100 black belts training.  It was fascinating and they put on quite a show!  I spent about an hour hanging out and soaking in the environment.  While I couldn’t figure out how to get myself an invitation to join in, no one seemed to mind that I observed.  It was a great time.

The really good news is that the people I went to Korea to meet for work seemed to like what I had to say, and I’m hoping to get myself invited back.  When I do, I’ll plan to set aside some more time on my schedule to do some real Korean taekwondo training while I’m there.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. David Gilmour
    May 30, 2011 @ 19:00:50

    Hi zzninjasteve,

    This is kctkd from Twitter in case you didn’t know. I have been reading this blog off and on, when I have time. My Blackbelt is from the WTF. There is nothing wrong with ATA style of Tae Kwon Do or the WTF style for that matter. The roots are from the same place, right? When I chose to start TKD years ago, I wanted a traditional Korean Master just like my brother had when he was training and his school just happened to be World Tae Kwon Do Federation certified. Besides, my brother would have killed me if I didn’t go to a WTF certified school. lol

    One of the Master’s that I look up to and follow on Twitter is Master Mike Chat, who is one of the founders of XMA which is affiliated with ATA. His work, I think, is totally brilliant.

    I was practicing one day in a racquetball court at a gym one day and an Asian person entered the court. We talked for a bit. He used to study some Chinese style of martial art. But he left me with this, “There is no bad style of martial art, just bad martial artists.” I thought it was pretty profound.

    Talk to you soome and will see your posts on Twitter,



  2. Steve W
    May 30, 2011 @ 22:31:03

    David, thanks for the kind note! I really appreciate it.


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