9/21/2006

More feedback

Here is another message of feedback about The Diaries from an American female who has now relocated to Korea for Taekwondo:


I just started skimming/picking through your book. I've only read the chapter on finding a studio, but I had to drop you a line.

I'm another teacher here in Korea. I taught in the States for three years and always wanted to teach abroad. When my fiance dumped me out of the blue at the end of the school year, I knew it was time to move.

I chose to come to Korea for a few reasons (I'd had friends who taught here, I didn't want to go to China, etc), one of which was I had studied tae kwon do back home and thought, "If I'm going to teach in Asia, why not teach in the homeland of my sport?"

I just read the chapter about finding a studio here. I came here just hoping to find a studio with a Master willing to take on some foreign woman who wouldn't treat me as if I were breakable. Yet I didn't want someone who was so serious I was going to get screamed at for every little mistake.

I live in Gwangmyeong and managed to find a studio I like. Not surprisingly, I'm the oldest person at the studio (at 25 western age), the only foreigner at the studio (I like that), and one of the few women. My class runs from 8 to 10 pm and features a lot of 17 and 18 year old boys. Luckily, most of the 17 and 18 year old boys are pretty serious (as serious as the 15-17 year old boys were back home) and they're friendly and helpful to me.

Unlike your experience, Master asked me what I'd studied back home (my studio back home did both WTF and ITF forms), started me one form back and made me work from there. I was surpised about that, but thankful.

When we met, I told him I'd only studied for two hours a week back home (see, I did not come here taking this very seriously) and to go to 10 hrs a week straight away would kill me. He started me off with 6 hours a week and I've moved up to 8 because I ended up enjoying it so much. I'll probably eventually admit that my Friday nights are not as exciting as I want to think they are and add that night, too.

He speaks *very little* English and I've only been here two months, so my Korean is barely existant. Yet he makes sure--somehow--that I understand what's going on. Some Saturdays there are activities--soccer games, hiking, tourneys--and he always makes sure I know about them. When I need to bring my running shoes for class, he gives me a call and says, "Amanda, daligi." He's a fifth dan and the only person who teaches at the studio. He's a good guy, someone I would respect even if he weren't my master.

I am still amazed at how quickly he moves me through belts, but at least he is picky with me. He doesn't let me get away with sloppy work. A friend from my studio back home had taught here and started TKD here; her instructor let her get away with really sloppy work because she was the only foreigner.

The ONE thing Master did for me/about me that made me uncomfortable was change the entire training schedule for the month of August to accomodate me. He was switching to that weird summer schedule, starting class at 6, but I couldn't get there due to work. So he changed it to 6:30. Oh I HATED that, but the one studiomate I could talk to about it (who I no longer see, since she works) assured me that nobody minded. Still. How embarassing.

I wish that I could communicate more with Master to understand the art part of TKD, but so far I can't. The thing I like the most is that I feel like the studio has embraced me and I've embraced them. The job I have here is horrible and on the days that I get really homesick, the only thing that keeps me from really hating Korea is thinking about how good my studio and studiomates are to me and for me.

It's late and I'm babbling at this point, but I just wanted to drop you a line and let you know that I'm excited to read the rest of your book.

1 comment:

Andy Jeffries said...

OK, then as you won't take payment for the book, is there anything you require for your practice such as a new dobok, belt, hogu?

I really enjoyed the read (so much so that I'm planning on training at Sangrok when I go to Korea in 2008) and would like to show my appreciation in some way more than just "thanks" ;-)

Andy Jeffries
lulu@andyjeffries.co.uk