11/04/2006

No Hanmadang

This week has been very busy, and it's meant I've been lapse in my 2nd Dan preparation training...

Firstly, on Thursday, I went to the Kukkiwon in Seoul expecting to see the Hanmadang. I took the one hour subway ride over to the Kukkiwon, but as I approached the place, I immediately became aware of an absence of traffic and no promotional banners over the gates, and discovered that for the first time the Hanmadang was not being held at the Kukkiwon. I guess I should have double-checked the venue in advance, but I could have sworn I saw an advertisement for the Hanmadang just this autumn listing the venue as the Kukkiwon.

Instead, this year, the event has taken place down in Muju town as a promotion for the new WTF headquarters which are being built there. While Muju is located in about the centre of South Korea, it's really not a convenient place to access. It's essentially a well-known ski resort town, which means that you need to do transfers on various shuttle buses to get there. From Seoul, it could take up to five hours to travel there by bus, so that's a whole day return trip. Perhaps it suits people living in cities like Daegu and Daejeon, but for the majority of the population living in and around Seoul, and for the majority of visitors who arrive in Korea via Incheon airport, the new location of Muju is a hassle to get to. It will only be convenient to access should they have a special bus service just to the Taekwondo venue.

Oh well, while I don't have any 2006 Hanmadang pix to show, at least I do have a taster from pictures of last year's Hanmadang on this site below. There's probably a big similarity to the types of demonstrations on show. The only difference will be that it won't have been so crowded down in Muju.

So...as I had time to kill seeing as there was no Hanmadang, I decided to get my flight tickets. December 29th is the date when the whole Korean adventure is now set to end. I haven't yet mentioned this fact on this site until now as I was having to wait until my resignation was formally accepted by my workplace - that took about 2 months! I don't know if I am doing the right thing to resign before my contract is over next summer, but I have a couple of pressing medical problems, and didn't know whether they could hold out until next summer. Therefore, I made a really, really, really, hard decision to end things by the end of this year. The fact that I don't have a home in the UK meant that I couldn't just go for a temporary visit during the vacation and come back. In the UK, for a temporary visit, I would have to stay in a hotel. There is literally no hotel room in the UK these days for less than $200 per night. At that rate, I would have spent at least a couple months' worth of salary just for a month's visit to the UK. That isn't worth it. So, instead, I have to make a clean break and commit myself to at least 6 months by renting someone's apartment which will be the most practical option for me. So, that's why I thought I should try and take all the black belt tests I could before I finished here. Even though I'm not quite ready for the rankings, I reckoned that it would be nearly impossible to get them in the UK, so could have wasted all this training if I left Korea without taking the tests. From initial research, it seems that Hapkido at least, is virtually non-existent in the UK, and even then, finding an IHF-affiliated school is impossible.

I've been training steadily for the 2nd Dan test thus far. However, this week hit a low when I got a total of about 10 hours of sleep vs 10 hours of Taekwondo class. I had moved into a 'Goshiwon' (dormitory) to save extra money in preparation for leaving my job. However, even though the temperature outside is still quite mild, the building has an underfloor heating system which creates sauna like conditions inside the rooms. Korean women like this hot condition. They think it's necessary for good body circulation. I am willing to accept that I need to bend to their cultural ways to some extent. However, when the thermometer in my room reads over 40 degrees celsius, and there is no ventilation, I am tossing and turning in perspiration all night long. The conditions are literally akin to a living hell. When I tried to open the fire escape door to allow in some wonderful fresh, cool breeze, the girls living on the same floor told me to close it because they 'felt cold'. I feel really angry when I hear them say this, standing before me in just shorts and a vest like they are on Copocabana Beach! WHY CAN'T THESE GIRLS PUT ON A SWEATER AND LOWER THE ******** *********** ************* TEMPERATURE OF THE HEATING!????"*&"""!$£$%^^ After getting zero minutes of sleep on Thursday night, I got heat exhaustion yet again. By the morning, I was passing out, vomiting and in delirium. I don't know how I made it to work. After speaking to the landlord who controls the switches for each floor of the Goshiwon building, it seemed that he refused to lower the heating temperature. I insisted on seeing what temperature our floor was set to. The digital switch display said 65 degrees celsius! I noticed that the ground floor switch was off. I asked him why he had his own floor nice and cool with no heating and had ours on sauna level. He said that other girls in the building had apparently complained it was too cold, and that as I was 'in the minority', I had to go with the temperature. Bah! Such a temperature was literally killing me, and it was certainly going to affect my ability to train at full speed in the Taekwondo gym in preparation for the test, so I immediately moved out into my workplace owned dormitories. What sucks in this whole thing of moving is that I lost about US$400 in total compared to if I had just stuck it out in the workplace dorm from the beginning. That wipes out all the extra I made from selling all my books and CDs and from the overtime at work...

Anyway, something 'good' did happen as well this week. I ended up being caught on 2 TV shows on Thursday while I was in between getting my flight tickets. One had something to do with government backed tourist promotion in Korea. I did insist that I wanted to pose for the camera in some Taekwondo stance, but I was told that the idea of Hallywood (Korea's version of Hollywood screen popularity in Asia) was a better promotional take for foreigners than Taekwondo. So, I had to don a traditional Korean Hanbok dress for the first time and had to pose for the camera. I'm not sure what they are going to do with the footage, but I got some free polaroids from the event. I'm making a webcam capture of the pix which I'll upload below.

Finally, my current Taekwondo gym is turning out to be an unexpectedly good one. Partially because of the relatively small class size, the instructor is taking a fair amount of time giving me personal attention. Moreover, finally, a Korean instructor is explaining to me the nuances of all the differences in the Poomsae patterns. I now at last understand why there are so many differences in all the moves. Perhaps I can elaborate on this more in a later post, but in brief it has to do with that even within the WTF in Korea, there are so many fragments of old school systems who have not managed to agree on a set way of doing the Poomsae. They acknowledge the differences, but for reasons of affiliation, try to insist on a their particular techniques. My instructor tells me that he is on the governing board of 'Seoul Taekwondo' for Poomsae, and that this school prefers to see, for example, the original Taekwondo kicks in the Poomsae. This means that toes must be up in the front and turning kicks. The side kicks, too, are a little different.

My current instructor is also a more senior instructor than typical in Korea. He is in his 40's which is unusual. Usually, the gym instructors are in their 20's, fresh out of sports college. So, in this tale, it seems that the quality of instruction is more valuable for my purposes of Taekwondo development at this stage.

Okay, so I really should work on my Poomsae, but as usual, I get waylaid by things such as this site, grocery shopping, going to lunch, darn lesson preparation, laundry, catching up on sleep...

Other things I noticed this week included a new Mooto shop outside the Kukkiwon. Inside, for sale they have a DVD for the 1st World Poomsae Championship. On the cover, they have pix of the exact people I saw live. I promise to upload my pix of the Poomsae Championship before the month's out! I'll also upload my Hanbok pix below.

9 comments:

Amanda said...

It's interested that you posted about the nuances of poomse because Friday night my kwanjangnim was just discussing them with me.

Thursday my kwanjangnim was really busy with something or other (we have a bunch of boys testing for dan promotions this weekend) so he asked one of the women in my class to teach me the first six moves of Pal Jang. I am pretty sure she's trained at another studio.

Friday he changed the opening move on me. She had taught me to keep my fists right on my right hip, he moved them up and open, closer to my shoulder. I asked why.

He demonstrated with a low front block. He said, "Seoul, here" with his hands in one place. He moved them, "Me, here." He moved them again, "You, America."

Then he said, "Some people, poomse small. This," and showed me a very tight, closed version of Chil Jang. "Me, big. Poomse like big." He did Chil Jang again, the way he teaches it. Not sloppier, just bigger, more open movements.

He said they were all correct, just different philosophies behind them.

So I guess both our guys were on the same length. Frankly, I'm happy that he lets me do the low front blocks the way I learned them. I've tried changing my style but haven't been able to.

...zzZ said...

Yeah, there are umpteen dozen ways of doing the Poomsae. It all depends on which 'school' your Master has been brought up in. In the long run, it's good to learn all the differences, though, because I think it gives you a better understanding of Taekwondo. Unfortunately, there's no guarantee that your judges at a test or competition at the Kukkiwon like your style, so I wonder how many people lose points in the eyes of those judges. That's the downside of all these differences.
Anyway, if you are learning Pal Jang, does it mean you are about to take the Dan test? Do you go to the Kukkiwon for your test?

amanda said...

I'll test in either Gwangmyeong or Suwon, no idea when because my visa was canceled and my ARC revoked.

It seems the Kukkiwon has some form I can fill out to prove I'll have been here six months when I DO test, but this is Korea, so, as you know, rules change every three minutes without anyone else being informed. (Hence, the reason my visa was cancled and my ARC revoked.)

...zzZ said...

Well, that news seems pretty sudden. Any reason given why they should cancel your ARC?

Anyway, as I have announced on this board, I shall be 'retiring' in December, so if you are wanting a new job, perhaps you can apply. I know my employers are keen on finding a female replacement (hence why I haven't asked any male acquaintances if they would like to try for my job.)

Let me know - always willing to help out a Taekwondo emigre!

Amanda said...

I already have a new job lined up, actually, or I would've contacted you. ARC was canceled because I had only completed 4 months of my contract. Immigration now has a rule that despite having a letter of release, visas can no longer be transfered from one school to another if you haven't completed 3/4 of your contract. So the visa was canceled and ARC revoked.

Going to Japan on a visa run next weekend, probably.

Do you think you'll eventually come back or Korea? Or do you intend to stay home or go elsewhere?

...zzZ said...

Oh, I didn't know about that rule. I went to Fukuoka last year on the KTX/boat combo ticket. Perhaps about W100,000 each way. Very easy to find the Korean consulate and accommodation in Fukuoka if you go there.

Future is unknown yet...

Amanda said...

How do you find out about these things at the Kukkiwon? I'm all over their homepage and try various Google searches and still don't know about them. Let me know the secret, please?

...zzZ said...

Ha Ha! The secret is.......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................read the KOREAN pages of the Kukkiwon's site. They don't have the full listing of events on the English page (for 'Events' - 'This month' see menu bar at top of page) for the really lame reason that they can't be bothered to update their English pages.

There are many Korean sites which require a signup/login. However, to sign up to the site, you have to register with your Korean national resident number. For all foreigners, this means that you cannot access the site's contents at all. I can't access the videos posted on sites such as the KTigers new site, for example. Really annoying!

Amanda said...

OK, well I don't see where to sign up (my Korean is so not up to speed yet) but I can get the calendar up to find out that Master asked me if I wanted to join him for some sort of Seoul City test--pooms and dans?

At any rate--thanks for the info!

And yes, Korea's internet website xenophobia is obnoxious, I agree.