Best of the Worst

I can do that...
But not that....
Phillip Rhee - not bad at all...
THIS is what I'm talking about - no mention of Phillip Rhee's name on the cover at all - scandalous!!!
Eric Roberts - long after the movie
Eric Roberts - a little after the movie
Eric Roberts - how he looked then:


I said I wasn't going to update this blog very much, but as I have a bit of free time to kill, I will comment on a couple of items that I have come across on my re-discovery of Western civilization.

For the first time in my life, I have watched The Best of the Best series (that's 4 whole movies). What a load of crass ****!!! The sickest parts about it was that Eric Roberts was given a higher profile than Phillip Rhee and Eric Roberts' martial arts and hairdo simply sucked by comparison. What credentials did the other Western actors have in martial arts?? In addition, the role given to the women in the movie was so dire, I could curl in my grave. They belonged to the helpless female victim stereotyped in so many 80s Hollywood movies. Blurghh!!
The series only improved slightly following part 2, after Eric Roberts was ditched (hoorah!!) and prominence given to where it was due - to Rhee. However, Rhee for whatever reason held back on his martial arts prowess, that it became another fairly lame action movie. It might have well have been consigned to a TV series. The interesting parts though, showed some footage of Taekwondo in Korea - still called 'Karate' in the movie - and in part 4, you get the end credits with some extra footage of Rhee demonstrating some Hapkido moves. I wish there'd been more of that.
Tony Jaa still hasn't produced a movie to rival Ong Bak, and Uma Thurmann has pretty much quashed the hopes of having any Western females supercede the Kill Bill role. No doubt there will soon be a Hollywood action movie role for Zhang Ziyi, but transplanting Asian actors under Western directors has never really faired well. What is next for the martial arts genre??

1 year on

It is about 1 year ago that I left Korea. I have only left it in body, though. My mind is still very much on returning when the conditions are right...

I got VERY sick with stress over an illness mis-diagnosis - turns out it was nothing - to the extent that I lost all of my physical strength that I had built up from all the martial arts training. I was further stressed by the prospect of having to give everything up in Korea and return to the UK. Things had started to go seriously downhill for my health from around mid-December 2006 when the stress manifested itself into fits of vomiting. One night I counted vomiting over 50 times. I was unable to eat any food or even set my sight on it. It was really crippling.

It turned out that everything I had anticipated in the move back to the UK not only happened, but that there was even worse to encounter. The first six months of 2007 were some of the worst months I have had to endure in my life. I only got through it by pushing - the same type of mental pushing that was developed in all the gruelling hours spent in the Taekwondo gym - and with the appreciation that there were still many people around the world who would always be worse off than me. I had also spent my time teaching overseas with the thoughts that if all my good fortune ended right there and then, that I would always appreciate the fact that I was able to have the opportunity to experience what I did. I'm glad that I can feel grateful for the life that I have led.

With no family or friends in the UK, and being jobless for what seemed like eternity, I had no option to live in a youth hostel. Sharing 8 to a room was not ideal, but interestingly, I met a retired Taiwanese pensioner in the hostel who had been backpacking around Europe with his friend until catastrophe struck and his friend was hospitalized for a few weeks. He was quite impressed that I could converse with him in Mandarin and Japanese, since he was a volunteer Japanese teacher back in Keelung, Taiwan.

I couldn't get any medical treatment for my stress, since the resources of the British healthcare system has been so stretched, that only certain categories of people can get help, so it has been a solo struggle to get myself back on my feet. Fortunately, by a remarkable twist of fate, I eventually got myself a job in a language school in the UK, and that perhaps marked the turning point in my recovery, as it enabled me to put my mind on something else. As I write now, I'm happy to say that my circumstances are much better than they were 1 year ago.

I am currently doing a part-time Masters course in education, and plan to get a few other qualifications over the next 2-3 years, so that it will perhaps give me enough ammunition to go back to Korea and secure a decent job there. Fingers crossed. I've also got a couple of new books in mind - actually one is nearly finished, but the other is a more special project as it is a novel. I have all of the plot set out, but I'm not convinced that I can write such narrative for a novel oeuvre very well. Anyway, the only dream that could really surpass getting my black belt (and actually, I STILL have not received my 2nd Dan certificate and id card from my test taken in December 2006!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) would perhaps be being an author of a best-selling novel. I need something that could guarantee a steady income of money if I ever wanted to devote extended time to martial arts training and a best-seller would be perfect. More whackiness, but if others can do it, why can't I??

I miss the opportunity to go to a martial arts gym every day of the week like crazy. All I wish to do is practice the self defence techniques of Hapkido, or learn new sword forms. However, a certain reality has to kick in at some point, and for as long as I am working a 50 hour week in the UK, I don't have the energy to attend a taekwondo class, even if it's just a couple of times per week. Instead, I am presently opting for a very soft martial arts option - Wing Chun and Tai Chi. The type of Wing Chun I am practicing is Kamon Wing Chun. I'm not quite sure how Kamon fits exactly into the wider picture of Wing Chung, but for me it doesn't really matter at this stage. Wing Chun does not really contain the time of moves that I feel comfortable with - most of it is about short range striking moves with minimal effort - but it is all I can manage to do energywise at this present time. I only go once a week because it becomes expensive to train at the club any more frequently. It has quite a large student number, and the atmosphere is quite good in the class. The instructors clearly like what they do and are really enthusiastic about teaching.

I'm just grateful that I can do any martial arts at all considering my condition this time last year. I will take as much as I can from the Wing Chun class and consider it a useful comparison against other martial arts techniques.

For as long as I'm in the UK, I'm not going to regularly update this site. I will only add to it if there is something really noteworthy to post. Otherwise, I will keep it open for the day that I can return to Korea.

Other news of note is that Yee Mei is getting married. Congratulations Yee Mei!!! She has sent me her work of taekwondo characters (see above).
Other findings that I've come across related to Taekwondo include an article about a 'survey' (WHO exactly was asked???) to propose names for the new Taekwondo centre in Muji, Korea. The results:
Top 10 Suggestions from the Korean Public: World Taekwondo Plaza, Taekwondo Park, Taekwondo World, Taekwondo Center, Taekwondo Main Temple, Taekwondo Site, Taekwondo Town, Taekwondo NURI, Taekwondo Land, Taekwondo Valley
Top 5 Suggestions from overseas taekwondo colleagues: World Taekwondo Sanctuary, Taekwonland, Taekwondo Valley, Taekwondo Palace, Taekwondo Topia
Others- World Taekwondopia, Taekwon City, Taekwondo Idol City, Taekwon World, Taekwondo Mountain
Perhaps 'Taekwondo Center' is the only sane suggestion here...