Korea Travelogue: Our True Test – The Kukkiwon
on MAR. / 23 / 2011 | 0 comments
Master Erica Linthorst and Master Doug Cook
After a splendid dinner of the finest Korean delicacies at The Korea House, we awake next day eager to get on with what we expect to be a very special day. We see a bus poster “Korea Run Ahead” we move through the streets of Seoul toward today’s training. The sign is a testimony to the unrelenting determination of this country and its people to forge ahead and stand out among developing nations. With North Korea a mere 22 kilometers from where we are, there is good reason to become and stay strong, persevere diligently, and never give up. We arrive at the awe-inspiring, world-renowned Kukkiwon. This huge arena plays center to the TKD world where amateur and elite alike meet throughout the year to train, to compete, and to test. We, a small group of 20, now gather on one of the largest floors in the world to absorb the spirit of TKD and practice this art that has been passed down through generations and now boasts over 70 million practitioners of the form known as Koryo alone. As we enter this illustrious site, preceding us today is the famed Kukkiwon Demo Team. It’s comprised of perhaps 20 twenty-somethings (only 2 of whom are female) who jump higher than you can imagine, break faster than you can blink – and all with uncanny precision. And that’s just the training session! Their stern director looks on and I think to myself that during their actual performance some of them may be nervous about forthcoming criticism at the end of their day. The quest for perfection is their daily grind and goal and they must live up to high expectations.
Prior to departure, we gather on the steps outside to meet President Song, Bong Sup, President of the World TaeKwonDo Academy who has provided our training today and Kukkiwon President Won Sik Kang. We are ceremoniously honored to be awarded both a Training Certificate and Diploma. This has definitely topped off our day!
Commentary from my fellow travelers includes:
• “Just training here is so special.”
• “The training is excellent especially when the master points out subtleties during our poomse practice. Retaining the corrections will be a huge task. Staying in that moment to also continue the form is an enormous hurdle.”
• “It is so unusual to train with masters in our own group who are students side by side with us. That is an experience I truly appreciate.”
• “It’s going to the heart – the essence of the art [in the Kukkiwon]. It’s really special to be where passion is expressed with such fervor.”
• “It was fun – and I really like being corrected by the head instructor here.”
• “The instructor is very planted; centered. The demo team is awesome.”
It is easy to draw a simple conclusion: if you practice TaeKwonDo then you must make this pilgrimage.