I spoke to the general secretary of the Korean Karate Federation on Friday morning, and he asked me to come at 3pm to meet him, and talk about what I will be teaching. I arrived there at 2:50pm, only to be greeted by one of my old students, Jun-Sub. After I left Korea in September 2006, he moved from Seoul to Busan to continue to study Karate and also study Physical Education at Busan University. I had no idea that we would be there, so it was nice to see a friendly face. Anyway he obviously put a good word in for me as the President had come from Seoul just to meet me! We chatted for a while about Karate, and the state of Karate in Korea. When I left there weren’t many dojo in Korea, but now they boast 120! They also have a Korean Open every year and attract around 500 competitors from around the world. It seems the government sees potential in Karate and funds for international competitors to come every year. I was very surprised, but was even more surprised that they have a FULL TIME National Team. They train for up to 8 hours a day in a fully equipped dojo in Busan, and that’s where I met them. They asked me to teach some Kumite drills to the national team, and even gave me a karate uniform to wear as I didn’t bring mine with me.
The team was mostly young students – 15 – 25 years old and were quite well drilled. I watched them do some kumite to start off with to see where I could help out and watched how there punches were quite slow, compared to the way we deliver our punches. We started off with some basic drills that we do, and I emphasised hand first, foot second. they picked it up well, but still had trouble getting the hand to go first, so I got them to do Taikyoku Shodan. What? Kata to teach kumite!?!? A few of them were looking at me like I was barking mad, but I explained (half Korean half English) about how the basic kata can teach the momentum punch used in kumite. We did the kata for about 10 minutes, and by the end they looked much sharper, and more importantly, much bloody faster! We then went into partners were we practise 1, 2, and 3 punches moving forward turn for turn. It was obvious that the practise we did using the kata paid off as they understood about not moving the foot first.
We finished off with some kumite, and I am proud to say that most of them were moving faster and punching faster than they did before! It is very hard to change your muscle memory but these guys tried really hard and they will only get better from this experience. There were a couple of really great fighters there, and one in particular named Lee. He is about 19 and extremely fast, and bloody good. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him placing in a World Cup soon.
They have asked me to come back tomorrow to teach some Kobudo and competition kata. They also asked me to talk a little about the history of karate, and the relationship between PE Karate, modern karate, and early Okinawan Te (see a previous post) as I touched on it a little bit with the president. It still amazes me that most karate teachers and students still believe that karate is a 1000 year old Japanese Martial Art. I am also going to run through a few old-school Motobu drills, grappling and touch on (pun intended) some pressure point strikes.
All in all it was a great day, and I will upload some photos when I get the chance!
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