29 March 2010

Colour Belt Promotional Test

Congratulations to Charl and Lenie on their successful promotions at the ATC grading some weeks back.

Master Vitale

Some students and instructors of the Seoul ITF Dojang with Master George Vitale.

A renowned scholar of Taekwon-Do history, Master George Vitale (8th Dan), visited Seoul last week to conduct a series of interviews. Master George is involved with a documentary in the making by director Luan Van Le, so both he and Mr. Van Le spent time in Seoul last week. On Thursday evening they booked a shoot with the chief ITF dojang where I practice Taekwon-Do in Seoul. Since they did not know where it is, or how to navigate the Seoul transportation system – especially at peak hours – I went to meet them at their hotel and escorted them to the dojang. Footage was taken of the students training, of some of us doing patterns, and so on. Throwing techniques are a neglected element in Taekwon-Do, even though it is part of the system. Seeing that it is so uncommon to find someone adapt in throwing skills they actually requested me to demonstrate some throws. So far they have over 200 hours of footage that need to be reduced into a two hour film, so we will have to see if my throwing techniques will feature at all.

After the training Master Vitale interviewed our instructor Mr. Kim Hoon, as well as myself and assistant instructor Anna. Many questions revolved around the prejudice experienced by ITF Taekwon-Do practitioners in a WTF-dominated country. There is an erroneous stigma that ITF is somehow North Korean. This is, of course, a false assumption. ITF Taekwon-Do started in South Korea and grew into an international system – it is as little North Korean as rugby is British.

Master George Vitale and Sabeom Sanko Lewis

On Saturday evening I met up with Master Vitale, Mr. Van Le, and another friend. We had a nice evening discussing Taekwon-Do and its very intriguing history. Towards the end of the evening Master Vitale presented me with two International Instructor's shoulder insignia to encourage me to get the certification. The insignia are worn by 4th Dan and higher whom have successfully completed an Internatiional Instructor's seminar -- something I wish to accomplish as soon as an opportunity arise.

My South African Tour

Dear Soo Shim Kwan friends,

Can you believe that it has been over a month again since I saw you all in South Africa in February. How time flies. Here is a short summary of my time in South Africa, with regard to Taekwon-Do.

During my first week in South Africa (middle January) I was able to visit two dojang. My first visit was with the Vaalrivier Dojang in Vanderbijlpark, run by Boosabeomnim Stefan van der Linde. I taught the class, focusing on basic techniques and patterns. I think we covered the colour belts patterns from white to blue. The Potchefstroom Dojang and the Vaalrivier Dojang has always had a very close relationship. My own Taekwon-Do roots are in the Vaal Triangle.

My second Taekwon-Do visit, along with my brother Boosabeomnim Tiny, was at the ATC Dojang in Silverton, run by Sabeomnim Karel and Sabeomnim Annari Wethmar, co-federation heads of the Dan Gun Kwan. I taught part of the class focussing on the hooking block. I showed how the technique should be performed to use it effectively as a grasp; we continued to practise different applications starting from the hooking block. Afterwards I presented the two chief instructors with Instructor’s doboks from South Korea. The gifts were in appreciation of their continuous aid to the Soo Shim Kwan and the Shim Duk Kwan (Vaal Triangle). A news article of the visit can be read on the ATC website.

My last two weeks in South Africa I taught the classes at the Potchefstroom University Dojang. I started this dojang in 1998; i.e. it is now 12 years in existence. As far as I can tell, it one of the ITF Taekwon-Do gyms to have remained at the same physical address for the longest time. As founder of the Potchefstroom Univesity Dojang, and since it was the first Taekwon-Do gym I have opened, I will always remain very sentimental about it, and every time I return there, I feel very at home. It is always like returning to family – even though some of the students have left and new ones have joined. It was especially heartening the evening when Boosabeomnim Yolandi Müller was able to join us from Rustenburg. Boosabeom Yolandi is the first black belt to have tested out of the Potchefstroom University Dojang. I also thoroughly enjoyed practising the 1st Dan patterns with Boosabeomnim Philip de Vos who test for his 2nd Dan in due time. In addition I would like to thank all the students that are not currently active, but whom nonetheless came out to greet me on my first evening in Potchefstroom. It was wonderful to see all my friends.

My final Taekwon-Do commitment was on the weekend before my departure back to South Korea. I met up with the SA-ITF Executive President, Sabeomnim Dirk Nel. We had a meeting that lasted for over four hours in which we discussed many pertinent issues pertaining to Taekwon-Do in South Africa. I saw him in both my capacity as Soo Shim Kwanjangnim and SA-ITF’s Research & Education Director.

Sb Sanko