29 March 2010

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.

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