Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Epilogue: The Hard Style Hanguk experience in highlights

I think I've said it before, but I'll say it again... I can't remember the last time I travelled (for any reason) and found it as invigorating as I did this last trip to Korea.

I've finally downloaded a bunch of pics from my iPhone to my hard drive, so after long delays, now they're going up on this blog. They capture a bunch of the highlights of this trip, so here we go in scrapbook style.

The trip would've never happened if it weren't for Kettlebell Korea CEO Kenneth Lee. You won't find a more unassuming, gentle, incredibly polite, and diligent man in the kettlebell world. We took this picture shortly after he met me at the airport in Seoul as we were waiting for Jon Engum's flight to arrive. I am so honored to call him my "hyung".

Cindy Kye, PR Manager for JK Golf Conditioning, which is Korea's unparallelled training center for golfers of ALL ages, helped tremendously during the workshop. Because of her previous experience with Gray Cook's work through TPI and having travelled to the US several times before to hear Functional Movement presentations, she really stepped up to help out when the translation was above & beyond the range of the translator on hand. She came into the workshop saying that she hadn't been exercising for quite some time, and we pitilessly made her jump right into the fray. Here she is doing a bottoms-up press with an 8kg KB, an exercise that had obvious benefits for her golfing clientele and one that I used on Michelle Wie with great success.

Shin Tanaka, a Japanese national living & working in Seoul as CEO of Access, had taken kettlebell training sessions with several members of the kettlebell community. Yet the feedback he gave me while treating me to breakfast the morning after the workshop was perhaps the most valuable I received. He is another great example of the type of people we got to interact with there - soft spoken, gentle mannered, humble, and diligent beyond compare. I count myself privileged to have met him.

The Olympic Park was something that I was almost ready to ignore, but thankfully Jon didn't let that slide. The Olympic flame, and the Seoul Peace Declaration inscription on the plaque in front of it, filled me with an incredible sense of awe and duty.

Here's a closeup of the plaque:

Here's a piece of sculpture from the Olympic Park that Jon pointed out to me that I thought was odd as hell...

until I read the plaque and was just moved to my soul.

The Olympic Park was full of things like this that give strong examples of how great humanity can be when it wants to be.

And finally, the guy who perhaps left the strongest impression on me was Kim Kyoung-Han, Korean national Judo team member, Asian Games Judo champion, trainer to the stars, and Kettlebell Korea staff member. Despite his formidable resume', Kim's demeanor is quiet, impeccably mannered, diligently disciplined, and generous to a fault. Knowing that I love the throwing arts, he took some time on a lunch break to share one of his favorite combinations with me. His teaching skill became readily apparent, and I thought immediately of featuring him in a full-feature spread in Black Belt Magazine.

On my last evening in Seoul, I wanted to he made arrangements to meet up with him to leave him a memento of one of the shining stars of American martial arts - a T-shirt from the world famous Inosanto Academy. He, however, completely one-upped me by presenting me with the Judo gi that he won the Asian Games in.

I'm back home now, more determined than ever to evolve into a better instructor, a better athlete, a better physician, and a better man.

To my co-instructor, Sr RKC Jon Engum, thank you for being there with me. I could not have wished for a better friend, guide, and TKD coach to have along with me. The next time, we're bringing the Viking & the Russian!

For the priceless gift of inspiration that came from so many directions, thank you, Korea!


Sandy Sommer, RKC said...

All I can say is "Wow!" I find that people tend to treat folks the way that they are treated so the response you got in Korea must be a reflection of you.

Dr. Mark Cheng said...

Com. Sandy, that's very kind of you to say that. Perhaps one of the best compliments I got during the trip was from the organizer, Kenneth Lee.

He said, "Before meeting you in person, I thought you'd have the attitude of someone who is really an authority in his field. I'm really surprised after getting to know you for a few days that you not only have more knowledge & expertise than I imagined, but also no such attitude. You're comfortable being just one of the guys."

Or as Sr RKC Jon Engum put it, "Doc, you're so serious and intense when you teach, and then after class, you turn into a total teenager." ;-)

Boris said...

That sounds like an incredible time Doc! Great stuff as always.

Boris said...

btw, is the peace-sign-for-every-picture-everytime-thing an Asia-wide phenomena?

Dr. Mark Cheng said...

Boris-san, thank you for your kind words. And it does indeed seem that the V-sign is ubiquitous in Asia. I saw young people flashing it in Beijing, Hong Kong, Seoul, Bangkok, and even in Inner Mongolia.

Anonymous said...


Here's a link to the Men's Health Korea article.

Tom Gazzara
Hammonton NJ