Tul Tour “Malaysia Inspired” – Day 1 (14-Nov-2016)
It has finally begun. The last tul tour (TT) Taekwon-Do & Cultural program for 2016 in the homeland commenced today. A team from Malaysia arrived at Incheon airport. Dressed in dobok, ready for action and welcomed by the TT organizers. After a short briefing and introduction the team was taken to their hotel in Seoul where the official welcoming ceremony took place.
The team from Malaysia consists of ten enthusiastic members and although this is so far the smallest group that has ever come for a TT program it was possible to accommodate such a small group through negotiation and arrangements to provide a satisfactory program.
For the welcome reception members wore traditional Malaysian outfits “baju melayu” with some also wearing traditional Indian costumes but before the opening reception the participants enjoyed Korean bulgogi delivered by a company that provides halal food in Korea. The organizers managed to accommodate the dietary requirements of the mostly Muslim team members. So far, TT organizers have always been able to accommodate the participants dietary requirements whether they were dictated by religious believes or dietary choice.
The welcome reception began with the official introduction of the TT organizers and a presentation about Korean customs. Then the participants learned about the daily program for the entire week. Toward the end of the reception the TT attendees were divided into two teams that will face various challenges through the entire program and at the need the team that will accumulate the more points will win a price.
The welcome reception concluded with group photos being taken and informal discussion and the introduction of the Malaysian members. Everybody then retired to their rooms to get some well deserved rest and prepare for the next day.
Tul Tour “Malaysia Inspired” DAY 2 (15-Nov-2016)
It was a chilly morning when tt participants left the Baiton hotel in Seoul and traveled to Deoksugung palace to watch and participate in the guard changing ceremony.
On this occasion the organizers were able to accommodate all 5 male members of the tt program to become active participants of the guard changing ceremony. This created history since this is the first time five TT participants could act as generals and palace officials with two of the youngest, at 14 years of age, acting as the TT drummer and as a General officiating the ceremony. Considering the fact that some Hwarang generals were only 15-19 years of age this was appropriate and rewarding.
After the ceremony we took pictures with our new officials and moved to the Seoul Mosque so our guests could contemplate and pray, which was followed by a delicious lunch at the restaurant that had provided dinner for the welcome reception the night before. The lunch was very tasty and highly appreciated by the tultourers.
The next location was Dosan Park. It only took us about 40 min to arrive at Dosan park and museum for training. Before training we watched a documentary about Dosan while visiting the museum and then gathered together at the Dosan monument where we spent approximately 1.5h discovering the technical secrets of Dosan tul. The training was conducted by Master Zibby Kruk. At the end of the training the two teams performed Dosan tul with the best team being awarded bonus points. To enhance the experience and enjoyment of the training the application of Dosan tul techniques was performed in an acting/entertaining fashion.
On completion of the training the group moved to a vegetarian buffet style restaurant which provided a variety of side dishes and soybean dishes that were surprisingly tasty.
After dinner, the group made the journey to the Taekwondowon in Muju where we planned to rest before the next full day of activities at the park, but during the trip Master Kruk conducted a quiz that summarized the knowledge about Dosan his life and activity. It was pleasantly surprising and rewarding to see how much information about Dosan was absorbed by the tultourers in such a short period of time. This reflects the educational value of the program that helps the practitioners to better understand the meaning of the patterns when they practice them in the locations closely associated with them.
Tul Tour “Malaysia Inspired” DAY 3 (16-Nov-2016)
Today, most of the day was spent in Muju at the Taekwondowon but even so it was felt that it would have been possible to spend at least another day to be fully satisfied with what the park had to offer. The day started with breakfast being delivered to our accommodation so the participants did not even have to leave their building to walk to the cafeteria for their meal.
After breakfast all participants gathered in the gymnasium to prepare for a 2h “Taekwondo aerobic program” however to fill in time before the arrival of the instructors Master Kruk worked with the tultourers on Hwarang tul, correcting details and explaining technical applications. Then the 2 Korean female instructors arrived and took the team through warm ups and introduced Taekwondo dance routines that were enjoyed immensely by the boys and girls. It took over an hour to learn the moves and coordinate them with both teams at the end performing their routines and receiving bonus points for their TT team competition.
On conclusion of the active program and some refreshment the participants visited the museum where they viewed the portrait of General Choi. Discussions ensued about the recognition of General Choi with Mr Razak, the leader of the Malaysian group who has been involved in Taekwon-Do in Malaysia for a very long time pointing out, that even in Malaysia the WTF instructors and Masters regard Gen. Choi as the founder of Taekwon-Do since they use the oath and the tenets created by the General and recite them at the beginning of every training session. It was felt that it is very disappointing that the some members of ITF family have presented a weak stance on this issue by applauding the recognition of Gen Choi in Muju Park Museum only as the Taekwon-Do name giver.
The time in the museum passed quickly and after some quick shopping in the souvenir shop everybody had lunch and the entire team enjoyed a spectacle performed by the Taekwondowon team. It was very exciting and following the demonstration the participants were able to take pictures with the performers and congratulate them on a excellent and skillful performance.
The afternoon fortunately warmed up, making it easier to cope with the cold November weather in Korea since the Malaysians members are rarely exposed to cold weather in their home country. We then traveled to Gyeongju, and after settling in the hotel and having dinner we moved to Anapchi where the participants admired the beautiful architecture of the location which is a former Hwarang warrior training ground.
The group walked around Anapchi pond enjoying the serenity of the location with the small number of visitors at this time of year creating a very relaxing atmosphere. Once time was taken to create these memories we began our revision and practice of Hwarang Tul supervised by Master Kruk. The training concluded after an hour or so and because of the chilly evening the participants were encouraged to wear their TT warm jackets that were presented to them by the organizers. Everybody returned to the hotel at 10pm and relaxed before another busy day ahead.
Tul Tour “Malaysia Inspired” DAY 4 (17-Nov-2016)
Today was spent almost entirely in the province of Gyeongju. The weather was very nice and we departed the hotel to the Bulguksa temple that is a head temple of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism and encompasses seven National treasures of South Korea.
The beautiful scenery around the temple, fantastic autumn colors and peaceful atmosphere created a desire to spend more time there than initially planned.
We started our visit by posing for pictures. Since the entire area relates to the Korean monk Wonhyo, the poses and techniques used related to this pattern.
At 10am a professional guide provided a tour for our members to present the beauty of the temple that has been recognized as a UNESCO site.
On leaving the Bulguksa temple we paid a short visit to tomb of Moon moo that is located on the eastern sea. We managed to take pictures and relax a little by the sea.
Our next destination was Golgulsa Temple. We arrived there at mid-day and experienced a temple style lunch. Since it was vegetarian and not heavy we were able to move directly to the temple training hall and start work on Wonhyo tul. The Golgulsa temple is also associated with the monk Wonhyo who dedicated his life to spread Buddhism among the common people during the Silla dynasty.
After an hour and a half practicing, the training continued but this time it was conducted by a monk who introduced the basics of the temple martial art called Sun Moo Do. Our tultourers were taken through step by step instruction on how to perform the first Sun Moo Do pattern.
The program concluded late in the afternoon with the tultourers enjoying a demonstration performed by the monks and being given the opportunity to perform Wonhyo tul as a part of the Sun Moo Do demo.
We then headed back to Daejeon where we had dinner in a sushi buffet restaurant and after settling into the hotel we walked to the nearby foot spa amphitheater where Master Zibby Kruk entertained the participants by playing guitar and harmonica and singing songs. The participants joined in and sang some popular songs as well. Following this entertaining evening everyne visited the office of ITF HQ Korea for coffee and discussions with some individuals purchasing new doboks so they could have fresh uniforms for the next day for training.
Tul Tour “Malaysia Inspired” DAY 5 (18-Nov-2016)
The day started with travel to Hyeonchungsa – Admiral Yi Sun Sin’s shrine. On arrival we visited the museum and watched a 4 D video about the Admiral and his battles. Then we moved to the top of the hill to visit the Yi Sun Sin shrine and practice Choong Moo tul in this beautiful setting with autumn colors. The lower ranked students who did not know the pattern were taken by Mr Razak (a 6th Degree Malaysian instructor and the team leader) and practiced fundamental techniques and elements of other patterns. The training lasted for an hour and a half after which we moved to Seoul for a late lunch. We decided on Indian cuisine and enjoyed spicy delicious food in Insadong.
After the late lunch we moved to a shrine dedicated to Dangun that was located near Gwanghwamun Square. The group focused for over an hour on practicing this pattern. Master Kruk challenged practitioners with different performance styles, such as orientation, speed, or adding kicking techniques. It was pleasant to see the students enjoying their training and showed their technical progress. Fortunately, the students also were greeted by Mr Lee Gun Bong, who is the director of Center, who was kind enough to present the participants with souvenirs of their visit.
It was after 6pm before the group moved to the hotel located in the heart of Seoul and enjoyed dinner delivered by a halal food company. Immediately after dinner we met all the participants in the hotel conference centre and concluded the program. Participants received their tul tour certificates and some also received Dan certificates as they had completed their Dan tests. Mr Hafidz, a 4 Degree Black Belt from Malaysia who was a coordinator of the “Malaysia Inspired” program, was appointed as the Islamic Tul Tour Director and his role will be to coordinate further programs that will be offered specifically for Muslim participants. There are specific religious requirements that need to be observed and fulfilled so it is very important that the TT team closely cooperate with experts who can not only promote the program to Muslim practitioners but also serve as professional advisers.
The evening was designated for souvenir shopping and relaxation. Day 6 is the last practical training day and will cover the remaining 3 color belt patterns.
Tul Tour “Malaysia Inspired” DAY 6 (19-Nov-2016)
I am not sure how many of you are aware about the current difficulty of the political situation in Korea due to presidential problems, this definitely had an impact on this tul tour program. Political demonstrations in Seoul and other Korean cities caused closure of many main roads and places and had the organisers not addressed these issues properly it could have meant that the tt participants could have been stuck for an entire day in a traffic jam.
As always tt organizers take these things into consideration and prepare a backup plan.
In order to avoid any difficulties we moved to the Ahn Joon Gun Memorial Hall first thing in the morning.
We toured around the museum admiring the documents, calligraphy work, learning about this brave independent movement activist and took group photos. Then we spent an hour or so working on the details of Joon Gun tul in front of the Ahn Joon Gun monument.
Many locals and tourists stopped to watch our training and take pictures. It was great promotion for Taekwon-Do ITF in its homeland. Master Kruk covered many nuances and technical aspects associated with this pattern. As you leave the park there is also a statue of Yi Hwang (Toi Gye) and we took the opportunity to take a few group pictures in front of the statute since we did not plan to visit another location associated with this scholar.
This was just the right time to leave Seoul as demonstrators had only just started gathering on the streets and police were only beginning to close the roads.
We then moved to “Paju” which is a city that Yul gok had a significant presence in the 16th century. He worked there during his adult time and passed away there too.
Upon arrival at the site we had a picnic style lunch at Yulgok park and watched a movie that presented Yulgok’s life and achievements.
Being armed with this new knowledge we walked in the amazing scenery to visit his tomb which is located in the Park. It was the first time that TT members have visited the Yulgok tomb. This time of the year the surrounding area is so colorful and beautiful and because there are not many visitors it is very peaceful as well.
After taking some group pictures we returned to the two large monuments of Yulgok and his mother Shin Saimdang (who is a great figure in Korean history as well) located at the entrance of the park and began Yulgok tul training that was conducted by Master Zibby Kruk.
The participants were able to practice the elements of the pattern for nearly two hours, receiving individual correction and because it was the last practical session Master Kruk provided a summary for each member on what they have to work on. Master Kruk pointed out and personally checked whether students remembered what they had to focus on during their training while back in Malaysia. Also head instructors, Mr Razak and Mr Hafidz had an extended conversation with Master Kruk about future training.
After training, student’s spent some time on their prayer and then moved to a guest house in Incheon located close to the airport. After dinner and making sure that our guests were set for the next days travel home,the organizers farewelled the tultourers and departed to Daejeon.
Our Malaysian guests expressed their appreciation for what they were able to experience and we look forward to meeting again in 2017.