The Tul Tour program is a Taekwon-do Cultural and training program offered by ITF Headquarters Korea and takes participants to locations that are historically relevant to Taekwon-Do in Korea and has been running since 2011. This particular Masters program was the first of its kind and was set to coincide with the 60th Anniversary of Taekwon-Do. Over 40 people attended this tour with 10 plus Master Instructors who were keen to share their knowledge and experience with the rest of the attendees. The structure of this program was to provide a number of forums where Master Instructors gave either informative presentations or skill based workshops in locations closely aligned with Taekwon-Do. The first location appropriately being Jeju Island where Taekwon-do began its life. The following is a photographic blog of the Tour.

Incheon airport

Incheon airport

This futuristic building is “Incheon” airport about an hour from the capital of South Korea and is the start point for the cultural experience that is a Tul Tour here in the homeland of Taekwon-Do. And what better time to visit this amazing country than on the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Art.

But rather than just spend time on the mainland of Korea it’s even better to go to the island of Jeju. This was the home of the 29th infantry division in the 1950’s where Taekwon-do developed into maturity using the soldiers under the command of Major General Choi Hong Hi. Here are a few of the Masters and Tul Tour Participants at the Lava tube caves of this volcanic island and at the start of the trek up sunrise peak. A great way to recuperate after our long flights and before getting into the serious business of sharing ideas and knowledge at the forums associated with this Masters Tour.

One of the most fantastic things about this particular Tul Tour was the range of knowledge of the participants, with representatives from 16 different countries, many of whom are very experienced Master Instructors. The opportunity to network with these individuals was extraordinary and spending a week with some of the most forward thinking and dedicated Taekwon-Do practitioners has to be a learning experience. This was also my own opportunity to demonstrate my knowledge and skills since it was here that I was able to test for VIIth degree Master status and present at the first forum, indeed I was first up on the podium, but of course I felt no pressure (lol). Fortunately we had two great speakers in Master Rocky Rounthwaite from New Zealand and Master Ray Saint from the US to follow me and keep the audience enthralled.

The wedding vow renewal ceremoney of Master Peter Sanders and his wife Hetty in Korean traditional way.

The wedding vow renewal ceremoney of Master Peter Sanders and his wife Hetty in Korean traditional way.

 

The Next day of course was the anniversary of Taekwon-Do and what a day it turned out to be, we had the most amazing wedding vow renewal ceremony of Master Peter Sanders and his lovely wife Hetty, followed by a moving tribute to Taekwon-Do and its founder General Choi at the “Fist” Monument (located at the site of the 29th Infantry training grounds) and in the evening a Gala celebration to recognise those people who have significantly contributed to ITF HQ Korea.

At the “Fist” Monument in jeju island

At the “Fist” Monument in jeju island

After a night of celebration it was time to get back to the beginning so we had to practice Chon Ji at of course Chon Ji waterfall.

Chon Ji waterfall

Chon Ji waterfall

This practice precipitated a battle royal between the US team (with a little help from some of the Malaysians) and the team from the rest of the world led by Master Kang from Russia. So we faced off to do team patterns of Chon ji with the girls from the Nederlands judging, with the rest of the world taking out the prize by the smallest of margins.

After a short sightseeing tour around Jeju we headed back to our hotels to pack our bags for the next days’ flight to Busan.

Once we arrived in Busan it was straight onto the bus (on the first rainy day in Korea) and heading to the Golgulsa temple where a Master of Sun Mu Do presented a brief but dynamic introduction to this Buddhist martial art followed by a forum presentation on the biomechanics of Taekwon-Do by Master Rudolf Kang. This temple was the final home of the highly respected monk Won Hyo and the tour was given the rare honour of being able to visit the cave near the temple in which it is said that he passed away. The pattern named after this noted Monk was of course practiced in the training centre attached to the temple.

Following the Temple event we made our way to Daejeon and then the next day on to Seoul via Buyeo which is the historical capital of the Baek Je dynasty where we held an outdoor forum led by Master Stevens from the US and practiced Gae Baek led by Master Rounthwaite from New Zealand.

From Buyeo it was a short trip to Seoul where our final two forums were to be held as well as visits to the Do San and Joong Gun Museums. Both of these great men form a significant part of Korea’s struggle for independence and are therefore highly regarded by the South Korean people and lauded as great patriots. The Museums are both surrounded by beautiful gardens that were the perfect place to practice these patterns. But the historical information about the lives of these great men really make the significance of the patterns more important when you perform them.

Visiting Do San and Joong Gun Museums

Visiting Do San and Joong Gun Museums

At the entrance to the park of commemorating Joong Gun one can also find the statue of the great philosopher Yi Hwang (Toi Gye) and at this time of year the statue is shrouded with the beautiful cherry blossom.

The evenings in Seoul were filled with the two final forums that featured a mixture of terrific talks of both technical and marketing nature from not only Master Instructors but also professional marketing representatives. There was consensus from participants of the forums that benefits of learning from your colleagues in these settings was extremely valuable and that many more such events should be planned for the future. On the final two days the whole troup also got the opportunity to visit the Kukkiwon, where luckily enough, we got to see the Korean Demonstration team in action practicing for upcoming events and also to visit the nearby martial arts shop to spend our residual funds and fill our bags with extra gear.

During the final day of the tour we were privileged to have one of our members (Master Sanders) permitted to act as a captain of the guard in the palace guard changing ceremony, an honour rarely bestowed on visitors to Korea, along with Mr Chin from Malaysia who was given the drum beaters role. The presence of our group was announced through the PA system and consequently we were inundated with requests for photos by many of the local and international tourists

And so during that evening after a full day in Seoul we held the final Forum and the farewell ceremony to finish an extraordinary pioneering TUL TOUR Masters Program.

Farewell Ceremony in Seoul

Farewell Ceremony in Seoul

Having completed this Tul Tour it is without question one of the best things I have experienced in my Taekwon-Do training history. I believed that it was just this particular one that was special, but having spoken to others recently who have done different Tul Tours they all think that their tour had to be the best ever. It’s a testament to the organisers that they keep improving the Tours as they gain more knowledge of the historic sites and broaden the opportunities and type of tour. There is a Tul Tour for all ranks of Taekwon-Do practitioner, and I highly recommend that if you are serious about this Art and want to learn about the history and culture from which it came, then you should investigate the opportunities that are presented by the Tul Tour Team. Next years big event will be the 50th Anniversary of the ITF and this may be celebrated in the same Hotel in Seoul where it all started. But if you want to go you should get your expression of interest lodged soon. Imagine being able to celebrate the formation of the ITF in the original location that it started. No one else can offer you this experience better than the Tul Tour Team.

For more information about the Tul Tour Program, you can visit the their website by click here.