Friday, July 31, 2009

Arriving in Korea

Instructor Alex outside a Temple

Instructor Alex, Anne & Instructor Cliff
with Grand Master Lee

After 12 hours of air flight, 6 hours stop over in Hong Kong and a further 3 hours to flying, Alex and I arrived in Korea. We were met at the airport by Master Park (Gil-Jun, Park) and his English speaking wife who gave us a very warm welcome. Master Park had organised for us to stay at the Valentine Hotel in the heart of Seoul -the Capital of Korea.

On the journey to the hotel Master Park invited Alex and I to train with him that evening around 6pm. We looked at each other, honoured by the opportunity to train with Master Park, especially as he, like us, specialises in Tae Kwon Do and Hap Ki Do, but our look also held a recognition of our extreme tiredness after our long journey, so we said to Master Park that we would see how we felt after having a rest at the hotel.(Photo shows Instructor Alex & Cliff @ The Valentine Hotel)

Our room at the Valentine was excellent with air con, 42" flat screen TV and free Internet access. Both Alex and I went to sleep after having shower and the next thing we heard was a knock at the boor. It was Master Park and his wife and Anne Marie Smith (Gannon), a former student of ours, whom Master Park and his wife had just collected from the airport. The time was now 8:30pm.

Master Park and his wife sat down with us and Anne Marie and confirmed the details of our trip. Anne Marie had arranged much of the trip for us in advance via email and had come along to be our guide. Anne Marie and her husband Jason Smith (who is also a former New Wave student) run Spirit TKD; A full time Tae Kwon Do Club in Sydney, Australia and have many contacts in Korea.

At this point, rather than going through the whole Itinary and confusing readers with the many different names, I will stick to what was planned for the next two days.

Anne Marie had arranged that at 10am the following morning we would be picked up by Master Cho (Won Kyu, Cho) who would take us to meet 9th Dan Tae Kwon Do Grand Master -Grand Master Lee (Ky Hyun, Lee). We would have the opportunity to ask Grand Master Lee about any aspect of TKD or Martial Arts in general. We would also have the opportunity to train with Grand Master Lee. After that Master Cho would then take us to meet 8th Dan Kumbo (Way of the Sword) Master, Grand Master Oh (Sangpar Oh). We would stay the night with Master Oh and his family and would be introduced to sword training on the following day.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Journey Begins

New Wave Academy
'Where friends and family come together!'

'Like a New Wave out of the deepest ocean able to adapt to any shore; never in the maelstrom of its depths but riding the crest of it; moving continually forward with spirit, will and determination.'

(Photo shows New Wave students & parents wishing Instructors Alex & Cliff a fruitful journey)

This mission statement of New Wave Academy of Martial Arts (Tae Kwon Do & Hap Ki Do) is founded upon a key principle of the Martial Arts - the ability to adapt to different situations. In a one to one encounter, this could simply mean recognising the strengths and weaknesses of an
opponent and acting accordingly. In the context of running a Martial Arts Club the ability to adapt to different situations or changing circumstance is no less important.

At the heart of the New Wave mission statemant is the recognition that change is a constant factor of life. When dealing with change we have basically two choices. We can either attempt to deny it and fight it every step of the way or we can embrace it - adapting to it with the best of our ability.

‘Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.’ Barack Obama
(Speech following Super Tuesday results, Feb 5, 2008)

‘We are the change we seek.’ This is an idea that New Wave instructors constantly try to convey to our students.

Now I can imagine several of my students reading this with a look of puzzlement and thinking, ‘When has my instructor told me –I am the change I seek?’ Well, I would ask those students to think back to the number of times they have been told that ‘they can achieve anything with belief and determination.’ I would ask them to consider how often they have been encouraged to push themselves in their training in order to progress. I would ask those students to think of how often they have been advised to adopt the principles and positive mindset that they cultivate in Tae Kwon Do and implement it in all areas of their lives.

Change is not something that is necessarily a one way street - something that always happens to us. With belief and desire to achieve, we can effect change not only in ourselves but also in those around us -‘We are the change we seek.’

I am the change I seek. Both my brother (Cliff Edwin, with whom I founded New Wave Academy in 1995) and I often speak of this. It was one of these conversations that got us thinking about the ways in which we could improve our teaching and which in turn lead me to apply to The Winston Churchill Fellowship and that is how the journey began!