1] Sunrise at Golgul Temple
2] Dinner time at Golgul Temple
3] Chanting with the Monks at Golgul Temple
4 & 5] Instuctor Alex suffering for the Art,
under the sure hands of Master Gil-Jun Park
The temple stay was out of this world. Only stayed one night, but felt like we were there for three -that is what getting up at 4am to chant with monks will do for you. We stayed at Golgul Temple in Gyeongju province -think they have a website. The city of Gyeongju was the capital for the Silla dynasty. Those who know their TKD history will recognise the name and will link it with the Hwarang Do Knights who were early warrior heroes of Silla Kingdom and of Korean Martial Arts from which TKD arose. Golgul Temple is Headquarters of Sunmudo which translates as Zen Martial Way. As such a great deal of emphasis is put on meditation before, during and after martial training.
Our teacher was simply awesome - his technique beautiful to watch. The temple is set on the side of a mountain and I mean on the side of a mountain. We drank from a natural spring and after chanting with the monks we watched the sun rise then listened to the oriental sound of nature - as all the birds, crickets and other insects greeted the dawn. We may have only been there for just one night and a day - yet Golgul Temple sunk into western souls. So many experiences and, just imagine, we have not even finished the 1st leg of our trip as yet.
On the morning of Tuesday 3rd August we caught the 7:30am train from Gyeongju Station for our 4 hour journey back to Seoul. We managed to book back into the Valentine Hotel and get some sleep as we were due to commence training with Maser Gil-Jun Park that evening.
After missing our first opportunity to train with Master Park, Alex, Anne and I commenced training with him that evening. So far we have trained with him everyday since Tuesday: 3 hours in the morning from 10:ooam and another 3 hours with him from 8pm - excellent stuff but damn hard. Don't know about Instructor Alex, but kind of wish this trip had happened 10 years ago, when I was young and fit and Spritely - but loving it none the less.
Master Park teaches his students Tae Kwon Do up to about Blue belt at which point he starts to teach them Hap Ki Do. Master Park learnt his Martial Arts at Yougin University where he is also a lecturer. It was explained to us, at some point in our journey, that TKD in Korea is practiced mainly by children. We must remember that Korea has a great many different Martial Arts; quite often adults diverge into others styles on entering adulthood.
However, TKD is a compulsory part of Military Service. But it would seem that the various Universities (of which there are many) take on the responsibility to push the boundaries of TKD. Many students, on entering University, will take up TKD as a serious full time course of study - along side their academic studies. The majority of Korean World & Olympic Forms and Sparring champions come through the University system.
If Master Park is anything to go on that system must be quite awesome. Like most instructors Master Park leads by example - but he has the ability to make everything seem so easy. His training is structured and succinct, with every aspect from the warm up to the advanced techniques linked in such manner as to create a complete whole.
More to follow....