Few martial artists practicing today are given the opportunity to train in the country from which their chosen discipline has evolved.
Yet, that is exactly what 14 students from the Chosun Taekwondo Academy, a local martial arts institute located at 60 Galloway Road in Warwick, did this past July when they journeyed to South Korea – the homeland of taekwondo.
The Chosun group was led on their martial pilgrimage by head instructor and 7th degree black belt, Master Doug Cook. This was Cook’s eighth training tour of South Korea.
At the headquarters of the World Taekwondo Instructor Academy in the tiny village of Yangsu-ri, the Chosun group was featured in a documentary covering the martial arts, produced by MBN, for distribution on Korean television nationwide. Cook was interviewed extensively concerning his views on training in Korea.
Academic, cultural events; the DMZ, too
The comprehensive itinerary included instruction by world-renowned grandmasters at the Kumgang Taekwondo Center and Kukkiwon in Seoul, the World Taekwondo Instructor Academy in Yangsu-ri and Golgulsa Temple in Kyongju.
The tour also included a visit to the DMZ, marking the heavily armed border between North and South Korea.
Each day presented a diverse and challenging training opportunity. Master Byeong Cheol An of the Kumgang Taekwondo Center, a face familiar to the Chosun students from previous training excursions, featured strenuous exercises in basic technique, kicking and poomsae – the choreographed, dance-like formal exercises unique to taekwondo.
Yet for many, training at the Kukkiwon represented the highlight of the tour. There, Grandmaster An concentrated on all aspects of taekwondo practice.
In an effort to provide a balanced program that supported both the academic and cultural components of taekwondo, participants traveled to Kyongju, the ancient capital of the Silla Kingdom located in the southeast portion of the country. There they sampled Korea’s rich cultural heritage firsthand. Sights of interest included Bulguksa Temple and Tong-Il Jeon Shrine.
Experiences ‘of a lifetime’
Yet, in what can only be compared to a scene borrowed from a movie, a singularly memorable event of the excursion required the Chosun students to endure a steep climb through cloud-like mists to Golgulsa Temple perched high atop the mountains overlooking the Great Kyongju Plain. There, Chosun students studied Sunmudo, or Traditional Korean Zen Martial Arts, and Zen archery, followed by a silent monastic meal shared with resident Buddhist monks.
“It is indeed an honor to provide our students with traditional training of this caliber mixed with the cultural exposure a martial pilgrimage offers; for that is truly what this adventure was – a path to enlightenment through the accumulation of ancient martial wisdom,” Cook said in the press release detailing the trip. “The students who accompanied me returned with a less provincial view of taekwondo along with a variety of experiences they will recall for a lifetime.”
Aside from offering authentic taekwondo instruction, the academy also features classes in hatha yoga taught by qualified, adult instructors. For more information on the programs featured at the Chosun Taekwondo Academy, call 845 986-2288, or visit online at www.chosuntkd.com
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