A Summer in Korea

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It's not unusual to set a little money aside to attend a martial arts camp or seminar. The summer before law school, I did one better. I traveled to South Korea for intensive hapkido training. In the process, I had a lot of fun.

This wasn't the first time I'd been to Korea. I had previously lived in Kangnung. I trained in hapkido and ki gong (breathing exercises) and earned a black belt from the Korean Hapkido Federation. I traned at the Hapkido Choiyukwan under Young-Jong Kim and Jun-Kyu Lee. While I was living there, I taught 18.moa English at a hogwan (private academy). Korean students attend these academies after their regular public school classes to get ahead with their studies. This time I wasn't there to teach, however. I was there mainly to train.


When I arrived in Kangnung, I planned on spending the month living in one of the yokwans (cheap hotel) that are so abundant throughout Korea. However, Lee would have none of that. He and his family lived in and ran a minbak (an inn) near the beach. He insisted that I stay in one of the rooms without paying. Not only did I train with my instructor, be we did everything together, including going to the beach and movies.

4 Classes Per Day

When I first arrived, we had class four times a day. The first class was at 6 a.m. The following classes were at 2:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m., and 8 p.m. The times changed during summer vacation. The first class was bumped back to 9 a.m., followed by classes at 3, 5 and 8 p.m. Either way, I had four classes per day plus plenty of extra training between classes.

Typically, I'd go to class in the morning and then go back to Lee's home to rest before the next session. After lunch, we would leave early so we could pick up some of the other students for the next class. This is common practice throughout Korea. Whether it is a martial arts school or something similar, a driver would pick up the other students in a minivan and drop them off afterward. We did this for every class. After the third class of the day, we would go home t eat dinner and practice various techniques before we went to the last class of the day. This was usually the longest and most intense class of the day because it consisted mainly of adults. It was usually 10 p.m. before we had the school swept, the water bottles filled and were ready to go home. By the end of class, our uniforms were soaked and we were spent. In these classes, we spent a lot of time sparring. Believe me, I went home sore on more than one occasion.