February 24th NYC visit to SJ Kim’s Taekwon-Do

February 24th NYC and Grandmaster Kim’s TKD

On February 24th, 2011, several members of Oneonta TKD had the opportunity to take a class with Grandmaster Kim at his NYC Dojang. We left Oneonta in two vans at about 8:00am. The first van was driven by Mr. Mannion. Jaden, Guaire, Alex, Justin, and Elias were in that van. The other van was driven by Mr. Goodrich with Finn, Dylan, Lori and David. We arrived in NYC at about 11:30 and when we made our way to the dojang, we found the door locked and had to wait in the stairwell for a bit since we arrived earlier than anticipated.

Entering the Dojang, I was amazed. Photos of Grandmaster Kim and his students were all over the walls. Stairs up to the Grandmaster’s office and a small workout space were on the left. Straight ahead, a counter with student cards just like ours, followed by mirrors and the class area. Windows overlooking the street along with bars for stretching etc…were further in. The dojang seemed small compared to the new Oneonta TKD dojang, but Grandmaster Kim anticipates a move to a bigger space sometime in the very near future, perhaps before the interschool championship tournament in April.

After getting changed in the small changing rooms, we were ready for class. Everyone was pleasant, and it was the same sense of family that I feel we have at OTKD. We were welcomed by their students almost as if we were old friends, even though most of us had never met each other before. After some initial confusion as to who was supposed to stand where when the words “LINE UP” were shouted, we had our lines all figured out and started our warmup routine. We did a similar warmup routine to what we do in Oneonta, some minor changes, but nothing of note since we also change our routine from time to time. While warming up, Grandmaster Kim arrived, got changed and started asking the OTKD kids how old they were and how they got a day off from school to come down to the city. Grandmaster Kim does have quite the sense of humor, which I found very amusing. It being my first time there, his humor seemed to make me less nervous about meeting him. I’d looked forward to meeting Grandmaster Kim since I first started TKD in June. I was honored and somewhat starstruck (knowing how important to TKD, the ITF etc..he is) to finally be in his presence. To me, this was the chance of a lifetime.

After warmups, we did our leg raises and our basics and it was off to kick the heavy bag, focus pads and also to do patterns much like we do at OTKD. And I must say, it WAS very different to have Mr. Mannion in line with us as a fellow student, instead of at the head of the class as the Instructor. I found myself looking over his way several times to make sure I was doing the right thing at the right time since I was in a different studio and unsure about how similar our schools really were. As it turned out however, we are very similar. The white belts went to do Chon Ji, Yellow belts Dan Gun and Do San etc…Guaire, Alex, Jaden and I all did Won Hyo a few times. Then Alex and Jaden got to do Yul Gok by themselves while Guaire and I did Won Hyo for the Grandmaster a few more times. I was nervous at first, but when he started chuckling about our coordination skills doing the side kicks in the pattern, I was less nervous about doing the pattern. We also had a chuckle at somewhat of an “oops” moment when one of our kids had their left and right messed up.  After our green belt patterns, were blue belt, red belt, and black belt patterns.

On to one step sparring drills, which had Grandmaster Kim showing us with speed and loud kihap’s how he wanted to see us do our sparring. After some one step sparring, Grandmaster Kim had us try a few things with the self defense techniques we knew. He showed us yet one more way to use self defense number one. His joke was “number one you can use eh about a dozen times, number two maybe a couple dozen times and number three…eh maybe a few times, maybe”. We all had a chuckle at that.

After our self defense techniques, it was time to finish class with a stationary exercise, just like we do at OTKD. Again after, some minor confusion with who goes where, we were on our way to a front kick reverse punch drill, followed by the end of class routine we follow at OTKD by bowing to flags, instructor, black belts and senior student. We all went around shaking hands and greeting each other. I saw Grandmaster Kim standing near the infamous pole that somehow found it’s way into the middle of the dojang floor and made my way over, bowed and shook his hand to a “Thank you for the opportunity” greeting. We took a photo with everyone and went on our way to change and grab some NYC pizza before starting the trek home back to Oneonta.

All in all, an excellent day, with excellent classmates. I know that the next time our school is invited to Grandmaster Kim’s, I will definitely be the first to say yes. I highly recommend the experience to everyone.

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