Saturday, May 16, 2009


Last Friday was Donggap Sabeomnim's last day a Tae Yang Taekwondo. Turns out since he got married near the end of last year, he's bought his own studio up in Chilgok and is even going to have two foreign students (hagwon teachers, but he hadn't met them yet when he told me about them). I'm so happy for him, but I'm going to miss him. He took a little bit of time to adjust to me at practice, but once he did, he was a great instructor who really pushed his students and he was the one who pushed the dance aspect of TKD which made a lot of workouts fun.

His replacement is... well... I'm having a lot of trouble enjoying his classes. The new instructor is a tall, skinny young man (probably not even finished university) with crazy hair who is clearly very good at soccer and taekwondo, but also clearly has no experience teaching others. He's like a big, goofy kid with ADHD. This could be a good thing for getting along with the students, but he has no discipline whatsoever.

Practices haven't been starting until 9:30-9:45 (they're supposed to begin by 9:20 at the latest). We don't do group warmups, and the only real exercise I've gotten is when he has us use the jumpropes--but even that was unstructured. We had no set numerical goal or type of jump he wanted us to practice, he just let us go. He put on music, but then after about 8 bars of each song, he'd switch to a new song. This made it really difficult to get a groove going and made me keep stopping and starting.

Beyond this, we've been sort of working out on our own or playing games. Every night.

I really don't have a problem with the goofing off or game playing once in awhile; the students need it to build up group dynamics and 정. However, when we haven't kicked, punched or done a single poomsae in a week, I really have to wonder why I'm paying 90,000 won a month to learn taekwondo.

Just as we have no clear start of our session, we don't have clear endings. Those of you who do taekwondo know that it's important to salute the instructor to mark the end of the practice. However, since I'm in the last class of the day, some of the boys stay after this salute to work on tricks or special routines for a show that's coming up. Sometimes I'll stay to practice a poomsae or a new move we learned in class, but with his late start times and unclear finishes (no salute), I end up just hanging around until 10:30 (I used to be out consistently by 10:20) watching others do stuff, wondering if I'm allowed to go change and leave yet.

It's so frustrating.

I'm getting to the point where I'm considering quitting after I get 2 dan. Or at least finding a new studio. I don't want to do that to Kwanjangnim--I really like him and when he is instructing class, the classes are awesome. I also love my studiomates and am FINALLY at the point where I've been pretty well accepted there and don't want to deal with the rigamorole of joining another studio and being the foreign freak for a few more months.

But at the same time, I'm not getting a good workout AND I'm not learning taekwondo! It's not a good situation.

Before I completely give up on the whole studio, I will talk to Kwanjangnim if ADHD Sabeomnim continues to piss me off. Although this is difficult because I lack the nuances that would enable it to be a tactful discussion of my problems with the current structure of the class. I mean, I do LIKE ADHD Sabeomnim, I just don't like his teaching style. At all. However, I'll give him some more time because with my test in a month and a half.

What else can I do?


  1. Give him a piece of your mind!

    Or, if you're not feeling particularly feisty and combative, sounds like switching studios is the way to go.

    Good luck with it...

  2. I almost did last night when I saw ADHD Sabeomnim driving the TKD van full of kids through a neighborhood where middle school students were walking home and TEXT MESSAGING on his phone at the same time. I swear, if I was his teacher or his parent, I would have tore him a new one.

    Sadly, doing so in Korean is beyond my skills. I could do it in English, but it would be more frightening for him than necessary and not at all effective.

  3. I enjoy yelling at people (friends) in Korean because they CAN'T understand what I'm saying. I vent, they laugh, we laugh.

    There's a reason texting while driving is illegal here-- people can be so stupid sometimes!

  4. Start saluting out yourself. When class is supposed to be over and everyone is just sort of standing there, say "사범님..." whatever phrase your school uses. Obviously don't do this if class is actually still going on, but if it's in that weird limbo? Just do it.

    Can you do jumping rope yourself to get going before class? Can you set your own goals? When Master was between teachers and class turned into a loose mess, I started jumping rope more often. I set my own goals, and it worked.

    (Side note--when I'm jumping rope, I do 100 turns with two feet, then do 100 turns using another method such as alternating feet, then do 100 two footed jump again, 100 with another style, etc. It breaks up the monotony, keeps my calves from cramping, works more of the body, and helps me keep count.)



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