ITF Umpire Course Hong Kong
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Thursday 13th November was just a normal day at the office, at 3pm Master Nicholls and myself picked up our cases and headed off to Heathrow airport. As per usual the 3mile trip took longer than expected due to traffic around the airport.

Master HoganAfter meeting Master Hogan at terminal 5 we all checked in for what was to be a long 12 hour flight. BA flight to Hong Kong 0026 was on time and we were all boarded just short of the expected departure. Wheels up following a slight 15 minute delay and we were on our way. The flight was a smooth and enjoyable one and we grabbed as much sleep as possible, in between the bar service (Master Nicholls and Master Hogan can elaborate)

Landing at Hong Kong was fairly bumpy and I for one was glad to have my feet back on terra-firma. As we walked out through customs we greeted by Master Lau and the representatives form the Hong Kong TKD Council. They had arranged our own bus with extreme efficiency. This was to be the start of a very memorable trip for me and the Masters.

Master Lau checked us in to the 4 star hotel just on the outskirts of Hong Kong, arranged the meet and greet for that evening. Following a short rest we all met in the hotel lobby where again transport had been arranged to take us to an authentic Chinese restaurant. On the way we were introduced to Master Poon''''s academy. After a brief photo opportunity we moved onto the restaurant. Master Nicholls was present with a camera, very nice indeed a 12 mega pixel lumix GF1 I believe, only recently launched, not to be left out Master Hogan and Myself both received 10 mega pixel Samsung camera. Amazing as on the flight over we were discussing purchasing digital cameras. Thank you Master Lau and the HKTKDC.

Technical Seminar

Saturday morning we met for breakfast an had a few hours to recoup from the flight as the seminar kicked off at 4pm. We were once again met in the hotel lobby and driven to the venue where the group had already been warmed up. After bowing in to the General, Master Nicholls opened with a short speech and then straight into the practical. Spending time on the kinetic linkage and correct TKD movement myself and Master Hogan were used as guinea pigs to demonstrate correct technique and power production. First demonstrating poor technique (I found this easy to show, I wonder why!) then how the techniques should be executed.

Then time flew by and we over ran the 8pm finish time. After a short break Master Nicholls, Master Poon and myself resided over a senior grading. Those not testing continued on with Master Hogan for a sparring seminar. The feedback was extremely positive and they all commented how approachable the Masters were. Quick Change at the hotel and out for a meal with the Instructors and students, for some more Chinese cuisine.

Sunday morning was an early start, as the whole day was to be taken up by the ITF Umpire Course. Following breakfast we were swiftly transported to the venue where all participants eagerly waited. A quick introduction by Master Nicholls and down to Business.

As we went through the updated rule book we encouraged questions and input form the participants. I really must learn to pause and let the interpreter translate. After a few prompts from Master Hogan and the interpreter giving me a couple of looks of despair we managed to reach a happy working relationship. After analysing the book together the floor was opened for questions. The usual hesitation but once the first question was out there was a continuous stream for the next hour.

After a well earned lunch we returned for the practical. All had the chance to run through the standard commands as a group for Pattern, Sparring, Teams etc. The Masters table demonstrated the results procedure and testing the students scoring efficiency. Safety in numbers, or so they thought. Next the class was split into 3 so they could practice their newly found skills. The Master and myself mingled around to offer advise an corrections. Groups we brought to the front and shown how judges and the jury enter and exit the ring, a skill sometimes overlook.

Next up we opened up the main ring for some demonstration bouts. Not short of volunteers I must thank Master Hogan for playing the role of unruly coach :-) All showed outstanding skills and made short work when dealing with the coach issue!

After everyone was well versed in the old paper system we moved onto the new and improved electronic system. They all showed how versed they with modern technology as it took under 10 minutes for them to work there way round the system. We moved on to some demonstration bouts and the computer system showed Master Nicholls vs. Mark Skyrme. Which brought a few smiles to the group.

ITF Computer System
ITF Computer System

Finally after an exhausting day the floor was opened to questions. Once again the were no shortage as everyone seem to have soaked up the information. Even down to noticing a couple of typing errors in the new books, which as English is not their first language was remarkable. Wrapping up the course Master Lau thanked all for attending and closed off with the customary photo shoot and signing of belts and doboks.

Once again Master Lau had arranged a meal for all, where we met by the event sponsors and treated to another 10 courses of authentic Chinese food. A raffle had been organised and to our amazement Master Hogan one the first prize! Following a great evening and some more photo''''s we retired to the hotel for a well earned rest.

Monday, following the successful ITF Umpire Course, we were invited to play golf by Mr Ian Bruton member of the HKTKDC (Hong Kong TKD Council)

Mr Bruton is theassistant manager to the most exclusive Golf course in Asia, Shek O Country Club. For those that don''''t know Hong Kong ithas the highest cost per square footfor real estate in the world. Thus it goes with out saying that a golf course located on the peninsula would be something special and that''''s an understatement.

Membership is 500,000.00 and is none transferable even upon death!! The membership is limited to 375 no more no less. The waiting list is long and exclusive, and for a day I was privileged to be able to play. My golf skills were definitely put to the test :-)

A huge thank you to Ian for arranging the trip, the memory will stay with me forever. Pictures of the course can be found here. Also Mr Brown for taking time out of his busy schedule to show us around some of Hong Kong''''s night life, which was very pleasant!

Heading for the Green!

Tuesday and our final day, Master Lau had arrange for a shopping trip to Shenzhen. I would highly recommend a visit to Commercial City if you looking for some designer gear (Nudge Nudge Wink Wink). Escorted by 5 of Master Lau''''s students they made visa application very easy. As they escorted us first to the sashimi restaurant and then the shopping centre we nicknamed them our bodyguards. A huge thank you to Bruce for his negotiation skills when it came down to price, and the rest of the guys for the help in carrying the vast amounts gear.

Finally we made it back to Hong Kong just in time to check in. A quick bag reshuffle to fit everything in didn''''t work and we needed to pay for an extra bag, and they say women can shop :-)

A huge thank you must go to Master Lau and his team, they truly looked after the three of us. Although non-stop it was one of the most enjoyable trips I have had and look forward to meeting up again in Korea.

A full gallery of pictures can be found here

Written by: Mark Skyrme - 24th November 2009
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Mark Skyrme ( UK ITF) : 26th March 2010, 11:27

Big thank you to all our friends in Hong Kong, a very enjoyable trip
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