14th June 2009
The first ever 4th Degree and above seminar was a true milestone event. Its importance was underscored by the presence 16 masters and 64 senior black belts. Additionally, participants travelled from as far away as Argentina, Australia, Malaysia and North America. Naturally, Europe was very well represented. Of particular importance was the presence of the Tournaments Committee Chairman, Master Galarraga, thus helping ensure that the standard in training would also be the standard in competitions.
It was a special touch of hospitality that Master Nicholls greeted arriving partisipants in-person at the Heathrow International Airport despite his host organizational workload.
The seminar venue was an excellent choice just ten minutes drive away from the airport. The modern hotel had a helpful and friendly staff. There was much anticipation in the air among the participants at check-in.
Friday evening started with a meeting to survey the type of questions and expectations participants had for the seminar. This measure to use available time effectively had already started with the seminar announcement several months ago and again two weeks by E-mail before the event. President Choi Jung Hwa then appeared to greet the participants. He informed on the historical development in which South Korea is supporting the ITF under his leadership and the cooperation between the ITF and the WTF. He also highlighted the significance of the World Championship to be held in South Korea next Summer. Master Galaragga then briefed on changes made to the Tournament Rules.
Saturday training started with the 1st Degree Tuls. It was quickly apparent that not all participants could do Tuls at the same time in the large banquet hall and so single movements were conducted by halves. That measure turned out just fine as participants were better able to write down notes on the exacting movements as explained by Grand Master Choi and demonstrated by the many masters in assistance. Not only were movements prescribed, but how to train on them were also explained, such as for the two-direction kicks in Kodang. There was much note-taking by the higly interested and inquisitive participants. GM Choi noted that Germany won in having the most questions per capita.
The sweaty bodies in white Dobok uniforms during hard training were transformed in the two hours break into relaxed and elegant ladies and gentlemen for the banquet. The fine attire and banquet atmosphere could have doubled for that hosted by George Clooney at a film festival in Cannes. The event made obvious that the seminar weekend was also a family re-union. The announcement that Master Issac Harry was promoted to 8th Degree met with loud applause for the well-deserved honor. At age 64, Master Harry is truly an inspiration!
Sunday started with the 24th and final Tul for 6th Degree black belts and above.. Then the remaining Tuls were practiced and addressed by all present in the remaining time. The training intensity was a great as the day before.
This was certainly the best of all the many International Instructor Courses and masters specialty seminars that the author has particpated in.
So, the last question from Germany: When will the next such seminar be held?
Written by: Robert (Bob) Borja - 19th June 2009