Friday, June 21, 2013

"Just don't get hurt, okay?"

Yesterday, during taekgyeon training, 관장님 pulled me aside to go over some logistics.

"Do you have health insurance?" he asked. I replied that I did, though hesitatingly, because I'm not actually sure how much it covers. I haven't gone to the hospital for any treatment in nine years, so I've kind of forgotten how health insurance actually works. (I should probably look into it...)

In any case, 관장님 was concerned that whatever coverage I had might not be enough or not convenient to use -- he mentioned something about phoning the United States, although he was speaking quickly in Korean, so I couldn't catch it all -- so in the end, he just looked at me and said, "Just make sure you don't get hurt, okay?"

I grinned. Sure, that'll be easy enough. Tomorrow, I'm going to spar against a taekkyeon black belt and the only surefire way I can avoid getting hurt is to run out of the ring as soon as our match begins.

Yes, the taekgyeon competition that I've mentioned before, is finally here. Tomorrow, I will travel to Chungju (충주) with both kids and adult trainees from my dojang, and we will all participate in the 11th National Taekgyeon Hanmadang (제11회 송암배 전국택견한마당). I'm not sure what a "hanmadang" is, but it appears to be the name for a national or international martial arts meet.

Am I nervous? Not really. This isn't because I'm confident in my ability. The exact opposite is true, in fact: because I already know how outmatched I am, I know that it'll be over quick and that I will successfully not fall short of my non-existent expectations.

Here's what I think is going to happen tomorrow: I will wake up at 5am, be out the door by 5:30. The bus leaves for Chungju at 6am. After a three-and-a-half-hour nap, I'll arrive at the competition site. Kids will be running around everywhere, and I will be lost and confused and tail my dojang masters, hoping they tell me where to go and what to do. After about an hour of wandering, I will have my one and only sparring match. My opponent will be some third- or fourth-degree blackbelt who is shorter than me but possesses twice as much muscle. We'll start our match. Within thirty seconds, he will kick me in the face, and I'll be out. I will still win a silver medal, however, because there are only three competitors in our weight class. Lunch will be served at noon, and for the rest of the day, I will alternate between watching the black belts from my dojang compete and baby-sitting the flock of kids from my dojang.

Sounds like fun, right? I think I only signed up for this because I'm intrigued by the opportunity to participate in an event like this (I'll probably be the only foreigner). The last time I went to a taekgyeon competition, I was only observing. This time, I'll have my own thirty seconds of... firsthand experience.

Well, at the very least, I'll make sure I don't get hurt.

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P.S. Happy summer solstice, everyone! In Korean, the longest day of the year is called 하지 (haji).