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Increasing Unity between Singapore and Japan
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Mr. Park Jong Sa (IV dan) of ITF-Japan visited Island Taekwon-Do Centre in Singapore on 1 and 2 November to attend the senior Black Belt Grading there and to conduct a class to share training techniques and ideas with Singapore’s Mr. Daniel Sng C. H. (VI dan) as part of Singapore and Japan’s ongoing friendly exchanges.Mr. Park accompanied two students who had relocated earlier in the year and have joined his dojang in Hyogo, Japan, and were invited by Mr. Sng to grade for their I dan Black Belts in Singapore. It was Mr. Park’s first visit to Singapore.

“Thank you so much for your kind invitation and the warm hospitality extended to me by all at ITC,” wrote Mr. Park, in the ITC Guest Book. “All the positive energy I received from you here in Singapore I hope to channel to further my training in Taekwon-Do. Thank you, and Taekwon!”

Mr. Park became the first ever non-Singaporean senior Black Belt and international examiner to attend a Black Belt grading conducted by Mr. Daniel Sng. During the almost 9-hour grading session, Mr. Park gave individual and detailed feedback to all students in every aspect of their grading. “It was most interesting to see that Taekwon-Do is so universal that all the errors I observed and the tips I needed to give here were exactly the same as those in Japan!” Mr. Park commented. “Sometimes, even though students are being told the same thing, they need to hear it from a different instructor for the point to register,” says Mr. Sng. “The relationship between the Chief Instructor and his students is like that of a parent and his children. After a while, what the parent says is taken for granted and the children need a fresh perspective.”

When Mr. Park taught a class on 2 November, 25 senior students took part, some of whom had just taken their grading the day before. “It is very refreshing to try new drills with a different instructor every now and then. I feel we are lucky to be with Mr. Sng as so many international visitors come to see him and we all benefit from that!” said Mr. Kenneth Kuah, the longest standing member of ITC that attended the class that day.

All the students that attended the class enjoyed it very much and it remained the topic of choice among students for days after Mr. Park’s departure. After class, Mr. Park spent more than 30 minutes posing for photographs with students.“I am going to the military for 2 years of training from 2 December, so I want to have these photos to remind me of Sir (Sabum Sng) and all my friends here,” said Mr. Seah Ming Jing, who graded for his II dan the day before.

“The real beauty of Taekwon-Do is that we are all brothers and sisters in training no matter which country you are in, or what nationality or race you are. Taekwon-Do bridges such idiosyncrasies and brings us all together. If anyone told me I had to stop training in Taekwon-Do today, that is the equivalent of telling me to die,” says Mr. Park, reflecting on the joy of connecting with so many new members of his Taekwon-Do family. His comment resonates with Mr. Sng’s own strong affiliation with Taekwon-Do, whereby he says, “Taekwon-Do is my life.”

Mr. Park’s closing comments were a reminder that as a I dan Black Belt, a student learns only 12 of the 24 patterns signifying that achieving Black Belt is not a goal but merely getting to the half-way point. He asked that all students look not at the road behind him, but at the road ahead with renewed vigor, enthusiasm, and excitement as well as humility to further their training in Taekwon-Do and as martial artists both in and outside the dojang. “You should behave like a model to all juniors even when you are not wearing your Black Belt physically, because your mental Black Belt and truly living the Tenets of Taekwon-Do is what gives value to your achievements in the dojang.”

Mr. Park left Singapore with a promise to come back and warmly welcomed Mr. Sng and all members of ITC to visit his dojang in Hyogo, Japan.

Written by: Jules Takagishi - 11th November 2005

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