Taekwon-do connecting people
Martin Svitek, 27.9.2004 – As you know from older articles, Peter Regan visited our last and also this year summer camp (he is going to come for autumn one too) and because 10 days spent not only by training is time long enough to get know each other well and to speak about plenty of things, we have agreed about our visit in Switzerland to check towns and nature, uncover nature of Swiss people and also to help with trainings and show how do we teach and practice taekwon-do here in Czech republic.
We arrived to cloudy Zurich at 7:30 AM 20.9.2004 after a pretty comfortable 10hour (10 hours in bus CAN´T be comfortable :o) ) journey. Smiling Peter welcomed us and invited for a coffee and breakfast to a near café, where his daughter Luena works. He promised that sun will be shining next day (probably it was shining next day, but behind all the clouds, it was impossible to see it). We spent whole Monday in Zurich and because we came to explore Switzerland, place we enjoyed the most was a Chinese garden near Zurich lake. Rest of city was beautiful, but only next nice city like a number we have seen before – probably we had the same feelings like when a Swiss spend a day walking through Prague. The only thing we may call special was superb Zurich lake and I have to say that all towns were much cleaner comparing to our country – but that is not too hard to achieve, is it?
Later in afternoon Peter came again to Zurich and together we left for Baden – a small town, where Peter lives and where we also stayed for 3 days. First of all we went to Peter’s place to load up our stomachs (Peter’s wife is a great cook) and then left to lodge at nice flat of Peter’s friend Nick (he is also from the UK). Nick is nice guy, always in good mood, but pity was, that we nearly not saw him at all, maybe next time, Nick :o)
Mrs. Regan fed us again on Tuesday and then we left to visit Basel, where taekwon-do trainings take place. Basel is next nice city, unique experience we lived through was when we stayed on bridge (check photos) and Peter showed and said : „Now we are in Switzerland, this way we would enter German - only by few minutes walk and just behind this factory is France…..interesting, to understand it well, take a look in the map. We went to kind of sport center later in afternoon, local taekwondoists used judo dojo for their training here. Rest of our group was changing their clothes when I stayed before dojo doors, trying to speak with children – I wasn’t too successful though, so I escaped to dojo, where local janitor was probably trying to get me out. He was saying something in German and when I asked him politely to speak in English if possible he start to shout „German, German“ and grimaced like your grandma, when you play her death metal CD, trying to convince her, that it is the best and most relaxing music in the world. Swiss are proud and kind of stand-offish as I uncovered. Trainings started at 6 PM, firstly hour and half for children and then 2-hour class for adults.
It was quite hard to communicate with children at the beginning, but after few rounds of „slight frost game“ (few chosen ones beat the rest wildly using their belts) it became better and we early understand that it is enough to only use words gut, okay, noch einmal and to demonstrate everything by our practicing, not by words (of course, Peter sometimes had to help us). We focused on teaching how to create the most energy possible and how to relax techniques to make them fast and powerful. We practiced mainly basic techniques, sometimes changed to more difficult and interesting ones. We always show what are we going to do (more „intensively“ than on normal class – kind of short and divided demonstration) and than whole class practiced it. I think that children were satisfied and happy and I saw a lot of talent and potential in them, so I hope that in future with good motivation the new strong generation of Swiss taekwon-do will grow up. After hour and half, the adult class followed. We focused on the same thing as with children. Few patterns with emphasis on relaxation and power, than we tried applications in pairs, also using pads. After this, we spent a long time training kicks – basic, jumping, sparring application. I was sometimes surprised how instantly these students are able to correct their mistakes and I hope that Peter will bring them to one of our training camps in future to have opportunity to train with them more. Daniel Hollinger (II. Degree), the president of Swiss ITF, also took part in our class.
We missed the train back to Baden, so we have time to visit restaurant near the railway station to refresh by coffee and other liquids. Next train brings us back home about midnight and we went to bed happily after a challenging and interesting day.
We got next delicious meal from Peter’s wife and then left to reach local hill’s top (finally nice trip, no city-walking) and then went to ju-jitsu training. Peter’s friend Alexei also took part in our training (he is originally from Latvia) and if he can practice under our guidance, why not to change roles. At first we sat and watched Alexei with his fellow practicing kata (it’s like our tul combined with step-sparring), it is hard to describe what we saw, their practicing was really traditional, slow, but also precise and purposeful. After this, Alexei had to teach us basic arm-bars and such stuff, but immediately after warm-up and stretching, Mrs. Doris Knecht (4. Dan Ju-Jitsu, 1. Dan Judo), who supervised previous practicing, asked us to show her, what do we train and practice. After demonstration of Choong-moo tul and kicks (on pads) she had asked us, if we kick so hard even during sparring – we said „yes“, so she was curious to see it :o) Then it was Alexei’s turn to teach us basic techniques and principles of ju-jitsu. He didn’t show anything special (there was no need for it), but his erudite way of teaching and demonstrating each technique was wonderful. Because of this, even techniques we „knew“ before, were shown us without using any power, working only because of proper use of body – this is probably main principle and goal, especially if you are trying to escape from Alexei’s (or his friend’s) hold - if you want to imagine someone with figure of bear, you would imagine these two :o) (sorry guys, no offence, I mean it as compliment). To say the truth, more than precise techniques I liked the friendliness and fair-mindedness with which whole training passed, with respect on both sides and without any effort to show which martial art is better or who practice better – so no problems that are unfortunately normally seen in martial art world.
We spent about an hour in Baden’s English pub after leaving Doris, Alexei and his fellow – nice pub, lot of smoke, loud music, loud people = ideal place for evening relaxation.
Thursday was the last day of our trip to Switzerland. We spent it in Luzerne, where we luckily got with Peter’s friend Jirka (his parents are of Czech origin, but they didn’t enjoy it in Czech Republic in past, so moved to Switzerland), who we met night before in the pub. Luzerne was, how else, really nice city, but two of us tired from all the cities went outside to see local great lake and nearby mountain Pilatus. When „the right moment“ came, it took only hour and half in traffic jam to get to Zurich, then last coffee with Regan family and „bye bye Switzerland“ :o) we arrived to Prague, Florenc at 5 A.M. - tired, but happy and in hurry to get to bed the earliest possible.
The main purpose of writing this article was just to show, how taekwon-do can connect people and when you meet friendly guys, it is easy to live through plenty of interesting experiences.
Thank you Peter and the others.
Written and translated by: Martin Svitek.
PS: And who took part in this trip? Martin Hlůže, me (Martin Svitek), and our „near to be wives“ – Dina and Ivča.