ITF Asia Taekwon-Do Championships & Korea Open Festival 2017

DAY 1 (2nd Aug 2017)
Team Singapore arrived at the Incheon International Airport after a tiring and sleepless 6 hour flight. We were greeted by Park Kyung Jin Sir and his team who is in-charge of picking up all the country delegates and sending them to the respective hotels that they are staying.

1Left: Team Singapore ready to depart to Incheon, Korea
Right: Team Singapore greeted by Park Kyung Jin Sir and 정시현 Ma’am

After a 40-minute car ride from the airport, we arrived at Incheon Royal Hotel, the hotel we are staying at for the next 3 days. We met the Malaysian team at the hotel lobby area as they were waiting for the shuttle bus to send them to the location for both registration and weigh-in. As we were starving after the long flight and ride, we decided to go out and scout the area for food after checking in and settling down. After a short walk around the area, we settled on eating what Korea is famous for – Korean BBQ, for dinner.

With a little help from modern technology (phone translator) and some rusty Korean, we managed to communicate and ordered what we wanted. After a scrumptious dinner, we explored the area to orientate ourselves and bought supplies such as water and bananas and instant noodles before heading back and have an early rest.

2First dinner in Incheon, Korea BBQ!

DAY 2 (3rd Aug 2017)
We woke up early at 6am so that we would have enough time for breakfast and got ready before the shuttle bus pick up time. We saw a whole line of food ranging from traditional Korean food such as kimchi to international such as bacon (my favourite!) at the breakfast buffet. The shuttle bus arrived punctually to fetch all the teams staying at the same hotel to the Nam-Dong Stadium, Incheon, where the championship is held.

3Team Singapore ready for breakfast

As usual, we quickly met up with the other country delegates before getting ready for the opening ceremony. I was assigned to carry the Singapore flag for the march pass when the organiser asked each country to send a representative as the flag barrier.  

Left: Russell as the flag barrier for Team Singapore
Right: Team Singapore with Team USA

Our team manager, Carnation Chai Ma’am was roped in to recite the umpire’s oath too.  The highlights of the opening ceremony were the mesmerising performances by Kpop bands such as Dreamcatcher and Sol T.

Singapore delegate, Carnation Chai Ma’am, representing the umpires to recite the Umpire’s Oath

Performances by Kpop bands Dreamcatcher (Left) & Sol T (Right)

Left: Opening speech by Grandmaster Choi Jung Hwa

The tournament started in the afternoon.  We anticipated one or two of our events will take place today after the team manager’s meeting today but none of us were being called up in the end. After taking the shuttle bus back to the hotel, everyone quickly changed and venture out for dinner. Since competition is still on going, we did not eat anything spicy and quickly went back to the hotel for more practice before calling it a day.

DAY 3 (4th Aug 2017)
Our teammate, Yuki Fung Ma’am was called up shortly after we arrived at the competition venue. Although this is her first overseas competition, she does not look nervous at all. She did her utmost best, gave her opponent a hard fought battle and achieved a bronze. We were so happy as we know team Singapore will not go back empty handed.

Yuki Fung Ma’am & Master Sng at the ring waiting for her event to start

Soon my category was called up next. I quickly changed into my dobok and reported to the ring with Sir. I thought I would not have any chance to win when I learned that my first round opponent was the silver medalist for the same category in the Open Championship held the day before. I gave out my all and could not believe it when I was announced the winner during the quarter final round. I lost to the gold medalist during the semifinals and achieved a bronze in the end.

Russell Seow competing & receiving medal

Since the last day is reserve for all finals, we know our last event will be called up today. When it’s time for lunch, Carnation Ma’am did not join us as she was afraid she would miss her event. Luckily, she was called up shortly after lunch time and she rushed to her arena with Sir. We were not breathing when she was performing her pattern. She completed her pattern without any mistake but still lost to her opponent who is more experienced. She settled for a bronze in the end and this also meant team Singapore won three out of three medals!

Carnation Chai Ma’am
competing & receiving medal

To celebrate the completion and satisfactory results for Team Singapore, we have Korean BBQ for dinner again. Mr. Ian Burton & Mr. Matthew Dandan from Team Hong Kong have also joined us!

DAY 4 (5th Aug 2017)
On today’s schedule was only the final matches, medal ceremony and closing ceremony. We arrived at the Nam-Dong stadium in the morning as usual but with a different feeling. Today is the day where all the exciting matches will be held! Since today is also the last day of the competition, many competitors started exchanging t-shirts and souvenirs with the new Taekwon-Do friends that they have made these few days. We also saw many students from other countries requesting for Sir’s autograph on their t-shirts.

Among the three of us, Yuki Ma’am was the luckiest as the medal ceremony for her event was held at the stage right after the exciting Adult Team sparring finals between Team Japan and Team Argentina. Sir was one of the guests invited to give away the medals and each country was presented with a token of appreciation during the closing ceremony.

Left: Team Singapore with Grandmaster Choi
Right: Team Singapore with our metals

Everyone was invited to the closing dinner at Ramada Incheon Hotel that night. We arrived in our suits and dresses and enjoyed the night with beer (for the adults), food and dance!

Day 5 (6th Aug 2017)
Day started later since everyone stayed up the night before. We waited for the shuttle bus to come and pick us up for the Grand Master Instructor Class after checking out of the hotel but unfortunately, there were insufficient seats for all participants.

As Team Singapore and Team Australia have a smaller delegate, we let other teams take the first trip and ended up being 30 mins later for the master class. It was very crowded when we finally arrived at Ramada Incheon Hotel’s ballroom but we quickly changed into our dobok and joined the class. Grandmaster Nestor Galarraga led the class, starting from fundamental movement, we practiced all the colour belt patterns and learn how to correct the common mistakes too. All the participants were also given a lesson on the International Taekwon-Do history by Grandmaster Choi Jung Hwa followed by some question & answer session. The class ended with the upgrading and confirmation for Master Takagi Koji to 7th degree. After another round of photo session with all the old and new friends we made during this trip, we changed, pack up and caught a train to Seoul to continue with our shopping adventure.

Photos taken during IIC TKD Seminar & President Choi Jung Hwa Seminar

Russell Seow

Written by Mr. Russell Seow, 1st Degree Black Belt, ITF Singapore
© Island Taekwon-Do Centre 2018