I had the opportunity to visit Japan and Korea in March and I thought I would share some highlights from my travels. The purpose of my visit was a combination of dojo business and personal training. As with each of my previous trips overseas, I thoroughly enjoyed my time and value every opportunity I get to connect

Japan is a culture built on personal relationships and there is no substitute for meeting face-to-face, breaking bread, and . This trip was no exception. While I was in Japan I met (among others) Mr. Yasuyuki Muneta, Mrs. Noriko Kitada, Mr. Koji Komuro, Mr. Shun Kasuga, and Ms. Aiko Sato. I truly enjoyed each person’s company and am humbled at everyone’s willingness to help me achieve my vision for our dojo.

In addition, I met with Ms. Marie Tadano, Judo Coach for Japan Railway (JR) Kyushu. As part of our commitment to becoming a world-class International Training Center, I have been in the process of recruiting a top-level coach from Japan. My goal is the find the right combination of someone who 1) has been a successful competitor at the highest levels, 2) whose style of judo is characterized by good posture and strong fundamentals, 3) who has a warm and outgoing personality, and 4) whose passion is teaching judo to all ages and abilities.

With Ms. Tadano, I think I found our match. First, she has a warm and engaging personality, she comes with recommendations from Mr. Tanaka, Mrs. Kitada and Mr. Kasuga, and her goal is to develop her coaching ability. She asked me many questions about our dojo and my vision for the future and is very excited to help us with our journey.

In terms of her judo, Mr. Kasuga emphatically stated that she has “beautiful, strong and traditional judo” and her competition record speaks for itself. Among her many accomplishments, she was an All Japan University Champion. She is currently a full-time coach for JR Kyushu, and I am currently working with her and the company for her to join us on a full-time basis for a year (possibly starting in June).

In addition to my meetings, I also had an amazing time training in Japan. First, I was invited to the Tokyo Women’s College of Physical Education to train with the team. Ms. Aiko Sato (2011 World Champion) is the coach and it was a great experience to meet each member of the team and spend time with them. Second, I was honored to have a 3 hour private lesson with Mr. Yasuyuki Muneta at Teikyo University of Science. As many of you remember, Mr. Muneta came to our grand opening and is returning to be the lead clinician during our summer camp on June 19-21st. He is an amazing technician and the time he spent with me was really special.

Finally, the bulk of my training was concentrated with Mr. Tadayuki Satoh, 7th Dan Tomiki Aikido and Shihan at Waseda University. I was able to receive 25+ hours of private lessons from him, working with three of his senior students. What an amazing experience! The goal of my trip was to understand, document and demonstrate all the key points and finer details of the Shodan requirements for Tomiki Aikido. Now that my time in Japan is complete, it is his hope that I will now train our students in the correct application of Tomiki Aikido techniques on their journey to black belt.

In addition to Tomiki Aikido, we reviewed original Japanese Jujutsu techniques and the principles behind them, as well as techniques taught to his father and Kenji Tomiki by Jigoro Kano.  Everyday he filled my brain and my notebook with knowledge. I can’t wait to host him again in August at Pacific Rim (11-12th).

Prior to returning to Portland, I made a 4-day stop in South Korea. I was joined by our own student Chonggi Mun and spent my time traveling with Mr. Sang Cook Kim and reconnecting with our practice roots. For those of you who have not met Mr. Kim yet, he is our direct line to ChungDoKwan TaeKwonDo and was a senior student of Mr. Woon Kyu Uhm, past President of the World TaeKwonDo Federation as well as past President of ChungDoKwan TaeKwonDo. Mr. Kim was always primarily interested in self-defense or “real” application of fighting techniques. Effectiveness of technique was always his focus and he was never interested in sport TaeKwonDo. Over the years, he served as President of the Korean Hapkido Federation from 1975-1982 and President of the World Oriental Martial Arts Federation from 1985-2015. He continues to visit Pacific Rim when he is in the US.

During my trip I was able to pay respect to Mr. Kim’s teacher, President Uhm who died in June, as well as meet with Mr. Park, the current President of ChungDoKwan TaeKwonDo and Mr. Im, who is next in line to be President. Mr. Im took us on a personal tour of the Kukkiwon as well as a visit to Mr. Uhm’s gravesite. During our meeting, I finalize some promotions for our senior black belts and Mr. Park presented me with two original calligraphy written by Mr. Won Kuk Lee, the Founder of ChungDoKwan.

The primary purpose of my trip was to pay respects to Mr. Kim’s teacher, President Uhm who died this past June. In addition, I was able to meet with Mr. Park, the current President of ChungDoKwan TaeKwonDo as well as Mr. Im, who is next in line to be President after Mr. Park. Mr. Im took me on a personal tour of the Kukkiwon as well as a visit to Mr. Uhm’s gravesite. During our meeting, I was able to finalize some well deserved promotions for our senior black belts. In addition, Mr. Park presented me with two original calligraphy written by Mr. Won Kuk Lee, Founder and first President of ChungDoKwan.

Finally, I capped off my trip having a late dinner with Changrim-An and Chonggi.  Changrim had just finished winning a selection tournament in Korea (he will be the 73kg representative from South Korea for the 2018 Asian Championships and 2018 World Championships). It was great to see him again and he plans on returning to Pacific Rim in October for a judo clinic and some much needed rest and relaxation.