There's no 'Bed Bath & Beyond' in Korea... But a nice little Saturday nonetheless.
Saturday I got up early and headed out to meet up with a friend. Armed with the most basic Korean language skills, a couple of dollars in my pocket and some directions written in Korean that I copied off the interent I set out for my rendezvous. If you know me and my sense of direction you probably already know I never found the place or the person I was looking for. No matter though, I decided to cash in the silver lining and explore a cool new part of Daegu that I had never seen. I walked through a lot of interesting traditional shops and found the Daegu music district where I priced out a few guitars for a later date. Eventually I stumbled across a subway station which meant I was home free. Good thing too, 'cause I had no phone, was lost and had apparently copied my directions down wrong. I decided to hit the Seomun Market where you can buy just about anything for really cheap. The place is huge and there are different sections for produce, textiles, shoes, clothing, seafood, housewares, hats, bags and all sorts of other stuff. You could easily spend all day there just walking around, checking out the cool foods and vendors (check out the video of the pig "snack bar"). After a while I made my way back to Daegu MMA where I had a good Saturday workout and then hit the neighbourhood Jimjillbang, something I'm glad to say is becoming a Saturday tradition with some of the boys.
Picking up the pace at Daegu MMA
Everyday at Daegu MMA Heung Gull tests the limits of the connective tissue in my arms, neck and legs. I get submitted a lot. Without the gi I'm happy to keep it even, in the gi I have to set smaller goals such as "don't die". Wednesday was different. Heung Gull is fighting a wrestler soon so we've been doing more wrestling. On Wednesday we scrimmaged. Just the two of us. Ten 3 minute sessions. I beat him like he was the bully who picked on me and stole my lunch money in elementary school and we were meeting 10 years later after I grew two feet, hit the weights and figured out that I was good at inflicting pain on people. I tried to steal his soul. Heung Gull is just good enough at wrestling that I can use some of my really good stuff on him. He reacts properly, which allows me to set up and hit some of my best techniques. I threw everything in my repertoire at him and then some. Doubles, singles, high crotch, shoulder throw, front headlock, stepper, hip toss, whizzer, over under, inside leg trip. I hit them all and I'd be lying if I said it didn't feel gooooooooooood. Unfortunately, as every fighter knows, Some days you're the hammer and some days you're the nail. The next day was back to Gi Jiu Jitsu. With Heung Gull I'm more often the nail than the hammer.
Things have been ramping up at Daegu MMA. Un Sik has a kickboxing fight on Halloween night, Heung Gull is fighting in DEEP in November and there is a Jiu Jitsu tournament in early December. There are a lot more guys training a lot harder these days and more sparring partners to choose from. Wednesdays no gi class has had more of an MMA slant to it lately and people have been doing more MMA based drills and conditioning during open mat. It's a good atmosphere.
Heung Gall's opponent in DEEP is Mori Akihiko. Akihiko's record of 7-6 doesn't tell the whole story. He's fought in Sengoku, DEEP, K1 and many other quality promotions in Asia. He's been in the ring with some some very tough hombres. I've been working on the wresting clinch with Heung Gall quite a bit as Akihiko seems to like to bully people into the corner, tie them up and try to drag them down to the ground. From what I've sen I think Heung Gull's Jiu Jitsu and striking are better than Akihiko's. Even if Heung Gull does get taken down, this might not be a bad thing as long as he doesn't end up mounted or in side control. It's an interesting fight, I hope I can make the trip to watch.
Turkey Day & Pumpkin Carving
Being away from home on the holidays is never great, but lucky for us we have some awesome friends that hosted a Canadian Thanksgiving Day to make everyone feel a little more at home. Karen and Brian prepared a full thanksgiving spread and there were contributions from everyone else as well. There were no turkeys to be found anywhere in the city, but it's just as well, they probably wouldn't have fit in the toaster oven like the chickens did. Ovens don't really exist in Korea.
About 15 people took part in the festivities; most were Canadian but there were a few Americans and an Irishman stirred in for flavour.
The same friends, Karen and Brian, also hosted a pumpkin carving night as a low key alternative to our regular Friday night festivities. Unfortunately the pumpkins were carved pretty quickly and what followed was a 4:00 am Noraebang session. Some people should sing. Some people shouldn't. Sometimes Soju convinces people from group 1 that they belong to group 2.
The Contradictions of Korea
Before I left for Korea I had some friends who had been there tell me that I would run into all sorts of things that just didn't make sense. So True.
Being caught behind a Korean girl on the escalator is awkward; they wear skirts that have shorter inseams than some brief-cut underwear I own. Suffice it to say that girls would not be allowed to wear skirts like that in a Disney film. This seems to be perfectly ok with everybody. On the other hand, Koreans find it absolutely SCANDALOUS for a girl to show her shoulders. How dare they!?
Example #2: Blowing red lights is ok. Driving on the sidewalk is ok. Cutting off cyclists and pedestrians is ok. But don't you dare jaywalk, Koreans will yell at you.