Most tourists travel to see the sights and eat the food. But five students from Kwon’s Karate in Manhasset recently flew to South Korea for a different reason entirely. They spent a week in the southern mountains training in the Korean martial art of Soo Bahk Do. Already master-level practitioners in the art, the five were testing for the rank of 5th degree black belt, a self-defense PhD of sorts. Safe to say, this was not your typical tourist trip.
Their days began at 6AM and often continued until after midnight. “We spent most of the time training with highly skilled Korean master instructors,” said William Trevino, 36, a black belt since 1990. “Or else we were meditating or discussing martial arts philosophy over Korean food.” Sleep was not a priority, presumably.
Trevino, a professor of theater at St Joseph’s College in Brooklyn, explained the appeal: “Very few people have the chance in modern life to challenge or even to stimulate their bodies and minds at the same time. We find that Soo Bahk Do gives us that opportunity. So our time in Korea was very rewarding.”
The group’s Manhasset instructor, Master H.Y. Kwon, himself a ninth degree black belt in Soo Bahk Do, was present for the entire week, providing guidance and inspiration, Trevino said. “We’ve all studied with Master Kwon for years, so it was an honor to have him there.”
What’s next for the practitioners? No doubt they’ll find time to be regular tourists, relaxing on a beach somewhere. But they’ll also be training. Their next belt test is only six years away.