Special thanks to my friends over at 90 Day Korean who helped with putting this article together. They were key in helping to link up the meanings of Korean terminology and how they apply to the judo techniques.
For the Korean language learning folks out there, you may know that learning anything when in the context of something that interests you will greatly increase the likelihood of committing it to long-term memory.
For the judo fans, you may be familiar with a lot of the popular terms for judo techniques in Japanese. In fact, you SHOULD know the Japanese nomenclature if you have any kind of rank above white belt.
But did you know that there is a different set of terms to describe the same Judo (유도) techniques in Korean?
You know, it’s a long uphill battle to beat the Koreans in judo. Here’s why. As children, Koreans can enroll in one of the many elementary schools across their country that have designated judo development programs. At a young age they commence their training on a conveyer belt of winning judo standards. And this is just the beginning. They can move on to the same in middle school, and this includes all-girl’s middle schools. Again, at high school age, players are training in judo full time alongside their studies in hopes of gaining entrance to the final level of Korea’s schooling system.
University. This is the final stage before the best of the best are plucked to train in the national program.
In Busan, Korea’s second largest city, there are two universities with judo development teams: This is Dong-Eui University as I showcased early on during my time in Korea. The other university judo program is Dong-A University which is what you see here. Judo teams share large athletic facilities with other sports and martial arts like taekwondo, kendo, boxing, and wrestling at universities like these.
These are no compromise systems training students for careers in physical education, law enforcement, and potentially the highest level of play in the sport. These are the big boys and girls. They have been training in the Korean school judo system since elementary school. That’s a lot of dedicated years.
At universities such as these, students are able to receive a degree in judo instruction and development, or other related degrees such as physical education for public schools.
You don’t want to randori with these kids in your right mind. They are true mat rats who train full time and want to win. Only the best coaches are assigned to these teams and there is immense pressure to produce results.
Make no mistake, this is not local club play. Practice sessions are uchikomi and then an hour and a half of randori 5 days a week with many other high level players. The pool is large and the bench is deep with strong players whose life is judo. Some of the main judo hubs in Korea are Seoul, Gyeonggi-do, Daegu, and Busan.
There is no guesswork in Korean judo. Show up, follow the plan, win a medal. Wash, rinse, repeat. There should be no wonder why we see Korean champions all the time.
Visiting the Kodokan Judo Institute is something I would recommend for any judo enthusiast. We all know how widespread judo is in Japan, but to be at the birthplace of the sport will bring new value to the art we all have grown to love.
I appreciate more the operational and organizational requirements involved in overseeing an art as globally popular as judo. When you see the eight story building that is the Kodokan, most of the space is used not for training, but for managing the sport.
I came up with 3 Ps to describe Japan – more specifically, Tokyo. And they are “precise, pristine, and polite”. As a young, fanatical judo guy back in the day I quickly became enamored with Japanese culture but I never took the chance to visit. Well, I finally went and it is better when you’re older.
Tokyo is still a top travel destination in East Asia. Let’s find out why. Here are 22 things to do and see in Tokyo, Japan.
South Korea has always been, and will continue to be one of the dominant forces in the sport of judo. Whenever a Korean team is present at an international-level competition, you can be certain that their players will be in contention for a spot on the podium.
The reason is simple; they have a tried-and-true, well-oiled training machine that churns out World and Olympic champions continuously.
They own a blueprint, and the blueprint goes something like this: take a geographically small country that produces world-class talent each generation and employ those players back into a complete end-to-end program that begins in a fully integrated school training system.
Here in Busan, Korea’s second largest city, there are a number of school judo teams. They begin in elementary school and continue up through university. There’s even an all-girl’s middle school judo team here.
One of the great benefits of teaching abroad is the ability to travel more. Not only is there more free time, but you are also closer to countries that you would otherwise never get a chance to visit unless for a unique circumstance.
Japan is always a common destination for travelers. I’ve been to Tokyo, but there are so many other cities to see. During one of my vacations I took a trip to Osaka. A common travel plan is to visit Kyoto while in Osaka because you’re just a short 20-45 minute train ride away depending on the type of train you choose.
I realized within the first day or two, however, that seeing what I wanted to see in Osaka would not allow me the time to get away to see Kyoto as well. I visited for 5 days.
I decided to make this compilation video of my time in Osaka. There are some popular destinations in it, but also some that the general public would not think of to visit. I hope you enjoy the ride.
This is a touchy subject. At the same time though, it’s just reality.
In the Korean ESL job market for private academies, or hagwons, there’s a lot of negative press. And for good reason. You don’t have to look far to hear of the countless horror stories of bright-eyed, hopeful teachers excited to go to Korea being mistreated in many ways. It serves no purpose getting into the details as I’m sure you’ve heard the same stories that I have.
In addition to the working conditions of some of these schools post-hiring, the recruiting process has left multitudes of people stunned and offended.
There are numerous recruiters and private academies who make distinctions based on ethnicity.
This also is not a new concept. It’s a very unfortunate aspect of job acquisition in South Korea, and it won’t be changing any time in the foreseeable future.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is arguably the hottest martial art right now, with it’s growth outpacing all others. This is for good reason; it’s popular in the Ultimate Fighting Championships, is a highly effective self-defense system, and dynamic sport.
As expected, Korea has taken to the sport and it continues it’s upward trend of growth to this day.
Here in Busan it’s no exception. With the likes of Kim Dong-Hyun leading the MMA charge in the UFC, the sport is exploding.
I’ve trained in BJJ at American Top Team, Gracie Barra, and of course Busan Team MAD! As with judo (and any martial art for that matter) the camaraderie is awesome and I’ve made new, life-long friends in BJJ.
I decided paying homage to the sport here in Korea was only fitting since it’s right here at my fingertips.
I hope you enjoy this montage. It’s just the tip of the iceberg.
If you’re in Busan, or plan on visiting, and want to work out with one of the teams in my video, their websites are listed below:
I’m finally making my way into Seoul more frequently now. I know, after almost 3 year…what took me so long?!
This time around I made several stops, and one was to the Seoul Olympic Park. The Seoul Olympic Park was where the 1988 Summer Olympic Games was held.
It is not crowded at all, though the roadway around the park seems popular among bikers, walkers, and families picnicking.
The main gate of the park was very massive and equally impressive to see it in person. I vaguely remember images of it on TV way back when the games were actually taking place. It’s an amazing site in person.
Wow! It’s been nearly a year since I first posted judo video tutorials by my 7th dan instructor. I don’t know why I haven’t done more. I literally walked into one of the coolest situations a judoka could ask for. Just steps from my first apartment was a small, but historical Korean judo school.
Amazingly, the judo school was founded before Korea even established it’s independence.
About a year before Korea became an independent nation, Kook Sa Kwan Yudo Jang was founded in Japan. Pretty cool, isn’t it.