Report of 2010 USJF High School Team Tournament
From Steve Gibson.
I have been in Judo for the past 30 years and am currently a Sandan at San-Shi Judo Club in Vista CA. My son is Tommy Gibson, and has been on the mat with me since he was very young. This summer he was given the opportunity to compete in a high school team tournament in Busan Korea, and I was able to go as an assistant coach. At first I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Korean boys and the Korean people. What I found was quite surprising to me. I have been to 32 countries, and have never experienced such hospitality and warmth from our hosts.
Our trip started out in Tokyo Japan. It has always been a dream of mine to go to the Kodokan and play Judo, but being able to do this with my son made it so much better. We spent 5 days and 4 nights in Tokyo, and was one of the best few days of my life. I will always remember the feeling I had the first night in the Kodokan, working out with my son in the main practice hall. It is something that can never be repeated. This also gave us a great chance to acclimate, and prepare for Korea.
Day 1 in Busan
After a short one hour and 15 minute flight from Tokyo we landed in Seoul, Korea. From there we made it through customs and caught our next flight to Busan . We were met at the airport by a lovely young lady, Ju Young Kim. She spoke very good English, and informed us the boys would be staying in the dorms and the adults would have a hotel room.
I reluctantly agreed to stay in the hotel, which was 30 minutes across town. After an hour or two on the other side of town, I began to worry about my son. Who knew what those tough mean Korean boys were doing to my son? And I didn’t travel 7,000 miles to be separated from him as soon as we got there. I insisted that they call me a cab, and take me back to the university to stay in the dorm rooms with my son.
Much to my surprise when I arrived at the university, my son had four very nice female interpreters as his tour guides. He was not as happy to see me as I was to see him. This was still mid day and the rest of the team wasn’t to arrive till 8:30 or so. We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening exploring the town. We met our other team mates later that evening.
This was our first day together as a team and the team consisted of:
- Mr. Kyungsun Shin…9th Dan….Team Leader….Chicago, Illinois
- Mr. Kwijoon Chi….8th Dan….Liaison Coordinator ….Edina, Minnesota
- Mr. Gene Tey Shin….Head Coach…4th Dan…..Charlottesville, Virginia
- Mr. Steve Gibson….3rd Dan…Assistant Coach…Poway, California
- Dr. Terry Holt….Team Doctor….Peidmont, Oklahoma
- Justin Tyler Anthony….Sankyu….Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
- Kai Shin….Ikkyu….Charlottesville, Virginia
- Tom Gibson….Sankyu….Poway, California
- Jimmy Chase Barnes….Shodan….Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
- Tyler Ray Holt….Sankyu….Peidmont, Oklahoma
Day 2 in Busan
After Breakfast we had a team meeting. We were very fortunate to have Gene Shin as our Head coach, as he is very well versed in Korean cultures and etiquette. We had a very informative lesson in how to present ourselves to the Korean people. This is one of the main reasons we were so well received.
After the team meeting, the girls took us into town for some essentials and snacks. We had our first practice at 3:00 along with most of the other teams. This was the first time the boys were able to see the other players, and they were watching us as well.
After practice we went back to the rooms, showered, and got ready for dinner. We decided to go into town for dinner so we could add more protein to our diet, also the dorm food took some getting used to. We went to a traditional Korean restaurant where you sit on the floor and grill meat at the table. It was quite good, and a lot of fun . We went back to the dorm rooms and got a good night’s sleep.
Day 3 in Busan
This was tournament day. We got up had our rice, kimchi, and octopus soup, a typical breakfast there. The tournament was a lot like most tournaments at first.
The other teams were very good players, some better the others, but all were very good. We drew Taipei B team first round. We lost 3-2 and were out. As it turned out they gave us an exhibition match against the Japan B team. Our guys did much better, winning 4-1.
The tournament was very well run with lots of entertainment. The winners were a Korean team from Seoul, and were the best high school players I have ever seen.
After the Tournament they took everyone, 5 or 6 bus loads, to an all you can eat seafood and sushi buffet. Those boys ate so much, I can only imagine what the bill was.
Day 4 in Busan
This was sight-seeing day. We joined our new Korean friends on the bus and went a Buddhist Monastery high on a mountain side. Did I mention it was Hot? Very hot! Maybe near 100 degrees. This was an interesting place to visit, and I enjoyed going there. After the monastery we went to a Chinese restaurant for lunch.
We had 2 bus loads of boys this time. After lunch we went to the coast where the Koreans hosted an economic summit. It was a very interesting building. Our last stop was the U.N. memorial from the Korean war. I was very glad we went there, the boys need to know the struggles and history of this great country. Our day ended back at the dorms for more rice, kimchi, and fish head soup. yum.
Day 5 in Busan
This was the first group workout day with the other teams. It was an eye opening experience for the guys. It was a very intense rondori session. Some of the guys had hard workouts at home, but not at this level of skill. All in all it was a good workout, and our guys did very well. It was all very good, clean Judo.
After lunch we got back on the buses for a trip to the beach. At the beach they had a demonstration on Korean Sumo wrestling. The boys took turns with the boys from Korea and Japan. Our guys did quite well in this event. We hung out at the beach for a few more hours, then back on the buses for dinner.
We went to another traditional Korean restaurant where you sit on the floor and cook meat in the center of the table. This was a very special night because of the company that was at our table in our private room. I was able to enjoy food and drink with some of the top Judo people in Korea and Japan. It was a night I will not forget.
Day 6 in Busan
I got up early to see off our coach Gene, and his son Kai. I’m so glad I was able to see them off, Shin Sensei made a huge difference on how this trip went. He guided all of us through a unique journey, and made the trip much more enjoyable. Thank you so much Gene.
After Gene and Kai left, the boys, Dr Holt, the boys, and I went down for breakfast for more rice, kimchi, and cold fish soup, starting to get used to it by now.
We went to the 10:00 rondori session that was very much like the day before. After the practice, the entire team from Japan ran over to me and formed a semi-circle. All 15 of them bowed and thanked me in Japanese. This was one of the highlights of the trip. I knew it was more about ours boys than me, and I was very proud of all of them.
After our lunch of rice, kimchi, and fish head soup the four girls and two Korean boys on the staff took us shopping in a district with thousands of shops. I hate shopping, but this was kind of fun. We shopped for the afternoon, than they took us to a Korean spa. We went in and took off our shoes and put them into lockers. The girls went one way, and the boys went another. We came into a locker room with a bunch of naked guys taking showers and hot tub baths. One of the boys said “Well, I guess we’re going to get to know each other better”. After our showers, we put on Korean style shorts and pull over tops. We met the girls in the main room where they had 4 or 5 different styles of saunas, even a cold room. We spent hours there, even went downstairs in our PJ’s for dinner at a restaurant on the street. This was something the Koreans enjoy, and I’m glad they shared it with us. We made it back to the dorms late and got ready for a 5am departure.
Day 7 in Busan
We got up at 4:30 and met the guys downstairs. Tommy, Jimmy, Justin, and I were off to the airport. I was disappointed the we weren’t able to say good bye to the girls the night before, but much to my surprise they came running down the steps to join us to the airport to see us off. That was so nice of them, and they even brought us going away gifts of cookies and treats that we shared with the kids in our dojo. We flew to Seoul and got Jimmy, and Justin on their plane to Atlanta. A few hours later Tommy and I said good bye to Korea.
This was quit a trip and I am very thankful to San-Shi Judo Club, Mr. Joon Chi, the USJF, and the Korean people for a trip of a lifetime.
From Joon Chi
Dear President Neil Simon,
First of all thank you so much for you and all Executive Committee members for giving our young judoka the opportunity to go Busan International High School Team Judo Championships (there were 24 teams – 8 from Japan and 10 from Korea – top notch teams and more).
The following are comments I received from all members. I would like to share with you and all Executive Members.
All competitors are already excited about going to next year’s tournament.
From Gene Shin
Attached please find a copy of my narrative of our trip to Korea. I apologize for the time it has taken, but I hope you will enjoy it. It covers the first three days through the tournament. The focus is on the events and the kids, but I want express here how much I appreciated working with both Steve and Terry. I hope we have established a solid friendship that we will develop in the years to come. I also want to thank Mr.Chi for this invaluable opportunity. It was truly amazing!
I will compose a second part covering the cultural activities we enjoyed following the competition, and I am also working on a dvd to incorporate pictures and video.
From Justin Anthony
My two favorite parts of the trip that I really enjoyed were when we went out to eat traditional Chinese food and the day we went to the spa.
The reason I liked the day when we went to eat Chinese was because I really loved the food and I got to try some things I’ve never had before like noodles with the brown sauce that was pretty darn good and the restaraunt we went to was also very nice. Great service and great food. The judo we did that day was really interesting when I would mess up and not do something right everyone that I went with was glad to show me how to do it correctly and I am very thankful for that.
My second time that I had the most fun was the last day of the trip. I had a great time working out with everyone and there wasn’t as many people so I got a few more rounds in. I also really enjoyed how nice everyone was to me and especially my older brother on the trip. After judo it was very nice and interesting to go and relax for awhile at the spa in fact that was one of the nicest days I’ve had.
All in all it was a great experience and I loved every bit of it, so my thanks to all who made this possible for me. I had a great time so thank you and I hope to be able to come back next year.
From Tom Gibson
Dear Mr. Chi and Dr. Shin,
Thank you so much for helping me to have this wonderful experience and giving me an opportunity to learn better judo in Korea.
From the first moment I stepped off the plane, I knew that in all the countries I have been to Korea was the most foreign place I’d ever been. It was very hot, humid and looked like a jungle compared to California.
The culture was very different than anywhere I had ever been. The food was…different too. I enjoyed the contrast to everything I’d seen before. Korea is truly a special place.
The day of the tournament was very exciting. I had never done judo overseas before and was very excited to experience the new styles of judo in Asia. I found that it was very different than judo in America. They are very good and fast. I have heard many stories of people going to Asia and having exceedingly difficult practices that made them very good at Judo. So, before the first practice I was both excited and worried.
I found that the practices were very hard, but there were many skilled people and I enjoyed getting better at judo. My favorite day of experiencing Korean culture was eating a traditional Korean dinner. We grilled meat, wrapped them in lettuce and ate them like tacos. Professor Ha, an Olympic gold medalist, came to join us for a little while. I have traveled a lot and highly recommend Korea as a country that you should not miss. It was a wonderful experience.
From Kai Shin
The Busan international judo festival proved to be an eye opening experience. As my first time to Asia, I did not know what to expect and I was pleasantly surprised by both the kindness of the people and the beauty of the country.
The judo was of the highest quality and I feel as if I improved just by watching the finalists compete, even if our team did not make it out of the opening round.
During the post-tournament practice, I got the chance to randori with members from several other teams and was struck by the difference between my judo and theirs. Particularly their gripfighting, which is more direct and efficient than much of American kumi kata. But most of all the crispness of their technique is what amazed me.
The food, though tedious towards the end, was certainly very different from American cuisine. However I did sorely miss bread by the end of the trip.
Our translators were very nice and helpful as were the other teams. I became friends with several other players despite the language barrier.
All in all, I emerged from the experience richer and more worldly (i hope) than when I arrived in Korea and I encourage any who receive this opportunity to take advantage of it.
From Jimmy Barnes
Dear Sensei Chi,
I just want to thank you and the other senseis for organizing our trip to Pusan. My visit to the area is one I will never forget. The accommodations were very nice and included an internet cafe which helped us keep in touch with everyone back home. The food was great and the company even better.
The other teams were friendly and easy to get to know. On the mat, the training was arduous, considering the heat, humidity, intensity and the fact that we were working out with all black belts. Aside from the training I appreciated the opportunity to visit local areas of interest, such as the Buddhist monastery we were taken to. It left me awestruck by its beauty and majesty.
We also were taken to special restaurants, a great mall and a spa. It was a great experience. The South Koreans were warm and friendly and treated us like royalty. I would definitely return. I would like to thank you once again for the opportunity for training and experiences that this trip provided.
From Terry Holt
We arrived in Korea with our young athletes hoping for high level training and competition in judo. We left satisfied that we had seen not only world class judo, but we had received world class treatment as individuals.
The Korean people proved to be friendly and engaging, wanting to share their knowledge and lives. Our beautiful interpeters worked tirelessly without pay to care for all of our needs and provide the link into the lives of the people.
While the competition was a little short lived ( no fault of the host) the randori was excellent. During the tournament we were also entertained with folk dancing and cultural enlightenment.
Through my mission work I have been blessed to travel extensively; I have never loss intrigue or respect for other cultures. We all obviously desire respect for what is close to our hearts and lives. The young men on this trip honored this notion and in doing so brought honor to their country.
Can this experience be relived by other USA groups? All of these young men came from families where traditional values and respect for adults had been instilled in the children. This relatively simple concept is essential for success in such situation. Further, the presence of three fathers did not hurt in reminding the lads if they became excessive.
Terry Holt, MD