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Hello Mr. Asano

Hope all is well for you and your family.

First of all, you and USJF Executive Committee let USJF High School Student Judokas to participate Special Training in Kyungmin High School Korea. I am very proud to be member of this year team because they did excellent training attitude and behavior. They represented very well for USJF High School Judokas. They were extreme well behavior group and represent US very well. At the bottom of e-mail and attachment are comments from some of students.

Also I sent some pictures to Mr. Robert Fukuda. You and executive committee members will receive crystal appreciation plaque next week from Kyungmin High School principal for sincere thank you. I am looking forward to this program continuing in the future. I appreciate your continue support.

Best regards.

Joon K. Chi

From the students:

This summer, I was honored to be part of 2015 USJF Training Trip to Korea. Staying at Kyungmin High School was an absolutely amazing and life changing experience for me. The seven days that I spent in Korea with the US team, living with the students and coaches at Kyungmin, have made a permanent change in how I approach judo training.

The training at Kyungmin High School was unlike any camp I had ever experienced before. The training was grueling and tiring, and the US group and I would always end up aching and sore as the days came. However, the training always felt rewarding, no matter how hard I hurt during or after the practice.

The first practice of the day was cardio outdoors at 6:00 AM. It consisted of running many laps and usually some type of strength or agility practice. The laps were very long, going down hills and up stairs and inclines. We did a few warm up laps, then all out sprints for a long time. By the end of that, we were usually dead tired, but there was always more. If we were using the hill to train, we would carry others up and down in a variety of ways, in addition to exercises such as dips and hopping up the hill. If we used the stairs, we would work on agility, using them to quicken our footwork with light steps on each stair. We then did a grueling climb up the stairs, in a backwards spider-like fashion, which was incredibly difficult to do.

The second and third practices of the day (sometimes combined into one) were usually uchikomi and randori. When the practice began, we did some stretching, somersaults, and ukemi. After that, it was straight into uchikomi. We did uchikomi for a long time; just doing countless fit-ins while the senseis looked on and watched, often correcting our technique. As a follow up, we started randori, either newaza or tachiwaza. Randori was amazing to do there because all of the players were fierce fighters, both on the ground and standing. I was thrown countless times, but the team and I never got discouraged. We were enjoying every second of it.

During the randori sessions in Korea, I was determined to fight everyone to learn as much as I could. Regardless of their size and skill level, I fought my hardest during randori, not worried about how many times I got thrown or I threw them. By not worrying about taking falls, I could devote all of my heart and mind to taking in all of the information that was constantly being shown during randori. While having this mindset, I grew tougher and saw myself improving very much after every practice. This mindset that I developed during this trip is one that I carried with me back to the US and I will continue to develop it during my own practices at home.

The last practice of the day was a conditioning practice. Sometimes we’d use gis and sometimes we would not. When we did use gis, we did lots of three-man uchikomi, where one person holds the uke down by their belt, while tori tries to throw them as hard as they can. We did this for countless minutes and repetitions, and then when we were done, we did nagekomi and threw each other everywhere. If we had a no gi practice, we would use a rubber band about an eighth of an inch thick to do uchikomi. At first we did sets of fifty, just pulling the band. After that, we did sets of twenty full rotation uchikomi. We did these until we were slipping on the mat from how much we were sweating. After this, there were usually some partner exercises like wheelbarrows and carries around the mat. That ended the day for us and by the end, we were all tired and ready to sleep.

In between all the training we did, we either slept or talked with the students we were sleeping in the same room with. We exchanged many things, like culture, e-mail addresses, and how to say words in our respective languages. Sometimes, we would share things we had found at the close-by convenience store, like chips and soda. The US team looked on as they played card games, and we answered questions about the US. It was great to exchange different aspects of our cultures and I was fascinated by the differences and similarities between them.

Even though I missed my home and was excited to go back, I was still reluctant to leave Kyungmin High School. I learned very much during my stay there, and I had fun doing it. I brought back many of the drills I learned in Korea to the US so I could continue to do them and keep increasing my physical condition. The exercises we learned and did in Korea test my speed, power, and stamina, and continuing them will help me grow as a better and more efficient judoka.

I would like to thank Sensei Chi, USJF, and all others involved in organizing this experience for allowing me to go on this trip, my teammates for putting everything they had in all everything we did together, and the coaches, students, and staff of Kyungmin High School for being our gracious hosts. It was an honor to go to this camp and it will remain with me for the rest of my life.


Corbin Balitactac

Dear Sensei Chi,

The USJF training trip to Korea was literally a trip of a lifetime!! I cannot express the amount of gratitude I have for what you have done for me and my student. I had the opportunity to train with the best Korea has to offer. They welcomed me into their drills, their randori and their families – thank you.

To the next generation of Team USA Judoka,

The trip started with a 14-hour flight from Chicago, IL which was non-stop to Seoul, Korea. We landed in Incheon Airport which is one of the most beautiful airports I have ever seen. Once we connected with the other members of ‘Team USA’ it was off to the school, which was about an hour away from downtown Seoul. We arrived, exhausted and excited but it was nighttime and we welcomed sleep. Our sleeping quarters were shared with the judoka of the school and we all slept on the floor on mats with blankets. At first, it would seem difficult but when you’re that tired, it didn’t matter – sleep came fast.

Our mornings started at 530am and included finishing our second mile by 6am, which was just the warm up. Then the real cardio training began. Let me tell you – these kids are fast. After several miles of sprinting, the team settled in to strength conditioning on a hill. Most of Team USA, including myself, had to take breaks because Team Korea was literally non-stop, all effort, 100% of the time. We finished training, showered and ate breakfast, all before 9am.

While the training was spectacular, it was the people that made the experience special. I enjoyed visiting with the Korean Olympic Team at their Olympic Training Center and visiting some of the Korean Cultural Centers downtown but it was the people that mattered. Despite any age, race or language barriers, we all became fast friends. Quickly opening up and practicing their English skills to talk about the latest music or the newest Judo training or to ask about our families back home. The people I met I will not soon forget and should they ever find themselves in Chicago, they will always have a friend.

I encourage anyone and everyone who has the opportunity to participate in this trip to do so. I am thirty-six years old, a physician who is currently in fellowship training. This was a legitimate challenge for me for many reasons, yet I would do it again if the opportunity presents itself. I grew as a Judoka and as a person. I learned a great deal and hope that others can share in this experience. I would offer a word of caution for our younger Judoka that have not traveled outside of the United States by themselves: be ready to try new things, meet new people and challenge what you think you believe. That is the only way to grow. That is the only way to get the most out of this experience. And trust Sensei Chi – he has seen Judo for many years at the highest levels. He will guide you well.

Sensei Chi – Thank you again. I look forward to connecting with you again soon.



The USJF sponsored Korean training trip was thus far one of the most intense and fantastic training trips of my Judo career.
The training was comprised of three main segments: cardio, judo and strength training, each being approximately two hours long. Each day began with a two hour cardio workout at 5:45am, The second practice usually began around 10:30am, and the third practice around 7:00pm, usually granting me 3-6 hours in-between each workout, enough time to eat, sleep, relax and prepare for myself to get up and work again.

The training more specifically was very different from how I train at my dojos, with each practice being slightly different and focusing on new exercises and techniques, so I was always learning something new. Morning cardio workouts always included running to begin with, and 100 push-ups to end with, sometimes including drills such as sprinting up stairs, or carrying partners up hills in the between. The afternoon workouts focused on uchi-komi’s and randori with top level instruction from the Kyungmin coaching staff. And lastly we would finish with a hard upper-body workout using rubber bands among other workout drills. The training regiment was very vigorous, but I could always feel myself getting better with every practice.
As well as having some of the best training I’ve ever experienced, the coaches and students alike were all incredibly kind. Despite me and most of the team barely having enough endurance, the coaches would push us to complete as much of the workouts as we could, even when we didn’t think we would be able to do so. Many of the coaches are Olympians, and shared their knowledge whenever asked. The students were also kind, whether it was helping make our beds for the first time, or teaching us Korean, they were always amazing company.

The trip also wouldn’t have been the same without our host, Mr. Joon Chi, who took care of the team as a whole every step of the way, and helped us sometimes even at his own expense. He made sure we always understood what was expected of us, and to understand the culture as a whole.

To see and experience the dedication that goes into producing some of the best young judoka not only in Korea, but in the world, helped give me an understanding of how I need to train to reach the level of competition I want to achieve, and the lessons I learned about the culture, life and Judo are invaluable. I would recommend it to any aspiring Judoka and wouldn’t hesitate to go again.

Thank you to the USJF, Mr. Joon Chi, and the Kyungmin High School for such a great experience,

Ari Berliner

Dear Sensei Chi,

The USJF Korea Training trip was an experience that will follow me for the rest of my life. It was such an honor to be able to train with such high caliber judokas. I quickly realized how fortunate I was as this trip tested me constantly both physically and mentally which made me a much stronger person and judoka. The first 5:30 am practice was electrifying! Running and running, wondering when would we stop – made me realize just what it takes.

The kids there are very strong. They are amazing people. Although there was a huge language barrier, I found myself speaking Korean and the Koreans speaking English. That just goes to show you how much we respected each other. We trained, ate, showered and rested together which engraved us in brotherhood. They were constantly pushing us, motivating us, and cheering us on which made my heart smile because they desired for us to learn and grow.

The next two practices were astonishing. The uchikomi’s, tachiwaza, and nawaza randori were the funnest thing ever. There were so many people to train with. We laughed every time we threw each other because we truly enjoyed it. I learned so much in 7 days, because of the awesome sensei’s. Sensei Hwang Bobae looked at me and said, “Me, You” as in it’s my turn to randori with you. Sensei Hwang is very strong and so knowledgeable. He taught me so much in that 15 minutes of randori.

I also learned about the Korean culture which is such a beautiful thing. One night, some of the kids who stayed there knocked all the sheets and blankets off the shelf into the floor and plopped down to converse with us. We talked for hours about our families, what USA is like, exchanged email addresses, and made friends with each other on Facebook so we would be able to continue our friendships. We arrived as strangers, became friends, and departed as family.

I would like to thank Sensei Chi, USJF and Kyungmin High School for this opportunity to grow and learn. I am forever indebted as this was the most amazing experience for me.

USA Team members – thank you for all the fun times, jokes, and laughs. I wouldn’t have wanted to do this with anyone else. I hope to keep in touch with all of you. I wish you all the best and good luck.


Walker Tharpe