Friday, November 25, 2011

And It's Back to Love...

I just have to say that I have the best kwanjangnim (gym owner) ever! I am not going to lie to you he has got to be one of the most genuinely nicest guys ever. Even though my attitude lately has been poor, and I've created so many problems for him, he still does everything he can to help me.

So if you read my last post, you know that I've had trouble at the gym while trying to train jiu jitsu. If you've followed me for quite sometime, you might know that I had similar problems at the last gym. I am training in South Korea, so there is a bit of language barrier. Even though I sought help from the first kwanjangnim repeatedly (at least 10 times, I even had real translators each time), he never really tried to do anything about the problem. He always told me that he wanted me to train there for a long time, and that he really valued my commitment; but really it didn't seem that way because he never did anything about how unhappy I was. Eventually, I couldn't not handle the stress from work and the added stress of training at that gym, so I quit. I decided to train at another gym. At first, it was pretty good, but then the guys realized that there was a chance that they might have to tap out while sparring me so they decided not to spar me. The kwanjangnim at the time spoke perfect English, and although I shared my frustration, he did nothing. I decided not to train jiu jitsu for a while and just do muay thai and fitness training at the same gym. Of course, after a while I got bored and wanted to train jiu jitsu again. All of the old guys that wouldn't train with me had left the gym (it's quite common in Korea for people to train for only a short period of time), so I figured it was worth a shot even if it was just for a little bit. While I was training muay thai, we got a new kwanjangnim. His English is good, but not perfect. We often have problems communicating, but he is very understanding. I trained with the guys for about a month this time before I noticed that I was sitting on the sidelines too often again. Kwanjangnim noticed it too. He also noticed that I didn't like how the guys treated me. So he started instructing the guys to spar with me. Still some would come up with the excuse that they were hurt somewhere and couldn't spar with me (obviously not too hurt to spar with a guy that's 20 pounds heavier than me and significantly stronger). Before I even talked to him he understood that I was disappointed. He understood my anger and frustration. So, he took the time to spar with me. Even before I talked to him about how I felt. One day while we were sparring, he asked me why I was upset. So I asked him if he were me and everyone refused to spar with him, would he be happy. He said, "no". The next day, I talked to him for a long time (with the help of Google Translator of course...which by the way has got to be one of the worst translations, but to give it some credit Korean and English have very different sentence structures and styles of speech so it is difficult for a computer to translate accurately). He said that he understood and that he had the same problem when he trained at a gym in Australia. The guys didn't want to spar with him because they thought he couldn't understand anything because he was Korean. Eventually, it all worked out, and he was able to spar quite a bit. Obviously, its not going to be the same for me. I have two strikes against me. Even if I wasn't foreign, I'm still a woman and no guy wants to tap out to a girl. Even though I have been training for over a year and a half so I should be better than some guy that's never done grappling before, they don't understand that. Their pride doesn't understand that. I know this. Kwanjangnim knows this, but he wants to change it. He told me that I shouldn't worry about the guys that don't want to spar with me because they aren't worth it. They probably won't be training for very long. He promised me that he would help me train more and that little by little he wants the gym to change. He also said that he wants more girls to train. I honestly don't mind training with guys (like I said before sometimes girls are a pain and there's too much squealing), but I don't mind paving the way for other girls who seriously want to train. Talking to kwanjangnim really helped, I feel better about everything. He still asks the guys to spar with me, and I still spar with him after. If one of the guys asks him to spar, he makes them spar with me first. Sometimes, if a guy refuses to spar with me, he makes them spar with the big hyungnim who in return kicks their butt because he loves me! Hahaha. Seriously, I spar with him everyday; I do get my butt kicked, but in a much nicer way.

I also read some articles about some of the professional MMA girls that train jiu jitsu. They said that they had similar experiences. Even after winning multiple professional matches, the guys still won't train with them. I also read that some of the girls won't spar with guys that aren't at least blue belts because the guys cannot control their strength. To be honest, there are only a few blue belts at each gym here in Korea (like I said most people don't commit to a gym for a long time in Korea). Most of the time, blue belts don't train every day because they get bored training with beginners (and women). So, I have to train with white belts. I'm not complaining as long as there are people to train with. When I spar with a guy for the first time, I always take it slow, and I let him make the first move. If he moves quickly, I will move more slowly than usual. If he is really strong, I will tap faster. I do try to give them a good spar, but I still let them win in the end (unless they do something stupid, like basically handing me an armbar). I do this out of respect for Kwanjangnim, not because I like the guy. Kwanjangnim asked me to go easy on most of the guys unless they are really good. There are only two or three guys that I'm allowed to seriously spar. I think that it is better this way for my safety and for the guys' safety as well. Even though, it's their own fault for being too prideful; I don't want to be responsible for hurting some one seriously. There have been several times that I do a submission on a guy, and they do everything they can to not tap. I know that they are in pain, but their pride is in the way. So, I just roll away and make them start again.

I really admire people like Kwanjangnim. He is an all around good guy...a genuine hunnam.


Stacey said...

Hey--I just stumbled across your blog--I'm actually headed to Daejeon in the next month and loved reading through your posts.
Are there a lot of places to train in jiu jitsu there? I've been considering it for awhile here, but now that I have about a month til I leave, I don't think it's worth it.

Anyway, great blog and it looks like I have a lot to look forward to!

Melanie Chastain said...

I'm very excited for you! I've been to many cities in Korea, and I've gotta say Daejeon is my favorite. I'm signing on for my third year here in Daejeon. I love the size and the atmosphere. It is a little dirtier than I was used to but you get used to it. There are several places throughout the city that train jiu jitsu. However, none are English. The one I go to has the most amount of English, but even still it's pretty limited unless you talk to the teacher one on one. The instructor is awesome though. He is so patient! said...

There are tons of blue belts here in Seoul. I've only had one or two guys refuse to roll with me, but they're anomalies. We even have purples and browns up here. I hope you can make it up here for a visit--the jiu jitsu is very good.