Many Koreans probably learned Taekwondo when they were little; just because it looked cool or everybody was doing it. Then after elementary school, they usually lost interest and stopped learning it. However, there are university students who still have a keen interest in Taekwondo at the University of Seoul (UOS). They belong to Eddy, hoe-ori in Korean, a Central Club. It is a sports club where students learn Taekwondo. To learn more about this club that brings back our childhood memories, I interviewed the president of Eddy, Lee Jong-won (School of Business Administration, ‘09).
Can only freshmen come into this club?
No. You do not have to be a freshman to join our club. However, you are ranked by the number of years you have been in the club, not by your age. As long as older students who want to join are not uncomfortable with this system, they can join at any time. Also, we accept students from all majors. We used to have 80 students applying for our club at once, so we had a limit on how many students could join. However, there is no limit now, so do not be afraid to apply for our club!
This may be a prejudice, but are there more male students in the club? Additionally, are there more students from the Dept. of Sports Science?
When our club was newly formed, there were only a few female students. Most of the students were male. However, as time went by, more and more female students came, so there are a lot of female students now. The assumption that our club consists of a lot of students from Dept. of Sports Science is wrong. It is interesting that we barely have any Dept. of Sports Science students. You should be careful not to think that our club is only for male and Dept. of Sports Science students.
In order to join the club, do students have to take a physical test?
We used to make students take a physical test before joining, but we do not have a physical test anymore. All students who are interested in our club can apply and join. When students apply for our club, before actually joining, they can take part in our exercises. After doing the exercises, if they think the club is too hard for them, they can decide not to join. If they cannot decide right away, they can participate in several more exercises. The exercises that we do are not that tough, so most of the students who apply decide to stay.
Who teaches Taekwondo?
Instructors teach students who have newly joined the club. When students learn for a year, they earn a red belt. When they learn for two years, they earn a black belt. Students who earn black belts all become instructors. When you first come to the club, you run a lot to build your strength and learn the basic postures of Taekwondo. Then, you learn Poomsae a little bit and mostly learn Kyorugi to prepare for the competition at the end of the year.
How many times a week and for how long do the exercises take place?
The exercises take place every weekday at 6 p.m. for two hours. Though there are exercises every day, students are not required to participate in every exercise session. There is at least one instructor assigned in each exercise. Students who feel that they need more practice can come to more exercise sessions.
Do the students have a hard time carrying out their studies with the exercises, even if they build their strength through Taekwondo?
Though they may be a little tired after their exercises, the exercises are not compulsory, so students can rest every once in a while. Also, our exercises are not that tough, so students can carry out their studies with no problem. However, students who neglect the exercises in the beginning and go to the 2nd year in the club will regret having been careless. This is because if you do not build your skills from the 1st year, you will have a hard time trying to teach juniors when you earn a black belt. Therefore, everyone exercises hard by themselves.
Generally, most Korean students learned Taekwondo in their childhood. If these students join the club, do they learn faster than students who have never learned Taekwondo before?
Not really. Even if some students learned Taekwondo in their childhood, it usually has been about 10 years since then. Therefore, they usually have forgotten what they have learned. Only the students who went to championships when they were young remember the skills. The students who learn fast are the ones who work hard.
We have seen foreign students walking around wearing Taekwondo uniforms. How do foreign students apply?
Foreign students usually come by a suggestion from Korean students. There were lots of French students who showed their interest in joining our club. When they come in, we teach Taekwondo in English if we can. When we cannot express what we want, we use body language. Though it may be a little bit harder to teach in English, we encourage foreign students to apply.
During every summer vacation, there is Summer School at UOS. When foreign students first come to UOS, we teach around 100 of them about Taekwondo in the Main Auditorium. There, we also recruit foreign students who want to join.
Where is the club room where you have practice in?
Our club room is located in the basement of the Student Hall. Our club is the only sports club that has a place to exercise. We also have a lot of different fitness equipment. These are the merits of our club room. The only disadvantage of our club room is its location. Because it is in the basement, it is a little hard to promote our club.
During the Central Club Promotion Day and the UOS Festival, what does your club do?
During the Central Club Promotion Day at our booth, we wear our uniforms and perform kick demonstrations. Also, we run around the campus barefoot, wearing our uniforms. During the festival we also demonstrate martial arts.
What does this club do other than learning Taekwondo?
First, we have a welcoming party for new members like any other clubs. Second, we go on MTs (Membership Trainings) twice a year. During the summer MT, we prepare for the Summer School program for foreign students. During the winter MT, we do winter training as well as have fun. Third, at the end of the year, we have ‘A night for Taekwondo people.’ On this day, seniors who have graduated come. We give a presentation of our exercises and the results of the National Competition. Also, we often meet with Taekwondo clubs from other universities and work out together.
Are there other merits of Eddy that you would like to tell the students?
You may be scolded by your seniors during the exercises. However, by spending time together during the exercises and hanging out, you will be able to meet precious people. The seniors and teammates of the club will become people who you can rely on when you are having a hard time. When I was having a hard time, I called my seniors and they came out right away to buy me a drink and console me. The members of the club will become your family. This is the biggest merit of Eddy.
Choi Yu-hyun Editor-in-Chief
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