Tae Kwon Do It Again?

Last night’s taekwondo class was fantastic, and it left me hopeful.

It started late because Special Forces was running the class before us. I talked to New Master (who I’m going to start calling Kwanjangnim) about what we’d talked about last week. Then I got in 350 turns of the jump rope before class finally started.

When classes started we only had three students. During warm ups a fourth student showed up. We did lots of partner stretching work. I love partner stretching because I can’t force myself to stretch as far as my partner can.

Special Forces kept tickling my feet when they were on my partner’s shoulder, while doing a side kick stretch. He kept giggling, “간지러워!” Ticklish!

When my partner was supposed to push my knees down during the butterfly stretch, he just let go. He looked at Special Forces. “Um…her knees. Do I need to push?” No, buddy, you don’t. The butterfly stretch is one thing I’m very good at.

We did some self-defense moves. During one of them, Special Forces said “[굿 맨] 치면—” If Good Man hit—

I interrupted him. “치지 않아요.” He doesn’t hit me.

“뭐?” What?

I knew I having a hard time pronouncing the ㅊ/ㅈ sounds in succession. I also knew Special Forces didn’t really think Good Man hits me. I didn’t care. Domestic violence is far too common in Korea, and I wanted to make it clear Good Man isn’t a stereotypical Korean man. I repeated myself. “치지 않아요.”

“오케이, 나쁜 남자 치면…” OK, if a bad man hits you… He raised his arm. I took him to the floor.

He gave me a high five and I said “아줌마 파워!”

He nodded his head and bowed to me. “네, 아줌마 파워.” Yes, ajumma power.

At the end of class Special Forces and I sat on the floor, chatting in Korean for about ten minutes. I found out a little about his family left behind in Korea. Why he came to America. How he learned English.

It was a nice chat, and it made me wonder if maybe, over time, Special Forces and I could actually develop a friendship like Master and I developed in South Korea.