Amidst the heated May air, loud agressive cries fill the recreation hall of Hakgwan. Taking turns, students practice their blocks and kicks. Under the slogan of “Strong women are beautiful,” Ewha Taekwon has been continuously practicing taekwondo with students from all over the globe.
Established in 1975, Ewha Taekwon is a one of a kind taekwon club in Ewha, consisted of all non-athletic major students. This year 76 students are participating, and among them, 25 are international students.
Ewha Taekwon is open to all those passionate about learning taekwondo, regardless of their proficiency or experience. Once a student becomes a member, he or she must start as a white belt, the beginning rank in taekwondo.
The level of one’s belt changes according to the athlete's degree of participation, which decreases distance among members who differs in their taekwondo proficiency.
At the start of every semester, the club runs an advertisement booth and encourages students to register. After one week of trial practice, students can decide whether they want to become an official member or not.
“‘Strong women are beautiful’ is the slogan of Ewha Taekwon,” said Cho Eun-ha, the chief of Ewha Taekwon. “During the recruiting season, students frequently ask whether they will be able to keep up with Taekwondo even if they are not good at sports. The answer is ‘yes,’ since Ewha Taekwon considers ‘strong women’ as those who are confident of their bodies through learning taekwondo. A lot of our members start with doubtfully, and are timid at first. However, looking at our members challenging themselves for harder kicks and learning the fundamental movement of taekwondo, I was able to see the true meaning of our slogan.”
Many international students register as taekwondo is unique and is a traditional Korean sport. As members of Ewha Taekwon the international students participate enthusiastically .
“I wanted to join a sports club to keep physically active as well as to be part of the university activity,” said Clara Marthy, a member of Ewha Taekwon. “Ewha Taekwon was perfect since I was interested in martial arts, and it openly accepted international students. At first, learning taekwondo was a little hard because I was not flexible, but as I kept practicing hard, and I got much better. Now I love taekwondo and I have already looked for places I can continue taekwondo near where I live in France.”
A previous member, Tristan P. A. Clowes from Canada, shared his experience in Ewha Taekwon. He was a previous member during his exchange program last year,
“For me, learning taekwondo in its country of origin was something special. In the beginning, the training was basic, as most of the class were white belts. But throughout the year, practices became intense and I was able to feel the gap from the first few weeks,” Clowes said. “The experience of being a member of Ewha Taekwon was enjoyable and will always have a special place in my heart. I am planning to come back to Korea in 2020 to get blackbelt for Ewha.”
Currently Ewha Taekwon has the highest number of international students in the club’s history.
“For international students we make advertising posters in three languages: Korean, English and Chinese,” Cho said with a smile. “I think many students registered because taekwondo is considered exotic and a representative sport of Korea.”
She revealed that she also has difficulties in communicating and teaching taekwondo in Korean, due to its original Korean terms.
“When teaching, I try to translate Korean taekwondo terms in English to help them understand the concepts and movements better,” Cho said. “For example, I use the term ‘neck-slice’ instead of ‘one hand-blade neck strike.’ However, I continuously explain terms that I can’t translate literally, such as Apgubi and Dwitgubi which refer to forward and backward inflection stance.”
Cho recalled the taekwondo demonstration that was held on May 19 during Daedong festival as the most memorable event for their club, in which many people came to see the demonstration of Ewha Taekwon in sports track.
“I think all Ewha Taekwon members will recall this as their most memorable experience since it was our biggest event, in which all members participated,” Cho said. “In the demonstration, members showed off their various techniques such as Poomsae and taekwondo gymnastics. It requires a tremendous amount of practice, but through these hard sessions members bond with each other, and it gives us a big sense of achievement.”
For further plans, members of Ewha Taekwon will be preparing for an amateur competition held between university taekwondo clubs this November. While practice was focused on learning fundamental postures during last semester, members will focus on learning techniques that are used in competitions through kyorugi, a taekwondo duel between two players.
“Just like the slogan ‘Strong women are beautiful,’ I want to encourage members to challenge their limits,” said Cho. “I wish the members are intimate and encourage each other through practicing together.”