Welcome to Kyung Hee Dae:
Kyung Hee vs. Mexico
To supplement the physical training, we also had the opportunity to watch the Kyung Hee demonstration team, the middle school championships, and the training session between the university team and the Mexican National Team. It was this last session that provided us with an excellent introduction to the training methodology of the university program especially as how it was on the first day of our visit to the university. After stretching and warming up, the athletes lined up in four rows across the room (women paired on one side, men on the other) to begin with the "light" sparring session. The "light" contact without pads was more severe than many full-contact sessions with protective gear I have seen. The contact was solid and noone appeared to be willing to back down despite the intensity of the workout. The worst injury was a jammed thumb of one of the Mexican women that obviously was not minor.
During one of his early morning walks, Dr. Min commented on the "bodies of steel" of the Kyung Hee University team members. The day before, he watched one of their training sessions and was amazed at the high-level of intensity the team members could maintain for an extended period of time without showing any indication of fatigue or pain. Dr. Min was especially impressed with the comprehensive results of the program, stating that the progress the Koreans have made in the 2 to 3 years prior to the trip has (again) far surpassed the rest of the world.
Watching this session, I wondered how many of us from Berkeley were prepared to engage in this kind of activity. Although the group consisted of experienced competitors (only one person in the group was of lower rank than 1st dan), I doubt that any of us were in condition to maintain this kind of intensity for 45 minutes. Certainly some in the group could perhaps hold their own for a time, but the cardiovascular fitness required to participate would prevent the continuance of this kind of intensity by most of us.
Of course, the Kyung Hee team looked very sharp as a group, with some individuals looking sharper than others. Common traits? Both men and women demonstrated multiple kicks on an attack especially when breaking away. As the two people separated, the Koreans were consistent with popping in the roundhouse kicks left/right or right/left (Later in the week, we would perform drills that emphasized this reflex). Also, the smooth shots to the head were standard fare.
The Mexican Team members acquitted themselves quite well, demonstrating a high degree of competitiveness and skill that made the session very interesting to watch. In general, the men performed better as a group. Not only did they demonstrate an enthusiastic willingness to "play" but they also demonstrated much more polished counterattacks (roundhouse under the lead roundhouse, backkicks), albeit maybe not quite as varied as the Koreans. A few of the Mexican women were far outclassed by the Kyung Hee women. However, the taller Mexican women provided challenging matches primarily because the Korean women do not usually have the opportunity to prepare for height-mismatches of this sort. This oversight enabled the taller Mexican women to take advantage of their reach to negate to Koreans' skills and quickness for varying results.
From this, the importance of stamina and a high degree of cardiovascular fitness was driven home as the continuous round-robin sparring lasted for an hour and was followed by single full-contact matches between the two teams. Also, the Koreans displayed a smooth slide and attack that would be quite effective in our sparring sessions: the attacks initiates with a slide forward which leads directly into the kick.
This was also our first meeting with Seung Min Lee and Hyang Mi Cho. Hyang Mi officiated all the matches between the Kyung Hee students and Mexican Team members. We became immediately aware of her commanding presence. Seung Min demonstrated her skill in commanding fashion with a second round dispatch of her Mexican opponent, the single most stunning performance of the afternoon. This pair led us through some of the most grueling workouts during the week which were standard fare for them but left us gasping [Their hard work and dedication paid off in the 1995 World Championships as they both took gold, Seung Min as a lightweight and Hyang Mi as a welterweight.].