ITF Online Technical Seminar Review

The ITF recently hosted a 3-day technical seminar for 1,000 participants on Zoom. Part of the requirements for promotion to 4th degree and above is completing an International Instructors Course – it hasn’t been possible to run these so an online seminar was the only alternative.

There is a write up of the weekend on the ITF Website, and some of the PUMA participants have given their thoughts below.

On 11th, 12th and 13th of Dec 2020 the ITF ran an online technical course following the lines of the more traditional IIC. It was mostly for those who needed their certification to complete ITF gradings but once advertised the demand was overwhelming.

Over a thousand senior grades from over 50 different countries took part with 7 of us from P.U.M.A. including Mr and Mrs Swain, Mrs McColl, Mr Evans, Mr Hubbuck, Mr Bailey and myself.

With so many different time zones to consider and such a huge number of seniors taking part, we all had to log in 2 hours early and then wait for it to begin.

The first day was commenced by Grand Master Marano but there were fewer speeches than I was expecting and day one kicked off with a good warm-up led by Master Jedut which included some great information about exercises to avoid. He also shared some great pad work drills which I will be blatantly stealing for my students. This was followed by the colour belt patterns. We all performed them in our living rooms, spare bedrooms, hallways and a few in actual training halls. After each pattern, Master McPhail and Grand Master Laquerre gave detailed information about common errors and talked about what the performance should look like.

Day two and Master McPhail started teaching the first degree patterns. He gave us the opportunity to perform and gave some great hints about making the best out of a small space. This was a personal highlight for me as he runs the TKDCoaching web page and I had emailed him a few times in the past for information but had no idea he was on the technical committee. It was nice to get some tuition from him and especially as it was 2am in New Zealand.

After that, it was on to the second-degree patterns with Master Jedut.  These were taught in a slightly different way and we mostly ended up sat watching but what a sight it was. Some of the finest practitioners of the art had been drafted to perform for us and what the pattern really should look and feel like. Among many highlights, we got to watch Master Suska perform Juche in real-time which was breathtaking.  He also performed some applications of the moves as well as some superhuman leg drills that made my legs ache just looking at them.

This was then followed by third-degree patterns with Grand Master Laquerre. By this time it was almost too much and my brain was starting to melt, so I was glad we stopped for the day after the 3rd-degree patterns.

Day three started by getting straight into the 4th-degree patterns with Grand Master Lan and barely took a breath before going all the way through 5th and 6th-degree patterns with Grand Master Marano. Watching patterns I did not know was a rare treat as this doesn’t happen normally. If there are senior grades in the class we are all performing our own syllabus at the same time so no chance to watch in awe of what is to come.

All the information over the three days was being immediately translated into Spanish and Russian which I have to say was a logistical nightmare but they did very well and overall there were very few issues with the format.

My Highlights? – getting to train under Master McPhail and watching Master Suska who makes it look SO easy.

First of all, I would like to say how I felt so lucky to have been able to attend this seminar. Being part of something so special in such difficult times, with people all around the world, was truly a moment I will never forget. 

So where do I start with my highlights as there a quite a few?  There were some fantastic technical demonstrations from lots of athletes including the amazing skills of Master Suska, the comical moments from Master McPhail during his early morning slots from New Zealand.  Master Jurek Jedut’s different takes on warm-ups and drills, but I think the closing speeches, especially from GM Ung Kim Lan, where you could see how happy he was to be involved with the seminar and teaching the art he obviously loves stood out, he seemed quite emotional. 

Obviously, the technical knowledge of all the Grand Masters and Masters is what we all joined to see and it didn’t disappoint with each one having a different style of delivery. I’m not sure what it is about Taekwon-Do but it’s a big part of mine and my family’s life and I’m loving it. 

Thanks again to everyone involved, especially all the other members of PUMA who helped getting us signed up to the seminar and sharing the days with me, I’m sure they all felt the same way about the seminar as I did. Taekwon!

We’ve been to quite a few in-person IICs and made the most of Zoom sessions to keep training without the hassle of travelling overseas – but this was the first time we’d been part of a multi-day technical seminar. Even for us, there were new things to learn and details to be reminded of. There was a consistent theme throughout the weekend of regaining the ‘martial’ element of our pattern performance and keeping that flow rather than it looking like a collection of individual techniques.

The Masters and Grand Masters instructing did a fantastic job given the circumstances, working through technical issues like being muted unexpectedly with good humour. The sessions were well practiced with demonstrators showing techniques being discussed from multiple angles. Master McPhail, in particular, made the most of what Zoom can do, mixing his teaching with screen shares and presentations.

Mrs Swain loved Master McPhail’s story about how he told his friend, who knew a lot about science, to question General Choi’s science about the theory of power at a seminar. And General Choi let him talk for a little while then told him to sit down. Master McPhail then told his friend he needed to try harder at another seminar as he didn’t get his question and explanation out properly the first time. But when he stood up General Choi remembered him and told him to sit down again.

It was also a really good excuse/opportunity to catch up with some of our friends we’d have normally seen at competitions throughout the year. Fingers crossed we’ll get the chance to do it face to face next year!

About Movewell Taekwondo

Movewell Taekwondo is part of PUMA Martial Arts (Professional Unification of Martial Arts), the main instructor of Movewell Taekwondo is Nick Evans, 5th Degree Black Belt.

Movewell Taekwondo offers Taekwondo classes in Royal Wootton Bassett, near Swindon for all ages -

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