On the Road World Tour 2018 - Europe + Morocco

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Grandmaster G
Hae Jang Nim
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On the Road World Tour 2018 - Europe + Morocco

Postby Grandmaster G » Wed Feb 07, 2018 5:18 pm

2018 Europe +

“Highway to …..”

Tick Tock and the clock strikes World Tour 2018, time to hit the Martial Road for the 25th Anniversary seminar tour. Of course, like any world tour it has to start with the hiccups, this time a fairly challenging one as the Black Belts I need for all the testing don’t arrive in time. So, plans are put in place to hopefully get them express mailed to Spain for the first group of students who are testing. Check in goes smoothly and I head to the lounge for one of my last good coffee’s, one benefit of the Air New Zealand lounge is that they have a barista on hand to make coffee. The world tour this year includes 38 flights and 18 countries, not quite a record for flights but definitely for countries covered. It will also be my first visit to 4 new countries, Portugal, Morocco, Romania and Cuba.

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Flight #1 Sydney – Bangkok (Thai Airways Boeing 747-400) [Map Key: Red Dots are transfers or breaks, Yellow Dots are seminars, Blue dotted lines are long distance drives]

I always like to take a break during the Australia – Europe travel and prefer Bangkok, Thailand, due to the cheaper cost to stay, the friendly people, the ease of getting around (BTS/MRT), and of course the fantastic dining opportunities. There are now 3 two Michelin starred restaurants here as well as a bunch of single star ones and the lunch pricing makes them amazingly affordable. Beyond that there are some of the other benefits to a stop in Bangkok, in this case a chance to get a new suit made. I am getting a Tuxedo done for the Hall of Fame in the Netherlands, for a fraction more than renting the suit when I am there. Of course, while I am here I also spend a large amount of time in my hotel room working on the veritable Tsunami of videos that are uploaded from those testing for Black Belt levels and completing Instructor Qualifications.

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If you are a fan of amazing burgers and pies Aussie style, this is a must visit!

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Chunky Beef pie, with chips and handmade tomato relish, a little bit of home on a plate

*Side Note* Airport Transfers – My advice is to always pre-plan them. Of course, there are places where you can grab a cheap cab, or train but in general having someone waiting with a sign to pick you up and drop you at the hotel just makes for such a nicer arrival. Adding to that, a nicer ride in a better car without crowding or a crazy taxi driver. In most cases a little research can make the transfer almost as cost effective as the local taxi option. I am not talking about booking a limo, but a standard car that is clean, has AC, is roadworthy, can fit your luggage easily, and actually knows where your hotel is.

I didn’t have many dining plans this visit, of course I hit Chef Bar for a great pie, and I had a reservation for the newly 2 Michelin Starred Gaggan (regarded as Asia’s #1 Restaurant), along with a booking for Dining in the Sky, more for the experience than the food. Gaggan had changed up its menu from my last visit and now you got a list of Emoji’s that referenced each course, some with cutlery and some without, even 1 course came with its own soundtrack.

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The tasting menu @ Gaggan

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This course was meant to be actually licked off..


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Some courses are just interesting to look at, it tasted good too.

Dining in the sky was interesting and not for those that don’t like heights. The view was ok but I imagine doing this over the Sydney Heads to be more amazing, and there would definitely be some places in the world where the view + dining would be incredible.

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Dinner in the Sky

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Strapped into your Dining Racing Chair

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Part of the view

Bangkok went well, lots done on video reviews, a couple of good meals and lots of very affordable foot massages, funny how something you never do at home is the norm when travelling. I hit the road with my next flight on the A380 courtesy of Lufthansa, a little bumpy heading out of Asia but it quiets down over Europe for a on time arrival into Frankfurt. To give you insight of this day’s travels, it was a 11 hour 30 minute flight then 6 hours in the airport for another 3 hour flight, so 20 hours travel today. I do notice at Frankfurt airport that they are now using a totally new scanning system, not longer the X Ray or the Rotating Body Scan, now is a flat walled unit.

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Scan Time

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Flight #2 & #3 Bangkok - Frankfurt - Seville (Lufthansa Airbus A380-800 + Lufthansa Airbus A320)

The flight to Seville was delayed due to the snow and each plane having to be de-iced before take off which caused a queue of jets waiting, so just over an hour later we hit the skies for the flight into Seville. I am met at the Airport by the Senior Team SBN Jose, BSBN Alex and KSN Eloy, we then head into Seville where I will be staying at the prospective hotel for the next ITS.

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A bit of work De Icing a 747-8

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First 2 bags, winner!

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Exterior of the ITS Hotel

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ITS Hotel Room

Of course we need to lock in details but from my first impressions the hotel is quite nice and located in a good area, walkable to all the sight seeing in Seville as well as being easy to get to for transportation. I grab dinner with the local instructors and we catch up over some plans for my visit along with details about the ITS, they have a dossier prepared with a lot of early work already done for ITS8. The next morning, we catch for Breakfast before meetings with the town’s sporting council member, the mayor and a visit to the facilities we are planning to use for the ITS. The local government is getting behind the event and along with some help with venues, we will be invited to enjoy a local festival during the ITS week.

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A typical local breakfast, bread+ Ham or Tomato or Pate in this case

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The local pool area (now closed for winter) but one venue we will have exclusive access to as part of the ITS

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Beer is cheap here, Coke is about 3x the price for the same size

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A local Theme park that will be part of the ITS #1

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A local Theme park that will be part of the ITS #2

In the evening it was time to head over to KSN Eloy’s new dojang for a couple of kids seminars, with over 70 kids it was a crazy class but Bag Fu kept them in line and everyone had some fun. After the seminars I also had the honour of cutting the ribbon to officially open this new location. I do have to say it is a very nice looking Dojang, lots of light and plenty of space!

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The main training area – KSN Eloy’s Dojang

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Junior Kids Seminar

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Senior Kids Seminar

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Everything gets Hapkido affected here

As part of this world tour I will be adding Video Tours of all the IHA Dojang’s so you can see where our International family train, the link will take you to a YouTube video.

https://youtu.be/W9CPBHP9fGE

Video tour of KSN Eloy’s Dojang

The next day it was time to hit the mats at SBN Jose’s Dojang for some Concept training with the adults. We worked through White, Orange, Yellow and part of Green as well as covering the new syllabus changes/additions. After the seminar we had a brief break before some Black Belt testing for the local students, we had 2 testing for Junior Black (13-16yrs old) and 2 testing for 2nd Degree Black Belt, with the results being given out at the 25th Anniversary Exhibition the next day.

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SBN Jose’s Dojang training floor

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Adults Seminar

https://youtu.be/YdGrmy5gh8c

Video tour of SBN Jose’s Dojang

Oh of course how could this be the World Tour without a Provisional Black Belt challenge, and this year the challenge is to get a pain face picture from each of the seminar visits. For each one the Provisionals will do 25 Hapkido’s (Like a modified Burpee) as part of their Black Belt preparation. So without further ado. Here is number 1, KSN Juanma.

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KSN Juanma – Dan Bong Choke (Spain)
Challenge Count - 25

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It seems this restaurant wants you to have more Pate!

Some of the local Black Belts decided to truly celebrate the 25th Anniversary so they had Hapkido in Hangul and the number 25 shaved into their hair. Now that’s taking it to a new level, welcome to the Crazy Hapkido club BSBN Alex, KSN Eloy and KSN Juanma!

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I told your everything gets Hapkido here

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Heart Attack in a glass – definitely not mine

The next day SBN Jose had arranged an exhibition in a local training venue (the same we are going to use for the ITS). With around 200 students on the mats do a lot of different demonstrations to celebration our 25 years. As part of the final series he had students hold up a number from 1 to 24 and then do a technique, of course #25 was missing and I was asked to ‘fill’ in. Poor KSN Eloy got to enjoy some impromptu Dan Bong as part of the show. After the show finished I had the pleasure of announcing the results of the Black Belt testing, congratulations to Junior Black Belts, Juande and Paula as well as new KSN’s Juanma and Francisco. After the exhibition it was back to the Dojang for a meeting with the local ITS committee, the plans are well in place and there are lots of great surprises instore for all those making the trek to ITS Spain. Start saving and planning now to be part of what will be our biggest and best ITS to date!

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Lighting was horrible, but you can see most of the exhibition team

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Congratulations - Paula, Francisco, Juanma and Juande

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Local meats, cheeses and breads, simply yumm

On my final day in Seville, we finalise a few plans for the ITS before a mini Dojang tour with a 45 min visit to each Dojang with a kid’s seminar (this time pressure points) and finishing up with a last class for the adults. We start at KSN Eloy’s, then over to SBN Jose’s, then BSBN Alex’s and then back to SBN Jose’s for the Adults where I cover Ground Defence to wrap up this visit. It was another good visit to Spain with lots of good work being done for the ITS.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LgnPlHLU3Gc

Video tour of BSBN Alex’s Dojang

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Flight #4 Seville - Frankfurt (Lufthansa Airbus A321)

The flight is Lufthansa smooth into Frankfurt, again my bags are the first 2 off the luggage carousel, there is no way this can last. Still good when it happens, I do notice on the way out that the Red Channel to declare items was closed, so I guess you can just bring what you want in today. I meet SBN Jens (SBN Jens is from a different Hapkido style and opened his door for me to visit during some spare time I had) and as well as Laura who is a Mexican Hapkidoist visiting Germany on holidays and we head out to his training hall for a small class on Dan Bong with the local students. For dinner it sounds like a Joke when an Australia, a German and a Mexican who study a Korean Art walk into an Italian restaurant. But in this case, it was just a late dinner at the only open option after class.

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Nothing to Declare here

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Small but dedicated Dan Bong group

The next day we drive North towards Ronsahl for the next seminar group, it gets a little colder and you can see more snow around the area. It is a quite picturesque town and the hotel I am staying at is very charming. I get to spend some time with SBN Stefan the local instructor before the class where I cover basic self defence for the kids and Dan Bong for the Adults. The class goes well, and the German’s appreciate the pain of the angry short stick, well I think so. Dinner was yet again at one of the open options and this time Chinese/Thai was the choice.

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German Seminar Group

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A view from the Hotel #1

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A view from the Hotel #2

Today I had one of those rare moments of peace, these only occur when I am up to date with the Trip Report, have gotten a decent amount of sleep and have also caught up with all the Signature Videos, of course getting the trifecta while on the road is rare and within hours the Video Tsunami returns. SBN Jens picks me up for the 2hr drive back to Frankfurt where I am on the floor to teach a kid’s class and adults class this evening. The kids get basic bully defence and the adults more of the Dan Bong, I also get a volunteer for the ‘Pain’ Face and tick Germany off the list. A late-night dash for a schnitzel and the next morning it is back to the Airport for my flight to Croatia.

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Some of the German Kids

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Germany – Dan Bong Foot Compression
Challenge Count - 50

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Flight #5 Frankfurt - Zagreb (Lufthansa CRJ 900)

A couple of pictures from the flight into Zagreb, hmm do think it is going to be a little colder than Germany? It is cold enough that Vlado has bought in the big gun of heaters to make sure that the Dojang stays warm enough to train, this thing looks like a jet engine and sounds almost the same, but heat it does indeed do.

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Looking Colder

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Yeah that’s definitely colder

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Heating anyone?

I fly in Friday afternoon so of course it is time to hit the mats for the Friday night class and to spend some time with the locals on their techniques. The next 2 days I have an open seminar covering a whole range of techniques including introducing the team to Ground Defence in detail, the Koala attack comes into play, save that question for in person. It is a good weekend with lots of Mat time which works well as its cold outside, some good meals including a visit to a very traditional old-style restaurant and on Sunday night we wrap up the visit with Belt testing for the local team. Congratulations to everyone but especially to the 3 Provisionals which bodes well for Black Belt testing next year. Croatia will see its first Kwan Nyom Hapkido Black Belts in 2019, and some would say first real Black Belts in Hapkido in general.

https://youtu.be/yFphLHDpt8E

Video tour of Vlado’s Dojang

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Some of the seminar group

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Old school restaurant

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A mix of sausage

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Some Turkey to make sure we get Bird with our Beef

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Congratulations to the successful testing group

During the day we also had a local TV reporter drop by for an interview which would be going to air in the next couple of days locally on a few different stations. After the testing the celebrations continued with a small party for both my Birthday, after all how should I spend it, teaching Hapkido of course, as well as the IHA’s 25th Anniversary and the local Dojang’s 5th IHA Anniversary. I also invite Vlado to add some thoughts to my 25th Anniversary journal that is travelling with me around the world. And I didn’t forget to grab the pain face picture.

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Video killed the Radio star!

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Let them eat Cake!

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Vlado adds to my journal

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Croatia – Short Stick Choke
Challenge Count - 75

On Monday I get the chance to visit an exhibit on Nicolas Tesla that is showing in Zagreb. Tesla was born in this region and was another one of those incredibly rare geniuses that was an inventor, engineer, physicist, futurist and artist. Often overlooked when it comes to the big names in our past. Do a google search for an idea of the sheer volume of idea’s and inventions he created or worked on.

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Tesla Exhibit #1

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Tesla Exhibit #2

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Tesla Exhibit #3

After the exhibition we hit the road for the drive to Graz, Austria (about 2.5hrs), it is one of those times I am happy not to be driving, the snow is heavy, the roads slippery and the traffic challenging. Vlado gets us across the borders (Croatia – Slovenia – Austria) smoothly and we meet up with Grandmaster Zmugg (9th Degree Sin Moo Hapkido) at his Dojang in Graz. On the mats for a night of Finger and S Locks, with some lock flows and amplification. One of the local students gamely steps up for the Pain Face and also gives me a local gift of the local delicacy Pumpkin Seed Oil (Salad dressing+). After the seminar we grab dinner at one of the few open restaurants (Chinese) and eventually take the even more challenging drive back for a 1:30am arrival into Zagreb, you know the next day will hurt when the alarm is set at 6am, you have 2 flights and a 4.5-hour drive for the first time in snow coming up.

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Austria – Dan Bong Reverse Whip
Challenge Count - 100

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Team Austria

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Ice Creams & Ice for sale in Winter

https://youtu.be/7gTTmWfZ6Iw

Video tour of GM Perry Zmugg’s Dojang

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Flight #6 & #7 Zagreb - Frankfurt - Cluj (Croatian Airlines A319 & Lufthansa CRJ 900)

*Side Note* Romanian Driving – It seems speed limits here are indicating what the 50% mark is, as basically everyone sat at 2x the speed limit minus 10km (50 = 90, 70 = 130). The roads were rather basic and mainly 1 lane each way which made overtaking an artform, hit the indicator (make sure to leave it on) and overtake 1,2,3,4 or more vehicles as you saw fit. My record was 2 cars and 2 trucks at the same time. Now the overtaking also meant that oncoming cars were affected, so it wasn’t uncommon to see 3 across at times as the oncoming car made space for the overtaking car.

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There are 4 different speed limited stickers on that van

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Beware the Gypsy Wagon

The drive went smoothly, Google Maps got it right and even though it said it was under 300km to travel and I averaged 90kmh it still took 4.5 hours, not sure how that math worked out, still it was an interesting (read, not wanting to do much of) driving in the snow, sleet and other adverse conditions. Sensei Anthony stopped by the hotel to say hello when I arrived just after 11pm, as I said this was a long day. Sensei Anthony is a 6th degree in Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu Iaijutsu amongst other Japanese combat arts and lived in Japan for a number of years before I met him in Australia almost 27 years ago (he trained some Hapkido). The next day I get a chance to train the local Gendarmerie (From Wikipedia: The Jandarmeria Română is a military police force of Romania tasked with high-risk and specialized law enforcement duties.) as well as some of Sensei Anthony’s students, during the lunch break they also do a demonstration for some of the local VIP’s.

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Some of the local Swordsmen + Sensei

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Nobody died in the taking of the group shot

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Romania – Police Tonfa Choke
Challenge Count - 125

Let’s say that some of the day was spent making sure the locals felt Hapkido before we could move onto a more constructive learning environment, however at the end the commandant said some good words and the feedback was positive about Hapkido with talks about future trainings. Sensei Anthony for some time now has been out on his own teaching and developing his system without a Master and I took this opportunity to recognise his experience, efforts and skills with his official recognition as a 7th Dan Shihan. Congratulations sir, well deserved and a small token for your efforts walking the Martial Path so long and diligently. We are hopeful that he will be able to join us at the ETS this September in Finland.

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Congratulations Shihan Anthony

The next day was kept open to see some Brasov in the heart of Transylvania, so get ready for a bunch of pictures from the area, including a visit to Rasnov Citadel, Bran Castle and more! I do have to mention a fairly humorous incident that involved Karma, the timing was sublime and I wish it didn’t involve me. I stopped out of Bran Castle and remarked that it was warmer outside the castle than in, at that exact moment a huge chunk of snow from the roof hit me straight on the head, talk about taking one for the team. A couple of Italian tourists found it funny enough they almost slide down the path, Shihan had a chuckle and I remembered more closely how cold and wet snow was.

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Brasov #1

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Brasov #2

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Brasov #3

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Brasov #4

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Where does Dracula do his Banking?

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Hungarian Meatfest

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Rasnov Citadel #1

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Rasnov Citadel #2

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Rasnov Citadel #3

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Rasnov Citadel #4 – Fighting the cold

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Shihan has Horse riding skills

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Marlenka, a local desert

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For some reason they put straws in Lattes here

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Bran Castle #1

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Bran Castle #2

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Bran Castle #3

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Bran Castle #4

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Bran Castle #5 – Including a gong?

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Apparently this was Pork Crackling, think chewy and glutinous

It was a good first visit to Romania even if it did get to -13 degrees at once stage, now that is simply not human weather. There is a lot to see here and I think that there is a good chance I will be back at some point, hopefully in warmer times. The drive back was uneventful except for a notification popping up on my Travel App that my flight to Warsaw was cancelled. Incredibly enough within a couple of minutes my phone rang and LOT airlines called to arrange a change in travel plans, instead of the direct flight getting in at 5:30pm, I was now on Lufthansa via Frankfurt arriving at 11:30pm. I am amazed how fast and efficiently they fixed the cancelled flight issue, thumbs up for LOT and hello my old friend Frankfurt Airport.

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That’s the plane we are getting a bus to, goodbye Cluj

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Flight #8 & #9 Cluj – Frankfurt – Warsaw (Lufthansa Embraer 195 & Lufthansa A321)

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Translation – Luggage Expected. In 43 minutes? It was closer to 3 minutes.

I check in smoothly to my hotel and grab some sleep before meeting up with KSN Grzegorz in the morning for day #1 of the seminars here in Warsaw. Today the focus is on exposing a lot of non-Hapkido attendees to the beauty of Hapkido. That was my brief from KSN, so onto Hand Attacks, S Locks, V Locks, Knife and Kick Defence for a fun filled day on the Mats in chilly (but warmer than Romania) Poland.

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Warming up the Mats

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Warsaw Seminar Group

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Warsaw @ night

The next morning, I am back in the Dojang for some time with the local IHA students as a group of them prepare for testing in the afternoon. The testing goes well and we welcome another Provisional Black Belt amongst the rest so plans are now underway for our first Black Belt testing next year in Poland. I also get a chance to work with KSN Grzegorz on Instructor signatures as he completes the requirements for Senior Instructor and then become the first in Poland to complete the IHA Instructors Course. Congratulations sir!

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Congratulations on your promotions

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Senior Instructor KSN Grzegorz

After all the good news, we head to a well-known local restaurant for my annual Golonka (Pork Knuckle) dose. It is a small dinner with the local seniors to celebrate this visit and the 25th Anniversary, also a time to plan some future steps which will include a Polish team at both the ETS in September as well as the ITS next year. Monday rolls around and I am back in the Dojang for a mini Sun Bae with the local Red Belts and above. A chance to go over their requirements in more details as well as work with the 2 local KSN’s on their material, KSN Grzegorz puts his body on the line for the Polish pain face. That evening I head to the cinema to catch a screening of Black Panther, and it seems that Warsaw was all there as well, actually it was the Movie release of a Polish movie and all their stars and paparazzi where there for a party. I spend the extra $1 to upgrade my seat to VIP, which I think gave me a harder seat, they look interesting but aren’t that comfortable. The movie was in English with Polish Subtitles, but the parts where they spoke African were still Polish, so no idea what was said at times.

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Praying at the Golonka Altar

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Polish Paparazzi

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VIP or Racing Seating

https://youtu.be/I3Ag7VNDTwk

Video tour of KSN Grzegorz’s Dojang

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Poland – Sword Cross Hand S Lock
Challenge Count - 150

I get a free day on Tuesday so a chance to get the trip report up to, after getting the report up to date which takes almost the entire day I head out for dinner at what is now my favourite fine dining restaurant in Warsaw, the 1 Michelin Starred Senses. An excellent meal to wrap up my visit to Warsaw before an early morning ride to the airport for my next 2 flights. I check in and head to the lounge and my travel app beeps me with an update that the flight is delayed and the connection in Copenhagen is at risk. We get into the air about 45mins late and the connection was just over an hour, so it will be tight. However, the Captain puts the pedal to the metal and we actually arrive just 5 mins later than originally plan, connection made and I am onto Scandinavian Airlines for the flight into Norway, in flight I get a Reindeer wrap as the meal and it was quite good. Welcome to Scandinavia!

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Cheese Course

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A version of Goulash

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Desert

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Flight #10 & #11 Warsaw – Copenhagen - Oslo (LOT CRJ 900 & SAS A320 )

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Inflight food on LOT airlines, light and tasty

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Reindeer wrap on SAS airlines

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It looks cold down there, it was!

SBN Erik picks me up from the airport and I get the Frozen smack in the face you get when you walk into the Artic weather, somehow the -7 here is just harder to take than in Germany or Croatia, the moisture content is evil. I grab dinner with the local seniors (SBN’s Erik, Terje & Carlos) and we work on plans for this visit. First up a class with the Coloured belts and some testing, then onto a Black Belt class, 2 days of seminars and an Instructors Course. I get a chance to do some city sightseeing with SBN Terje and also grab a very good Sushi meal at one point (Alex’s Sushi – Oslo, recommended).

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Sushi, Norwegian style

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A view of the city, with the Harbour partly frozen

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Just when you thought cars couldn’t be smaller

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Flying Viking

Over the weekend the 2 days of seminars include Hand Attacks, S Lock, V Lock, Dan Bong, Pressure Points, Chokes and more Dan Bong. The local Norwegians also arrange a pleasant dinner in the Dojang to celebrate our 25th Anniversary. Lots of good home cooked food including Venison & Moose. With an excellent home baked celebration Cake as well.

https://youtu.be/jAl9QO8bhbU

Video tour of SBN Erik’s Dojang

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Some of the Vikings in the seminar

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Home-made

It is a Hapkido filled visit to Oslo, and a good one with a great step up in quality from the last visit. The local students are learning the Kwan Nyom techniques with great focus and intent. The 3 Musketeers, I mean SBN’s are doing a great job with the team and we are expecting a decent number to travel across to Finland for the ETS in September, oh where is the pain face picture, just below, I couldn’t leave that out.

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Norway – Dan Bong Cord movement technique
Challenge Count - 175

On my last day I get some free time in the morning before heading to SBN Erik’s house to run the first IHA Instructors Course here in Norway, with 9 of the local team attending it is a great start to the future of Kwan Nyom Hapkido instruction in Oslo. Some of them are so motivated from the meeting they recreate a moment from the history of IHA Finland with the famous head in the snow picture. It seems the Norwegians are as crazy as the Finnish, just how we like them in the IHA Family. Of course, the next morning it is another one of those hit the road the airport and a short direct flight from Norway into Finland.

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Instructors Course in Style

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Who said Snow is Cold?

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Flight #12 Oslo - Helsinki (SAS CRJ900)

The flight was delayed a little due to conditions at Helsinki airport and once we got airborne we were slowed down a little as well. Once we arrived it was pretty clear, or in this case not clear, so the reason for our delaying was quite evident. Basically, you couldn’t see the runway until about 10secs before touchdown, quite an interesting way to land. A late but safe arrival and I meet up with SBM Kim for the drive into Helsinki where we went over the plans for this visit. 4 days of Seminars, a Spirit test, senior Black Belt testing, and an Instructors Course. After the chat I got a chance to grab dinner at one of my favourite restaurants in Helsinki – Gaijin, which is a fusion of Asian styles. One thing you always notice about the weather is that even though it says it was only -1 degree the real feel index says it feels like -9 degrees, love your work Helsinki.

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Hello Finland

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Gaijin - Duck Sushi

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Gaijin - Scallops

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Gaijin - Ribs

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Gaijin - Desert

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There are 2 Aussie Bars in Helsinki

A day to catch up on videos, trip report, sleep, well maybe not enough of that but still some. It was also a chance to grab another good meal before the training kicks off here in Finland. Day #1 on the mats for a focus on Striking, Blocking and combinations. That evening I also got a chance to enjoy dinner at what is arguably one of the top couple of restaurants in Helsinki (Palace). I ended up having dinner with SBN Jaakko’s brother Eero who is a chef as well. The excellent part beyond having company was that he works for the group that own this restaurant and the final bill was halved, now that is the way to do it. So, a local travel tip, when in Helsinki, have dinner with Eero at a Royal restaurant!

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You know its cold when the harbour is frozen

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The Finnish Striking team

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Palace - Chef Eero joins the dinner

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Palace - Keep scooping the caviar

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Palace – Langoustine + tart

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Palace – Black Truffles anyone?

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Palace – Now that is how Truffles should be on your dish

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Palace – Pigeon

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Palace – Desert

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Palace – Petit fours

Day #2 back in the frozen north with kicking, up first. A quick revision of all the syllabus kicks before moving onto variations and advanced versions. After lunch the focus shifted to the ABC of locks, locking revision and modifications. To wrap up the day, pardon the pun, I worked on some belt wrapping and locking techniques. Now I need to take you back to the beginning of the tour where I mentioned that the Black Belts hadn’t arrived, and to date they still hadn’t. At this stage they had been express mailed to Finland but were trapped in the internal processes of delivery which would mean missing both the Spirit test on Saturday and not being available for me to pickup which would mean mailing them to the Netherlands. However Sherlock Pertsa was on the mission and after getting an internal phone number for Finnish post we headed off to the huge distribution centre, literally minutes before they closed for the day we met a worked in the car park for the Belts, talk about taking it down to the wire.

https://youtu.be/01JSCHaHH98

Video tour of Master Tapio’s Dojang

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Getting ready for the Spirit Test

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Tied up in Finland

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On the hunt for Black Belts

Saturday is a busy day, starting off with the Black Belt Challenge, Black Belt Technical Review, Seminar and then Spirit test followed by a dinner with the local Black Belts. It was a good day, the Black Belts worked hard, CGN Timo and KSN Siru both gave their most in the senior review and the seminar worked on locking from all over. The spirit test put the 3 candidates through to their limits and I am proud to announce that all were successful in earning their Kwan Nyom 1st Degrees. Congratulations new CGN’s Ari, Aleksi and Heikki.

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Saturday Seminar team

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Spirit test group

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Congratulations new Black Belts

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Finland – Belt Choking
Challenge Count - 200

Sunday was my last day on the mats and for this seminar we headed a little more north to Jarvenpaa for the day. The morning session had a focus on Ground Defence and included the standard concepts as well as some multiple opponent work. After lunch we shifted gears into throws and takedowns, with presentations afterwards. Congratulations to all the Finns who earning new ranks, and/or Instructing levels. BSBN Siru earnt both her 3rd Degree and Chief Instructor recognition, KSN Timo 2nd Degree, SBN Janne to Chief Instructor, KSN Harri & KSN Antti to Senior Instructor, BSBN Tommi, KSN Risto and CGN Jryki to Instructor. Of course, there is also more and it was time to put more of the local seniors through the official IHA Instructors course before grabbing dinner with BSBN Hans downtown.

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Sunday Seminar Group

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Downtown Helsinki @ Night

Monday rolls around and I hit the friendly skies for my flight into The Netherlands, this time with SAS via Sweden to make the easiest Star Alliance connections. For your information it didn't get below -12 degrees whilst I was in Helsinki, but the Real Feel at that time was -19 degrees taking into account wind chill and moisture in the air, or as I like to call it non-human weather.

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Flight #13 & #14 Helsinki – Stockholm – Amsterdam (SAS CRJ 900 & SAS Boeing 737-900 )

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The Netherlands looks warmer at least

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Hmm it seems the Heineken truck is pumping beer

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A typical view from Amsterdam

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I had to try some coffee from where I was born

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Amsterdam at Night

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It seems BSBN Henk has expanded his Empire

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Charged every 9 minutes… Hmmm

A day for a break, which always means Video signatures, but when in Amsterdam it also means a couple of good meals. I will be adding some food pictures to my World Tour photo album on Facebook so stay tuned for those. I grab the train to meet up with KJN Ron and the sight seeing team as today we are off to the Military Museum before the Black Belt Grading tonight, picking up some weapons for the evening maybe? The museum was excellent, a clear easy path to walk around with lots to see, clear exhibits and a good range from the old through to the new along with lots of planes, vehicles and more.

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Military Museum #1

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Military Museum #2

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Military Museum #3

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Military Museum #4

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Military Museum #5

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Military Museum #6 – Engine Upgrades for Mustang?

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Military Museum #7

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Military Museum #8

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Military Museum #9 – This is a Special Mustang!

After the museum we hit the road for the drive over to Spijkenisse to meet the rest of the team at one of the regular restaurant haunts, the Water Town where you can eat all you like for a paid for time, in this case we had 2 hours to demolish the place. Then onto Master Roddy’s dojang for the testing, tonight there are 2 candidates and I am happy to announce that both earned their 1st Degree Black Belts during the evening. Congratulations and welcome to the Kwan Nyom Black Belt family, CGN Erwin and CGN Darryll.

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Congratulations New CGN’s

The next morning there was some free time s KJN Ron had arranged some more sightseeing, first up a visit to a safari park (which was ok) the highlight being the Cheetahs, and then onwards to see a IHA Mustang? In this case it was KSN Marcel’s horse that has a special IHA coat that it wears, always a chance to promoted the family!

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On Safari #1 – Hello Kitty

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On Safari #2 – Fuzzy Reindeer

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On Safari #3 – It seems Fuzziness is catching on

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On Safari #4 – Hello Kitty 2

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Almost another Hapkido Mustang

That night it was onto the mats with the seniors for the Sun Bae where the focus was on Rolling Hand techniques and how they were a concept, so I expanded on the 4 entries, the many strikes and even more exits, followed by some personal time to fix personal technique issues.

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Fighting Dutch Sun Bae

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25th Anniversary Banner for The Netherlands

The next day it was a full day in Hoogvliet covering ground locking, leg locks, rolling hands and more. I also had the pleasure to present the Black Belt certificates from last year as well as a couple of well earned Instructor promotions, KSN Andre and KSN Robert both earned their Senior Instructor recognition. During the lunch break we also had a moment to recognise the 25th anniversary with another home-made celebration cake. To wrap up a great day we also welcomed a new IHA family member when KSN Yonni and his Dojang joined the IHA as representative members in Haarlem, The Netherlands.

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On the Mats

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Let us eat Cake

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Seminar Group Day #1

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Welcome to the Family

Seminar day #2 was in Best where the topics included Basic Locking revision and multiple opponent defence, with a seminar for the kids where we did Bag Fu. The local kids gave me a Hapkido fan, however the size was a little beyond my luggage! After the adult’s seminar wrapped up this visit to the Netherlands I was honoured to be presented with the 25th Anniversary Banner.

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Kids group with the Hapkido Fan

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Adults in Action

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Seminar Group Day #2

The next day I grabbed a nice Chinese lunch with Master Henrie where we had a chance to talk a little about Hapkido of course, Master Henrie has some ideas about the sword that we will be looking at for the senior curriculum. Then onto the rails to get a fast train from Rotterdam to the airport and my next flight.

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Flight #15 Amsterdam - Lisbon (TAP Airbus A319)

The flight was a little delayed but all turned out fine and after seeing the somewhat huge line for Taxi’s it worked far quicker and cheaper to use Uber. Uber here in Portugal is very fast and was very cheap in comparison to some other Euro stops. A smooth ride into the city to grab my hotel for the next couple of days and some downtime sightseeing on my first visit to Portugal, which is Country #52 on my travels.

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Lisbon #1

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Lisbon #2

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Lisbon #3

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Lisbon #4

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Lisbon #5

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Lisbon #6

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Lisbon #7

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Lisbon #8 – Books Anyone?

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Lisbon #9

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Lisbon #10

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Lisbon #11 – Portuguese Tarts

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Lisbon #12 – The outside Queue for the Tarts

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Lisbon #13 – Picture first, Eat second

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Lisbon #14

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Lisbon #15 – Escher in action

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Lisbon #16 – SOS in the shower

So how is Lisbon? It is a very nice city, the weather was perfect, the people friendly, the food I had excellent I got to enjoy a range of restaurants from the only Michelin 2* to some very local types and all the meals were fresh, tasty and full of flavours. The sights are great and it is easy to get around with Uber (Taxi) and walking with hills on each side of the city square. There are lots of open squares, museums and open walkways to enjoy amongst the downtown, with of course all the normal shopping options. One thing that is a local item is cork, you can get bags, shoes and a whole list of items made from it, I even sent back some postcards made with cork. The only slight negative was the average coffee, but too many Portuguese Tarts helped cover that up. When I got to the airport there was a moment of celebration (ok a small one) when I saw that there were automatic passport gates and Australian passports were included, but. There is always a but, they only work if you entered Europe through Portugal, so off to the line for me, and back into the friendly skies for the 2-hour flight into Morocco.


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Flight #16 Lisbon - Fez (TAP ATR 72)

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Arrival into Fez

One of the first things I noticed as we were landing into Fez was the sheer amount of greenery around the country, I sort of expected something more arid, the flight was smooth, immigration a little slow but that meant my bags were off already. I headed out to Meet Master Omar and Black Belt Yassine for the drive into Fez. From the airport we headed into the city for a ‘snack’, one thing you work out quickly here is that every meal is anything but a snack, expect lots of food. The hotel I had booked was a Riad or guesthouse type so that would be interesting to experience here. Firstly, the entrance was somewhat dilapidated, but the inside very nice with lots of local charm, well worth taking the chance if you are ever in the city. A quick stop to check in, grab my Dobok and off to one of Master Omar’s 2 Dojangs.

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Moroccan ‘Snack’

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Entry way to the Riad (Guest Hotel)

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Foyer, such a surprise from outside

Of course, I have to comment on the traffic, its fluid and actually not crazy really. What stands out are the pedestrians, the road is more like an extended sidewalk and they almost ignore cars, add to that older cars with bad lights and low-level street lighting, it is amazing that more people aren’t hit, somehow it all works. I get to visit the first Dojang and see a class in action before having a chance to share a technique with the local students. There was a good bunch and they were all working hard with a touch of acrobatics from the Korean influence.

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Outside Dojang

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Class Group

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Small taxi’s only

The next day I got a quick chance to see over the town on the way to the 2nd Dojang. My hotel is located in the Old Medina which is the main tourist area for the old buildings, Souk (Market), and places of interest, including the first university in the world.

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Fez #1

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Fez #2

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Fez #3

A quick stop to visit the Galaxy Dojang which is Master Omar’s new location, which was only opened recently. Here they teach Hapkido, Taekwondo, Boxing and a number of other Full Contact styles. The local Moroccans are competitive and like to practice Combat or Martial arts. After the visit we head to Master Omar’s house for a traditional (huge) home cooked lunch, this time with the focus being on couscous. I honestly have never really sough out couscous as it has always been one of those bland padding foods in my opinion, however it is a Moroccan specialty and here I actually enjoyed the dish.

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Outside Dojang + Master Omar

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Inside Dojang

https://youtu.be/-k9hBnSrMgE

Video tour of Master Omar’s Galaxy Dojang

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Couscous lunch

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Lunch Plus

After lunch we headed out for a walking tour of the old town, which was done by the locals so we got to see a less Touristy version with ground floor access to the Tannery, Souk, and varied walkways, markets and buildings lots of history here to see. Of course, being close to the action also brings those special moments like walking into the open air natural leather tanning area, interesting odours abound.

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Fez #4 – Get your Tan on

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Fez #5 – The library in the world’s first university

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Fez #6

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Fez #7

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Fez #8

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Fez #9

The next day it was time to hit the mats for the seminar with Master Omar taking the warm up and then my turn. With such a range of ages, ranks and organisations I kept the techniques a little more basic, focussing on S Lock and Finger Attacks to demonstrate the idea of Concepts in Kwan Nyom. After the seminar I got the chance to enjoy another Moroccan experience, Selfie time. Well I am used to be asked to being in photos, but not on the same level here, I think I took a selfie, a photo and group photos with everyone at least 3 or 4 times. It was good to see the local students, parents and spectators excited about Hapkido and its growth in Morocco.

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Group warming up

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Fez Seminar Group

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Fez Black Belt Group

After the seminar it was time to head back into the Old Town for a traditional Moroccan dish, this time a blended Chick Pea soup, which was very tasty and as with almost every meal here accompanied with Olives and Bread. One of the things that stands out is a traditional garb that is worn by the men here, the Djellaba. It is a long robe with/without a hood and normally worn to keep warm, as it was mid-teens to 20, which is cool here there were quite a few being worn. All I could think of in the narrow walkways and paths around the city was scenes of Jedi Knights or Magicians strolling around.

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A typical Djellaba

A brief break after lunch before dinner, yes it does seem like meals are a big focus here, and everyone laughs every time I reference the sheer amount of food. It is the norm and a chance for people to chat, even if the food is finished then it is time for Tea, a very sweet mixture of Mint. Dinner was another soup, this time a Moroccan version of Minestrone, which was also good. Adding to the experience was that we were on a rooftop in the old town area with views over the city.

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Fez 10

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Fez 11

The next day it was back in the gym, this time for a tournament and demonstration by the local students. The competition consisted of different falling challenges, one with a mix of all the falling requirements, then falls over distance and height, as well as a self defence competition. During the morning the local group also put together a demonstration. At the end of the event, I was honoured to be presented a plaque in recognition of my visit to Morocco by the deputy Mayor of Fez. Then onto another small meal with the local seniors, this time some very nice Roasted Chicken to wrap up another day.

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Plaque presentation

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Fez 12

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User avatar
Chris Berrios
Posts: 20
Joined: Tue Nov 23, 2010 7:04 pm

Re: On the Road World Tour 2018 - Europe + Morocco

Postby Chris Berrios » Fri Feb 09, 2018 6:14 pm

Thanks Sir, sorry to hear about the black belts.

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Grandmaster G
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Re: On the Road World Tour 2018 - Europe + Morocco

Postby Grandmaster G » Thu Feb 15, 2018 6:00 pm

Updated 15 Feb 2018.

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Chris Berrios
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Joined: Tue Nov 23, 2010 7:04 pm

Re: On the Road World Tour 2018 - Europe + Morocco

Postby Chris Berrios » Sat Feb 17, 2018 12:02 pm

Hi Sir,

Dinner in the sky? Not for me, what happens if you drop your fork?

Thanks

Chris

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Grandmaster G
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Re: On the Road World Tour 2018 - Europe + Morocco

Postby Grandmaster G » Mon Feb 19, 2018 2:50 am

Luckily, no one dropped anything. But I imagine they had spare cutlery on hand ;)

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Dean Evangelista
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Re: On the Road World Tour 2018 - Europe + Morocco

Postby Dean Evangelista » Thu Feb 22, 2018 8:18 am

Sir, how long did the dinner go for and what happens if you need to use the bathroom :shock: ?

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Chris Berrios
Posts: 20
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Re: On the Road World Tour 2018 - Europe + Morocco

Postby Chris Berrios » Thu Feb 22, 2018 2:21 pm

Sir,

Looks like a great turnout for the seminars, what was the food item with Hapkido written on it? Hotel looks really good.

Thanks

Chris

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Grandmaster G
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Re: On the Road World Tour 2018 - Europe + Morocco

Postby Grandmaster G » Thu Feb 22, 2018 8:55 pm

@Dean - We were briefed to go to the toilet beforehand and it was only an hour long.

@Chris - Think large bread roll with some cheese/meats inside.

Log Updated 22 Feb 2018.

Regards

GM G

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Chris Berrios
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Re: On the Road World Tour 2018 - Europe + Morocco

Postby Chris Berrios » Sun Feb 25, 2018 8:09 am

Thank you Sir,

Great pain faces, the Hapkidos shall be paid in full today. Love the orange belt pain face, not sure if he will ever volunteer again.

Regards

Chris

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Matt Hall
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Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2018 5:40 pm

Re: On the Road World Tour 2018 - Europe + Morocco

Postby Matt Hall » Wed Feb 28, 2018 5:00 pm

Hi Sir,

Love the Dan Bong pain face!
Beer cheaper than coke sounds good to me and I enjoyed the video of the dojang.

Regards

Matt

Katherine Cai
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Feb 09, 2018 1:47 pm

Re: On the Road World Tour 2018 - Europe + Morocco

Postby Katherine Cai » Sun Mar 04, 2018 8:27 am

@Sir Chris, the pain faces are the best idea ever! Never fails to make me laugh, and GMG seems to have a hint of mischief on his face.

To GMG,

Loving the food photos so far - sorry for being a late arrival but what were the flavours on that licking plate ??????
I also love how the seniors shaved the hangul for hapkido on their head - super cool. 8)

I’ve also learnt a new word which I think describes your current state: “peripatetic” - a person who walks or travels about.


Hope you continue to be well on your travels,

Katherine

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Grandmaster G
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Re: On the Road World Tour 2018 - Europe + Morocco

Postby Grandmaster G » Wed Mar 07, 2018 12:08 am

Updated 6 March 2018.

@ Chris - I can see some Provisional Pain Faces coming in the future. Maybe we need to include all those testing next year....

@ Katherine - I will have to see if I have it in my notes, that was one course of 18 that night alone ;)

Regards

GM G

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Chris Berrios
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Re: On the Road World Tour 2018 - Europe + Morocco

Postby Chris Berrios » Thu Mar 08, 2018 6:17 pm

Thanks GMG,

The pain faces are a hit at Moorebank, the more the better. That dessert looks absolutely fantastic, might be worth breaking my 4 year sugar free diet for that one. How hard is to train in those cold condtions without a jet engine as a heater?

Regards

Chris

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Luke Dilonardo
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Re: On the Road World Tour 2018 - Europe + Morocco

Postby Luke Dilonardo » Fri Mar 09, 2018 11:31 pm

Hello Grand Master Geoff,

Loved watching the video tours of the various Dojangs. Loved looking at their different training areas, and looking forward to training in the Spanish Dojangs! Great to see all the students, also looking forward to training with them!
The various foods also look amazing, can't believe that there is a "Dinner in the Sky"!
Favourite part so far would have to be the Rasnov Citadel photos, they look amazing!

Looking forward to reading more of the World Tour! Safe travels Sir.

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Grandmaster G
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Re: On the Road World Tour 2018 - Europe + Morocco

Postby Grandmaster G » Mon Mar 12, 2018 8:21 pm

Updated 12 March 2018

@ Chris - Once the training starts the Dojang warms up nicely, Vlado's takes way longer because of the sheer size of the place, hence the need for a 747 Engine heater.... ;)


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