On the Road World Tour 2018 - USA + Mexico + Cuba

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Grandmaster G
Hae Jang Nim
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Joined: Sun Jun 12, 2005 1:18 pm
Location: Moorebank NSW Australia
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On the Road World Tour 2018 - USA + Mexico + Cuba

Postby Grandmaster G » Sat Apr 07, 2018 6:45 am

2018 USA, Mexico and Cuba road trip.

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Flights #19, #20 & #21 Amsterdam – Frankfurt – Newark, USA – Yorktown, USA (Lufthansa Airbus A320, Boeing 747-800 & United Embraer RJ145)

An easy ride over to the airport for check in for my long haul today. A Hiccup with United pulling my last flight in earlier so the connection time will mean it is basically impossible to make it, a quick e-mail to Malcolm (Travel Agent Extraordinaire) and I am booked on a later flight with plenty of connection time. It means from the 6am wakeup in Europe, I will arrive at my destination at Midnight US time, always a good day on the road when the figures look like that. But the day started with some good news when my Upgrade came through on Lufthansa, time to enjoy the First Class experience on the flight from Frankfurt to Newark, as well as access to the First Class Terminal and my first flight on the 747-800 (the newest upgraded 747 version, only flown for passengers by Lufthansa).

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Lufthansa Experience #1 – First Class Terminal

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Lufthansa Experience #2 – Dining in the Lounge

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Lufthansa Experience #3 – Gummy Bears anyone?

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Lufthansa Experience #4 – Bar area

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Lufthansa Experience #5 – Pick your ride

So, my flight from Amsterdam into Frankfurt runs late, but even if I only have a small time in Frankfurt I am heading to the First-Class Terminal. I check in there and get cleared through the internal lounge security, grab a quick bite to eat in the ala carte restaurant and enjoy the limousine ride out to the 747 800. I grab my seat, and the first thing that hits you is the space, this seat has 4 windows and you get a personal locker near the galley for your bag, etc. The inflight service is similar to what you get at a high-end restaurant and the food was very good, from the caviar service through to a tasty steak, too much food with all the courses. Then you are provided with some Pyjama’s and the staff turn your seat into a bed for a nap on the 8-hour flight. It would make the world tour a huge joy if all the flights could be like this. Still I soak up the experience before landing into America.

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Lufthansa Experience #6 – 747 800

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Lufthansa Experience #7 – First Class Seat

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Lufthansa Experience #8 – Caviar service

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Lufthansa Experience #9 - Starters

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Lufthansa Experience #10 – Sirloin Steak

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Lufthansa Experience #11 – Desert & Cheese

A great flight with Lufthansa, then back to reality with the queue to clear US Immigration and Customs. I then recheck my bags and re clear security, it was lucky the flight was changed as there was no way I would have made the original flight. Into the lounge to enjoy 5 hours of waiting time before my last flight of the day, Newark to Yorktown to meet up with KSN Brian.

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Hello New York, USA

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I can always tell I am back in the US when I get TSA love letters

KSN Brian is at the airport with some of the local students to welcome me to the US and Shane (Black Belt Candidate) has a Latte in hand, always a good first step! As it is now just on midnight it is time to take the drive back to the hotel and check in before tomorrows training kicks off.

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Wolf Martial Arts #1

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Wolf Martial Arts #2

The plan this visit is to spend some time in the morning working with KSN Brian on the coloured belt material as he works through the Instructors Course. Then in each afternoon a mini hell week with the 3 local Black Belt candidates along with some of the other local students. It is a good week as working through the curriculum both with KSN Brian as he completes Instructor Signatures as well as the Provisionals as they polish off some material in preparation for their grading. After KSN Brian joined us at the ITS with his students the next group of Provisionals decided to take the Spirit test which is going to be held in Hutchinson at SBN Corey’s Dojang.

https://youtu.be/b5_AlnExjgg

Video tour of KSN Brian’s Dojang

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Virginia, USA – Dan Bong Ankle Lock
Challenge Count - 275

On Saturday the open seminar kicks off with both the jacket and certificate presentations, I get a chance to present CGN Ashton and CGN Marissa with their Black Belt certificates. CGN Stephanie & Ben drove the 5+ hours to join the seminar, so that gave us the chance to present her Black Belt jacket as well.

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CGN Ashton & CGN Marissa

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Saturday Seminar Group

Sunday was a rest day after the busy Hell Week, and I joined KSN Brian and his family for a visit to Busch Gardens to enjoy some shows for the kids as well as trying out the newest roller coaster. After the park we took a walk through the old town part of Williamsburg before grabbing dinner and wrapping up a nice relaxing day.

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Busch Gardens #1 – Entrance

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Busch Gardens #2 – Eagle

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Busch Gardens #3 – Team Wolf

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Busch Gardens #4 – Rides R Us

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Busch Gardens #5 – Rides R Us

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Williamsburg Candy Store – What?

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Williamsburg Candy Store – Darrel Lea Liquorice (No Cane Syrup)

Now one thing you quickly realise about flying in the US is that flights are quite commonly pushed back in schedule, have flight numbers changed and just outright cancelled, so the next chapter of flight fun is almost to be expected. During Sunday I get a notification that my next flight has been pushed by 30 mins, that’s ok. Then I get a notification its cancelled and I am rebooked on a later 2 flights (#3), but now they won’t arrive in time to make the seminar. So, I get the flights changed to a much earlier couple (#5). A storm sets in the first leg gets delayed so it won’t make the changed connection, so United moves me to American Airlines, but stuffs up the booking so AA won’t let me board (#6), back to United to get it sorted, which includes a call to Malcolm’s 24-hour contact line in Sydney. Now I am booked on 2 different later AA flights (#8) before I finally get it worked out and board a flight. If you were counting that meant that I was at some time booked on 8 different flights to make this leg of the trip. Breathe….

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Didn’t think Knives were allowed on board?

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Flight #22 Yorktown - Charlotte, USA (American Airlines Airbus A319)

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Just my bags and only 1 other

The flight goes smoothly, even if I did notice a fellow passenger carrying a knife, now that’s not fair, if he gets that, I get a Dan Bong. I arrive and am met by CGN Stephanie at the baggage carousel where it starts up and only 3 bags come out before it stops. Happily, my 2 are first out, I grab and run, I am sure the rest of the full flight will be missing some luggage. SBN Shawn and Ben (CGN Stephanie’s husband and Tang Soo Do 3rd Degree) meet us with a coffee, now the bad day is getting better. As I ended up with some time to spare SBN Shawn had arranged a little surprise for my arrival, we hit the road and headed over to Tindol Ford which is actually the largest supplier of modified Roush Mustangs in America. Not only did I get a chance to check out a large range of different mustangs including a ride in a Stage 3, we got a chance to see a very specially modified Shelby AC Cobra, now that’s a way to suddenly make the day excellent.

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Tindol Ford #1 – Mustangs everywhere

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Tindol Ford #2 – Roush Stage 3

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Tindol Ford #3 – Shelby GT 350

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Tindol Ford #4 – Shelby AC Cobra

After some great car time we grabbed lunch, dropped off my bags at CGN Stephanie’s house and headed over to Gastonia where SBN Shawn’s Dojang was located for the nights seminar. On the nights topic list was clothing grabs as well as some miscellaneous street aimed techniques as a lot of the students here are police, TSA or similar. A good night on the mats and some talking with SBN Shawn about possibly joining the IHA family.

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McGinnis Academy Seminar Group

https://youtu.be/3Y-AUJHSgaM

Video tour of SBN Shawn’s Dojang

The next day it was on the mats to work with CGN Stephanie and Ben before running one of the recently started Hapkido Classes here. CGN Stephanie has just started a new Hapkido program in her Dojang where she already teaches Tang Soo Do and BJJ. SBN Shawn dropped in to enjoy the class as well, of course pretty much all of this ‘White’ belt class are already ranked in Tang Soo Do.

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White Belt day class

https://youtu.be/PZRK-2HbIqk

Video tour of CGN Stephanie’s Dojang

In the afternoon it was time to hit the road to yet another Dojang in the area, this time to visit SBN Joe Needham who is an affiliate member of the IHA, some time to catch up over a coffee before hitting the mats for Bag Fu and S Locks. Everyone worked hard and took turns volunteering to be the crash dummy, even if the amplified S Locks did raise a few eyebrows, well more than a few.

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Clemmons Family Martial Arts Group

Another day with time on the mats with CGN Stephanie and Ben. Ben is in the new Hapkido program and even though he has been to a large number of seminars (including ITS Australia) he has never formally ranked in Hapkido until now. That after we hit the road to yet another Dojang, this time with Master Holt in High Point and Triad Martial Arts (another IHA Affiliated Dojang). Tonight, there are a couple of classes, first up an hour for the Black Belts where I cover Lock Flows. Then a mixed group from people with zero training through to Black Belts, so it is time for Angry White Belt techniques and then clinch defence work.

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Black Belt Class in Action

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Triad Martial Arts Group
I get some free time to work on signatures in the morning and CGN Stephanie leaves me some snack choices, just in case. It seems that Peanut Butter is on the menu with some 8 different choices, for dipping with the Banana or after the Avocado. CGN always has snacks on hand for guests, if you take a look at last years report you might be another reminder of that. Some time on the mats in the afternoon before the drive to CGN’s second smaller dojang in North Charlotte, for a seminar focussing on Arm Bar under and S Locks. I am also happy to welcome SBN Shawn into the IHA family as he has decided to join as a representative member here in North Carolina.

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Causby Karate Academy North Charlotte Group

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Welcome to the IHA family, SBN Shawn

Saturday rolls around after a busy week both on the mats and the road to/from the local Dojangs. Time for my final seminars, this time at CGN Stephanie’s Dojang and first up the kids for some bully choke defence and arm bars. In the break between the sessions, CGN Stephanie had arranged a cake to celebrate our 25th Anniversary, it was very nice, and made by one of the local students. I also took this chance to present Ma’am with her official Black Belt certificate. Of course, time waits for no one and it was time again for more seminar, this time for the adults where the focus was on weapon defence including both Knife and Bat defence. To wrap up such an excellent week we headed into Charlotte for a great dinner at Chima, a Brazilian all you can eat restaurant, very much like Fogo’s.

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Causby Karate Academy Kids

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25th Anniversary Celebrations in North Carolina

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Causby Karate Academy Adults

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Thumbs up to Chima

Now while I have been staying with both Ben and Stephanie I have been slowly converting them to Aussie foods and information. So, we had to watch Crocodile Dundee and they also express ordered some Crumpets from Amazon, of course we maybe ordered too many but still everyone enjoyed a Crumpet filled Sunday morning. Of course, Sunday can have some Hapkido too, so in the afternoon I run a grading for some of the local experience White Belts and welcome our first official IHA Coloured Belts in North Carolina, 3 new Orange Belts and 1 new Yellow Belt with Ben double grading.

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Time for a little bit of Crumpet

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Congratulations

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North Carolina, USA – Knife Defence Elbow Lock
Challenge Count - 300

A nice dinner to wrap up another busy Hapkido filled week on the road, some free time on Monday so of course we hit the mats in the morning for some more training before I get the afternoon free to get the trip report up to date.

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Your Kung Foo is stronger than mine

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Sundrop is a local Soft Drink found only around here

Back on the road for the relatively quick drive to the airport, an easy check in and into the friendly skies towards Philadelphia.

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Australia is everywhere – onboard the AA flight

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Flight #23 Charlotte - Philadelphia, USA (American Airlines Boeing 737 800)

Touchdown Philadelphia and I grab the can rental shuttle to pick up my pre ordered medium sized car, something like a Hyundai Elantra. I get there and after doing the paperwork she lets me know that they are out of small medium cars and offers me a family SUV (Like an 8-seater Van), I graciously decline and look wistfully at the Mustang and BMW 430 that are there. Not those she exclaims and walks off to see what they have, a moment later she drives out of the wash bay area with a Dodge Charger, will this do? Hell yes, now that’s an upgrade from a Elantra. I get some free time over the next couple of days as some seminar plans changed, so a good chance to get the Black Belt and Instructor Signatures up to date, some 1200 of them. They also grow exponentially during the world tour as Black Belts cram techniques before testing and Instructors try to finish a level before I arrive. If only they would spread them out over time, I can only hope.

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Hyundai Elantra or this?

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Old School Barber - Outside
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Old School Barber - Inside

So, with some time to spare, I got to enjoy a few good meals, grabbed an old school shave, visiting the King of Prussia (Huge Shopping Area), hit the premium outlets, catch a movie and of course still added a seminar in there. I got another chance to visit with Master Wagner and his students in Bensalem where I taught Bag Fu followed by Dan Bong, I think everyone was amazed by the damage the humble shopping back can inflict. Grandmaster Godwin also dropped in for a visit and I made plans to catch up with him over lunch while I was here.

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Bensalem, PA Group

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A Moments pause as Starbucks got my name right

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Pennsylvania, USA – Dan Bong Ankle Compression
Challenge Count - 325

I headed into Philadelphia to meet up with Grandmaster Godwin and Edward, who is a good friend of Dojunim, he also looks after embroidery and other items for him. We had a Korean lunch and talked a little of Sin Moo history, it was good to catch up with GM Godwin and meet Edward. After lunch GM Godwin and I hit the city for a wander around South Street and eventually grabbing dinner at a German Restaurant there.

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Korean Lunch

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A queue for Philly Cheese Steak

My last day in Philadelphia and I head into town to have lunch with Dr Fabi (Sin Moo Grandmaster) at Iron Chef Morimoto’s restaurant before catching up with Edward again before dinner at Fogo’s (Brazilian Meat Fest) with Dr Fabi, GM Godwin, GM Janisse and Master Wagner. The next morning and I am off to the airport to return my car and grab 2 flights on my way to Minneapolis.

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Philadelphia Airport is Dog Friendly

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Flight #24 & #25 Philadelphia – Chicago - Minneapolis, USA (United Airlines Airbus A319)

An easy couple of flights and I am met at the airport by SBN Corey and KJN Dave who has flown in to join the Hell Week fun. One of the fun parts of visiting SBN Corey’s is that over the year I get mail sent here for things that won’t ship external to the US, so when I arrive it is a little bit like Christmas, sometimes I have even forgotten I ordered something and it’s a surprise. Mostly Hapkido books, and other items for the Hapkido library.

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Interesting packing solution

Day #1 in Hutch is the Sun Bae (Red Belts and higher) and I covered some advanced material as we working through TLC (Joint Lock pain enhancement) and TLC+, I also cover the 5 phases of weight movement and sequential alignment. It is a good session working on senior material before the coloured belts wrap up. Then we hold the Black Belt Physical Challenge and Technical Review (Both are part of the senior testing process). During this visit CGN Kyle is testing for 2nd Degree while we will have 5 candidates for the Spirit Test.

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Sun Bae team

https://youtu.be/_YFZIkjT2eg

Video tour of SBN Corey’s Dojang

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SBN Corey locks the Bigfoot while I check out the Eagle

The Hell Week in Hutch is growing into the place to catch up with KJN Dave, CGN Stephanie, KSN Tony, KSN Brian all visiting from out of town during the week. I look forward to how the first NATS (North American Training Seminar) goes here in September. Day #2 in Hutch included sessions on How to Kick (Kicking mechanics), 25 Non-curriculum kicks, a review of Releases, Hand Attacks, Arm Bar Over and Dan Bong. Before a night class for the kids where we actually worked on Cane techniques.

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Working hard on the mats

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Kids group

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Its America, so a 25th Anniversary Cookie

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Hutchinson, USA – Dan Bong Cord Wrist Lock
Challenge Count - 350

Day #3 in Hutch and it was time for How to Strike (Striking tools), 25 Non-curriculum strikes (including Dragon Prawn!), a review of S Lock, V Lock, Arm Bar Under, Arresting and Choke Defence. I also had the chance to give some recognition with CGN Kyle promoting to KSN 2nd Degree, BSBN Sherri earning her Senior Instructor Certification and the presentation of 2 1st Degree certificates to CGN Rick and CGN Stephanie.

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Congratulations KSN Kyle

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Good work Senior Instructor Sherri

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Officially certified

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Apparently Turkeys walking the streets here is normal

Day #4 in Hutch and first topic is the ABC of locking before a couple of bonus topics with Rolling Hands and 25 Pressure Points and how to use them. You might see a trend here with the 25 sets of different techniques as part of the 25th IHA Anniversary celebrations. In the after it is time for the Black Belt Candidates to prepare the Dojang for the Spirit test this evening. Due to space and Black Belt assistance numbers we are splitting the testing into 2 groups, the first group of 3 will start and once they are finished the second group of 2 will then test with results being given to all at the end. It is the first time doing this but it works smoothly with both tests running exactly the same time. I am proud to welcome 5 new Kwan Nyom 1st Degree Black Belts, CGN’s Shane, Nicky, Marshall (from Virginia) and CGN’s Kent and Kris (from Hutch).

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Before the Test (Team MVP – Minnesota Virginia Provisionals)

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Congratulations new Black Belts

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Cake makes it official

Day #4 in Hutch and the sore but smiling new Black Belts join us on the mats for the first session which is BMT (Throwing enhancements), then Cavemen locking, Sword Basics, Sword Forms and to wrap up an overview of Tanjun breathing, Ki Power and Healing. Another excellent Hell Week in Hutchinson to celebrate our 25th Anniversary with lots of students working hard, a good range of visiting seniors and lots of very positive growth.

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Hell Week Survivors

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Australian Style?

After we wrap things up, Bradford one of the local red belts offers me a drive of his Porsche Macan (3.0L 6 twin turbo), so we hit the road to see how the German machine does, it is a nippy well-built car and hands well. These are a lot more affordable here than in Australia.

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Porsche – Riding in style

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Not Porsche

As is now tradition, we leave SBN Corey’s Dojang and head into Minneapolis for lunch at Fogo de Chao and to check into a hotel near the airport. We always do a wander through Mall of America as part of the day and SBN shows us where he got a 3D stature made, they even display a copy of it in their shop front.

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The Fogo Salad Bar

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Starbucks Fun

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Inside the Mall of America

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SBN Poses with Mini SBN

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Flight #26 Minneapolis - Houston (United Airlines Embraer 175)

Another easy flight into Houston where I pick up my rental, this time they actually give me the Hyundai (was still hoping for an upgrade). It drives fine and I hit the roads to my hotel to check in, I have some free time to get this report up to date as well as stay on top of the Video Signatures before a class with Master Sharpe’s Black Belts. Master Sharpe is adding Hapkido to the Black Belt requirements in his Dojang, so I am here to expose them to some Kwan Nyom ideas. I always enjoy visiting Houston, easy to get around (with a car), some nice restaurants, with options for shopping and movies. I even get a chance to see one of the latest movies in my own theatre.

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Tang Soo Do Black Belt Class

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Private Screening

The Saturday seminar rolls around and I am back on the mats with a mixed group, I work through the idea of how Basic White Belt Concepts can build into senior belt locks, and then move onto Dan Bong. Everyone loves the pain stick and enjoys sharing the techniques. A nice sushi lunch with the group afterwards and that wraps up my visit to Texas. Master Sharpe is planning on visiting us at the NATS this year and hopefully he can twist the arm of a couple of his students to come along as well.

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Houston Seminar Group

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Houston, USA – Dan Bong Compression
Challenge Count - 375

Sunday is Mother’s Day, so a free day before heading back on the road, this time south of the border into Mexico.

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Flight #27 Houston - Guadalajara (United Airlines Airbus A319)

A quick flight into Guadalajara and I am met by most of the Instructing team as a welcome to Mexico. This visit we are running a different schedule with classes at different Dojangs each night as well as daytime training for the Instructors and Black Belts for signature and progression work. Each of the candidates for 1st Degree and Above will be attending each session to prepare for the testing on the weekend. A quick trip to check in at the hotel where thanks to my Expedia status I am given a few upgrades as well as a nice fruit basket as a welcome.

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The Airport arrival team

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A nice welcome from the Hotel

The first seminar is at KJN Carlos’s dojang, which I first visited last trip, however this time will be the first I have taught here. It is a smaller Dojang like a few here in Mexico but has a good feeling or soul. Over the week I will be teaching a combination of Kids and Adults seminars, so some topics will change and some will be similar depending on what location and students. Amongst the reoccurring topics will be Bag Fun (Basic and Advanced), Bully Defence, Dan Bong, and Locking Concept progression.

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KJN Carlos Dojang - Kids

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KJN Carlos Dojang – Adults warming up

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KJN Carlos Dojang - Adults

https://youtu.be/l9DIAsqklrY

Video tour of KJN Carlos’s Dojang

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Where is BSBN Bruno’s Dojang?

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BSBN Bruno’s Dojang - Kids

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BSBN Bruno’s Dojang - Adults

https://youtu.be/vXnwRNy0Wks

Video tour of BSBN Bruno’s Dojang

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Taco Time

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BSBN Jose Luis’s Dojang - Kids

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Jose Luis’s Dojang - Adults

https://youtu.be/e9WOHa3Y0v0

Video tour of BSBN Jose Luis’s Dojang

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KJN Ernesto’s Dojang - Kids

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KJN Ernesto’s Dojang - Adults

https://youtu.be/fJaJ8yJFxVc

Video tour of KJN Ernesto’s Dojang

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Taco Time 2

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KJN Hugo’s Dojang - Kids

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KJN Hugo’s Dojang – Adults in Action

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KJN Hugo’s Dojang - Adults

https://youtu.be/SI8YP_PUzVU

Video tour of KJN Hugo’s Dojang

The week is a good one with lots of signature work each morning, several of the local instructors are using the time to wrap up different levels. It also gives me time to work with the Black Belts who are looking to test this weekend, we have candidates for 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th Degree. On Saturday I hit the mats with the Sun Bae group, topics include Kicking, Belt requirements and Black Belt formulas/aspects. After the day of training it is time for the Black Belt physical challenge and technical review.

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Sun Bae Group

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Senior Grading Team

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Team Mexico Kodanja (4th Degree+)

The next day and it is time for Spirit test with 3 local students testing for 1st Degree. Congratulations to our newest Black Belts, CGN’s Alejandra, Santiago and Ricardo. The testing here in Guadalajara has been rapidly improving and is now very close to the Spirit test run in some of the other IHA Dojangs. Good work from not only the local students, but Instructors and Black Belts for working so hard on the growth of quality.

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Spirit Test in the house!

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Congratulations to our new Black Belts

After the testing a large group of the local students head out for a celebration dinner, the restaurant seats 50ish people and we end up with in excess of 70! The restaurant has some different Steaks so I get a chance to try out their specialty which is the monster Tomahawk, of course I get a bunch of the local Black Belts to help finish it. Towards the end of the dinner I also get a chance to announce the local promotions both in Black Belt and Instructors, a record group this trip with lots of great work, it bodes well for the future of Kwan Nyom here in Mexico.

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Tomahawk time

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Mexican Celebration for Instructor and Black Belt promotions

I get a break during the 2nd week here in Mexico so I take the chance to visit country number 54 with a side trip to Cuba. Mexico is one of the easier places to enter Cuba from and I grab the chance to take a break from the World Tour for a couple of days, stay tuned for a bunch of pictures from Havana and the surrounds.

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Flight #28 & #29 Guadalajara – Mexico City – Havana, Cuba (Aero Mexico Boeing 737-700 x2)

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The Federal Police have some stealthy jets (Mexico City)

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Now I wouldn’t want to be the owner of that bag

The flights were fine, a little bit of turbulence crossing from Mexico into Cuba, but nothing too severe. Touchdown around 10:30pm, Immigration and Customs were quick, so I headed straight out to meet my ride and headed into my hotel for my first Cuban experience. The Hotel was in fact only the 2 top floors of an apartment building and my room/suite had ocean views as well as a pool on the roof, furnished in what I can only call Cuban Rustic Period, but still comfortable.

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[Size=120] Cuba #1 – Not a classic, but lots of Chinese cars here (Geely)


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Cuba #2 – View from my Hotel

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Cuba #3 – The touring begins in this classic

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Cuba #4 – Country #54

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Cuba #5 – Classics everywhere

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Cuba #6 – No Drones on us

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Cuba #7 – Hola Che

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Cuba #8 – Independence Square

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Cuba #9 – Still more classics

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Cuba #10 – Typical Street

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Cuba #11

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Cuba #12

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Cuba #13

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Cuba #14

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Cuba #15 – Coconut Car (Taxi)

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Cuba #16 – Independence Square

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Cuba #17

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Cuba #18 - Capitol Building

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Cuba #19 – Wi-Fi Park

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Cuba #20 – Typically Classic Cuba

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Cuba #21 – You know there is always more room for Classics

That wrapped up Day #1 in Cuba, spent seeing the sights around Havana. Overall the city has a good feeling, people seemed friendly, the food that I had was all good and there were lots of sights to see. It is evident that the economy is in a bad way by how certain things were lacking, just going into a shop to see what was or wasn’t available to buy is an eye opener. There is literally no selection of products and in some places no milk for coffee, etc. Still it didn’t seem to dampen the Cuban sense of being happy and having fun.

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Cuba #22 – Vinales 1

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Cuba #23 – Vinales 2

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Cuba #24 – Handmade Cuban Cigar

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Cuba #25 – Prehistorica Mural

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Cuba #26 – Cave entrance

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Cuba #27 – Cave exit

Day #2 was spent outside of Havana in the Vinales area, which is predominantly known for its amazing Tobacco growing. Beyond the Tobacco farms the landscape is beautiful with lots of little hills, forestation and caves all over. We visited a small local Tobacco farm and watched the farmer hand roll a Cigar, some skill there. Then off to explore the Mural Prehistorica which is named that for the subject not the age, it is painted on the side of a mountain and is some 80m x 60m. From there into one of the largest nearby caves where the feature is the underground river and boat ride out of it. A relaxing lunch at a restaurant on the surrounding hills before the 2hr drive back into Havana to wrap up another eventful day.

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Cuba #28 – A city view from my Hotel

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Cuba #29 – First Taxi for the day

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Cuba #30 – Inside the Cuban Cigar Factory

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Cuba #31 – Museum of the Revolution 1

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Cuba #32 – Foreigners = $8, Locals = 32c

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Cuba #33 – Actual bullet holes from the revolution

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Cuba #34 – El Presidente’s office

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Cuba #35 – Museum of the Revolution 2

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Cuba #36 – Museum of the Revolution 3

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Cuba #37 – Museum of the Revolution 4

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Cuba #38 – Museum of the Revolution 5

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Cuba #39 – Just yet another classic

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Cuba #40 – Afternoon Taxi

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Cuba #41 – Moro Fort

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Cuba #42 – Just Cruising

Day #3 to wrap up my tours here in Havana, on the agenda today was a Cigar factory where I got to see the process of putting together cigars, including the $50 (local - $150+ US) Cohiba. Pictures weren’t allowed of the many work stations or hand rolling that puts Cuba’s #1 export together. Let’s just say it’s a lot of people working their butts off to hand make a ton of Cigars. Of course, during the touring today, I got to go cruising in a couple of really nice old cars. From the Cigar factory onto the Museum of the Revolution and then across the bay to Moro where the Fort is located as well as a good view point over Havana. Lunch in the centre, postcards sent, and I have wrapped up being a tourist in Havana. A free afternoon to do some wandering and relax before my flight tomorrow back to Mexico and to re-join the World Tour.

*Side Note* Thoughts on Cuba – It is clear that the country is hurting, from the years of isolation through to the current pressure the US is putting with its recent change in relationship since the last administration opened the doors a little. Some items are incredibly hard to get here, Beef for example is very expensive, fuel is almost Australian pricing and the average monthly wage is somewhere around $30 Aus. Buying a small used Hyundai or Kia can be $50,000-$60,000. One of the reasons that the old 50’s cars are so lovingly looked after and have become such a feature of Cuba, they are literally everywhere (estimates say there are 60,000, but few are totally original). The Government owns all the major shops so supply/demand is interesting, for example my guide was buying nappies in Vinales (2+ hours from Havana) as he couldn’t get them in the city, the driver was the same grabbing some cooking oil. Forget the internet, it is hardly available anywhere and costs $1 per hour with a pre-pay card, compare that to the average income and appreciate how many don’t use it. The few places it exists are crowded with those getting a few moments of connection, like the picture I took of the so-called Wi-Fi park. There are lots of tourists, even if the numbers are down at the moment due to the US tensions and it being rainy low season. Ships dock here for day trips and people still fly in to experience the unique place. It is also one of the few countries with more than one currency, one for locals and one for tourists. The tourist currency works out to around 1$ US and the local one is 24 to 1$, interesting but strange approach as not all shops accept both, some the tourist only, some the local only. As far as the city is concerned It feels safe to walk around, people are generally happy and have adapted to enjoy what they can, with lots of board games, music and dancing being the norm.

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Cuba #43 – Be wear the White and Toug stuff along with Martial Arts Weapons

Checking in went smoothly, I had a chuckle at the prohibited weapons sign, it specified Martial Arts weapons as well as a couple of typos. Clearing security was different, shoes off but nothing out of the bag, so liquids stayed in. The laptop was left in but if you had one you got sent to another table to have the bag swabbed down for a residue check. Apart from that the only other thing that was strange was that every lady working the immigration/customs/security had fancy stockings, a weird affectation considering I never saw anyone else wearing them in Havana.

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Flight #30 & #31 Havana – Mexico City - Guadalajara (Aero Mexico Boeing 737-700 x2)

Good flights and KJN Hugo meets me at the airport for the drive back to my next hotel for a night stay. In the morning I meet up with KJN Hugo and KJN Carlos for breakfast before adding KJN Ernesto and SBN Carlos for the drive to the next seminar in Colima. The car is packed with some Hapkido fun with 29 Degrees of Black Belt among the 5 of us as we take the 2 hour drive. We meet up with BSBN Carlos (yes, that brings our Carlos count to 3) for a coffee before the seminar classes that night. First up the kids with Bag Fu and Bully Defence, then the adults with Dan Bong and Ground Defence. Another couple of good seminars and we hit a local hotel before the drive back to Guadalajara in the morning.


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Mexico - The only place a Chili Mango drink is on the menu

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BSBN Carlos’s Dojang – Seminar Group

https://youtu.be/0KR9nkvxt9g

Video tour of BSBN Carlos’s Dojang

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Houston, USA – Dan Bong Pressure Point
Challenge Count - 400

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Mexico – An interesting local Soft Drink, Apple flavoured

We drive straight back to Guadalajara for another seminar, this time it is with the local Police. I focus on 4 main ranges, Arresting, Punch Defence, Clinch Work and finish with Baton or Dan Bong training. The local Police work hard and added to an extremely hot and humid day we make sure to sweat up the Dojang. Plans are underway to keep working with the local police. Monday is a free day and I work on Video Signatures, only 100 or so waiting and then get the trip report up to date before a nice Restaurant for dinner.

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Guadalajara Police Seminar Group

So, Monday ended up being a little more video signatures than I thought but still a good day with lots of catch up work done. Then off to a good meal with KJN Hugo to wrap up another positive day in Mexico. Tomorrow back on the mats with some training with the local seniors, and then a home cooked dinner with my Mexican family which featured a cooked from scratch Aussie Meat Pie some nice crepes for dessert!

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Guadalajara @ Night

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They like Mustangs around here!

The mornings this week I have been on the mats with the seniors wrapping up signatures for Instructor levels as well as working towards future gradings. It is good to see 3 more of the local seniors complete the first level of the instructor’s course, congratulations to SBN Roger, KJN Carlos and KJN Ernesto. A quiet lunch with all the seniors and Dojang instructors to wrap up this trip to Mexico and it is time to saddle up for my return to the USA and seminars in Seattle this weekend with Team IHA there.

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Congratulations new Instructors

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Flight #32 & #33 Guadalajara – Houston - Seattle (United Embraer ERJ-175 & Boeing 737- 800)

The flight into the US is relatively short and with the new self-check kiosks at Houston airport, immigration is fast. Hopefully they roll these out across the US to save us all some serious queue time. With this new system you don’t actually need to fill in any paperwork, just hit a few buttons, take a picture and you are good to go, grab your luggage and no need to clear customs. I give the bags to the transit counter and grab my 2nd flight, this one a little longer being just over 4 hours in Seattle. SBN Mark meets me at the airport where we grab the highway out of Seattle towards Issaquah.

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You know you are in Seattle: Tesla Charging

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A bit of Australia found locally

The seminars, are this time is broken down over a number of different seminar classes, with the first night open to the Hapkido Coloured Belts, then an open Self Defence Seminar with a focus on new people, a Black Belt Seminar Class and on the final night a couple of normal classes. The main seminar goes well with a lot of local parents or partners joining in to see what Hapkido is about. During the Black Belt Seminar Class I also get the chance to present the Black Belt certificates from the local students who tested last year. During my visit CGN Stephanie is also visiting from North Carolina to keep working on her instructor signatures, now that’s committed. And one morning she also takes on the cinnamon roll challenge at a local diner, let’s just say the thing is larger than your head, and Ma’am accepts defeat.

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Issaquah Self Defence Seminar Group

https://youtu.be/4dX0FCNo198

Video tour of Karate West where SBN Mark teaches

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It is as big as your head – Cinnamon Roll Hell

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Congratulations CGN’s

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Team Black Belt Washington (Plus CGN Stephanie)

I complete the last official World Tour stop with an excellent visit to Team IHA Issaquah. Thank you to SBN Mark for making it a good stop and I look forward to catching up with him and some of the local students when they join us at the NATS event in Minneapolis in September. Back into the air, this time for my only flight with Air Alaska, and into Las Vegas for a couple of days break before the long-haul home.

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Flight #34 Seattle – Las Vegas (Alaskan Air Boeing 737- 900)

The first thing you notice is the temperature change, it was around 11c (51 F) in Seattle and I stepped out into the blast furnace of Vegas at 41c (106 F). Still its dry heat and easier to deal with than humidity, so off to the rental car depot to pick up my wheels. My medium sized car turns out to be a Ford Focus, not sure that’s medium, still its comfortable and the AC works.

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Vegas #1 - Night

Vegas equals a bunch of excellent meals (L’Atelier, Mortons, Hell’s Kitchen, Bazaar Meat, Morimoto & More), some shopping at the outlets, a visit to the Shelby factory and throw in some signatures as well as a Skype Instructors Course to wrap up the World Tour and my stay in Vegas.

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Vegas #2 – Hotel View

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Vegas #3 – Hells Kitchen

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Vegas #4 – Hells Kitchen view

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Vegas #5 – Wishing Fountain Fairy?

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Vegas #6 – They are crazy about their new Ice Hockey Team

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Vegas #7 – Cruising the Strip at Night

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Vegas #8 – Meat Anyone?

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Vegas #9 – Shelby Shrine

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Vegas #10 – Shelby Super Snake

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Vegas #11 – The main and his car, the Shelby AC Cobra

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Vegas #12 – Shiny Shelbys

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Flight #35 Las Vegas – Los Angeles (United Boeing 737- 800)

I jump off he flight from Vegas and with a 7-hour layover I take the time to catch up with Master Ali who lives here in Los Angeles. There is always time to sneak some Hapkido in, even if it is to talk with another teacher. Then I grab the first of my 2 flights home to wrap up the 2018 World Tour.

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Flight #36 & #37 Los Angeles – Auckland - Sydney (Air New Zealand Boeing 777- 300 & Boeing 777 - 200)

Check out the World Tour Stats!

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Nathan McDonald
Chief Instructor
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Location: Bayside QLD Australia

Re: On the Road World Tour 2018 - USA + Mexico + Cuba

Postby Nathan McDonald » Fri Apr 27, 2018 8:13 am

Bacon Soda.....Oh dear....

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Kelvin Zeini
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Joined: Thu Nov 24, 2016 1:39 pm

Re: On the Road World Tour 2018 - USA + Mexico + Cuba

Postby Kelvin Zeini » Tue May 01, 2018 1:44 pm

Thank you for sharing sir. Very exciting rendezvous and scenery!

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Matt Hall
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Re: On the Road World Tour 2018 - USA + Mexico + Cuba

Postby Matt Hall » Fri May 04, 2018 10:22 am

Hi Sir,

I like seeing the different dojangs, Sir Brian Wolf Martial Arts looked very nice.
Those sodas, I would have to try at least one of the Bacon soda or Buffalo Wing Sodas.
As for the Mustangs if you don't know already they will be racing in Australia from next in year in the Supercars category!

Matt

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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 - USA + Mexico + Cuba

Postby Chris Berrios » Sun May 06, 2018 5:49 pm

Sir,

The minute the challenger arrives on our shores l'll be knocking on the dealers door, absolutely love the retro styling. How does an airline manage too cook or reheat a good steak? How was it?

Thanks

Chris

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Grandmaster G
Hae Jang Nim
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Location: Moorebank NSW Australia
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Re: On the Road World Tour 2018 - USA + Mexico + Cuba

Postby Grandmaster G » Sat May 12, 2018 2:17 am

@Chris

Not sure the Mechanics of steak cooking but it was surprisingly decent considering it was on a plane.

Driving the Challenger was nothing special, Mustang first in my opinion. ;)

Regards

GM G

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Luke Dilonardo
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Joined: Tue Jan 27, 2015 7:11 pm

Re: On the Road World Tour 2018 - USA + Mexico + Cuba

Postby Luke Dilonardo » Tue May 15, 2018 10:07 pm

Hi Sir, Great to see some familiar faces in America!
Thank you for uploading the dojang videos, I love to look at how other schools are set up, its very interesting to me!
A lot of nice cars hahaha.

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Luke Dilonardo
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Joined: Tue Jan 27, 2015 7:11 pm

Re: On the Road World Tour 2018 - USA + Mexico + Cuba

Postby Luke Dilonardo » Tue May 29, 2018 9:36 am

Hi Sir, wow! The photos of Cuba looked amazing! Lots of classical cars too hahaha

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Chris Berrios
Posts: 21
Joined: Tue Nov 23, 2010 7:04 pm

Re: On the Road World Tour 2018 - USA + Mexico + Cuba

Postby Chris Berrios » Tue May 29, 2018 8:04 pm

Sir,

Fantastic shots of Cuba, so many old cars, its almost like looking at photos of a club meet. Tick, Cuba off the bucket list, vicariously that is.

Thanks again Sir

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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 - USA + Mexico + Cuba

Postby Matt Hall » Wed May 30, 2018 5:04 pm

Hi Sir,

Cuba look very interesting you have captured some very nice photos too.
Were you tempted to try a Cigar?
Also Pain face in Houston the Dan Bong compression was another classic!

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Grandmaster G
Hae Jang Nim
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Location: Moorebank NSW Australia
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Re: On the Road World Tour 2018 - USA + Mexico + Cuba

Postby Grandmaster G » Wed May 30, 2018 10:46 pm

Not really a Cigar person, so passed on that.

But it was an interesting place to visit.

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Kelvin Zeini
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Joined: Thu Nov 24, 2016 1:39 pm

Re: On the Road World Tour 2018 - USA + Mexico + Cuba

Postby Kelvin Zeini » Wed Jun 06, 2018 1:55 pm

We miss having you back GMG on the Australian mats. We can't wait for the day of your return sir.
Have a safe trip back home GMG.

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Grandmaster G
Hae Jang Nim
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Joined: Sun Jun 12, 2005 1:18 pm
Location: Moorebank NSW Australia
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Re: On the Road World Tour 2018 - USA + Mexico + Cuba

Postby Grandmaster G » Wed Jun 06, 2018 2:03 pm

Back next week :wink:


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