A few days ago, we saw a man taking pictures of our school. "I bet he's a Korean tourist" I remarked to Master Navarrete. We were not yet open for the day, and were curious as to what exactly was so interesting, so we went outside to ask him.
Although we had a bit of a language barrier, we found out that he was a taekwondo instructor visiting from Korea, and was SO excited to see a taekwondo studio. He asked if he could come and watch a class, to which we of course said yes, and sure enough, he came in just as our Tiny Tigers were lining up. We learned that his name is Master Jino Yu and he is a 4th degree black belt in taekwondo. He shared with us pictures from his school (he has 450 students!) and was an absolute sweetheart with the kids. He helped the little ones tie their belts correctly and then knelt down and shook every student's hand. Seeing a high ranking Korean Black Belt show so much modesty and displaying the virtues of respect and community that we as martial artists value, was wonderful for our students to experience.
We assumed that being here on vacation, he would watch for a few minutes and then go on his way, but much to our surprise, he stayed from 3pm until 8pm, watching every single class we taught and taking pictures and videos to show to students and friends back home. It was neat to meet a total stranger from the other side of the globe, purely by chance, and to have this instant connection because of taekwondo. We hope that Mr Yu enjoys the rest of his trip in the U.S. and that next time he comes stateside that he looks us up.
If you've had a similar experience either at a taekwondo event or just out on the street, we'd love to hear about it. Please share in the comments section below.