First post from Argentina

Hi everyone

We arrived safely in Buenos Aires. For me, this experience so far epitomises one of the things I love about Taekwon-Do. My grand hope is that one day, many of my students will experience it:

International Taekwon-Do is a family. A huge international network of friendships.

My friend Fabian sabumnim, who lives in Santa Fe, arranged for one of his friends to collect us from the airport. I had never met his friend Luciano sabumnim. (Luciano sabumnim knows Mr Trotter, and asked him whether he knew me. Mr Trotter and I have been friends for about 25 years!)

So when we arrived at the airport, we met Luciano sabumnim. We learned later that he drove over an hour to collect us. He drove us an hour to our apartment, and we settled in. We planned that he would return home and collect his family, and then come back to our apartment to join us for dinner. The traffic back to his home was so bad, we postponed it until the following day.

Master Katz contacted me and invited me to training at 9am the following morning. He told me there is a dojang about 100m from our apartment. I wanted to do my best to attend, but I wasn’t sure how jetlag would kick me (so I set an alarm).

We got to sleep about 11pm. I woke about 3:30am, and Ana did, too. She wanted her mama, so we swapped beds. It was hard to rise when my alarm activated at 7:30, but I did.

Master Katz was crossing the street as I exited our building. It was fantastic to see him – he is a lovely guy.

The dojang wasn’t 100m from our apartment. It probably wasn’t 50m. I didn’t even have to cross a street. We just walked around the corner.

Master Katz introduced me to German von Forester sabumnim. (His name is pronounced “Hermaan”.) It wasn’t a Taekwon-Do class, it was a personal training session. We trained an hour, and it was exhausting. Training focused on sparring drills, which is an area of weakness for me. It is an area I want to be able to develop for my students. Taekwon-Do is so vast, it is very hard to train every aspect. I need to find time in my diary to train with Mr Trotter or Mr van Roon regularly to improve it. My footwork is weak.

After training, I popped home for a shower, then back to a cafe for coffee with Master Katz. (All of my family were still sleeping) German sabumnim joined us after his following class. German sabumnim also teaches BJJ, and he invited me back for a class today.

Our friend Miss Laura joined us about noon. Laura is the daughter of a close friend of Grand Master Trajtenberg. She lived in NZ for a year about six years ago. At the time, GM Trajtenberg emailed me and asked me to help her settle in. She was travelling with a friend, and at the time we didn’t have space in our house for two. We helped her settle in. A month before she departed, she moved in with us. Miss Laura is wonderful. Antun was toddling at the time.

Miss Laura took us to Luciano sabumnim, who lives about 30 minutes drive from our apartment. He was out visiting family. So we went to a marina for lunch, then returned to Luciano sabumnim’s.

Two carloads of us went out for dinner to one of Luciano sabumnim’s favourite restaurants. His children were out at an aunt’s house, so we had our family of four, Laura, Luciano sabumnim and his wife, Mrs Natalia. Mrs B and I had steak! (Argentina is famous for steak.) I snuck away to pay, but my credit card was declined. I wonder whether my bank is doing that silly thing where they put it on hold because it is in another country. Hey, bank, perhaps I am travelling with my card! Very frustrating. Luciano sabumnim caught me (Mrs Natalia saw me), and he reprimanded me. I convinced him to take my USD, though, so I successfully paid.

Well, today is the 200th anniversary of Argentina’s independence. So last night, after dinner with Luciano sabumnim, we attended his local Independence Day festivities. He suggested doing it in his city rather than in the centre (think Shore City to Auckland City). It was a wise choice. His city, San Isidro, has a wonderful family atmosphere, and Antun and Ana were playing with local children on a playground in the plaza until we departed after 11pm.

Today Luciano sabumnim and his family fly to a place near the Andes for a week’s holiday in the snow. Miss Laura has her father’s birthday. We decided a rest day would help us settle into the time zone.

At 11am I had the BJJ class with German sabumnim. I attended with two other students. My first BJJ class. It was amazing. Such an incredibly technical art. I wonder how the belt system works. The class ended with free fighting. My first was with German sabumnim. You know when the instructor is playing nice? It was like that. He gave me opportunities, and gently capitalised on my mistakes. He is a great instructor.

My second was with a new student, and I did well. I got chest-to-back and almost got a rear choke on. Not quite. My third was with a student who has only trained 3 months. I couldn’t get him out of the guard. I wanted to cheat. It would be so easy to press a pressure point. I resisted. I wanted to play nice. I was unable to win. It was brilliant!

I returned to the apartment and showered, then popped back to see German sabumnim. I went to beg a favour. Today is a public holiday, and I was down to 400 pesos (about $40). That wouldn’t get us lunch and dinner. So I asked German sabumnim whether he would change some USD for me. (Banks change USD at good rates, restaurants and supermarkets do not. Moreover, Argentinians often use USD for Taekwon-Do travel. It was fun communicating with German sabumnim, because he has about as much English as I do Spanish. He kindly changed USD100 for me.

We bought some groceries (I asked the other BJJ students, Sr. Tomas and Sr. Jean-Marc, where to find a good bakery and butchery), and returned to our apartment. We ate lunch from the bakery. I slept a few hours after that.

Mrs B woke me about 5:30, and I took the children out to play in the playground, which is in the median strip of our road. Home for dinner, and now some quick diary time for bed.

Tomorrow Miss Laura will take us to the zoo – a request of mis hijos. I have a few bookings next week, to catch up with friends and to train. I want to get A&A to a Taekwon-Do kids class at German sabumnim’s gym (Taekwon-Do infantiles). GM Trajtenberg has invited us to dinner that night, so I’m not sure we can fit them both in. We may have to do the kids’ class on Thursday. GM Trajtenberg apparently teaches a patterns class nearby on Wednesday at 11am.

My primary goals for this trip were social: I want to see friends, and expose A&A to a Spanish-speaking country. I brought two dobok, but I didn’t expect to train frequently before the course in Rosario. It is our second day in Buenos Aires, and my expectations are already exceeded. I hope some of my students have the opportunity to experience the International Taekwon-Do family during their journeys.


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