Old Man Kim Teaches Me Martial Arts

Old man Kim looks like one of those harmless looking yet fit and nimble grandpas you see in asian movies. He’s quite a regular at the gym I go to.

Before today, our only interaction was when he gave me the thumbs up for doing a round horse kick on the boxing bag in the functional fitness studio.

Today though, I entered the studio just as he was done with his workout and doing some stretches.

As I started warming up, I noticed him going over to the bag and throwing some punches and kicks himself. They were surprisingly powerful and ‘sharp’!(for lack of a better word).

When he caught my eye, it was my turn to give him the 👍 and I guess that broke the communication barrier between us.

He came over to me and asked if I was Japanese (not the first time someone has done this 😅). I said no and it’s probably because of my long hair. I found out he was 73 years old and Korean and asked if he had some Taekwondo background.

He said it’s a bit of both Taekwondo and Karate.

Back in the day, 40 years ago when he first started learning, there was no such thing as the public group classes so prevalent everywhere today. Everything was privately taught.

I conveyed how admirable and amazing his skills was and how I did not really know much.

He then proceeded to demonstrate some moves on me. Beginning with punches and where to aim with your punches. He signalled that the first and most painful area to go for would be the front of the mouth and nose area. Second was the bottom of the throat with the tips of your fingers. Third was the middle of your chest where your ribs met (solar plexus) and fourth were the side of the ribs.

I got a sense that he was being very practical with this crash course, as if he was preparing me for a street fight. (and I kinda felt like Karate kid learning from Mr. Miyagi😄)

He added that the best places to strike was at the bony areas where there was not much flesh/muscle/fats. Those were the most painful and I got a taste of those when he demonstrated on me. 😯

Next he showed me which parts of the hands were best for blocking – the ulnar bone side of your forearm, meaning the lateral aspect of your forearms when palms down, like how karate people strike a brick or block of wood.

Then it was how to kick, where to aim for the lower body – mostly the lateral aspects of the knees to cause someone to lose their balance. Then it was some takedowns and lastly how to create combos with the momentum of your blocks and strikes.

By the end of our conversation, at least 30 mins had passed!

He also gave me some advice:

“Just practice 5 mins everyday and you will figure all these out. Practice with your friends or with a wooden pole.”

I asked if I could practice with him next time we met at the gym. He smiled as he walked off so I guess that’s a yes?

So far, I’ve never had that much fun at the gym! Mostly because I usually train alone and recently its become a big of a grind, like I’d have to drag myself to the gym.

Thus, today came as a pleasant surprise, and this was definitely the highlight of my day.

Moreover, I’ve been thinking of picking up some martial arts for quite some time now. And even decided that once this gym membership was over, I would cease to continue and enroll in a martial arts school or MMA gym nearby.

It’s interesting how these things ‘manifest’ in your life somehow. I did not pray for this encounter with old man Kim. It’s like God knew what I was feeling inside and wanted to add some ‘spice’ into my gym routine! 😄

I’m already looking forward to the next gym session and already have a plan of how I’m going to warm up and practice those moves he taught me with the bag. 👊

Image source

Expect the unexpected! You never know what magic might happen tomorrow.



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