Members from the United States Forces-Korea, practice combatives with Republic of Korea Army soldiers during a Korean Ministry of Defense tour at Muju, Republic of Korea, April 9, 2019. The MND Taekwondo camp gave U.S. service members a chance to practice Taekwondo and learn about its history and importance to Korean culture. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Stefan Alvarez)
Members from the United States Forces-Korea, practice combatives with Republic of Korea Army soldiers during a Korean Ministry of Defense tour at Muju, Republic of Korea, April 9, 2019. The MND Taekwondo camp gave U.S. service members a chance to practice Taekwondo and learn about its history and importance to Korean culture. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Stefan Alvarez)

U.S., ROK military members bond through martial arts

by Senior Airman Stefan Alvarez
8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- The traditional martial art of Korea is Taekwondo, and members of the United States Forces-Korea got a chance to experience it firsthand with the Republic of Korea Army.

The Korean Ministry of National Defense organizes and hosts tours for U.S. military personnel on the peninsula to expose them to Korean culture. The Taekwondo tour gave both American and Korean service members a chance to understand the art, train together and deepen their bond through hand-to-hand combat techniques.

"It was a really great experience," said Staff Sgt. Robert Johnson, 8th Security Forces Squadron member. "I've done Taekwondo before and to experience it with Koreans was a special experience for me. To see the art form in its native country being performed and taught by its native people is something not many people can say that they have done."

The MND has been organizing tours almost every month since 1972, giving many opportunities for personnel stationed all over Korea to learn more about the vast history and unique culture of their ROK counterparts. Taekwondo is the national martial art of Korea, and Koreans take pride in their proficiency and expertise in the sport.

"We hope that everything we teach to the U.S. military members is impactful," said Grand Master John Hur, a Taekwondo instructor at Camp Humphreys. "Our goal is to motivate them to learn more and practice not only for the fun of it, but so that they can learn to better themselves through Taekwondo."

Members who participated in the tour learned the basics of Taekwondo, along with some of the self-defense techniques that the ROK military use in their combatives programs. Additionally, at the Taekwondowon campus, they toured the only museum in the world dedicated to Taekwondo, and watched several performances highlighting traditional Korean music and martial arts.

Soldiers, Marines, and Airmen who went on the MND tour developed a stronger bond and friendship through blood, sweat and dedication from training with the ROK Army.

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