중앙데일리

Korea embraces a ‘jujitsu missionary’

Oct 15,2007
The shouts of about 30 young men filled the gymnasium at Yonsei University on Oct. 6. The crowd, a mix of Koreans and foreigners, was practicing jujitsu, a weaponless Japanese martial art.
Among the men practicing basic movements or competing with each other, a foreigner barking out instructions stood out.
“Place the knee as close as possible to the ground,” the instructor shouted. “Don’t shove in too much.” He gave his orders mostly in Korean, although he used some English when he spoke to foreigners.
The coach is John Frankl, 40, a professor of Korean literature at Yonsei University. His first encounter with the Korean language was during his time as a student at the University of California at Berkeley. When he came to Korea in 1988 as an exchange student, he changed his major from English to Korean literature. After focusing on Hyeon Jin-geon’s short stories while earning his master’s degree at Yonsei, he went on to complete his Ph.D. on the theme of foreigners in Korean literature at Harvard University.
Frankl fell into jujitsu after meeting Rickson Gracie, 48, a legendary fighter who claims to have had no losses in over 400 matches. In 2002, Frankl got his black belt, a feat that usually takes 10 years.
He is among the first “jujitsu missionaries” to Korea. While spending a year in Korea writing his doctoral thesis in 1999, he taught the martial art. He did the same in 2004 when he was hired as a professor at Yonsei. He has been practicing ever since then.
Choi Jeong-gyu, Jang Deok-yeong and Lee Jae-seon, who are active fighters at the Spirit MC league, are all Frankl’s students. Most of the jujitsu gym owners in Seoul and Gyeonggi also learned from him. Frankl himself opened a gym in Apgujeong-dong in April.
“Korean students work hard,” Frankl said, “but they just follow the trend.
They learn Chinese because China is emerging and want only to be lawyers and doctors. Do whatever you like to do, then you’ll get a job you want.”
The term “jujitsu” was first used in the 17th century, derived from samurai fighting techniques. Judo is largely jujitsu-inspired.


By Park Yu-mi Staff Writer [yhwang@joongang.co.kr]




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