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Taekwondo Journey – Part 3

June 29, 2011

I arrived in Seoul, South Korea on Tuesday evening the week of the World Taekwondo Federation General Assembly of Nations which was being held on Saturday.  I stayed the night with my Taekwondo mentor Lee Yong Woo who had lived and taught Taekwondo in Uganda for twenty years and had moved back to Korea to start a business in retail management.  The next day I boarded the KTX (train) for Gyeong Ju, the venue for the championships.  The journey was 248 miles long and took a mere two hours as opposed to the fourteen hours it had taken for the same distance across Kenya.

Marty at the Kukkiwon headquarters

Upon my arrival at the hotel in Gyeong Ju, I sat in my room wondering if there was going to be anything significant to come out of this very expensive trip.  I got on my knees and begged God that He would validate this journey that I was on.  That afternoon I went to the hotel conducting the registration, only to find out that they had moved it to the gymnasium back in the city.  Disappointed, I sat and waited on a shuttle.  I noticed a man sitting near me and introduced myself as the coach and representative for Rwanda.  He become noticeably excited and pulled a document from his pocket.  He happened to be the chairman for the World Taekwondo Federation’s committee for expansion and Rwanda was at the top of his list of countries they were hoping to expand into.  Without meaning to, we had done his job for him.  The first thing he did was ask me to be the liaison for the Federation for expansion in Africa.  The next thing he did was to begin setting up meetings for me with the directors of the World Taekwondo Federation, including it’s president, Dr. Choe and the Secretary General Yang.  By the second day of this I had met the entire board, had been given V.I.P. credentials (obviously they hadn’t seen my hotel), had been asked to serve on the board of the African Taekwondo Union, and began receiving promises of help for our small taekwondo federation of Rwanda that was practicing in my front yard.

Marty representing Rwanda at the General Assembly

By the time the weekend came around, I was overwhelmed by how much validation I had gotten.  I remember sitting in the General Assembly of 197 countries being amazed at what, in just a few months, I had become involved in and wondering to myself what in the world God was planning to do with all of this.  Needless to say, I was very happy for Rwanda, which had gained tremendous recognition from my time there and the great opportunity that awaited them in this Olympic sport.  The rest of my time there continued along the same track as Rwanda and I were welcomed with open arms by the other federations as well as the sport’s top coaches and vendors.  My visit to Korea ended back in Seoul where I stayed again with Mr. Lee and visited the Korean folk village and Kukkiwon – the world’s headquarters for Taekwondo accreditation.  I could not have imagined a more incredible journey nor could I have dreamt of the affirmation that God gave me along the way.  Still, I wonder what he has in store for us and our little team in Rwanda.

The Kukkiwon demo team

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Marilyn McDermett permalink
    June 29, 2011 2:40 pm

    Marty, isn’t God’s affirmation great! Wow! what a wonderful testimony to the power of prayer.

    PS I lived in Korea (Seoul) for two years inthe 60s and loved it! Made me homesick to hear you talk about it.

    May God continue to richly bless you and the team and all your work! Marilyn

    • Martin & Louise Koonce permalink
      June 29, 2011 3:19 pm

      Thank you Marilyn. It has been wonderful and yes South Korea was amazing.

  2. Tom R permalink
    July 6, 2011 9:42 pm

    Marty, I stand amazed!…again. We question, we doubt, we get disappointed, and then God shows us His hand.

  3. Rusty Caldwell permalink
    July 2, 2013 3:25 pm

    Hey Marty and Louise! This is Rusty Caldwell. Remember me? Togo intern from the past. I’m coming over to Rwanda in a couple of weeks and wanted to see how close you are to Kigali. I work for the Nike foundation and have meetings there and would love to catch up. Anyway, hope you guys are well. You can email me back at

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