Since arriving in Korea, I have learned about much more than baduk, as go is known here. Here, for example, it’s customary to bow to your elders, but back home in America if you bowed down to someone they would give you a funny look.
Though I’ve only been here since the end of May, it didn’t take long to feel a bit homesick. So when Cho Hyeyeon 9P asked if I wanted to help her teach baduk to soldiers on the US military base, I agreed immediately. Arriving on base it was if I’d somehow been instantly transported back to America. The roads, sidewalks, and even the houses are all in the American style and the stores and soda machines take American dollars and have American snacks. It turns out that the base is actually owned by the United States, so technically, I was literally back in United States territory.
After a trip to Burger King, we went to the building where we would teach the Baduk class. The students — who are either soldiers, their wives or kids — arrived shortly after we did; they were all complete beginners of course, and it was nice to teach them and play without the pressure of having to thoroughly think through each and every one of my moves. They all took it in very quickly and played very intriguing moves. My new friend Chris, who now enthusiastically plays the game on KGS when he can, quickly learned how to play the opening on the full board and how to make and take two eyes.
I was very impressed with how quickly the students learned things and I had a lot of fun teaching them. I also got to remember how it felt to be a beginner and just to enjoy playing. Lately, between my teaching work for BadukTV and my own studies, it seems as though I have become so serious that I must make every move as effective as possible. So it is a nice change of pace to be able to play beginners and have fun with the game rather than having the pressure to make every move worthwhile.
It was a good reminder that baduk is as difficult as we make it.
Shawn Ray, known as Clossius to his YouTube and KGS fans, recently moved to Korea to do a series of lessons on BadukTV. photo: Ray (front), with students from the US military base,