Friday, August 18, 2017

So Long and Thanks for all the Fish

By Katie Dahle, 1st dan

This year I challenged myself to do something I hadn’t before in my Moo Sul Kwan Taekwondo training.  The CTI Triple Crown (participating in Moo Sul Kwan Summer Expo, Camp Moo Sul Kwan and the CTI Black Belt Team World Tour).  June was full to bursting with things to do, places to go, and people to meet.  This year’s Expo was my fifth, but Camp and the World Tour were new to me.  Expo started June off right with some hard workouts, an exciting Broken Knuckle Challenge, and a blast of a banquet.  After that it was a fun filled week in the mountains at Camp where I crafted my first tye-dye shirt, made new friends, and learned so much.  By June 19, I was eager for the excursion to Sweden and Norway.
Martial arts lady black belt breaking a board with a roundhouse kick
I’d traveled abroad before with big groups, but this was by far my favorite trip I’ve ever taken.  Traveling with a group like this, full of kind and considerate people that I’ve gotten to know over the years through tournaments and other events, added an extra layer of great memories to bring home.  Not only did we see great sights and tour interesting places, we were there to understand and appreciate these cultures and to better ourselves physically, mentally and spiritually.

Learning about the history and culture of Sweden was exciting as we went to Birka, the Vasa Museum, took a bike tour of Stockholm and spent Midsummer at the Skansen open air museum.  Traveling by water is such an important part of Sweden’s history, going back to the mighty Viking era and resulting in the ambitious build of the doomed Vasa ship.  I was very interested in their celebration of Midsummer.  I appreciate how a culture would continue to celebrate nature and the summer season because of how fleeting it is at that northern latitude.

Norway became not only a learning experience about their history, but a lesson in their landscapes.  We traveled from east to west and back while we were in Norway, seeing how tundra like the environment gets at a higher elevation, how rich the forests are close to the coasts and the majesty of the fjords.  The environment of Norway was breathtaking and a real highlight of the trip.

One of my favorite parts of the trip was the food.  Food is a great way to understand and immerse yourself in a different culture.  The seafood was outstanding and as much as I love Colorado, it is far from any source of good seafood so this trip was my chance to indulge.  The salmon, herring, and mussels I enjoyed supplemented a hearty diet of meat, bread and butter, all important staples of a Scandinavian diet.  The chocolate balls were also a highlight and I wish I could have brought a whole suitcase of them back with me.

The trip was full of adventure and great company!  I was sad when we went to the airport at the end of our journey across two great countries, but I was satisfied and full of good memories.  I couldn’t have asked for a better trip for my first black belt world tour.

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