7. Badminton, My Life & My Path - The time in The High School - The 2nd & 3rd Year

The 2nd Year

When I was in middle school, I lost to better players 1-15 or 3-15. It was like a pro player playing against a beginner. During the 2nd Year, I reached the final stage in singles of the Korean High School National Championship in May. I did not expect to reach the final, and I think nor my coach expected it. I still remember in a semi-final and final matches. I guess no one expects me to beat the player at the semi-final. I strongly felt that I could beat this player after I played him about 5 points. I did not feel much pressure from his shot. I beat him, and I reached the final first time.

However, In the final, I was feeling so nervous and felt much pressure. My confidence had disappeared even before I play. The player who I had to play at the final looked an outstanding and robust player, his smash seemed so powerful, and the way he played was so confident. I had no self believe in beating him, no idea on how to play him. I was scared to play him. I think I was already lost him even before I played.

In the first game, I felt that my court is as big as a football ground, and I did not feel where I am standing, I could not feel my court at all. On the other hand, I think his court is so small, and where ever I hit, he is already there. I could not see and feel any space to hit the shuttlecock. I lost the first game so quickly and did not know and feel how I played.

In the second game, when he was winning about 10-5 (during this time one game is up to 15, and you got the point only when you serve), I was beginning to feel his court and where he was. I could see empty spaces in his court. I start to think that I can defend his shorts, I can move him around, and I can use my skills against him. There was a growing feeling that I might able to beat him. But it was far too late as his score is already 13 when I felt that. Finally, I lost him. I was so disappointed with the fact that not only I lost, but I lost without using my skills and ability.

I was selected to go to Japan to play an exchange match against the Japanese best high school players. About six players selected from the high school in Korea. The chosen players got together and did team training before the trip. It was the first team training I participated in outside my school team. I had to say that I did not enjoy it at all. In was the sweltering summer, when the team training was taking place. There was an incident that after training, some of us drank water during the break time.

The person in charge of the team training called us, and he hit our bum very hard about ten times with a wooden stick. The reason for him to punish us was that we drank the water without permission. It was break time, and I felt we could drink, and we can go to the toilet during break time, and we did not have to have such permission. I was very disappointed, and I did not enjoy the team training at all. During this time, many sports team coaches or managers in Korean hits players with a wooden stick was normal. But the coach of our school team never did such physical punishment to us.

The 3rd Year

Our school team won several high school national team competitions during the 3rd Year. I won the high school individual singles and doubles titles. Sadly, the coach had to stop coaching us due to his reason, which I did not know. In the 3rd Year, we had no coach to the team, but one of the PE teachers managed our training. As he has no badminton playing background, usually, I had to lead the team training. I started to develop the skill of how to lead team players and how to motivate my team players.

The Incident

There was an incident I remember. It was a competition and our school team expected to beat a school quickly and easily, but we did win the school very tightly. The PE teacher who acted as a manager to the club was angry that we did not beat the school promptly. After we won, the teacher told us to go back to the hotel and stay in a room and bend our knees on the floor and sit still until he comes. The reason he punished us in such a way was that he was not happy with our performance. We were in such a posture for more than one hour in a room. I beginning get very angry with the punishment. I did play my best, and no team members were misbehaving. I could not see the reason why we should have such punishment such away. The teacher came, and beginning tells us how badly we played and so on.

I did put my hand up and told the teacher, “Teacher! No, players are playing a match without intention to win and play his best,” I said in front of all other team members. What I said was totally against the teacher’s authority, and it was totally against the Korean culture. I think no one from the team expected me to say such a sentence at such a moment. About five seconds, silently passed, and I remember that he took his wristwatch off, and then he began to hit my face and everywhere for more than 30 minutes. It was the first time, and only time another human has hit me in such a way for such a long time, and the person was a PE teacher in my high school. Next, I can see my face has many different colors, and my arms and shoulder were hurting.

I continued to play the remaining matches on the following days. In a way, I did earn such punishment by the PE teacher. At the time in Korea, a teacher’s authority is very high, and the age difference is a critical factor in how you should behave. It was apparent that I did challenge both in front of other students. I am a student, and he is a teacher, and I was so much younger than him. Saying things like that to the teacher in front of other students was not acceptable in the Korean culture at the time, regardless of what I say is right or wrong. It is all changed now, and The PE teacher would be taken to prison if he did it today.

During my high school years, I had to miss many school classes for training and attending competitions. Even I am a student in high school. I acted as a semi-professional player.