If you’ve been looking for a fun and active way to get some exercise, learn a new skill, and engage in part of Korean culture, now is as good a time as any to pick up martial arts! Korea is well-known for taekwondo, of course, but there are many other kinds of Korean martial arts, too, including hapkido, kumdo, taekgyeon, and ssireum.
Martial arts gyms can be found everywhere in Korea. But often it is difficult to find one that is comfortable for your average non-Korean, due to the classes being for children or a language barrier. For those who are willing to go a little bit outside of their comfort zone (physically and otherwise), we are compiling a directory of martial arts gyms in Changwon recommended by expats who have taken lessons in the past. (If you currently train at a gym not listed here and would recommend it, please contact us so we can add it to this directory.)
Choose one that you feel is right for you, give it a shot, and don’t be scared or discouraged. It is possible to obtain a first-degree black belt in about one year if you train hard! 화이팅!
1. 비연체육관 (Biyeon Chaeyukgwan)
Type: Hapkido (합기도)
Master: Kim Jin-taek
Times: Monday-Saturday, 9:30pm
Address: 창원시 도계동 343-4번지 3층 (3rd floor, Dogye-dong 343-4, Changwon)
Master Kim does not speak much English but is a patient and good instructor. The 9:30pm class is mostly university and high school students and one expat. Other available classes are at 2pm, 4pm, 6pm, and 8pm, mostly with younger children. “Biyeon” (비연/飛鳶) means “Flying kite” (and “chaeyukgwan” means “gym”).
2. 충렬 태권도 (Chungnyeol Taekwondo)
Type: Taekwondo (태권도)
Times: 8:30pm, 9:30pm
Address: 창원시 팔용동 101 팔용종합상가 5층 (Palyong-dong Shopping Complex 5th floor, Palyong-dong 101, Changwon)
Classes are available at 8:30pm (mixed adults and youth) or 9:30pm (adults only). The master at this gym speaks Korean and Spanish; for your English needs, you can count on several expats who regularly train here. The first class is free! “Chungnyeol” (충렬/忠烈) means “Unswerving loyalty”.
3. 영남대 석사 택견 (Yeungnam University Master Taekgyeon)
Type: Taekgyeon (택견)
Master: Shim Sung-hyeon
Times: Monday-Friday, 9:40pm
Address: 창원시 팔용동 100 드림피아 6층 (Dreampia 6th floor, Palyong-dong 100, Changwon)
Master Shim and Master Choi co-teach the adult class, so beginners may train separately from more advanced students. Taekgyeon is relatively less well-known than other traditional Korean martial arts — hence a small class with almost all Koreans — but it is a designated UNESCO “intangible cultural heritage”.
4. 강해라 태권도 (Kanghaera Taekwondo)
Type: Taekwondo (태권도)
Times: Monday-Friday, 7:00pm
Address: 창원시 진해구 풍호로 35번길 28, 2층 (Pungho-ro 35, 2nd floor, Jinhae, Changwon) // 자은동 657-40 (Jaeun-dong 657-40)
The master speaks no English, but he is super friendly! “Kanghaera” (강해라) means “Be strong!”
5. 검풍검도 (Gompung Kumdo)
Type: Kumdo (검도)
Times: Monday-Friday, 8:30pm
Address: 창원시 성산구 동산로 124 성원그랜드쇼핑, 4층 (Dongsang-ro 124, Sungwon Grand Shopping Center, 4th floor, Seongsan-gu, Changwon) // 상남동 45-1 (Sangnam-dong 45-1)
Students will usually learn the basics of kumdo — stance, how to hold the sword, movement — for two to three months before they begin learning to fight. Be aware: kumdo is an expensive sport due to its equipment (armor for about 600,000KRW, a sword for about 30,000KRW). “Gompung” (검풍/刃風) means “Biting Wind”.
6. KPW 일기토 이종격투기 체육관 (KPW Mixed Martial Arts)
Type: MMA (kickboxing, ground fighting, jiu jitsu)
Master: Eom Hee-Chan
Times: Monday-Friday 6:30pm, 8pm, 9:30pm
Tuition: 100,000KRW/month (80,000KRW/month for women), plus 20,000KRW initiation fee
Address: 창원시 중앙동 97-3 상지솔리움 2 층 (Sangji Solium 2nd floor, Jungang-dong 97-3, Changwon)
If you are interested in MMA, this centrally-located gym (across the street from O’Briens in Jungang-dong) is great. The kickboxing class is on Mondays and Tuesdays, and ground fighting (grappling) and jiu jitsu are on Thursdays and Fridays. You can come work out at any of the class times. Visitors to the gym are welcome to take a look at how people are trained before joining. If you have any questions, feel free to ask an English-speaking member of the gym who can be contacted at 010-7257-0070. “Ilgito” (일기토/一己討) refers a one-on-one fight between knights.
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This map has all the information we have so far. In addition, we have leads for a muy thai gym in Myeongseo-dong, a muy thai gym by City 7 (K1), and a jiujitsu gym next to the Starbucks in Sangnam-dong. If you have addresses and other information about these gyms, or information for another martial arts gym you attend and recommend, please get in touch with us on Facebook!