Over the last three years, I′ve had the honor and pleasure (and I sincerely mean those words) to train with Chae In-muk. He is not only an amazing instructor, but he is also someone I look up to and try to emulate in my personal life. Recently, he moved his gym to a new location near Kyungsung University in Busan, and last week, opened up a second floor to his gym. I believe that, generally, you get back from the world what you put into it. The more negative energy you put out there, the more you will get back. I don′t know if I′d necessarily call it Karma, but you get the idea. My point is that I believe Chae′s success is largely contributed to the fact he is such a positive, genuinely kind person. Here′s an interview with the coolest Zen Buddhist I′ve ever met.
Interviewer: When did you start training BJJ?
Chae In-muk: I started in 2003
Interviewer: How did you discover it?
Chae In-muk: I got my hands on a VHS tape, called Death Match. *laughter* It had UFC 1 on it. I loved it.
Interviewer: What are some changes that you have seen here in Korea over the years, regarding BJJ?
Chae In-muk: Well, in the beginning there were no instructors to learn from. Just John Frankl in Seoul. In 2002, a man named Mr. Jung started teaching BJJ at Pusan National University. He trained and earned a blue belt from Lee Hee-sung who was just a purple belt at the time (he is now a black belt under Axis). He started teaching for free and called his club Conde Koma.
Also, when we first started BJJ clubs here in Busan, we all trained MMA and BJJ together. A lot of guys at our gym were fighters like Won-sik “Parky” Park, Heo Min-suk, and the Team MAD guys.
Interviewer: How was it training under Mr. Jung?
Chae In-muk: Well, he was a very nice guy, but a little crazy. He was really into religion. I remember starting BJJ for the first time at his gym in my thirties. The first day, I was getting tapped by high school kids half my age.
Interviewer: You are not a big guy at all. What advice would you give to smaller guys that train BJJ?
Chae In-muk: I think small guys can do a lot of things bigger guys can′t. For example, I think a small guy can stay in a ball more, and I think the concept of being in a ball is very important in BJJ. Ultimately, BJJ is a challenge against yourself as much as it is a challenge against an opponent. You are only limited by how much you practice, and how much you put into it. Don′t worry about size. It′s not like we have to roll against elephants and tigers. You couldn′t win against one of those. Remember, the big guy is only human and beatable.
Interviewer: I′d like to talk a little about your Kung-fu background, because you are also a Kung-fu master. Some people that have done traditional martial arts, later shun them when they discover BJJ, saying that they are useless. I find it very interesting that you still really love Kung-fu and have a deep respect for it. *There is a large collection of swords at the gym and, from time to time, I see Master Chae practicing with them.
Chae In-muk: Yes, I still love Kung-fu. I think it is beautiful, and I love the theory of Kung-fu and the tradition. Although, I see a lot conservatism in it that I really don′t adhere to. My Kung-fu instructor used to tell me to go to the cemetery here at night to sleep. I was scared and didn′t want to do that, because there were wild boars running around there at night! *laughter* He told me to do it, and to not to be scared. *more laughter* It sounds funny, but this helped me formulate my ideas about self defense BJJ (and martial arts in general) and sport BJJ. I see martial arts and sport BJJ co-existing as a Yin and Yang. I see martial arts having inner quality that should be used to protect yourself, while sport BJJ has a more outward purpose that serves for people to have positive, social interactions with each other.
Interviewer: Can you tell me about your MMA fight?
Chae In-muk: Yeah, sure. I had one MMA fight. I had only about three months of BJJ experience, but Mr. Jung told me that I would win. This was back in 2003. I got knocked out in about a minute. *laughter* My opponent was a famous American fighter from Hammer House. I was about 60 kg at the time, and he was 80 kg.
Interviewer: How many times have you been to Brazil?
Chae In-muk: I have been to Brazil once.
Interviewer: Where did you train and how was it?
Chae In-muk: I trained in Sao Paulo at Barbosa Academy. I was a brown belt at the time, and everyone was very friendly. The only crazy thing was, was that there were so many black belts! It was just an ocean of black belts, with maybe two or three white belts per class, and maybe four or five blue belts.
Interviewer: Did you compete in Brazil?
Chae In-muk: Yes, I competed in several competitions over there. I did a few big tournaments, and one small local competition. I won two gold medals, a bronze in absolute, and a bronze in an adult division.
Interviewer: A lot of guys get nervous before competitions, and have performance anxiety. What advice would you give to guys that get nervous before competitions. How do you relax?
Chae In-muk: I don′t! *laughter*
Interviewer: Thank you very much for taking the time out to do this interview.
Chae In-muk: You′re welcome.