BJJ Academies: Jiu Jitsu Itaewon in Seoul

Itaewon Jiu Jitsu was opened by DK, a John Frankl brown belt, in May 2013. I moved to this area at the beginning of the year and changed over from my old academy to this one. I have found that folks are very welcoming. Most folks are white belts here, but I’ve found that overall they’re controlled and I don’t fear rolling with them. It’s a really happy new gym here, and I’m glad to be part of it!

group class itaewon

The Facilities

There are 2 unisex showers – new and very nice. There is a toilet available in the same building, but in another room. There is a free water cooler including ice! Free parking is available in a large parking lot – make sure to tell the security guard that you’re going to Jiu Jitsu Itaewon. There are no specific changing rooms – people do this in the individual showers. There are rings, pullup bars, TRX, and kettle bells. Overall a very nice facility.

The mats. Not too big, but not too small!

The mats. Not too big, but not too small! The area on the right has some exercise equipment.

Class Procedures

Time division: For the regular classes, they are divided equally 30 minute warmups/techniques/sparring. For competition classes, there is no technique – only drilling and sparring.

Warmups: Everyone runs in a circle at the beginning, then at some point it is divided into two lines and people do warmup techniques from one end of the mats to the other. Standard movements include: forward rolls, back rolls, crocodile walks, and every so often we do handstand walks or cartwheels.

The purple belt instructor, Lee Kyeong Sub, in front

The purple belt instructor, Lee Kyeong Sub, in front

Technique: 3-5 techniques are taught that are all connected. Classes are always taught in both English and Korean when any English speakers are present. The 10am class is taught by someone who only speaks Korean, but I have found him to be very helpful. The techniques are usually done based on triage – what students most need. For the final part of technique, we do one of each of the techniques we learned, one right after another. It’s a good final assessment for the instructor, and a good review for the students.

DK demonstrates a half guard transition taking the back.

Sparring: First round of sparring is positional sparring based on what was taught. After that, the instructor chooses the partners. Rounds are generally 5 minutes long. Note: this may be different in the competition class.

End of class: Everyone sits around in a circle and the instructor talks to everyone. Then everyone stands up and everyone shakes everyone’s hand. Follow the instructor – this will be confusing at first.

Instructor: Anyone leading class can be addressed as sabumnim. DK can also be called Kwangjangnim which means “gym owner.” He is really relaxed, and most of his students call him DK, even during class on the mats – which is not something I am used to in Korea!

This is DK, owner of Itaewon Jiu Jitsu!

This is DK, owner of Itaewon Jiu Jitsu!

Sparring: If you want to sit out of sparring, there’s a spot to do so. Sparring is generally from the knees or sitting; in the competition class it is usually standing.

Uniform: Any color is okay, including mixed. For nogi, you should wear shorts or spats, and a rashguard or t-shirt.

Video/pictures: Totally fine for members to take photos and vidoes. There is a youtube channel for the gym as well.

Water Break: Get it any time you need it. DK calls several water breaks throughout class.

The students

Right now the majority of students are white belt Korean men. There are around 5 blue belts, and 3 purple belts. There are 5 regular women, and about 5 regular foreigners, as well as 3 children. I have found that, while many of them don’t have awesome English, they’re willing to try to talk with me.


DK is a brown belt under John Frankl, and has been doing jiu jitsu since 2008. In addition to DK, there are 2 purple belt instructors. All 3 instructors are active competitors in the competition scene. One is going to the 2014 Abu Dhabi trials and the Pan Ams.

DK is the head instructor in the middle. The other instructor is on the left: Lee Kyeong Sub

DK is the head instructor in the middle. The other instructor is on the left: Lee Kyeong Sub


Monday – Wednesday gi, Thursday nogi
Regular classes 10:00-11:30, 15:00-16:15, 18:00-19:30, 20:00-21:30
Competition classes – open to blue belts and above 13:00-14:45
Open mat 11:30-12:45

Friday open mat 17:00-22:00
Saturday regular gi 12:00-13:30
Sunday regular gi 12:00-13:30

1 month unlimited  140,000
1 month 3x per week 130,000
1 month 2x per week 120,000

3 months unlimited 350,000
6 months unlimited 650,000
1 year unlimited 1,200,000
1 day 20,000

Sign up:
30,000 sign up fee – Tell them you saw this on Julia’s blog to get this WAIVED!
90,000 basic, white BJJ gi and white belt
140,000 jiu jitsu team gi with belt (130,000 without belt)

Because Itaewon Jiu Jitsu is part of the John Frankl network, you are permitted to visit other schools in the network free!, including team training in Apgujeong!

How to get there

Address: 2F ChoengHwa Building 22-2 Itaewon-dong Yongsan-gu Seoul

Subway: Itaewon Exit 4. Walk with your back to the Hamilton Hotel. When you get to the first crosswalk, keep going forward, then immediately into the parking lot on the right. Go to the second floor, and walk down the hall. Itaewon Jiu Jitsu is on your right side.

Bus: The 400, 405, 421, 110a, 110b, 6030 all stop at Itaewon station, by the Hamilton Hotel. Look for the subway Exit 4, and follow the directions above.

Contact 연락처

Facebook site:
Website/웹사이트 :
Youtube Channel:
DK (English or Korean): 010-4879-0831 Kakaotalk ID bjjdk
JaeHyeon Park (Korean): 010-8706-6648 Kakaotalk ID wogus9165
KyeongSeob Lee  (Korean): 010-9493-3979 Kakaotalk ID lhgs

If you stop by Jiu Jitsu Itaewon, please mention you read this article on my blog! If you sign up, mention my blog to have the signup fee waived!

Women’s Only Open Mat in Seoul, April 13, 2014

This was forwarded to me by the event coordinator! I’m planning to be there! Please say hi if you see me.

Date: Sunday, 13 April 2014
Time: 15:00-17:30
Location: Body & Seoul, Seoul Korea  
Itaewon-dong 225-1 #201, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, Korea 140-856
Cost: FREE
Website: Facebook Event


Inspired by similar events taking place around the world, Body & Seoul will host Korea’s first women only open mat. We all train with guys of different shapes and sizes but rarely do we get a chance to roll with lots of other women, unless it’s in a competitive environment. This event is designed to bring women from all gyms in Seoul together for a friendly sporting exchange, with no pressure to take part, just roll when and with whom you like. Best of all, it’s totally FREE! Just bring your gi and your desire to roll. The event is open to all women interested in and/or already practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at all levels. So bring your friends! We hope to make this a monthly event and with your support, we can. See you on the 13th! OSS!


On the subway: Noksapyeong Exit 2 (in the direction of the Hyatt Hotel).

Walk through the underground tunnel to cross the road.

Turn right to walk up Kyongridan. (Club NOKSA is on that corner.)

It is at the corner of the next 3-way intersection, on the 2nd floor of the building with a Tous Les Jours on the ground floor.

See you Sunday!

BJJ: Women’s Only Seminar in Seoul January 26

Date: Sunday, 26 January 2014
Time: 15:00-17:00
Location: Queen of Jiu Jitsu, Seoul Korea
Cost: 20,000 won

Heejin Lee will be conducting a women’s only seminar in Seoul on Sunday, January 26 from 3pm – 5pm. Her seminars are wonderful, and appropriate for all belt levels. Heejin is the only female black belt in Korea.

Women's Only Seminar conducted by Heejin Lee

Women’s Only Seminar conducted by Heejin Lee


Go to Children’s Grand Park station on the subway.

Exit 4, follow the side road down until you hit a major street. Turn left.

You will see it on your left side, shortly after turning left.


Children’s Grand Park in Seoul

Exit 4, walk until you get to the major street and turn left

Exit 4, walk until you get to the major street and turn left

The signage for Queen of Jiu Jitsu. This symbol is on the door.

The signage for Queen of Jiu Jitsu. This symbol is on the door.

 Hope to see all you ladies there!

BJJ Seminar Review: Heejin Lee Seminar

I have had the pleasure to attend two seminars given by Heejin Lee in Seoul, Korea. One seminar was held on Yongsan Army Garrison, for the soldiers on base. The other was a women’s only seminar held at Heejin’s gym, Queen of Jiu Jitsu.

The Instructor

Heejin Lee is the first woman in Korea to earn her BJJ black belt. She earned her jiu jitsu black belt on August 24, 2013 from John Frankl. She is active in the jiu jitsu community in Korea, and opened her own school, Queen of Jiu Jitsu. She is a native Korean speaker and around a high-intermediate English speaker.

Heejin Lee, Korea's first female BJJ black belt

Heejin Lee, Korea’s first female BJJ black belt

The attendees

At the seminar on Yongsan Army Garrison, there were 40 students, mostly white belts with Army Combatives experience, and some with almost no experience. There were several blue belts, and a couple upper belts as well. Nearly everyone was a native English speaker.

At the women’s only seminar at Queen of Jiu Jitsu, there were 20 women in attendance, 19 of whom were white belts. I was the only colored belt there. There was a mix of foreigners and Koreans.

19 white belt women + me, the lone blue belt

19 white belt women + me, the lone blue belt. It was amazing!


Heejin gave well thought out seminars. They were well structured, and all the techniques built on one another. In both, there was ample drilling time, which was incredibly nice. I was able to drill each of the techniques at least 10-20 times, rather than the very fast 2-4 times at most of the regular BJJ classes I have attended. During this time Heejin was actively monitoring and observing, helping, and fixing.

After this, there was sparring. One thing I thought was wonderful was that during the women’s only seminar, she made a point to encourage all the women to roll as much as possible, since it was rare for women to get a chance to roll with other women of varying size, ability, and level. In both seminars, there were too many people to roll simultaneously, so people were broken into groups. I had a chance to spar numerous times with a variety of people.


The overall atmosphere was pleasant. Not too serious, but not informal. Some of this may have been because in the Yongsan seminar, Heejin was not teaching in her main language. She was smiling and supportive throughout both.Throughout, I felt encouraged, supported, and like I was learning important points.


Both of the seminars taught the same techniques – side control escapes. Heejin worked carefully on some of the aspects that would specifically help a smaller opponent escape from a larger opponent, including a nearly invisible step that gives the person on bottom a few extra inches of room to escape.


Everything built upon itself in a logical order. Thought had been put into this. Heejin showed herself to be an active teacher with high interaction with the students. She showed enough techniques that we were able to learn some new things, but few enough that we would be able to retain more. In the Yongsan seminar, she had a black belt or two in attendance, and he mentioned learning about techniques that would be helpful for his smaller students – things he had not actively considered.

Heejin took questions while sitting in a circle. One of my favorite moments was when a very large man was having difficulty with a technique. He showed Heejin on a guy his size, and sure enough – he couldn’t quite do it. It looked like there were some physical difficulties. She pointed out an incorrect placement/angle, then demonstrated it accurately on him. It was a really cool point – where she was able to do it, even despite being nearly a foot smaller than him, but with his incorrect technique, he couldn’t do it against someone his size.


Photos from the Yongsan Facebook group. Thank you, Joe!

Here is a video of one of the techniques she showed. There is language hesitation, but you can still see her skills as a teacher. She supplements lack of language proficiency with clear physical movements, repetition, and demonstration. She showed on smaller and then larger guys. In this video she demonstrates how just a  small 1 inch adjustment can be a difference between getting smashed and not.

Here you can see how she was helping folks during the seminar. Everyone was drilling, and she was individually helping folks. It was really great how hands on she was.


I attended Heejin’s seminar in August and in November. In both cases, I retained at least one or two important points, even months later. For me, that makes the seminar totally worth it. It wasn’t about learning something fancy, it was about refining and honing.


I think Heejin is a great teacher. I’ve gone to some women’s only classes with her, mixed gender seminars with her, and women’s only seminars. I think she’s fantastic, she’s accurate, and she’s an attentive teacher. I would happily pay to go to any seminar she gives, and I would encourage anyone else to go as well.

BJJ Academies: BJJ Lab in Busan

It’s always interesting to visit new-to-me gyms in Korea. I figure if anyone is likely to be treated as an outsider, it’s me – the female foreigner. Thankfully I can report I was treated exceedingly well, and made very welcome at BJJ Lab in Busan. I had a really great time training there, and I took a friend who had never done jiu jitsu before. He also had a good time. A huge thank you to John Torres, the brown belt blogger of iloveleglocks for pointing me in the direction of BJJ Lab!

Note: This information is current as of January 2014.

The Facilities

Mat Area: The mat area was quite large, with a single post in the middle of the mat. There were windows all around, so it was quite bright during the daytime. The mat was comfortable and clean.

Really open mat and a wonderful feel

Really open mat and a wonderful feel. Click to enlarge!

Changing Rooms: There are separate men’s and women’s showers, 4 in the men’s room, 3 in the women’s room. Both have many lockers available, as well as towels. The women’s room had a hair dryer.

The women's locker room. The men's is on a different floor.

The women’s locker room. The men’s is on a different floor.

The women's lockers

The women’s lockers

The women's showers.

The women’s showers.

Other Amenities: There were several yoga balls, medicine balls, foam rollers, and kettle bells. Additionally, hung throughout were rings and a bar for pullups. For guests, there was a sitting area. Overall, the place had a really nice atmosphere – almost like coffee shop + jiu jitsu.

Class Procedures

Time Division: The class is one hour + 30 minutes of open mat. It’s roughly divided to 20 minutes of warmups, 20 minutes of technique, and four, 4-minute rounds of sparring, with 1 minute rest in between.

Warmups: In the class I observed, everything was very practical. All the warmups we did were jiu jitsu movements. We were in a large circle, and he demonstrated things in the middle. For each of the warmups, he demonstrated how that motion was used in BJJ – showing it in context.

Technique: Everyone picked their own partner. It was all logically sequenced. He demonstrated 4 interconnected techniques, all built off the same base. He had his “gameplan” on the board, and had a few videos queued up to show us after we’d had a chance to practice. There was ample drilling time, nothing was rushed.

This video is in Korean – the class I participated in was in English.

Sparring: People chose their own partners. There were four, 4-minute rounds, with one minute rest between. If someone chose to sit out, that was okay. The instructor rolled with me one round – it was really fun!

End of class: At the end of class, everyone circles up and shakes hands. Follow the instructor, and shake everyone’s hands.

Instructor: Anyone leading class should be addressed as sabumnim. The gym owner can be called Kwangjangnim which means “gym owner.”

Uniform: Any color gi is fine, including mix-and-match uniforms.

Water Break: You can go to the water cooler at any time, no need to wait for a specific time.

Video/pictures: Totally fine for members to take pictures or videos during class.

The students
This gym was opened around a year ago (late 2012, early 2013), so as such, most of the students are white belt, with about 5-6 blue belts, and 2 purple belts. There are around 8 women, and around 7 foreigners. Most of the students are in their early to mid 20s.

The Instructor

BJJ Lab is run by Noh Young-Ahm, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, 2012 ADCC Asia Pacific Trials winner, and ex-professional MMA fighter (Spirit MC).

Going FULL SPATS in Busan!

Going FULL SPATS in Busan!

Young-ahm started training BJJ in 2002, and started fighting in Korea’s first MMA promotion Spirit MC in 2003. Young-ahm earned his black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in 2011. He is a certified black belt and student under Chae In-muk, Sung Hee-yong (Marco Barbosa blackbelts), and Park Jun-young (Roberto Tozi blackbelt), who have all have competed and trained extensively in Brazil and are certified to teach Braziian Jiu-Jitsu.      – From the BJJ Lab website


Monday, Wednesday, Friday gi.
Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday nogi.
Monday through Friday, classes are at 11 am, 5 pm, 7 pm, and 9 pm.
Saturday classes are from 2-3.
All classes are 1 hour, followed by 30 minutes of open mat.

1 month 100,000
3 months 270,000
6 months 500,000
1 year 900,000
1 day 10,000

Sign up:
No sign up fee
50,000 for a basic, white judo gi and white belt
60,o00 for a basic, blue judo gi and white belt

How to get there

Take the orange line (subway) to Pusan National University (부산대).

Pusan National University stop

Pusan National University stop

Walk out exit three and walk straight for about three minutes.  You will come out on a main road near a Starbuck’s.  The BJJ LAB is directly in front of Starbuck’s, across the street, in the same building as ABC Mart and Love in Busan Guest House.  It is located on the fifth floor.

It's on the 5th floor

It’s on the 5th floor

Contact 연락처

Telephone/전화: 010-3690-5026
Email: (that’s a zero between no + am)

If you stop by BJJ Lab, please mention you read this article on my blog!