|Lee Won Kuk|
I do not support this view of history, BUT I do understand why that view was developed and spread through the world. I have read up on newer Korean history and have an idea of how difficult the world of the "true" pioneers of Taekwondo was.
Lately I have been doing my own small contribution to set things straight. Our beloved martial art Taekwondo was developed largely out of foreign martial arts but with small influences (directly or indirectly) from native Korean arts. Those who has actually studied Taekwondo history will agree that modern Taekwondo was developed in the period 1940s untill today. In the main stream history the 1940s and the founding of the various "Kwan" (martial arts schools) marks the beginning of the "modern" Taekwondo.
One way of looking at Kukkiwon`s view of Taekwondo history is to view the term "Taekwondo" as a generic term of martial arts and not as a name of the modern specific martial art that goes by that name. In earlier days the term Taekwondo was used as a generic term of martial arts in literature of the Taekwondo pioneers as we migh call Chuan Fa for Chinese Boxing or Chinese Karate.. Anyway this post is not really about Kukkiwons view on Taekwondo history but rather to tell the tale of Lee Won Kuk as the first man who started what would eventually be known as Taekwondo. You see Lee Won Kuk was the founder of the first "Kwan" or martial school in modern times! Often in the mainstream history texts he is treated as Choi Hong Hi, Hwang Kee and the rest with a short sentence or two referencing the fact that he founded the Chung Do Kwan in 1944.
Lee Won Kuk was born into a rather wealthy or at least afluent family in 1907. Little is known about his younger days except that he moved to Japan in 1926 for his higher education. This was rather commonplace in Japanese occupied Korea. Wealthy families sendt their young ones to Japan for higher education so they could have a head start in Japanese Occupied Korea. Knowing the language and making important conncetions were key for success in those days as they are today (allthough at that time and place it was obviously Japanese language and connections but the same principle applies to all points of time but I digress).
The start of Taekwondo; Lee Won Kuk`s training in Japan:
|Yoshitaka "Gigo" Funakoshi|
The mystery years:
There is a blank spot in what Lee did in the time between he finished his studdies in Chuo University and the time he came back to Korea. He did say in interviews that he travelled around a little and visited both Okinawa and trained with several masters there, and that he travelled to Japanese Occupied Shanghai and Honan province (thats in China:) ) where he studdied Quan Fa with different instructors and masters there. Wether he travelled there helping the Japanese Goverment with some unknown assigments or on his own free will is unknown, but he must have done something right because he was later given permission to start up his own martial arts school in Korea.
The start of Taekwondo; Opening of the first martial arts school in Korea
In 1944 Lee Won Kuk moved back to the still Japanese Occupied Korea and worked in the Chosun Railway Company (later renamed Ministry of Transportation in 1945). Here he met Hwang Kee (I wrote his story in my last post). That year he asked permission from the Japanese rulers to start a martial arts school that could teach Martial Arts to Korean people. He had to ask 3 times before given permission but this was a great deal back then as there was previously a ban on teaching and training martial arts in Korea. A ban set by the Japanese rulers to prevent rebellion. Wether this ban is actually a modern myth or not I do not know at this time but there were no previous martial arts schools or Kwan at that time so there might be some truth to it, and the fact that Lee had to ask permission three times before being allowed to open his own school also certainly supports the belief of a ban like that.
Chung Do Hwe (Hwe means association, union, or organisation, later "Hwe" would be changed into "Kwan") was founded in 1944. Chung Do Kwan is often translated into "Blue wave school or "Blue wave institute". Chung is translated as Blue, "Do" in Chung Do Kwan is not the same as "Do" in Taekwondo. They are both written and pronounced the same in Korean Hangul (도) but they have different "Hanja" characters. The Do in Chung Do Kwan means wave.
The training in Chung Do Hwe (later Chung Do Kwan) reflected in many ways the training Lee Won Kuk had received in Tokyo and emphasised proper techniques (basics), forms or patterns (the same as those practised in Shotokan and in the same teaching order) and the usage of Kwon Go/Dallyon Joo/Makkiwara/Striking post/board as well as rudimentary weight excercises and one and three step sparring. In many ways Chung Do Kwan was the "Kukkiwon Taekwondo Prototype". Many of the "top dogs" or higher ranking masters in modern Taekwondo has his roots in Chung Do Kwan. In an interview Lee Won Kuk listed the following techniques as the core of Chung Do Kwan:
- inner ridge-hand (between thumb and forefinger)
- twin fingers
- single finger
- back fist
- tiger fist
- front kick
- side kick
- round kick
- back kick and these were aimed at various levels of the body
|Son Duk Sung|
became the 2nd
Chung Do Kwan
After living in Japan for several years Lee and his family relocated to the United States in 1976 on invitation from the U.S Army General Westmoreland who had studied martial arts under Lee during the Vietnamese War in the 1960s. Here he taught Martial Arts, practised caligraphy and accupuncture untill his untimely death in 2003.
|Author practising "modern" |