Historical Lessons Beyond Historical Facts

Totally Taekwondo Issue 38
I fabricated the truth. Cooked up details. Repurposed Yul-gok's philosophical debate, attributing it to someone else. And then I even used an aged photo of myself for an article I submitted to Stuart Anslow's highly respected Totally Taekwondo. I did!

There were many ideas that were floating in my mind when I thought about what I needed to write. But the main issue that kept popping up for me was, and has always been - as it is for even a majority of practitioners, to look at the identity of Taekwondo. Is Taekwondo really a martial art? Is Taekwondo really unique? Does Taekwondo really have links to a 2000 year old heritage? Does Taekwondo have anything other than fancy kicks? Is Taekwondo anything more than a joke?

Who really is that man? Or does it matter at all?

Even when I was young practitioner, before I started learning Traditional Taekwondo, we would hear  derogatory remarks about Taekwondo. Criticism was leveled on the art from everything about their sole focus on kicks and the lack of hand techniques all the way down to the zips used in their uniforms. It's even worse nowadays - with any quick search showing generous taekwondo vitriol on many online forums.

My purpose was not to defend sport taekwondo, in fact I will champion any activity that helps develop confidence and proves to be a healthy and safe pursuit for children and young adults. My purpose is not to question the variable quality of taekwondo training - I am sure there are innumerable outfits where you will find a limited range of techniques, payment plans controlled by long contracts, concentration on point sparring, and marketing slogans touting their bona fide martial art certifications.

My purpose is to bring us back to the beginning, to understand the circumstance that gave birth to this new martial art, the problems those pioneers faced, and to develop an insight to the people who were themselves struggling to find their own cultural identity. I took it upon myself to research historical details so I could recreate the sight and sounds of Korea framed by WWII and their Civil War. Where 'real' data ends however, is where my historical fiction takes over.

This is my tribute to legends.

But this is not some pointless fantasy. This is a search for truth. And since truth is subjective, it was my hope that readers could take my story and reflect on the lessons such issues presented.

I posed a question in my article, which I'd like to ask of you. As a martial artist, "... if you had a few months left to live, what would you be thinking of?" And if you had an idea, a "wondrous fusion" which may help improve the destitute circumstance of those around you of your country in fact, what would you do if you were given a second chance?

Let us pay respect to these brave pioneering individuals who deserve more recognition than they have received, who have faced life and death situations in both WWII and the Korean War, and let us try to look beyond the details and understand the lessons they were desperate and more than worthy to teach.

Please click on the above photo to download the issue of Totally Taekwondo and support Stuart by visiting his website. And come back tomorrow - I'm announcing an Anti-bully Blogging Carnival hosted on this site in the next week or so.


Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
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Rick said…
Funny how opinions change. I remember as a kid that the "Korean Karate" guys were considered the really tough ones.
Colin Wee said…
Well, I had to fly across the pacific to find a bunch of Korean practitioners who had a fearsome reputation. But when I found them, they didn't really identify that what they did was korean. They just called it American Karate. That kind of baffled me for a bit.

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