Good Tae Kwon Do History Books?

Discussion in 'Korean Culture and History' started by Lee Ch'a, Jul 18, 2011.

  1. Lee Ch'a

    Lee Ch'a Yellow Belt

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    I am currently training for my Red Belt, and for this test we must present a 2-3 minute speech on the history of Tae Kwon Do. I did see there was a thread here asking about Korean history books, but I am more specifically looking for quality information on TKD's history. I have already written my outline, but I would like further information to supplement in case I decide to change it up; besides, I just love learning about it!

    I have searched online at the local library, but our system doesn't have many Martial Arts history or Korean history, and if I wish to order something via interlibrary loan, I need specific titles to make a request. Any suggestions would be much appreciated!

    -Lee
     
  2. rlobrecht

    rlobrecht Brown Belt

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    I just finished reading "A Killing Art: The Untold History of Tae Kwon Do" by Alex Gillis. He's a black belt in TKD, as well as a journalist. Most of his history is based on interviews he conducted with many of TKD's founding fathers. I enjoyed reading it, and learned some things. He's an ITF practicioner, so it definitely comes at it from a General Choi slant.
     
  3. Lee Ch'a

    Lee Ch'a Yellow Belt

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    Thanks very much! I'm going to work at the lib. today- I'll see if I can look it up. :)
     
  4. Balrog

    Balrog Master of Arts

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    Ditto on this book. I've studied TKD for 27 years and heard bits and pieces of the history. Mr. Gillis put it all together in one package, and in so doing, he turned over some rocks and exposed some not-so-nice things. It's a good read.
     
  5. Kong Soo Do

    Kong Soo Do IKSDA Director

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  6. Lee Ch'a

    Lee Ch'a Yellow Belt

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    Thanks for the book suggestion, I've now got it on request at the library!
    And Kong Soo Do- thank you for the links!
     
  7. miguksaram

    miguksaram Master of Arts

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    There is an report called the Modern History of Taekwondo. You can look it up on the internet. It is one of the more factual papers that have been released about the individual Kwans as well as the development of organized TKD.

    I would refrain from using Burdick's article as a source as I believe it has already been shown to have some major flaws in it. As far as The Killing Art is concerned it is an interesting read, but definitely a Choi slant to it. Good luck with your report.
     
  8. Kong Soo Do

    Kong Soo Do IKSDA Director

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    Interesting. Could you elaborate on these major flaws? Where has it been shown?
     
  9. miguksaram

    miguksaram Master of Arts

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    If I remember correctly he referenced a lot of material that was later discovered to be incorrect. Glenn can elaborate on the details of it.
     
  10. Kong Soo Do

    Kong Soo Do IKSDA Director

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    It would indeed be interesting to see what data Glenn could provide. However, Glenn has been gone sine the 14th of last month. To my knowledge he did not indicate if or when he would return. But perhaps it is a moot point? The article referenced appeared in the JAMA which is suppose to provide scholarly research that is peer reviewed prior to publication. This does not mean that some details are inaccurate. However, in my own research I have often seen...shall we say 'intentional discrepancies' when it comes to certain details of history. Glenn may be able to provide verifiable data to support an accurate view, or it may be a case of 'he said they said' or personal opinions. In this light, a peer reviewed article may by necessity hold more weight than the view of an internet poster. But it is always good to keep an open mind and await any data offered for review.
     
  11. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    Small correction. Mr Gillis makes it clear in his book that he practices in both Kukkiwon and ITF style schools. I would say his book may well be the least slanted I've seen.
     
  12. miguksaram

    miguksaram Master of Arts

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    I wouldn't say that. It seemed to be very pro ITF in my opinion.
     
  13. ETinCYQX

    ETinCYQX Master Black Belt

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    Yup. He says at the end that he trains in a WTF school with his daughter now.

    Also, while it was a little anti-Olympic specifically, Mr. Gillis was far from putting Gen. Choi on a pedestal IMO.
     
  14. andyjeffries

    andyjeffries Master of Arts

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    I haven't heard specifically from him, but I know he was away on vacation then at the US Hanmadang, so that might explain why he's been quiet. Fingers crossed he returns soon as I'm very much interested in hearing specifics of the problems with Burdock's article and McGillis' book (although I agree it's very much got a Pro-ITF stance).
     
  15. andyjeffries

    andyjeffries Master of Arts

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    I agree that he doesn't seem very polite about Choi Hong Hi throughout the book, Choi != ITF. The whole thing very much seems to have an ITF flavour...
     
  16. andyjeffries

    andyjeffries Master of Arts

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    As an example (and this is from memory - I am re-reading it at the moment but only a couple of chapters in), I remember him using General Choi most of the time but "Mickey/Mikey Kim" for Dr Kim more often than not. To use the title for one side, but a nickname for the other seems disrespectful.
     
  17. Kong Soo Do

    Kong Soo Do IKSDA Director

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    http://www.budosportcapelle.nl/gesch.html

    Above is a link to Mr. Burdick's JAMA article on TKD's history. I read Glenn's post here on MT regarding the article. Too be honest, I wasn't impressed. I don't say that to be unkind. But I look at the totality of the evidence presented. Mr. Burdick listed about 60 references that went into the development of the article. The JAMA is peer reviewed prior to an article being published and has to be proof read by several other established authors. Glenn on the other hand doesn't offer any references to support his opinion. Rather, he's the only one in the thread and he responds to his original post twice with no one else contributing. I don't find this very substantial.

    Is Mr. Burdick's article 'cast in stone' and above reproach? Probably not. But with Korean history one can only go so far towards total accuracy. And to be fair, with any history. I think he's probably done as good a job as any, if not most with the sometimes changing material of the Korean MA's. On the whole I'd feel more comfortable with going with Burdick's article over a three-post internet thread.
     
  18. miguksaram

    miguksaram Master of Arts

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    When you say "peer review" who were the peers? What knowledge of Korean history or KMA history did they have to legitimize this writing. Without being a scholar in Korean history, but one who is studying let me point out mistakes within the first few parts of the article.

    First of all if you could point me to this book of Saito's I would appreciate it. Thus far the only reference I can find are located in TKD websites, which are most likely citing Burdick's work. Secondly the proponent of this ancient history of TKD was Gen. Choi, who admitted that it was made up in order to promote TKD. Unfortunately, somewhere along the line the lie became truth to many people.

    Hwarang warriors, were skilled in martial arts but they were skilled in armed combat. Unarmed combat was a small set of their overall training. Just like our special forces today.
    Perhaps the WTF have since changed their History on their website because it does not mention the Samguk Yusa. However, for the record, the Samguk Yusa are not two separate books. It is one book that was written by a Buddhist mone, Ir-yeon in the 13th century. It is mix of legends, folktales and history. It was to be in part a reinterpretation of the Samguk Sagi which was written by Kim, Bu-sik nearly a century earlier. I have the Samguk Yuksa and have read it and can tell you that it does not mention the term Taekwondo anywhere in the book.

    Taekkyon was never renamed Subak. Taekkyon is Taekkyon. Subak is an entirely different beast.

    So this is just the beginning of some of the inaccuracies posted. I believe something that Glenn mentioned was one of the sources that Burdick used was incorrect and had since changed its inaccuracies, yet Burdick has not. This is not in any way, shape, or form saying Burdick is an idiot, I'm just saying that using his works as a way to site TKD history is not the best choice.
     
  19. Kong Soo Do

    Kong Soo Do IKSDA Director

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    For any references I'd suggest going to the source itself. He lists 60 references and his email is available. As far as peer reviewed, the JAMA states all articles are peer reviewed. You'd have to contact them or Burdick for the particulars if it is of interest to you.

    I think a LOT of this is personal opinion on anyone/everyone's part since histories have been rewritten and politics and 'one-upmanship' has reigned supreme. Let's all be honest on this point please. Looking at Glenn's offering on a different board brings many inaccuracies as well, or perhaps personal biased is more appropriate. For example, he mentions the Kwans were absolutely abolished in 1972. Perhaps on paper, but not in reality. The HMK, as just one example still uses the Kwan, Kwan rank and Kwan heirarchy to this day. I believe Glenn is KKW-biased and it shows. He seems a bit confused on who created TSD as well. Does this mean Glenn is an idiot? No. Same as Burdick, they've probably done their best to provide an honest assessment with what they had to work with. Korean martial history is nebulous at best and your perspective depends on who you've talk with and in the end, who you want to believe. If Burdick is biased in a particular direction, I've not noted it. Glenn is KKW biased and interprets and presents data in that light. His choice, but not necessarily the correct one on every account. In reference to the translation he assisted with, it is based on two individuals without any references or documentation. Therefore it is these individuals opinion, but not necessarily fact. It could be, and then again it might be opinion based to favor themselves or an agenda. Burdick is perhaps the same way? I don't know Burdick. But I have had interaction with Glenn and I'm less than impressed. Again, not to be mean or offensive but it is what it is. Simply put, I'd have to be suspect of anything he says or is involved in based upon what I've seen him state in print and the way he presents it. He is biased and anyone that disagrees with him seems to become his automatic enemy. Which to be honest, makes me very sad for him. That just isn't the way to be and goes against the tenents of TKD.

    Bottom line is to go with whatever history you think is the most accurate. I'll go with one that is peer reviewed and documented. Is it 100%, nope. But then nothing on this topic is going to be.

    Also please note, I use Glenn's first name but not his last. Nor do I use his screen name here or on my board. I have nothing against Glenn and my intent is not to dishonor him. My comments are solely on what he has stated or what I perceive to be his intend or bias and not him personally.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2011
  20. miguksaram

    miguksaram Master of Arts

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    Thanks.

    Which is why I am studying then one reference to Korean history. We have to look at the time frame from which this was written and then compare it to information available today. Example if I was to ask a map maker to make me a map of the world before Columbus took off, there would be no North America because they felt that you would just fall off the edge of the world. If I asked that same map maker to to make me a new map after Columbus's and other explorers' travels I would expect to see some new information that included more accurate accounts of what the world looked like. Trouble is that once the people got their information from the map maker originally refused to go back and check if it was still correct after new facts were available. They continue to spew that the earth is flat. (Yes a dramatic comparison, but I hope you see what I am getting at)

    I believe Glenn stated that Kwans do have their HQ's and still issue rankings but they are more social clubs than anything else. They do not have their own curriculum, unless HMK is the exception, they all follow KKW standards for testing. I personally have a 1sd Dan CDK ranking signed by Uhm, Woon-kyu. However, I did not study anything different than KKW standards.

    Are you talking about Taesoodo or Tangsoodo?
    Which is my point. Burdick's info may have been close to accurate based on what we had available back then but not anymore. Would you still trust a map made in early 1400's to get you across the ocean?

    There is information out there on Korean martial art history, but one must be willing to sift through a lot of things to find more exact truths. This type of research goes beyond just KMA. You have to deal with actual Korean history as well.
    Could be. The only way is to contact them personally and find out. Plus you have to take in account that Glenn also gets personal information directly from the pioneers that have lived it. So I guess a little bit of faith does have to come into play. After all the ITF people put faith in what Choi said to be their gospel.

    I would disagree with that. I have disagreed with him on items in the past. It has always come down to who had more facts on their side. There are others that have the same experience.

    Then perhaps you should be the one asking who were the peers that reviewed it. If you are going to use it as gospel, then you should at least have a better idea on what type of scrutiny was placed on it. Personally I enjoy trying to do the research myself. :)

    Ok.
     

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