Disappearing History...

Spookey

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Dear All,

I pose a question...does anyone see the Republic of Korea (Kukkiwon, WTF, & KTA) removing crucial portions of Taekwondo history?

Recently, have searched the history section of the Kukkiwon and WTF and do not see one reference to the individual kwans and there founders that came together to create the magnificent organizations they now run.
(If I have over looked anything please point me in the proper direction)

How are cave drawings from thousands of years ago be prioritized above the founding fathers? If this is the case then we should all right Kukkiwon and WTF and demand that the neanderthal man be credited with creating Taekwondo which would then make Taekwondo an African martial art!

Sound ignorant? I agree....so why has this integral part of Taekwondo history been removed?

Regards,
Spookey
 

exile

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Dear All,

I pose a question...does anyone see the Republic of Korea (Kukkiwon, WTF, & KTA) removing crucial portions of Taekwondo history?

Recently, have searched the history section of the Kukkiwon and WTF and do not see one reference to the individual kwans and there founders that came together to create the magnificent organizations they now run.
(If I have over looked anything please point me in the proper direction)

How are cave drawings from thousands of years ago be prioritized above the founding fathers? If this is the case then we should all right Kukkiwon and WTF and demand that the neanderthal man be credited with creating Taekwondo which would then make Taekwondo an African martial art!

Sound ignorant? I agree....so why has this integral part of Taekwondo history been removed?

Regards,
Spookey

Especially when those 'cave drawings', sculpted figures and so on are now know to have been widespread across both Eastern and Southern Asia from *way* earlier periods, being essentially indistinguishable from guardian figures in Western China, Southern India and all points in between (for excruciatingly detailed documentation of these points, see

Burdick, Dakin. 1997. 'People and events of Taekwondo's formative years'. Journal of Asian Martial Arts.

Burdick, Dakin. 2000. 'People and events of Taekwondo's formative years'. [expanded version of the 1997 JAMA article], available at http://www.budosportcapelle.nl/gesch.html

among other sources. See also

Madis, Eric. 2003. 'The evolution of Taekwondo from Japanese Karate'. In Martial Arts in the Modern World, ed. by Thomas Green, Prager Publishing.

for further discussion and corroboration. Burdick discusses the specific abuses of history that the ROK's TKD directorate has happily committed in its efforts to portrey TKD as going back into prehistory, with particular emphasis on the the KKW's absolutely crackpot invocation of the cave art and scultural figures you're alluding to; the hysterical thing is that one of my Hapkido textbooks, Hapkido by Gm. Hui Son Choy, 7th dan, claims exactly the same Three Kingdoms era cave paintings and sculpture as evidence for the prehistoric antiquity of... yes, you guessed it... Hapkido!!. :lfao:
 

Daniel Sullivan

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Sound ignorant? I agree....so why has this integral part of Taekwondo history been removed?
Perhaps because another integral part of taekwondo history is Shotokan roots. Since Shotokan is Japanese, it cannot be allowed to have any part in Taekwondo history. And so, Taekwondo is now thousands of years old. Acknowledgement of the founders means acknowledgement that Taekwondo is recent and came from somewhere. And since a good number of the founders, including Gen. Choi, had Shotokan backgrounds, their acknowledgement opens the door to acknowledgement of some connection to Shotokan.

Make no mistake: they do not want Taekwondo to be linked to Karate in any way, shape or form. And if a fabricated history is what it takes, then that is what they'll do. Think about this: fifty years down the road, there will be nobody living who will have any memory of the events that led up to the creation of Taekwondo or the early years of the art. By then, it will simply be accepted by and large (they hope) that Taekwondo is an ancient art. How they'll connect WTF sparring to an ancient art is beyond me, but I'm sure that they'll think of something.

This is very sad, in my opinion. We are a part of a martial art that is less than a century old. In less than a century, Taekwondo has developed a well established martial sport, become a very effective SD art, and become the most popular MA worldwide. We are in the position to collectively shape the very first century of that art. 'We' includes the KKW. This is a golden opportunity that is being squandered in favor of fabricated nonsense that sounds just like any one of a dozen established martial arts.

Daniel
 

chrispillertkd

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Dear All,

I pose a question...does anyone see the Republic of Korea (Kukkiwon, WTF, & KTA) removing crucial portions of Taekwondo history?

Recently, have searched the history section of the Kukkiwon and WTF and do not see one reference to the individual kwans and there founders that came together to create the magnificent organizations they now run.
(If I have over looked anything please point me in the proper direction)

Someone already posted a link to Dakin Burdick's article (which I found to be good, but not great). There is also a translation of parts of The Modern History of Taekwondo available at www.martialartsresource.com (check for the lonk on the Korean side of the site). This is a work written by Koreans and which traces the development of the Kwans and the KTA, ITF (very briefly) and WTF. It is hailed by some but, IMNSHO as someone in academia, would be well served by extensive footnoting.

Lastly, there is Dr. He-Yong Kimm's upcoming book on the history of Taekwon-Do. No release date yet, as far as I know, however. I think sometime later this year.

How are cave drawings from thousands of years ago be prioritized above the founding fathers? If this is the case then we should all right Kukkiwon and WTF and demand that the neanderthal man be credited with creating Taekwondo which would then make Taekwondo an African martial art!

Sound ignorant? I agree....so why has this integral part of Taekwondo history been removed?

Regards,
Spookey

Well, form what I understand things are gradually changing in Korea. A few years ago the monument Gen. Choi made on Cheju Island, where the 29th Infantry Division and, thus, the Oh Do Kwan was headquartered, was restored. You can see pics of it on the web if you do a little looking, I'm sure. Also, the ITF has been more visible in South Korea recently with Gen. Choi's son returning to the ROK for at least a few visits this past year as well as the ITF participating in some big tournament there last year.

These things, it seems to me, indicate at least a growing awareness of the Kwan-based past of Taekwon-Do and a willingness to see more than simply the Kukkiwon's version of things.

Pax,

Chris
 

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It's been posted before, but it bears reposting.

Yes—it's very easy to forget. And large organizations pushing particular agendas tend to rely on the willingness of individuals to be lulled into a kind of stupor by the endless repetition of whatever fabrications serve the interest of that organization.

Here's what I don't get. Don't people get offended by having these large Korean international orgs trying to get them swallow stuff that any competent graduate student in an Asian arch疆ology program could tear into itty-bitty shreds on the basis of 15 or 20 minutes' library work? Doesn't that kind of intellectual disingenuousness call for some kind of harsh response, especially from e.g. North Americans, who have no particular stake in retailing historical distortions and legends that are self-serving only for the Korean government? Why do people who have access to the ample historical and arch疆ological information that shows what rubbish these claims consist of actually find such behavior acceptable? This is something that for the life of me I don't understand.

PS Chris, you indicate you have some reservations about Burdick's stuff—where specifically do you think it could have been improved?
 

StuartA

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Sadly, the WTF has done this since it was formed in 73. It took out Gen Choi and what he achieved altogethor and has perpertrated the myths ever since.. especially the 2000 year one.

However, internet, books etc are changing things and revealing the truth and a Dr Kimm (noted Korean historian) is on the verge of releasing his books well + better relations with the ITF now than before.. so things are changing and I suggest the WTF change with it or look worse than they do already regarding the historics of TKD!

Stuart
 

StuartA

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Here's what I don't get. Don't people get offended by having these large Korean international orgs trying to get them swallow stuff that any competent graduate student in an Asian arch疆ology program could tear into itty-bitty shreds on the basis of 15 or 20 minutes' library work?
I get (mildy) offended by any org telling me BS! I prefer the truth, no matter what it is! Yet.. many orgs (big and small) still try to BS their people despite the wealth of evidence that is outb there that can make them look silly indeed.. go figure!

Stuart
 

IcemanSK

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The reason for the 2000 year old story is to enhance the Korean national MA story. But, as others have said, from a non-Korean's P.O.V. the real story has a rich enough history by itself.

Chung Do Kwan's own story begins with Lee, Won Kuk learning from no less than Gichin Funakoshi. It's not like he trained under Bill & Ted Funakoshi & we just say he trained under Gichin.....He really did!

The 8 other Kwans that were united all have similar rich stories.

I think the story that the Koreans "took what they learned from the Japanese & made it their own, & took it around the world" is a better story for Korean national pride. Proven in combat in Vietnam alone should be proof that it works. And the best part is, It's true!

The real history I can explain to a ten year old American kid in 5-10 minutes with pride. The "official one" I can never keep straight for myself. I'm not gonna tell it to a 10 year old.
 

terryl965

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What has this rotten can of worms been brought back to life, we all know everything the Koreans say id the Gospal go a head and ask them, they will tell you that.
 

arnisador

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Don't people get offended by having these large Korean international orgs trying to get them swallow stuff that any competent graduate student in an Asian arch疆ology program could tear into itty-bitty shreds on the basis of 15 or 20 minutes' library work?

Study Okinawan Karate and you'll be told that it was used to repel sword-wielding samurai by the brave but weaponless Ryukyuan resistance. Study Muay Thai (from Thailand) or Muay Boran (from Cambodia) and you'll be told the one you're studying is the first and the other is a pale imitation. (I leave aside Lethwei from Myanmar, Pradal Serey from Cambodia, Muay Laos from Laos, and other claimants) I am reliably informed that the cause of the Japanese losing control of the Philippines by the end of WWII was the guerrilla warfare of machete-wielding FMAers. Then there's the Japanese denial of Chinese influences.

So, in answer to yoru question: Yeah, but...
 

Miles

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To paraphrase Bruce Lee (a philosophy major), "Before I studied martial arts, a punch was just a punch, a kick just a kick. When I started training, a punch was no longer just a punch, a kick was no longer just a kick. Now that I've gained experience, a punch is just a punch a kick is just a kick."

My take on history is that it doesn't really matter. It doesn't make my punches any stronger or my kicks any harder. Does a basketball player need to know history to be a better player? Does a painter need to know history to be a better painter?

The Chinese took information from an Indian Buddhist monk and made it their own. The Okinawans took information from the Chinese and made it their own. The Japanese took information from the Okinawans and made it their own. My senior Glenn U. convincingly argues that the Koreans took information from the Okinawans (i.e. not Japanese) and made it their own.

I don't see General Choi in the Kukkiwon's version of history. I also don't see Kwan founders GM Lee, Won Kuk, GM Chun, Sang Sup, GM Hwang Kee, GM Yoon, Byung In, GM Ro, Byung Jik, GM Park, Chull Hee, GM Lee, Kyo Yoon, or GM Lee, Yong Woo in the Kukkiwon's version of history.

I have General Choi's textbook. I don't see the aforementioned GMs in his book either.
 

exile

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My take on history is that it doesn't really matter. It doesn't make my punches any stronger or my kicks any harder. Does a basketball player need to know history to be a better player? Does a painter need to know history to be a better painter?

Actually, yes. At least Michaelangelo, the Impressionists and Picasso thought so. They were all passionate students of previous work; in order to understand the context in which they were first exposed to the art of their immediate predecessors, they investigated several centuries of previous art to see just what kinds of problems their distant ancestors had solved. For that matter, Renaissance theories of perspective were deeply indebted to the achievements of the ancient Greek mathematicians whose work was largely unknown during the Middle Ages, but was rediscovered in Arabic translations that the Italian humanists encountered. Those insights into how line, size and the illusion of distance paved the way for the great art of the 14th century and after. The same happened over successive generations in music (e.g., Bach was one of the foremost students of the late Italian Renaissance composer Frescobaldi, a major influence on his thinking about the balance between melody and counterpoint), calligraphy and manuscript illumination, and a host of other disciplines. It's probably true that the Renaissance, in spite of its name, was intellectually founded on the recovery of lost knowledge and its subsequent development.

This has happened repeatedly in the history of art, science and mathematics. History is the living laboratory of what people have tried in the past, what it was they found that worked, and what they found that didn't work. We ignore it at our peril.
 
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Daniel Sullivan

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Yesit's very easy to forget. And large organizations pushing particular agendas tend to rely on the willingness of individuals to be lulled into a kind of stupor by the endless repetition of whatever fabrications serve the interest of that organization.

Here's what I don't get. Don't people get offended by having these large Korean international orgs trying to get them swallow stuff that any competent graduate student in an Asian arch疆ology program could tear into itty-bitty shreds on the basis of 15 or 20 minutes' library work? Doesn't that kind of intellectual disingenuousness call for some kind of harsh response, especially from e.g. North Americans, who have no particular stake in retailing historical distortions and legends that are self-serving only for the Korean government? Why do people who have access to the ample historical and arch疆ological information that shows what rubbish these claims consist of actually find such behavior acceptable? This is something that for the life of me I don't understand.
The answer to the bolded question is a pretty sad one: People either figure it out, get disgusted and simply exit either the kukkiwon or taekwondo altogether, or they buy into it simply because they want to or are too lazy not to, or stand to gain commercially from perpetuating it.

Even the American Taekwondo Association perpetuates this. Here is an exerpt from the "Brief history" of taekwondo on their website:

Although its roots can be somewhat traced back to ancient Korea, it is a historic fact that Taekwondo as an organized art is relatively modern. In fact, the only documented history begins in the mid 1900's.b.k

The actual beginnings of Taekwondo are obscured by time, yet many historians believe it originated from a Korean martial arts form known as t'aekyon practiced over 1,300 years ago.


Now, I'm not picking on the ATA. Nearly every taekwondo school of every org or even independent schools websites read something similar. In fact, the ATA's is actually the closest to acknowledging that TKD is a completely modern art, then going on to regurgitate the ancient history stuff, keeping themselves blameless by invoking "many historians believe..."

Anyway, I picked the ATA because they are specifically called, 'AMERICAN' and really have made such a complete break with the rest of the large orgs that they have no real reason to perpetuate such things. As I said, that first paragraph is the only of its type that I've personally seen on anyone's website that has a history page.

I give the ATA credit for having the guts to do that much. They do go on to provide a brief and very, very general account from TKD's inception through the fifties, then go on to talk about some of the art's generalities, all of which is fine, and they even mention the Kwans (How the KKW miss that but the ATA didn't, I'll never know) but they wrap up with some ancient looking carving of two people in a stance that looks decidedly unlike any taekwondo I've ever seen, a clear attempt to invoke an ancient history of TKD that doesn't exist. I don't fault them; everyone else does. But still.

To be honest, if the KKW gave the exact same description as this on their website, I'd give them more credit. The ATA catches a lot of heat on most forums, so I find it rather humorous that their website has a more honest view of TKD history than most others I've seen. But even they couldn't resist some 2000 year old connection with Taekyeon while simultaneously avoiding any mention of Shotokan influence.

I'll end here my rather rambling post.

Daniel
 

tellner

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My take on history is that it doesn't really matter. It doesn't make my punches any stronger or my kicks any harder. Does a basketball player need to know history to be a better player? Does a painter need to know history to be a better painter?
A nice sentiment, no doubt. But you're saying that you'll swallow lies willingly. It's too much trouble to say "But see! The Emperor isn't wearing any clothes!" Convenience is nice. But so is personal integrity. And if you start excusing lies in the little insignificant things like martial arts you'll excuse them in the important ones.

The Chinese took information from an Indian Buddhist monk and made it their own. The Okinawans took information from the Chinese and made it their own. The Japanese took information from the Okinawans and made it their own. My senior Glenn U. convincingly argues that the Koreans took information from the Okinawans (i.e. not Japanese) and made it their own.

Except that none of these is actually true. Da-Mo did not bring the martial arts to China. In fact, he may never have actually existed. Okinawan boxing was influenced by China, but the stories about Okinawans peering through fences and stealing the Chinese secrets are not true. Your "senior" is wrong. The Koreans did not learn their Karate from Okinawa. The records of where they studied in Japan and from Japanese teachers are still there for anyone to see.

Once you start believing lies because it's convenient you will believe any number of them
 

exile

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Except that none of these is actually true. Da-Mo did not bring the martial arts to China. In fact, he may never have actually existed.

For devastating corroboration of Tellner's comments here, you might want to check out the article by Stan Henning&#8212;one of the genuinely great MA historians&#8212;in Classical Fighting Arts 12 (#35), 'The imaginary world of Buddhism and East Asian martial arts', pp. 37&#8211;41. As he points out, and documents in excruciating detail, 'the myth surrounding Boddhidharma and Shaolin martial arts first appeared... between 1904 and 1907', in a popular novel by Liu Tieyun called Travels of Laocan. It has no historical basis whatever, and actually shows up in Japan no earlier than the 1920s, as Henning notes, 'in time to be pressed, along with Zen Buddhism, into the service of the rising tide of nationalism and militarism during the 1930s'. The fact that so many people are so willing to swallow, sight unseen, fantasy stories like this, and never question their bona fides, is another illustration of the widespread lack of critical skepticism that the ROK seeks to exploit through its instrumentalities such as the KKW and the WTF.

The Koreans did not learn their Karate from Okinawa. The records of where they studied in Japan and from Japanese teachers are still there for anyone to see.

True again. You can see this in something as simple as the order of the Pyung-Ahn hyungs, named after the Pinan's, all right, but look at the first two in both TKD and TSD and you'll see that Pyung Ahn Ii Dan, the second Pyung Ahn hyung, with that notorious opening 'double block', is actually not Pinan Nidan, the second Okinawan Pinan kata, but rather Pinan Shodan, the first of the Okinawan kata in this set! It is, however, Heian Nidan, the second in the Japanese version, because the order was reversed in the transition from Okinawan karate to Shotokan. In other words, the order of the Pyung Ahn hyungs reflects the Japanese order of the kata, not the Okinawan... exactly what you'd expect, given where it was that the Kwan founders learned those katas. So far as I know, not one of the Kwan founders studied in Okinawa; rather, they studied with Okinwan expats in Japan, where the Okinawan material had already been substantially changed, and diluted.

Once you start believing lies because it's convenient you will believe any number of them

And that's why it really is important to study history. Time may make fools of us all, but there's no reason why we should let our fellow mortals to the same thing to us...
 

Twin Fist

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this subject is why i wont have anything to do with Korean Orgs, why I feel bad for anyone that HAS to deal with them and while i look down on those that CHOOSES to have anything to do with them
 

arnisador

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this subject is why i wont have anything to do with Korean Orgs, why I feel bad for anyone that HAS to deal with them and while i look down on those that CHOOSES to have anything to do with them

This myth-making drives me crazy too, but I wouldn't go that far. A strict no-BS rule will rule out a lot of martial arts. Many of these instructors are just uncritically passing on what was told to them.
 

Daniel Sullivan

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this subject is why i wont have anything to do with Korean Orgs, why I feel bad for anyone that HAS to deal with them and while i look down on those that CHOOSES to have anything to do with them
I can see the first two sentiments, though I question if anyone really and truely has to deal with the Korean Orgs. Regarding the last one, there are those who choose to be involved with them because they either feel that they should be with a Korean art, or because they hold ranking in one of them and simply have chosen to remain a part of it.

To an extent, I choose to be involved with the KKW. I certainly could have turned down testing for first dan on that basis. But I chose to simply because for me, it was silly not to. For one, I consider it administratively advantageous to me; I can direct someone to a website in Korean to verify a credential. The school that I have chosen to remain a part of is KKW, and aside from making use of the forms and WTF sparring rules, the KKW really has no effect on how GM Kim runs his classes. The KKW material gets worked in along with a good amount of practical SD, and I don't have to rely on revisionist history simply because I feel that the KKW is administratively beneficial to me.

As I said, I don't believe that anyone ultimately has to deal with the Korean orgs, or any other for that matter. I do believe that a good number simply feel that choosing one is the best course of action for them.:)

Daniel
 

Makalakumu

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My take on history is that it doesn't really matter.

I disagree Miles. Eventually, a student comes to the point where you need to really see into the mind of your teacher. You've got to understand where the material you are learning comes from in order to build a similar understanding for yourself.

This understanding absolutely essential to building a better level of skill because it guides your advanced training.

The problem with changing the history to fit the current national mood is that eventually the taekwondoin runs into neat little walls that limit what you can actually do and how much skill you can actually attain. If you claim that your art is descended from the ferocious "Hwarang" and that these warriors fought effectively against all kinds of forces and all you can do with high level skills is throw really sweet looking jumpy kicky crap, then you will see what I'm talking about.

Contrast this with the Japanese Samurai arts that actually trace a history back to a time when actual fighting skill was a matter of life or death. If what the Hwarang did was so damned deadly, we'd see others doing it.

I'd like to see a regiment of the jumpy flippy guys go up against a regiment of trained warriors. It'd put that damned lie to bed real quick.

Of course this line of reasoning is ridiculous because everyone knows what TKD actually is. It's a modern combat sport, like boxing, but with the feet. Yet, these blatent lies about the history persist and waste a lot of a students time that could be spent getting better in the ring. And they also pass on load of false confidence that the art could actually be used outside of the TKD ring.

It's a perfect recipe for an *** beating or worse.

The bottom line is that the history really does matter. If you don't understand where the art came from, then you aren't going to understand the context to which the art applies. If you don't understand the context to which the art applies, then you start to really think that the best counter to a punch is a 540 jump spinning back kick.

I'd wager to say that all of the fudging with history in the MA in general is why we see a great majority of the weird stuff we see.
 
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