My percieved presence of Tae Kwon Do in the United States by Dr. Benjamin Rush

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My percieved presence of Tae Kwon Do in the United States by Dr. Benjamin Rush
By Bob Hubbard - 12-18-2009 03:22 PM
Originally Posted at: FMATalk


My percieved presence of Tae Kwon Do in the United States by Dr. Benjamin Rush
By SahBumNimRush - 12-18-2009 01:00 PM


I began my Tae Kwon Do training in Sistersville, West Virginia in September 1985 with my father. Master Chuck Hannah was sending black belts from the Parkersburg, West Virginia branch school of Grandmaster Sok Ho Kang&#8217;s Tae Kwon Do Academy to teach at our school at that time. Our Sistersville branch school instructors were Lee Eddy, Nola Sivert, and Nancy Smith. Due to internal conflict, our three instructors retired, leaving my father who was a 3rd gup at the time, to teach the school. My family taught twice per week at the Sistersville school, and travelled to the Parkersburg school other nights for our instruction.

As I grew up in Tae Kwon Do under Kwan Jang Sok Ho Kang, I remember the belt tests vividly. The area in which I lived was quite rural, and there was no ethnic diversity to speak of. But at the belt tests I was surrounded by people from all walks of life and all ethnic and cultural backgrounds. The boy that I sparred for my 7th gup test was African American, and this was the first I had ever seen anyone of another race in person, let alone interacted with. At five years old, this was an important milestone in my life for dispelling common racist stereotypes popular in my rural hometown community that I had been exposed to. If it were not for Tae Kwon Do, I may not have had any interactions with people outside of my own race, creed and culture until college. Tae Kwon Do knows no race, creed or culture, and the principles taught in traditional Tae Kwon Do benefit all who participate; all ages, all cultures, and both men and women.

Kwan Jang Sok Ho Kang invited other traditional Tae Kwon Do masters to evaluate his students at that time. Grandmaster Kyong Won Ahn (Moo Duk Kwan), Grandmaster Joon Pyo Choi (Chung Do Kwan/ Song Moo Kwan), Grandmaster Il Joo Kim (Chung Do Kwan/ Song Moo Kwan), Grandmaster Song Oh Moon (Chang Moo Kwan), Master Chong Woong Kim (Moo Duk Kwan), Grandmaster Soon Ho Kim (Chung Do Kwan), Grandmaster Chul Hee Park (Chang Moo Kwan/Kang Duk Won), Master Hong Kong Kim, Grandmaster Ki Whang Kim (Moo Duk Kwan / Shudokan), Grandmaster Chun Shik Kim (Moo Duk Kwan), and Grandmaster Bo Kong Young (Oh Do Kwan) were just some of the Korean Masters I remember seeing at my belt examinations and Kwan Jang Sok Ho Kang&#8217;s U.S. Open Martial Arts Grandchampionships every year.
The unity of the Korean Masters from the various kwans in the eastern United States, brought a camaraderie to all the traditional Tae Kwon Do martial artists. At the different functions and competitions, I knew the names of the heavy competitors and high ranking martial artists. They were all friends and always respectful to members of the other schools. As a young boy, and a young yu gupja, it was difficult for me to understand how two men could beat the living daylights out of one another on the floor and be good buddies off the floor. It wasn&#8217;t until I was a teenager and a young black belt that it began to all make sense. Unfortunately as time progressed, I saw less of the Korean Masters, and less camaraderie between the schools.

In 1991, when I was testing for my first Dan, I was tested, not by a panel of 5 Korean Masters, but by two; Kwan Jang Sok Ho Kang and Master Chong Woong Kim. In some respects, I believe my test was somewhat easier because there was only one Master outside of Kwan Jang Nim that was testing me. This is not to say that the standard of the test was any less, but the familiarity of the examiners took some of the edge off.
I am not certain why the support system experienced such a decline throughout the late 1980&#8217;s and early 1990&#8217;s, and it is not my position to ask Kwan Jang Nim. I would like to make clear that this decline did not affect my training, my loyalty, or my allegiance to traditional Tae Kwon Do, but I enjoyed seeing martial artists from all over the east coast at the functions I attended.

It wasn&#8217;t until 2001, that I began to see a resurgence in the camaraderie of traditional Tae Kwon Do schools in the United States. This was due to the formation of the United States Tae Kwon Do Won. The USTW&#8217;s mission is to preserve the tradition of Tae Kwon Do as a martial art. Although many of the Korean masters I remember as a child have either retired or passed on, many of their students have continued the tradition of Tae Kwon Do. It is through the USTW that we, as traditional martial artists, have a perfect medium for recreating the camaraderie of the students of these first generation martial artists that brought Tae Kwon Do to our country.
I believe that my first loyalty is not necessarily to my Kwan Jang Nim, or even my Sah Bum Nim, but my first loyalty is to Tae Kwon Do and preserving what they have taught me. The gradual bastardization of Tae Kwon Do as a martial art into what is now an Olympic sport has left little presence of the traditional martial art I know and love in the United States. In my opinion, it is through the USTW that we can bolster the support of the remaining traditional schools in the United States. On a united front, the USTW has the potential to not only preserve the tradition of Tae Kwon Do but to revive the popularity of the martial art versus the sport.

As traditional martial artists, we all know the benefits of Tae Kwon Do, and what the Tae Kwon Do Sport Athletes are missing. If we can convey what sets the martial art apart from the sport to schools across the nation, I believe we may provide an opportunity for future generations to benefit from the principle goal of Tae Kwon Do: The cultivation of the mind, body and spirit in perfect harmony with nature to produce superior personal character development. In the Introduction to Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do, Grandmaster Hwang Kee wrote, &#8220;The Moo Duk Kwan emphasizes the knowledge of philosophy and therein lies the Do (&#36947;) of Tang Soo Do. In training, the primary consideration is the development of Ki (&#27683;), the &#8216;power of mind&#8217;, secondly skill with the feet, and lastly the hands. Speed and correctness of form in defense and attack are stressed and the student is constantly admonished to practice with serious intent.&#8221;

The USTW is positioned to be the perfect medium for the re-unification of the various traditional Tae Kwon Do schools left in the United States, and through them we may bolster camaraderie beyond what I experienced as a young Tae Kwon Do practitioner. The ideas presented at the 2009 National USTW meeting have the potential to create a strong relationship between all USTW schools. Online studies and courses, yearly national seminars, masters travelling to various schools to teach seminars, and instructor continuing education courses are all great ideas and opportunities that we do not currently have in our individual schools. Furthermore, it is with these additional incentives that we may be able to grow school membership and student membership within the USTW.

Although there are many martial arts associations in existence in the United States, I believe that the mission and the future possibility of incentives that the USTW stands for and provides are unmatched. I am truly excited about the possible direction the United States Taekwondo Won can move, and the momentum it may accrue.

Dr. Benjamin C. Rush, 5th Dan
Grandmaster Sok Ho Kang&#8217;s Korean Taekwondo Academy
Parkersburg, WV Branch School Instructor


Articles by Bob Hubbard.


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