Subforum description / questioning the supposed 2000 year old lineage

Chrisoro

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This subforum has the following description:

Tang Soo Do is a Korean martial art which teaches empty hand and foot fighting, fighting forms, self-defense, and weapons. Tang Soo Do also teaches people to live a healthy and harmonious life. This ancient martial art traces its lineage back 2,000 years to the Korean peninsula.

I may be kicking a hornets nest here, but considering that most, if not all, of the early Tang Soo Do instructors had dan ranks in karate, and allmost oll of the early forms were more or less identical to forms taught in Okinawan and Japanese Karate at the time, I'm curious as to how one can realistically argue that Tang Soo Do is an ancient Korean martial art, and not primarily a Korean variant of Karate, with some influences from native chinese and korean martial arts?

I mean, the various official governing bodies of Taekwondo used to make similar claims, but even high ranking members of the Kukkiwon has since admited that the primary influence in the development of Taekwondo as it is today, was the Karate background of most of its founders.
 
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Chrisoro

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Here is an apparently well researched article I found on the subject with a heavy use of references where applicable, and a full reference list at the bottom. While it focuses on the development of Taekwondo, it is also relevant to the history of Tang Soo Do, as the schools that eventually decided to use the name Taekwondo, used the general terms Tang Soo Do or Kong Soo Doo for describing their art, before switching to using Taekwondo.

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The Evolution of Taekwondo from Japanese Karate
November 17th, 2008
By Eric Madis[1]



Taekwondo (taegwondo, kicking and punching way/art) is a Korean martial art and combative sport distinguished by kicks, hand strikes, and arm blocks. Its sanctioned history claims that taekwondo is 2,000 years old, that it is descended from ancient hwarang warriors, and that it has been significantly influenced by a traditional Korean kicking game called taekyon. However, the documented history of taekwondo is quite different. By focusing solely on what can be documented, the following essay links the origins of taekwondo to 20th century Shotokan, Shudokan, and Shito-ryu karate, and shows how the revised history was developed to support South Korean nationalism.

[Moderator Edit to comply with Fair Use]
 
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Tony Dismukes

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Yeah, I don't know that anyone here buys into the myth of the ancient Korean origins of TKD/TSD. Probably when the site was first built whoever created the subforums (Bob?) just copied and pasted the description from some random website.
 
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Chrisoro

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So, the question is wether or not one should continue to base the subforum description on what is proven to be false history, or change it into something more in line with what can actually be documented. I mean, as it is now, it can instill wrong knowledge into new practitioners of Tang Soo Do, anyone else not interested in questioning it as it stands.
 
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zzj

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Any claim of lineage exceeding a few hundred years should be viewed with a large dose of skepticism. Most martial arts are built on existing knowledge of their time, and in that sense you can trace influences back in time almost indefinitely, but to claim a direct lineage would be really stretching it.
 

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Yeah, I don't know that anyone here buys into the myth of the ancient Korean origins of TKD/TSD. Probably when the site was first built whoever created the subforums (Bob?) just copied and pasted the description from some random website.

This is probably close to true, although I suspect he would have copied from whatever the "official" story said.


Sent from an old fashioned 300 baud acoustic modem by whistling into the handset. Not TapaTalk. Really.
 

TSDTexan

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Yeah, I don't know that anyone here buys into the myth of the ancient Korean origins of TKD/TSD. Probably when the site was first built whoever created the subforums (Bob?) just copied and pasted the description from some random website.


Yeah, I know I don't. The second school I attended, and the one I spent the longest at was called "Action-Karate MooDukKwan"

My master said (paraphrased) "I teach a traditional Korean Martial Art... Think of it as being Korean Karate...same thing as Okinawan but with pretty and powerful kicks from a Korean art called Taekyon"

Koreans emphasize the high kicks, while Japanese and Okinawan Karate-Do generally does not.

We weren't a subahkdo artform school, cause that wasn't in our lineage. The New Forms that Hwang Kee brought out that are very Chinese flavored. Soft, flowing circular...

We knew nothing of this. Ours was an older more primeval Tang Soo Do.

We dont know how old Taekyon is. It could go way back 2000 years, and Hwang Kee could have told the truth about learning it.

We dont know enough to say it is absolutely false.

I say I would vote to let it remain as is.
 
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TimoS

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Any claim of lineage exceeding a few hundred years should be viewed with a large dose of skepticism.
Especially in karate, I would put the late 1800's as a line beyond which really healthy doses of scepticism are needed. Some Japanese arts can, I believe, reliably trace their lineage to 15th century, but not many and even those that can, probably have changed quite a lot during their history.
 
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Chrisoro

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We dont know how old Taekyon is. It could go way back 2000 years, and Hwang Kee could have told the truth about learning it.

We dont know enough to say it is absolutely false.

I say I would vote to let it remain as is.


Considering that the earliest existing written source mentioning Taekkyeon is the book Jaemulbo (also Manmulbo), written by Lee Sung-Ji during the reign of Jeongjo (17761800), saying that Taekkyeon "could" co back 2000 years, is at best pure speculation. And I don't think pure speculation is what one should base the supposed history (or description) of a martial art.
 

Tony Dismukes

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Considering that the earliest existing written source mentioning Taekkyeon is the book Jaemulbo (also Manmulbo), written by Lee Sung-Ji during the reign of Jeongjo (17761800), saying that Taekkyeon "could" co back 2000 years, is at best pure speculation. And I don't think pure speculation is what one should base the supposed history (or description) of a martial art.

Not to mention that even if Taekkyeon did stretch back 2000 years (highly unlikely) and did have an actual influence on TSD (unproven), that influence would be relatively small compared to the majority of the art which was directly derived from Karate.

Hmm ... now I want to go through the other subforum descriptions and see what other martial art history myths are lurking there.
 

reeskm

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Interestingly enough, this idea isn't exclusively Korean. I believe this "2000 year old art" is a rehash of one that started in the Japanese Karate community. Or, it occurred at about the same time.

It seems to have started innocently enough as a way to say "look, on a basic level, empty hand fighting has been around as long as man" and ballooned and took a nationalistic turn during the 1960s and 70s.

Let me see if I can't dig up some examples... I'll get back to you guys.
I think this myth is easy to dispel. It deserves an article on Snopes.com!
 

reeskm

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3000 year old claim from a Kyokushin (admitedly with Korean influence) school.
Admitedly they don't say "Karate is 3000 years old" or some such.

Heres some good stuff from IOGKF spain mentioning tomb murals in ancient Egypt as being "karate"-like.

This article is close the Japanese "3000 year old" myth that I often see, trying to refer to Ancient Egypt, Greece tomb murals etc.
In contrast, the Koreans try and do the same thing but with tomb paintings found 2000 years ago in Korea.

Here's a shotokan school that says:
"Karate originated in India and was introduced to China 3000 years ago." and then some blah blah blah about Bodhidarma. I love Bhodhidarm actually. I have a daruma doll in my house, and it's my favorite nick nack of all the nick nacks I have. But honestly I have to admit that I haven't met him, and haven't met his friends. Who knows what he was really doing in China all those years ago! We have to rely on some pretty cool stories, that are probably more legend than reality.

Shima Karate Dojos has the same copy paste history, by and large.

I am still trying to locate an older source to this "Karate is 3000 or 2000" years old myth. I'm pretty sure it dates back to the 1950s, or earlier, from a very old text book.

These ideas are not necessarily wrong if you consider that "karate" is just an pan-asian word or concept for empty handed self defence, in which sometimes you pick up a sword or a stick...
 
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Chrisoro

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Yes, there are plenty of other examples of false history claiming ancient origins in martial arts. Probably helps selling them to people who don't know any better.

Considering that the so called history of karate listed above states that Bodhidarma lived about 1000 year earlier than what is commonly believed based on principal sources, they have allready disqualified themselves completely as historians.

Also, they place the origin of martial arts with Bodhidarma, while Ignoring that the Greeks had a living and well documented martial culture well over a 1000 years before his time. I guess Bodhidarma must have been a time traveler.
 

Dirty Dog

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Trying to place the "origins" of martial arts is futile. "Martial Arts" originated when Og showed Ook that you could hit harder by holding a stick.
 

TSDTexan

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Trying to place the "origins" of martial arts is futile. "Martial Arts" originated when Og showed Ook that you could hit harder by holding a stick.

Or when Cain took Able out to a field and dis-abled him, maybe with a rock.
 
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Chrisoro

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Or when Cain took Able out to a field and dis-abled him, maybe with a rock.

If we are going there, I think we can safely place it even earlier, such as when Odin and his brothers slew the frost giant Ymir with their bare hands, and set about constructing the world from his corpse. They probably learned quite a bit about the weak spots of frost giants, and no doubt taught this to the other aesir, which then probably taught the techniques to the ancient Koreans.

;)
 
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Dirty Dog

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Or when Cain took Able out to a field and dis-abled him, maybe with a rock.

If we are going there, I think we can safely place it even earlier, such as when Odin and his brothers slew the frost giant Ymir with their bare hands, and set about constructing the world from his corpse. They probably learned quite a bit about the weak spots of frost giants, and no doubt taught this to the other aesir, which then probably taught the techniques to the ancient Koreans.

;)

Og and Okk predate either of those mythos.
 

JowGaWolf

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Any claim of lineage exceeding a few hundred years should be viewed with a large dose of skepticism.
I feel the same way. Martial art styles are developed so any martial art style from the beginning is probably very limited. If you look at how swords were made and how some went from a straight blade to a curved blade and how the metal that was used changed, then you can understand that fighting styles would change in a similar way. The fighting style would improve with the technology.

Takeyon is not a kicking game and it's older than Taekwondo. Sounds like the resource that was quoted is flawed.
 
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Chrisoro

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Which resource? And in what way? It is customary to specify why and how a statement backed up by references is flawed, and then provide better references than the one you are critizising in order for your statement to be taken as anything else than pure, personal opinion.

In either case, the earliest mentioning of Taekkyeon is just a little more than 200 years old, so this is still quite thin if used as proof that TKD/TSD has "ancient" origins. Whatever the cavepaintings often used as proof of TKD in ancient Korea shows, it is not TKD/TSD/Taekkyeon, as there has been proved no actual historical connection.
 

JowGaWolf

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TKD History Sources
"Taekwondo is a martial art that in "todays" form of self defense has evolved by combining many different styles of martial arts that existed in Korea over the last 2,000 years and some martial arts styles from countries that surround Korea" Taekwondo History
This article says that it was created from many different styles of martial arts that existed in Korea over the 2000 years. The different martial arts styles existed in Korea not Taekwondo.

"The first Taekwondo school (Kwan) was started in Yong Chun, Seoul, Korea in 1945" This seems to be very late for something that has existed for 2000 years.

TKD History Source
History
They constantly refer to Taekkyon through their site. Then they try to make it seem that Taekkyon is the same as Taekwondo but they are different.
"The martial art Taekkyon (Taekwondo) had been secretly handed down only by the masters of the art until the liberation of the country in 1945."

This is the history of Taekkyon

Here's another source:
"During Koreas Yi period (900-1050), the Chinese introduced two more martial arts to Korea: subak, eventually renamed taekyon; and kwonbeop, which became the standard art for Korean warriors. Taekwondo arose in the 1950s when several Korean martial artists combined Japanese karate with taekyon."
Korean Martial Arts History - Black Belt

The sources that I listed are why I would question a 2000 year old lineage. The other thing is that martial arts develop over time and never stay the same as the original root. For a martial arts fighting system to be 2000 years old would be really rare. Those who master a martial arts styles are always seeking to make their style better and in the process the style is changed and often times this changes results in a new name and a new fighting system. That has roots in an older fighting system.
 
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