Those 40 Kwans

tomi

White Belt
Joined
Dec 31, 2004
Messages
3
Reaction score
0
Hello for everyone

Does somebody knows or have an list of those 40 Kwans, that are often mentioned in the history of taekwondo from the late 50`s- early 60`s perioid ?

Tomi
 

J. Pickard

White Belt
Joined
Jun 8, 2020
Messages
17
Reaction score
6
I have never been able to find a list of all 40 kwans, only the 9 kwans that they merged into. Im not sure there is a full comprehensive list but good luck on finding it.
 

Dirty Dog

MT Senior Moderator
Staff member
Lifetime Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2009
Messages
17,370
Reaction score
4,274
Location
Pueblo West, CO
I have never been able to find a list of all 40 kwans, only the 9 kwans that they merged into. Im not sure there is a full comprehensive list but good luck on finding it.

They did not merge into 9 Kwan. The 9 Kwan were the nine that banded together to form the KTA and (eventually) the Kukkiwon and WT.
 

J. Pickard

White Belt
Joined
Jun 8, 2020
Messages
17
Reaction score
6
They did not merge into 9 Kwan. The 9 Kwan were the nine that banded together to form the KTA and (eventually) the Kukkiwon and WT.
"Shortly after the Korean War, at the urging of the South Korean government, the Korea Taekwondo Association (KTA) was established to consolidate and unify the kwans. By 1974, the KTA had succeeded in consolidating the 40 schools into the 9 schools shown here, the "major" post-war martial arts schools in Korea."

Source:. Nine Kwans
 

Dirty Dog

MT Senior Moderator
Staff member
Lifetime Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2009
Messages
17,370
Reaction score
4,274
Location
Pueblo West, CO

Monkey Turned Wolf

MT Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jan 4, 2012
Messages
8,472
Reaction score
2,588
Location
New York
Kwan (martial arts) - Wikipedia

That's a better source. My own source is my KWN, who was actually there through it all.
That says a similar thing
"By 1974, the KTA had succeeded in consolidating the 40 schools into just nine major schools. By 1978 the KTA had coordinated the Unification Proclamation, in which all 9 remaining kwans agree to abide by Kukkiwon-style taekwondo and rank promotions."
 

J. Pickard

White Belt
Joined
Jun 8, 2020
Messages
17
Reaction score
6
Any honest person who has done any kind of in depth study on the history of TKD knows that the truth is shrouded in politics, half truths, embellishments, and above all poor record keeping. So I wouldnt be surprised if every kwan has their own version of what happened and they all probably contain some truths and some half truths. Either way its a beneficial system to train in that has proven itself as an effective martial art and as a sport.
 
Last edited:

andyjeffries

Master of Arts
Joined
Sep 25, 2006
Messages
1,870
Reaction score
191
Location
Stevenage, Herts, UK
I would imagine this is a case of "Mr Smith's dojang" became Smiseukwan, but when it came to merging to form KTA, they didn't care about Mr Smith, but actually just Mr Smith's instructor, who had half a dozen Mr Smiths under him. Kwan just means school, building or hall. So it's not to say that if there was 40 "Kwan" they were all equal.

I'm Changmookwan, if I chose to name my dojang as "Andykwan" it wouldn't be equally as important as Changmookwan just because we both end in Kwan.

There are lots of words that we place super important emphasis on, but in Korean it's just normal language. For example, Kwanjangnim. Most people in the west treat this as either Grandmaster or reserved for the heads of the 9 major Kwans. In fact it just means the owner/boss of the dojang. So you could be a 4th Dan 22 year old in Korea, just qualified from the Kukkiwon master course, opening your first dojang with a business loan and you would immediately be a Kwanjang.

Hope that helps.
 

andyjeffries

Master of Arts
Joined
Sep 25, 2006
Messages
1,870
Reaction score
191
Location
Stevenage, Herts, UK
Any honest person who has done any kind of in depth study on the history of TKD knows that the truth is shrouded in politics, half truths, embellishments, and above all poor record keeping. So I wouldnt be surprised if every kwan has their own version of what happened and they all probably contain some truths and some half truths. Either way its a beneficial system to train in that has proven itself as an effective martial art and as a sport.

If you read the "Modern History of Taekwondo", that book was compiled by historians in depth looking at the records that did exist, which I feel are much better than you suggest. There is an original promotions record book in the Kukkiwon museum for example.

The main person that really tended to spread their own version of what happened is Choi Hong-hi, the rest are all pretty much unified on what happened, minutes were kept from the meetings and are all pretty much agreed on.

There's a translation doing the rounds all over the internet of the first half of that book, and the original Korean one has lots of pictures of some of these documents and meetings.
 

J. Pickard

White Belt
Joined
Jun 8, 2020
Messages
17
Reaction score
6
If you read the "Modern History of Taekwondo", that book was compiled by historians in depth looking at the records that did exist, which I feel are much better than you suggest. There is an original promotions record book in the Kukkiwon museum for example.

The main person that really tended to spread their own version of what happened is Choi Hong-hi, the rest are all pretty much unified on what happened, minutes were kept from the meetings and are all pretty much agreed on.

There's a translation doing the rounds all over the internet of the first half of that book, and the original Korean one has lots of pictures of some of these documents and meetings.

Most agree yes, but there are still many masters that try to ignore the karate roots of TKD and I cant tell you how many times I have heard that Taekkyeon influenced and was the predecessor to TKD even though there is little to no hard evidence to prove it. I will definitely check out modern history of TKD though and now that I think about it, I may have a pdf of it already. I'll give it a look over.

Edit: i do not have a pdf of the before mentioned text. Any insight into where I can find it would be appreciated. TIA
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

MT Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jan 4, 2012
Messages
8,472
Reaction score
2,588
Location
New York
I would imagine this is a case of "Mr Smith's dojang" became Smiseukwan, but when it came to merging to form KTA, they didn't care about Mr Smith, but actually just Mr Smith's instructor, who had half a dozen Mr Smiths under him. Kwan just means school, building or hall. So it's not to say that if there was 40 "Kwan" they were all equal.

I'm Changmookwan, if I chose to name my dojang as "Andykwan" it wouldn't be equally as important as Changmookwan just because we both end in Kwan.

There are lots of words that we place super important emphasis on, but in Korean it's just normal language. For example, Kwanjangnim. Most people in the west treat this as either Grandmaster or reserved for the heads of the 9 major Kwans. In fact it just means the owner/boss of the dojang. So you could be a 4th Dan 22 year old in Korea, just qualified from the Kukkiwon master course, opening your first dojang with a business loan and you would immediately be a Kwanjang.
Huh, learned something new. I didn't know people saved the title kwanjang for grandmasters in TKD. Reading the words, I always just it assumed dojang-owner. If anything, I would expect Kwan-jjang-nim to be reserved for the 9 main kwan heads. That may be fully off though, considering I don't actually know korean/hangul.
 

Dirty Dog

MT Senior Moderator
Staff member
Lifetime Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2009
Messages
17,370
Reaction score
4,274
Location
Pueblo West, CO
That says a similar thing
"By 1974, the KTA had succeeded in consolidating the 40 schools into just nine major schools. By 1978 the KTA had coordinated the Unification Proclamation, in which all 9 remaining kwans agree to abide by Kukkiwon-style taekwondo and rank promotions."

Sure. But it makes clear that there were not 40 Kwans to start with. Because the Kwan did not start after the Korean War. They started after the liberation of Korea in WWII. There were 5 Kwan that started right after WWII, and 4 more over the next couple years. All of these were strongly based on Shotokan with some Judo and Kung Fu influences. The rest of 'the 40' were branches, not different systems. Part of the confusion may be translation. The Korean word "Kwan" just means "gym" or "school"; it doesn't denote a style. Most of the original 9 had multiple locations by the end of the Korean War. But they were still part of the same systems. Nine systems. Not forty.
 

Dirty Dog

MT Senior Moderator
Staff member
Lifetime Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2009
Messages
17,370
Reaction score
4,274
Location
Pueblo West, CO
Huh, learned something new. I didn't know people saved the title kwanjang for grandmasters in TKD. Reading the words, I always just it assumed dojang-owner. If anything, I would expect Kwan-jjang-nim to be reserved for the 9 main kwan heads. That may be fully off though, considering I don't actually know korean/hangul.

That's where Korean gets interesting...
"Kwan" means a school, a building, a gym, something like that. "Jang" means, basically 'headmaster' but it's not master as in rank, it's master as in 'person who runs the school'. 'Nim' is an honorific, much like the Japanese "san". It's something added when addressing others; I've never heard a native Korean speaker use it in reference to thimselves. "I am kwanjang' yes, but never 'I am kwanjangnim'.
So those usages are a correct. The head of a dojang is a kwanjangnim. The head of the Moo Duk Kwan, Chang Moo Kwan, Kukkiwon, etc is also. The head of the WT is not because that is not a martial art. You can get more specific, though, by saying kukkiwonjang, if you prefer.
There are a lot of things that don't have direct Korean translations. Things like Grandmaster seem to be among them.
 

andyjeffries

Master of Arts
Joined
Sep 25, 2006
Messages
1,870
Reaction score
191
Location
Stevenage, Herts, UK
Huh, learned something new. I didn't know people saved the title kwanjang for grandmasters in TKD. Reading the words, I always just it assumed dojang-owner.

You'd be right ;-)

If anything, I would expect Kwan-jjang-nim to be reserved for the 9 main kwan heads. That may be fully off though, considering I don't actually know korean/hangul.

Here's an anecdote for the forum. I was interviewing the president of Changmookwan (one of the 9 main Kwan heads) in I think 2018/2019 and I asked him before the interview, "how should I call you?" (literally from Korean). I suggested "Daekwanjangnim" or "Cheongkwanjangnim" both of which kind of mean like "Great grandmaster" or "Great Kwan owner", or even "Sajangnim" (president of a company).

His answer floored me. "Just Kwanjang". I tried explaining that his position is special and I should use the correct respect level, and he said he's just a Kwanjang, his Kwan is bigger than individual dojang but he's still just that. I spoke with his secretary then in English to clarify/confirm (thinking as an intermediate or lower advance Korean speak maybe I'd misunderstood) and he said "yes, just Grandmaster is right - he doesn't want to be Great-grandmaster or anything like that". This is a guy that I think has held a 9th Dan longer than I've done Taekwondo (and I'm a 7th Dan).
 

andyjeffries

Master of Arts
Joined
Sep 25, 2006
Messages
1,870
Reaction score
191
Location
Stevenage, Herts, UK
Most agree yes, but there are still many masters that try to ignore the karate roots of TKD and I cant tell you how many times I have heard that Taekkyeon influenced and was the predecessor to TKD even though there is little to no hard evidence to prove it. I will definitely check out modern history of TKD though and now that I think about it, I may have a pdf of it already. I'll give it a look over.

Edit: i do not have a pdf of the before mentioned text. Any insight into where I can find it would be appreciated. TIA

Here's a copy - http://www.moodokwan.com/assets/pdf/HistoryoftheKwans.pdf
 

andyjeffries

Master of Arts
Joined
Sep 25, 2006
Messages
1,870
Reaction score
191
Location
Stevenage, Herts, UK
"Kwan" means a school, a building, a gym, something like that. "Jang" means, basically 'headmaster' but it's not master as in rank, it's master as in 'person who runs the school'. 'Nim' is an honorific, much like the Japanese "san". It's something added when addressing others; I've never heard a native Korean speaker use it in reference to thimselves. "I am kwanjang' yes, but never 'I am kwanjangnim'.

Just to be clear for anyone reading, this isn't just an anecdotal "I've never heard of", I'm 100% sure you will never hear a native Korean speaker user it. I'm only a lower advanced and it feels super weird already if I accidentally use -nim when telling someone my title. It's a definite no-no in Korean, a language that has respect levels built in to so many places (verbs are conjugated differently, different verbs exist sometimes, different particles for respect levels).
 
OP
T

tomi

White Belt
Joined
Dec 31, 2004
Messages
3
Reaction score
0
Sure. But it makes clear that there were not 40 Kwans to start with. Because the Kwan did not start after the Korean War. They started after the liberation of Korea in WWII. There were 5 Kwan that started right after WWII, and 4 more over the next couple years. All of these were strongly based on Shotokan with some Judo and Kung Fu influences. The rest of 'the 40' were branches, not different systems. Part of the confusion may be translation. The Korean word "Kwan" just means "gym" or "school"; it doesn't denote a style. Most of the original 9 had multiple locations by the end of the Korean War. But they were still part of the same systems. Nine systems. Not forty.

Hello

i have still an follow up question for an kwan topic.

I understand that quote, for that there was styles of "korean karate" of limited numbers and there was more schools in different part of korea practicing those systems.....


But these an remark in the "modern history of taekwondo by KANG Won Sik and LEE Kyong Myong ". It mentions following:

"At the time, there were 14 Kwans throughout Korea such as the Chung Do Kwan, Jidokwan, Moo Duk Kwan, Chang Moo Kwan and Song Moo Kwan, and once someone joined a particular Kwan, it was very difficult to transfer to another Kwan. When someone wanted to transfer to another Kwan, his original Kwan Jang had to authorize and approve the transfer, but in reality the Kwan Jang usually threatened the member using authoritative means in an effort to persuade the potential transferee to not leave. This was a critical issue in those days. ( end of 1971)

Also in the Taekwondo history book by Dr. He Yong Kimm in the end of chapter 7 these is an list major civilian dojangs in Saigon during vietnam war era.. It mention Kwans like

Oh Do Kwan
Chung Do Kwan
Jido Kwan
Jung Do Kwan

But also....

Kook Tae Kwan
Tau Ma Kwan
Punan Kwan
Hong Dau Kwan
Le Loi Kwan
Ji Yong Kwan
Bi Ryoung Kwan

an so on ( well, some names sound for my ear like Vietnamese)..... but in the end of the page says:

The Kwan Directors above operate two or three additional Taekwondo schools, so nearly thirty civilian schools were operating before the fall oh the country..


Of course it can be different situation in the early 70`s than late 40`s to mid 50`s, butt still I think there must be more styles than just 9 ( 4 original and 5 annex) in Korea in those early days or at last late 60´s - 70`s.

It also can be, that those later styles or schools teach some kind of mixture of Taekwondo and Vietnamese martial arts ( Vovinam, võ thuật Bình Định), because Kwan directors look like Vietnamese persons... just an speculation for my side....

Can somebody shed more light to this ??

Tomi
 
Last edited:

dvcochran

Grandmaster
Joined
Nov 7, 2017
Messages
6,119
Reaction score
1,812
Location
Southeast U.S.
That's where Korean gets interesting...
"Kwan" means a school, a building, a gym, something like that. "Jang" means, basically 'headmaster' but it's not master as in rank, it's master as in 'person who runs the school'. 'Nim' is an honorific, much like the Japanese "san". It's something added when addressing others; I've never heard a native Korean speaker use it in reference to thimselves. "I am kwanjang' yes, but never 'I am kwanjangnim'.
So those usages are a correct. The head of a dojang is a kwanjangnim. The head of the Moo Duk Kwan, Chang Moo Kwan, Kukkiwon, etc is also. The head of the WT is not because that is not a martial art. You can get more specific, though, by saying kukkiwonjang, if you prefer.
There are a lot of things that don't have direct Korean translations. Things like Grandmaster seem to be among them.
The easiest way for me to understand the salutation is to think of 'nim' as a master tradesman or someone highly accomplished in their field. Like you said, 'jang' is a organizational reference, like 'head of'. Kwan is a physical location or group.
I have only heard 'kwanjangnim' used when addressing a Grandmaster. Kwanjang would be when addressing a BB in a leadership role. Kyosanim is often used to refer to a teacher. Sabanim for 4th and above. I am not certain about the spelling but when addressing a BB of equal rank, Junojinin.
 

Dirty Dog

MT Senior Moderator
Staff member
Lifetime Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2009
Messages
17,370
Reaction score
4,274
Location
Pueblo West, CO
The easiest way for me to understand the salutation is to think of 'nim' as a master tradesman or someone highly accomplished in their field. Like you said, 'jang' is a organizational reference, like 'head of'. Kwan is a physical location or group.
I have only heard 'kwanjangnim' used when addressing a Grandmaster. Kwanjang would be when addressing a BB in a leadership role. Kyosanim is often used to refer to a teacher. Sabanim for 4th and above. I am not certain about the spelling but when addressing a BB of equal rank, Junojinin.

Leaving off the 'nim' is, as I understand it, an indication that you recognize their rank, but don't really respect them. "Sabum" means teacher. "Sambumnim" means respected teacher. Kyosa is (again, a lot of things don't translate directly) essentially 'assistant instructor' with, again, the "nim" suffix being added to indicate respect. "Busabum" (literally 'half a sabum' is also used for an assistant instructor.
That being said, real world usage of these terms varies enormously. I've seen at lease one school that used Sabum for assistant instructor and Sabumnim for the chief instructor.
Personally, I don't get real bent out of shape if English speakers aren't fluent in Korean. They're making an effort, and if the terms may not be technically correct, they are still being used to show respect.
 

andyjeffries

Master of Arts
Joined
Sep 25, 2006
Messages
1,870
Reaction score
191
Location
Stevenage, Herts, UK
The easiest way for me to understand the salutation is to think of 'nim' as a master tradesman or someone highly accomplished in their field. Like you said, 'jang' is a organizational reference, like 'head of'. Kwan is a physical location or group.
I have only heard 'kwanjangnim' used when addressing a Grandmaster. Kwanjang would be when addressing a BB in a leadership role. Kyosanim is often used to refer to a teacher. Sabanim for 4th and above. I am not certain about the spelling but when addressing a BB of equal rank, Junojinin.

Sorry, this is definitely incorrect. The nim suffix has absolutely zero to do with the person's level or accomplishments, it's literally a suffix for respect when talking about someone else. A president or a business owner is a "Sajang", but you would refer to the owner of the crappiest/dirtiest restaurant you could find as "Sajangnim". The President of Samsung (which if you haven't really learnt about Korea you'd maybe underestimate how big/powerful they are in Korea) would have the same title.

Also, for example, if I'm talking to my friend's mum in Korea, Eomma (엄마) is how you say mother, but I would refer to her when talking to her or about her as Eommanim (엄마님). This makes it clear that I'm not talking about my mother, but my friend's mother. It has nothing to do with being a master mother or a highly accomplished mother, it's purely about respect.

As I wrote above, I think it's very common in America to misunderstand and misuse "Kwanjangnim" to mean "Grandmaster" (i.e. associating it with rank), so I'm guessing with 98%+ confidence you're American ;-) I'm not blaming you, just saying I think that's an Americanism.

A black belt (you didn't mention master rank, so I'm assuming 1-3 Dan) would not normally be known as Kwanjang, purely because in Korea they couldn't open a dojang at that rank (needs a minimum of 4th Dan PLUS Kukkiwon Master Certification). And it certainly would feel very disrespectful to use a good title like "Kwanjang" without the -nim when referring to someone else.

Kyosa/Kyosanim means instructor, so is often used for 1-3rd Dan.

Sabeomnim (사범님) is used for master ranks, 4th Dan upwards. However, while you could be a sabeomnim and a kwanjangnim at the same time, in Korea generally they would only use Kwanjangnim (it's more important that you're the school owner, whereas often there are multiple sabeom under the kwanjang which is a paid job in Korea)

I've never heard of "Junojinin". I would be interested in finding out the accurate spelling though...
 

Latest Discussions

Top