WTF opinion of General Choi?

chrismay101

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Hello.

This is just a question on the WTF peoples opinion of General Choi.

Please be honest. but no arguments please.

im ITF and im just curious about what others think.
 

terryl965

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I believe he had a vision to what he thought TKD should be and he should be commended for it. He was a very talented man. I both ITF and WTF style but always will be Kukkiwon style.
 

Kacey

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I believe he had a vision to what he thought TKD should be and he should be commended for it. He was a very talented man. I both ITF and WTF style but always will be Kukkiwon style.

Yeah - what Terry said!
 

exile

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Chrismay

take a look at the article in our own MartialTalk magazine here about Gen. Choi's methods of promoting his own personal agenda for TKD in Korea during the `military era' (roughly, from the Korean War to the end of the Park dictatorship). Do read it carefullyit'll give you some idea of the basis for much of the kind of sentiment that was out there at the time that Gen. Choi made himself vulnerable to his enemies via his trip to North Koreasentiment which still persists in many quarters (WTF circles especially, I would think). It's not just a matter of whether or not one likes the Chang Hon forms or the sine wave...
 

Dave Leverich

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A phenomenal article by Mr. McLain, I'd read it before but it's always a pleasure to read. Makes me want to meet KJN Kim and simply thank him for being one of the few historians in our art's history, and for sharing the knowledge.
 

exile

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A phenomenal article by Mr. McLain, I'd read it before but it's always a pleasure to read. Makes me want to meet KJN Kim and simply thank him for being one of the few historians in our art's history, and for sharing the knowledge.

That's my feeling too, Dave. Plain-speaking clarity and common sense... they're really among the scarcest commodities in the KMA scene, unfortunately.

The question of Gen. Choi and how he's viewed is actually an inescapable part of a much bigger picture. The more I read (including things like the interview with Gm. Kim), the more convinced I am of two things: first, that the detailed history of kwan-era practicein the literal sense: what did you guys do in the dojang? What warmups did you do? What kind of approach to hyungs did your instructors take? What kind of fighting ranges did you train in your sparring? Did you do any locks/pins/throws/controlling moves? etcis essential to our understanding of what the true resources of TKD/TSD are, and second, that the political and social history of the KMAs is way, way different from the relatively sanitized versions that have been handed down to us by the official Taekwondo directorates on either side of the WTF/ITF line. I suspect that it was far nastier and more brutal than we've been toldthat mysterious fire that mostly destroyed Hwang Kee's home, for example, at the height of the tensions between his Su Bahk group and the KTA, and the reportedly bloody kakedemishi challenges between various kwans' leading fighers... there is a very harsh reality there that I believe we are going to need to understand if we want to know just why the current state of the TKD art is what it is.

And that's why things like that interview are so importantthe living witnesses to that whole era, friends and foes of Gen. Choi alike, are getting very thin on the ground. If we're going to form opinions of the General, and of other principals of the time, we need to do so on the basis of the best available information, and that's in increasingly short supply...
 

tkd1964

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I am not WTF but I can understand how some of the first and second generation were rubbed the wrong way. Gen. Choi was very anti-Japanese and wanted something the Korean people could say was their own. The Kwan leaders felt that what they were teaching was Korean and was fine the way it was.
Gen. Choi would convince people to come to his style and forms but they would do it half way. They would basicly do his patterns but not with his techniques as he taught. You can see this on the internet. I think he wanted to build Taekwon-Do up first then fine tune them later. This was evident from the late 70's till his death . He was always traveling giving seminars and testing. I would love to have his frequent flyer miles.
 

WMKS Shogun

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The only thing I have noticed is that a lot of the books that I have seen written by Kukkiwon/WTF Instructors say very little about Gen. Choi. Most seem to have a sentence or two, and that is it. I will say that Doug Cook seems to say more and keep a pretty balanced view, but many WTF instructors and authors seem to like being very tight lipped about Gen. Choi. They talk about the founding back in 1955, and the KTA, then jump up to the early 1970's with the founding of the Kukkiwon and the WTF. Thus this topic is of interest to me to hear what others think (My school/style is ITF based, though officially unaffiliated.)
 

exile

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I have no stake whatever in the WTF/KKW vs. ITF wars; my TKD lineage, Song Moo Kwan, a nearly literal Korean translation of `Shoto Kan', is probably closer to Tang Soo Do, or even Shotkan karate, than it is to any other variant of TKD, and my take on all this is that of the completely detached, happy outsider looking in through the window. From that point of view, the following facts seem to be of some importance:

(i) Gen. Choi earned a second dan in Shotokan karate in the era before Liberation, and was determined in the early 1950s to create a Korean martial art that was a kind of super-karate, a linear striking art based on Funakoshi's individual interpretation of what he had in turn learned from Itosu and Azato but still more powerful and battlefield-ready than Shotokan karate. As Simon O'Neil has discussed in some detail in his Combat TKD newsletter and forthcoming book on bunkai for TKD hyungs (both KKW and ITF), the military combative system that Choi and his close associate, Tae Hi Nam&#8212;who was probably by far the more proficient martial artist&#8212;came up with was a simple, quickly learned, extremely brutal and devastatingly effective tool that seriously distressed both the RoK's North Korean enemy in the Korean War and their North Vietnamese enemy a decade and a half later; there is abundant documentation for these statements. And this joint Choi/Nam vision of TKD as a superior combat system was fundamental to the identity of the version of TKD that the General promoted.

(ii) Later institutional embodiments of TKD in the RoK shifted the emphasis of the art decisively from military effectiveness to competitive athletic success. The street application of TKD moved to the bottom of the KKW's list of technical desiderata, or fell off it completely, might be more like it; and the essential role of TKD was seen not as providing a crucial military survival skill set that could save a soldier's life in the even that he lost access to his weapons, but rather the promotion of South Korea on the world stage as a major sports power and, eventually, leader in the Olympic movement as the national patron of one of its official events.

(iii) There is currently a strong resurgence of interest in TKD as a hard, linear striking-based system of unarmed combat, in which what is important is the combat content of TKD is the main player, and the various individuals who shaped its strictly institutional history are of only minor interest. This movement seems to be centered largely in the UK, but I see some evidence of it emerging in the US. I have not heard anything about any corresponding movement in Korea, though I certainly wouldn't want to say anything very definite about what's going on over there!


What I do think can be said is that relatively few American dojang owners or instructors have very strong opinions one way or another about Gen. Choi: for ITF schools, he's respected as the founder of the style, and for WTF schools, he may or may not arise as an issue, but my impression is, few dojangs of any stripe hold, or propagate, any particular opinion of the General. His emotional impact, so to speak, is primarily in Korea, I think, where the WTF does promote an official version of TKD history which accords him a very different place in the history of the art than ITF histories do. In this country, though, it's a different story. My instructor holds a KKW fifth dan certification (and an independent Song Moo Kwan fifth-dan certification through Joon Pye Choi, which is far more important to him), and has a vague awareness of Gen. Choi as an important player in the formation of `official' TKD in the '50s and '60s, but no strong opinions, views, prejudices or value judgments so far as the General is concerned. The consensus seems to be, he's an important part of the story, but certainly not the whole story, and right now we're concerned with very different things than this or that individual's place in TKD history&#8212;the last bit being the most strongly felt, probably!
 

FieldDiscipline

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Exile, sorry to resurrect a dead thread but I thought you are a good man to ask given your interest in debunking MA myths.

Have you seen any proof regarding Gen. Choi's 2nd Dan in Shotokan?
 

rmclain

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Exile, sorry to resurrect a dead thread but I thought you are a good man to ask given your interest in debunking MA myths.

Have you seen any proof regarding Gen. Choi's 2nd Dan in Shotokan?

I've heard a different story about his rank as well.

R. McLain
 

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