Tuesday, October 9, 2007
Korean Arts In The 1960's
As part of our tribute to Korean arts, here's a good example of how far WTF and Olympic Tae Kwon Do has strayed from the roots of Korean fighting systems. The video (begins with a short slide show) is somewhat of a tribute to Joo Bang Lee, who resurected the art of Hwarang Do, the Korean version of the Samurai. Lots of knives and heavy contact.
One of my training partners had an opportunity to train with some Hwarang Do guys years back, and it was an interesting story: In the 1960's, an American Army officer stationed in Korea saved the life of a young Korean boy. The boys father was extremely grateful, and just so happened to be a fantastic martial artist. To repay the favor for saving his son, he offered to teach the American soldier's son everything he could about his fighting system. The American boy grew to become an incredibly skilled martial artist himself.
Fast foward to the Dojang where my friend was training in Tae Kwon Do. My friend earned the respect of the American officer's now-grown son, who dropped into the TKD school occasionally. My friend was invited to train with him and his buddies in Hwarang Do, at their private studio, located in a big double garage at one of their houses. The perimeter floor of the garage was lined with broken boards, cinder blocks and rocks. He told me this small group had trained together for years, and they blew his mind. They were doing blindfolded sword cuts, knocking apples off each other's head. He said they tended to be head-hunters in their sparring but basicly beat the crap out of each other. He was fortunate to have trained with them for a short while, and then lost touch when he had to move to a different location. What he saw really impressed him, and was representive of the way Korean systems used to train before the era of the McDojo.