Monday, 20 October 2014

Reccomended Reading Part 4

We have so far looked closely on Kukkiwon Textbook (2005), Choi Hong Hi`s Taekwondo Korean art of Self defense (1965) and Sihak Henry Cho`s Secrets of Korean Karate Tae Kwon Do (1968).
This time I would like to bring another early Taekwondo Master into the forefront before leaving "Taekwondo" for a while. The books so far on this list are all "Taekwondo books" but of course there are books not considered "Taekwondo" that I would also like to include in this list. Taekwondo is highly eclectic in its make up, being built on the foundation of several different Kwan (Schools) each having different roots. The books I want to reccommend in this post is actually written by the 2nd Kwanjang (headmaster) of one of those Schools; The Chung Do Kwan.



In 1968 Son Duk Sung and Robert J. Clark co authored: Tae Kwon Do; Korean Karate, and in 1984 they co authered Tae Kwon Do; Black Belt Korean Karate. Both of these books are unfortunatly out of print and hard to get by these days. Hopefully the printers will see that there is a market for us "martial arts geeks" and start reprinting them just as they have with Choi Hong Hi`s 1965 book and Sihak Henry Cho`s 1968 book. The prices and the fact that they are hard to come by made me think long and hard on wether I should include them here in this list or not. On one hand they are excellent pieces of work and give a rare and wonderfull glimpse of old school Taekwondo before the modernisation and new forms were developed and included, on the other hand I do not like giving links to books that costs 100s of dollars because they are often way to expensive for the normal martial arts enthusiast. Luckily I have an angel for girlfriend and she got me both for Christmas a few years back and got them for a reasonable price and in good condition. So with that out of the way lets see what we get if we should get our hands on them:

In the first book you get old school Taekwondo before the modernisation. You get basic training, basic techniques, forms that you do not see in mainstream Taekwondo anymore, examples on formal 3 and 1 step sparring as well as free sparring. In this book Sun Duk Song does make use of his "no touch" sparring but he also makes frequent mentions on conditioning your body into a weapon. So
allthough his students would not touch while sparring, power generation and toughening of attacking tools were done and looked upon with outmost importance. Personally I like to include as many forms of freesparring as possible, both no touch, semi, hard and full contact, both striking, wrestling, mixture, start at different ranges etc but all in all he does show a rather complete and pedagogic system in this book. I would however include harder contact sparring though;-)

Besides basic technique, he demonstrates both Makkiwara or Kwon Go (striking post), the usage of trees for training heavy bag and also he includes weight excesises in the back that if you were to change his dumbells into kettle bells or the stone locks used in Karate would not look out of place in a modern gym or an okinawan Karate Dojo. They are easy excesises for functional strength to help the development of Taekwondo specific muscles. I found them very interesting.

The forms he demonstrate are demonstrated in great detail, and with some basic basic kick block punch applications. He includes Kuk Mu 1 & 2 which were a very early Korean developed forms older than most other Korean developed forms and while they are included in this book they were not a part of original Chung Do Kwan use. Son Duk Sung used these forms to teach soldiers at West Point and they are very simple but also very powerfull forms. I have not included them in my studies but I have gone several rounds with myself wondering if I should make them part of "my" Taekwondo or not. Other than the Kuk Mu (national martial form 1 and 2 I believe is the translation) you have Pyungahn (safe from harm) 1-5, Chulgi (Iron Horseman) 1 and others. The books who show these early Taekwondo forms are few and very far between so this fact alone is a great excuse to go get it:-)

I also believe  that this is one of the finest glimpses of Chung Do Kwan we have today. A glimpse into the Kwan era before the merger and shows how Chung Do Kwan differs all the way down to excecution of basic techniques from what we do today. Also of interest is his thoughts on forms, and
while he does not provide any thing deeper than basic application of forms he do share a lot of tips regarding benifits of training forms and how to do it in a manner you do not see in todays writings. His emphasis on relaxation for instance and the correct "focus" is something you do not hear about often. If you have seen the clips on youtube from modern Chung Do Kwan lineage Taekwondo you will see that they have likewise de evolved heavily from the time these books were written. I am thinking about the clips where people do their forms in a speed that is simply to fast for real technique. The style depicted in these writings were (except for the emphasis on light to no contact sparring) a very functional system of great value and a testament to the knowledge of Gm Son Duk Sung.

If you are interested in pre Kukki Taekwondo buy these books. If you wonder where ITF and WTF/Kukki Taekwondo came from buy these books. ITF is said to have come from Oh Do Kwan and that is true but many of the early masters such as Gm Nam Tae Hi, GM Han Cha Kyo etc were originally trained in the Chung Do Kwan so the Oh Do Kwan influenced Chung Do Kwan and vice versa. As for Kukki Taekwondo many of the top Grandmasters of Kukki Taekwondo trace their lineage back to the Chung Do Kwan so having a chance to see one of the roots of Kukki Taekwondo is exciting for me at least:-) If you are curious as to which forms were used in the Kwan era I believe these books are the earliest and best to show these. I do not have Hwang Kee`s early books so I can not compare with his but I do have a Korean language book of his and while it gives good details on forms it is not as good as the illustrations and explanations in Son Duk Sung`s works.

(All Pictures in this blog post are from Son Duk Sung & Robert J. Clark`s 1968 book.)

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