Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Recommended Reading Part 5:

Alas we have reached the end of "Taekwondo books" in the series (for the time being at least). I know of several other books on Taekwondo that I have on my whish list but I decided early that the books that I recommend in this series will be books that I own and have read over and over again so I can vouch for them. Books are expensive and it takes time to read them so I will honor my readers by only recommending stuff I 100% know they will enjoy (if they enjoy the blog in general). So what is it this time? Click on the read more buttom and you will see:-)

I am not going to keep the book(s) secret much longer. As you allready know (if you have enjoyed the blog for some time) I love Taekwondo history. The roots of Taekwondo is wide and far reaching but the fact is that many of the Kwan (Schools) that would later become Taekwondo were influenced by one man; Gichin Funakoshi the founder of Shotokan Karate and nicknamed the father of Japanese Karate. Song Moo Kwan, Chung Do Kwan, Oh Do Kwan, Yoon Moo Kwan were direclty influenced by him making him one of the most influential individuals of Taekwondo. Funakoshi is literally our teachers teacher as he himself taugh the many of the Kwan founders directly. He was also a prolific writer and a very well educated man. His teachers Azato and Anko Itosu were known as some of the finest Martial Artists of their generation and he had a deep and meaningfull relationship with both of them.

As Taekwondo have strong ties to the Karate of Gichin Funakoshi it should not take much mental effort to understand that researching the writings of Gichin Funakoshi himself will yeld great insights into Taekwondo`s Foundation? He wrote many books, but for this post I will reccommend that you get "Karate Do Kyohan" The Master Text. These are available in different editions. I have a translation of an early Version called Tode Jitsu from the 1920s and the most recent one from the 1950s published shortly after his death. If you get your hands on the 1950s version you will notice how that book has influenced countless other Martial Arts books through the years. Most follows the layout of the book and many are indeed carbon copies of it (new words same layout and message). The original (Karate Do Kyohan) is actually a very good book and even if it is from the 1950s it is still a great resource. Want to know if the founders of Taekwondo knew there were throws and locks in the forms they learned? Funakoshi say there are in the text. In early versions 1920s-1930s he gives examples on specific techniques and what Kata too and this period is the time the Kwan founders studdied. Want to know what the hand on your hip is doing? He explains the concept in great detail. Want to know his actual thoughts on there is no first attack in Karate (beyond the obvious)? He explains it. Want to see what kind of forms the founder of Taekwondo learned? Here they are in great detail (slightly altered in the 1950s version) etc. I would go so far as to say that if you replaced the Japanese terms with Korean, and the name Karate with Taekwondo that this book would be a great Taekwondo book (which is why it is included here in a Taekwondo Blog).

There are many things that are said and believed about Funakoshi, stuff like: He did not know what he taught, he did not know or understand self defense, his Karate was "shallow", his Karate was only for school children etc. Here you get the chance of reading the words from the man himself. His thoughts on self defense in the 1950s book is actually right on where modern day self defense specialist say today. Many of the myths and misconceptions about the man, about Shotokan, and about what the founders of Taekwondo learned could be put to rest if more people sat down and studdied his writings instead of studying what was written about him. Instead of what is written about him the focus for a pragmatic Taekwondo student should be to study the works by him (Funakoshi) instead.

If you have gotten and read the other books I have recommended earlier in this series (Choi Hong Hi`s 1965 book, Son Duk Sung & Robert J. Clark`s 1968 and 1984 book, Shihak Henry Cho`s 1968 book you will see just how much of early Taekwondo came from its Karate roots. Have we evolved into our own thing since then? Yes maybe we have, but the basis of our martial art is still our basics and they are closely modelled on Karate.

Am I out of line when I am recommending "Karate books" to Taekwondo students?

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  1. I did not see the earlier parts of this series. But did you mention Sang H. Kim? If not, ANY of his books are very beneficial to any martial artists especially Taekwondo people. He has tons of books on Taekwondo with many books emphasizing self defense. He has many DVDs too. He wrote the book Vital Points Strikes that goes over the entire bodies vital points and how to strike them. He was a special forces Korean military guy and former special agent for the Korean government. His stuff is very legit. All of his Junsado books and DVDs are important too. Try to find Junsado: Combat Strategy they sell it on amazon. He is an 8th dan Kukkiwon.

    Also do you know anything about the Korean ancient martial arts text called myudoji or something like that? I think they have not translated it into English yet but I was hoping to find it one day.

    1. Sang H Kim translated the muyedobotongji around 2001. Its available on amazon:-)

  2. I tried to find it and I couldnt find anything with that title. What is the exact title?

    Oh and what do you think about Gichin Funikoshi's "Karate-Do: My Way of Life?"

    Isnt the Karate-Do: Kyohan the book that is showing the techniques and skills of Karate? And is it less on history or philsophy of Karate? I was thinking My Way of Life would be more about the history or his personal ideas. I am not sure. I was thinking of getting it because its cheap, but the master text is very expensive for me right now.

    1. Here is the link to Amazon on Sang H Kim`s translation:

      Read this article before deciding to buy it though : Part one:

      Part two:

      Many get the book for the "wrong" reasons and get very frustrated. I think that if you read the article I linked to you should have a pretty good idea what you are getting:-)

      As for Karate Do My Way of Life by Gichin Funakoshi I would reccomend it very much. There is not so much practical stuff in it, but it is well written, contains a lot of stories about legendary karate masters, Funakoshi`s thoughts on what Karate should be, etc. It is well Worth the price I can assure you:-) Karate Do Kyohan is good if you want to know more of his ideas on techniques and Kata etc though, but getting one now and the other later or just the one is better than nothing ;-) You cant go wrong With either one of them ;-)