Monday, 28 December 2015

What was in Hwang Kee`s 1958 book; A Commentary

In my previous post about the content of Hwang Kee`s 1958 Tang Su Do textbook I said I did not
want to shape the readers mind about the content as any commentary I would give would probably do just that. I did write that I would revisit it and that is what I am doing today. Hopefully if you read it you will allready have developed your own opinion and the translation can stand on its own. If you want some of my thoughts on the matter you can feel free to click the read more button and read what I think about the book.

Like I said in the previous post on the book, the language that Hwang Kee used was difficult to translate, and I did not actually look into translating whole chapters to see if my translation of the headlines held up to scrutiny. This needs to be in the back of our minds when discussing the content of the book. I am in the process of translating a few pages within the book ("10 point creed of the Mu Duk Kwan"/ "10 rules of the Mu Duk Kwan", "5 important factors for cultiviting a strong spirit in Mu Duk Kwan", and "5 important factors on how to improve in the physical education part of Mu Duk Kwan") so you will see more of the book on the blog, but this is just a tiny part of the whole. I have said this before numerous times but again: The language Hwang Kee used was very difficult to work with, and I have not seen the headlines in their proper context (within the full text)

The book is divided up in several parts. Personally I think that the book could do with a better structured layout, but that might just be me. Writing about Martial Arts in Korean was a fairly new thing and this book while not the oldest by Hwang Kee (I am told by one of my most knowledgeable friends that his previous book was entitled: "Hwa Su Do") it is still one of the earliest books on Korean Martial Arts out there.

Part 1
Part 1 has many interesting subjects covered. For instance the reason for publication is one of the texts I hope to translate one day when my skill level has gone up to a decent level as Hwang Kee`s motivation for publishing this book is exciting for the Taekwondo nerd in me. The historical background on Hwarangdo that follows is likely to be one of the more common "fabricated" histories that buildt the foundation of the 2000 years myth, but the Taekwondo nerd in me wants to read it anyway. Hwang writes about "the right course to take for todays youth"in the end of part one which I think would be a great read. Some things suggest that since Korea was a fairly poor and simple country at this time, Hwang and other Korean pioneers of Martial Arts had lofty goals for how Martial Arts could fit in within the country and what it should mean for the general public. I will revisit this more when I get to Part 8 and 9.

Part 2
Here is one of the (for me) most interesting theoretical content within the book. I have started translating a few pages from this part allready and I will publish them when Im content that the translation is an accurate one (or as accurate as possible given the difficult language). One of the things of interest is that he writes extensivly about the establishment of a new name; Hwa Su Do. At this time in Korea most people referred to martial arts as Tang Su Do or Kong Su Do (sometimes Kwon Bup was used as well). Hwang Kee used Hwa Su Do to refer to his own art but changed it into Tang Su Do for a while before renaming it Soo Bahk Do. This book seems to have been written after the Tang Su Do label was applied but before the Soo Bahk Do label was made. Eventhough he called his martial art Tang Su Do at this point he still refers to it as Hwa Su Do as well and as I said he devoted a lot of text on this name. I think this would be a good read as well but purely from a Taekwondo nerds stand point. In the very headline of Part 2 he makes it clear that Tang Su Do, Hwa Su Do and Tae Kkyon (or Taek Kyon as it is known today) is the very same martial art as he puts Hwa Su Do and Tae Kkyon behind the Tang Su Do label as equal names).

Part 3
Not much to say about part three. It contains a lot of the basic techniques and mirrors modern publications (or rather the modern publications mirrors this one) in layout and content. From a viewpoint of discussing the differences between "modern" kukki standard techniques and the older Mu Duk Kwan techniques it is an interesting part of the book, but other than that it is simply a collection of basics and an overview on forms performance lines.

Part 4
Here there is a few interesting tidbits for the Taekwondo nerds like me:-) First of all he uses the term "Original Hyung" or "Original forms" instead of just Hyung as I have seen other people use. I`m not sure why he does this but it is consistent throughout the book as far as I have seen. The book contains the 3 basic forms where part 1 2 and 3 is followed with the word "step", while the Pyungahn forms are followed by "level". I`m not sure about the significance of this but I mention it anyway :-P His hangul name for Pyungahn vary from most other sources of KMA as he uses the hangul for Ppingahn instead of the "normal" pyungahn. Pingan is closer to the Chinese way of pronouncing the Hanja (chinese characters) for Pyungahn (Pinan in Okinawan, Heian in Japanese). Other then the 3 basic forms and 5 Pyungahn forms the book also covers Batsai and "Neihanchi chudan(1)". The forms covered in this book seems to follow the Shotokan model closely, allthough most syllabuses I have seen places Neihanchi in front of Bassai not after it. One of the most popular "advanced" forms Kushanku/Kanku Dai/ Koongsookun does not appear in this book though. I do know that Mu Duk Kwan practised a lot more forms than these ones. I do think that the forms contained in this list is absolutely a very solid forms list if you are into deep study of applications. The Kicho forms are in my view simply for movement education, but the Pyungahn forms are all you really need for self protection (as noted by Choi Hong Hi in his 1965 book). Neihanchi chudan is also a remarkably "deep" form and one of my personal favorites. Closing of with Batsai seems to give the students a very well rounded skill level. The applications taught in Mu Duk Kwan at this time and in the book probably follows the at the time common Block kick punch paradigm though so it is unlikely that the students learned indepth applications. I still think that for self study this forms list is a well rounded solid start.

Part 5
This part focuses on sparring, and there are a few that I would like to look at in more  depth in the future. Among the higher points on my list is the chapter detailing the relationship between forms and sparring. "Important factors to be aware of when sparring" is a short part but seems important. He covers 1 step sparring, 3 step sparring and something that was very difficult to translate but seems like a form of semi free sparring. His thoughts on free sparring is also something I would like to know more about. Did he see Tang Su Do as a competition driven martial art? Was sparring something done for sport or games, to practise and become fit? Was it to prepare yourself for a self defense situation? Was essentually everything allowed or was there clear rules put in place for the participants safety?

Part 6
In this part the "Dallyon part" of training was covered. Dallyon can be translated as "forging" or "traning". The language in this section was difficult but it seems to include a fairly holistic and much more complete form of training but with "tools" and without than what you see in modern texts. As this is something that has almost died off in modern KMA I think this part is something I should look to translate if I ever get good enough to deal with longer texts. The ones I have translated so far has been shorter texts or headlines. Longer texts dealing with complex issues is still not within my grasp.

Part 7
Self protection has always been something that has drawned me toward traditional martial arts and while I have not looked deeply into the content of this section, the headlines does give us a clue that Mu Duk Kwan Tang Su Do was meant to be a very well rounded system of Martial Art. We have defenses against just about everything from wrist grabs, to weapons in this section. I did think that the defenses against a bayonet was very interesting as the bayonet is strictly speaking a millitary weapon, while the Mu Duk Kwan was and still is a civillian based martial art. Perhaps Hwang Kee wanted to make Mu Duk Kwan the martial art of choice for the millitary as well? The quality of the techniques I do not know, but the headlines list a wide variaty of weapons and other situations the TangSuDoin might face.

Part 8 and Part 9
These two seems very out of place for our modern eyes. Part 8 focuses on first aid on land and deals with everything from a broken leg to how to transport someone injured. Part 9 focuses on how to save people from drowning, how to enter the water and how to retrieve people in trouble out there. On first glance they look missplaced but having discussed this (actually more like I am asking and the other party imparts me with wisdom) this shows how the founders of the Kwan (plural) wanted the martial arts to give the general public much more than merely a form of self defense. They wanted to educate the public in matters that at the time people were gennerally ignorant about. High levels of education was almost non existant at the time, and while we look today at Korea as a well educated and developed country we must not forget that the situation was very different at this time (1958). First Korea was ruled by the Japanese from 1910-1945. Under their rule Korea became very poor (not that they were a rich country before 1910) as Japan was interested in making Japan rich so all the infrastructure developed in Korea was to help Japan not Korea. Those who wanted a higher education had to travel to Japan to get it, but only the wealthy families of Korea could afford such a luxury. After the Japanese rule ended in 1945 Korea only enjoyed 5 years before being thrown into a civil war that lasted 3 years and wrecked what infrastructure they had. After the Korean war the land laid waste and in ruins. It truly is remarkable that Korea (the South at least) made such a speedy recovery and fast development. The pioneers of Korean Martial Arts saw great potential in their martial schools to help educate the general public and this vision is (I think) the reason why so much material on first aid on land and on water was included in the book.

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