The Taekwondo world lost one of its bright lights at the end of the last year when Richard Chun
passed away. I never trained with him, never spoke nor discussed online with him, yet he has influenced my Taekwondo through his books. I first got his "Advancing in Taekwondo" book on Kindle a few years ago, read it from cover to cover (so to speak) and I was amazed that Richard Chun wrote from the perspecive of Taekwondo as a traditional holistic martial art, and how close his views were aligned to my own teachers words and teachings. As regular readers will know my own teacher comes from a Ji Do Kwan lineage, while Richard Chun comes from a Mu Duk Kwan lineage. While they might originally hail from different schools, traditional Taekwondo as a martial art seems to be suprisingly consistent accross the different Kwan as I see no contradictions between these two men. I loved the "Advancing in Taekwondo" so much and many practisioners I highly respect had allready recommended his older book "Tae Kwon Do, The Korean Martial Art" from 1976 that I had to get it. That book is in my own opinion an even better look at Taekwondo than the modern Kukkiwon Textbook when it comes to getting to understand the theory behind the martial art. The Kukkiwon Textbook is almost a sporting book in comparison, and where the Kukkiwon Textbook fails to deliver any Ho Sin Sul (Self defense) Richard Chun delivers on everything from Break Falling, throws, sweeps, release techniques and even some ground fighting (self defense when you are on the ground).
When I read that he had passed away I thought that I should try to honor him in some way, so I read through his books, picked out some quotes that has jumped out on me and posted some pictures with the quotes on the facebook page of this blog. In this post I thought I could share these quotes again, but with a little commentary on each. Before we begin however I would like to give my condolences to his students and family.
We will start out with a quote from his 1976 book:
"Maintain a serious attitude, even in practice. Be aware that you are forging a deadly weapon. If you do not concentrate, you will not develop proper control, your technique will not become truly effective, and you may even cause yourself injury." -Richard Chun, Tae Kwon Do, The Korean Martial Art 1976, page 82
This quote comes almost like an afterthought after describing how to do a straight punch in his book. It is therefore very easy to miss if you are simply reading the books as a reference on how to do the techniques. The quote is in my opinion an incredibly awesome way of describing what I label "Martial intent" when approaching Taekwondo. Chun is reminding us on something so many people have all but forgotten; namely that we are forging a deadly weapon through our study of Taekwondo. Traditional Taekwondo techniques can be lethal when taken to the extreme, and we should respect that. Proper control might be taken as the ability to deliver a lethal blow, but to stop it a fraction of an inch from its intendet target at will, but I think that what he means is control as in control of body mechanics. If you look at it in the context of the rest of the quote that interpretations seems to be what he was getting at. For instance training how to deliver power requires control, if you do not concentrate you will not gain this control of the body, and the technique can not become truly powerfull, and therefore not effective.
It is also interesting, yet overlooked that incorrect execution of traditional taekwondo techniques can be very harmful to your body in the long run. Missaligning the knee in releation to your feet for instance will wreck it over time. Not stopping the punch just before maximum extension will hyperextend your elbow, which will hurt the elbow over time. There are many people out there who has hurt their knees, ankles, shoulders, elbows due to incorrect technique over a long period of time, here Chun warns us about this.
"In learning the forms, it is important to keep in mind that it is far better to master one form and be able to apply it properly than to learn great numbers of forms imperfectly" - Richard Chun; "Advancing in Taekwondo" Kindle edition.
In my view, and this might not be the view that Richard Chun himself meant, this qiote mirrors the Karate masters who knew that each from could be the basis of everything you need to know for the physical side of self defense. Study one form indepth, master it to be able to apply it properly is better than collecting "martial dances". Martial dances is when you collect a lot of solo performances, but you do not know anything about their applications, or you know the applications so superficially that you can not use them (apply them). This also goes to those who only look at simplistic unrealistic applications. I doubt people who reads this will know the Pyungahn forms, but in the third one there is a mysterious pose where you stand in horse stance and your elbows are pointing outwards. If you look at this picture from his 1976 book the self defense technique he applies there could very well be a practical application from that form, allthough that is not specified, nor implyed in his book.
While the first quote I shared was a great view to describe martial intent during practise, this one is a great way to describe the attitude we should have when studying the forms. Today however people study the solo performance for their rank promotions and competitions, but that is a long cry from the original intent of the traditional forms of Taekwondo.
"Your purpose in Taekwondo is not to fight but rather to end the fight" -Richard Chun, Advancing in Taekwondo Kindle edition
Here we see a great description when it comes to a traditional taekwondo students attitude toward self defense. We do not train to fight, we train to end the fight. And the best way of winning the fight is not to fight at all. If we do have to fight because we are forced to do so, we do not fight to win, we fight to end the fight. This could be done by fleeing the scene. We are not conserned by "winning", we are concerned by ensuring the safety of ourselves and our loved ones. This quote also presents the paradox of Taekwondo as a sport. In the sport we are only concerned about winning, but here we see that the purpose of Taekwondo is not to fight at all. This paradox is something I would like to devote an entire article on seperatly so I will not go into more details at this time, but suffice to say, the short sentence is Taekwondo`s goal in a nutshell.
"What you need is total concentration - total attention to the job to be done. Meditation strips your mind of extraneous thoughts and helps you to focus on a single thought and action." -Richard Chun, Advancing in Taekwondo, Kindle edition
Does mental training feature in your Taekwondo? It should... My own teacher has always maintained that meditation is as much a part of taekwondo training as punching and kicking, yet I see that very few people takes this to heart. Meditation can be done in a great number of ways, and for different reasons. The kind Richard Chun speaks of here is to really focus on the here and now. This is vital in self defense and combat, yet it is very often completly overlooked. It does not matter wether you practise for sport, for self defense or as a way of life. Meditation can help you to work efficiently in the harshest of environments (real life combat), to focus completly on the here and now so you are not distracted (so you can score points in the sport) or to borrow a popular term these days; it can help you develop the "mindfullness" that all mental coaches seems to be chasing these days. Some meditate before and after classes for a few minutes, this is not what we are talking about though. This kind of meditation must be done regularly and by your self. The good news is that there are great methods that allow you to meditate almost anywhere and at any time. If you do not know anything about meditation I really recommend the book: "Meditations for warriors" By Loren Christensen: https://www.amazon.com/Meditation-Warriors-Loren-W-Christensen-ebook/dp/B00DXYXCIC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1515836467&sr=8-1&keywords=Loren+Meditation+for+warriors
And thats it for today. I really hope that you enjoyed this short jurney through the quotes of Richard Chun. I know I enjoyed it:-)
I hope to provide much more video content to this blog in the future. I have therefore set up a GoFundMe page on www.gofundme.com/traditionaltaekwondoramblings which I hope I can crowdfund a video editing software so I can make good quality videos for the blogs readers. If you want to contribute please visit the link to my GoFundMe page. Every donation helps :-)