Warriors Academy of Martial Arts Mt Horeb, WI

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Tae-Kwon-Do: A look at history

Many historians have traced Taekwondo's origins as far back as the Koguryo Dynasty (37 BC- 668 AD), during which 'Tae Kyon,' an ancient form of the martial art, flourished. During the Silla Dynasty (57 B.C.-936 AD), forms of Tae Kyon were practiced by the Hwarang ('flowering youth'), an elite troupe of aristocratic warriors, who practiced martial arts as a way of life and who were closely associated with the king and his court. Tae Kyon evolved into 'Subak' during the reign of the next Korean dynasty, called Koryo (936-1392). In the Koryo era, Subak became more popular with commoners as it developed from its elite military origin. Further popularization of Subak, coupled with the aristocracy's loss of interest in the martial art, strengthened its reputation as a sport for the people during the Yi dynasty (1392-1910). In first half of the 20th century, Subak was outlawed during Japanese colonialization of the Korean peninsula because the Japanese viewed it as a means of revolt. However, various anti-colonial resistance groups such as the Independence Army continued to practice the earlier form of Taekwondo.


The next turn in Taekwondo's long history came after World War II. The end of Japanese colonial rule, the repatriation of Korean martial artists from Japan and its colonies, and the growing interest in Korean culture all contributed to a fertile environment in which elements of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean martial arts were fused to create new self-defense and combat systems. This milieu was further enriched by the fact that many Korean soldiers had been trained in Japanese martial arts during their service in the Japanese army, and were therefore familiar with several disciplines. As a result, new traditions were quickly established: Chung Do Kwan, Moo Duk Kwan, Tang Soo Do, and Song Moo Kwan. After an initial period of experimentation, Taekwondo emerged as the main vehicle for the new arts. First used as a term in 1955, by its principal founder, General Hong Hi Choi, Taekwondo is itself a syncretic fusion of several martial arts that emphasize hand and foot techniques.

Perhaps due to this complex context, Taekwondo's founding organizations have been embroiled in controversy since its postwar consolidation. The first large association formed was called the Korea Taekwondo Association (1961), headed by General Choi, who also instituted the practice of the art in the military, training soldiers as well as members of the air force. As the head of the KTA, Choi was in the process of establishing the International Taekwondo Federation (eventually consolidated in 1966), when he was forced to leave the country for political reasons. In 1973, the first world Taekwondo competition was held in Seoul, South Korea, in the wake of Choi’s absence. At this event, the World Taekwondo Federation was created, with headquarters in Seoul. At present, after numerous attempts, Choi’s ITF (based in Canada) and the WTF, the two most widely recognized Taekwondo organizations, have no plans to unite.

The adoption of Taekwondo by the national school curriculum (from elementary to post-secondary levels) as well as by the military’s training programs attests to its prominent status in the history of postwar South Korea. The creation of the World Taekwondo Federation and the International Taekwondo Federation has resulted in the dissemination of constitutional rules and regulations to affiliates in various countries. Consequently, the discipline's growth worldwide has resulted in its inclusion in several Olympic games, first as a demonstration sport in 1988 (24th Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea) and as an official Olympic sport in 2000 (27th Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia).

Chanbara

Chanbara is the use of padded weapons in a sparring environment below is a brief description and history of Chanbara and the weapons it uses.

Over thirty years ago Japanese martial artists and sword masters created a better training style for the next millennium. The founder, Tanabe Tetsundo with some of the strongest martial artists in Japan called this new school of thought Goshindo, later nicknamed Chanbara. These martial artists and masters were very traditional. They also knew that the times were changing and decided to educate today's public in the way of the modern Japanese Samurai.

The Japanese public immediately embraced this new full-contact combative sport allowing it to be a member of the Japanese Department of Education. Moreover, instructors began to notice a considerable difference in the way the student's motor skills and reflexes improved. Chanbara had easily done in hours what traditional polishing techniques took months and even years to perfect.

Weapons of Chanbara

Tanto: The tanto; the Samurai's last line of defense. 18 inches of tanto is more than a cold shaped piece of metal. The tanto has gone through history as the weapon, which all Samurai men and women held close to them from birth to death. Moreover, the tanto is an extremely versatile working tool and weapon of protection. The tanto was long enough to feign off attacks and short enough to expertly maneuver and manipulate any fighting situation. There are many ways to hold, handle and fight with the short blade. The tanto is extremely easy to conceal and is large enough to stop even the biggest opponent in his tracks. In Chanbara: the tanto is used to teach the martial artist how to maneuver in close quarters. The tanto used in conjunction with ju-jitsu and other hand/foot techniques offer a fast and exciting match. The tanto division is the only division where the combatant can use the weapon as well as kicks, hand technique and takedowns to score points.

Kodachi: These 2-foot razor-sharp swords also called wakizashi were the Samurai warrior's side arm. The kodachi, which translates into small sword, is known as the spiritual sword of the Samurai. Traditional Japanese ceremonies relied on the presence of a kodachi. The practice of seppuku or the act of suicide by cutting one's stomach uses a kodachi. In battle, this close range weapon offers the combatant the largest selection of technique available. Chanbara's sword of preference is also the versatile kodachi. From the beginner to the master this 2-foot short sword offers the combatant speed and agility allowing for both strong defensive and offensive technique. The distance covered and closed in a swift attack by a well-trained combatant is lighting fast.

Choken: The Samurai warrior's weapon of choice. The world famous Japanese katana (Samurai Sword) has mesmerized the rest of the world for centuries. Wielding considerable strength and power in battle the katana, which averaged 1 meter in length, was by far the most feared weapon. One stroke could easily cut a man in half. The katana only left its scabbard when it was cleaned or used to cut down an opponent in battle. Chanbara's katana is called a choken. It is by far the combatant's weapon of choice. This long sword wields decisive match winning points and it's defensive capabilities offer the combatant a large array of fighting possibilities. Most combatants start off on the kodachi then graduate to the longer and much faster choken, which is more difficult to learn and practice. Matches using choken offer the combatant a realistic fight and a chance to play "the ultimate physical game of chess".

Yari: The yari has played an important role throughout the history of the Japanese warrior. This first line of defense was invaluable during battle. All who used the yari greatly increased their fighting ability. This long-range weapon gave the Samurai warrior and soldier a great advantage on the battlefield. It was simple to learn and manipulate. Swift thrusts, strikes and maneuvers kept all opponents at a distance allowing victory to the master of the spear. Chanbara's spear is called a yari. It is by far the combatant's most demanding weapon. This long-range weapon wields decisive match winning points at lighting fast speeds. Thrusts and jabs give the combatant a large array of fighting possibilities, which make the yari one of the most difficult weapons to spar against. Matches using yari offer the combatant a very demanding, fast and realistic fight