Archive for February, 2016

My Visit To The Kukkiwon 

        After finding the Kukkiwon on the Lunar Holiday and it being closed I was able to go back to it a week later. I took the subway to Gangnam and was able to visit the Kukkiwon again and go inside. It was the moment all Taekwondoin worldwide want to experience. Visiting the “Mecca” of Taekwondo. Here is a video I shot inside:

A lot of people do not think the Kukkiwon is a big deal. Especially most Koreans. None are really concerned about it. But to foreigners it is mysterious and all of the stories of Taekwondo we heard, the superpowers of all the Koreans, and the power of Taekwondo being centered here is a huge deal! I heard other foreigners say they did visit the Kukkiwon and were unimpressed and bored.

Well it was fascinating to be inside, but I have to say the building of course is quit old and smaller than I thought it was. It actually is not that big of a gym. The Taekwondowon in Muju is way more impressive but less historically significant and is kind of a retreat park to go to for events. The Kukkiwon seems to hold less events. When you go inside you can walk around the entire dojang in hallways that have photos and posters of significant things in Taekwondo history. Some of them are kind of boring but others are interesting. If one has a lot of time to document Taekwondo history I believe they should spend a few days documenting the photos. Honestly most of them have to do with the Olympics and things I find quit boring. Like “so-and-so of whatever country introduces Taekwondo for the world tournament, or whatever. Like maybe a president of some random country is shaking hands with some master or whatever. One interesting photo is that of ITF North Korean Taekon-Doin with some Kukkiwon people who allowed them to do a diplomatic Taekwondo mission at the Kukkiwon. So in the past ITF and Kukki/WTF tried to have friendly relations and give respect to each other. Obviously, for the most part that is gone out the window, except you will have a very hard time finding a Korean master who will openly say bad things about the ITF. Instead they will use avoidance language and subtly say ITF is not so good, without directly insulting them. Anyway…

Inside the dojang floor one can see flags of many nations above. When I went half of the floor as taken up by a stage for doing demos. The Kukkiwon Demonstration Team puts on quite a show 5 nights out of the week at 7:30pm. So if you get a chance you and go see the show. IT IS FREE! What is amazing is the day I went hardly anyone was in the audience yet they put on a very high quality demo with great production. The demo team has worked so hard they are virtually flawless. This show could make a lot of money on tour at Arts Centers and Theaters worldwide. Kind of like how the Shaolin Monks tour, the Kukkiwon could do it too.

They had the floor covered with rubber so we could wear our shoes in the dojang. The demo has a lot of drama and theatrics, but for the most part it does not suck. The music and little drama really make the show good and most of the techniques are flawless poomsae, basic motions, and a ton of super high flying board breaks with kicks and punches. Very talented acrobatics and spinning kicks. Some of it is also “tricking” style. Then there are a few fight scenarios. One was a bit unrealistic and too fantastic to be believed could work and was more like a movie fight. Others had more hoshinsool oriented concepts which in my opinion was the absolute BEST scene of the entire demo. Unfortunately, at the end they add some cheese and do hip hop Taekwondo-dance with Gangnam style Taekwondo silly dance nonsense to close out the show. Of course the general public who are not martial artists or fighters will love it, but for me I hate it. Other than that the Kukkiwon demo was AMAZING and totally worth seeing.

Now besides that, I went to the Kukkiwon Museum which is a smaller building behind the dojang building which is above a cafeteria. I do not know when they serve food but it seems to be ONLY for special occasions. The museum above though is up some steps and the museum is quite small. The artifacts are 99% Olympic oriented artifacts and photos from world tournaments, International Olympic Committe stuff, various games and souvenirs and medals. Some doboks of former world champions, old hogu and protective gear are displayed too. One cool artifact was the original bamboo hogu. So it is true, the original hogu were bamboo instead of foam padding. The bamboo is covered by leather or some material that is the standard color of chest gear with the red or blue target area on white. The rest of the artifacts are quite boring, and also the false history of Taekwondo being 2,000 years old is promoted and pretty annoying. Saying in the 4th century Korean kingdoms practiced a version of Taekwondo. I wish they would be accurate about Korean martial arts history.

Now the best part of the museum in my opinion are the brass plates that have the original kwan seals on them. The 9 original kwans (they do not have a seal for the administrative kwan called KwanRiKwan, so it seems to be an unimportant kwan not worth mentioning) are displayed. I took some photo for people to see:

kwanseals

kwanseals2

MOO DUK KWAN

moodukkwan

JI DO KWAN

jidokwan

OHDOKWAN

ohdokwan

SONG MOO KWAN

songmookwan

KANG DUK WON

kangdukkwan

CHANG MOO KWAN

changmookwan

JUNG DO KWAN

jungdokwan

CHUNG DO KWAN

chungdokwan

HAN MOO KWAN

hanmookwan

So there is a good look at the artwork and symbols in the original kwan seals with their original spelling.

Overall, I believe if given the chance, even if it may be unimpressive to some, the Kukkiwon is a must visit place. If you can come to Korea you have to visit the Kukkiwon and experience it. It will further your Taekwondo life education and it is a nice place to hang out. You an hang out there outside in the park area under the Korean gazebo and use the outdoor work out equipment. It gives you a good view of the areas of Gangnam as well. What is amazing is the entire area had no houses, no buildings, and as just fields and woods when the Kukkiwon was built. The Kukkiwon stood on the hill in view of all. Now it is hidden by skyscrapers and large trees. You cannot see it unless you go to it. The whole city is huge now overshadowing the Kukkiwon. Gangnam is a fancy rich area sort of like the USA’s Beverly Hills and people go there to party and shop. The new culture is taking over and the old warrior culture is fading away.

In reality the Kukkiwon is just a building for office work and printing back belt certificates and registering people. The gym floor is usually used for demonstrations and less classes and training now. What is crazy is Conan O’Brian came to Korea the day after I went to the Kukkiwon. Conon visited the Kukkiwon the day after I was there. I fI showed up I would have saw Conan O’Brian in person breaking a board. CRAZY! Oh well!

A Wonderful And Devastating Display Of Traditional Martial Arts At UFC Fight Night 82

        There was a wonderful display of traditional striking techniques shown by Stephan Thompson, a Kempo Karate expert and elite kickboxer at UFC Fight Night 82. Johnny Hendrick’s was on the receiving end up a few hard kicks and punches that knocked him out. A great article about this topic can be seen on Bleacher Report. You should give it a read.

From Bleacher Report:
“The traditional martial arts have long gotten short shrift in modern MMA. The Gracie family sponsored early UFCs as glorified infomercials for their Brazilian jiu-jitsu fighting style and quickly proved their point—that a fighter had to know how to grapple to succeed in real-world hand-to-hand combat situations.
Their early dominance briskly undid many previously long-held conventions about how to fight. Simply put, the Gracies made a lot of traditional, stand-up-oriented martial artists look like fools. Even as the legendary family faded from prominence in MMA, practitioners of no-frills western systems like wrestling and kickboxing largely went on to dominate the next two decades.
Jae C. Hong/Associated Press
Chuck Liddell throws his trademark overhand right.
Classic movie-house forms were summarily overshadowed. A lot of professional fighters may well have started in karate, taekwondo or kung fu as kids, but few of them fought like it once they arrived in the Octagon.
Former light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell—or at least his deltoid tattoo—claimed allegiance to kempo karate, but he fought like a brawling kickboxer when it mattered.
Welterweight kingpin Georges St-Pierre boasted a background in kyokushin, but he was known more for his dynamic wrestling during the heart of his UFC career.
Only light heavyweight titlist Lyoto Machida stood out for his classic karate fighting style—and his reign on top was so short it became a punch line. Machida’s elusiveness and counterstriking were always his calling card, but his patient, unorthodox methods sometimes seemed to work against him when judged according to MMA’s unified rules.
Andre Penner/Associated Press
Lyoto Machida is one of the few to find success through karate.
The Octagon forced fighting styles to evolve with unprecedented speed, and efficiency was at a premium. Techniques that were deemed outlandish or ineffective were quickly cast aside while less flashy but operational skills became the bedrock of modern MMA.
However, this latest—and arguably most unexpected—bend in the evolutionary road makes it seem as though some brands of traditional martial arts were dismissed too hastily. Without warning, our sport has perhaps crossed another generational threshold.
Suddenly, little by little, MMA appears to be headed back to the dojo. Methods that were once considered dead on arrival in the Octagon are experiencing a revival.”

What encouraging words from a standard MMA journalist. The prove is there again. Traditional martial art styles have always been valid. There was simply a point in history where Karate, Kung Fu, and Taekwondo styles were unable to keep combat effectiveness due to a lack of venues to fight in and a decrease in the acceptance of fighting for sport. Boxing and other mainstream concepts have always been acceptable to society through the last century, but more serious ideas such as kicking the legs and other parts has been looked down upon. Only in Asia did Muay Thai stay strong and other various kickboxing methods. In Brazil they have a history of Vale Tudo and the lack of understanding of grappling and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu reign supreme for nearly 100 years in Brazil.

Karate and other styles not having to prove themselves in open combat made it easy for shysters and charlatans and other bad things such as mysticism and nonsense to invade the arts. Moves increased this concept with all of the wild Kung Fu and Ninja films in the 70’s and 80’s that allowed martial arts teachers to hide in the shadows of mysteriousness and what is foreign and unknown. Of course many true masters kept the true traditional arts alive and strong (People like Mas Oyama etc.), and traditional techniques always have worked. It is just so many did not know how to make them work and the early UFC battled int he Octagon are a poor example of martial arts masters. That is why BJJ always won as well as wrestling. Now with the knowledge of grappling and how to stuff takedowns the stand up fighters are continuously knocking people out with wrestling and boxing backgrounds. If you did not train your body to kick high and have good balance or understand elusive techniques then he has a serious chance of getting knocked out be experts in a traditional style. Fight Night 82 is an example. I believe to be a good fighter and martial artist you should specialize in something and master it. Gone are the days is just power lifting an learning to throw left hook combos and sprawl. You really have to know more and also try and master something. Jack of all trades will no longer be the champions.

I Randomly Found The Kukkiwon While Walking In Gangam

Yes I went to Gangnam and realized that the Kukkiwon is also in Gangnam. So after getting off the subway I decided to walk around in hopes of finding the Kukkiwon and before I knew it I walked right into it. WOW! Enjoy the video!

I Found A Mooto Store In My Neighborhood In Korea

        So I was walking around after doing poomsae  in the park in Bucheon and came across this business.

I am pretty excited. It is the Lunar Holiday (5 days of no work because it is Chinese New Year) so I have to wait until it opens later. I do not know if it is an actual store or a pro shop. It could be an administrative office or something. I hope there are things to buy because I could use some gear. I do not know what B/D stands for but maybe it is “business department.” So maybe they don’t sell actual products. Who knows. But I hope I can buy some cool gear: shoes, hats, MMA gear, doboks etc. WOOOO!

I Saw Road FC 28 Live In Korea

        I was lucky to be able to see Road FC 28 live in Seoul. It was a great experience and my first big level MMA show to see live. I have only seen low level local MMA in Louisville, Kentucky and Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, Alabama before. I had so much fun. The guys at Fight Gallery the MMA gym I train at had an extra ticket and called me up. Korean guys are so cool to hang out with! I had a great time.

        Also, Moon Jae-Hoon won his match! He is a WTF/Kukkiwon black belt Taekwondo fighter! YES!!! Here is a video of the match I filmed:

As you see it was a great day for the Korean martial arts scene and Taekwondo!