My Visit To The Kukkiwon

Posted: February 20, 2016 in Taekwondo
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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!

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Comments
  1. Tkdmarine says:

    Completely jealous.

    Btw, the Corps is sending me to the phillipines.

    • White Dragon says:

      Oh no!! How have you been man? I admit the message board is not really lively and no one posts anymore. I was wondering where you went. I am glad you are still checking out my blog and it is great to hear from you.

      It is too bad you are not coming to Korea because man we could so have met and trained together. Maybe another day.

      • Tkdmarine says:

        Yeah, ironically, they sent me to the Phillipines because I’m good at my job… and the biller we fill in Korea doesn’t require you to be that good, so when I asked if they could send me there, the response was “definitely not this time. We can’t waste talent.”

      • White Dragon says:

        hahhaa! well that is pretty awesome man but also sad you cant come here yet. but learn filipino martial arts man!!! take the time to lear Yaw Yan ickboxing or kali!!

  2. Eomer says:

    Cool pictures of the kwan plates! Any updates on your MMA training?

    • White Dragon says:

      Yes I will do a tournmant of BJJ in a couple of months. MMA has been fun and a good way to spar. I am helping the instructor learn back kick so he can use it in his next fight. I have learned some good things about takedowns, stand up wrestling, and some muay thai techniques.

  3. evildoughboi says:

    Great Post. I am also a 3rd dan (listed on kukkiwon) and am actually heading to Seoul tomorrow and staying until Tuesday morning. Looking forward to visiting kukkiwon (my master said our (physical) names are in Korea, I think he meant figuratively in their computers). Going to be staying at the Grand Hyatt. Have a chance to meet Sunday night or Monday? If you have twitter, my username is @running4status

    • White Dragon says:

      Very cool but I am in Bucheon so I am about 1 hour away and I have to work all the time at my job. But thanks for reading! I hope you enjoy your stay in Korea.

  4. Tkdmarine says:

    Yeah, the plan is to pick up some Kali. My gunny has told me there’s a guy who comes on base and teaches it to the Marines stationed there.

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