Posts Tagged ‘dojang’

Interview With Master Boseong Kwon

        Many readers may know of Master Boseong Kwon from his YouTube channel. He is known as being “a Korean master who teaches Taekwondo for serious fighting in Australia.” I found out about Master Kwon when randomly searching up Taekwondo videos a few years back. From the first video I saw of him I was impressed! Not only are his videos great, he is also an approachable person who is willing to message you back and give you training tips.

If for some reason you have not checked out his YouTube channel go now and watch his videos. Be sure to subscribe to his channel and like his videos.

He even gave me permission to send him interview questions that I can post on my blog. I am sure many of you will be excited to know more about Master Kwon! Enjoy the interview:

WHITE DRAGON: I am excited to do this interview. You are an inspiration to me for Taekwondo. Ever since I saw your videos on YouTube I was impressed right away. I’ve watched every video you’ve uploaded. Your videos give me hope for Taekwondo’s future and also training and teaching tips. Some of your ideas on your videos I use for my own students. So thank you for agreeing to do this interview. Many of us on the internet, I am sure, want to know more about you. I think you are kind of a Taekwondo celebrity on YouTube. People know you as the Korean master who teaches the fighting art of Taekwondo in its most serious state. 

Here are some questions for you sir!

WHITE DRAGON: Where and when were you born?

MASTER KWON: I was born 18th of April, 1979 in Seoul city, South Korea. 

WHITE DRAGON: How did you get involved in martial arts and how old were you? What made you want to start training? Please list your training history and be as specific as possible. Who were your instructors in the past? Any notable characters?

MASTER KWON: My father was a big fan of martial arts. Since a Taekwondo dojang opened in my local town, my dad put me in class straight away when I was 7 years old. I did Taekwondo, Hapkido, Composite Martial Arts, Muay-Thai, Protaekwondo, Bulmudo and Kumdo (sword art). I did as much cross training as I could to become an expert martial artist.

My Instructors;

-Grandmaster Dosa Kwon (President of International Protaekwondo Oceania Association) my uncle.

-Grandmaster Ando (President of World Bulmudo Federation, Highest Ranking Master Instructor of Bulmudo)

Grandmaster Kwon and Ando trained under Grandmaster Yeo Po on the Mangkyung Mountain over 10 years.

Grandmaster Kwon immigrated to Australia in 1991 to spread his martial arts, and Grandmaster Ando became a monk in the Beomeosa Temple, which is a popular birthplace of Korean Buddhist martial arts.

Beomeosa Temple in Korea

 

Now Grandmaster Ando is a successor of this art since Grandmaster Yang-ik (founder of Buddhist martial arts) has since passed away.

-Grandmaster Byung Suk Lee (WTF Taekwondo)

 

WHITE DRAGON: What are your ranks, certifications, or titles in martial arts? Do you have tournament titles?

MASTER KWON: Taekwondo (5th Dan), Protaekwondo (6th Dan), Hapkido (4th Dan), Composite Martial Arts (5th Dan)

Champion- International Protaekwondo Association- 1999, 2001

Champion- Korea Composite Martial Arts Federation- 1999, 2001, 2002

WHITE DRAGON: Have you ever had to use Taekwondo or Hapkido in a real life fight or self defense situation? Have you ever been given a challenge by someone who wanted to fight you? If so how did you deal with it?

MASTER KWON: I have a peaceful personality. I don’t like getting involved in any fighting. When I was a boy in high school, university periods, I had several fights. Normally ending quickly with a side kick or back kick as they are very powerful, final kicks. After migrating to Australia, I taught martial arts as a part time job and second being a security guard. I worked in clubs, pubs and faced many drunk and aggressive people. When they wanted to fight with me, I could scare them off with a few kicks in front of them. Otherwise, using Hapkido pressure points and joint restraining techniques was useful also to escort people out. I also had fights where they attacked first. In such situations a few low kicks or body kicks for self defense were effective.

WHITE DRAGON: What is your opinion on the modern state of Taekwondo? Many feel that Taekwondo has lost much of its combative nature these days. Is this true?

MASTER KWON: Yes It is. Unfortunately Modern Taekwondo developed as a sport.

But originally Taekwondo is a martial art for self-defense. There has to be a balance. I hope High Position Kukkiwon executive members consider putting more political power to rebuild martial arts Taekwondo.

WHITE DRAGON: What is your opinion of the “Taekwondo-dance trend”? The Korean Tigers really promote it and have made it popular all over the world. I would like to know your thoughts on that.

MASTER KWON: I like the Korean Tigers Team’s amazing demonstrations. They are a demonstration Team. Blending gymnastic skills with Taekwondo, making aero kicks look good. All good… But the dance is too much. It doesn’t look good as martial arts. I don’t understand what they are doing.

WHITE DRAGON: How long have you owned your school in Australia? Was it your first dojang that you operated? Where are you located exactly? What classes do you offer?

MASTER KWON: In 2004 I arrived in Australia. The first two years I focused on my immigration and training. I trained under Grandmaster Kwon along with teaching his classes. In 2006, I opened a part time school and 2010, I bought current property and opened full time Protaekwondo Club. We are at 36 Rocky Point Road, Kogarah, NSW 2217, Australia. It is a 10 minute drive from Sydney airport. Mainly I teach Protaekwondo blending with other martial arts.

WHITE DRAGON: It is said that martial arts change people’s lives. In what way has martial arts training influenced your life? What can it do for other people?

MASTER KWON: For me, it gave me confidence, a strong spirit and patience. This has been very important in changing my life attitude. I never gave up once I knew it was right. I can see a lot of my students gaining their confidence, learning how to focus on what they are doing and having respect for other people. We are teaching, good mannerism and strengthening their spirits, so whatever they are doing, wherever they are, it will change their lifestyle.

WHITE DRAGON: What is the Protaekwondo organization? How can one get involved with it?

MASTER KWON: International Protaekwondo Association of Oceania http://www.protaekwondo.org.au/flash/index.html
anybody who wants to become a Protaekwondo instructor or join our organisation, please contact Grandmaster Dosa Kwon (61 2 9597 5373) or Master Boseong Kwon (61 2 432281371). 

We operate instructor courses and Black Belt seminars on a regular basis. If you become a member, we support all round curriculum (punching, kicking, self defense, grappling, meditation, weapons)… Keep updating through instructor seminar. We are open minded martial artists, and directly link to other martial arts associations such as Korea Composite Martial Arts Federation, Global Hapkido Federation, World Bulmudo Association, World X- Impact Federation (MMA organisation based in Korea)

Master Kwon with students

 

WHITE DRAGON: What is your opinion about the International Taekwondo Federation?

MASTER KWON: Taekwondo is Taekwondo. WTF and ITF have the same root. I understand ITF sparring rules or patterns are different with WTF. In my view it looks similar. I hope for a reunion in the near future to build up strong Taekwondo.

WHITE DRAGON: What are Korean Buddhist martial arts? Can you be specific about how they are trained and what they focus on?

MASTER KWON: The original name the art is 불교금강영관 (kumkangyungkwan), but it is too difficult to pronounce to the general public, so Grandmaster Ando renamed Bulmudo for the promotion of his art.

Master Ando demonstrating Bulmudo

Half of the training is yoga and internal training ( meditation/abdominal breathing) and half is martial arts training. It is a well balanced art (internal energy + physical strength). This is not the competition arts. They believe through harmony of the mind, body, breathing and the healing of body and mind, you can attain true wisdom. The movements are very beautiful. Most of the movements use circular motions. Taekwondo kicking uses a snap, Bulmudo kicking doesn’t use a snap much so it uses a whole body with circular energy based on breathing. It really helps to increase my flexibility and control of Taekwondo kicking short or long range, any angle possible. Personally, I like the meditation side. I do meditation 2-3 hours everyday for healing energy and clearing my mind. The LA Times wrote an article about Buddhist Martial Arts and Grandmaster Ando and can be found at http://articles.latimes.com/2011/dec/26/world/la-fg-korea-fighting-monks-20111226

WHITE DRAGON: How did you learn Hapkido? Was it along side of your Taekwondo training? What is your opinion on the differences between Hapkido and Taekwondo?

MASTER KWON: I was interested to learn Joint manipulation, or pressure point skill. so I studied Hapkido since I was 15 yrs old. Hapkido more uses circular movements more than Taekwondo. When I started Hapkido training, a lot of gyms used circular motions of kicking. Nowadays, Hapkido practitioners use a lot of Taekwondo style kicking, and also a lot of Taekwondo masters teach Hapkido techniques as self defense. The human body is all the same: two hands, two legs. A lot of martial arts share similar techniques with different names. I learned Hapkido to complete my Taekwondo style.

WHITE DRAGON: What is your opinion of mixed martial arts, and how does Taekwondo today fit in the world wide trend of MMA? Is MMA something to embrace as a Taekwondoin? Do you have any favorite fighters in the world of MMA or Kickboxing?

MASTER KWON: For me, TKD is MMA. Taekwondo practitioners get too obsessed with too many rules and training the sport side of Taekwondo. Martial arts has no rules. We have to practice ground techniques, and punching skills, elbow, knee, head and whatever available weapon; and so I trained all these techniques along with my Taekwondo and teach to my students from the beginning. I like the way of training MMA side, but sometimes it is too violent (ground and pound until unconscious…). I wish for more protection to the player. They can use brutal techniques for life or death situations, not for money or title..

Master Kwon teaching Taekwondo for MMA and fighting

 

WHITE DRAGON: Is Taekwondo a serious, deadly killing system? Yes, or no?

MASTER KWON: If they are training a combative mind, it must be very strong system.

WHITE DRAGON: What was the Taekwondo scene like in Korea when you were growing up? How is training different today in most dojangs compared to then?What is the Australian Taekwondo scene like? 

MASTER KWON: In Korea, Many students train at least 5-6 days per week. Here in Australia one or two times per week is very popular. In Korea, inside the dojang they teach general Taekwondo, and competition players focus training in their school team. But in Australia, inside the dojang, both train as competition players and normal students.

WHITE DRAGON: I notice that you do not wear traditional Taekwondo dobok uniforms in your videos and many of your students simply have the pants and a tank top or t-shirt. How important is tradition within Taekwondo? Some instructors might say that if one is not wearing a dobok then they are not truly doing Taekwondo. How would you respond to that?

MASTER KWON: For teaching respect or manners and encouraging to wearing uniforms…I agree with that. Especially, if you are training traditional Taekwondo, mainly training patterns, or competition kicking. When you practice patterns, wearing a long sleeve uniform is good for protection of the joints. But we practice a lot of realistic hand techniques also. Tank top or t-shirts is good for fixing their posture and developing the striking feeling. As long as students show respect to their art or master, the long sleeve uniform is not a big issue.

WHITE DRAGON: How important is poomsae practice to you and your philosophy?

MASTER KWON: For me, practicing poomsae is respecting its tradition. When a student memorizes whole patterns, and control power and balance, they can feel more confident about something they achieved. That’s why they practice patterns. Not for fighting.

WHITE DRAGON: Do you enjoy Olympic Taekwondo sparring?

MASTER KWON: Not really.

WHITE DRAGON: Who are some Taekwondo masters that inspire you? Do you have heroes in other styles of martial arts as well? Do you have any favorite fighters?

MASTER KWON: I respect grandmaster Hee Il Cho. He is one of the pioneers of Taekowndo. I like his way of training, adopting boxing skills to improve his Taekwondo, his tough conditioning, and traditional way of training. Favorite fighter is Fedor (he knows how to use his weapon, and most of fights, he shows perfect mind control.)

WHITE RAGON: Do you have family involved in Taekwondo or any martial arts? Are they located in Australia as well?

MASTER KWON: Yes, as I mentioned before, my uncle Grandmaster Kwon teaches Protaekwondo in Australia.

WHITE DRAGON: How did you get the idea to join YouTube and begin uploading videos? Do you have any specific future plans with YouTube or video production?

MASTER KWON: Nowadays, WTF Taekwondo has developed as an Olympic sport and pattern performance competition. People think practicing patterns are the martial arts side Taekwondo. But I don’t agree. I just want show to other martial artists how Taekwondo is useful and encourage Taekwondo students to train true martial arts, and how Taekwondo techniques apply for self defense. And I want to show how the Taekwondo style cooperates with other martial arts for its future. That’s why I started with YouTube. In the future, I will be uploading more self defense or grappling, and meditation videos. I also plan to produce videos of all of our official training curriculum.

WHITE DRAGON: What does it take to become an instructor? What qualifications would you suggest? Do you have any tips for people wanting to start their own gyms and become full time Taekwondo teachers?

MASTER KWON: When I was a kid, I dreamt about being Interpol, but I have very bad eye sight and can’t see strong lights so I gave up that dream. Since the age of seven I never stopped training martial arts, and I realized I couldn’t live without martial arts. So naturally, I became an instructor and training more and more gave more benefits to me, and I realized there always is a next level… so I am going to achieve my next goal.

Most important thing is the passion and life attitude about martial arts. Instructors have to create positive energy. If they have teaching ability, first aid skills, and moral etiquette they are already at the first stage of becoming an instructor.

WHITE DRAGON: Do you have any final shout outs, statements, or feelings to express? If so feel free to mention them!

MASTER KWON: Thank you for the interview and allowing me to introduce myself to the martial arts community through your blog.

WHITE DRAGON: Thank you so much for doing this interview Master Kwon!

MASTER KWON: Good luck with your training!

*More information about Master Boesong Kwon can be found at his school’s website: http://www.premierselfdefence.com/ 

and his YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/expertkbs/about

There Are Other Reasons To Train In Martial Arts Besides Competitive Fighting

        There are all kinds of reasons to train in martial arts besides competitive fighting. In the old days of Karate nobody was concerned with sport fighting or winning points. The Okinawans and Japanese only cared about fighting in general and staying alive. Likewise, in Taekwondo’s infancy nobody was thinking about how they can create a popular sport, but how to promote a Korean way of fighting more perfect than Karate itself.

Besides fighting in general and self defense martial arts in my opinion are the ultimate fitness and health activities anyone can do. It is better than dancing, better than gymnastics, and better than just lifting weights alone. Martial arts combine everything into one. Movement of the joints in various ways, moving the body in every possible way it can move, and development of serious cardio and blood circulation. Martial arts also offer healing by strengthening the body and systems of the body. Many martial artists, including myself age pretty well. We look younger and are more fit than average people. We can last longer and have a better quality of life. On top of this is of course our self defense skills that will keep us alive longer if we are attacked. Martial arts are ultimate self preservation.

Martial arts help mental health by inducing stress relief, intense focus of the mind with forms and meditation, coordination skills, and give enjoyment and pleasure to practitioners. It keeps people busy who otherwise might be bored if they did not know a martial art style. Traditional martial arts also offer great ways for solo training such as forms that can be performed anywhere which also sharpen the mind and develop masterful techniques.

Of course with anything, martial arts also provides a way for a competitive spirit. Competition is a way to test skills and see how someone holds up with another human being. Combat sports are always there for people to participate in but are not the main goal. There are ways to compete inside the dojo with friends without entering huge tournaments or serious combat sports such as full contact kickboxing and MMA. But even so some people want to participate in MMA and see how they do. That is fine, but it should not be the sole purpose of a life long martial artist. There is so more more you can do and the toll that MMA and full contact fighting events takes on the body can be a negative force in your personal martial arts journey. There is a time to retire and a time to understand to take training slow because of injuries. Over the years your body will wear down immensely and basic martial arts skills will suffer. The nature of MMA is hurting another and avoiding being hurt. It is impossible to not get hurt yourself as every fight you will get hit. Over time it can cause brain damage and serious joint injuries and arthritis. I believe it is possible to regress physically and regress as a martial artist with too much combat participation.

Frank Mir, ex-UFC heavy weight champion mentions very profound things about MMA:

Almost everybody at the UFC level can fight through an injury. We’re all hurt by the time the fight comes. I’m starting camps off with the injuries that I haven’t properly addressed and that’s affecting the way I train, movements we’re using and what we can do on a certain day. I’ve got Forrest Griffin making jokes about it like, ‘It’s time to retire when I train like Mir.’ I’m like, ‘what are you saying?’ He’s like, ‘Well you walk in the gym, what doesn’t hurt?’ So I was like, ‘well, you’re right.’ So I was like, let me take time off, address these issues and train healthy – relatively speaking for what we do in our sport – then I’ll keep fighting. But it’s to the point where I’m only 35-years-old and you know, the quality of life. I’d like to play a pickup game of baseball with my kids…So that’s kind of the decisions and why I did what I did.”

Frank Mir understands that having a high quality of life is important, not just for himself, but for his family. It is a fact that someone who trains hard in a martial art style who does not have injuries or brain damage can train harder and better than someone who has such injuries.

If someone only participated in a minimal level of combat sports, or none at all except dojang training, he possibly will have better technique, better health, better cardio, better power and proper body mechanics than an old retired MMA fighter with 50+ fights. In self defense who will do better at this point? Obviously combat experience is important to factor in, but with enough combat training in a dojang or dojo a person can still master a martial art and effectively win a street fight. He can also train in martial arts longer during his life and benefit his martial arts style and community longer than someone who has too many injuries.

Being a life long martial artist also has the duty of promoting that martial art, teaching it to new students, developing new techniques and keeping the art alive. I often find it strange many MMA fighters who retire have nothing much to do with teaching martial arts or starting a martial arts gym business afterward. Some simply just do other things and walk away. Even professional boxes. I don’t see Mike Tyson running a gym or promoting his boxing to new generations. Maybe he does in a way that I do not know, but he is basically in movies, doing 1 man Broadway shows, developing an animated TV show, writing books etc. But he is not being a boxing instructor. The professional fight scene seems to exist for personal glory more than enjoying a martial arts community and making training and practice a life long journey. There is no end to training and practice for a Taekwondoin. We will go until we are 100 years old until we die. We should be teaching and passing on concepts and martial arts to new and younger people.

Benson Henderson said it best after his fight with Nick Diaz in 2012 when he claimed there is more to life than fighting. He said,

Fighting’s cool. I love this guys, thank you guys for all of the support. Seattle, I love you, but fighting is just a small part. There’s a lot more to life, guys. There’s a lot more to life. Hug on your loved ones, cherish them. These moments we have together, they’re a lot shorter than you think.

Simply just to fight in a sport, I believe, is not the sole reason to train in martial arts. Living life and enjoying other things is important too and martial arts themselves, even without competition, help a person achieve a higher quality of life than if one was not training in them. There is much benefit also for people who train without fighting.

There is a current and ignorant trend that says the only reason to train in any martial art is if you compete. If you do not compete you are somehow a deficient martial artist and doing something that is pointless. Also, you are not a real fighter. This is bogus. Anyone who trains in a combat art with the intention of fully embracing it’s self defense aspects while enjoying its other benefits is literally a fighter in their being. The attitude of a fighter is not only displayed in combat sports or street fighting. Does a soldier in the military only become a soldier when fighting in a war? What about during times of peace? Are they not real soldiers unless they become combat veterans? That would be absurd. Of course they are still soldiers. Someone who trains to be a soldier is a soldier whether or not they ever fight in a war their entire life. A martial artist is likewise a fighter whether or not they literally fight people in combat or self defense or not. The fact is they are seriously training.

There are many good reasons to train in martial arts besides competitive fighting and they are just as valid as one who has a quest for MMA glory. I plan to teach Taekwondo and practice it for the rest of my life. I also plan to train in other styles as well until I can no longer do it. I plan to always be involved in the martial arts world through teaching, promoting, and training. Too many injuries from too much heavy sparring is detrimental to a martial arts lifestyle, but it is necessary to train with sparring to truly encompass the full range of martial arts perfection. It all depends on your attitude. There is nothing wrong with MMA, but trendy MMA hipster culture is full of ignorant people who have never learned what being a true martial artist is. A few intelligent fighters do understand this as well as MMA students, but the popular trendy culture surrounding it needs to be ignored while true martial artists become masters and perfect technique into old age and never quit.

 

Taekwondo Is Not Karate, Taekwondo Is Karate, Karate Is Not Taekwondo, Karate Is Taekwondo

*Authored by White Dragon.

        Taekwondo is a Korean martial art system with its own name, own ranking structure, chosen techniques, and its own style. Taekwondo came from various influences of martial arts with the most heavy influence being from Japanese Karate. In this way Taekwondo is not Karate, yet Taekwondo is Karate. But one point that needs to be made: It is time to stop advertising Taekwondo schools with the word Karate and stop trying to make it synonymous with Karate.

        Some examples of this issue is how people now talk, “Oh my son is at Karate he will be done at 3.” But in reality you drive by and the gym is a Taekwondo gym with Korean flags everywhere. How often do Karate gyms that actually teach Japanese or Okinawan Karate claim to teach Taekwondo? Not many if any at all. So why do so many Taekwondo organizations advertise with Karate and use Japanese terms for everything like, “Sensei” and “gi.” This is annoying. These are signs of mcdojangism and a fake Taekwondo style that has absolutely no historical significance to Korea or proper Taekwondo.

Some ATA Taekwondo guy puts these posters up around my neighborhood. Bully prevention and leadership skills from Karate training huh? Except for the fact it's not Karate. Heck it isn't even really Taekwondo!

Some ATA Taekwondo guy puts these posters up around my neighborhood. Bully prevention and leadership skills from Karate training huh? Except for the fact it’s not Karate. Heck it isn’t even really Taekwondo!

        Early on in the 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s many legitimate Taekwondo masters did advertise using Karate. On very old gyms one can still see traces of this with old rusty signs and old paint on rooftops that say “Karate” in big, bold lettering. The reason many Korean grandmasters used the word Karate was because the word Taekwondo was not known to the average person who would have no clue what a Taekwondo gym is. Since taekwondo is obviously linked to Karate many masters saw it necessary to use Karate when advertising or making a sign in order to let people know “Yes, this is a school where you learn to fight in an Asian way.” The average American did not understand the difference between Karate and other fighting styles and once they got into the gym they did realize they were learning Taekwondo. Back then there was leeway for this method of advertising for Korean martial arts and I believe it was okay to use the term Karate. But not anymore!

        The year is 2014 and it is time to move on and stop using the term Karate for Taekwondo gyms! In the late 80’s and early 90’s Taekwondo at that point became the world’s most popular martial art and still maintains an extremely high degree of popularity worldwide. There are Taekwondo gyms with Korean flags in every town. People know the difference between Karate and Taekwondo now. The Taekwondo masters have had over 2 decades to educate the ignorant public about Taekwondo as its own style and there is no excuse to keep using the term Karate. Not only does using the term Karate piss off actual Karate masters and Karate school owners and takes away from their Japanese and Okinawan arts, it also disgraces Taekwondo by portraying the idea that one must hide the term Taekwondo, or that one is actually training in Taekwondo in order to look better to the public. It is as if Taekwondo gyms are admitting Karate is superior to Taekwondo and they wish they were Karate. It is offensive to the martial artist who loves Taekwondo and should also offend Korean masters who worked hard to get Taekwondo spread worldwide. Did they do this in order to pretend they were a Japanese style? No way! Korean nationalism does not allow for this!

        Yes Taekwondo could be said to be a kind of Karate and was known as Korean Karate for a very long time. One of its predecessor styles called Tang Soo Do which literally was Korean Karate with the exact same forms and movements as Karate does exist, but Taekwondo is far beyond just being a Karate style and has totally developed into its own unique style with its own theories and applications. It is time to just call it Taekwondo. Yes Taekwondo is Karate, yet Taekwondo is not Karate. Taekwondo is Taekwondo and has progressed beyond Karate even if they use a belt system and uniforms much like Karate fighters. Mcdojangs have got to stop using the word Karate on all of their advertising. Both the ATA and Tiger Rock are notorious for committing this crime, yet they are not even real taekwondo anyway so it is not crazy to understand such fake systems would use incorrect terms,  but I have seen actual Kukkiwon gyms and ITF gyms still using the word Karate. Now if this was from decades earlier and it is too expensive to change a sign I understand, but not in current advertising please!

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White Dragon is a 3rd dan Taekwondo Black Belt with over 19 years experience in the Martial Arts and head instructor of the White Dragon Dojang Martial Arts Training Program.