A Korean martial arts master and a Hollywood actor meet by chance and make a martial arts cult classic! Get the inside story in this FREE download!
Billy Jack Flashback: How Tom Laughlin and Hapkido Techniques Master
Bong Soo Han Made a Martial Arts Cult Classic
Taejoon Lee tasked himself with modernizing his art's method of conducting sword fights to make it more appealing to modern practitioners. He wanted a solution that would permit the greatest possible expression of technique with both bladed and impact weapons, thus preserving the Korean art's uniqueness. And he knew that the solution would have to maintain the safety factor for which kendo is renowned. To give a glimpse into the thought processes that went into the endeavor, he recalls an allegory from his homeland. A Tale of Three Nations “Three martial arts masters — one from China, one from Japan and one from Korea — came up to a massive stone wall,” Taejoon says. “The Chinese master walked up to it, touched it, gave it a little push and then, realizing the wall was solid, went to look for a way around. The Japanese master walked up to the wall and stared at it, then took a stance and proceeded to punch it repeatedly. His fists were reduced to bloody stumps, but he eventually broke through. The Korean master looked at the wall, threw his favorite jump-spinning back kick and bounced off. He shrugged his shoulders, then went to search for a way around.” While it may sound like a cultural joke, the sociological implications of the story are spot on. The martial arts of each nation have been influenced not only by the personalities of their masters but also by the geography of the land. Japan is a collection of islands. When attackers invaded, the locals had precious little room to retreat before ending up in the sea. Thus, it's not surprising that their combat mindset evolved to favor powerful and direct killing techniques. Systems such as kyokushin karate and kendo exemplify this idea with their hard-charging, one-punch-one-kill mentality. China, on the other hand, is a vast land mass. If an invader came from one direction, retreat was almost always an option. Military strategies took into account the availability of maneuvering room and thus emphasized avoidance. That gave the Chinese the chance to develop martial arts that focused on yielding before delivering a finishing blow. Situated between China and Japan, both geographically and ideologically, Korea is a peninsular nation. Historically, that afforded Koreans the ability to retreat toward the mainland if attacked from the ocean yet forced them to develop hard-core fight-or-die skills if backed up to the seaboard. Thus, their combative tendencies exhibit both linear and circular approaches. Back to the Present While striving to accomplish his task, Taejoon Lee appreciated that kumdo gave his students a chance to develop their linear sword skills in a sparring format, but he thought the standard rules prevented too many of the circular, spinning techniques that have always proved invaluable in combat.
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About the Artist and the Art: For more information regarding Dr. Joo Bang Lee and Taejoon Lee’s organization, visit the World Hwa Rang Do Association home page at hwarangdo.com. “Hwa rang do” is a registered trademark of the World Hwa Rang Do Association. About the Author: For more information about Dr. Mark Cheng, visit Dr. Mark Cheng’s Facebook page!