taejoon lee

Go behind the scenes of the upcoming August/September 2014 issue of Black Belt and watch hwa rang do grandmaster Taejoon Lee demonstrate an array of impressive moves!

In Korean martial artsvideo footage recently shot at the Black Belt studios, hwa rang do grandmaster Taejoon Lee— co-author of the Korean martial arts book Hwa Rang Do: Defend, Take Down, Submit — demonstrates what's known as yongtoogi. According to Fernando Ceballos, the author of the cover story for Black Belt's August/September 2014 issue, yongtoogi is stand-up and submission fighting. It's one of 10 categories of competition — including grappling, sword fighting, stick fighting, empty-hand forms, weapon forms and so on — that take place at the Hwa Rang Do World Championships

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Taejoon Lee concludes his discussion of hwa rang do's sword-fighting modifications which led to the terms "gumtoogi" (sword combat) and "bongtoogi" (stick combat). As a bonus, he demonstrates a technique using double short swords!

Editor's Note: This article is continued from Hwa Rang Do Weapons: Taejoon Lee and the Korean Martial Art's New Spin on Traditional Sword and Stick Fighting (Part 1).

Circular Attack

Taejoon Lee then launches into an offensive application of the spin, upping the tempo of his footwork and movements. As the first few strikes are executed, it's obvious he's headhunting, unleashing heavy blows at his opponent, who can barely block in time. After each charge, Taejoon Lee backs off a bit more. Finally, he darts in with speed and ferocity, his weapon held high for a head attack. His opponent lifts his sword in hopes of blocking, but Taejoon Lee is one step ahead. Having drawn the man's weapon upward, Taejoon Lee spins underneath, effecting a beautiful belly strike. "A lot of martial artists say that any spinning technique is turning a blind eye to the opponent — they say that as soon as you turn your back, a straight- line technique will dominate you," Taejoon Lee says. "That's true — up to a point." To illustrate, he spins, and his opponent strikes him easily each time he does so. Point made: Using a blind spin without setting up the technique is a Hail Mary play in combat. Taejoon Lee then shows how the hoi-jeon principle should be used: He deflects his opponent's sword to the side, and by the time the man regains his composure and centerline control, he's already been cut. Mentally and physically, Taejoon Lee breaks his balance, drawing him into a specific reaction and capitalizing on the opening that's created.

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Grandmaster Lee's task at hand: modernize hwa rang do's sword method for more modern appeal while preserving expression, uniqueness and safety. No easy task, surely -- but Lee is no ordinary martial artist.

The two competitors kneel at opposite sides of the ring, a bamboo sword at each person's side. They slowly don their armor. As they stand, two additional plates — called hache hogu in Korean — reveal themselves, hanging down from their belts and covering their thighs. The referee brings them to the center, after which they bow, draw their swords and begin the bout. So far, it looks like a standard kendo or kumdo match, but as they clash, the flavor of the fight changes — with lightning-fast spins, low-level maneuvers and attacks aimed at more than just the head and shoulders. While numerous forms of weapons sparring are practiced around the world, none is better-known than kendo. It's the frontman of competitive sword fighting and boasts more practitioners than any other art. However, in the eyes of many, it's badly in need of an update, especially with respect to the variety of techniques permitted. Enter hwa rang do master Taejoon Lee. Taejoon Lee, vice president of the World Hwa Rang Do Association and son of the art's founder, Dr. Joo Bang Lee— as well as co-author of the landmark book Hwa Rang Do: Defend, Take Down, Submit — had his work cut out for him. The eighth-degree black sash knew that his art categorized its plethora of weapons according to how they're used in battle — slicing, striking, thrusting, throwing and so on. He also knew that much of that versatility was prohibited by kendo's rule structure.

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Grandmaster Taejoon Lee, son of Dr. Joo Bang Lee, demonstrates two stunt-like takedowns in these exclusive videos from the Black Belt magazine video vaults: a spinning leg-scissor takedown and a powerful leg-grab counter, both with effective submissions!

In Korean martial arts video footage pulled from the Black Belt archive, hwa rang do grandmaster Taejoon Lee, author of the Korean martial arts book Hwa Rang Do: Defend, Take Down, Submit, demonstrates two visually impressive takedowns: a spinning leg-scissor takedown and submission technique and a powerful leg-grab counter. Born out of the martial and medical wisdom of Korea’s ancient Hwarang knighthood and organized into a modern system by Black Belt Hall of Fame member Dr. Joo Bang Lee in the mid-20th century, hwa rang do encompasses the full gamut of combat techniques.

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