The Ultimate fighting Art

Kuk Mu Kwan Roots

 Great Grandmaster refined his techniques for use in intelligence missions, when he taught HID agents and Navy UDT team(predecessor to modern day Navy Seals).  One of his top student was Captain Pugill Kwon.  Back then, UDT did not offer self- defense training, just diving skills.  Maybe Great Grandmaster was the reason why today’s Navy seals teach self-defense.  Believe it or not at 5’ 10”, Great Grandmaster was one of the most feared fighters in Korea.  He took on all challengers, and were sued many times for injuring and breaking challenger’s bones.   Remember that after the Korean War, streets in the Cities were in total chaos, where gangsters ruled.  Great Grandmaster Kang eventually befriended a handsome poet and a scholar, who lived in a mansion, he turned out to be the mafia boss for all of Seoul.  They remained friends for a long time, he even saved a life of his close friend, Duk Sung Son who disrespected the boss.

 Before Great Grandmaster Kang immigrated to the U.S., Kuk Mu Kwan had branches all over Korea.  It was one of the largest organization in Korea.  Kuk Mu Kwan remained one of the most powerful kwans for a long time, until the early 1980’s.  This was the time when a small country in the Pacific embraced capitalism, to sell their products abroad.  The Korean government using the KTA and KCIA to unify all Korean martial arts under the name Taekwondo.  They wanted to host the 1988 Olympics.  The Korean government closed down any schools that did not convert to KTA rules and sent KCIA agents abroad to make sure other Korean martial art schools around the World did the same thing.  The KCIA took note in U.S. dojangs and threatened the Masters to convert to WTF,  if they had families in Korea or wanted to travel to Korea.  This was the period in which all kwans disappeared in Korea and were outlawed, just like dog eating.  Once the Olympics were over and newer democratic government took charge, it was too late for most kwans to make a comeback.  It is only in recent years that different kwans are making a comeback, but the mafia called KTA, is still keeping other kwans at bay.  They still want Taekwondo to remain a Olympic sport.  It brings in tens of thousands of taekwondo tourists to Korea, that’s hundreds of millions of dollars for Korean and Asiana airlines, two of the most profitable carriers from Korea.  They can also sell more Samsung, Kia, Hyundai and LG’s abroad.  Recent decision to move the WTF to Switzerland have Korean government on high alert.  Remember that they proclaimed to have 40-million practitioners with 4 million black belts.  Where do they get there certification? Kukkiwon, in Korea, that’s right.  Americans, Puerto Ricans, Mexicans and others are sending their hard earned money to an office in Korea so that its stamped mafia, pardon, kukkiwon.  Average 4 million black belts times $70 dollars(that’s what kukkiwon charges for stamping certificates for 1st dan), will equal $280 million dollars, minimum.  The figures are much higher than that since higher dans have to pay more and what about all those cheap $7 taekwondo uniforms and equipment with WTF labels.  We must also take into account the advertising revenue dollars at all their venues, around the World, which can equal $1 billion dollars.  Korean government is going to lose billions in revenue, by WTF relocating to Switzerland, how ironic.  Remember that when the Korean government decided to make Taekwondo a sport, it automatically became property of the World.  All masters of Korean martial arts come from many different kwans, which no longer exists in Korea.

  But in the U.S., we have the highest number of all grandmasters from all disciplines having residences  here.  In the U.S., traditional kwans still exists, like ours.  There is Tangsoodo, Jidokwan, Moodokwan, Sangmookwan and of course the oldest and the best, Kuk Mu Kwan.  A questions no one ever dared to ask, but I will is, what about Chungdo Kwan.  Everyone who is well known, in Korean martial arts, are claiming their lineage to Chungdo Kwan.  The Chungdo Kwan you see today is parallel to the ITF , Kiyokushinkai, MoodoKwan and, Jujitsu of today.  When the leaders of the system either passed away or were forced out, the lack of leadership and foundations split up the entire kwan or the, once powerful organizations.  When Grandmaster Won Kuk Lee left for Japan, leadership fell upon non-educated, inexperienced and not respected leader.  Duk Sung Son was 26 years old but not the most senior.  Great Grandmaster Suh Chong Kang was 19 years old, but was the most senior black belt, a year and a half senior to Grandmaster Duk Sung Son.  Eventually everyone left the kwan and later taken over by much junior named Uhm Woon kyu.  Soon after, the Korean War broke out on 6-25-1950.  After the war Chungdo Kwan never recovered, but they produced some of the top practitioners and were quickly recruited by the military or other kwans.  Good example is Grandmaster Nam Tae Hi, founded military kwan along with general Choi, Ohdo Kwan and Kuk Mu Kwan, by our Great Grandmaster.    Today, Chungdo kwan only exists in name alone, everyone claims to have roots in it but teaches WTF basics, form, sparring and derive all their promotions through Kukkiwon.  Kiyokushinkai, after Grandmaster Mas Oyama’s death, broke into different schools, Seido, Budo, Oyama, Meiji and others.  International Tae Kwon Do Federation broke into many more factions, including Choi Kwang Do, KATU(Grandmaster Hwang), ITF(North Korea), ITF(General Choi’s son), ITF(Canada), ITF(Grandmaster Rhee,U.K.), UITF(Grandmaster Shereff, U.S.), AITF(Grandmaster Chung, South America) and many more coming, all based on forms. Martial arts should not be based on masked philosophy or forms, but should be based on techniques, basics, better self-defense and of course, real to life sparring and fighting techniques.

Kuk mu kwan and ITF

There are a lot of questions as to why Kukmukwan was not well known or advertised.  There are many reasons as to why Kukmukwan is making a comeback.  From the very beginning, when Great Grandmaster Suh Chong Kang founded Kuk Mu Kwan, it was based on his military experience.  After the Korean War, Great Grandmaster founded Kuk Mu Kwan, teaching Chungdo kwan basics, forms and his own style of self-defense and sparring.  In the mid 1950’s, the Koreans were going through patriotic period.  Korea, having been brutally occupied by Japan for 35 years, wanted nothing to do with Japan.  Judo became Yudo, Aikido became Hapkido and there were movements by low level Korean martial arts masters to eliminate Japanese forms and replace it with forms made by Koreans.  GGM Kang did not want to be told what to do by low level masters and no desire to mix art with politics.   So when General Choi, a two star general of the Republic of Korea army, with influence and political skills, wanted to unify under one name, Taekwondo, he backed him 100%.  General Choi and GGM Kang, decided to create new forms and to have every Korean Master to come under their control.

Great Grandmaster Kang, a government contractor and a loyal friend to General Choi Hong Hi, changed all his teachings to reflect resurgence of Korean nationalism.  He adapted to ITF forms and consulted with General Choi, on his first Taekwondo book.  In 1966, ITF and Kuk Mu Kwan was one of the same, they shared all the basics, forms and sparring theory.  Great Grandmaster Kang’s friendship lasted until General’s death in 2002.  Until General Choi’s death, out of respect, Great Grandmaster did not introduce his own, Kukmukwan forms.  In 1969, great Grandmaster Kang and family immigrated to the U.S., by invitation of his longtime friend Grandmaster Duk Song Son.  Great Grandmaster Kang had a lot of creative time alone, to refine the system even further by incorporating better self-defense and grappling techniques, to reflect the changing times.  Great Grandmaster Kang started working on his own forms which were more real to life,  imaginary fighting techniques, the exact meaning for forms.  But he did not introduced his forms until much later.  He believed in fast and powerful blocks and strikes as defense for weapons and everyday situations, as well as the most powerful kicking methods as the ultimate defense.  Great Grandmaster Kang would always say “ One shot, One kill “.  Great Grandmaster Kang said that he was never worried about opponents blocking his kicks.  He said that your kicks should be able to go through blocking hand and strike the body, which means you break the arm and the ribs, at the same time.  That is the reason why we practice our kicks differently than others, and we do not air make DVD's or show the methods to outsiders.  Kuk Mu Kwan values secrecy.

From the late 1970’s, Kukmukwan lost its strong hold to KTA.  In Korea, all kwans became outlawed so that Korean government can host the 1988 Olympics.  WTF now controlled all certification and promotions for black belts and instructors.  Suddenly Masters and Grand Masters in Korea lost their promotional powers to their own disciples.  Overnight, Masters and Grand Masters were without their kwans  became coaches.   Now the Korean government can make all the monies involved with promotions, certifications and hold competitions, without protest, they just wrote themselves a blank check at Taekwondo's expense.  But in the U.S., Kwans flourished, and best of the best Masters left Korea.  This is the reason why America has the most number of  famous Taekwondo Masters and why head of all Korean Kwans set up home here.   The type of sparring KTA adapted was the sparring techniques based on Jido kwan, where the competitors wear hogu groin cup and  helmet.   KTA warned all kwans to change or close their doors and that’s exactly what they did.  Some stayed open under Kukmukwan and subsequently were forced to close down by the Korean Government and KCIA.  This also went same for ITF schools and Ohdo kwan in the Military, they were also forced to close down.  The Korean government eliminated kwans and ITF, that is why General Choi was exiled to Canada, in 1972.  But I believe that ITF and Kukmukwan’s core value as a martial art and not for sport, still makes them popular, and will still commands a large following in the future.    

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