History Our Past to Our PresentThe martial arts have grown out of a human need for self-defense and strengthening the spirit. While Westerners tend to think of martial arts as Eastern, there are paintings on the tombs in Egypt dating back to 3000 B.C. demonstrating hand-and-foot fighting. From another Western cultural center of the ancient world, the Greek philosopher Plato mentions skiamachia, fighting without an opponent (analogous to our Taekwondo forms), combining skills from boxing and wrestling so that the whole body is used as a weapon.
Tiger-Rock Martial Arts recognizes Taekwondo, Korean in origin, as the preeminent martial art, an unequaled method of unarmed self-defense that is also highly artistic in its execution. Taekwondo techniques evolved over thousands of years to attain the greatest speed, power and artistic beauty.
The history of Taekwondo began roughly ten thousand years ago when the ancestors of the Korean people migrated from Central Asia to the peninsula that is now Korea. They relied mainly on hunting to survive, climbing rugged mountains, crossing strong rivers, and traveling along the seashore in their search for food. These rigors developed strong bodies, superior fighting skills, and a sense of teamwork. Historians theorize that, upon their return, the hunters would reenact their motions of kicking, punching, stabbing, and throwing, also recreating fighting scenes with neighboring tribes with whom they had fought during the hunt. A natural outgrowth of reenactments was practicing movements in order to refine and perfect the techniques and their skills. Eventually these techniques grew into martial arts.
Formal martial arts training in Korea began approximately 4,000 years ago, consisting of running (daligi), throwing (dunjiki), punching or striking (jileuki), kicking (balchaki) and swimming (soo young). Weapons were also employed and included the stone knife (dolkal), stone spear (dolchang), stones for throwing (doldunjiki), sand spreading (moraisul), and wooden pole (mok bong sul). Eventually, archery and horseback riding were incorporated.
In the 6th century A.D., the Silla Dynasty ruled the smallest of the three kingdoms of Korea and was under constant attack from its neighbors. During the reign of the twenty-fourth king of Silla, the young aristocrats and warriors formed an elite corps called the Hwa Rang Do. To guide themselves and give a purpose to their knighthood, they adopted a five-point code of conduct set forth by their greatest monk and scholar, Wan Kany: 1) loyalty to one's country, 2) loyalty to one's parents, 3) trust and brotherhood among friends, 4) courage never to retreat in the face of one's enemies, and 5) justice never to take a life without cause. These students were also required to learn and live by the following Hwa Rang Do Nine Virtues: humanity, courtesy, trust and friendship, goodness, loyalty, honor, knowledge, courage, and conscience. The Hwa Rang Do warriors became known for their courage and skill in battle, gaining respect from even their bitterest foes. From their victories, the Korean Peninsula was united.
Taekwondo warriors were taught to keep their minds and bodies in balance. They were taught to read and write and studied literature, painting, sculpture, dance, and musical instruments. The moo kwa (national examination for military officials) consisted of an actual martial arts contest and tests covering theory and strategy. The moo kwa produced military officials with both fighting knowledge and a good classical education. Tiger-Rock echoes the ancient emphasis on mental development with our required reading lists for rank and certification candidates, ensuring that our leaders gain greater insight through literature pertaining to the human experience. In the past, Taekwondo artists were known to be the kingdom or community members with the greatest skill and knowledge. They were expected to dedicate themselves to continuous training of the mind, body, and spirit (ki). This expectation continues today in the Tiger-Rock essence and philosophy.
During the Koguryo Dynasty, martial arts flourished. However, by the Yi Dynasty, an anti-military posture was taken, debasing anything martial. The final blow was delivered by the Japanese occupation of Korea (1909 – 1945) when it was forbidden to practice any form of martial arts. However, Taek Kyon was secretly practiced and passed on to a handful of students. (Some Tiger-RockGrand Masters and Instructors have been fortunate enough to receive formal training in Korea at the Taek Kyon Headquarters.) With the liberation of Korea in 1945 came the freedom to again openly practice martial arts. All of the present day Taekwondo Instructors can trace their origins to one of five Kwans: Chung Do Kwan, Song Moo Kwan, Ji Do Kwan, Moo Do Kwan, and Chang Moo Kwan.
The Tiger-Rock Martial Arts can trace its roots directly to Grand Master Won-kuk Lee, who founded Chung Do Kwan and developed the largest civilian gym, the Gym of the Blue Wave. Grand Master Won-kuk Lee is thus the first to organize and found modern Korean Taekwondo. (A delegation of Tiger-Rock Masters and Instructors were honored to attend G.M. Won-kuk Lee’s last formal seminar in 2002 prior to his death at age 96 in 2003.) As the new Republic of Korea (ROK) Armed Forces became organized, Choi Hong Hi, an officer in this army, began to teach martial arts to his soldiers. Chung Do Kwan’s was the largest and the only gym whose ranks were recognized by General Choi when civilians became soldiers. Following years of research and development by General Choi, the Chang Hun style of Taekwondo, named for General Choi’s pseudonym, was developed. On April 11th, 1955, a board of instructors from the different Kwans, historians, and other prominent persons selected Tae-Kwon-Do (foot – hand – art) as the new name of the national martial art of Korea.
After 10,000 years, this Korean martial art has reached full maturity, developing from tribal dances of the hunt to an art form practiced in more than sixty countries by millions of students. This combination of classical techniques and new modifications has resulted in a form of self-defense and mental conditioning unrivaled in the modern world. As General Choi Hong Hi said, “TaeKwonDo indicates the mental training and the techniques of unarmed combat for self-defense as well as health, involving the skilled application of punches, kicks, blocks, and dodges with bare hands and feet…enabling the weak to possess a fine weapon together with the confidence to defend him or herself, and defeat the opponent.”
Tiger-Rock Martial Arts continues to preserve the historic traditions of Taekwondo first conceived 4,000 years ago by early artists, and recently revised by General Choi. Tiger-Rock acknowledges Grand Master Won-kuk Lee, the founder of Chung Do Kwan, as the beginning influence from which we came. Grand Master Lee was the teacher of many students who eventually assumed major positions within the martial arts community. Grand Master Lee said that students must never forget to appreciate their teachers. At the same time, students should always strive to have better techniques and higher moral characters than their teachers. Grandmaster Lee compared this idea to an old saying: "The color green comes from the color blue, but the green color is brighter than the blue. The ice comes from water, but ice is colder than water." In other words, the student is always better than his teacher. He believed that the martial arts will have a bright future if students live by these ideas. When a student does become better than his teacher, he must always remain humble and never forget to appreciate the techniques and moral code that he learned from his teacher. Once a student becomes a master, he should not forget that his position was a joint effort of both his and his teacher's sweat. Without the teacher, he could never have reached the level of master, just as there could be no ice without water and no green color without blue.
Tiger-Rock pledges itself to contributing to the art of Taekwondo, providing leadership and instruction in an ancient discipline that represents an alternative allowing practitioners to avoid the stresses and pitfalls of life in this modern age. This can be accomplished by teaching practitioners to strengthen their minds and bodies through regular Taekwondo training and to impact society honorably. This mission will be undertaken within the guidelines of our tenets: Honor, Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self-Control, Courage, Community, Strength, Humility, and Knowledge.
The Grand Masters, Senior Masters, Masters, Instructors, and Black Belts Tiger-Rock Martial Arts are grateful to all who have pioneered Taekwondo. In particular we are grateful to Grand Master Won-kuk Lee, General Choi Hong Hi, Grand Master Haeng Ung Lee, Dr. He-Young Kimm, Grand Master Art Monroe, Grand Master Craig Kollars, and Grand Master Bert Kollars. Tiger-Rock recognizes their contribution. Artistically, we know that our curriculum, vision, systems and physical movements are unique. We believe separate, mutually respectful, authentic styles of Taekwondo artists help preserve the diversity and original artistic nature of Taekwondo. Tiger-Rock believes all martial arts programs and martial artists that commit to authentic training and lifestyle have merit.
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