In this age of Computer Science and
“desk-top publishing”, producing a book about Martial Arts can often be
reduced to little more than “cut-and-paste” from a number of sources.
Sometimes we forget that in days gone by materials and information was gathered
slowly and painfully by hand, through experience and education. What you find in
this area of the website is a range of Martial
practices as seen through the eyes of my late teacher, MYUNG Kwang Sik.
And in a time when this sort of information is just a few keyboard clicks
away, we forget that Myung KJN wrote the first book on Hapkido in 1976 when most
work was done with notecards, a camera and a typewriter. In like fashion, we
must not forget that while today we have information neatly catalogued, and
presented by a number of teachers and organizations, my teacher’s undertaking
was to sort through practices and methods trailing in many directions and far
back into Korean History.
Founded in traditional oriental
culture, Military Science was often little more than a collection of practices
and survival "tricks" that were taught tribe and clan members for the
defense of the group. The first real organization came with the establishment of
Military Institutions of each of the countries of the Korean peninsula during
the “Three Kingdoms Period (33 BCE to 660 AD). Forming people into kingdoms
forced them to think of something greater than just their own tribe or clan.
With each generation skills and information because more standardized and
refined. Such skills as Horsemanship, weapons use and hand-to-hand combat became
more focused and made sure that individuals attained recognized levels of
Centuries later, Confucianism
introduced the use of examinations and a hierarchy of grades. This advancement
brought standardization between placement in Civilian and Military positions in
government. One could expect to master a roughly standard curriculum, though
with variances from teacher to teacher and school to school and then be assessed
against a government standard for consideration.
In hand with “how” practices were
taught, is also the matter of “what” was taught. Korea has had a history of
conflict both among its own people as well as by invasion by its neighbors. Each
of these events has been an occasion during which Korean practices were tested
as well as new practices introduced by foreign forces. You have probably heard
that Hapkido is an "eclectic" art. This is not true, but given
Korea’s history it is easy to understand how this reputation originated.
As you examine this material you can
appreciate that practices from a number of sources have been brought together.
That those many practices include not just unarmed techniques, but weapons,
philosophy and theory as well. All of this information has also been organized
into levels of related information and shared goals. In this way, Myung KJN goal
of producing a single cohesive Martial system for Korean practices was
accomplished. However, often forgotten is Myung KJN’s comment that what he
taught “…is only the skeleton. The student must add the muscle and skin.”
In this way a person who follows the path laid-out by Myung KJN is required not
just to learn his material, but to build on it to the best of their abilities.