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UFC 203: Pre-fight Press Conference

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Many people walk to the corner mall, walk into their Korean Martial Arts dojo, and train in nice, neat uniforms, watching themselves in wall sized mirrors, hit bags in between sips of their designer water, and think that they are doing the die hard Tae Kwon Do. What these people should know is some of the history of Korean Karate, and particularly of Korean Karate. They will find that that polite kick punch combination they are practicing was born in hell, perfected in hades, and then things got nasty.

Just to let you know, this bit of scribble is dedicted to the history of the kwans from Korea of the fifties. This includes the nine major kwans, which are Sung Moo Kwan, Chang Moo Kwan, Chung Du Kwan, Oh Do Kwan, Kang Duk Won, Moo Duk Kwan, Yun Moo Kwan, Han Moo Kwan, Jung Do Kwan. There are other Kwans that grew from these nine, but these nine are the ones that started it all.

Korea is a rugged, little spit of land, about half the size of California,sticking out from the Asian continent. It is a land equal in plains and eternal mountain ranges. It experiences extremes of typhoonal rains, siberian cold, and brain broiling heat.

Throughout its history, Korea has undergone countless wars. The Japanese ruled the land during the first half of the last century, and in the early fifties Korea became the battleground between the free world and communism. Thus, this small bit of land came under the grinding warfare of million man armies, and the people were in constant flight, or murdered outright.

The communist forces surged across the 38th parallel on the attack, causing a mass exodus the length of the peninsula. Farmers were conscripted into the vast communist armed forces, given no rifles, and put into massive meat grinder attacks. If the peasants lived through the terrile carnage of war, they had to endure a winter with temperatures often at 30 degrees below zero.

Those that managed to survive the winters, and the spring attack of the UN forces, continued with their study of the martial arts. That’s right, in the middle of all the slaughter, in spite of the weather and starvation, the nine kwans survived. Indeed, they grew.

One tale that made me blink hard in awe of these incredible people was that, when the battle front approached, the students would pick up the planks of their dojos and head south. That’s right, they didn’t even nail the boards to the floor beams, because they knew they would be on the run, and they perfected their jumping, spinning kicks on unsecured, splintered, weathered planks. Got a splinter jammed in your it out and keep going, because that’s the martial arts.

So enjoy your kicking fur lined bags and mirrors, and hoist your designer water in appreciation. That Korean Martial art you are studying was created by supermen, and it is a legacy dripping with blood and sweat and tears. And when you bow…touch your head to the floor, your ancestors deserve it.

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