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  1. Matt W. is offline
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    Posted On:
    12/11/2006 3:30pm

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     Style: Judo, TKD BB

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!

    Taekwon-do and I, Choi Hong-Hi's memoirs

    Okay, I’m actually pretty excited about this. I just got Gen Choi’s memoirs on an inter-library loan. This thread is going to serve as my notes that I’ll take as I read, and hopefully at some point this will lead to an article or an investigation. I doubt many people will be that interested, but if you are and want to comment or respond, I invite you to.

    In case anyone is wondering “ummm, why?” The answer is simple. Choi was the founder of the second largest TKD org in the world, a ROK General and the guy who actually coined the name Taekwondo (or, as he liked to write it, Taekwon-do). He also made many outrageous claims, including that he was the Founder/Father of (all) TKD, and was IMO a purveyor of bullshido (e.g. subscribed to the “TKD is too deadly for contact sparring” reasoning). There is questionable evidence that he actually could fight at all. He is alternately a great Korean General who did a lot for his country, or a traitor who fled to the north and lied about his MA background. Of course, his memoirs are his own views of things. So if he is bullshido, these aren’t going to admit that. But it may provide the seeds for further investigation, and at least lock down exactly what he did claim and what views of TKD and MA in general he did hold.

    I’ll be quoting things I find interesting or telling and jotting down my thoughts on them.

    Starting with this
    I have two different names. One is Choi Hong Hi, which was given to me by my parents; the other is Taekwon-Do which was given by heaven.
    (v.1, p.17)

    Yikes. I have also read this with the alternate translation, “…Taekwon-Do which was given by God.” Now even if you want to explain this as referring to destiny, it begs the question of why he would claim his name is the name of his martial art. I find it not surprising to think that he believed he was the personal embodiment of the art. Nevermind whether he could actually fight or not.

    In fact, as I read about him I find myself comparing him to other MA style founders like Mas Oyama or Helio Gracie. Those guys are both famous for actually fighting. They are famous for their challenge matches and exploits and the styles they founded reflect that. The style Choi founded (and for the time being I acknowledge him as the founder of ITF TKD) also seems to reflect his lack of those exploits.

    Though I had a weak body, I won if I got into a fight, no matter how big the opponent was.
    (v.1 p.37)

    Heh. Sure you did. This, from his childhood days, marks the first reference to him fighting. I hope there are more. It is interesting that so far he has made a big deal in the first chapters (and even repeats it in this quote) that he was weak, small and sickly as a boy. And yet, the chapter I pulled this quote from paints him as a consummate athlete, good at track and field, soccer, climbing trees and, apparently, fighting.
  2. Ridge is offline
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    Posted On:
    12/11/2006 3:44pm


     Style: Boxing/Wrestling

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Quote Originally Posted by Matt W.
    Yikes. I have also read this with the alternate translation, “…Taekwon-Do which was given by God.” Now even if you want to explain this as referring to destiny, it begs the question of why he would claim his name is the name of his martial art. I find it not surprising to think that he believed he was the personal embodiment of the art. Nevermind whether he could actually fight or not.
    My instructor back when I did TKD would talk about Choi as if him and TKD were the same thing to. It annoyed the hell outta me, even though I was like 10.

    I'm interested though to see if you find anything about him fighting, hopefully something specific instead of just saying

    Though I had a weak body, I won if I got into a fight, no matter how big the opponent was.
  3. Matt W. is offline
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    Posted On:
    12/11/2006 5:10pm

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    This is the very first incident in my declaration of war against Japan.
    (v.1 p.45)

    Interesting. This comes in a chapter describing his boyhood hatred of Japanese. It recounts several incidents of alleged Japanese brutality and ends with an exploit of him being involved in a student protest. Later in life he will study in Japan and gain a bb in Japanese Karate (most likely Shotokan). Unsurprising that he will later downplay the Japanese roots of TKD.

    The master [Han Il-Dong] was good at one of the traditional Korean Martial Arts, Taek-Kyun which mostly incorporates moves of the legs only and had a deep understanding of it.
    (v.1 p.48)

    Ah, here’s a HUGE part of the Gen. Choi mythos. For the record, he claims here that he was taught TK by Han, and learned “the basic moves.” He studied (calligraphy) under this master for 1 year. How much of that time was spent on TK he doesn’t say. He also doesn’t say what the TK training was like, other than to remark that Han told him stories about famous fights. He then went to live with Ma for another 13 months before returning home. So, he may have studied TK for about 2 years, when he was around 15.

    The Karate that I learned in my school days.
    (v.1 p.71)

    Well, I’m not going to quote it here, but v.1 p.72 recounts a fight that happened when he was about 20. He was gambling a lost all the money he needed to go to Japan to study. When one of the men, described by Choi as a big strong wrestling champ, got up to leave, Choi followed him out. Afraid to fight him, Choi threw an ink bottle at the guy’s head, KOing him. Then he rifled the guy’s pockets and took back the money he lost! LOL. I think I just discovered Choi was really an RBSDer. “Grappling? That stuff doesn’t work in the streets where there’s cement and INK BOTTLES lying around everywhere.

    This chapter also recounts his first study of karate. Because he heard that the wrestler was waiting for him to return home from Japan, Choi wanted to learn to fight. He asked a friend about boxing, to which the friend replied “futile!” (v.1 p.73) The friend then took him to a “karate” class at the “University of Doshisha” which Choi joined. He describes the class thusly: [/quote]…People in white uniform were moving to and fro in a row, thrusting their fists in the air…[/quote]

    So far Choi has not described this Japanese MA as anything other than the generic karate. He was there for about 1 ˝ years. He also failed some admission test which he blamed on having spent “so much time on karate.”
  4. Matt W. is offline
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    Posted On:
    12/11/2006 5:22pm

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     Style: Judo, TKD BB

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
  5. Matt W. is offline
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    Posted On:
    12/11/2006 5:54pm

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    My daily schedule in those days was: …4 pm – 5 pm: Karate practice
    Later, Jong-Ryun made himself into a total Japanese through some mysterious procedure, not by the normal naturalization process, detaching himself from the heaven endowed relationship with his parents and brothers.
    WTF?

    Thus it was that a dragon and a tiger lost their chance of a challenge match against each other, and never met in any match thereafter.
    (v.1 p.81)

    Thus it was that after a huge build-up Choi never does fight the wrestler. Apparently, still unconfident that he could even beat the guy even after about 2 years of studying karate, Choi returned home for summer vacation. As he relates, Mr. Huh, the wrestler, didn’t show up for their match. Finally, Choi asks his friend about it. The friend says he saw Choi practicing karate, “kicking trees” and “breaking roofing tiles” and asked Choi’s friend what he was doing. Choi’s friend, “exaggerating the power of karate”, tells the wrestler that Choi has super secret karate skillz and can kill a man with one blow. Hence, the wrestler leaves, never to challenge Choi again. So, it played out like most internet challenge matches.

    Of course, Helio or Oyama would have sought the guy out and kicked his ass. But, you know, this is Choi we’re talking about here.
  6. CanucKyokushin is offline

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    Posted On:
    12/11/2006 6:58pm

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Choi must have been a real nobody if he was doing karate (shotokan) in Japan at that time and not make any bold claims of sparring or even fighting actual Karate practitioners.


    I am assuming at this point it was in the 1930's Japan?
  7. CanucKyokushin is offline

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    Posted On:
    12/11/2006 6:59pm

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    A daily schedule of 4 pm to 5pm doesn't mark me as being impressif to say the least for a future grand-master.Must be a mistake.

    Choi must have been a real nobody if he was doing karate (shotokan) in Japan at that time and not make any bold claims of sparring or even fighting actual Karate practitioners.


    I am assuming at this point it was in the 1930's Japan?
  8. Matt W. is offline
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    Posted On:
    12/11/2006 7:12pm

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Late 30's early 40's.
  9. PaperTiger is offline

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    Posted On:
    12/12/2006 2:42am

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     Style: choy lee fut

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Can't believe I wasted 7 years of my life learning this ****. If I spent that time learning a real martial art I might actually know something by now.
  10. MSUTKD is offline

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    Posted On:
    12/12/2006 12:03pm


     Style: Taekwondo

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Choi did not coin the term Taekwondo, the guy was a military opportunist and full of ****. Enjoy the read…it’s fiction.
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