Karate, Taekwondo, crecent kicks etc.

There is a controversy about the roots of Taekwondo. On the one hand it is said it descended from Karate. Didn’t Ōyama Masutatsu reiterate this theory all the time? Maybe that’s why he was so successful. On the other hand it is said that Taekwondo is an original culture of Korea.

There is also the question as to how and when did the circular kicks reach Karate, like Ushiro-mawashi-geri and many many others which also came to be trademark of early Western Karate practitioners and movies. These were not seen previously.

So also I have zero clue of Taekwondo, here’s a clue to kicks, Taekwondo, Karate, armored kumite, and the whole martial arts market.

The magazine “Karate” was originally published by Kinjō Hiroshi together with Yun Heui-byeong through the publishing department of the Kanbukan. Following Yun Heui-byeong’s return to his homeland Korea, since 1956 Kinjō continued to publish the magazine “Gekkan Karate.”

The Kanbukan was established already in 1945 following Japan’s defeat in the war. It was established by leading students of Tōyama Kanken’s Shūdōkan. The Kanbukan had a direct lineage back to the Shuri-te of Itosu Ankō, however, followed the principle of “non-school” of Tōyama’s Shudōkan. Since Tōyama’s student Yun Heui-byeong was of Korean nationality, with him as a director it was possible to carry out Karate training and to publish Karate books despite the restrictions of the so-called Budō ban by the Allied GHQ. As remarked by Kinjō, “Because after the lost World War II people from third countries living in Japan were a privileged class, Yun Heui-byeong as a Korean national became director (of the Kanbukan).”

According to Kinjō, who was an authority of traditional Karate in the postwar period and served as a teacher in Kanbukan, Yun Heui-byeong was born in 1923 and was an “intelligent man full of youthful entrepreneurial spirit, who bequeathed great achievements, although he was involved in the karate world only a few years.” It is interesting to note that in works published during Yun Heui-byeong’s time as a director of the Kanbukan, the name “International Karate-dō Federation, Kanbukan” is found. Maybe this was the first time such a name was used, while the prefix “kokusai” (international) is standard procedure today.

Anyway, after Yun Heui-byeong’s return to his homeland of Korea, the Kanbukan was renamed to Renbukan. It is from the Kanbukan since 1945 to the Renbukan that the modern Bogu Kumite of Karate mainly came from, and the kicks. In written memories of the time around 1956, however, the name of the Director of Kanbukan was given as “Mr. Nisan.” Neither does the name of Yun Heui-byeong appear in the part about the history on the current website of the Renbukan Nakano dōjō.

While Yun Heui-byeong obviously played an important role within the embryonic Jissen (real fighting) postwar Karate circles, nothing is heard about him and other Korean’s direct influence especially of real fighting and armored karate as a tradition and these things seems to have been gradually concealed from the public memory. In current Japanese TV programs (like “Kakuto” = combat martial arts of the private Fuji TV) all the time the image of a “Japanese Karate” and “Japan, motherland of Karate” and the like are proclaimed.

Yun Heui-byeongFollowing Yun Heui-byeong’s return to Korea, a person named Yun Kwae-byeong was involved in the armored competitions of Taekwondo. According to the International Taekwondo Federation Website, this was the same person as Yun Heui-byeong of the Kanbukan!

BTW, Yun Heui-byeong published two books, one of which together with Kinjō Hiroshi:

  • Yun Heui-byeong, Kinjō Hiroshi: Kenpō Karate-dō Taikan. Vol. 1. Kanbukan Shuppanbu, Tōkyō 1947.
  • Yun Heui-byeong: Karate-dō Taikan. Vol. 2. Bōjutsu Kyōhon. Kanbukan Shuppanbu, Tōkyō 1948.

He even includes a selection from the Bubishi!

First of all: it is not about nations or countries, it is about individuals who are actually able, willing, and then actually do something. That’s the most important point. (Sometimes they learn more from us then we from them, mark my words 🙂 ).

On the larger picture, rather than saying Karate is older or vice versa, it is better to admit that Karate as well as Taekwondo simply have their common roots in the process of the completion of the new postwar face of East Asian martial as a whole, and as multi-million dollar industries. I am not criticising here. But, just so you know:

Nobody will ever admit anything!

© 2015 – 2022, Andreas Quast. All rights reserved.

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