Taekkyeon

Taekkyeon The spectacular dance like movements of Taekkyeon / Photo Source: Korea.net & The Cultural Heritage Administration

Summary

Taekkyeon is considered to be Korea’s oldest form of martial arts dating back to the 5th century. It is a style that teaches fighters to take down their opponent without creating serious damage with trapping moves and light to medium kicks and throws. The subtlety of the art can be disarming because in reality it is an intense form of martial arts that can turn very dangerous. To an outsider, it might look like a dance because of the rhythmic movements, but it is a very effective fighting style. It became one of Korea’s Intangible Cultural Assets in 1983 after almost vanishing from Korean culture during the Japanese occupation.

History / Origins

ETYMOLOGY

The earliest existence of the word Taekkyeon is in the book Jaemulbo (also Manmulbo) written by Lee, Sung-Ji. There is a text that says "Byeon and Subak are Byeon, Gangnyeok is Mu and all these are called Tak-gyeon” This book was written during the Joseon Dynasty where an earlier art called Subak was practiced, this then might mean Taekkyeon is a form of Subak or was derived from Subak. In idu (phonetical representations of Korean words using Chinese characters) writings that appear around 1921 the symbols for "Tak-gyeon" can be translated as "push-shoulder".

BEGINNINGS

Taekkyeon is believed to have begun in the fifth century dynasty, known as the Goguryo dynasty. Soldiers and members of royalty practiced it. In the 10th century it became a practice incorporated on folk dances when Seoul effectively consisted of two villages. There is a painting from the Goguryo Dynasty that was found on the walls of a dead royal family member’s grave, which depicted Taekkyeon techniques. Most historians agree that the depiction is of the earliest practice of Taekkyeon in Korea. During the Joseon Dynasty, a scholar named Shin Chae-ho came to the conclusion that historically this form of martial art indeed was created in the Goguryo period for reasons of personal well being and self defense. As time went on and warfare tactics changed, the practice of Taekkyeon declined and the use of it by the military declined as firearms were introduced. It became an art that was practiced by the common man.

PRESENT DAY

For years, Taekkyeon remained suppressed when the Japanese occupied Korea. It was only in 1968 that Taekkyeon got the exposure again. There were two men at that time who were trying to revive the martial art and they were known as Son and Shin styles of Taekkyeon. The push was further fuelled by the feud that was going on between Taekwondo and Taekkyeon. Both styles were pushing for recognition as the cultural assets and the only traditional martial art of Korea. The styles were ruled to be different from each other. It was only in 1983, when the Korean government decided to name Taekkyeon as an Intangible Cultural Asset and the Song Duk–Ki was qualified to teach Taekkyeon to the public. Many hoped that this would lead to a rebirth

FOLKLORE

Song Duk—Ki is regarded to have been the last Taekkyeon practitioner from the Chosun Dynasty. He was born in Seoul and learnt Taekkyeon naturally in his childhood as a children’s game since he was 13 years old. When the probation order from the Japanese government was instituted, competition withered. After liberation in 1958 Song Duk-Ki was asked by the National Police Agency, the Kyongmodae to commemorate President Lee Seung Man’s birthday. He had no one to fight with except for Kim Song Whan who had studied Taekkyeon as a child before the Japanese occupation, but had become a drunk. He still managed to have a demo with Song Duk-Li. In 1964 a Korean daily Newspaper, Hankuk Ilbo named Song Duk-Ki a cultural asset, but there was no immediate interest in the rebirth of the martial art.

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Discipline
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COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: South Korea
TIME OF ORIGIN: -
PRACTISED:
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FOCUS: 

Hybrid

ALSO KNOWN AS: -
PARENTHOOD:

Subak

DESCENDANTS:

OLYMPIC SPORT: No

NOTABLE FEMALE PRATITIONERS

NOTABLE MALE PRATITIONERS

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NATIONALITY:
DATE OF BIRTH:
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RESIDENCE: -
ALSO KNOWN AS: -
OCCUPATION:

Hybrid

JOB TITLE:

Subak

RELATED FEMALE INDIVIDUALS

RELATED MALE INDIVIDUALS

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COUNTRY: South Korea
LOCATION: -
FOUNDED: -
OPERATIONAL:
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ALSO KNOWN AS: -
SECTOR:

Hybrid

DESCRIPTION:

Subak

WEBSITE: -

ACOSSIATED INDIVIDUALS

ACOSSIATED ATHLETES

Practices

PHILOSOPHY

Most people confuse Taekkyeon with Taekwondo, but these two martial arts are very different. They are different in both practice and techniques as well as in the philosophy and guiding principles. Taekkyeon combines strength with rhythmical movement. Tactics can change in an instant and if a fighter is not aware of what is going on, he can be seriously hurt. Taekkyeon has no defense or attack features. When attacked, a Taekkyeon does not defend in response, but he considers the safety of the opponent as well. Taekkyeon philosophy is grounded in the history of the Korean People who although could be war-like when called upon, they were generally agricultural people who were amenable and possessing strong sense of community. There has always been a sense of living and prospering together in Korean Philosophy and Taekkyeon advanced that ideal.

TECHNIQUES

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TRAINING

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RANKS & GRADING

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WEIGHT CLASSES

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Rules / Rulesets

RULES / RULESETS

Taekkyeon is intense and in the beginning when the rules where not yet clear, the most damage that students got was from each other during practice. The rules are thought to have been developed over the last century and have only begun to be refined in recent times. The general rules can be divided into custom and practice.
Custom: It is customary to bow in greeting before a fight.
Practice:

  • Only light to medium contact is allowed, attacks to the pressure points of the body are not allowed. Fighters are allowed to grab legs during takedowns
  • Fighters are allowed to jump and kick with both legs
  • Fighters can knock out the other fighter’s leg with a kick

There is a systemized training technique known as the Shin Han-Seung there are three steps that can be followed:

  1. Honja ikhigi – training by oneself
  2. Meju megigi – practice with a partner
  3. Gyeon jugi – sparring that teaches fighting in actual combat situations.

Organisations & Historical Places

ORGANISATIONS

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HISTORICAL PLACES

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Popular Culture

POPULAR CULTURE

Korean Martial arts have always found their way into popular culture. The most popular form is Taekwondo not because it is more superior, but probably because it had some roots in Japanese martial arts and evolved from more than one place. Taekkyeon is studied all over the world and its moves make there way into the rings of Mixed Martial Art tournaments. There is very little history around Taekkyeon in popular culture to single out specific instances. As part of hybrid styles and Mixed Martial Art sports, it has been seen on many stages.

Useful Links

USEFUL LINKS

Links coming soon

References

REFERENCES

  1. http://www.parandeul.co.kr/taek_overview.htm
  2. http://www.taekkyon.or.kr/en/

COLLABORATORS

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Contact

CONTACT

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