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Korean Martial Arts

Historically, Korea has been in the middle of a tug-of-war campaign between China and Japan. Korea’s martial arts have thus arisen either because of Chinese and Japanese influences or from Korea’s need to develop military combative arts, which have then developed into combative sports. Therefore, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and militarism play key roles in the development of Korean martial arts philosophy.

Today’s South Korean flag reflects this variance. The country is predominantly Buddhist, but the flag’s symbols are Taoist—the yin-yang symbol—and Confucian—the I-Ching trigrams.

Although the basic moral philosophy of most Korean martial arts is more about self-improvement, self-discipline and philanthropy than killing or revenge, different schools, known as gwans, approach it in a multitude of ways. For example, the International Taekwon-Do Federation mandates that a practitioner should be a champion of justice and freedom and build a better and more peaceful world. In contrast, the Kukkiwon philosophy is based on the I-Ching in which the future results of a practitioner’s actions are a function of his personal virtues. At the same time, the military influence on these arts’ historical roots has manifested in a general attitude for defending the country and defeating its enemies.

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  1. Jhoon Rhee: Why Martial Arts Discipline May Be the Key to Happiness

    Jhoon Rhee: Why Martial Arts Discipline May Be the Key to Happiness

    He’s known as the father of American taekwondo, and he may have the answer for America’s declining social fabric. Jason William McNeil takes a look at Jhoon Rhee’s ideas for creating a better America from the ground up.
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  2. Taejoon Lee: Hwa Rang Do Sword-Fighting Demo

    Taejoon Lee: Hwa Rang Do Sword-Fighting Demo

    From July 30 to August 7, 2010, the World Hwa Rang Do Association held its 50th-anniversary celebration in Los Angeles. It included black-sash testing; a tournament that attracted practitioners from as far away as Italy; and lectures by Dr. Joo Bang Lee, the art’s founder, and Taejoon Lee, the art’s
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  3. Hwa Rang Do: The Untold Story (DOCUMENTARY DVD)

    Hwa Rang Do: The Untold Story (DOCUMENTARY DVD)

    In 2010, the World Hwa Rang Do Association published a DVD documentary detailing the genesis and evolution of the Korean martial art of hwa rang do to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the art and the organization. Watch the untold story of hwa rang do founder Dr. Joo Bang
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  4. Combat-Hapkido Weapon Disarms With John Pellegrini

    Combat-Hapkido Weapon Disarms With John Pellegrini

    Combat-hapkido creator and Black Belt Hall of Fame member John Pellegrini is one of the world’s leading authorities on hand-to-hand combat. In this video, he demonstrates the combat-hapkido method for weapon disarms!


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  5. Combat-Hapkido Defense Against a Lunge

    Combat-Hapkido Defense Against a Lunge

    Combat-hapkido creator and Black Belt Hall of Fame member John Pellegrini is one of the world’s leading authorities on hand-to-hand combat. In this video, he demonstrates the combat-hapkido method for defending against a lunge!


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  6. Hwa Rang Do Founder Joo Bang Lee on the History of Korean Martial Arts

    Hwa Rang Do Founder Joo Bang Lee on the History of Korean Martial Arts

    Korean martial arts history has never been a simple matter. Many of its twists and turns resulted from the painful Japanese occupation that lasted from 1910 to 1945, but others stemmed from matters as mundane as the Korean-English language barrier. Meanwhile, practitioners and scholars have argued, struggled and fought about
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