Two ways to become a Founder of a Martial Art
The month’s article is the result of a recent interview with Grand Master Yong Hon Kim. Grand Master Kim is President of the Korea TangSooDo MuDukKwan Society. He holds Grand Master level ranking in TangSooDo, Taekwondo and YuSool. He is also an esteemed member of the World Martial Arts Congress. The interview will be broken down by topic for a series of articles that explain the facts about tradition martial arts.
Xiao Ma: Hello Sir, thank you for agreeing to this interview. It is a great privilege to meet with you today.
Yong Hon Kim: It is an honor to do this for World Martial Arts Magazine. This is sure to help the martial arts community in many ways by dispelling the myths that surround the martial arts culture.
Xiao Ma: The first topic on my list is How does someone become the Founder of a Martial Art?
Yong Hon Kim: That is a great question because there is a lot of confusion in the martial arts community about how this is done and the answer is very simple. There are only two ways for someone to legitimately be recognized as the Founder of a traditional martial art.
Xiao Ma: I’m sure that this will be very interesting to our readers. Please continue
Yong Hon Kim: Certainly, well the first way is to come up with a unique way to apply the principles of martial arts to standard scenarios that is different from other recognized systems. The quality of the system will determine if and when the martial arts community would recognize the system as a new and unique martial art. Once the system has been established and at least ten schools are teaching this system then the Founder can apply for recognition from an authoritative body such as the Korean Martial Arts Instructors Association or the World Grand Masters Council of Martial Arts or the World Martial Arts Congress. To apply, the Founder would submit a written curriculum for review to show that his system covers all of the federation requirements for each rank. Once this curriculum has been matched to the standards the Founder would do a presentation for the Board of Directors for evaluation. This presentation would show how the system applies their unique method to the training scenarios within the curriculum. If a majority of the reviewing committee agrees that this system is unique in its application then a Letter of Style Recognition will be granted to the Founder.
Xiao Ma: That is very interesting. I have heard some of that before but it seems very systematic and free of politics.
Yong Hon Kim: Standards are the opposite of politics. Politics are when an instructor uses his influence or money to buy off an official for the paperwork that they don’t qualify for. I have seen a lot of this in the last few years. It lowers the quality of teaching and it has ruined the arts in the last twenty years. Things aren’t the same now.
Xiao Ma: I agree with you completely Sir. Please tell us more about how someone becomes recognized as a Founder of a martial art.
Yong Hon Kim: Of course. Well the second way that someone becomes recognized as a style founder is through scientific method of establishment. Every generation of Grand Masters will meet on occasion to discuss problems of application found within the system. They state the problems and then gather information on what is observed during the occurrence of the problem. After the problems have been clearly identified and documented the Grand Masters form a hypothesis of what would correct the problem. They would then hold clinics testing the hypothesis with other Masters and Grand Masters as witnesses of the testing. They would then analyze the data and develop changes and adjustments to what is practiced based on the conclusions of the analysis. This new information is presented to the governing body and once reviewed can be approved. The head Grand Master is designated as the Founder of a new style name that is recognized as the next generation of that art.
For example: Choi Young Sool practiced “Hapkido YuSool” which is just the Korean translation for the martial art that he learned in Japan. He is the Founder. Those students of his who began Kwans based on his teaching but with their new adjustments became Founders of their style or Kwan. Those are the only two recognized ways to because a Founder and it must be under the approval of the recognized organizations that I mentioned earlier.
Xiao Ma: That was very informative and educational. I am looking forward to the next topic of our interview. Thank you.
About the author: Xiao Ma is a 3rd Degree Black Belt in the Korean self-defense art of Hapkido and a 2nd Dan in Traditional Taekwondo. She is a professional sports and fitness model and full time Nursing student. She is the World Martial Arts Congress language, culture and leadership development teacher. Visit https://worldmartialartscongress.cn