Joined: 31 Mar 2006
Location: Hays, KS
Styles: Taekwondo, Combat Hapkido, Aikido, GRACIE, Police Krav Maga, SPEAR
|Posted: Mon Nov 21, 2022 3:12 pm Post subject: Original Kwan History: Yun Moo Kwan (Jidokwan)
|Chosun Yun Moo Kwan: "School for Martial Study." One of the Original Kwans founded after WWII but before the Korean War. Later became known as the Jidokwan, "Institute of Wisdomís Way."
The Chosun Yun Moo Kwan (or just Yun Moo Kwan, or possibly Yun Mu Kwan, more on this later), was founded as a Judo school in 1931 by Kyung Suk Lee, but things changed after the Korean War and the school was later re-established as the Ji Do Kwan. The Jidokwan became renowned for itís excellence in sparring.
As mentioned above, the school was originally founded very early, in 1931, as a Judo school, by Kyung Suk Lee. The history of this school intrigues me deeply. Unfortunately, there just isnít much to find on Kyung Suk Lee. What most sources seem to point to is that Sang Sap Chun (Chun, Sang-sap), who learned Karate and Judo while going to school in Japan, came home to Korea and joined the Yun Moo Kwan. Taekwondo Wiki states on Sang Sap Chunís page that, "before the end of World War II Chun was approached by the head of the Yun Moo Kwan judo school and asked to teach karate there. He agreed, and also taught judo there." Taekwondo Wiki has a timeline on their site of the nine kwans, and on that timeline it stated that Sang Sap Chun "took over" the Yun Moo Kwan in 1946 (May 3, 1946 is noted in A Modern History of Taekwondo). His page on the same site denotes that he opened in another location, establishing the Yun Moo Kwan Kong So Do Bu, essentially a new branch of the Judo school. He apparently trained with his brother, Il Sup Chun, who later opened a branch of the school in 1947. This is very interesting to me; it appears that the early roots of this Kwan had both Karate and Judo to draw from, forming a very rich and well-rounded art for that time. If only it could have perpetuated that wayÖ Unfortunately, Sang Sap Chun went missing after the Korean War, and not much more is established about him. The Wikipedia page stated that Sang learned Shotokan Karate while in Japan, but I saw on the Traditional Taekwondo Ramblings webpage that it is entirely possible that Sang could have learned Shudokan Karate from Toyama Kanken.
Byung In Yoon and the Yun Moo Kwan
According to the Yun Mu Kwan Wikipedia page, a man by the name of Byung In Yoon (Yoon Byung-In) shared teaching duties with Sang Sap Chun at the Yun Moo Kwan. Wikipedia has a page on Yoon Byung-In with lots of interesting stuff on it. It stated he was born in Manchuria, due to his father moving the family to China after his distillery started to falter during the Japanese occupation. His grandfather was a Korean noble. As a youth in Manchuria, Byung In Yoon studied Quan Fa under a Mongolian instructor "for an unspecified period of time." The page also states that it is believed that Yoon is one of the first Koreans to study Quan Fa and return to Korea to propagate it to others. He went to Tokyo, Japan, in late 1938 to university, and he took up Shudokan Karate under Toyama Kanken. The Wikipedia page goes on to state that eventually Yoon and Toyama exchanged training with each other; Yoon teaching Toyama the Quan Fa that heíd learned, while Toyama taught him Shudokan (although it was stated that Toyama had previously spent 7 years training Quan Fa in Taiwan). Yoon was eventually awarded a Masterís certificate and the rank of 4th dan by Toyama. In 1946, Byung In Yoon left the Yun Moo Kwan and founded his own school, the YMCA Kwon Bop Bu (or Kwon Bup Kong Soo Do). Unfortunately, Byung also went missing after the Korean War, leaving his Kwan up in the air. I delve into much more detail about Byung In Yoon in my article on the YMCA Kwon Bop Bu.
This is even more interesting to me, in that it appears this early Kwan had instructors teaching that were influenced by Karate, Judo, and Quan Fa, forming a very rich Martial experience. In particular, I noted that there was no mention of a Taekkyon influence on any of these early instructors.
In A Modern History of Taekwondo, the authors denote that between the mid 1950s and 1960s, many "Annex Kwans" sprang up in Korea, and the Yun Moo Kwan is one of these Annex Kwans listed. The Korean War happened from 1950-1953; Sang is missing after the Korean War, and the Kwan is renamed Jidokwan. So what is not really known is whether or not some former students of the original Yun Moo Kwan continued to perpetuate the style they learned from Sang prior to the Korean War and continued to carry the mantle of the original Yun Moo Kwan.
A Modern History of Taekwondo states that Sang was kidnapped to North Korea during the Korean War, and thus the Yun Moo Kwan was abolished and it was renamed as the Jidokwan in 1953 by Kwe Byung Yoon and Chong Woo Lee (or Lee Chong Woo). Kwe Byung Yoon is said to have studied Shito-Ryu in 1940, first under Kenwa Mabuni, and later under Toyama Kanken. Kwe Byung Yoon had some interesting goings-on while he studied Karate in Japan. He was named president of the Kanbukan Dojo, which would pioneer bogutsuki karate and full contact karate (according to the Yun Kwe-Byung Wikipedia page). After the end of the World War II, various disciples of Shudokan tried to form a Karate school amidst the post-war martial arts ban enacted by GHQ. To get around restrictions, the students named the school Kanbukan ("Hall of Korean Martial Arts"), and named Yun Kwae-byung, who had special status as a third-country person in postwar Japan, as the head of the dojo. This allowed the members of dojo to practice Karate freely, as well as editorialize Karate booklets without unwanted attention from GHQ (taken from his Wikipedia page).
In A Modern History of Taekwondo, it is stated that these two (Kwe Byung Yoon and Chong Woo Lee) ran the Jidokwan until 1967, at which point conflicts between the two arose due to the efforts to unify the Kwans. Chong Woo Lee planned to unify Jidokwan, but Kwe Byung Yoon, along with Hwang Kee, declined to unify. From what Iíve been able to find, Kwe Byung Yoon was basically ostracized from the Korean Martial Arts circles after this dust-up, which I find to be a really sad loss to the rich Martial roots of Korea. Kwe Byung Yoonís legacy can still be seen, however, in the sparring of TKD. He is considered an innovator of jiyu kumite and is also credited for "hogu daeryon" ("sparring with protective armor") practice in Taekwondo (from his Wikipedia page).
The Jidokwan went on to distinguish itself as a school that produced sparring excellence, and the schoolís practitioners dominated the early tournament circuits as a result. Sihak Henry Cho, who penned the books Tae Kwon Do, Secrets of Korean Karate, and Korean Karate, Free Fighting Techniques, was a student of Kwe Byung Yoonís, and from the Jidokwan. Interestingly enough, when I read the books, it appeared to me that the sparring style reflected in the books was that of the Karate style of sparring in which the goal is to score an ippon with one decisive technique, as opposed to the type of continuous TKD sparring we are used to seeing now in the Olympics.
The Jidokwan, under the leadership of Chong Woo Lee, went on to unify with the other Kwans to form Taekwondo. In 1977, the Jidokwan agreed to recognize the Kukkiwon and WTF as the promotional body of the Taekwondo, and agreed to the black belt certification process and certificates.
However, I did find a Jidokwan school website that went opposite the way of the unified Jidokwan. The rivervalleytkd.com/history-of-ji-do-kwan/ site page talks about their schoolís founder, Choi Bong Young. Choi Bong Young came to the US in the 1960s, taught briefly in Ohio, and then moved out to the San Francisco Bay area. His instructor was Chong Woo Lee, and he has a dedication to his instructor in his book, The Way of Martial Art. The site goes on to say that Choiís reluctance to adhere to the Kukkiwon methods seems at odds with his instructorís views. The site mentioned that Choi may have been loyal to his teacher, but also spiritually adhered to the values of Kwe Byung Yoon. It also states that itís possible that Choi didnít know of Yoonís values, and instead may have been following some other influences in deciding to keep the Jidokwan name. What I also found interesting on this website was mention of Choiís three core values. One was that his brand of Jidokwan was not a competitive style. This seemed odd to me, considering how the Jidokwan established itself as a school of sparring excellence.
I also found a website for the American Jidokwan Association, americanjidokwan.com. On their curriculum page, they present the Pal Gwe and WTF (or I guess now called WT) black belt forms, along with Tang Soo Do forms, and a set of Tae Guek forms that they state are not the WT Tae Guek forms, but instead are Korean versions of the Taikyoku series of forms. The site also denotes that it teaches Taekwondo and Tang Soo Do, but they are two different branches under the same federation. The association also states that it has a heavy focus on bunhae eungyong, or the practical analysis and applications of forms (or bunkai). The site also states that it is a branch of the World Taekwondo Jidokwan Federation, located in Seoul. The creator of the Tang Soo Do branch, William Sirbaugh, studied under Robert Moore and Curtis Herrington. Moore was a direct student of Kwe Byung Yoon at the Jidokwan when stationed in Korea in the military. Herrington was one of Mooreís first black belts, according to the site. Sirbaugh went on to later study Moo Duk Kwan (Iím guessing the TSD derivative), and Hankido later on, which he stated was more like Aikido than Hapkido. This branch is interesting, and it sounds like it has evolved much. The section the site has on Jidokwan Taekwondo states that after joining the Kukkiwon, the Jidokwan retained itís identity while endorsing the Kukkiwon and competition under the WTF. "When the Kukkiwon was established, it was intended to be the international governing body providing a standard for Dan (Black Belt) certification but the Kwans were still very much in control of the training. However, over the last several decades the Kukkiwon has tried (successfully for the most part) to suppress the influence of the Kwans to become the sole source of Taekwondo, leading many to believe in their extinction or that they only exist as fraternal organizations." In the other sources I searched, they basically alluded to the fact that the Jidokwan was one of these "fraternal orders" at this point. It appears that this organization is refuting that statement, and continues to teach Jidokwan with itís own curriculum and control over itís own testing.
Han Moo Kwan
Apparently, there was some dissention among the students about the changes made in the curriculum during the transition from Yun Moo Kwan to Jidokwan. Losing a school owner/grandmaster like that could obviously cause some issues among a group of students scrambling for some leadership and direction. According to the Yun Mu Kwan Wikipedia page, Lee Kyo Yoon (Kyo Yoon Lee) was a practitioner who originally trained under Sang of the old Yun Mu Kwan. He initially began teaching Korean Karate under the Jidokwan banner at the end of the Korean War to fellow returning Chosun Yun Mu Kwan students. He subsequently left, and founded his own school, the Han Moo Kwan. In later years, Lee Kyo Yoon maintained that his school traced itís roots back to the original Yun Mu Kwan, and not the Jidokwan. This is also corroborated in A Modern History of Taekwondo. I will be looking into the Han Moo Kwan more, and Iíll see if I can find enough information to put together a separate article on that Kwan.
Yun Moo Kwan later on?
According to the Wikipedia page, the names of Yun Moo Kwan or Yun Mu Kwan still linger on, especially in areas in Latin America. The Yun Mu Kwan Wikipedia page notes that in the 1950s, a man named Min Kyu Pai immigrated to New York City and settled near Chinatown. One of his students, Francisco Miranda, went on to popularize the art in his native country of El Salvador. If Min Kyu Pai came to the US and began teaching in the 1950s, then itís possible that he trained in the Kwan when it was the Yun Moo Kwan, and either prior to or right up against the time it became the Jidokwan. Pai would seek out training from more senior Karate masters at the time, reportedly seeking out and training under Jhoon Rhee. Paiís original school in New York City was called the Yun Mu Kwan Karate Institute (documented in an issue of Popular Science magazine in the late 1960s). Being established near the Chinatown district, Pai became deeply involved with a number of Chinese Martial Artists in the area. Thus, his teaching and practice began to absorb many of the Chinese concepts and techniques, and eventually began to change so much that by the 1970s, the style he was teaching became something entirely different than his original Yun Moo Kwan style. The evolution of a Martial Artist at work here. The most important influence on him at this time was Yang style t'ai chi ch'uan, and Pai had become a formal student of fourth generation Yang style T'ai Chi Ch'uan master Cheng Man-ch'ing. Apparently, some of his former students still practice and teach the original Yun Moo Kwan style Pai brought with him from Korea. It becomes difficult to determine if other schools using the name have an actual connection to the old Yun Moo Kwan, or if the old name was dug up and pinned on the side of a building for marketing reasons.
This was a fun bit of research to do. I enjoyed it, and it took me down a lot of rabbit holes along the way. I am interested in whether or not the old Jidokwan actually perpetuates through some of these other organizations. Iím also interested in whether or not the Yun Moo Kwan perpetuates in any way. Lots of rich martial heritage.