FK - Sean Smith – Journal #3

            Every session of Taekwondo class at Aim High begins with a stretching session.  This session is invaluable, especially for those of us who are older.  Part of the stretching session, inevitably, is a stretch where students lie on the mat and stretch their quadriceps.   It is during this stretch that my attention usually drifts to the flags that hang from the rafters at Aim High.  The flags that hang from the rafters at Aim High are from the following countries:  The United States(USA), Republic of Korea(KOR), Brazil(BRA), Japan(JPN), Thailand(THA), and the Republic of the Philippines(PHL).  Usually, as I stretch my quadriceps, I find myself thinking that a flag representing the People’s Republic of China(CHN) should join the flags that hang above.  In order to justify my claim that China’s flag should be added to the rafters, it is necessary to examine the flags that currently reside therefrom.    First, one may look at the flag of the United States.  Seeing that Aim High Academy is located in the United States, the flag of the United States logically belongs in any area where flags of various countries are to be hung.    It is also fairly easy to justify the flags of the Republic of Korea and Brazil.  Currently, Aim High offers four main programs of study.   These programs are Family Kicks Taekwondo, Fusion Mixed Martial Arts, and Aim High Martial Arts Kickboxing, and Gracie Technics Jiu-Jitsu.  Family Kicks Taekwondo teaches WTF style Taekwondo, a style that was developed in Korea and whose world headquarters, the Kukkiwon, is located in Seoul, KOR.  The Fusion program seems to draw heavily from Korea as well as it emphasizes many techniques found in Taekwondo and utilizes the Palgwe(Korean in origin) poomsae forms.  Gracie Technics teaches Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu which originates from Brazil.  I believe that the Fusion program also incorporates some techniques from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.  I am fairly ignorant with regards to the Kickboxing program although, from observation, it appears to teach many techniques found in the Fusion program as well as incorporate cardiovascular training.  Looking at the programs offered at Aim High Academy of Martial Arts, the flags of KOR and BRA seem to directly represent the styles of martial arts featured at Aim High; thus, their inclusion is obvious.   However, the flags of  JPN, THA, and PHL are not as easy to justify.    One may first examine the role of Japan on the martial arts taught at Aim High Martial Arts.  Here, we see a fairly direct connection.  There is some degree of controversy as to the origins of Taekwondo, but many see it as a mixture of Taekkyon (a Korean martial art) and Karate (a Japanese Martial art).  Japanese martial arts, most notably jujutsu and judo, also contributed directly to the development of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.  Thus, a clear connection between Japan and the martial arts at Aim High exists.    In looking to the influence of Thailand and the Philippines on the martial arts taught at Aim High, I find it more difficult to find as direct a connection.  I know that Fusion teaches some kicks and blocks(hand and foot) found in Muay Thai, a martial art from Thailand.  As far as the influence from the Philippines, I know that Fusion teaches Escrima weapon techniques (native to the Philippines), and FK Taekwondo teaches hubud lubud drills (also native to the Philippines).  However, neither of the countries (THA nor PHL) dominate any aspect of the martial arts taught at Aim High.   China, on the other hand, through its martial arts permeates much of what is taught at Aim High.   Chinese influence is found in much of the martial arts found in Asia.  For example, karate is translated most often these days as empty fist.  However, “kara” (which can be translated as empty in Japanese) also translate as Chinese, and originally, Karate was written in Japanese as Chinese fist.  It was not until the 20th century that it was written as empty fist. Thus, if the flag of Japan is included based on its influence on the martial arts taught at Aim High, China should equally be included as it developed the precursor to much of the martial arts found in Asia.  Also, look at the logo of Aim High Martial Arts.  Although much of the instruction at Aim High is based on Korean martial arts, it is a Chinese character not hangul writing that is used to represent Aim High.  It consists of the Chinese character 武(wu) in a box.  The Japanese also use this character, known as “Bu” in Japanese, but the character is Chinese in origin.  Chinese influence at Aim High can even be found in the bathrooms, where a poster containing a translated passage from the Chinese book Dao De Jing can be found.  Aim High, I believe, is planning to offer Tang Soo Do classes as well.  Although Tang Soo Do is Korean in origin, it takes much of its training from Chinese martial arts.    Personally, I am glad that Aim High flies multiple flags from its rafters.  I believe that it helps display the diversity of martial arts techniques that are found at Aim High.  I do feel, however, that a flag from the People’s Republic of China should be added to acknowledge the influence of China on the martial arts taught at Aim High.

Posted on August 21, 2014 .