Jin Tae Hwang Oral History

Jin Tae Hwang Oral History

By:  Sandra Schermerhorn

Translator: Dae Kyu Chang

August 10, 2006

 

Jin Tae Hwang

Who is Jin Tae Hwang? (bio, photo, etc.)

Why is he significant in the Moo Duk Kwan history?

 

Jin Tae Hwang Oral History Recording

 

Oral History Transcript

Sandra Schermerhorn: This is Sandra Schermerhorn.  It's August 10th, 2006 and I'm in San Diego, California, USA, talking with Jin Tae Hwang and our interpreter is John Trabamien [ph?].

And your current residence and dan number?

Interpreter:  <speaks Korean>

Sandra Schermerhorn: All right, we're back on.  Now, about his history in the martial arts.  When did he start training in the martial arts and where was he?

Interpreter:  <speaks Korean>

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter: I lived with the ______________ before even Moo Duk Kwan started.  So that's where we began Moo Duk Kwan was _____________ in Seoul.

Sandra Schermerhorn: Yes, how old was he when he started training?

Interpreter:  <speaks Korean>

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter:  I was 19.

Sandra Schermerhorn: Nineteen, and did he train in a class with people, or just with the founder?

Interpreter:  <speaks Korean>

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter: It depend, because he lived with The late Kwan Jang Nim [ph?] and if there's class he was with a group.

Sandra Schermerhorn: What was class like?

Interpreter:  <speaks Korean>

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter:  When we began to train, the facility of Do Jam [ph?] was very, very poor.  So everybody had the challenges to train.  The circumstance was after they free from Japanese occupation.  So everybody had a difficult situation to train and endure the circumstance.

Sandra Schermerhorn: Okay, is there anybody else in his family who trained with him?

Interpreter:  <speaks Korean>

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter: No, I was only 19 so I didn't have family then.  So I was _______________ my family.

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter: I lived with the  late Kwan Jang Nim since I was little.

Sandra Schermerhorn: Oh, since he was a child.

Interpreter: Yes, and he was with the family too.

Sandra Schermerhorn: When they had classes, Tae, tell me something about the class.  Like, they did they train inside or outside?  Were the classes long?

Interpreter:  <speaks Korean>

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter:  When we began, we rented the abandoned building hourly, so it's not the whole day thing.  So since we were a very small group, the Late Kwan Jang Nim had to borrow an abandoned building just for lunch hours.  That's how we trained.

Sandra Schermerhorn: On their lunch hour.  Okay, did they train every day?

 

Interpreter:  <speaks Korean>

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter:  Every day except Saturday and Sunday, but the class, beside the class everybody trained at home where they can train.  So that's not included in class.  So it's much more vigorous training by every individual.

Sandra Schermerhorn: When in the class, was it all mostly young men?  Did women or children train?

Interpreter:  <speaks Korean>

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter:  It's early twenties mostly, but no women, and mostly the railroad employees utilized their lunch time frame.

Sandra Schermerhorn: And he worked on the railroad also?

Interpreter:  <speaks Korean>

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter:  Yes.

Sandra Schermerhorn: That was his job?

Interpreter:  <speaks Korean>

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter:  In the beginning, only the railroad employees, the transportation actually at that time, little boys did on the train.  That's how they started.

Sandra Schermerhorn: I see.  Now, how vigorous was the training?  Like did they condition their hands for breaking?

Interpreter:  <speaks Korean>

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter:  The early days, we just trained the basics.  Only basics for a year and then after all the basics training and then after get a different belt, and the training differs.  But in the beginning part, a year, it's just basic, just like elementary school is basic, went to next grade.  It adds up more subjects, that's how our training was then.

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter: It's not like these days where there are several hundred people.  In the early days because they have only few and because it's different rank, all the basics do together and the class structure was certain amount of class percentage is all basics together.  And after that, you know, different ranks were practiced different form requirements, and different rank for the various rank practiced their required _____________, or one step sparring.

Sandra Schermerhorn: Oh, they did one step sparring too?  What was sparring like?

Interpreter:  <speaks Korean>

 

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter:  We didn't spar right away.  The Late Kwan Jang Nim had to watch and see if we can, who was ready and who was not ready, and the people who is ready to spar, and then we'll have sparring class.  And as now, same as now, we did have a control sparring.

Sandra Schermerhorn: Oh did they?

Interpreter: Yes.

Sandra Schermerhorn: But no equipment?  That's a very new thing isn't it?

Interpreter:  <speaks Korean>

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter: No, just bare fits.

Sandra Schermerhorn: How about Chok Pa [ph?], breaking, what did they do?

Interpreter:  <speaks Korean>

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter:  The Moo Duk Kwan is well known for Chok Pa in Korea.  The Chok Pa part, any martial art demonstration, Moo Duk Kwan practitioner always wanted to demonstrate the very artistic Chok Pa demonstrations.

Sandra Schermerhorn: What kind of techniques did they use?

Interpreter:  <speaks Korean>

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter:  Usually hand techniques, mat and strike, and then fist, and then _________________, sidekick.  Very simple like that.

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter: And also elbow strike.

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Sandra Schermerhorn: Quon su [ph?]

Interpreter: Quon so was very popular.

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter: These days I don't see Quon su and they use elbow.

Sandra Schermerhorn: Yes, sir, they do.  What does he like to break?  What's his favorite?

Interpreter:  <speaks Korean>

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter:  Chung Quong [ph?], fist.

Sandra Schermerhorn: And what did they break, boards?

Interpreter:  <speaks Korean>

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter:  Red bricks, usually red bricks.

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter: Or roof tile.

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter: Usually red bricks, usually for the stone, and roof tile at some point.  They used to use the roof tile for Chung Quong and used red bricks for Soo Do, mat and strike.

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter: The Kwan Soo [ph?] ______________, they did use a board.

Sandra Schermerhorn: Boards for that one.  Did they have tournaments?

Interpreter:  <speaks Korean>

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter:  No, at the beginning, no, it's not enough people.

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter: The Late Kwan Jang Nim didn't believe in tournaments.  I believe that still we don't have a tournament.  We have a martial festival, where you can demonstrate the Chok Pa and other area in ________________.  So I don't see this as a tournament.  I see this as art festival.

Sandra Schermerhorn: I see.

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter: The tournament or competition, I believe there cannot be a competition is because competition means somebody lose, somebody wins.  In our art, we are all winner.  So therefore we cannot be a competition.  Somebody has to die, somebody has to alive.  So the art is not about that killing or winning.  So the Late Kwan Jang Nim never use the tournament or competition.  He always use Chung Yun Da we [ph?].  Chung Yun Da we means art festival.

Sandra Schermerhorn: I see.  All right, can he tell me what other people's attitude was about martial arts?

Interpreter:  About Moo Duk Kwan or just martial art?

Sandra Schermerhorn: Actually, both.

Interpreter: <speaks Korean>

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter: Those days, early days we have _______________ now in Moo Duk Kwan and other start is Orso [ph?] is smaller numbers.  Because very few people trained, public were not aware, because those trainings were pretty secluded.  It's not a secret but it's not well known then to the public, so public wasn't aware.  But if the public knew, only few people knew that the training martial art, the martial art people who trained the martial art, that it's very strong or powerful, be, you know, not afraid but respected, that they knew something.

Sandra Schermerhorn: How long did he actively train in the martial arts?

Interpreter:  <speaks Korean>

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter:  I was teaching at a Chin He [ph?] until 1984.  It doesn't mean that I stopped a Moo Duk Kwan life.  My Moo Duk Kwan life continues.  So I still practice in Moo Duk Kwan.

Sandra Schermerhorn: All right, what is his favorite thing to do?  Like did he like sparring, did he like forms?  What did he like as a person training?

Interpreter:  <speaks Korean>

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter:  My favorite training is the multiple sparring, or the multiple special sparring with the tan do [ph?] weapon.  That's what the Late Kwan Jang Nim asking to practice a lot.  So he did– I did demonstrate many times the multiple sparring and multiple weapon, self defense.

Sandra Schermerhorn: If he would give us some advice about the multiple sparring, what would he like to say?

Interpreter:  <speaks Korean>

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter:  I don't know.  I mean I'm sure there's unlimited way to tell you or the practitioner.  It's hard to say, you know, it's hard to tell you what advice I would give to you.

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter: Actually, we didn't have a dan system first, as you know.  The Late Kwan Jang Nim didn't wear dan belt until later, but the early days we used to go to the mountain and certain skills we mastered, takes five or six years, or whatever, and we come down, you know, and we teach or demonstrate.  So that's the way that we used to train in the early days, talking about two, three people at a group.  So the master goes, takes a couple disciples and train your certain skills and then master approves.  In this case, the Late Kwan Jang Nim would go okay, you can demonstrate.

Sandra Schermerhorn: Was it considered like a better place to train in the mountains than in the buildings in town?

Interpreter:  <speaks Korean>

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter:  I believe there is difference between training in mountain, or nature, or in the city.  In the city it's easy to get distracted, and the towns are divided.  So it's much more effective to train in the mountain is because it's almost like one in one situation.  So you can really concentrate on certain training and less distraction.  So I believe that training in the nature is much more effective.

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter: I did that for four years.  I wish I did it one more year but there's Korean War broke out and unfortunately had to stop that.  He regrets that he didn't do long enough because of the Korean War.

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter: I was some time almost losing my mind, thinking about my training, and if trained properly you don't have to actually go contact the person.  Actually the person comes to your hand or foot, they hit.  That's how the good training will do because if you don't train hard enough or effectively, you have to go out, reach out to punch instead of the person comes to you, to your hand, or your foot, your kick.  That's how your body has to be fluent.  You have to be free and by the time you have to block and contact it's too late.  So when I was training it's almost like I don't have to look where the technique is coming.  Automatically my hand will move, or my foot, body will move away without looking, that you will become like that if you train severely, severely, certain basic techniques or certain techniques for a long time.  So you would gain awareness.

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter: When you spar, the chisan [ph?] becomes very important because in the beginning you want, intend to use very physical talents.  But as you go higher, more advanced, it's eye to eye combat.  So when you see your opponent's eyes, you know what techniques he or she might use, which direction they're going to move.  So you can detect, you can see their motion to come in the eyes, and then same time you have to learn how to breathe carefully, because you can detect when they're going to move and how they're going to move by listening to their breathing.  So it's good to confuse your opponent by various breathing technique, and there's different angle posture or distance.  It is good to confuse your opponents, and so the opponent cannot detect you.

Sandra Schermerhorn: I have not ever heard of that, the breathing.

Interpreter:  <speaks Korean>

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter: When you get hit, why you inhale is much more different than when you hit, contact, when you exhale.

Sandra Schermerhorn: You know, I hear the eye to eye, you know, but I even don't think about listening to the breathing, you know.  It's good.

Interpreter:  <speaks Korean>

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter:  Let's don't go into detail but somehow if the talent, the skill is too different between person A and B, the person has less skill try to maneuver the techniques to the senior rank or much higher skill, it doesn't work that way no matter how.  And versus the high skill person can control the lower skill person easy as it is, and that is the nature.

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter: Let's do the other things.

Sandra Schermerhorn: Okay, when he was training, he's trained a long time, what changes has he seen over the years in the training, the number of people?

Interpreter:  <speaks Korean>

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter:  Oh it is a lot.

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter: The biggest things happened in Moo Duk Kwan life is the Korean War and that was devastating, not only my life change but social changes.

Sandra Schermerhorn: Did he live, for the Korean War, did he live in Seoul?

Interpreter:  <speaks Korean>

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter: Yes, I lived in Seoul during the Korean War.

Sandra Schermerhorn: That was kind of a dangerous place?

Interpreter:  <speaks Korean>

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter:  Of course it was very dangerous, life threatening.

Sandra Schermerhorn: Yeah.

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter:  When the Korean War broke we didn't have time to pack or anything.  So what I remember was I ran out with underwear and t-shirts ______________.

Sandra Schermerhorn: And how long was it bad in Seoul?

Interpreter:  <speaks Korean>

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter: When the Korean War broke, actually it broke June 25, actually the North Korean came and attacked us in Seoul June 28th.  That's when I escaped and ran out to the near mountain.

Sandra Schermerhorn: Oh, he went up to the mountain.  Oh, and he trained before the Korean War stopped, then later?

Interpreter:  <speaks Korean>

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter: Of course I did.

Interpreter:  <speaks Korean>

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter:  Because the Korean War broke and Moo Duk Kwan was all dismissed, and it was lost, and it start back a year and a half later, we met and continued on.

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter: During the war, it depends on the situation of the war.  The Late Kwan Jang Nim also has to move around to himself _______________ like that and that's when we had a Moo Duk Kwan _________________.

Sandra Schermerhorn: Were you in Pusan too?  Did you go to Pusan?

Interpreter:  <speaks Korean>

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter:  Yes.

Sandra Schermerhorn: You did too.

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter: The current ___________________ was five years old.

Sandra Schermerhorn: A little boy.  How about, were there dan testings in Korea?

Interpreter:  <speaks Korean>

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter: Of course we had.

Sandra Schermerhorn: What were they like?  You know how ours were a day or a couple hours.

Interpreter:  <speaks Korean>

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter: In the beginning because a few of us, it only took a few hours, but I remember the biggest event at that time in Pusan, almost 500 people were applying for dan Shin Sa [ph?] and that took a long, long time.  There was a very, very, one of the biggest growing period at that time was when we had over 500 people, candidates were applying for dan Shin Sa.

Sandra Schermerhorn: Does he recall when that was?

Interpreter:  <speaks Korean>

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter: That was just before 1960, the coup-de-tat.  So it must be 1959.

Sandra Schermerhorn: So he saw the Moo Duk Kwan go from three or four people training up to 500 people testing then?

Interpreter:  <speaks Korean>

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter: So I was then when the 500 people were testing, I was the Shin Sa board.

Sandra Schermerhorn: Oh, I see.  So did he have a school then?

Interpreter:  <speaks Korean>

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter: That's in the naval academy I was teaching.

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter: This is the naval academy rank.

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Sandra Schermerhorn: 1956, yes.

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter: And in 1983 he stopped teaching.

Sandra Schermerhorn: Oh, I see.  That's a treasure.  That's a very special– can you tell me a little bit about the schools that he's taught at, that he had?

 

Interpreter:  <speaks Korean>

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter: Because they were only there for four years, it was difficult to teach them longer period.  So my responsibility to teach is only for four years so that ______________ some people stay a little longer, they didn't go beyond Hi Dan [ph?].

Sandra Schermerhorn: Does he have a <inaudible> with any of his former students?

Interpreter:  <speaks Korean>

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter: Many, many of my disciples live in Seoul.

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter: Now, I know they live in Seoul but they're over 70 years old.  So, but I know they are there and many people get together, but I am in Chinhae, it's much, much south of Korea.

Sandra Schermerhorn: About how far away from that is Seoul?

Interpreter:  <speaks Korean>

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter: It takes about five to six hours.

Sandra Schermerhorn: Oh, far.  That's far.

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter:  <speaks Korean>

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter: In Korea, they each like a school especially naval academy, my disciples have certain class championship.  They have a, like a graduate '62, they have more like a union, like class campus union and they have contact.  They have ________________.  So if I contact one person, so everybody shows up.  So it's easy to find my disciples in Korea.

Sandra Schermerhorn: Oh, good.  Yay.  Oh, about dan testing, does he have any favorite memories about getting ready for dan testing?

Interpreter:  <speaks Korean>

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter: The Late Kwan Jang Nim never gave me good scores. He just give me enough for me to just work harder, harder, gives about 70 to 80, just enough to pass.  So that next meeting to work harder and the Late Kwan Jang Nim always, always gave me something to work on.  So that's hard but sometime it's disappointing but I know Late Kwan Jang Nim intention.  I think he thought on my training it will last in my memory.

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter: I never could get 100%.

Sandra Schermerhorn: He has a long history, long time in training.  Does he have a best memory, something that made him feel good, very satisfying?

Interpreter:  <speaks Korean>

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter: The most enjoyable moment for me was when the Moo Duk Kwan was explained to the public, it was so dynamic period.  The saddest memory of my life is when Taekwondo ______________ surpassed Moo Duk Kwan and we lost a ______________, the studio, we lost many schools, and some of them had to flee to different countries.  So that is not only Moo Duk Kwan's sad experience, it's my treasure too, also my personal in my career.

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter: If that didn't happen, if that Taekwondo ________________, the government didn't suppress Moo Duk Kwan, you can imagine how big, dynamic Moo Duk Kwan would be today.  Ever since I see that, it's very unfortunate.

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter: During the Korean War, all the head of the different organization was lost, and they went away.  Only Moo Duk Kwan and Moo Duk Kwan, Kwan Jang Nim, stood as head of the Moo Duk Kwan organization and that's only organization that the founder, the founder saved the position and stood by the principle.

Sandra Schermerhorn: Well, in talking about the founder, do you have a favorite time you spent, he and you together, or favorite story about him?

Interpreter:  <speaks Korean>

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter: I don't have my memory of certain way as you probably expect, because our Moo Duk Kwan, my Moo Duk Kwan life started with the late Kwan Jang Nim same place on the same house.  I lived with him.  So it's basically just no memories.  The only memories at that time was to recover from the lost period.  It just work, work, work, nothing but work to save Moo Duk Kwan and to reestablish the Moo Duk Kwan, and getting the late Kwan Jang Nim's fight to find disciples, and me try to support him, and the whole Moo Duk Kwan association at that time was vigorously trying to work hard to rebuild the Moo Duk Kwan System.  And that, I think that is very, very hard work because of that.  I would say that is my, the best memory of the late Kwan Jang Nim myself being together.

Sandra Schermerhorn: Working hard, yeah.  Do you have a photograph or remember a photograph that has special meaning?

Interpreter:  <speaks Korean>

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter: The Korean broke out, as I walk out there were, you know, underwear and shirt, we don't have a picture, and in those days we didn't have the technology, having cameras and any equipment to have pictures, just simply that's how the war effected in our life.  It's really, really rare to have somebody has camera or things that we can photograph.

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter: I had so many books related to martial arts but I lost it all.

Sandra Schermerhorn: Lost everything.

Interpreter:  <speaks Korean>

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter: When we got hit by the bomb, we had to lose everything.

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter: I have a lot of materials, as I repeat, I had a lot of reading materials gathered before the Korean War and it just so disappointed I couldn't save those books.

Sandra Schermerhorn: If he could give some advice to practitioners now, what would he say to them?

Interpreter:  <speaks Korean>

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter: Only I wish to members, to the younger generation is to unify, everybody unifies under the current Kwan Jang Nim.  Everybody must unify whether you're smarter, or less smart, or you're better or worse, everybody must unify to the one Moo Duk Kwan and support the current Kwan Jang Nim.  And that will ensure our _____________ Moo Duk Kwan.

Sandra Schermerhorn: Is there anything else you'd like to tell us, anything that he thinks we ought to know?

Interpreter:  <speaks Korean>

Tae Hwang: <speaks Korean>

Interpreter: I didn't prepare for this surprise, so now I don't have much to say.  Maybe next time.

#### End of OH_Hwang_Jin_Tae_11.DSS ####

Oral History

Oral History

Sandra Schermerhorn, Sa Bom Nim initiated the oral history project to capture and preserve accounts of authentic Moo Duk Kwan® history from various active senior members.
Oral History

Latest posts by Oral History (see all)

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.