The Martial Art of Yudo
By Amaury Murgado
"World of Martial Arts" 1999
Archaeologists have shown that cultural and technical
advancement came to Korea through China. In turn, these advancements
were later taken to Japan from Korea. Such advancements included
unarmed combat techniques.
It is no surprise then that Korea has a rich martial
arts history that includes all types of fighting skills. Though
many people are familiar with Korean-style kicking and punching,
most are not aware of Korean strangling, joint lock, or throwing
techniques. They may not even know that the Koreans have complete
unarmed fighting systems. Yudo is one such system.
During Korea's Three Kingdom Period, the Silla
Kingdom (57 B.C. to 937 A.D.), developed specific throwing techniques
for their Hwa Rang Do Warriors. Throwing techniques were also found
in Taik Kyon, which could be considered Tae Kwon Do's predecessor.
A primary throwing system, Kagju, was practiced in the Koryo Kingdom
(918 A.D. to 1392 A.D.).
Many of the specifics of these techniques (but
not all) would end up being lost to martial art historians. Many
of them would later surface, however, in the various styles of
Jujutsu in Japan.
Ironically, a complete unarmed fighting art would
be reintroduced to Korea from Japan, by Jigaro Kano, after the
Japanese occupation of Korea, shortly before the First World War.
Jigaro Kano called his art Kodokan Judo, and it was a martial art
based upon the application of scientific principles. A system specifically
designed for self-defense.
Professor Kano was a distinguished educator and
the Father of Physical Education in Japan. His martial art was
unique in that it contained a self-defense system that allowed
people to practice safely, in a form that could be taught easily
as part of the public school curriculum.
His intent was never to have Kodokan Judo practiced
as or modified into a sport. It is said that later in his life,
Professor Kano witnessed a sport judo tournament and was dismayed
at the lack of his applied scientific principles. Sport judo had
basically become a contest of strength and resembled wrestling,
instead of his martial art. Professor Kano was quoted as saying:
'This [sport judo] is not the Kodokan Judo that I teach, this will
be the end of Kodokan Judo." Little did he know then, that
he was foretelling Judo's future. Judo today is almost universally
practiced as a sport, not for the purpose of self-defense -- except
within the Republic of Korea (ROK) Yudo Association.
Yudo is the Korean pronunciation for Judo and
some Koreans, both in ROK and in this country, tend to use the
two terms interchangeably. Sports judo has flourished within the
Republic of Korea and Korean sports judo players have distinguished
themselves on the international tournament scene and in the Olympics.
As is increasingly the practice however, I shall herein refer to
Judo as referring to sports judo, Kodokan Judo as the teachings
of Jigoro Kano, and Yudo as that form of self-defense which encompasses
all of Kodokan Judo and incorporates additional traditional Korean
martial arts techniques.
Jigoro Kano's teachings are the basis for the
practice of Yudo within the Republic of Korea Yudo Association
(ROKYA). Those teachings were reinforced and developed for the
Korean practitioners by the teachers sent to the Korean Peninsula,
from the Kodokan, during the occupation. The ROKYA have remained
loyal to what they were taught by Kano, even when, during the Occupation
of Japan following its defeat in World War II, all martial arts
training halls were ordered closed, and when the Kodokan itself
was allowed to re-open, it did so as a sport training center.
After liberation in Korea, the martial arts flourished,
as ancient manuscripts were dug up from the ground in which they
had been buried, hidden from the Japanese. Sport judo became very
popular among the young, while the ROKYA remained loyal to its
core teachings and began to reintroduce traditional Korean techniques
to enhance its self-defense applications.
Yudo has no attack. The size of the attacker has
no bearing on the ability of the defender to receive the attack,
execute a technique, and satisfactorily terminate the incident.
Since the student learns that the response chosen, in a given instance,
must correspond to the nature of the threat encountered, minimum
required force becomes the fighting standard.
This approach to self-defense inherently conforms
to the American legal doctrine as it applies to use of force, and
confronts the growing public concern with the level of violence
demonstrated in many contemporary martial arts.
In time, sports judo outgrew it roots. Various
sports judo organization were created to govern in the schools,
colleges, universities, among the military and general public,
and among the international and Olympic competitors.
By the second-half of the 1990's, the greying
of the ROKYA had reached the point of serious concern, that traditional
Yudo might be lost to future generations. It was time to transplant
traditional Yudo, if the art was to be guaranteed survival.
In 1997, two senior Dans in Yudo, both Americans,
were created by promotion certificates personally signed by Kim
Chul Ho, then President of the ROK Yudo Association. In February
1998, the United States Yudo Association (USYA) was incorporated
and in April 1998, formal approval was given for the installation
of the USYA as the National Governing Body in the United States
for the martial art of Yudo by the Yudo Committee of the Korean
Martial Arts Instructors Association (KMAIA), a committee chaired
by the new President of ROKYA, Lee Hwe Yul.
At the same time, approval was given for the rank
requirements and the Yudo curriculum which had been proposed to
the ROKYA by the USYA.
At a ceremony held in Seoul, Republic of Korea
on November 1st, 1998 Grandmaster Joseph F. Connolly, II, was promoted
to 9th Dan in Yudo by Grandmaster Lee Hwe Yul, President of the
ROK Yudo Association.
Grandmaster Connolly is President of the United
States Yudo Association. By this ceremony, the baton was passed
-- from the Old World to the New World -- for Yudo. Grandmaster
Connolly is the National Director for Yudo of the United States
Martial Arts Association.
It is the intention of the USYA that the memory
and teachings of Jigoro Kano be kept alive and that Yudo, now a
uniquely Korean martial art, become the martial art for the coming
millennium in the United States.