Subak


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Taekkyon - Branching out from Subak

MALP

Taekkyon is a traditional Korean martial art is one of two martial arts that branched out from another martial art known as Subak. The other martial art that branched out from Subak is Yusul. Subak is a martial art that originated from the area of Goguryeo, one of the three kingdoms that used to make up Korea; the other two being Silla and Baekje. When Baekje tried to invade Silla, Goguryeo's king decided to send 50,000 of his men to help. This caused influence from Goguryeo to Silla and one of the things that were transmitted to the culture of Silla was Taekkyon.

Since Goguryeo had a mountainous terrain, its citizens had very strong legs, which allowed for such strong kicks, which, along with jumps, became dominant. Despite this, Taekkyon had very graceful moevements so much that it had a dance-like flow. Practitioners are constantly moving while bending and stretching the knees called o-kum jil. Taekkyon shares some similarities with Taekwondo in terms of movement but has very different principles not only from Taekwondo but from other Korean martial arts as well.

However, since Taekkyon branched out from Subak during the Joseon Dynasty, it really did not become popular within Korea. This is because Confucianism was the foundation of the Joseon Dynasty and it favored literary arts over martial arts. It did not help that it was outlawed by a king because as it slowly became popular in some areas, it became a reason for people to gamble on matches. People would bet and lose their wives, houses and other possessions that eventually caused a lot of chaos and confusion. Though Taekkyon was banned to be practiced by the people, it remained to be a military art.

However, due to the continuous spread of Confucianism and then eventually the Japanese occupation of Korea, Taekkyon almost became extinct. It was only after the Japanese colonial period did Taekkyon resurface and develop again.

Origin and Development of Subak

MALP

Korea was once divided into three Kingdoms. The firsst kingdom was Silla, which is in the southeastern part of the country. To the west of Silla, there is Baekje. In the northern part, there is Goguryeo (Koguryo) from where Subak style originated. Since the region of Goguryeo had a mountainous terrain, its citizens had relatively stronger legs than their arms. Subak as a style adapted to the nature of this terrain and had strong kicks. It also had hand strikes, joint locks and throws.

Subak continued to evolve and laid the foundation to being the ancestor of taekkyon. It was part of the curriculum of the Sonbae ("a man of virtue who never retreats from a fight"), a member of the warrior corps. Sonbae learned archery, Kakju, Subak, history, literature and some liberal arts. The Sonbae, however, were not only meant for combat. During times of peace, they helped in construction of the country's infrastructure such as roads and fortresses and also helped during operations after natural disasters.

The Joseon period was the most difficult period for Subak. During this time, society and its workings were focused on the ideology of Confucianism, which gave more imporatance to literary arts instead of martial arts. Subak was then limited to competitions (subakhui). Winning three subakhui bouts would allow one to become employed as soldier. At this time, Subak began to split into Taekgyeon and Yusul (which is sometimes used as another term for Subak). Taekgyon focused on kicks and strikes. Yusul, on the other hand, focused on locks and grappling.

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