Interview with Master Rhee #2
FATHER OF AUSTRALIAN TAE KWON DO
WORLD MASTER CHONG CHUL RHEE
Master Rhee – Interview No.2 1995
Master Rhee, why is it that Rhee Taekwondo is so widely recommended and recognised among professional and business people?
“Firstly, it is easy to learn, as long as the Art is taught by properly trained and fully authorised RTKD Instructors. Rhee Taekwondo is regarded as a powerful Martial Art, achieving total fitness and effective self-defence, but without the risks of injury that can be caused by making contact. Also, our professional and business executive students have found the Art is an excellent way of relaxing mentally and relieving stress and tension after a long day of the pressures and stresses of business and professional life in the 1990s. Rhee Taekwondo training is an effective method of converting that negative and potentially health damaging energy into positive and constructive energy.”
And why is it that Rhee Taekwondo is so beneficial for young people (from five years and over) and ladies in keeping fit, and in improving other aspects, of their lives?
“Through the experience of learning Rhee TaeKwondo children benefit greatly from the inherent traditional values of learning discipline, greater powers of concentration, respect for themselves and others, self-confidence and patience, self-discipline and self-control. The positive, stabilising and healthy effect of regular training can be most helpful in overcoming many common childhood problems. Children gradually learn how to apply their Martial Art training to their total life experience. In other words, Rhee Taekwondo teaches them how to more successfully meet all of life’s challenges, now and in their future years, mental, physical, moral and spiritual. For ladies, the Art is not only very beneficial in terms of improving health and fitness, but also because they learn how to defend themselves effectively. This leads to greater self-confidence and enhanced peace of mind, which can contribute to great improvements in the overall quality of life.”
What do you perceive as the advantages and disadvantages of wearing protective equipment, such as shin-guards and arm protectors etc, during Rhee Taekwondo training?
“During training, all Rhee Taekwondo techniques are performed properly with speed and power, but all techniques are also well controlled, to prevent accidental injuries. Therefore, it is not necessary to wear such protective equipment when attacking and defending during Rhee Taekwondo free-fighting practice. By using protective gear, your combination techniques will become less accurate and slow your progress in the Art. In the case of someone who really needs to protect their arms and legs against bumps and bruises, it would be permissible for them to wear protective equipment after getting their instructor’s permission, but the equipment does not help in the student’s overall improvement and development.”
At what level of rank do you advise that students should perform breaking techniques, Master Rhee?
“There is no specific time set to begin training for the dynamic breaking techniques of Rhee Taekwondo. But to improve power and enhance technique for breaking, every practitioner should condition the knuckles, hands and feet in preparation for safe and effective performance of breaking techniques. Of course, the forging post should be used to condition the knuckles, wrists and supporting muscles and tendons etc for destruction techniques. The forging post is also very useful for developing hip power.Rhee Taekwondo is a true Martial Art, so each technique – whether you deliver a punch, kick, knifehand, elbow strike or whatever – must have real and devastating power. Therefore, students should practise on the forging post and kicking bag to develop that power in each blow. Then, if they have to defend themselves, they have the power. Destruction techniques can be useful to show the power of the techniques.”
How important do you believe it is to choose carefully when looking for a dojang and instructor to learn a Martial Art?
“This depends on whether you want to learn it as a mere sport, or as self-defence, art and complete way of life. You could join a training centre anywhere, and maybe change over to many different places, but if you want to learn Rhee Taekwondo as a Martial Art, it is very important to choose a properly qualified and fully authorised instructor who can influence the student physically and mentally through true spirit of art and technique. The foremost master of the art will create a great Martial Art organisation that can produce the top quality of Martial Art exponents. At a later stage in training, all aspects of the student’s Martial Arts skills and overall physical and mental development will be judged and recognised by the Master instructor.”
Master Rhee, could you give readers and students some advice about the use of meditation in our Rhee Taekwondo training. How should we go about it and will it be helpful to our overall standard and ability?
“Generally speaking, there two ways you can meditate. (a) In the sitting or kneeling position, with your eyes closed, while visualising (practising in your mind) the techniques. And (b) you can practise any techniques in slow motion, shifting your mind and mental application to each technique.”
If I wish to become an instructor of RTKD, what qualifications do I need?
“Firstly, you need to be a 1st Degree Black Belt. Of course, you need to be of excellent character, dedicated to the Art, and prepared to uphold the high standards and ethical values of the Art. Then the next step is to apply initially to your resident instructor and, if he recommends you, then I can appoint you as an assistant instructor. You will, of course receive instructions on how to conduct classes and successfully manage the training centre you are appointed to. So those are the first steps along the way to becoming an officially appointed Rhee Taekwondo Instructor, and towards a long-term, career in contributing to the mental and physical welfare of the Australasian community.”
What advice do you have for lady students on the subject of pushups and hand conditioning, Master Rhee?
“It is not necessary for lady students to practise contact against any hard objects. Just make sure to form and clench the fist correctly, and practise your hand techniques against soft surfaces, a light bag, or focus pads. Another option is to use gloves when punching or knifehand striking such objects.”
How can we improve our concentration during training?
“This is a key point in making progress in the development of your techniques. How to learn quickly and to acquire correct technique… Firstly, concentrate on each individual technique. Tense (focus) at the instant of completion of each technique, and then relax the muscles in preparation for the next movement. Perform each technique with full speed and power. Observe the direction in which you are going and do not take your eye from the target.”
Will the development of fake techniques improve my free-sparring ability?
“Yes, definitely. This is a necessity for the overall improvement of your total standard. For example, pretend to attack the high section, mid section, or low section when your real intention is actually to attack a quite different point on your opponent’s body. Or, another example, pretend to attack with, say, front kick, side kick, turning kick, back kick, spinning heel kick (reverse turning kick). Once your opponent believes you are committed to such a technique, then you will actually execute a different technique to the one your opponent thinks you have in mind.”
Should I have a meal before or after training, and what should I eat?
“After you start training in Rhee Taekwondo, and as you gradually progress from white belt to Black Belt and through to the higher ranks, you will progressively begin to understand the workings of your own body. Not only the muscular and external bodily systems, but you will also begin to understand much more about the internal body processes – the digestive and respiratory systems, for example as your experience and knowledge increases. In most cases, students seem to prefer to eat after training – maybe half an hour or so after the physical action. But your own body will eventually tell you what is best for you – when and how much to eat; how long you need to sleep each night; how much time you need to warm up and the best moment for explosive action”
From a parent’s point of view, Master Rhee, can you explain why RTKD training is such a good investment for their children’s future?
“Children derive many valuable benefits and attributes from their training in the Art. For example, good discipline and concentration, greatly improved powers of self-control, and the building of excellent character. One of the tenets of the art is: ‘Sound body, sound mind’. This means that the overall physical training develops the young student’s body to optimum levels of fitness, health and strength that, in turn, develops a high degree of mental health and mental strength. With a strong mind and good health, children can apply themselves more effectively to their studies and all round social development, thus becoming leaders of the community and the nation.”
So Rhee Taekwondo really can be a family art, which can be enjoyed by the whole family without the risk of injuries?
“Certainly. Firstly, you do not need strength or a high level of fitness to begin training in the Art. Secondly, every movement – stances, punching, kicking and striking techniques – can be performed either individually, or with a partner, in the family context. And finally, Rhee Taekwondo does not involve dangerous contact training, or potentially dangerous throwing, therefore you could say this is a relatively gentle form of Martial Art training which is also easy for the entire family to learn and enjoy together.”
And is it quite possible for a person, either man or woman, to begin training in the Art once they have reached their 50s, 60s, or even their 70s?
“Absolutely. Generally speaking, when a person ages their flexibility, strength and stamina all begin to wane. But it is still quite possible to learn Rhee Taekwondo, regardless of the lessening of those physical assets with the passage of time. People in their more advanced years often have more patience, higher motivation and steady application, and they can definitely make very good progress in the Art. Sure, they might be a bit slower than younger students, but they can achieve their own optimum level of fitness and gain very useful self-defence skills.”
What about people who have had previous back injuries? Can they still learn RTKD?
“This should not present a serious obstacle, because all the movements of the Art utilise co-ordinated hip and waist movements to drive the hand and foot actions. But, of course, anyone who has suffered a prior back injury needs to use common sense and exercise gently to begin with. They should use a lighter, progressive, non-strenuous warm-up. If stretching exercises from the sitting position aggravate or cause discomfort to the back, they should avoid those. And, if necessary, they should avoid jumping and flying kicks and concentrate more on stationary techniques. Some mid to older-aged people believe they cannot learn a Martial Art because of back troubles, but this should present no problem for the aspiring student of Rhee Taekwondo, just using common sense and following the advice of an authorised RTKD instructor.”