My Dan Bon is 44400. It is a unique number in the Soo Bahk Do Dan Bon system. My name and Dan Bon are permanently recorded at the headquarters in Seoul, Korea.
The Dan Bon system was created by Kwan Jang Nim Hwang Kee in 1945 to identify certified holders of the Midnight Blue Belt in the Moo Duk Kwan. When Kwan Jang Nim first began, he had a handful of students. But only four actually completed the training to Cho Dan; among those four was the late Master Un Chang Kim. After years of hard work, Master Kim was presented the very first Dan Bon in 1948 by Kwan Jang Nim Hwang Kee. He was 30 years old at that time. Master Kim is and will always be Number 1 in the Kwan Jok Bu, Book of the List of Dan Bon, just as I am and will always be Number 44400.
But what does the Dan Bon mean? Yes, it is a system of prestige, but it is more than just that.
The Dan Bon system establishes seniority among all Dan members of Moo Duk Kwan, so that, no matter where a practitioner goes in the world, his or her place is firmly established in the Moo Do system. Without question or discussion, at any Moo Duk Kwan event, every Dan member can find his or her rightful place in line amongst all their peers. This is a harmonious system that Kwan Jang Nim created on the values of loyalty, history, tradition, philosophy and discipline. These are the values that bind Moo Do practitioners world-wide.
As well, the Dan Bon system establishes a unique way to preserve the techniques of Soo Bahk Do, which have been passed down from the Grandmaster. The system establishes a chain of command, allowing Senior Dan members to pass on knowledge and techniques to junior members correctly. Out of respect and loyalty, junior members can look to their seniors for guidance and instruction.
In our Do Jang Sa Bom Nim has established a personal training schedule for junior students, where Dan members are asked to provide private instruction to junior members. This has been one of the most rewarding effects of my achieving the rank of Cho Dan. As I observe junior members struggling with new forms and techniques, I recall my own experiences. It makes me a better Moo Do practitioner when I am allowed to demonstrate and provide instruction for my juniors. I know that I am helping the art to grow; passing on the history, tradition and philosophy of Moo Duk Kwan. This fills me with a great sense of pride, and at the same time, humbles me as I realize that I am Number 44400; just one small pebble on the shores of the great Moo Do River, flowing its course, naturally, through time and history.
In my Dan Shim Sa candidate packet are the Volume One Study Guide questions. There is a section which asks the name, rank and Dan Bon of my teacher, his or her teacher, and a brief biography on both. At the bottom of that section is a one line sentence which reads, “Note: All students should be able to trace their genealogy back to Kwan Jang Nim.”
The Dan Bon system represents our martial arts lineage. It is the historical record that links all holders of the midnight blue belt to Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan, world-wide. The Dan Bon declares our legitimacy in the art, and holds us to a higher standard of excellence. It resounds in the Five Moo Do Values: history, tradition, discipline/respect, philosophy and technique.
The historical relevance is clear: from the Kwan Jang Nim’s discovery of the Moo Yei Do Bo Tong Ji and the adoption of the name Soo Bahk Do; the incorporation of the midnight blue belt, denoting, not the end of a journey, but rather one more step in a continuous quest for knowledge; to every loyal, dedicated practitioner who diligently trains for years, and finally succeeds in achieving the rank of Cho Dan; to receive as an award, a permanent place in Soo Bahk Do history; their name and Dan Bon inscribed in the Kwan Jok Bu.
It makes me feel proud to be a part of this history, knowing that my name is forever inscribed in the Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan Jok Bu. I was once told by my instructor, Thomas Thai, Sa Bom Nim that, after the military coup in Korea during the 1960’s, the Moo Duk Kwan was divided. Many practitioners joined the Tae Kwon Do Association for political reasons. Kwan Jang Nim realized and understood that the essence of the art of Soo Bahk Do would not survive, and he refused to join the new association. Moo Duk Kwan had a great influence on the martial arts community and was highly respected. Outsiders attempted to steal and destroy the Kwan Jok Bu in order to erase the record of seniority in Moo Duk Kwan. In doing this they believed they could present themselves as senior members and attain political influence, but they did not succeed. And after many years of hardship and political repression, Kwan Jang Nim and the Moo Duk Kwan prevailed.
Loyalty and maintaining a connection to the source of one’s Moo Do identity is the essence of Moo Duk Kwan. Without that connection, the practitioner loses his way, and travels a different path. His spiritual energy is lost, and he can never discover the truth of the relationship between himself and the art.
It is traditional to trace one’s heritage or lineage as far back as conceivable in the martial arts, and Kwan Jang Nim’s Dan Bon system allows us to do just that.
Senior Dan members are identified by their lower Dan Bon, which gives them rank and seniority over junior members. Although it is prestigious to have a lower Dan Bon, the true value is the chain of command that is established by the system. And because Moo Duk Kwan is world-wide, the Dan Bon system creates a harmonious atmosphere of discipline and respect.
This historical relevance, tradition, and atmosphere of disciple and respect reinforces the Moo Do philosophy and allows Senior Dan members to pass on Soo Bahk Do techniques to junior members correctly. Kwan Jang Nim speaks of the concept of “Ryu Pa”, which means “style, flows down divided naturally.” Through the disciplined preservation of Soo Bahk Do techniques, the art is allowed to grow and flourish, and yet maintain the “essence” of Kwan Jang Nim’s teachings.
Soo Bahk Do® is a traditional Korean martial art, which dates back hundreds of years. It embodies the Five Moo Do values, teaching discipline and respect, history, tradition and philosophy, as well as martial art techniques. It is used for both exercise and self-defense: to strengthen the body and the mind; improve physical flexibility and endurance; promote mental and physical health; and increase longevity.
During the Yi Dynasty (1392-1907) Korea's martial arts were compiled into a martial arts text called the Moo Yei Do Bo Tong Ji (Moo Yeh Doe Bo Tong Jee).
In 1790, Master Lee Duk Moo appeared before King Jung Jo and was ordered to compile Korea's martial arts techniques that were popular at that time into a book called the Moo Yei Do Bo Tong Ji and is the oldest and most valuable historical documentation of the Korean martial arts. Master Lee Duk Moo referenced many sources all of which are listed in the Moo Yei Do Bo Tong Ji's contents. Most of the sources were either Korean, Chinese or Japanese. It was written in four parts or books. Book one was written about the spear (Chang), their various types and techniques. Book two dealt with the sword (Kum). Book three covered long blades and sword strategies and Book four is about empty hand combat (Kwon Bup).
The Kwon Bup section of the Moo Yei Do Bo Tong Ji catalogs the most effective techniques that were popular during the Yi Dynasty (1392-1907 A.D.). The Moo Yei Do Bo Tong Ji was a culmination of several earlier texts and scrolls from various styles of martial arts. In 1957, Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan Grandmaster Hwang Kee began his intense study of the Moo Yei Do Bo Tong Ji. Quote "It was was a truly remarkable moment for me since my entire life, from childhood, has been dedicated to the martial arts. I went to the library every day and studied this book. I was eager to translate the book and share this valuable information about Korean martial arts with everyone who studies martial arts. But this wonderful discovery also brought with it some difficulties. To understand and translate the book, one must require a deep knowledge of the Sip Sam Seh (philosophy of martial arts tactics and postures) as well as a knowledge of the correct martial arts terms for the Chinese characters."
As he began his translation of the Moo Yei Do Bo Tong Ji, the responsibility of keeping the translation as pure as possible weighed foremost in his mind. After much time and work, Grandmaster Hwang Kee has translated the Kwon Bup section of the Moo Yei Do Bo Tong Ji. He is the first person to do so. Grandmaster Hwang Kee has translated the Kwon Bup section of the Moo Yei Do Bo Tong Ji into a series of 17 patterns (called Hyung in Korean). The first six are called Yuk Ro (six paths) pronounced Yoong Ro. The next pattern is Hwa Sun, followed by the ten Sip Dan Khum patterns. It is important to understand that there is more involved here than mere translation.
The Moo Yei Do Bo Tong Ji was written in Chinese, since at the time in which it was written, most of the important texts and all of the religious texts were written in Chinese due to the popularity of Confucianism throughout the Orient. What makes translating ancient Chinese difficult, is that each character has several meanings. In addition to the linguistic difficulties, there is the challenge of putting the translated material into a practical and organized format. That's why it was natural for Grandmaster Hwang to organize the information into patterns (Hyungs).
What makes the Yuk Ro, Hwa Sun and Sip Dan Khum unique?
As was stated before, the various martial arts developed and adapted to the practitioner's environment, lifestyle and various needs and conditions. Most styles fall into two categories. One type is Neh Ga Ryu - (inside house style) characterized by close defensive fighting. The other type is Weh Ga Ryu - (outside house style) characterized by spontaneous, quick, offensive oriented fighting. Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan is Korea's traditional martial art and is Joong Gan Ryu (middle way style) using both Neh Ga Ryu and Weh Ga Ryu. This is because the geographical conditions of Korea demands an understanding of both Neh Ga Ryu and Weh Ga Ryu.
Joong Gan Ryu (middle way style) utilizes hard/soft, light/heavy, active/passive type movements. The softer/heavier movements are similar to the Northern Chinese styles, whereas the lighter/active movements are similar to the Southern Chinese styles. All of these factors make Soo Bahk Do a very versatile, challenging martial art.
This versatility and challenge is apparent in the body of forms (Won Hyung) required in the Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan Federation. The Yuk Ro forms are indigenous to Korea and the speed, timing and sudden distance changes make these forms very unique.
One must remember that the techniques and forms recorded in the Moo Yei Do Bo Tong Ji were used to train the Kings Army. The techniques themselves build discipline, strength etc. but the morality and philosophical development comes from the Moo Duk Kwan. Moo Duk Kwan means "Martial Virtue School". The philosophy of the Moo Duk Kwan combined with the technical challenges of Soo Bahk Do creates a holistic way of training the mind and the body, enveloping every aspect of oneself, in order to create a more mature person who integrates all the potential of the mind, body, and spirit in order to free themselves from inner and outer conflict. This integration enables the practitioner to deal with the outside world in a mature, intelligent, forthright and virtuous manner. There are three area's in Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan which are vital to the development of these qualities. Everything in Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan uses one or more of these areas.
These areas are Neh Gong, Weh Gong and Shim Gong.
Neh Gong (Internal achievement) deals with one's internal health and energy.
Weh Gong (External achievement) deals with one's external health, muscles, tendons. etc.
Shim Gong (Spiritual achievement) deals with one's mental, spiritual health and well being.
The integration of these three area's through the mental and physical challenges of the Yuk Ro forms, Soo Bahk Do training, and the Moo Duk Kwan's philosophy guide the practitioner towards a oneness with their environment whether it's physical, spiritual or social thereby creating a more peaceful practitioner, environment and hopefully a more peaceful world.
When Master Lee Duk Moo compiled the Moo Yei Do Bo Tong Ji he probably did not ponder the world wide effect it would have let alone its use toward human betterment in our present time, but Korea's ancient martial arts text has stood the test of time and has survived antiquity to remind us of our heritage to the ancient warriors of Korea and their efforts and sacrifices to pass onto us the value of Soo Bahk Do the traditional martial art of Korea.
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