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
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
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
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.