American Butokukan - History


The History of
The American Butokukan System

Our eclectic style is a result of the diverse martial backgrounds of its founder and senior instructors. The ABS's more than 30 year history begins with its founder Todd D. Jones, who in 1970 began his martial arts training under James Rene Diaz in Miami Beach, Florida. James Diaz, who rose to the rank of yondan before his early death in 1983, was a student of Dr. Richard Chun.

Dr. Richard Chun

Dr. Chun, who was eventually awarded ninth dan in 1984, first moved to New York City from Seoul, Korea, to attend Long Island University in 1962. In Korea, Dr. Chun had been a student of Korean martial arts under Un Yung Kim, a student of the art of Tang Soo Do under Hwang Kee. By 1964, Dr. Chun was teaching martial arts to the students at Long Island University, one of whom was James Diaz. Dr. Chun called the art he taught Moo Duk Kwan Tae Kwon Do

Tae Kwon Do

The word Tae Kwon Do, as well as the sport that bears its name, has existed only since 1955. It was at that time that many of the Korean martial arts masters came together and agreed upon a common goal. That goal was a unification of Korean martial arts, the production of a Korean national sport, and ultimately, a successful petition to include that sport in the Olympic Games.

The masters who came together practiced such arts as Tang Soo Do (Way of Tang Dynasty Hand, one of many generic Korean names for their practice of Chinese and Okinawan martial arts), Kong Soo Do (Way of Empty Hands, another generic name for Korean martial arts), Kwon Bop (Fist Method), and Soo Bak (Striking Hand), among others. At the time the name Tae Kwon Do was chosen, the masters practiced their various arts under the auspices of schools ('kwan' in Korean), all of which were founded either just prior to or just after the liberation of Korea in 1945, including Chung Do Kwan, Ji Do Kwan, Chang Moo Kwan, Song Moo Kwan, and Moo Duk Kwan.

The nature of the universe is constant change, a flux between harmony and discord; so it is with mankind. Even in our generation, the world community is greatly lacking in those virtues most crucial to humanity's survival, namely: self-discipline, self-confidence, tolerance, patience, and understanding at the individual/personal level. Ancient records indicate the origin of systematized combative arts stems from the cradle of civilization in the pre-Egyptian Mediterranean area. However, each successive culture has incorporated its' own psychological approach, and therefore technical modifications, to both armed and unarmed physical conflict resolution.

This occurred because cultural variance is based in divergent psychological perspectives for conflict resolution, different social systems/conditions, and evolving technologies. China, long recognized as the mother of Far Eastern cultures, is credited with the rational organization and codification of oriental combative arts. Purportedly, the monks of the Shaolin monastery were instructed by an Indian monk (Ch.:Bohidharma/ Jap.:Daruma) in exercises which emulated animal movements and their psychological responses to confrontations with other species.

Naturally, these took the form of attack and defense; activities associated with hunting or being hunted for food. Subsequently the Chinese, in particular the monks of the fabled Shaolin monastery, are credited with the evolution of these exercises into highly organized, diversified methodologies for waging combat. Due to the extreme diversification and specialization introduced at Shaolin, supposedly no one individual could master all aspects of their art.

These techniques were considered secret because such knowledge was considered too dangerous for the general public to possess. They were therefore taught only to students considered extremely ethical or extremely needy. As such, these skills spread slowly, but surely, throughout all of Southeast Asia.

By the late 1600's, the Japanese had entered a relatively peaceful era under the leadership of the Tokugawa Shogunate. During this period they subjugated the Ryukyu Islands, including the island of Okinawa. Okinawans, deprived of armaments, adapted to their situation by learning "empty-handed" combative arts from the Chinese. These skills were streamlined, making them more efficient for conditions in Okinawa. After almost three hundred and fifty years, Gichen Funakoshi, an Okinawan, introduced Okinawa-te (Okinawa hand) to the Japanese public. Due to the enormous public acceptance, Funakoshi moved to Japan and changed the name of his art to Shotokan.

About the same time (c. 1940), Morihei Ueshiba was synthesizing his art of Aikido that has its roots in Yagyu-Shinkage Ryu Kenjutsu (Swordsmanship), Kito-ryu jujutsu, Daito-ryu aikijutsu, and the art of sojutsu (Spearmanship). Aikido differs from karate and judo in that it is not competitive; but rather, a study of space-time relationships in overcoming direct conflict through a blending and subtle redirection of imminent forces. In 1909, the Yi dynasty of Korea came to an end with the Japanese Occupation of that nation.

The Occupation lasted until Korea was liberated by the Americans during World War II. During this time, however, the Koreans were able to covertly study Japanese fighting arts; especially karate, judo, and jujutsu. The Koreans incorporated much of the Japanese arts into their own combative styles, thus changing them forever. After World War II, the masters of the various Korean schools still existing came together and agreed to call their art "TaeKwonDo", the "Way of Smashing Fists and Feet". Since that time, the World TaeKwonDo Federation (a branch of the South Korean government) has concentrated its efforts on installing TaeKwonDo as an Olympic sport. To this end, TaeKwonDo has been simplified \and exported to virtually every nation on the face of the earth.

Kisshomaru Ueshiba, the second Aikido Doshu (son of the Founder, Morihei Ueshiba) undertook the worldwide propagation of their art by sending emissaries to every major "free-nation" in the world. Both have been decorated by the Emperor for outstanding achievements in their field, a very rare honor.

In 1962 Dr. Richard Chun arrived in New York City from Seoul, Korea to attend Long Island University where he ultimately received a Master's Degree in Business Administration. By 1964 he was teaching Americans the art of MooDukKwan-TaeKwonDo. In 1984 he was awarded Ninth Dan (the highest rank attainable in that art), for his efforts to promote TaeKwonDo in the United States. One of his students was James Rene Diaz. Also in 1964 Yoshimitsu Yamada arrived in New York City from Tokyo, Japan to teach Aikido. Today there are over ten thousand practitioners of the art in the USA. Yamada Sensei has brought four (4) other Shihan (Masters) to the United States since 1964. Among them are Mitsunari Kanai, Boston; Akira Tohei, Chicago; Kazuo Chiba, San Diego; and Seichi Sugano, New York. Mr. James Diaz moved to Miami Beach, Florida in 1970 to teach MooDukKwan-TaeKwonDo there. Long recognized as one of Dr. Chun's finest students, by 1982 Mr. Diaz had produced over twenty Black belt students from the Miami area. Regretfully, Mr. Diaz died of cancer on April 9th, 1983; he was Fourth Dan at the time.

Dr. Hans Thomas Walker began his study of Aikido in 1962 under Major George Wilson, a direct student of the Founder. Subsequently, they established relations with Yamada Sensei and the United States Aikido Federation. Dr. Walker served as the first Vice President of the United States Aikido Federation, and helped grow the organization into the largest aikido organization in the western hemisphere. Widely recognized as one of the foremost exponents of the art, Dr. Walker held the grade of Fifth Dan, Shidoin (Examiner), and was Chief Instructor of the "Sand Drift Aikikai" in Titusville, Florida when he passed away in 2003.

Todd D. Jones began his study of martial arts late in 1970 at the age of thirteen under the tutelage of Jimmy Diaz in the art of MooDukKwan-TaeKwonDo on Miami Beach. By 1974 he was also studying the arts of Iaido, Kendo (Japanese Swordsmanship and Fencing) and Aikido. On March 16th, 1975, Mr. Jones became the third student of Mr. Diaz' to attain Black belt rank. By 1977, Mr. Jones had achieved Black belt ranking in the arts of the Japanese sword. In 1980, he was advanced to First Dan in Aikido by Dr. Walker. Mr. Jones is currently ranked as Seventh Dan in MooDukKwan, Fifth Dan in Aikido, and Third Dan in Kendo and Iaido. In the Fall of 1975, Mr. Jones founded the Florida MooDukKwan Club at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Florida MooDukKwan grew to be one of the university's largest intramural sports clubs with over 250 students training over seventeen hours per week in four different gymnasiums in 1980. Mr. Jones' competitive career resulted in his being recognized as one of the state's finest martial artists. Between 1979 and 1984, Mr. Jones was both a state and nationally known forms and fighting champion. By 1987, Mr. Jones and the AMS could boast over thirty black belt students; many of these have gone on to achieve their own national championship status; such notables include Dale Kirby (Swordsmanship), Brian Shawe (Forms), and Matt Barrow (Fighting). Today, Mr. Jones enjoys a national reputation for technical excellence and quality instruction.

As a result of Mr. Jones' study under Dr. Walker, between 1980 and 1994, he was frequently afforded the rare honor of taking ukemi from most of the top shihan that Honbu dojo had to offer; each was an exceptional and treasured learning opportunity. In 1989, Mr. Jones first travelled to Japan to study under Saito Morihiro sensei at the Founder's residence in Japan. Although never establishing a formal student-teacher relationship, Mr. Jones enjoyed a special personal relationship with Saito sensei that lasted until his passing. As a result of his study under Dr. Walker and his special relationship with Saito sensei, Mr. Jones has developed an extraordinary technical conversancy on the principal differences in the current pedogological transmission of the Founder's art in traditional dojo. While both an adherent and advocate of traditional training, Mr. Jones is frequently requested to share his unique understanding of the practical martial application of aikido technique. To wit, in 2003 and 2005, Mr. Jones was a featured participant in the AikiExpo events hosted by Stan Pranin and the Aikido Journal. And in 2008, he was a guest instructor at the second Aikido Bridge seminar by invitation of Hiroshi Ikeda sensei. As a result of these kinds of events and his proactive efforts in support of building better relationships among the many aikido organizations, Mr. Jones enjoys close personal friendships with many of the world's finest exponents of aiki-related arts, and with leaders in the major US and French aikido organizations. As a result of reintroductions graciously facilitated by Francis Takahashi shihan in 2006, Mr. Jones is currently recognized as a delegate of the Aikikai Honbu dojo.

Consistent with a commitment to technical excellence, the organization emphasizes a similar commitment to academic endeavors.

The American Butokukan draws upon the diverse background of Mr. Jones and his senior students. Students are introduced to the intricacies of TaeKwonDo and Aikido concurrently, with an emphasis on developmental progression. More than just a mere combative sport, great importance is placed on the development of a correct and appreciable social etiquette that necessarily carries over into life outside of the classroom. Eventually, a technical and conceptual synthesis occurs, resulting in a synergistic expansion of the student's physical and psychological problem-solving capabilities; these skills have an interdisciplinary application useful in any walk of life. An international organization, today the American Butokukan has schools across the western hemisphere.

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