The Way Of Traditional Taekwondo, Vol. A: Philosophy And Tradition, By Grand Master Haeng Ung Lee

The series of books entitled The Way of Traditional Taekwondo provides a comprehensive overview of the Songahm Taekwondo curriculum. In Volume A: Philosophy and Tradition, Eternal Grand Master Haeng Ung Lee describes the historical and philosophical underpinnings of the Songahm style. He also explains the purpose of various aspects of Taekwondo training, from the physical movements (strikes, blocks, kicks and stances) to rituals and ceremonies like rank testings and tournaments.

The word "Songahm" is interpreted as "pine tree and rock." The pine tree is a complex symbol, but at its heart is the notion of everlasting growth. For the student of Taekwondo, the significance is that learning is a continuous process that does not cease even upon becoming a master. The rock represents the foundation of our training: the history and traditions that informed and shaped the development of Songahm Taekwondo.

While the term Taekwondo emerged relatively recently, the martial art itself has its roots in traditions dating back over 1,300 years. These traditional martial practices were suppressed during the Japanese occupation of the peninsula in the first half of the twentieth century. After South Korea emerged from the Korean War, the nation was determined to reassert its identity. Under the leadership of General Hong Hi Choi, the word Taekwondo was adopted to describe the national martial art. However, the common curricula remained deeply influenced by Japanese karate. For example, although Taekwondo emphasizes dynamic kicks, the poom-sae exhibited few challenging kicking techniques, and none at the early levels. To ensure that the poom-sae reflected his expectations that students learn to demonstrate challenging kicks, the Eternal Grand Master developed the Songahm style. He thus built on the rock (the foundation of 1,300 years of training) and created a path for the continuous growth represented by the pine tree. This was the vision of the Eternal Grand Master.