The persons and events that shaped Taekwondo in Argentina By Manuel E. Adrogué April PDF

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By Manuel E. Adrogué April 2008 Photographs are mostly courtesy of Miguel Hladilo Taekwondo is the most popular martial art in Argentina. During the mid 1980s, when national population reached aprox. 30

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By Manuel E. Adrogué April 2008 Photographs are mostly courtesy of Miguel Hladilo Taekwondo is the most popular martial art in Argentina. During the mid 1980s, when national population reached aprox. 30 million, Taekwondo population peaked with 60,000 students and instructors. The total number of people that have practiced Taekwondo in Argentina has been estimated in 500,000. An international powerhouse in ITF style, Argentina has generated more than 20 world champions in sparring, forms and breaking. This is both an account of the most relevant individuals and events in Argentine Taekwondo, as well as an attempt to place them within the context of a forty-year tradition now firmly rooted in the lower part of South America. The names in bold indicate a list of the 25 persons considered to be most representative of Argentine Taekwondo, as listed at the end of this report. First Part: The Korean Masters The official date of introduction of Taekwondo in Argentina is November It was then that Kim Han-Chang (29), Choi Nam-Sung (31) and Chung Kwang-Duk (17) arrived and settled in Buenos Aires after two months on board of a Dutch cargo ship. At that time there were less than 1,000 Korean nationals in Buenos Aires today the community exceeds 20,000-. One day Judo instructor Norberto Aspera stopped at a gas station, and a Korean employee working there saw his folded uniform at the back seat and asked about it. He was invited to the Judo class, which he attended along with fellow countrymen Choi and Chung. They showed their Korean Karate tricks in Judo academies, and the rest, as they say, is history. In prior times there had existed other Korean nationals teaching karate, but they never developed schools of their own. On the contrary, these three instructors had the back-up of the International Taekwon-Do Federation under Gen. Choi Hong Hi. Two other instructors that joined them around that time are Yang Dae-Chol (1970) and Lee Chong-Seo (1971), respectively from Ji Do Kwan and Moo Duk Kwan backgrounds. Kim Han-Chang and Choi Nam-Sung (2008) Founding fathers of Argentine Taekwondo. Master Kim Han-Chang is a university graduate in Foreign Relations, very articulate, and highly skilled in his kicking techniques. He started learning in the Chung Do Kwan in Seoul under Son Duk-Sung, Um Kyu-Un and Par Hae-Man, and he recalls frequent visits by Gen. Choi, who acted as honorary president of the school. Master Kim received his third Dan in Of slender physique and fine technician, he became famous through his flying scissors kick in the cover of the second issue of Yudo Karate magazine. Among his first students were Eiriz, Balza (the first Argentine-born black belt), Diehl, Grispino, R. Villalba (who along with G. Poletti contacted Master Hwang Hyun-Chul in the U.S. and introduced Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do to Argentina by 1974), Busca, A. Villanueva, Somoza, Desimone, García, Fuentes, Tajes and Neer (who later settled in the Neuquén region and published a book about the martial arts as a philosophies for life). Kim, today ranked as Kuk Ki Won 9 th Dan, is currently semi-retired from teaching activity but serves as consultant to several organizations. After the local ITF-WTF split that occurred in 1979, Kim strengthened his ties with his original Chung Do Kwan school and his teacher Park Hae-Man, and ever since he has followed the approach taken by the World Taekwondo Federation. Master Kim has been always been beyond political disputes and therefore he is much appreciated by all people in Argentine martial arts as a genuine gentleman and, ultimately, the father of Argentine Taekwondo. Master Kim Han-Chang Master Choi Nam-Sung was a tough person rugged by the environment in which he grew. Originally from a northern Korean village, the withdrawal of American troops in 1950 forced the family to move south separately. As a twelve-year old boy he ended in an orphan house, and he eventually learnt to survive in the streets. Taekwondo, boxing and hapkido taught him how to deal with the mobsters that harassed him for contributions from his hard earnedmoney selling smuggled watches on the streets. Master Choi is a very tough person. He was had a short and powerful body, and his style was very strong, with heavy basics and his teaching was oriented to fighting. Although a few years older than Kim, Choi always regarded Kim as his elder brother because the latter was senior in rank and all institutional matters, 2 contacts and business-like aspects were handled by Kim. Choi s original students were H. Marano, P. Trajtenberg, E. Casagrande, C. Castagnola, C. Ouro, J. Vaccaro, G. Portela, O. Cruz Martín, R. Tiscornia, J. Pepe Sánchez, G. Gambolini and Sáenz. Choi is also a Kuk Ki Won 9 th Dan. He follows WTF instruction, keeping the roots of his original Korean Karate, Yun Moo Kwan style. He still gives weekly classes to his higher-ranked students. Master Choi is a very simple and straight-forward person who doesn t socialize much and considers himself an eternal student of traditional Taekwondo at the old dojang built beside his house. Master Choi is regarded by his students as a humble man refusing to forfeit the good traditions of the past. He remains as close as a brother to Master Kim Han-Chang. Master Choi Nam-Sung in action. At left, with student Héctor Marano Master Chung Kwang-Duk was probably the most outspoken and forthcoming of the pioneers. He used to hammer nails into wooden panels with the side of his fist, and his students were highly disciplined under his guidance. Chung s black belts included Vargas, R. Gurtler, F. Pintos, G. Ramisch, R. Saenz and E. Palmisano. During the 1979 split Master Chung was the only Korean to remain in the ITF. He became the local head of the organization, until local students of other masters started to become significant to the ITF during the late 80 s. Master Chung left to live in the United Stated during the 90s, where he was graded 8 th Dan by Gen. Choi and has only returned to Argentina for occasional visits. He currently heads the New York-based International Taekwon-Do Society. Master Chung Kwang-Duk Master Lee Chong-Seo was a tall and athletic young man devoted to training in the Moo Duk Kwan style. A fifth Dan, he also held black belt ranking in Hapkido. He was regarded as an acrobatic and precise kicker, and was the first to show spinning techniques that marked the difference between Korean and Japanese style. His daily classes used to last more than three 3 hours, where he taught forms, kicking drills, self defense, and sparring. Lee s senior students included P. Florindo, C. Verdún, J. Rogers, H. Guzmán, A. Salim, F. Solas and C. Capalbo. Lee taught until 1976, when he moved to the United States. He is retired from the martial arts. Master Lee Chong-Seo at the old Kumazawa school. At right, in the 90s with student Pedro Florindo. Yang Dae-Chol was a three time national junior Korean champion that arrived by He was from Ji Do Kwan, and was very focused into competitive training. He was medium height and very strong, particularly in his legs since he had also been a speedskater in Korea. In his classes sparring was heavy and intense, and instead of using punches, students used to slam their palms vigorously into their opponents chests. His main students were E. Carrillo, R. Burman, Ciabardelli, O. Alderete (the first female black belt in Argentina), and from 1976 until his retirement in 1979, P. Florindo. He is semi-retired and lives in San Carlos de Bariloche at the Patagonia. Jidokwan s Master Yang Dae Chol Chung Jung-Moo was a lightweight and very fast old-school Oh Do kwan instructor. He arrived to Argentina in He had grappling skills from his ssireum (Korean sumo) background. Among his students were Ruffini, Alvarez, Cambursano, R. Borjas and C. Filippa. At present he keeps his relation with the WTF Taekwondo community as an advisor. 4 Master Chung Jung-Moo Keh Chung-Chan was a lightweight and skilled instructor who settled in Junín, close to the Santa Fe area. He was also a marathon runner. Through his student N. Misobe he eventually became the teacher of Mattos and M. Nassini, two excellent black belts who became the founders of Taekwondo in Rosario, a city with a vast number of martial arts champions. Kim Sung-Su was a very aggressive fighter, strong and stocky, who displayed a very mobile style. He was a demanding teacher who developed a group of devoted black belts as R. Bertoia, E. Godoy, Squeff, H. Geiser, E. Lanciotti, Heichmann, Núñez, Bustos and Ambrosini. So Young-Hye was also a military-trained Oh Do kwan stylist of medium size. His sparring partners remember he had a particularly strong side kick and was a well rounded martial artist. He is said to have been killed by the Shinning Path guerrillas in Peru in the early 80s. He was the teacher of F. Taboada. Other Korean teachers who spread WTF Taekwondo in Argentina after the late 1970s include Ku Yong-Chae (the first Korean master that worked for the development of the style in accordance with Kuk Ki Won standards), Chang Jong-Hee (very proficient in what later became known as Olympic sparring, his influence in the early 80s bore a new generation of fighters and coaches, including Julio Ramos), Lee Seok-Won (a Kuk Ki Won 8 th Dan of Moo Duk Kwan schooling who has recently been chosen as mentor by a dozen senior local instructors), Kong Myung-Kyu (who returned to Korea to become a successful Tango and showbiz producer) and Im Hyong-Man (a former Pro-Taekwondo full contact champion in Korea who is also a Christian minister). Second Part: The seventies, the first Argentine black belts and the ITF-WTF split By 1974 Gen. Choi Hong Hi visited Argentina for the second time, and all residing Korean instructors received him as the head of overseas Taekwondo. In those times the few local black belts were learning the chon ji patterns, and started to occasionally train together sharing what they were learning from their instructors. The first National Taekwondo Tournament was held in 1975, and it was the first time Argentines fought full contact with stiff chest guards, with some memorable clashes that showed a rough style. Ouro, Florindo, Verdún, Carrillo, Borjas, Cirelli, Portela, Vaccaro, Cruz Martín, Aquino, Figueroa, Iedwab, Ricciardelli, Belardinelli and Pepe Sánchez were some of the most remarkable fighters in that era, and some of them earned a name for Korean stylists in open style karate tournaments (mainly USKA-sanctioned). 5 Carlos Ouro, first national champ in At the right, old time legends Cirelli and Verdún. Capalbo vs. Sosa, 1977 Casagrande vs. Borjas, 1977 Florindo vs. Ouro, 1977 Capalbo vs. Sosa, 1977 At that time in Argentina information on what was happening in Korea was scarce. The exile of Gen. Choi and the takeover of international Taekwondo by the Kuk Ki Won during 1972 was something unclear to Taekwondo students in Argentina. Korean masters who had originally arrived representing ITF didn t want to focus into politics, and explained little to their students. Additional Korean instructors kept arriving, such as Um Chi-Jung (the first to present WTF style as the new trend in Taekwondo), and some locals participated in the WTF World Championships in Chicago 77 (that was the case of Florindo and Verdún), while other who trained together entered in the ITF world championships of Oklahoma 78. 6 Florindo (left) vs. Borjas (right), 1978 By 1979 political and personal reasons had determined that all Korean instructors except Chung Kwang-Duk had decided to report directly to Kuk Ki Won in Seoul. The youth of the Korean instructors who were in their early thirties, almost the same age of their senior students- may have also persuaded the locals that they should have a voice in deciding the future of local Taekwondo. Many local black belts felt held back in their gradings, and the ITF decided to send Master Kim Jong-Chang (ITF 7 th Dan) in an instruction and demonstration tour. The group included Choi Chang-Keun, Rhee Ki-Ha, Park Jung-Tae, Lee Hong-Moon, Kim Suk- Jun and Michael Cormack, and after a week of instruction a group of twenty-one black belts was examined and promoted to 4 th Dan: Eiriz, Florindo, Trajtenberg, Marano, Casagrande, Ramisch, Dacak, Grispino, Luque, J. Sánchez, Desimone, Gurtler, Sosa, Nassini, Sanz, Mattos, R. Sánchez, Vargas, Pintos, Aquino and Diehl. On that occasion E. Palmisano was promoted to 3 rd Dan. At that point some black belts who had not been part in the examination questioned the lack of etiquette by the ITF of by-passing local Korean teachers, and many of the promotions were objected by those who say their training pals sky-rocketing several degrees. In such a big group, experience and skill was varied, and it would be unfair to jump into a simplistic conclusion on the merit of such promotions as a whole. A small group of the Argentines among them Solas, Ouro, Vaccaro, Busca, Tajes, Portela, Tiscornia, García and Somozadecided to follow their teachers into WTF. Almost in parallel with the presentation of the WTF style by Master Um, on June 1978 Edgar Perez Colman, the Argentine ambassador returning from Korea, established the Taekwondo Association, with full governmental support (later transformed into the Argentine Taekwondo Confederation). Prior to his return and in gratitude and appreciation of Korean culture, Mr. Pérez Colman had undertaken the commitment before WTF officials to organize Kuk Ki Taekwondo in Argentina, and for such purpose Master Ku Yong-Chae was entrusted with the technical responsibility. Master Ku settled in the city of La Plata, were his school flourished and some years later continued to evolve under the guidance of Chang Jong-Hee. Master Chang served as the Confederation s technical advisor well into the nineties. 7 WTF style pioneer Chang Jong-Hee Ambassador Edgar Pérez Colman with Osvaldo Cruz Martín J.C. Kim s 1979 pre-examination course served to lay a unified technical ground for ITF Taekwondo in Argentina, while Perez Colman s Association with the technical assistance of Ku Yong-Chae, who was the first to teach Taeguk forms in Argentina- formed the basis for local modern WTF Taekwondo. Third part: The eighties and the first groups headed by Argentine instructors In Argentina Taekwondo has grown and developed with strict adherence to the major global governing bodies (the WTF and the ITF). Unlike other countries, independent Taekwondo groups are few. Maybe because the first Korean masters were affiliated to international organizations and for the most part the Korean masters did not issue black belt rank based on their own personal authority, local Argentine instructors, even after leaving their original Korean teachers, have generally sought international certification. After the 1979 Argentine instructors upgrade, the ITF organized the 1981 World Championships in Resistencia, province of Chaco, 1,020 kilometers north to Buenos Aires. Although in Argentina the most relevant martial arts activity was found in the city of Buenos Aires, the tournament in Chaco gave people from other parts of the country the opportunity to witness first-hand the international standards in ITF competition. During that event Azucena 8 Zorzón (the first top-level female competitor in Argentina, currently 7 th Dan) became world sparring champion. She was student of Paraguay-born Javier Dacak, Montreal 74 ITF and Oklahoma 78 ITF world breaking champion, who succeeded smashing seven one-inch boards with a knife hand strike. Alcides Solís, Javier Dacak and Azucena Zorzón at the 81 World ITF championships in Chaco. As Taekwondo was gaining some awareness among the public, many of such teachers decided to teach martial arts professionally and for such purpose they gathered in a few organizations, among them (1) the group headed by Héctor Marano and Pablo Trajtenberg which included Daniel Rossell, Alberto Katz, Mario Troiano, Edgardo Villanueva, Martín Montes, Néstor Galarraga, Ricardo Siracusa, and Jorge Miccolis-, (2) the group lead by Pedro Florindo with Jorge Rogers, Héctor Guzmán, Francisco Taboada, Francisco Beloso (a former student of Daniel Cirelli), Carlos Gómez de Olivera, Armando and Jorge Carabajal, Claudio Iedwab, Gabriel Delucci and Martín Haussemer-, and (3) the group lead by Enrique Eiriz with Ricardo Desimone, Darío Vega and brothers Adrián and Cristian Desiderio. Master Chung Kwang-Duk remained as the highest ranking ITF instructor in Argentina, and he was seconded by Ricardo Gurtler, Guillermo Ramisch, Roberto Saenz, Eduardo Palmisano and Kim Yong-Chol. Pablo Trajtenberg Claudio Iedwab / Gabriel Delucci On the WTF side Emilio Casagrande, Félix Solas, Abel Salim, Jorge Vaccaro, Raúl Busca, Oscar Tajes, Gustavo Somoza, Carlos García, Ernesto Carrillo, Ricardo Burman, Osvaldo Cruz Martín, Carlos Algranati, Enrique Cambursano, Ricardo Fuentes, Ramón Borjas, Alfredo Muñoz, and Carlos Filippa were among the most active instructors in Argentina during the early 80s. 9 The right-wing military government was replaced by democracy in 1983, and slowly the lifestyle of the population changed. Sports and cultural activities that had previously been pursued by few started to attract the youth massively, and by 1985 martial arts schools were blooming. Yudo Karate magazine, through its alma mater Miguel Hladilo, helped to shape local Taekwondo inspiring competitors to achieve the merit of being at the cover of the magazine, which served as authoritative voice about what were the international and local trends of the martial art. Miguel Hladilo beside the historic cover photo of Master Kim, Han-Chang. On the WTF arena during the early 80 s Raúl Busca and Juan Carlos Mangoni (2 nd and 3 rd place in the 1981 Santa Clara USA World Cup) with Ricardo Puppo and Miguel Rodea were among the best competitors of their time. Some years later and with a distinct Olympic-style influence from Korea a faster and more strategic Taekwondo evolved. One talented instructor and Korean university champion who settled in Argentina for some time, assisting Master Choi Nam-Sung and Oscar Tajes was Kim Jun. Raúl Busca, unstoppable 10 Juan Carlos Mangoni, a golden era champion Jorge Gómez, Julio Ramos, Martín Pardo, Andrés Haber, Alejandro Lamparita González, Alfredo Vitaller, Flavio Salvador, Manuel Chamorro, Angel Muñoz (champion under WTF and Karate rules, whose axe kick was terrifying), Alberto Juárez and Alejandra Chancalay (fem.) became the top fighters in the style during the eighties. In the ITF style the champions of the early 80 s were Edgardo Villanueva (a resourceful and aggressive fighter, undefeated national champion in ten years), Alberto Katz (a superb technician), Ebel Barat (Silver Medal heavyweight at the ITF 1984 Glasgow World Championships), Alcides Solís, Pedro Osuna, Francisco Paco Beloso, Alfredo Belardinelli, Daniel Burban, Fausto Mercado, Jorge Rábago, Jorge Carabajal, Marcelo Franzotti, and Azucena Zorzón (fem.), and in the mid 80s Gustavo Pigni, Juan José Sunini (a talented fighter tough as a nail who was champion under all sort of martial art rules), Marcelo Vatrano (a very complete lightweight), Pablo Sabalain (world champion in pattern and breaking specialties), Carlos Bianchini, José Maidana, Humberto Próspero, Laura Micceli (fem.), Marcelo Franzotti, Eric Calvo, Alejandro Quadro, Fernando Pigni, Francisco Petrocco, Facundo Alarcón, Daniel López, Mario San Agustín, Sabrina Condró (fem.) and Mary Potenza (fem.) were outstanding competitors. Edgardo Villanueva (left) and Juan J. Sunini (right), two fierce fighters 11 Marcelo Vatrano In 1987, ITF envoy Master Park Jung-Tae gave a one-week seminar in Buenos Aires, which finished with the examination of the local senior instructors. Among those promoted to 6 th Dan were Trajtenberg, Marano, Florindo, Ramisch, Gurtler, Sosa, Dacak, Nassini, Grispino, A. Villanueva and Luque.
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