Korean Karate During the Korean War
The Korean war came along, and though all of Korea was thrown into turmoil, the Kang Duk Won continued to be taught. Students came and went, and often the instruction was conducted under the boom of nearby cannon. When the explosions of landing shells cane within a half mile or so, the students would pick up the floor boards of the school and find a new location.
During those times building material was of high value, and the floorboards wouldn’t even be nailed down. They would be laid out, and the students would work barefoot, doing their moves and looking for places to land where there weren’t any splinters.
Needless to say, it was a hardy breed of martial artist that survived the teachings in those days.
As for Joon Byung In, he was taken by his brother to fight for the North. He fought through the war, and was eventually taken prisoner. When the Americans asked for the people of the south who had fought for the north to return home, the communists physically piled on Joon and wouldn’t let him go home.
Joon was forced to go north, where he was commanded to teach Korean Karate. He tried, but his style of Korean Karate made strong individuals, and that was in opposition to the communist ideology. Joon spent the next few years being forced to work in a cement factory, and he finally returned home, weak and weary.
His Korean Karate had been good, however, and after the war the Kang Duk Won flourished. The lineage at this point included a young fellow name of Norman Rha. Norman came to the United States and taught a young fellow name of Robert (Bob) Babich.
It was actually Bob, Mr. Babich, who brought the Kang Duk Won to its highest state. You’ve got to remember that Karate wasn’t broadly known in the United States, and that only the most die hard fanatics would sign on for a course.
The school of the Kang Duk Won in San Jose, under Mr. Babich, had a wild variety of students. There were cops and crooks, Hells Angels and PhDs. There were students and workers of every stripe.
It was into this school that I walked in 1969. I had two years of Karate under my belt, had become an instructor in Chinese Kenpo, and had written the instruction manual for that school. I thought I knew something, but I had no idea what I was walking into.
On the next page, White Belt Karate, I will tell you what Roberrt J. Babich was like, and what training under him was like..
Take me to Meet Bob Babich.
This has been a page about the Kang Duk Won and Joon Byung In.