Review: “A Killing Art” – By Alex Gillis

May 22, 2016

A killing art

Espionage, Congressional scandal, Karate and Korean mobsters – what more does a good book need?
Going over some research on Japan and South Korea I found a review that I originally published in May of 2011. It’s a pretty wild true history and I think it’s worth taking another look at.

“A Killing Art” by Alex Gillis
Reviewed by John Titus

I am sometimes late to the party, but when I get there I drink my share.
Which is why I am thrilled to review “A Killing Art”, by Alex Gillis. This book, which was written in 2008 somehow escaped me until one of my Tae Kwon Do instructors from the past sent me a copy.
And boy did I drink my share; this book is not your typical background of Tae Kwon Do as a contemporary martial art. It is a historical account of The struggle of oppressed Korea, both North and South.
It is the story of the men who fought hand-to-hand in trench warfare against Communist soldiers and returned to refine the Shotokan Karate learned under Japanese rule to a uniquely Korean art that would aid the development of the emerging South Korean industrial tiger. The book is part history, part espionage, and the gradual emerging of western thought in a country that was steeped in stoic Confucian values of the past.
Author Gillis has poured over 4,000 pages of the U.S. Congressional investigation known as “Koreagate”, conducted countless interviews and footnoted every reference in the book for further review. This book was researched in the best of journalistic methods and may be the most comprehensive book on the subject.
“A Killing Art” centers on the struggle between rivals to create Tae Kwon Do from the trench warfare era to present time. General Choi Hong-hi was instrumental in molding Korea’s martial art from Japanese Shotokan, through the phase where nine separate schools (Tang Soo Do, Chung Do Kwan, Ji Do Kwan etc.), all of which had Japanese or Chinese influence became “Tae Kwon Do”, or “foot-fist way”.
General Choi, hardened by the war, favored a realistic fighting system and created the International Tae Kwon Do Association (ITF). Choi’s art retained killing techniques, but began to be out shadowed by the emerging sport version favored by Korean Secret Service official Kim Un-yong. Here begins the internal war between the original battlefield martial art and Olympic sport Tae Kwon Do under the World Tae Kwon Do association (WTF).
Under treaties between the U.S. and South Korea, money for development flowed into South Korea in the 1960’s, and Korea sent 300,000 trained soldiers to aid the U.S. and South Vietnamese in the Vietnam war. Likewise, thousands of U.S. servicemen were trained in using Tae Kwon Do in hand-to-hand combat. Tae Kwon Do became intrinsically linked to war and espionage, with thugs and gangsters enjoying it’s use also.
Author Gillis describes how scandals developed involving the Korean CIA, shakedowns and kidnappings in Europe, The U.S. and elsewhere that led to misery and torture under the hands of Korean dictatorships. Gillis himself interviewed some of these agents in researching the book. Here-in-lies the dark side of the martial art known as Tae Kwon Do.
Alex Gillis pulls no punches in describing how Tae Kwon Do fell into decline with Olympic Tae Kwon Do and the shopping mall McDojo era. He describes the scandals revolving around the Olympics, and how the sport was corrupt and too boring for spectators to follow. The martial spirit was replaced with a careful game of tag that was often predetermined by corrupt judging and what is referred to as “branch trimming”.
What sticks out most clearly, is that the same issues and criticism of Tae Kwon Do as a sport were played out by a bitter, aging General Choi (who appears to have been a North Korean agent) against his rival, the KCIA-embedded Kim Un-yong.
In “A Killing Art”, Alex Gillis has compiled the best history of war-torn Korea and the subsequent dictatorships, the scandals involving espionage, U.S. Congressional members, and the pure athleticism of the men of Tae Kwon Do.
-It’s one of my favorites, and has informed me towards future projects of my own.

Share

Tags: , , , , ,

One Response to Review: “A Killing Art” – By Alex Gillis

  1. Bob Pattereson on May 22, 2016 at 8:22 pm

    This one remains one of my all-time favorites. I think it should be mandatory reading for all styles of TKD. It dispels at lot of the BS that both the WTF and ITF preach.

    Good stuff!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Contact

covertbookreport1@gmail.com

Live Traffic Feed

Feedjit Widget

RSS Northwest Research & Covert Book Report

  • American Fascists Call For Civil War Against “Liberals”
    The far-right wingnuts and followers of Mein Trumpf are officially declaring war on “liberal” political enemies. Spoiler Alert; the right-wing is also heavily armed and have been practicing for this since the day of cold-war bomb shelters. In a stunning recent article, Newsweek details the raging impulse for American neo-fascists to hunt down and execute […]
  • Another Corrupt FBI Set-Up
    People who are excitedly awaiting a take-down of the Trump Crime Family by the FBI are ignoring the horrible track record of that agency. Robert Mueller has nearly become a folk hero in the early days of his Trump investigation, and of all people, Democrats are worshiping the former FBI director. Now we have another […]
  • Putin: Kennedy Was Killed By U.S. “Special Services”
    It’s probably going to piss off a lot of readers, but sometimes I think that Vladimir Putin is the only adult in the room. I am not veering off into the Russia/election debacle, which is largely a Democratic Party excuse for losing the presidency to Trump. That problem is due to the fact that Clinton […]
  • Artist “Mobey”: Trump Is Being Blackmailed
    Buried deep in a Huffington Post article about Mobey’s new album “More Fast Songs About the Apocalypse”, is a real gem about a tip he received from an intelligence source concerning Donald Trump. Accompanied by Disney-like videos depicting Trump as a rampaging Nazi character, the album is sure to stir controversy. Here’s a link to […]
  • Portland Protest Thread – 6-4-17
    This post will be a place holder for info on the “Free Speech” far-right rally and counter-protest in Portland Sunday June 4th. Comments welcome. Overview: Police in Portland, Oregon, prepare for opposing political rallies https://www.reuters.com/article/us-oregon-protests-idUSKBN18V0J0 Antifascist article Portland Liberals Need To Wake Up Before More People Die https://medium.com/@gregoryrobertmckelvey/portland-liberals-need-to-wake-up-before-more-people-die-8182b61d3d1d Rose City Antifa identifies the fascists Meet […]