Dr. Joo Bang Lee
Hwa Rang Do Founder & WHRDA President
Led by Hwa Rang Do™ Founder, Supreme Grandmaster Dr. Joo Bang Lee and his son Grandmaster Taejoon Lee, the World Hwa Rang Do™ Association celebrated it's FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY on July 30 & 31st, 2010! With tears and laughter, spin kicks and takedowns, demonstrations and competitions, practitioners from across the globe, including Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, Korea, and the United States came together to challenge themselves and practice the most comprehensive martial art on the planet in Koreatown - Los Angeles, California.
Warriors competed for pride in their art, their schools and themselves, battling in no less than TWELVE SEPARATE TOURNAMENT EVENTS under one roof, a literal decathlon of martial arts unseen before anywhere else: open hand forms, weapons forms, weapon fighting (long staff, short staffs, & mixed sticks, long swords, short swords, & mixed swords), ground fighting (grappling), and stand-up 'punch-kick-throw' sparring. The most successful martial artists in all ten divisions were declared Grand Champions for 2010, after their cumulative scores across all events were tallied.
These honors went to:
VIP's in attendance, from Black Belt Magazine's Robert Young & Raymond Horwitz, as well as the Martial Arts History Museum President, Michael Matsuda, personal guests, the hotel manager and even the professional photographers of Fusion Martial Arts Photos were blown away by the skill and spirit of the competitors, and the vastness of Hwa Rang Do™. It's hard to believe that any other group would try to compete with what the Hwa Rang Do™ offers as a martial art, nor are they likely to pull it off. It seems all possible because of the commitment to maximizing human potential that is the mission of Hwa Rang Do™, and the practitioners of their martial way.
The Hwa Rang Do™ 50th Anniversary Conference also gave practitioners the opportunity to train with Dojoonim (Supreme Grandmaster) and Kuksanim (Grandmaster) personally for an entire week, which took place in the Wilshire Hotel from August 1st - 8th. During the conference, participants enhanced their discipline in grappling, self-defense, weaponry, and philosophy - honing their skills so that they may be of service to others whenever and wherever the need should arise.
The World Hwa Rang Do™ Association's FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY was also an opportunity to unveil the emerging mission fo the organization, to improve the human condition, one human being at a time through community and humanitarian works, sponsored by the association.
As I was struggling to open my first school fifty years ago, I often dreamt of this moment. A time when Hwa Rang Do practitioners from across the globe would gather to celebrate and recognize each others' achievements as well as sharing tales of courage and self-sacrifice. I came to this country to fulfill my destiny of sharing with everyone this beautiful and magnificent ancient art, to uphold honor, justice and peace in the world. Many have sacrificed much to spread Hwa Rang Do and I want to thank all of them for believing in me and the art.
There are many tales of our ancestor warriors 1800 years ago. The book known as the Hwa Rang Segi which documented the lives of over 100 Hwa Rang knights and other books were destroyed over a century ago and thought lost forever. For 100 years there only remained the fragmented stories of many knights and generals that relate their great service to country and countrymen, their undying loyalty to family, their devotion to friends, the courageous deeds and their love of nature and life.
Thankfully, one of these books, the Hwa Rang Segi, was discovered a few years ago and the first ever English translation of this historic treasure has recently been completed. The past 50 years of Hwa Rang Do has been an effort to re-write the lost books: Hwa Rang Segi, Samauk Yusa and Samauk Segi with modern tales of chivalry and honor.
What we do today will determine what the future will be and picking up where the Hwa Rang Segi leaves us with the power to continue to make history and realize our dreams. The alternative would be to dwell in the comforts of apathy and inaction. Destiny lies within the spirit - it is inseparable and indomitable. We are born into the world with a "destiny" and it will lie dormant until it is awakened by a loud thunderous clap or a gentle hug. Either way, "destiny" exists and the only question is whether it remains asleep or it is allowed to do its bidding.
Hwa Rang Do was once taught in a beautiful temple called, "Bul Guk Sa", which still remains as a national monument in Korea. It was an institution of higher learning with emphasis on leadership, harmony and balance. Hwa Rang Do is unlike other martial arts where the focus is merely on self-defense & the spectacle of modern martial arts competition.
Hwa Rang Do is a school of thought that believes in achieving balance of mind, body and heart to enrich the spirit so that we can live in harmony with others and nature, and to develop strength and power so that no one ca take away our freedom by force.
As we enter the 2nd decade of the 21st century, let us rewrite the remaining lost books with examples of modern day exploits of the current crop of Hwa Rang Knights, and let us together rebuild our own modern "Bul Guk Sa". With all our resources, hard work, and cooperation with an eye on the future, Hwa Rang Do University (HRDU) will be a reality.
Thank you for helping me make our dreams come true.