Taekwondo as Mnemotechnique and Shape of Semiotization of the History

Alexander Ugay

Justice is one of the main reasons for uniting people. Justice provides interrelation between the success and the action, the punishment and the crime, and so far provides sense and logic - the relationship in a random, incoherent flow of events.

Community (ethnos) shapes the boundaries between WE and THEY at the times of pressure imposed by usually dominating group. Household traditions and culture are intensifying and strengthening in response to the cultural challenge, as the death of ethnic groups is not the result of physical destruction, but of a collective and cultural oblivion(1). Preservation of the memory of the past is based on semiotization of the history and through different mnemotechniques(2).

Jews were the first in the history who "tied up" their identity to God and made the religion a kind of form of cultural memory. Due to this, Israel's cultural memory was stored for hundreds years without the actual state, territory, the church and other essential concepts of identity. Researchers of the Old Testament agree that Deuteronomy – is a manifest of the group, the "movement" or "school” (Weinfeld, 1972), which acts as a carrier of this new, interiorized and de-materialized form of identity, the identity which is supported by only one Torah which contains everything that other communities should create and show in the form of territories and institutions, governments and monuments: "portable homeland" as Heinrich Heine called the “Torah"(3).

We may say that the unique strengthening of the tradition would not have happened without the necessity of the dissociation from Egypt. Korean history in a way was similar to the history of Israel in sense that all the time, Korea was under strong influence or even control of more powerful neighbors like: Japan, China as well as the USA and the USSR. Taekwondo emerged as a direct consequence of the rebellion to Japanese colonizers(4). General Choi Hong Hi, the founder of Taekwondo, combined mnemotechniques of martial arts with historical memory thus creating not only a new form of struggle but also а unique object of cultural memory. This is reflected clearly in the words of the general:

"... It was then that I realized that we need to create our own national martial art, which will be superior, both in spirit and technique to Japanese Karate. I firmly believed that training this technique all over the country would allow me to fulfill the promise which I gave to my three compatriots who shared with me Japanese prison confinement. The teuls(5) were named in honor of the most eminent persons through nearly five thousand years of Korean history. Correct understanding of teuls leads to the understanding that Taekwondo – is a military skill, which can be used only for self-defense and only in the struggle for justice."


Teul # 6 JOONG-GUN:
is named after the patriot Ahn Joong- Gun who assassinated Hiro- Burmi Ito, the first Japanese governor-general of Korea, known as the man who played the leading part in the Korea- Japan merger. There are 32 movements in this pattern to represent Mr. Ahn's age when he was executed at Lui-Shung prison (1910).

Teul # 19 YON-GAE:
is named after a famous general during the Koguryo Dynasty, Yon Gae Somoon. The 49 movements refer to the last two figures of 649 A. D., the Year he forced the Tang Dynasty to quit Korea after destroying nearly 300,000 of their troops at Ansi Sung.

Teul # 24 TONG-IL:
denotes the resolution of the unification of Korea which has been divided since1945. The diagram (I) symbolizes the homogenous race.


(1) Jan Assmann, "Cultural Memory: Writing, memory of the past, and political identity in the high cultures of antiquity." Moscow: Languages of Slavic Culture, 2004. p.368
(2) Mnemotechnique - a set of special techniques and methods that facilitate the storage of information, and increase the amount of memory by forming associations. Replacement of abstract objects and facts to concepts and ideas that have visual, auditory or kinesthetic representation, binding sites with information already available in the different types of memory for easy storage.
(3) Ibid.
(4) After the Russian-Japanese war of 1904-05 Japan established a protectorate over Korea, and in 1910 annexed it. From 1910 to 1945, Korea was a Japanese colony.
(5) Teul - is a complex consisting of the basic offensive and defensive movements, running in a logical based sequence. In taekwondo, there are 24 teuls. Figure 24 represents the number of hours of a day.