21 February 2011

Vaal Taekwon-Do Reunion

Over the last few months I have been quite busy with arranging the first Vaal Taekwon-Do Reunion, which was held this past Saturday near Vanderbijlpark, in the Vaal Triangle, South Africa. The event had a double purpose: the first, of course, was to get old acquantances together to catch up on the good old days; the second was to officially confirm the early history of Taekwon-Do, particularly ITF Taekwon-Do in South Africa.

Andrew Fall
During the evening it was confirmed by three individuals that practised Taekwon-Do during the late 70s and 80s that the first person to have brought Taekwon-Do to South Africa was Mr Andrew Fall, from Vereeniging, who started the South Africa Taekwon-Do Institute in 1976. Mr Fall was originally a JKA Karate practitioner; however, he went to England and practised under Rhee Ki-Ha (then a 7th Dan master). When Mr Fall returned to South Africa he introduced this new Korean art to his Karate club in Vereeniging, which resulted in the club to split, with roughly a third continuing with JKA and the remaining students starting their new journey in ITF Taekwon-Do.

General Choi Hong-Hi visited South Africa shortly afterwards in 1978, during which time he presented Mr Fall a scroll that proclaimed him life-president of ITF Taekwon-Do in South Africa. During his follow-up visit in the early 80s, Gen. Choi tested the first batch of black belt candidates in South Africa.

This early history of ITF Taekwon-Do in South Africa has gone nearly unnoticed by the current governing body (SA-ITF), until in recent years different collaborators confirmed the early history, providing various newspaper clippings, and other documents as proof. Such documents were again provided during the reunion over the weekend.

The SA-ITF executive president, Mr Dirk Nel, fully acknowledged and accepted this early history of Taekwon-Do in South Africa and also announced honours to certain key individuals in the early history of South African Taekwon-Do. Mr Andrew Fall was posthumously presented with an honorary fourth degree black belt. (Other individuals were also honoured; a formal announcement will be made by the president in an official letter in the near future.)

So what does this mean to us, the Soo Shim Kwan? Basically, it establishes our group as a direct lineage from the first Taekwon-Dojang in South Africa, starting with Mr Andrew Fall, then Mr Johan Bolton, who was my direct instructor.

The SA-ITF has ten Kwan (federations). Four of these Kwan branch out of Mr Johan Bolton's structures, and therefore, Mr Andrew Fall's first Taekwon-Do structure; they are Bulsaju Kwan, Juche Kwan, Dan Gun Kwan and Soo Shim Kwan. The other Kwan in South Africa have their roots in Mr James Brooks who came to South Africa from England in the 80s and first settled in Johannesburg -- later moving to Vanderbijlpark. (He eventually had to return to England.)
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