Book review by martial arts historian

Book review by martial arts historian

Benjamin Judkins reviewed A Killing Art:

Revealing the Hidden History of Tae Kwon Do

…A Killing Art, by Alex Gillis, is sure to appeal to these students. Actually, the book is fantastic. It is a must read for anyone who is interested in the modern history of the Asian martial arts. The writing is clean and it flows easily, reflecting the author’s background in journalism. The book presents a well-researched study of the history of Tae Kwon Do. It begins with the style’s origins among a group of Korean youth who studied Japanese Karate before WWII and concludes with the present day controversies surrounding the sport’s continued inclusion in the Olympics.

…I am really awed by the many good instructors who were exposed to the sorts of abuses and corruption that Gillis outlines, yet believed deeply enough in their art to find a way to continue to practice and pass it on.

I think that this is where the profound narrative power of A Killing Art comes from. The author understands as much of the history and true nature of Tae Kwon Do as anyone alive. He is intimately familiar with the shortcomings and past failures of his chosen style, but he stands by it anyway.

While he set out to write a historical account, I think that this book has evolved into something more. I see it as an open letter to the Tae Kwon Do community (and in particular its leadership) reminding them of where they actually came from and extolling them to do better. To live up to their promises of reform, to no longer betray the trust of all of the students who have studied and competed in its ranks over the years…

The rest of the book review is here.

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