Wits presents traditional martial arts

Faber van Niekerk, 2nd dan combat tang soo do, Angela van Zyl, 3rd dan haedong kumdo, and master Gregory Hart, 6th dan tang soo do showcase their uniforms.

Chuck Norris holds a 9th degree black belt in tang soo do (traditional Korean martial arts), which is perhaps the most famous exponent of an ancient martial arts form that dates back to the time of the Korean War.

Emulating the famous actor’s exploits was the order of the day for the close to 200 competitors representing six different provinces at the South African Combat Tang Soo Do and Haedong Kumdo Championships, held at Wits University’s Old Mutual Sports Hall in Braamfontein.

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Competing across five tang soo do and three haedong kumdo disciplines, fists, feet, swords and sticks flew as participants, young and old, vied not only for honours in their respective categories but also for a place in the South African national team. The SA team will take part in the Worldwide Tang Soo Do Family World Championships in Johannesburg in August next year.

“The tenets of tang soo do is sincerity, justice, respect and honour and that’s what we try to instill in our young people who are very respectful and [possess] great self-confidence, self-discipline and self-control and that’s what tang soo doo is about,” explained master Gregory Hart, who is a 6th dan in tang soo do and instructor at Wits Dojang in Braamfontein.

Chris Coetzee and Ivan Zimmermann with their category winners medals.

Katso Diphoko (11), is one such young person who participated in the tournament. “I’ve been doing tang soo do for five years and what I enjoy most about it is the weapons,” he said. And when asked why this was the case, he said, “Because they’re shiny.”

Phillipa Leathem (11), another young tang soo do student, said her father, who boasts a black belt in tang soo do is her source of inspiration with reference to the art form. She was also quick to point out the practical uses of tang soo do in real-life situations.

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“Master Greg was once in a bar and was attacked by drunk people,” she said. “But he managed to overcome the threat.”

In confirmation, Hart affirmed the uses of tang soo do as a means of subduing specific threats. “I was in a bar and together with a companion, were prevented from exiting the bathroom by a lone assailant. Using [a tang soo do technique], I grabbed him by the throat and subdued him to the ground,” he said. “The move was enough to get compliance, but he [the assailant] suffered no lasting damage.”

What are your thoughts on the practical uses of tang soo do and other martial art forms in overcoming real-life dangers? Share your thoughts by posting your comments on the City Buzz Facebook page.

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