Transcribed by ZiChuan Lim
The foot is a deadly weapon
It happened in the city of Nha Trang during the Vietnam War. A gun was pointed at Suh Chun Suk’s back, and a voice told him to hand over his wallet and watch. Suh grabbed the barrel of the gun and kicked the would be thief to the ground.
Suh Chun Suk is no “Dirty Harry” Callahan [?]. He is one of the world’s leading exponents of the Korean martial art form tae kwon do, in which he holds an eighth dan black belt.
Only four people in the world have higher qualifications. Three have a ninth dan black belt and one is 10th.
For the past 16 years Suh, 48, who now lives in Narrabeen, has taught taekwondo to more than 5,000 Australians.
Taekwondo has its origins in tae kyon, a form of foot fighting 1,393 years old. Hand techniques were introduced and the combination is now called taekwondo.
“Tae” is the Korean word for kicking, jumping or flying with the foot, “kwon” means punching, striking or beating of hands and “do” means technique or way.
“In the more advanced techniques, the use of legs is[ ] more [impactful?],” Suh said. “The legs can develop more power and reach further than the hands”.
Suh began taekwondo training in Korea when he was 12 years old. He won[?] his first degree black belt at 14.
He became an instructor in the Korean Army, and taught taekwondo to military [?] from South Vietnam, Australia and the United States during the Vietnam War.
He has often used his training to extricate himself from threatening situations, such as the incident with the thief in Nha Trang.
“Taekwondo involves mental discipline and helps confidence grow,” Suh said. “A lot of people suffer too much stress. Taekwondo helps to control[?] that.”
But, he says, it is for self-defence, not for people who get into brawls. “Learning to fight in the street is not good. People will get a bad attitude.”
If a child in one of his classes has that “wrong attitude”, Suh will try to change it. If that does not work, he will “kick him out - otherwise it will give me and my classes a bad name”.
Suh never fights. If somebody swears at him or gets aggressive, he just smiles.
He no longer takes part in competition because he is too good. Once above a fourth dan black belt, it becomes too dangerous.
“The professional people would kill each other,” he said.
It is best to start Taekwondo young - but not before the age of seven. It is certainly not an expensive sport: a 1 1/2 hour class with Suh costs $2.50.
But it is never to late to learn. “Taekwondo keeps you young and strong,” he said. “One 62 year old man could only last 15 minutes in the first less,” he said. “But in his third week he was able to last the full 1 1/2 hours.”
It is also effective for someone who wants to learn how to defend themselves from attack.