Saturday, January 18, 2014

Flemings Martial Arts: "the way of the hand and foot"

Christal Cooper -1127 Words
Facebook @ Christal Ann Rice Cooper

"the way of the hand and foot"
Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance,
Self-Control, Respect, Victory!
In the 3rd Century the three rival Korean Kingdoms of Goguryeo, Silla (pronounced Shilla), and Baekje developed unarmed combat styles and techniques known as Ssireum and Subak.  The most popular segment of Subak was Taekkyeon, now known as Taekwon-Do

In the 6th Century, before the fall of the Goguryeo Dynasty, the Silla Kingdom asked for help in training its young men against pirate invasions.   The Goguryea Kingdom granted their request and trained a few Silla men in Taekkyeon

The newly trained Silla warriors became known as the Hwarang. 

The Hwarang opened a military academy for the sons of royalty in Silla called Hwarang-do, which means “the way of flowering manhood.” 

At these academies, the men were taught Taekkyeon, history, Confucian philosophy, ethics, Buddhist morality, social skills, and military tactics. 

The guarding principles of the Hwarang warriors were based on Won Gwang’s five codes of human conduct:  loyalty, duty, trustworthiness, valor, and justice.  
Unfortunately, Taekkyeon faded into obscurity during the late Joseon Dynasty, and became known only as a folk game played at festivals.

In 1937, Korean Choi Hong Hi, 19, traveled to Kyoto, Japan to study calligraphy under the great calligraphy master Hans II Dong, who was also a Master in Taek Kyon.  Soon Hi was learning Taek Kyon from Dong as well.  Hi also learned Karate.  

In 1945, South Korea was liberated form the Japanese colonists and thus the South Korean Army was formed, and Korean martial art schools began to open throughout Korea.  

Choi Hong Hi started developing Taekwondo techniques that he based from Japanese Karate and Korean Taekyon

During this time Hi was also developing a strong military career: rising in rank from first lieutenant, to Brigadier General. 

In 1952, South Korean President Syngman Rhee watched a martial arts exhibition in which Nam Tae Hi smashed 13 roof tiles with one punch. 

President Rhee told his General Choi Hong Hi to introduce the martial arts to the Korean Army, which General Hi immediately did, with Taekwondo Master Nam Tae Hi, as his right hand man. 

In 1954, Brigadier General Choi was promoted to Major General. 

In the same year, President Rhee ordered that the martial arts be unified under one system. 

It is debatable of who thought of the name Taekwondo:  General Choi Hong Hi or Duk Sung Son.  The name was accepted on April 11, 1955. 

Four years later, the Korea Taekowndo Association was formed in 1959 with Grandmaster Major General Choi Hong Hi as its first President.
In 1965, Master and Major General Hi wrote the first English Taekwondo syllabus book “Taekwondo”.   

On March 22, 1966, General Hi founded the International Taekwondo Federation as a splinter group from the KTA.
Today Taekwondo is practiced in 123 countries, with over 30 million practitioners and three million individuals with black belts throughout the world. 

Two of those individuals who practice Taekwondo and are black belts are married couple John and Mitzi Fleming of Fleming Martial Arts located on 4314 Atlanta Highway in Montgomery, Alabama.  John earned six degrees of black belt and Mitzi earned five degrees of black belt.  

       John’s first experience with Taekwondo was at the age of eleven when he, his brother, and mother, received Taekwondo lessons as a gift from his older sister.  
After he took lessons for two years, at the age of 13, John knew that he wanted Taekwondo to be his career field though it would take numerous years to make his dream come true, during which he made a living as a warranty administrator at a Chrysler dealership.

       Both John and Mitzi knew each other in Jr High School and attended the same high school, Floyd Jr. High School.
“We lost connection in high school and she moved out of state.  When she returned we reconnected through a friend and we started dating.” John said.  
       While they were dating Mitzi decided to participate in Taekwondo – she saw her future husband’s enjoyment of the art form and soon joined in. 

       The couple did not open Fleming Martial Arts until September 1, 2001, when their present instructor was moving out of state, giving them an opportunity to open their own school in Montgomery.

       The couple have two children – daughter Morgan and son Mason – both of whom have black belts – Morgan is a third degree black belt and Mason is a second degree black belt.

       The one misconception about Taekwondo is that the art form teaches individuals how to fight, when in reality it teaches individuals how to defend themselves from perpetrators.
       “Taekwondo is a system of self-defense that teaches people not only to defend themselves, but gives them the confidence in their ability to do so.  Taekwondo is not just physical training.  It is a mental discipline as well.  Training in the art improves self-confidence, discipline, and focus.” John said.

       Another misconception of Taekwondo is that only individuals who are physically fit can participate.
       “All techniques can be adapted or modified to meet anyone’s physical abilities so that it is effective for them to use.”

       A large number of Fleming’s students are high- ranking advanced students, requiring higher levels of training.     As a result, John makes sure he is updated on the latest information and techniques of the art form via research, meetings, and phone calls.  

       Fleming Martial Arts added a second art, Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, which focuses on teaching individuals how to defend oneself from the ground.

Martial Fleming Arts also offers a Women Empowered, which is a self defense program designed by the Gracie Academy based on studies done with police officers and people who have committed assaults on women.

“There are 15 techniques to combat the most common attacks. Although there are more than 15 attacks that could be carried out, the techniques and philosophies taught can be adapted for any situation.” 

       Each day John works out, teaches day classes, has lunch, teaches classes at offsite locations, then back to the main location on Atlanta Highway where he teaches night classes.

       Flemings Martial Arts also provides after school programs, which consists of picking up kids in the Flemings Martial Arts van, bringing them back to the facility, where they have a light snack and the opportunity to burn some energy before evening classes begin.

       “They learn the same curriculum as every student in our program and go through the same belt ranking process.  It’s a convenient way for parents to provide their children with a martial arts training as well as a safe environment after school.”

       Visit the website at or their facebook page at!/pages/Flemings-Martial-Arts/180766141945471  For more information on Gracie Jiu Jitsu classes, visit 

Photo Description and Copyright Information

Photo 1.
Map of the three Korean Kingdoms.  Attributed to Historiographer at the English Wikipedia.  Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 Unported.

Photo 2.
Goguryeo tomb mural.  Public Domain.

Photo 3.
Ancient Hwarang warriors painting.  Public Domain.

Photo 4.
Painting of the soldiers of the Hwarang.  Public Domain.

Photo 5.
Confucius – gouache on paper from the Granger Collection in New York.  Author is unknown.  Public Domain.

Photo 6.
Painting of female and male clothing of the Josean Dynasty.  Drawn by Shin Yun-bok.  Painting is stored at the Gamsong Art Museum in Seoul, South Korea.

Photo 7.
Five images of Master and Major General Choi Hong Hi. The top two images are him practicing Taedwon-Do.  The bottom three images are of him in his military uniforms.  Public Domain.

Photo 8.
Photo of Korean activists released from prison on August 15, 1945 – the Liberation Day of Korea.  Public Domain from the Republic Of Korea (South Korea).

Photo 9.
The young Choi Hong Hi.  Public Domain.

Photo 10a.
Lieutenant Choi in 1946.  Public Domain.

Photo 10b.
Brigadier General Choi in 1952.  Public Domain.

Photo 11.
President Syngman Rhee on May 1, 1951.  The image is the work of the United States Military or Department of Defense employee.  As a work of the United States federal government the image is in the public domain.

Photo 12.
Master Nam Tae Hi in 1973.  Public Domain.

Photo 13.
Major General Choi Hong Hi.  GNU Free Documentation License, Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic, and 1.0 Generic.

Photo 14.
Dr. Syngman Rhee, President, ROK, and Mrs. Rhee (foreground) with Non-commissioned officers of the 62nd Engineers and train crew members in front of the first locomotive to cross the newly constructed railroad bridge spanning the Han River at Seoul, Korea. 19 Oct 1950.  Photo taken from the United States Army Military History.  Public Domain.

Photo 15.
Duk Sung Son.  Attribution-Creative Commons Share Alike 3.0 Unported.

Photo 16
Jacket cover of “Taekwon-Do” by Choi Hong Hi.

Photo 17.
Kevin Mathis and John Fleming in 1992.  Copyright by John Fleming.

Photo 18.
Mitzi Fleming in 1994.  Copyright by Mitzi Fleming.

Photo 19.
Morgan Fleming, age 3, at her first Taekwondo class on May 4, 2001.  Copyright by John and Mitzi Fleming.

Photo 20.
John and Mitzi Fleming preparing the Fleming Martial Arts school to be opened in September of 2001.  Copyright by John and Mitzi Fleming.

Photo 21.
Morgan Fleming, age 4, on April 17, 2002.  Copyright by John and Mitzi Fleming.

Photo 22.
Mason Fleming, age 2 in April of 2003.  Copyright by John and Mitzi Fleming.

Photo 23.
John and Morgan Fleming, age 7, getting her first blackbelt in February of 2005.  

Photo 24.
John Fleming in 2007.  Copyright by John Fleming.

Photo 25 and Photo 26.
John Fleming Family (John, Mitzi, Mogan, and Mason) in 2010.  Copyright by John and Mitzi Fleming.

Photo 27 and Photo 28.
John Fleming Family (John, Mitzi, Morgan, and Mason) in 2011.  Copyright by John and Mitzi Fleming.

Photo 29.
John Fleming in 2012.  Copyright by John Fleming.

Photo 30.
John Fleming Family (John, Mitzi, Morgan, and Mason) in 2012.  Copyright by John and Mitzi Fleming.

Photo 31.
John Fleming in 2013.  Copyright by John Fleming.

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