From Creation To Unification: The Complete Histories Behind the Ch’ang Hon (ITF) Patterns by Stuart Anslow is an excellent Korean history book for the Korean martial artist. Even though I teach Hapkido, and don’t do the ITF Taekwondo forms, I still thoroughly enjoyed reading the history behind the forms, as it is more about Korean history than martial arts.
After some preliminary matters as forewords, about the author and an introduction, the book goes into a brief synopsis on kings, kingdoms, emperors and dynasties of Korean history and then an introduction to the Romanization of the Korean language. Next, the author provides a brief history of Korea and how the patterns relate in 22 pages. For such a brief history of a country that has a rich and long history, the book does a good job and this chapter serves its purpose and provides more than probably many who study Korean martial arts know.
The ITF patterns were named after famous historical figures or events from Korean history. This book provides a deeper look at these individuals or events and provides a great background to these forms. The book will do nothing to help you learn the forms, or perform the patters better, but it will give an understanding of the importance of the person or event the form was named after. As I said earlier, this is a history book, not really a “martial art” book.
The forms covered include: Chon-Ji, Dan-Gun, Do-San, Won-Hyo, Yul-Gok, Joong-Gun, Toi-Gye, Hwa-Rang, Choong-Moo, Kwang-Gae, Po-Eun, Ge-Baek, Eui-Am, Choong-Jang, Ko-Dang, Juche, Sam-Il, Yoo-Sin, Choi-Yong, Yong-Gae, Ul-ji, Moon-Moo, So-San, Se-Jong, and Tong-Il. Many of these figures and events were known by me because of my living in Korea and studying Korean history, but I still liked how Anslow provided a brief and interesting look at each. It is easy to read, and really does contain quite a bit of historical information. For the person who wants general knowledge about Korean history, and not necessarily an in depth scholarly tomb of thousands of pages, this book is a great choice, and if you want to know about the histories behind the IFT patterns, it is one of you only choices.
The book contains black and white and color pictures throughout, which really help bring the history alive. You learn about the figures and events the forms were named after, and why, as well as who developed the forms and when. I really enjoyed reading the Korean history and how it related to the formation of the ITF patterns. I would recommend this to any Korean martial artist, and propose that is a must read for all ITF members.
Check out From Creation To Unification on amazon: