Synopses & Reviews
Obscure documents, Korean-language books, and in-depth interviews with tae kwon do pioneers tell the tale of the origin of the most popular martial art. In 1938, tae kwon do began at the end of a poker game in a tiny village in a remote corner of what is now North Korea by Choi Hong-Hi, who began the martial art, and his nemesis, Kim Un-Yong, who developed the Olympic style and became one of the most powerful, controversial men in sports. The story follows Choi from the 1938 poker game where he fought for his life, through high-class geisha houses where the art was named, and into the Vietnam War where the martial art evolved into a killing art. The techniques cut across all realmsfrom the late 1960s when tae kwon dotrained Korean CIA agents kidnapped people in the United States and Europe to the 1970s when Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, and other Hollywood stars mastered the arts new kicks. Tae kwon do is also a martial art for the 21st century, one of merciless techniques, indomitable men, and justice pumped on steroids.
“Gillis, himself a tae kwon do black belt, succeeds in debunking the sports mythology . . . When he writes about corruption and backroom dealings, his voice is compelling and the depth of his research astounding . . . A Killing Art is fascinating, fast-paced, and reads more like a spy novel than a history. Beyond that, it evokes a certain voyeuristic pleasure that comes with unearthing the sordid past of something seemingly harmless.” —Quill & Quire
About the Author
Alex Gillis is a university writing instructor and a professional journalist specializing in literary nonfiction and investigative research. He has trained in tae kwon do for 25 years and is a third-degree black belt. His instructors were some of the pioneers of the martial art, and he had rare access to these men and their families and disciples. He lives in Toronto, Ontario.