By Walter T. Ham IV, Eighth Army Public AffairsApril 23, 2012
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea (April 23, 2012) -- American Soldiers and Republic of Korea Army troops tested their martial arts mettle here, April 21, during the Combined Forces Command Combat Tae Kwon Do competition.
Held at Seoul American High School's Falcon Gym, the competition featured bouts with Republic of Korea, or ROK, Army Tae Kwon Do practitioners and U.S. Army Combatives fighters.
The 501st Military Intelligence Brigade won 1st place in the Combatives team competition and the ROK Army 1st Corps took 1st in the Tae Kwon Do competition.
Instead of the usual cross-cultural exchange, this gathering was a flurry of fists and feet.
The Tae Kwon Do fighters yelled, slugged and kicked their way through three round matches on one mat while the Combatives competitors punched, kicked and wrestled it out on the other.
Before the championship matches, the Third ROK Army Tae Kwon Do team wowed the audience with an explosive and acrobatic demonstration. No piece of wood or apple was safe during the demonstration as the team slashed, smashed and mashed through them, sending pieces of broken wood and chunks of apples high into the rafters.
Gen. James D. Thurman, commander of United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command and U.S. Forces Korea, presented the awards following the competition. Eighth Army Commanding General Lt. Gen. John D. Johnson and Command Sgt. Maj. Rodney D. Harris attended the event and cheered on the competitors.
Holding the event in the birthplace of Tae Kwon Do added gravitas to the competition. An Olympic sport and popular martial art taught in training halls around the world, Tae Kwon Do was developed by Korean martial arts masters in South Korea in 1951.
"Tae Kwon Do is the national sport of the Republic of Korea and it is known worldwide," said Thurman. "It takes the fitness, discipline and skill that we saw demonstrated."
Thurman said those were the same traits Soldiers needed to be successful on the battlefield.
Citing the importance of team building competitions, Thurman quoted his predecessor at United Nations Command, first UNC Commander Gen. Douglas MacArthur.
"General MacArthur said, 'On the fields of friendly strife are sown the seeds that on other days and other fields will bear the fruits of victory,'" said Thurman. "There's no substitute for victory when it comes to our ability to defend the Republic of Korea and to protect the Korean people."