World Martial Arts Union
Most people in Western Nations assume that the Olympic sport of Taekwondo is the national martial art of South Korea but surprisingly this assumption is wrong. Yes Taekwondo is the National Sport of South Korea but the much more ancient dance like game of Taekkyeon is actually the genuine holder of this title. It has been officially recognised as an Important Intangible Cultural Asset since 1983, the only martial art given such an honour and masters of this style are regarded as national treasures by the South Korean Government.
Practiced since ancient times alongside the traditional wrestling style of Ssireum, the sport almost became extinct during the cultural suppression of the Japanese Occupation (1910-1945) but has slowly clawed its way back to prominence since that time. The practice of Taekkyeon has always been centred around the ancient city of Chungju, about 2 hours drive south of Seoul and because of the unique history of the activity, the organisers of Taekkyeon have taken a leadership role in the preservation of all endangered martial arts across the world. Chungju City has hosted a World Martial Arts Festival since 1998 with invites sent to other nations for practitioners of similar styles to come and demonstrate at this event. From this movement, in 2002 the World Martial Arts Union (WoMAU) was created from 30 different martial arts from 28 different nations.
Australia was included at this inaugural meeting with demonstrations of traditional Aboriginal weaponry done by the dance group Tal-Kin-Jeri led by the remarkable Ngarrindjeri Elder from South Australia, Major Sumner. Uncle Moogy as he is most fondly known, has been vice-president of WoMAU since this time and has done much to bring awareness of the traditional martial arts of Australia. Although his work in this field has been given little recognition in Australia, Uncle Moogy has earned great respect from other martial arts masters from around the world and the Coreeda Association acknowledges him as the Grand Master of Traditional Australian Martial Arts.
Currently WoMAU recognises about 45 different martial arts (Asia 20, Europe 15, Africa 3, Americas 4 and Oceania 3) but is always looking to expand its horizons. In 2010 WoMAU was given an official mandate by the United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to safeguard the endangered martial arts of the world as part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of each nation. As an advisory NGO of the UNESCO Intergovernmetnal Committee it takes this responsibility very seriously. Accepting generous donations from both major corporations and the South Korean Government, it has built a World Martial Arts Museum along with a 150,000m2 theme park dedicated to the continued practice of diverse forms of martial arts. It soon plans to establish a Martial Arts University and a Traditional Sports & Games practice centre, making Chungju the Mecca of World Martial Arts. WoMAU however remains integral in the continued coordination of the World Martial Arts Festival, the annual highlight of the Chungju social calendar.
The Coreeda Association of Australia officially joined WoMAU in 2010 with the backing of Uncle Moogy and now has recognition from UNESCO as an important part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Australia. Through this connection it has built bridges with other styles of traditional wrestling from around the world and awareness of Coreeda has now been gained with the Mongolian Bukh Federation, the Uzbekistan Kurash Federation, the Kazakhstan Kures Federation, the North Sudan Nuba Wrestling Federation, the Moldovan Trynta Association and the powerful Russian Sambo Federation, which are all members of WoMAU.
Strangely even with all this international recognition Coreeda remains little known in its country of origin and it has been given no support whatsoever from any tier of government nor any major Australian corporation. Instead Coreeda continues to be promoted only by the individuals that are involved in the day to day running of the activity but we believe it is only a matter of time before this status changes. We hope that one day the Australian Government comes to recognise Coreeda as a national cultural treasure, much like how Taekkyeon is ackowledged as such by the South Korean Government. We do of course know that this will take a long time and a lot of lobbying for this to happen and invite all of you reading this to join us in this endevour. Help us to get the first ever Indigenous Australian martial art to become a popular part of the cultural landscape of this country. Help us to get all of Australia to learn to be proud of who we really are.