18th World Military Taekwondo Championships in South Korea, May, 2008 – Photos by G. Brundage
Below are from Georgia (the country) July 2016 – Many thanks to Georgian ITF President Mr. Levan Tsaretashvili (on left in first photo) who was a constant friend and guide in Tbilisi and to Georgia’s history and culture.
Below is from visit to the WTF National Training Center during training for part of the Junior team, and with interview with National Team Coach Loseb Osidzein in Tbilisi Georgia, July 18, 2016. They had just returned from one international competition and preparing for another so this workout was abbreviated. Head Trainer Osidze had an incredible competition career of his own, a great sense of humor and is genuinely loved by his team.
A day with Vitalii Oleinichenko, President ITF Kyrgyzstan and President of the Chuy Regional Taekwondo Federation – July 28, 2015 Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. It was Summer vacation and most residents of Kyrgyzstan’s capital city were vacationing out of town. None-the-less I managed to find Vitalii Oleinichenko’s home address and paid him a visit. Fortunately he was very welcoming, invited me in and I had the chance to interview him and get up to speed on Taekwondo in Kyrgyzstan. Near the end of that interview I mentioned my desire to visit the archeological site of Suyab, now called Ak-Beshim. He said he’d never been there but very kindly volunteered to come along and explore the ancient capital city.
Before looking at the archeological site, some background helps understand its significance in history. It was once a great Silk Road trading center and to the Chinese, a frontier outpost.
Suyab also known as Ordukent (modern-day Ak-Beshim), was an ancient Silk Road city located some 50 km east from Bishkek, and 8 km west southwest from Tokmok, in the Chu river valley, present-day Kyrgyzstan. The ruins of this city, along with other archeological sites associated with the Silk Road, was inscribed in 2014 on the UNESCO World Heritage List as the Silk Roads: the Routes Network of Chang’an-Tianshan Corridor World Heritage Site.
The settlement of Sogdian merchants sprang up along the Silk Road in the 5th or 6th centuries. The name of the city derives from that of the Suyab River, whose origin is Iranian (in Persian: suy means “toward”+ ab for “water”, “rivers”). It was first recorded by Chinese pilgrim Xuanzang who traveled in the area in 629.
Traveling 500 li to the north west of Great Qing Lake, we arrive at the city of the Suye River. The city is 6 or 7 li in circuit; various Hu (“barbarian”) merchants here came from surrounding nations congregate and dwell. The soil is favorable for red millet and for grapes; the woods are not thick, the climate is windy and cold; the people wear garments of twilled wool. Traveling from Suye westward, there are a great number of isolated towns; in each there is a chieftain; these are not dependent on one another, but all are in submission to the Tujue.
Ye. I. Lubo-Lesnichenko. Svedeniya kitaiskikh pismennykh istochnikov o Suyabe (Gorodishche Ak-Beshim). [Information of Chinese Written Sources about Suyab (Ak-Beshim)]. // Suyab Ak-Beshim. St. Petersburg, 2002. Pages 115-127.
During the reign of Tong Yabgu Qaghan, Suyab was the principal capital of the Western Turkic Khaganate. The khagan also had a summer capital in Navekat near the springs north of Tashkent in the Talas Valley, the capitals are being noted as the westernmost capital of Western Turkic Khaganate. There was a sort of symbiosis, with the Sogdians responsible for economical prosperity and the Gokturks in charge of the city’s military security.
Following the downfall of the khaganate, Suyab was absorbed into the Tang dynasty, of which it was a western military outpost between 648 and 719. A Chinese fortress was built there in 679, and Buddhism flourished. According to some accounts, the great poet Li Bai (Li Po) was born in Suyab. The Chinese traveler Du Huan, who visited Suyab in 751, found among the ruins a still-functioning Buddhist monastery, where Princess Jiaohe, daughter of Ashina Huaidao, used to dwell. Suyab was one of the Four Garrisons of Anxi Protectorate until 719, when it was handed over to Sulu Khagan of the Turgesh, appointed by the Tang court as the “Loyal and Obedient Qaghan”. After Sulu’s murder in 738, the town was promptly retaken by Tang Chinese forces, along with Talas.
The fort was strategically important during the wars between the Tang dynasty and the Tibetan Empire. In 766, the city fell to a Qarluq ruler, allied with the nascent Uyghur Khaganate. Of the subsequent history of Suyab there is little record, especially after the Chinese evacuated the Four Garrisons in 787. David Nicolle states that Suyab provided 80,000 warriors for the Qarluq army and that it was governed by a man known as “King of Heroes”. Hudud al-Alam, completed in 983, lists Suyab as a city of 20,000 inhabitants. It is believed to have been supplanted by Balasagun in the early 11th century and was abandoned soon thereafter. (Source: Wikipedia; downloaded 2022.11.06) (Also see: The Chinese Silk Road as World Cultural Heritage Route – A systematic Approach towards Identification and Nomination, by UNESCO. PDF can be downloaded from HERE.) The above is quoted to make the points: 1) The hallways of history are longer, and 2) ebbs and flows of power more complex than most people might imagine.
Below are from a visit Pakistan’s WTF team led by former international peacekeeper (in Mogadishu, Somalia, 1994) and current WTF President Lt. Col. Waseem (Retired). (Center left in the first photo below.) Col. Waseem was one of only very few Federation Presidents to invite me to his home for the first interview, and was an extraordinarily gracious host during my stay in Lahore. He has led his talented teams to competitions in over 70 countries.
Below are photos from Silk Road Taekwondo Friendship Tour taken during visit to Qatar July 2017. Being Summer in a mostly desert Middle Eastern country, it was “a bit” warm, but the paradise like oasis, shade from palm trees and good friends keeps it cool and wonderful.
My photos from Thailand are in two batches. The first are from September 2019 when I visited with a friend on a tight timeline, though I got some good Muay Thai photos from Rajadamnern Stadium, and cultural background photos from the National Museum in Bangkok and gem centers in Bangkok and Chanthaburi town.
My most recent visit started in October 2021 and I have stayed for the past year. Most of that time however I was teaching in public schools in small towns with no Taekwondo, however I traveled around a bit again and got some good historical, cultural and more Muay Thai background photos. I hope to have the time to visit some Taekwondo training centers in the near future as I’ve recently arrived in a real city, and hope to visit Bangkok soon after.
Below are photos from the Silk Road Taekwondo Friendship Tour in Turkey, August 2016
Introducing ITF champion instructors Furkat and Umida, some of the National WTF coaches, mangers and team of Uzbekistan, Jhoon Rhee master instructor and helpful translator Mirzahid Mirdjalalov, and some of the most iconic historical/cultural sites in Uzbekistan.
The above photos are only a small sampling of the photos to be found in my book: Silk Road Taekwondo Quest that can be downloaded from the “Downloads” page on this site. The stories that go with the photos are the real heart of this journey for photos only capture the outer surface of things. Please recall the old saying: “If you read 1,000 books, you will have lived 1,001 lives. Incidentally the photos in my book are only a few of the 55,727 in my Silk Road photo collection, and there are many more to come as I continue this journey.