My name is Don Gordon BELL and I am one of the earliest of the first generation of KAD's (Korean ADoptees). The Korean War had been settled by Armistice three years before I left war-torn Seoul, Korea, on May 21, 1956. It was the first plane of twelve 'war babies' processed thru the Harry Holt Adoption Program. Read more of MY STORY on My Pages.
I grew up in a typical middle-class family of English-Scottish roots in greater Los Angeles, Ca, USA. Memories faded, Korean language was 'lost' and I did not know anything about the country of my birth until I met Korean Marines in Vietnam while serving with the US Marines. It was my first exposure to real Korean people. I was not completely aware of how prejudiced most Koreans thought towards a Half-Breed like me. I learned what "Tuigi" meant, a Korean word for a "Child of a Foreign devil". Oh, wonderful.

All my life I always had to answer the question: "What ARE you?" and I simply would tell 'my story'. It was not a big deal for me, for my Adoptive Parents had taught me that being an American meant that WE were from many countries. I never 'wished to be White' and just learned to stand up for my own identity. MY Identity was as an American, with mixed heritage. I did not know what being "Korean" meant but often wondered about my roots, and what my birth father's ethnicity. Mexican, Native Americans, and Spanish people would tell me that I had their 'genes' for sure. Little did I know they were right!

After college, I traveled to Manila and for ten years I lived in the Philippines. I was excepted as a 'mestizo' and fit into the former Spanish colony. I was a B-movie Character Actor,
working on international and local films, enjoying a 'crazy and wild' abandonment. Then a life changing experience gave me faith in a personal Higher Being. After walking away from the film business, I lived back in the USA, not sure of my direction in life finding work in construction, finish carpentry, door hanging, and many other jobs I'd like to forget.

In 1991, at 38, I attended a Holt Heritage Camp that was a great experience and really began my own journey of Adoption Identity search. I had never thought much of my Korean culture, though I always felt proud of being "HALF-Korean" and "half-Something".

In 1994 I came back to Seoul, Korea, with my church Vineyard Christian Fellowship, and was invited to stay with a church in East Seoul, for one year. I have lived here since late 1995- re-discovering my "Korean-ness", teaching English and telling my Adoption Story to thousands of Korean students of all ages, helping their understanding of Korean Adoptees. It is one of the issues that Korea is now facing, even for its own secretly adopted children, those who were adopted IN-Country by Koreans who desired a family but due to problems with Infertility secretly adopt.

I was a charter member in 1997 (first dozen members) of GOA'L (Global Overseas Adoptees' Link, founded by Ami Nafzger) and continue to be involved with the complex issues of This Thing of Ours-Adoption. Thousands of KADs have visited Korea over the years, searching for their culture and Some search for birth family. Seventy-five thousand have come, yet only 2,400 plus have found Reunion with Birth family, often with varying results. There are many complexities, many don't want to search concerned about offending their Adoptive Families. Each KAD must decide what they want to do, when to do it, etc.

At 61, I am still 'working thru' my Adoption Identity. Each of YOU need to 'work through' your own understanding and hopefully find forgiveness and healing. Read many different accounts and compare before coming to conclusions. I hope that you will learn what IS happening NOW, in the land of your birth, the Rep. of Korea (South Korea). (See Report Links).

Times are changing, the reasons for 'relinquishment for adoption' have shifted, but there continues to be a need for a multi-tiered approach and understanding of Adoption issues. Slowly, attitudes of Korean society ARE changing for the better. But, the majority continue to feel embarrassment and shame. Thus, Adoption is still shrouded in secrecy even for those who are adopted In-country. There ARE positive signs and movements of NGO's and KAD groups are advocating for the Unwed Mothers. However, two-thirds of pregnant women each year, continue to give up their babies for adoption. One out of four are sent overseas, YET three are secretly adopted in-country. The Myth that "Koreans don't adopt" is false, but they need to open up and hopefully change their shame to pride.

This blog is for EVERYONE, whether you are an Adoptee, Adoptive Family, Birth Family or involved in Adoption in ANY way as a professional, social worker, official, etc, from Korea or the world. We examine the complex issues and personal journeys that we, domestic and overseas adoptees, have to face and sort out in This Thing of Ours-Adoption. (Use the Ligit Search function (Left Column) to check for Posts on various topics, TransRacial, TranCultural, MultiCultural families, Domestic, Civil Code Law Adoptions, InterCountry Adoption, etc.)
I personally have come to a compromised, nuanced position on this thing of ours-adoption. I advocate a Multi-tiered Plan that tries to be balanced, realistic, fair to all.

UPDATE: Living in the Philippines since 2010, at first teaching students from several countries as an Online Tutor, based in Makati, Metro Manila. I was working on a Digital Library for Online Tutoring or ELearning; developing an agritourism farm; and Overseas Retirement Care for foreigners needing 24/7 health care.

Then some 18 months ago, in July of 2012 I met with Andrew Leavold, a crazy film obsessed Aussie who helped "pull me back into film making".

WHEW! Lot on my plate. I have also been learning much about the Filipino society's very different viewpoints on unwed motherhood and adoption.

Latest: As of Sept. 2012, I worked on an Indie Film, "Baybayin, the Palawan Script", directed by Auraeus Solito, and international award winning Filipino director. I had a role in the film and explored my hobby as a STILLS Photographer. Currently I have quit all teaching, co-writing on an international film that will be done in 3D and CGI effects. I am back in the film-making business and I love it.

Adoption Discourse needs to hear YOUR VOICE. Every opinion, even opposing viewpoints will be posted and interaction invited by email and Comments have been activated again with spam filters!)
. Welcome, come learn, and share your thoughts.

September 10, 2009

Martial Arts History

From Naranland interview:
4. In addition to a short appearance of Jim Gaines, this film "co-stars" other expat Romano Kristoff as the main bad guy who, according to Bruce Baron, was "a serious martial artist". Did you have any martial arts training yourself?

Martial Arts were a way for me to express my Asian heritage, from the age of 10 years old I read books, studied from anyone I could to learn from. When I was 11 years old I met a Japanese kid who taught me the basics of Judo and Jujitsu for a year. One day while we were training in the park, a former American soldier, Chuck Greene, came up to me and asked if I was part Korean. I was surprised that he could see that in me, most people don’t know the difference between various Asian people. It turns out that he had studied Tae Kwon Do six years in Korea, while he was with the US Army. He studied under Jhoon Rhee, who was the leader in introducing Tae Kwon Do to America and the world. My Japanese friend and I began learning my country’s martial art. I was one of the first of many in the early '60s to meet the Korean master Jhoon Rhee.

In Vietnam, serving with the US Marines, I met Korean Marines of the 2nd Brigade ‘The Blue Dragons’, who invited me to 'play' or spare with them. The Korean Marines did not like it that a half-breed Korean ‘Tuigi’ like me was kicking their asses most of the time! At the time I did not understand that "Tuigi" was really an insult and that being Half-Korean was the same as a Native American "Breed". My American instructor had also been a boxer who combined boxing into our training. One tough Korean Master Sergeant finally asked me who I had trained with, after hearing who it was, turned to the ROK Marines and explained that one of my teacher was the student of a Tae Kwon Do legend, Jhoon Rhee.

After that I was accepted by the ROK Marines as a fellow Marine and ‘sort of Korean’. They stopped calling me a Tuigi after that as well. We drank their homemade soju and ate dog meat, kimchi, etc. ROK Army soldiers from the Tiger and White Horse Divisions and Marines of 2nd Brigade known as the Blue Dragons, all served in Vietnam with great distinction. They were tough, effective fighters, with great leadership, and above all feared and respected by the enemy.

Grand Master Doug Bunda (Center in White) and me on his right (front row). Kajukenbo style.

After my Vietnam tour, I was stationed in Camp Pendleton, near Los Angeles. I met a Hawaiian from Maui, Douglas Bunda, who introduced me to the Kajukenbo style. It was a Hawaiian mixture of Karate/Judo/Kempo Chinese boxing that had similar roots with American Kenpo Karate under Ed Parker in the early 1960’s.
During the early ‘70’s, I entered many Karate and the early Full-Contact tournaments. Most weekends I entered open tournaments, such as the “Four-Seasons” started by Mike Stone. Open tournaments gave the chance to fight with different stylists from Chinese, Japanese, Okinawan schools. There was no Muay Thai-kickboxing in those ‘60s and ‘70s yet, but I eagerly learned everything I could. My weight put me in Light or Middle divisions beginning at 155 lbs. (70 kg).

My instructors were all Filipino or Hawaiians of Maui, Hawaii. Ed Parker was of the royal Hawaiian line and the first to bring Karate to the Mainland from Hawaii. All the Hawaiians called me “hapa-Howley” or “Half-White”. It is a term of friendship but can be used in a derogatory sense, depending how one says it. Sifu James Ibrao was the first Black Belt of Ed Parker.The Bunda brothers knew Sifu James Ibrao and occasionally we went to their school in Pasadena, California.

Years later, I met David Carradine, when he came to the Philippines to do a film but unfortunately my commitment was to a Kinevesa films project and I couldn't work on his film. David and I had a few beers after he asked me pointblank "You look half-Asian...what styles have you studied", so I told him about my teachers. Some of my friends got to work on several projects with him. I related to him how I especially liked that the role of the “Half-Breed” Chinese/American Kwai Chang Caine was like me.

Another story that I loved was "Billy Jack", a series of movies that were also based on a Half-Breed Native American/White Vietnam vet. The actor uses Hapkido, another Korean Martial art. How crazy is life to find out years later that my birth father has Apache/Spanish/Mexican ancestry.

Second from Left: Don Bell, note Hawaiian State patch on my left shoulder; Sifu Doug Bunda. Now a leading Grand Master of KaJuKenBo style.

The Bunda brothers, Carlos and Doug, were my immediate instructors. They were friends of Sifu James Ibrao, in Pasadena, California, where I frequently went to meet at the main school of Sifu James Ibrao and spared with his students. Grand Master Carlos Bunda had studied under several of Kajukenbo's earliest well known teachers. (See his profile below).

Grand Masters Sifus Doug (left) and Carlos BUNDA of KaJuKenBo style.

Carlos Bunda (Kajukenbo-Who's Who) was the Light-Weight Champion who beat Chuck Norris (Middle Weight Champion) for Grand Champion title, in the 1964 Ed Parker’s International Karate Championships. Carlos kicked Norris in the groin and actually broke his protective cup. (Fortunately with no long lasting injury). Bruce Lee was introduced to the International scene and demonstrated of his “one Inch punch”.

Under Grand Master Sifu Doug Bunda (Bundas Kajukenbo-Glendora, CA) I trained in his garage until we moved to the Bassett Park Civic Center. The KajuKenbo style was directly from the Hawaiian roots. It was founded in Hawaii in 1947 by Sijo Adriano Emperado and the first true American martial art. "Kajukenbo" was developed by five martial arts men in Hawaii in the late 1940’s, ka for karate, ju for judo and jujitsu, ken for kenpo, and bo for Chinese boxing (kung fu). The Bundas studied under John Leoning in the early 1960’s.

Under the Bunda brothers I trained for four years. I was able to win some trophies in Kumite and Kata, during the 1972-75 Tournaments in California, Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico. I was infamously known as the first to be ‘knocked out’ when Full-Contact events started in the mid-70’s. Damn opponent kicked me with a spinning back kick, after the Referee stopped us and I was moving back to the center. He lost one point and got a warning, but I lost consciousness when my head hit the wooden floor. I came to with a very big woman Black Belt judge standing over me and pulling up on my belt to help me breath. I got up and avenged myself by continuing and scoring again, with a final score of 5-3, and reached the semi-finals.

Recently I made contact with Doug, who is still teaching with his brother at Glendora Kajukenbo, California. Kajukenbo has expanded into many states and countries. I hope to visit them when I see my father later this year.

Later, I met Mike Stone, another Hawaiian who married Priscilla Presley, widow of Elvis Presley. Mike studied under Ed Parker, then taught Elvis Presley, while he was working as his bodyguard. Elvis was able to reach Black Belt I believe.
Mike Stone had an undefeated and unmatched record of 98 tournament wins/no draws, no losses! He came to the Philippines with director Ed Murphy, and when I introduced myself I mentioned my instructor’s names. Mike welcomed me as a Hapa-Howley (Half-White) then asked me to work together as his assistant fight co-odinator on two films.
Update: I have not confirmed but it is rumored that Mike Stone is living in the Philippines...anyone confirm that>?

UeChi-Ryu is based on the Tiger, Crane, and Dragon system of Okinawan Karate. Kanbun Uechi studied Pangai-noon (half-hard, half-soft) Kung Fu under Shushiwa in the Fujian (a.k.a. Fukien) province of mainland China in the late 1800s and early 1900s. After studying 10 years under Shushiwa, Kanbun Uechi opened his own school in the province of Nanjing. Sensei George Mattson brought UechiRyu to Boston, Mass. where Sensei Robert Campbell trained under him. Photo below is from Manila Polo Club Uechi-Ryu club.

From Left: Don, Romano Kristoff, Sensei Mattson, Sensei Robert Campbell (tallest). Manila Polo Club UeChi Ryu Okinawan Karate School.

Then Romano Kristoff and I met Sensei Robert Campbell, a tall Red-haired Bostonian who had an incredible martial arts history. Bob had studied Uechi Ryu, an Okinawan Karate style in Boston, Mass. Under Sensei George Mattson for many years then travelled to Taipei, Taiwon, studied Chinese martial arts under the Taiwanese Army’s WuShu as a guest of the top Chief of Staff a four-star general. Then Sensei Campbell went to Okinawa to train at the headquarters under the top leaders of UeChi-Ryu. Sensei Campbell was the first non-Okinawan to win the championships and is currently ranked a 9th Dan Black Belt.

Group photo is from Makati shopping center where we trained before moving to the Polo Club.

Romano and I both trained for five years under him at the Manila Polo Club. We trained in one of the four main Okinawan Karate systems that are famous for being closer to Chinese origins than the Japanese martial arts. We enjoyed learning Chinese and Japanese weapons (my favorite was the Chinese long spear); Japanese iaido (fast draw with real and very sharp Katana Samurai swords) Kendo, Bo-jitsu, nunchucks (Romano was great with double ‘chucks’). We had the best students from poor to rich, sweating and training together at the Manila Polo Club school, which has unfortunately been closed. All the students have moved on in life, busy in Filipino business.

Sensei Campbell has lived in Hong Kong for the last 30 years, runs a school that also teaches the Hong Kong Police Department. His ‘daytime job’ is co-managing a large Law Firm.

Still keep in shape with Bokken….No, I do NOT hit my Korean students- with a wooden Bokken, I prefer the bamboo Shinai, just stings and leaves no brusing. LOL I AM JUST KIDDING!

"The spirit of Musashi"
A great sword master, Miyamoto Musashi developed a two-sword style of fighting and was made famous by two great works about his life. "The Way of the Sword" and "Art of War" written by Japanese author Eiji Yoshidawa. His works are sometimes compared to the "Gone with the Wind" of Japan.
The real Musashi authored "Gorin no sho" "The Book of Five Rings", his famous work on swordsmanship. I have always admired his style and self-taught disciplined training in his constant quest to improve himself and his technique. He had certainly a "Take no shit" attitude, and honed his skills from challenging adepts and famous swordsmen from the time he was 13 years old.

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