Friday, 23 September 2011

Taekwondo Time Travel.

Would it not be great to see what "original" Taekwondo was like (if there ever was something we could call "original Taekwondo"?) Fighting has been around since humanbeings came into existence, so it is very difficult to say what original Taekwondo is. If we say that "original Taekwondo" is the striking art(s) taught in the old Kwan (schools) of the 40s and 50s in Korea then we can look at some old video footage from the 50s and 60s and get a glimpse of what the art of the old schools were like. These videos are rare and far between, and there is very little to find on the internet. I bet that as more and more people (re)discover footage and share them on the interent that more and more will be available. To save you from a lot of trouble I have asked Grandmaster Yu Tu Be and I got a few good hits from him. So here we go:

The first film looks like a demonstration of sorts. You get to see all the things associated with "traditional Taekwondo". Basic techniques, patterns, sparring (both live/free and "model sparring eg one step) and of course breaking. The thing to notice in the sparring here is that they use their hands almost as much as they use their kicks. Also the footwork is allreade developed "past" the stationary Karate that the founder learned. It resembles Boxing footwork. There is also a great deal of "Bobbing and weaving" that has also not been a dominant part of Karate as far as I know. And the breaking seems very impressive. It is not flashy it just looks like a sheer power demonstration. I would not like to be on the receiving end of those techniques!

In the second footage we jump a little in time to 1967. I do not know how much you all know your Karate history, but the founder of "the worlds strongest Karate" (Kyokushin) was a Korean man (who choose the Japanese name Oyama). Here he is seen teaching Taekwondo students his thoughts on effective martial arts. The last part of the film is from a demonstration in a western country. I do not know if the two parts have anything to do with each other per se, but the footwork in the sparring of the later part of the film closely resembles the footwark demonstrated by Oyama. Notice that here too the breaking is simple but powerfull. The legs are used quite a bit more here then in the first film:)

This is possibly the same demonstration as the first film. The titles says 1957 but it does not really matter. Here we see more sparring done. A lot of hands are used (almost more than foot in this one!!) and the guard is held high to protect the face. Most of the kicking seems very basic compared to todays competition sparring but in the "old days" you had to be more carefull as protecting your groin was seen as something important.

This is a promo for a rising sun produtions movie on early Taekwondo masters. Here you will see a lot of different masters and most of it is related to the Oh Do Kwan of General Choi Hong Hee.  The flashy kicking seen at the end of the movie is from the 70s. It seems that the more toward our own time we go the more "flashier" the martial art get.

Here is a video from the early 80s? The pattern Won Hyo was featured here so I will also provide a modern intrepretation of the same patterns so the readers can see how it has evolved or if it has evolved:) The above video is how the pattern was supposed to be performed at that time. The video clip is from an official training video. Below is how it is supposed to be done today.

Todays Won Hyo:-)

Here is the kukkiwon in the 1980s. Kicking has been a little more refined than it was in the 50s and 60s, and the stances and movements are much bigger then they are today. In the last part of the clip the whole pattern Taegeuk Chil Jang is demonstrated as it was to be performed in 1980. I will give the latest "official" way to do this next:

Notice anything different? Here we have a prime example of how the martial art has evolved since 1980 to today. The stances are shorter and the movements smaller, but the techniques and pattern is pretty much the same as back then. If the patterns were indeed meant to be preserved just as is, then we would still do it like in the 1980s. And that concludes todays time traveling:)


  1. The video from the 1980s documentary, shows the Kibon series of simple pumsaes that we members of the Chung do Kwnan still practice. I understand theese forms are only practiced in organizations of the Chung do Kwan linage and that they were created by grandmaster Park He Man.

    1. I heard the same thing:-) Might be some that have picked them up outside of the direct lineage but I heard the same as you :-)

      Best regards from Ørjan