"TKD just is Shotokan with with serial numbers filed off and aggressive marketing..."
Am I angry because of the quote above? No not really. I was a little irritated at first but then I understood that the quote was probably started out of ignorance or to start trouble more than a well thought out analasys. To make a looong (and complicated) history of Taekwondo short it does have its roots as in Shotokan Karate but Taekwondo also has strong roots in Shito Ryu, and Shudokan Karate, pluss different Chinese influences (at least two Kwan founders had extensive training in Chinese Martial Arts, pluss Hwang Kee is said to have studdied CMA as well), and to top it all up we have influences of older Korean Martial arts either directly as in imported techniques and strategy or indirectly by incorporating ideas that would change the techniques to conform with the popular opinion of older Korean arts. Even Judo is one of Taekwondo`s roots! (Yun Moo Kwan later reopened as Ji Do Kwan started out as a Judo school!) Taekwondo is really a mixed martial art or MMA!.
- Person A)What martial art do you practise?
- Person B)Well I practise a mixed martial art with a Shotokan, Shito Ryu, Shudokan, Judo, Kung Fu base with some Taek Kyon sprinkled on top!
- Person A)Ahh you practise Taekwondo?
- Person B)Well thats another way of putting it:-)
So is Taekwondo just "Shotokan with with serial numbers filed off "? Not really. It is true that we have a lot of elements in our training that stems from Shotokan and for a traditional Taekwondo student there will perhaps be more simularities than differences but the pioneers did many things to "improve" upon the system they got and combined it all into Kukkiwon Taekwondo. Most of the martial roots of Taekwondo in the 1920s untill 1940s when the founders studied them was "basic techniques", "forms" and one, two and three step sparring. That was it. The founders therefore made many innovations to what was to become Taekwondo:
- Incorporated more loosely and mobile footwork (the martial roots of TKD were very static)
- Incorporated and innovated an insane number of kicks and foot techniques
- Made traditional stances transitional stances again (they were practised very static in most Karate at the time)
- Continous sparring
- Sparring equipment
- Full contact sparring
- Developed new martial forms (patterns)
- Incorporated Self Defense techniques and basic grappling techniques
While Taekwondo does have roots within Shotokan it does also have numerous other sources that contributed to the development of the modern martial art. While we should acknowledge and honor our roots and be proud of them on one side we should not forget to pay tribute to the pioneers of Taekwondo who themselves made many important innovations to improve upon what they where given on the other. Taekwondo has strong roots within Okinawa and Japan but it is also on the same time unique and is its own "thing" so to speak.