Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Taekwondo in the Olympics, What good did it bring?

I rutinely see, hear and read about Taekwondo in the Olympics and all the bad things it brought forth and how it has wrecked Taekwondos reputation etc. I have my self written a little about how I see that the focus on sport has watered Taekwondo down (let us not make believe anything else) from a once respected Martial ART to a ridiculed Martial Sport, but I would also be in the wrong not to tell you about some of the good things it has brought that you might not normally hear about or even realise:-) Now this is just me rambling on, you will not see any concrete evidence to support this, as it is my own impression through my training, travels and experiences.

Taekwondo has grown execptionally since its inclusion in the Olympics. In my own country Taekwondo was really obscure and few people knew anything about it. The few who did used to say it was Korean Karate. Even when I started practising Taekwondo 13 years ago it was just starting to overcome that mental image and this was not that long ago:-) Today however the sport Taekwondo is a household name even in Norway:-) And you will be hard pressed to find people who has not heard about it and many can even say that it is in the Olympics, it is originally from Korea and it is mainly kicking techniques. So from being an obscure form of Karate it is now a recognized sport and a household name, in large thanks to the Olympics.

With the increased media coverage (from non existant to a fair share when compared to other sports) there was a great increase in the number of students. The increased media coverage came largely from it being an Olympic sport but the increase in the number of students did not only come to the sports clubs but also to the traditional dojang (both Kukkiwon affiliated and the ITF afilliated) ones. So these days more people know about Taekwondo, it is more in the media than before and there are more people practising it (in all its kinds).

The increased focus on sport really did something to the instructors mindsets in how they conducted their training. Suddenly new ideas were tested out, modern sports science was applied and the pedagogic method in wich the system was conveyed from instructor to students was improved upon with new educational methods. All this is something I think we owe to the Taekwondo in the Olympics. If you compare similar martial arts that does not compete you will see that they more often employ dangerous and outdated training methods that you will be hard pressed to find in Taekwondo Dojang today.

Practical mindset when looking at our art; the focus on "sport Taekwondo" has made Taekwondoin more practical than the older Taekwondo (as seen in older writings). We spar a lot more than older incarnations of Taekwondo (not counting Ji Do Kwan), we spar earlier in our training than before (traditionally only the last ranks before black belt was allowed to spar), we spar continually rounds with brakes only between rounds and not after each "point" and we sometimes spar full contact (depending on your school and organisation). Again this has lead to a search for better training methods etc as well as a good testing of our techniques against a resisting opponent. Yes we did loose a lot too but thats for others to say, this is a post on the good things;)

So quick recap:
  • Recognition of Taekwondo
  • More media coverage
  • More students practising
  • Better training methods
  • Scientific approach to training and teaching
  • Practical mindset towards training
I will not say that this did not come with a hefty price because it surely did, but lets look at what we did get in the proccess. It is up to us now to take all the good things we did get and match this together with the best "lost aspects" so we can make Taekwondo the best Martial Art we can make it. Tradition for Taekwondo is change and evolution, but Tradition in Taekwondo is also to seek what the pioneers sought; An holistic, Martial Art that was good to train the body and mind as well as being good and practical for self defense!.

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