Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Japanese or Korean terminology in Taekwondo?

It`s been a while, but recently I read the term "Taekwondoka" on an internet forum discussing Taekwondo. The person who wrote that used it instead of "Taekwondo student/ exponent/ practisioner" etc. The "ka" ending in Taekwondoka is a Japanese term that is used in Japanese Martial Arts. Examples: Judoka, Karateka, Kendoka etc. Having spendt a lot of time in Korea (one of my stays was for a whole year) seeing this "mishmashing" of different foreign languages is like being in the classroom where someone with long fingernails starts scratching them along a blackboard. I realize that for people who have not been to Korea or have much interest in foreign cultures and languages it might be nothing to worry about, but I still wonder why people choose to put a Japanese word ending onto a Korean name for its Martial Art.

I understand those who chooses to teach in the language they know so a Japanese instructor teaching Taekwondo might use it. An American or English person however should make a decision on either using the language he knows (e.g "Taekwondo student") or as a sign of respect to the native country of the Martial Art use a term from their country. The Korean term would be "Taekwondoin". "In" (인) means person or people. A Taekwondo person = Taekwondoin. In this age of information, not knowing is a choice. I for one think that many people mash the two languages together (Taekwondoka) to sound "bright/ smart/ cool/ educated" while those who know a little Korean will pick up on this right away.

I asked the fellow in the forum on a private message why he used the Japanese ending instead of the Korean, and provided the Korean term in case he did not know it and got the answer: Because so many schools use this term and it has a nice ring to it. So he did not do it to sound educated or anything, he simply liked the sound of the term and emulated his "seniors" (all the different schools using the term). Like the bastarized "bow" where you look the opponent in the eyes this too is something we should stop doing and keep the terminology consistent within one language. It is hard enough to learn the Korean terminology, and having the Korean language to learn through Taekwondo, if we are not to learn Japanese as well! I use Korean terminology and Norwegian Terminology in my teaching because I practise a Korean Martial Art in Norway. If I had been teaching in the USA I would be using Korean terminology and English Terminology. I might refer to other terminology briefly but I would clearly define their origin. Not knowing the Korean term for pattern interpretation I used to say pattern applications but the Japanese call it Bunkai. I did not smack one language on top of the other to make a new term.

Sorry for the ramble guys and girls, and I will not write more about this except this: If you are an instructor of Taekwondo and you are currently using "Taekwondoka" stop doing that and start using "Taekwondoin" or Taekwondo coupled with a term of your native tongue. Please for my sakeO:-)


  1. Taekwondoka! That sounds awful! >.<

  2. Yes it really does.. My neckhairs rise when I hear and read it... But the Korean term "Taekwondo player" is also awfull in my ears:p

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