Without any grappling you:
- Have Limited yourself to only striking
- Have movements and forms (Poomsae) that sometimes makes little to NO sense
- Are open to "grappling attacks"
- Are in big trouble once your opponent establish a grip on you
This does not look good to me. If Taekwondo was developed as a combative Method for civillian self defense and as a millitary combative program (used during the Korean and Vietnamese war) it should not have this glaring omission of such an important part of combat. For sport is another matter, in the WTF rules sparring there is no grappling allowed so you can do fine without it. Also sport taekwondo depends on such a little part of Taekwondo that you do not need to worry about forms or moves not making sense. If all you do is WTF sparring you are really doing about 2% of the whole art as it was meant to be (citation needed:p ).
What many ask is "Does WTF Taekwondo contain grappling?" and what many answers is "No!". I agree. WTF (World Taekwondo Federation) can not really be compared to ITF (International Taekwondo Federation). WTF is purely a sporting organisation and governs the sport aspect of Taekwondo. The sport that is currently recognised by the Olympics. It has at the time of writing nothing to do With gradings, or have its own syllabus that is adhered to, rather WTF recognises Kukkiwon Taekwondo ranks and support their syllabus; hence the WTF forms competition features Kukkiwon forms, and they share the same terminology on techniques etc. As WTF only governs the sport you can say that WTF Taekwondo is performance sport Poomsae and competition sparring. None of them contains any grappling (the moves within Poomsae might be Applied as grappling, but as a performance sport without an opponent it is only movement). Many People missunderstand this and therefore say that Taekwondo does not contain grappling, at least the WTF does not, but as you just read WTF is only sport it has nothing to do with the actual Kukkiwon syllabus it only recognises the Kukkiwon ranks. This might change in the future though so do not take my Word for it if you read this long after this was written in 2013. ITF on the other hand is an organisation for both sport Taekwondo (the sporting aspect of Chang Hon Taekwondo) and the martial art Taekwondo. It is not a case of two different organisations within one martial art but one Whole organisation (allthough after General Choi Hong Hi`s Death the ITF have splintered into several different organisations all claiming to be ITF).
Now what about Kukkiwon Taekwondo does Kukki Taekwondo contain grappling? Both yes and no. When the KTA (Korean Taekwondo Association) United all the different Kwan and made their own joint syllabus, forms, competition sparring and terminology etc they did not formalise any grappling techniques into the syllabus. Therefore many today say that they do not InFact contain any grappling. But there are Counters to this argument:
- The section on sparring in the Kukkiwon Textbook contains several grappling movements such as sweeps, throws, joint Locks and these are representative of the art as a Whole.
- The section on outlining the different techniques of Taekwondo in the Kukkiwon Textbook mentions both throws and pressure against joints.
- The Poomsae and its Applications in the Kukkiwon Textbook does contain grappling! The pulling hand is properly used, as well as different kinds of joint Locks! (There is a lot of the Block kick punch too).
The reason I think grappling (and Applications to the forms as well) were not codified and taught uniformly in a Dojang is that the KTA (and Kukkiwon) likely recognised two Things:
- The simplest way of unification of all Kwan is to build a common fundemental framework and then let the head of the different Kwan all teach this along With what the Kwan heads found important too.
- Different Dojang have different emphasis since different students had different needs. Some would focus more on sport sparring (no need for grappling) other would teach the millitary of to prepare the students for millitary sercive (it is still manditory as far as I know and it is a two year service) and grappling is not usually emphasised in this environment at least not now since the opponents are no linger wearing armour. Some would teach police officers who might need more grappling techniques but it would be different techniques than what is needed in a civillian self defense context.
- Knee strikes
- Elbow Strikes
- Head butting (yes you better believe it)
- Finger strikes
- Knife hand strikes
- Joint Locks
- Vital Point knowledge
So how does grappling work within the framework of Taekwondo today? This is only my personal opinion so feel free to lament me on this but (here it goes):
Taekwondo in self defense is a simple striking art at its core. It relies on momentum and the optimal distributing and transferrance of body weight to give its practisioners optimal striking Power. It also aims these strikes toward effective targets (or target areas). The defenses are likewise simple parries, checks and Blocks coupled With evasion. The evasion is not based on boxings bobbing and weaving but on superior footwork. The kicks are delivered mainly to low targets while some might go a little higher. The kicks as I see them are Limited to front, side and roundhouse/turning kicks, With the back kick for suprise attacks from the back. Grappling in "Applied Taekwondo TM " is there solely for 3 purposes:
- Free yourself from any grip so you can continue striking
- Gain dominant position so you can continue striking
- Positioning the attacker to open up for strikes from the defender
So what kind of grappling techniques do we really need to know in Taekwondo speciffically? That is for a future post I Guess:-)