Thursday, 25 September 2014

Reccomended reading part 2:

Called "blocking apparatus" this
kind of training is not gennerally
seen in any Taekwondo book!
Since I started out with the "obvious" Kukkiwon Textbook as number one in this series I want to bring your attention to another Taekwondo writer who has influenced me (and countless others) in
Taekwondo. You might have heard his name before; Choi Hong Hi. The book I am going to reccomend is not his 15 volume Encyclopedias allthough if you are a Chang Hon Ryu practisioner you should really really get that collection or at least the condensed Encyclopedia.
If you are following a system founded and developed (or at least spearheaded) by one man you should really really listen to what he has to say. A lot of "problems" modern Shotokan faces (lack of Applications, stiffness in movement, excaggerated stances etc) could easily be avvoided if the practisioners sat down and read (actually READ) the writings of their "founder" Gichin Funakoshi. Likewise a lot of problems mainstream "ITF/Chang Hon Ryu" Taekwondo faces could be avvoided if they actually took their time to read and understand and apply what their founder had to say. Both founders put a lot of effort into writing and creating textbooks so we would not have to start off on scratch but many do not bother Reading and practise a watered down Limited and pretty much useless martial activity instead of Taekwondo as a martial art. I will also be the first to say that I do not agree with everything he has written or said and that he was only a man and a man of his time at that, but ignoring him is not the answer.

The book I highly reccomend is his 1965 book called "Tae Kwon Do the Korean art of self defense". It was republished in 2007 but allready out of print so it might be a little hard to come by but hopefully they will republish it yet again.  Edit: It was re republished in the summer 2013:-D You can easily get it on Amazon:-D Just click the link above it will take you straight into Amazon and the book.

So why should you bother to get an outdated instructive text?
You have the historical reasons of course.

Choi Hong Hi gave us a snapshot of Taekwondo as practised in 1965 and it is very very different from the art you see today. The book is a valuable glimpse to see where we came from. In 1965 this also includes the Kukki Taekwondo lineage as there was only the Korean Taekwondo Association in 1965 and Choi Hong Hi was the president.

Taekwondo was a feared martial art used in warfare in the Vietnam and Korean war With great success. The book gives us an important glimpse into this martial art.

While Taekwondo had its lack of direct forms applications (linking self defense techniques beyond kick blocks and punches back to its forms) it did not lack practical applications. If it did it would not have been successfull in war which is the most extreme testing ground for a martial art. The book contains all the punches, strikes, blocks, and kicks that you have seen elsewhere with basic application shown for most techniques but you also get Locks, throws, defenses from the ground, sitting on a Chair, kneeling self defense etc etc. Lacking forms applications is not the same as lacking applications and this is something that is often overlooked when critizising Taekwondo as a martial art.

Old School training methods:

If you google or go youtubing the Japanese term: "Hojo Undo" (Korean Bucho Undong) you will see a rich training culture of supplemental training that is vital for the old school applications as well as the proper development of power in simple strikes and the conditioning of the body into a weapon. This training culture is almost non existant in modern mainstream Taekwondo. We have some "leftovers" though and we make up or it using pads, heavy bags and live training which is not so bad and works but implementing the old training methods would create a lot better results. Choi Hong Hi`s 1965 book includes almost everything that you would see in the Okinawan Karate Hojo Undo methods of training and seeing this included and so much of it as recently as 1965 has made me
Gripping jars often seen as really really
"Okinawan" here demonstrated in a
Taekwondo book!"
import some of them into my own training turning my view on Taekwondo upside down. The drills I have Incorporated that you do not see much any more is the "stone locks" allthough I just use the Kettle bells instead since they are essentually the same, and striking post (allthough I had to settle with a modern design). As for Hojo Undo partner drills I have over the years Incorporated a few "knocking excersises" as they are described in the 1965 book but I have recently Incorporated a few more that is not in the 1965 book but then again you can not put everything into one volume book. If you are wondering how they trained to produced such feared Warriors that could fight unnarmed in the Vietnam war and win you could get part of the answer in the 1965 book.

Allthough the book uses a different terminology and contains different forms the overall system that is documented within it is very similar to the one I practise today under my teachers.

The striking post. I can not
Write enough how much I
love this training devise!
If you are wondering how the Taekwondo masters practised Karate forms you can see in this book. Choi Hong Hi has included 20 of his own creation but also includes 15 of the shotokan forms making this the first (English at least) Language Choi Hong Hi book and last to include them. By 1972 he had created additional forms making the total included in the system 24 and he ditched the karate forms.

This should really be enough reasons to buy the book and read it over and over and over again. Wether you practise Chang Hon Ryu Taekwon-Do or Kukki-Taekwondo it does not matter. This is a valuable Resource for Taekwondo history buffs, pragmatic Taekwondo students wanting to include additional training Methods and as a way to understand Taekwondo as a striking martial art.

I hope you enjoyed the post. The information on this blog is provided free of charge but I would like to ask you a "favour" or "donation". If you read this post and found it informative, please share it with others on facebook, twitter, or mention the blog to a friend that you think will like it. If you are on facebook consider looking up the blog there and give it a "Like" :-) Thank you for your support :-)

The Facebook page can be found on


  1. Great post. As a Kukki TKD practitioner I never dove too deeply into GM Choi's works, and maybe I should have. His view of Taekwondo much more closely resembles the way I believe TKD should be practiced, and the way I learned from my teacher, coming from strong Moo Duk Kwan roots, much more closely resembles Choi's style of TKD rather than the Kukki style even.

    1. I like his 1965 book because it predates the Sine Wave theory. I do belive that the Sine Wave can be used in certain downward attacks and certain grappling movements but the way it is done today I can not logically agree With. I have read some but not nearly enough) in his Encyclopedias. You can actually read them for free on the internett so if you are interested that is a good Place to start. He kept a lot of the Things from his 1965 book in his Encyclopedias including the gripping jars, blocking apparatus and even more extensive documentation of the striking post!. I only Wonder why these Methods of training is "lost" today in the lineages that claim their lineage back to him as he included it in their very textbooks!. And as Kukki TKD practisioners we are in a way practising the result of all the "Kwan" not only one as the kukkiwon syllabus was made by representatives from all Kwan including Oh Do Kwan. Myself I come from a Ji Do Kwan lineage and I think many Things I have been taught come from this influence rather than the Kukkiwon itself but overall based on Kukkiwon Textbook I will say that the Kukkiwon system itself is a great and pretty Complete striking system (even if it does lack in grappling and standarised self defense).

  2. I too wonder why traditional conditioning techniques and tools have mostly been "lost" in todays Taekwondo. As you said, Choi wrote about these practices. My grandmaster, Richard Chun and Master Doug Cook as well, have also included these training methods in their books yet I have never actually seen them in practice in a TKD dojang...

    1. For myself my Dojang has always worked out of a School gym so we have almost no Equipment other than kick Shields, pads and focus mitts. We have used both knuckle pushups, partner drills (knocking excersises as GM CHoi Hong Hi Calls them) as well as trees outside the School for training and hardening Our "Tools". In a book on Hojo Undo I recently read the Authors asked "Would you turn up on a Battlefield With a plastic sword or would you prefer a real one?" (Paraphrasing). I feel that many practise Taekwondo actually have "Plastic swords" eventhough the knowledge on how to develop true Power and forging the body into weapons is right there in the writings and teachings of the masters if we just look!:-)

    2. It's because many of the martial arts students don't really want to be martial artists.They're just looking for a fancy hobby.Many students don't even want to get in better shape.So,there are many teachers/schools who provide exactly this kind of "training".
      By the way I have both the book and encyclopedia of Choi Hong Hi.

    3. That might be right. I do hope that more start to sit Down and actually read the writings of the early Teachers and masters and reintroduce the key concepts. We can not continue living on past honor. The fact that Taekwondo was a proven martial art in the Korean war and Vietnam war means nothing in the present if no one is following up and starts implementing the key concepts, techniques and Applications of Taekwondo training and technique. I hope that more and more People starts looking back and identify what has been lost and starts implementing it once more. Luckely there are still good instructors teaching Taekwondo all around the world. Hopefully they will get more attention in the time that comes instead of the mainstream sport.