Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Taekwondo is not and has never been a "kick block punch" system!

Recently (at the time of writing anyway) a guy posted the following paraphrased question in a study
group I belong to. "If Taekwondo was taught as a pure kick block punch system would it still be effective?" A little later it was pointed out "effective? Effective in what?" and the clarification was effective in self defense (other forums would have gone into the trap of discussing it without this clarification but not this one :-D Anyway; I quickly answered the question that Taekwondo has proven itself effective in the Korean war, in Korea after the Korean war and in the Vietnamese war. Sure Taekwondo the name was not in use until 1955 (two years after the Korean war ended) but most of the Kwan that served as the foundation of Taekwondo was in place before the Korean war. I did add if Taekwondo was taught with the Ho Sin Sul aspect intact.

Taekwondo is often seen as a simplified "kick block punch" system but in reality while most of the textbook application for the Taekwondo forms and basic techniques were of a kick block punch mind set, there was a large focus on combat and ho sin sul (self defense) that has been more or less lost today. Taekwondo did not have what Karate often labels "bunkai study" or applications from their forms like Iain Abernethy, and others are advocating today, but that "hole" in the system was plugged by a well functioning ho sin sul part of the syllabuses taught in the different Kwan.

I have written and shared the historical applications before but I think this bears repeating and I apologize if this annoys the regular readers but the fact that Taekwondo was a lot more holistic just a few years ago myst be put into the spotlight so that the people who only learn "sport simplified" Taekwondo today understand that there is a lot more to Taekwondo than leg fencing and performance art displays of Poomsae. Taekwondo really was an holistic martial art proven in the harshest environments over and over again before succumbing to a sportification so focused and so dominant that people today associate Taekwondo merely as play and sport.

Sihak Henry Cho`s book from 1968 demonstrate pulling hand

Sihak Henry Cho`s book from 1968 demonstrate pulling hand

Same Source but here we see a punch interecepting a punch
there is defense in offense.

Kukkiwon Textbook demonstrating a grappling Application from
poomsae. It is normally seen as a double block












Kukkiwon textbook 2006 demonstrating brutal take downs

Kukkiwon Textbook

Kukkiwon Textbook 2006

Kukkiwon Textbook 2006 demonstrating joint locks
eventhough many claim such techniques are not "Taekwondo"

Kukkiwon Textbook 2006
Grappling and striking together. Just like it was intended
to be in Taekwondo!





Kukkiwon Textbook 2006
Pretty straight forward Application
to Keumgang Poomsae.
Note the pulling hand!



Kukkiwon Textbook 2006
Straight forward Application to what is usally seen as
a double block (Gawi Makki in Taebaek Poomsae)




As you can see above: Taekwondo was a very holistic and very well rounded art, and not as simple kick block punchy as people today believe. Today we have a situation where some have studdied a very narrow part of the system, and with this narrow focus they have been able to reach high Dan ranks. I have seen and heard several high ranking people say outrageous things, like: "Taekwondo contains no throws, Grappling does not exist in Taekwondo, Taekwondo is fine but you need to study Hapkido if you want self defense etc". I would be very cautious and aware of such "masters". It is OK to say "my taekwondo does not contain grappling" but it is different to say that all taekwondo is devoid of such methods. Those who say stuff like that is doing a real disservice to Taekwondo and people should call them out on it.

When we can demonstrate a clear case from 1958 into the present then there really is no case for the ones who claim otherwise. It is true that these techniques often were not linked back into the forms in the mainstream, but that does not mean anything for the overall system. Taekwondo had effective Applications it just did not link them directly back to its forms.

14 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. For reference...

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBjelRDKHUk

      So when a guy looks at this post and says tkd is punch block kick, you can just say "here's your sign."

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    2. Thar gave me a wonderful start of the day:-D

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    3. Good article - people often forget the past or do not do the research to discover it. I'm glad there are those that will work. I did find it odd that the article referenced Hwang Kee's1958 Tang Soo Book info when Tang Soo Do (later Soo Bahk Do) were/are not a part of Tae Kwon Do. Did I miss something on that sir?

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    4. Moo Duk Kwan exponents (students of Hwang Kee) joined the TKD movement and the KTA during the 1960s. They were also a part of the forms comitte that developed the taegeuk series and the new koryo poomsae from 1967-1972. As they were a part of the basis of Kukki TKD I reference the 1958 book as part of TKD history. Hope that makes it clear:-)

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    5. Correct sir. Didn't think about that. Thanks for the clarification! BTW - I love to read your articles - they give me a lot to think about and are really informative since you spend a lot of time discussing the history and development of items under discussion. Great references for anyone interested in learning more about Tae Kwon Do or martial arts in general.

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    6. Thanks for such good references Roger :-) Thats a good start of the day for me :-)

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    7. It's worth mentioning that on a technical level, TSD and TKD were almost the same at that point, especially with some many Korean Karateka adopting the name Taekwondo while still teaching Karate. At that point in history you can't make a hard technical delineation -- only organizational.

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  2. Taekwondo is a seriously deadly killing system and probably the best of all martial arts.

    Great historic photos and instruction pieces posted. Taekwondo was meant as a real fighting art, whether you want to embrace KTA/WTF/Kukkiwon or ITF, both groups were claiming real fighting techniques.

    But what you get today are people saying "Psh Taekwondo sucks. It is watered down and only for sport. Tang Soo Do kept the real fighting art that Taekwondo lost." Yet 99% of Tang Soo Do people do not fight or spar full contact.

    Then you will get all the ITF kool aid drinkers who worship Choi saying "South Korea ruined Taekwon-Do and lost the true art and it is only a sport. ITF Chang Hon style is the real Taekwon-Do and WTF is only a sport and has no self defense."

    Yet none of them want to admit that WTF is a sport only organization, and compltely leave out the KTA history and Kukkiwon Taekwondo martial art. And 99% of ITF people do not fight or spar full contact, but do tap fighting like Tang Soo Do guys do. They also are ignorant of actual Taekwondo history and are simply in a cult that cares more about being the true political force instead of developing martial arts techniques and making it better.

    Then you get the Kukkiwon ranked instructor guys who claim Taekwondo is a sport and not good for fighting and they only train for Olympic sparring competitions. They supplement a few self defense techniques from Krav Maga of course, I mean OBVIOUSLY krav is the only real effective self defense and Taekwondo doesn't have it.

    Yet, these guys may always spar full contact, but they stay within rules and padding and never practice hoshonsool and believe they have to practice krav maga or some RBSD style to learn real self defense and they are ignorant about Taekwondo history. They believe Taekwondo is only for olympic sparring and also showing off in poomsae demos and competitions and watching Korean Tiger dance kpop.

    It is a messy world we live in. It feels like 70% of Taekwondo people are idiots....it has got to change. Maybe 30% are trying to do it right and the few grandmasters in Korea in the Kukkiwon are trying to keep things current with combat techniques but mostly everyone is just in it for money and promoting a corporate brand. Hopefully the young generation of MMA era Koreans will get a clue and start making Taekwondo badass again. I know I am trying my best as well. I know a few Koreans who are too. There is some hope.

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    1. Taekwondo has a bad rep, and it is solidified by those who have only studdied a very narrow system and then teach that that narrow system is the totality of Taekwondo. We must all try our best to keep advancing Taekwondo as a holistic martial art system :-) Thanks for commenting "White Dragon" :-)

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  3. It may be a more recent publication but GM Chun's book is awesome and I laugh heartily when I see an arm bar and an omoplata. Then there is a section on just how to fall. If we only practiced all powers...

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    1. The "missing pieces" is not the fault of Taekwondo the system but rather many people's narrow interpretation of it;-)

      My personal opinion of course :-)

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  4. well, well, always interesting to read a reiteration of something that i had always known to be true. yet i have always believed it was a failure of instruction. GM Chun always had falling, joint locks, etc. as part of his basic curriculum. as i still remain part of his schools and organization it always seemed normal. when i started doing workshops and seminars in other schools, much of it seemed really weird to me.
    anyway, much as i agree with White Dragons sentiment (and his ability to be blunt about it) i can't say TKD is "the best". after all, which style really is? it is far more dependent on the capabilities of the practitioner.
    i think we are really talking about the kind of instruction, and its emphasis that is at fault here. most "reality" systems are just a simplified rehash of techniques that are widely available in most martial styles. there is a huge myth that underlies most KM and other "military" type of programs. they are all based on teaching something useful in 3 months to people who have had little to no training, and whose bulk of the time will be spent on other tasks.
    true story: a colleague of mine was watching some off base interviews with navy seals. one person said to the seal-"i bet you guys learn the best hand to hand combat stuff in the world" the seal looked at him amazed, and said "what? Hell no! We blow s**t up and shoot people. if we have to go hand to hand, somethings gone terribly wrong"

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    1. Falling, throwing, sweeping, joint locks, vital point study etc has always been a part of the taekwondo I have studied. I had practiced for several years before I learned that outside my bubble most thought about all the areas as "not taekwondo ".

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