Monday, 14 December 2015

Micro Post: The use of "Taekwondoin"

In Karate and other Japanese styles you often see the term "ka" at the end of a martial art to signify a
student, practisioner og just some person doing the aforementioned martial art. Karate-ka, Judo-ka, kendo-ka etc. This is OK for Japanese styles as they are essentually using Japanese to Japanese terms.

The problem that I have is when I see Hapkido-ka, Taekwondo-ka etc as here they are mixing terminology from the Japanese Martial Arts with terminology from Korean Martial Arts. If you are going to use foreign terms in your martial arts study you should stick with established terms from your martial art. The correct term for Taekwondo student, practisioner or person in Korean is not "-ka" it is "-in". Taekwondo-in, hapkido-in, gumdo-in, etc. Sometimes I see this ridiculed in online forums but it is correct usage of Korean language and I find it very odd that the Japanese ending -ka is tolerated but the Korean ending -in is not.

Actually I will ramp this upa notch: If you are going to use foreign terms for your "foreign martial arts" study or instruction, strive to keep the terminology the same Language as the native land of the martial arts you are studying and or teaching. If you study or teach Taekowondo use Korean terms. Insted of Bunkai, use Boonhae. Instead of Hikite use Dangkinun son. Instead of using Oyo use Eungyoung. Instead of using Hojo Undo, use Buchu Undong. The list goes on. If you have any troubles just swollow your pride and ask. It is really that simple, and especially today when you have twitter, facebook and other social media where there are so many people to ask.


  1. That brings up another question - at least one that has been bugging me for quite some time. Does one study Tae Kwon Do or Taekwondo? Hap Ki do or Hapkido? I have always preferred the former to the latter but see both. Are both "correct"? Like in your page heading you say "traditional taekwondo ramblings" and then say it is "...applications of tae kwon do".
    I do agree with your point about mixing the languages in the terminology - definitely not accurate but perhaps better in some respects in that more people may understand the term bunkai than boonhae. It may just be a matter of education in the "correct" terminology as you pointed out but it may also enhance communication which is the desired goal (is it not?).
    The same reason we use the term "Forms" vs Hyung or Kata - "Forms" being the English version for Hyung, Kata, etc and is more universally understood (at least in this western world) so communication is enhanced. Heck, even within Tae Kwon Do styles we see Hyung, Poomsae or Teul. So which is "correct"? It depends on the organization. That hardly enhances communication and, in fact, can be downright confusing. I am a purist in many things but do not worry about multi-lingual verbiage if it enhances communications.

    1. Taekwondo is correctly written ad 태권도 and hapkido as 합기도 :-) both names have three syllables and each syllable refers to one hanja each (one hanja has its own meaning). Some therefore prefer to divide them up (tae kwon do/ 태 권 도) to represent each word clearly, while others thinks that while each hanja has its own meaning, only the combination of hanja together accurately represents the name of the arts. They will write it as one word. Another train of thought is that Koreans write it in one word (태권도 not 태 권 도) so we should transcribe it as one word. Choi Hong Hi added a "-" sign between taekwon and do to demonstrate how the training of Taekwon leads to do (others say this was political motivated to seperate his own group from the others).

      No matter how you prefer to write it though the meaning is clear :-) the reason for the anomaly in the title picture is that it was made by a friend at a time where I was experimenting a little with how I was going to write taekwondo. I'm a Kukki tkd stylist but much of what I write is (hopefully) just as good a read if you practise another form of Taekwondo.

      As for different orgs using different terminology they are at least consistent in using Korean. Also at least it makes communication simple within the orgs, but I see your excellent point when looking at communication between orgs.

      I see little problem in adding English translations of korean terms if the Korean terms are not well known, but adding japanese, Chinese, Brazilian, norwegian to the mix + the Korean will just hamper communication further. As korean is used and we'll established as Taekwondo terminology language (just as french for the bal`et, latin for medicinial practise, English for soccer, japanese for judo and do on)

    2. (Continue from previous comment) it makes sense in continuing using Korean so we don't have to re-invent the wheel all over again :-)

    3. Thanks for the explanation on the Tae Kwon Do vs Taekwondo issue - makes a lot of sense now. I'm never afraid to ask, lol.
      And, by the way, I agree totally about he "ka" vs "in" thing - that never made sense to me either.
      I initially found your blog a little confusing (to me) because I was used to Hyung as opposed to Poomsae, and some other terminology was different but as we go along I'm catching up, albeit slowly. I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer so it takes a little time - thanks for your patience. Have a great day and wonderful holidays ahead!

    4. i am not 100% sure on this one. while i can largely agree with your basic premise, my experience has been that sometimes it may confuse more than clarify. i have mentioned that when i was training with GM Chun with the exception of a few commands the movements were all done in english. why he made this choice, i don't know. what i do know is that i didn't feel i was lacking at the time.
      What mattered to me later was trying to understand the names within the cultural context in which they appeared. i found that this gave me somewhat greater insight into the application of the movements. it was when they were reduced to "middle body block" etc. that this was stripped away.

      let me try to be clearer with a few examples. In China one does not ask "do you want to do X" the phrase would be "Suggest X" in a martial art context the idea would be-you are not making your opponent do something (like falling down)- you are allowing him (suggesting) that he do it. i guess if you are persuasive, he will take your suggestion. I think that you can already see how this changes your technique.
      i remember the translation of a Baqua move: "Lean on the horse, ask the road for directions" in other words, maintain contact and let opponents feedback tell you what his next move will be. the outward appearance of this would look to you as an open hand reinforced middle block.
      the non classical name stripped away the meaning.
      Another move: "close the door, push the moon" you can almost envision what each hand is doing and why.

      so, as noted, i basically agree with your premise, indeed i have the unfortunate habit of calling everything in the language that i learned the technique in. workshop participants have had to stop me from going from english, japanese, chinese, and even tagalog in one session. i apologize.
      i just don't want the other part to get lost.

    5. I Guess it Depends on wether you want the name to refer to the "technique" and not directly linked to Application (this is how I view the Kukki terminology) or if you want to keep the classical names. It does seem like the classical names were largely lost allready on Okinawa as Funakoshi, Mabuni, Itosu and Kentsu all reportedly had to "invent" technique names.

      I refer to the techniques by their kukki tkd terminology. In Your last paragraph you kinda proved the necesity of keeping to Korean (or English) as the attendees had difficulty following you going through a lot of Languages ;)

  2. That is a really funny post. Thank you for posting that I remember back in the day when instructors would call the dobok a gi. These were typically no name instructors from random organizations who kept calling Taekwondo karate. They also called the gym a dojo instead of Dojang. Gosh it is so stupid and annoying to hear.

  3. That is a really funny post. Thank you for posting that I remember back in the day when instructors would call the dobok a gi. These were typically no name instructors from random organizations who kept calling Taekwondo karate. They also called the gym a dojo instead of Dojang. Gosh it is so stupid and annoying to hear.