MMA Is The Future of Taekwondo

Posted: February 13, 2014 in Taekwondo
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MMA Is The Future of Taekwondo

*Authored by White Dragon. 

It is an MMA world! People want realistic training for practical self-defense and combat effectiveness. The popularity of MMA is nothing for Taekwondo instructors to fear who want to run a legitimate dojang business. It is actually something to embrace.

Taekwondo has to adapt and embrace the mindset of MMA philosophy which is a “what works” attitude when training in martial arts. After the “Karate Kid” phase of the 1980’s Taekwondo and Karate instructors began to advertise that their art is “more than simply just kicking and punching.” This was a marketing ploy that appealed to parents. While it is a legitimate claim that there is philosophy and discipline taught within Taekwondo, the “more than kicking and punching” emphasis was the beginning of the current “mcdojangism” that plagues so many academies today. As a result, a lack of serious combat analysis and proving ground for Taekwondo as a combat system has negatively impacted the art. An emphasis of flash over combat—including more focus on poomsae practice and demo teams over sport sparring— has caused the ridicule of many Taekwondoin by “MMA onlyists.”  Many Taekwondoin who are sick of poor quality training, the lack of techniques allowed, and completely unrealistic self-defense have often quit Taekwondo and began training at MMA gyms leaving behind the art. Taekwondo cannot survive off of “Taekwondo moms” and a high turn over rate in academies from children who get their black belts at age 9 then quit. The future of Taekwondo depends on it!

MMA is a proving ground not only for fighters, but for individual techniques. Currently within the past 2 years we have seen several spin kick finishes in the UFC. Fighters such as Edison Barboza, Anthony Pettis, Cung Le, Uriah Hall, Vitor Beltfort and Junior Dos Santos have all used either a spinning-heel kick or a high risk flying kick to finish a fight. And what is incredible is not all of these fighters even have a Taekwondo background. This proves that traditional martial arts and their popular techniques are making a comeback from the previously shunned position they had in the early days of the UFC.

As far as spin kicks go, it is a common opinion that Taekwondo has the best training for spinning types of kicks. The back kick has been utilized in MMA for quite some time with utter devastation to the recipients (think Dennis Siver’s brutal back kick finishes). Techniques like this have opened people’s eyes to the effectiveness of Taekwondo moves. Joe Rogan, the UFC color commentator, also has a background in Taekwondo. If one looks up “Joe Rogan Taekwondo” in YouTube they will find popular videos where he demonstrates Taekwondo kicks such as the side kick, axe kick, back kick, and spin kick. He also teaches champion Georges St. Pierre the back kick which convicted Pierre into claiming that Taekwondo has the best back kick in all of martial arts. These claims are something all Taekwondoin should be proud of. Instructors should start developing fighters who can further expand the plethora of effective combat moves that Taekwondo can offer. It is time Taekwondo instructors start training fighters instead of simply children who can get an A+ on their math quizzes and clean their rooms without their parents asking. High quality Taekwondo students who perfect technique over belt promotions are needed. The future of Taekwondo could very well consist of MMA champions that know good self-defense besides simply doing cartwheel flip kicks and “Taekwondo dance” numbers. It could also consist of Taekwondo instructors being hired by MMA gyms who understand their expertise of dynamic kicking. The future of Taekwondo in this decade is going to be very interesting.


White Dragon is a 3rd dan Taekwondo Black Belt with over 19 years experience in the Martial Arts and head instructor of the White Dragon Dojang Martial Arts Training Program. 



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