Taekwondo Is A Serious Deadly Killing System

*Authored by White Dragon

        Taekwondo is not a sport, as Mr. Simmons from the movie “Foot Fist Way’ would say, “Taekwondo is a serious deadly killing system and probably the best of all martial arts.” The latter of that statement is debatable, but the first part of that memorable quote is true and always has been true. Taekwondo actually is a deadly serious killing system. Most Taekwondo practitioners today do not realize the deep history Taekwondo has had in warfare. Taekwondo was given the ultimate proving ground for legitimacy that any Martial Art system could ask for, war. Taekwondo was used in the Vietnam War. Korean ROK Marines also taught this style to U.S. Special Forces soldiers and also South Vietnam Soldiers during that war. The U.S. military adopted Taekwondo for its Special Forces training along with Karate. Taekwondo techniques were added into U.S. Military Martial Arts programs because of the styles effectiveness.

Taekwondo warriors training to kill in their black belts on a military base in Vietnam

After Taekwondo was formed in 1955 about a decade later the Vietnam War took place and Korea entered into it. They along with U.S. soldiers fought against the communist regime of the North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong guerrillas. Taekwondo was given opportunity to not only prove existing techniques work for killing in war, but also develop more techniques for use on the battlefield. The military division that was known for hardcore Taekwondo was the elite Tiger Division, and to a lesser extent the White Horse Division which was larger and had Taekwondo fighters but were not elite troops. Taekwondo combat was used for hand to hand fighting in various situations when soldiers did not have guns or were in close quarters situations. One such type of situation was when Viet Cong would hide in bunkers and the Korean Marines did not have heavy weapons to blow them up. They would charge in there fighting with Taekwondo techniques and bayonets. They were known to cave in ribs, snap necks, choke people to death, and use bone crushing strikes with conditioned fists and feet, along with stabbing people to death.

The military branch of Taekwondo was the Oh Do Kwan led by General Choi at the time. He taught the Korean military Taekwondo and the Tiger Division came from that kwan. The Korean Taekwondo Association at the time and had since given General Choi the permission to start his own, seperate, and unaffiliated branch of Taekwondo in his International Taekwon-Do Federation which left the KTA. The KTA remained and eventually fully entered into the Kukkiwon and is a World Taekwondo Federation national member today. While the ITF was their own separate entity and was based in Canada. So since Vietnam, some soldiers went into the ITF, but the official military kwan, the Oh Do Kwan, remained with the KTA and was absorbed, as the rest of the kwans were, into the Kukkiwon. The Vietnam War is part of Kukki-Taekwondo’s history and Tiger Division is part of the true linage of Taekwondo.

During the Vietnam war Captain Yoon, who was only a 3rd dan black belt, was the leader of the Tiger Division and a serious badass. Only 4 other instructors in this military unit were 4th dan black belts while he only had 3rd dan. This shows that dan ranking meant something really important in the old days. If you had a black belt you were a serious fighter and no one to mess with. A solid dan rank such as 3rd dan meant you were even more deadly. 4th dan has always been considered a high dan rank and qualifies a person as a master. Unfortunately, now days dan ranks pretty much are ambiguous and do not necessarily mean anyone is capable of fighting well, but they are supposed to. Even so, Captain Yoon being a 3rd dan and being the Captain of the Tiger Division speaks a lot about the hardcore fighting ability of 1960’s Taekwondo fighters.

Training to defend and kill

Korean Taekwondo Marines practice sparring, rifle against empty hand

Captain Yoon emphasized training on the makiwara, an Okinawan Karate training device that toughens the fist. Striking the surface of this object conditions the knuckles so the bones dense up in order to strike with extreme power without injury. It also deadens the nerves to pain. The proper fist alignment from the chambered position also strengthens the wrist for impact as the makiwara gives slightly when struck. Hitting this tough surface that slightly gives (though not very much) develops a powerful punch in the trainee. The Tiger Division base camp had makiwaras all over camp so soldiers could strike them and practice. They also hit sand bags, that were used to line up the walls near machine gun turrets for protection, as striking objects all around the base. It is very rare now days to find a Taekwondo dojang with a makiwara in it. Some dojangs don’t even have a heavy bag to kick. This is a bad thing as fist and shin conditioning is vital to using Taekwondo punching and kicking for self defense. The focus on sport sparring and demo teams has brought a lack of black belts with conditioned fists. Even without makiwaras there are other ways to condition the fists with other objects. There really is no excuse to be a black belt and have weak fists. Many Taekwondo black belts today who do not train for “killing” or self defense will break their hands when striking someone’s head.

Captain Yoon, a 3rd dan black belt, and leader of the Tiger Division striking a makiwara on base

Taekwondo makiwara training on base

Apparently, the Tiger Taekwondo warriors walked around on base in their doboks doing all of their duties. They only wore field gear and military fatigues when they went out on missions. They even had a dobok inspection when reporting for training. They had to have clean uniforms just like any military uniform. The dobok was considered a military training uniform for this division. That is something more taekwondoin should understand, that their uniform is just as important as a military uniform, and should be respected just as much. It was once said by a Taekwondo grandmaster that “the only difference between Taekwondo and the military is the uniform” obviously applying it to civilian taekwondoin today. Notice that back then in the 1960’s in Vietnam the dobok was still in the Japanese, Karate-gi style. Very slick.

Taekwondo demonstration on base

Reporting for duty in our nice clean doboks sir!

The military base’s dojang with hard wood planks for a floor

The Tiger Division patch for their Taekwondo uniform

Color patch for their military field uniform

Taekwondo soldiers often taught the Vietnamese civilians self defense to protect themselves from communist terrorists

When someone mentions the words “tiger” and “taekwondo” in the same sentence most people will automatically think “The Korean Tigers.” The Korean Tigers demo team that dresses up like b-boyz and dances gangnam style. The same silly group that cares more about their haircuts than fighting who do gynmastics demos in black belts and silly fantasy movie fight scenes. Hopefully people who read this article and look more into the history of the Tiger Division and read up on them will now think about badass, elite, Taekwondo warriors who could cave in rib cages and snap necks and who fought against the evils of communist terrorists.

Now you know some very interesting history that should give pride to every Taekwondoin out there. Hopefully, now, many Taekwonoin will understand the serious nature of Taekwondo; the fact that it is meant for self defense and is also a deadly serious killing system and should be respected and used properly. This mindset will only benefit future Taekwondo fighters.

*Most of these photos were originally from an old Black Belt Magazine article featuring the Tiger Division (taken from the Kidokwan blog), some were taken from other Vietnam history websites. 

_________________________________________________________________________________________

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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Comments
  1. MesYang88 says:

    Very nice article, sir. : )

  2. Thankfully, there are those such as yourself who still see and promote Taekwondo for what it is: A true Martial Art and not a “Dancing Art.”

    • White Dragon says:

      Thanks man! We are few! But we can still promote a hard style of Taekwondo! Influence others and enjoy our martial art.

  3. I absolutely loved this article! As a westerner who holds Dan rank and Instructor Certificates from Daehan Taekwon-Do Oh Do Kwan, I am honored that you are reminding the public of the true, original purpose of Taekwon-Do.

    My father was one of those US Army soldiers trained by the elite Rep. Of Korea Army, Instrucor Group. Sgt. Major Kim, Bo-Kyum (5th Dan 1969-Dian, Vietnam).

    Nothing more nauseating than to meet 10 year old “3rd Degrees”…knowing Allied Forces were taught by war machines wearing “equal” rank.

    God Bless, and continue spreading truth!

    TAEKWON!
    Michael Bateman
    http://Www.BatemanTaekwondo.Com

  4. turtle says:

    Hmm it looks like your blog ate my first commet (it waas
    super long) sso I guess I’ll just sum it up what I wrote and say,
    I’m thhoroughly enjoying your blog. I too am an aspiring
    blog writer but I’m still new to everything.
    Do you have any tips for rookie blog writers? I’d really appreciate
    it.

  5. […] Read more about the Martial Art of Taekwondo by White Dragon Dojang in his post: Taekwondo Is A Serious Deadly Killing System. […]

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