Archive for August, 2014

Does The General Public Think Taekwondo Is A Joke?

       Often times when a celebrity gives an opinon on something in society it is a reflection of pop culture and what people generally think of an issue. Martial arts were never mainstram until Bruce Lee’s success and various Kung Fu movies made it in Hollywood. Then everyone was talking about how amazing Kung Fu or Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kun Do was. Many celebrities trained in Jeet Jun Do and extolled the virtues of the martial arts. Now days Brazilian Jiu Jitsu gets the celebrity “Jeet Kun Do” treatment of a highly sophisticated and prestigious and deep martial art. On the other hand when a celebrity mocks something it’s usually bad news that topic as society in general thinks it is silly. Taekwondo i not taken as a serious martial art by celebrities which suggests this reflects the general public’s opinion of Taekwondo.

        A recent episode of “America’s Got Talent” showcased a comedy duo who made a mockery of what is typical of American Karate studios. Howard Stern liked it so much that despite the 2 female judges opposing him he used the golden buzzer to save them into the next round.

Highlights of the video:

  • how he is talking loud and at one rate of sound like he is yelling at judges at some “sport karate” event
  • He claims he “learned to be a black belt at Roger Baker’s Taekwondo & Pizza in Pensacola Florida”
  • He is going to break the world record of full extension punches within 60 seconds
  • The music that plays when he starts his demo
  • The way he adjusts the board before he hits it and how he is breathing like “shooos” on every strike, and when he does a jump spin kick he misses yet the board holder breaks the board instead for him and screams and cheers like it was totally awesome

The main point to take away from this hilarious video is when Howard Stern explains,

What they’ve done here is lampooned to the ‘T’ everything that goes on in a martial arts studio.

Stern said that statement with conviction as if it is exactly the stupidity that goes on typically in martial arts gyms. The fact the comedian with his partner said “Taekwondo & Pizza” shows he is making fun of the typical “Taekwondo is Karate and Karate is Taekwondo” nonsense that almost all mcdojo’s promote. As if Taekwondo and Karate are the same martial art as well as the fast food mentality of mcdojangism.

Even Anthony Bourdaine who is now recently a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu afficianado with his wife, who regularly competes, thinks Taekwondo is silly. In the episode of “No Reservations” where he went to Korea, he was turned off and embarrassed about the Taekwondo dance routine the Korean boys showed. He mocked it and could not take it seriously. He said, “I don’t understand it…” and compares them to “The New Kids On The Block”, and “training future boy bands.”  Only later when they did board breaking did he sort of show some respect. The only clip uploaded I could find is in German. Please watch it at 2:38 to see the part where Anthony feels confused about why they are dancing instead of showing a real martial art:

Bourdaine’s attitude reflects the general idea that a martial art is supposed to be badass, tough, serious, and showing awesome fighting techniques. He is oldschool and grew up in the era of Bruce Lee after all. For some reason Taekwondo masters think dance display is more important that explaining why Taekwondo is a complete and effective striking system.

When celebrities are expressing embarassment or a conviction that Taekwondo is a joke and too silly to be taken seriously, when MMA and martial arts like Muay Thai, Jiu Jitsu, Judo, Boxing etc. are now the only pop-culturally respected styles of martial arts (besides Kung Fu movies doing fantasy martial arts for entertainment) and Taekwondo has lost its place as the most popular martial art in the world, something has got to change about Taekwondo. They are doing terrible PR work and ruined their image and need to try and restore it. I hope more Taekwondo instructors in the future will do this.

A Good Model For Martial Arts Demonstrations

        A martial arts demonstration can be a very informative event for the public, or it can be something that people find entertaining, but also, and I warn you, something people will find silly or cheesy and make fun of you for it by heckling you (but then it can also be taken as a silly thing while uninformed people cheer like mad for it, but the true martial arts world will still mock you for it). Unfortunately, Taekwondo always seems to have the latter effect.

        In a demo a school owner or instructor should want to communicate a few things such as: (1) what is their martial art style and where it comes from and its culture, (2) why it is an effective fighting and self defense system, and (3) the specialized movements and techniques. These are the most important things above anything else an instructor wants to communicate in order to leave the audience slightly more informed than they were yesterday about their martial art.

        Of course a demo should be entertaining, but it needs to be educational and deep. An instructor can do simple demos that explain a lot in a short amount of time easily.

Here is an example of a simple demo using MMA:

This demo was done around 2008 and is simple, straight to the point, informative about the martial arts and their local gym, and it was also entertaining. I could criticize the instructors boxing skills, but that is besides the point. Overall he did a very good job and it looked fun. The audience gave a positive reaction. People who would take an interest in martial arts want to see effective combat on display and not a display of nonsense. The demo showed various techniques and why they would work and why their style is fun to train in.

A martial arts demo can also be more elaborate and large, especially if chosen to perform for a large event such as a tournament or any festival. In this case, sometimes music is appropriate or special lighting, but the simple basics and strong techniques and power displays should still be evident. It is not a TV show or party, it is martial arts.

Here is an example of an elaborate demo using Kyokushin Karate:

This demo was large and elaborate yet it showed the simple basics of their style and its combat effectiveness. It was very informative and the bricks and boards they broke were actually the proper sizes. No balsa wood! No ridiculous over the top screaming and silly theatrics. It had a strong and serious attitude showing warrior mindset. The Japanese master is promoting his country’s martial arts and culture in a very honorable and respectful way.

Another example using Seidokaikan Karate:

This is an epic demonstration of martial arts. This Karate master shows off his martial art doing the whole 9 yards. Kata, breaking, pad work, self defense, sparring. I love it. The music is simply background music and not action music or dance music to move to in sync. He does it representing his martial art as sophisticated with a true Budo attitude. And he represents Japanese culture well with honor and not silliness. He shows how hardcore and serious his combat art is. This master shows techniques and why they work, even breaking them down to inform the public. This is something Taekwondo should get a clue about and how to run a proper and serious demo of martial arts display.

Anyone interested in learning how to fight and taking up self defense instruction is going to take such demos seriously and be impressed. Anyone not interested in combative training will instead be impressed with a hip hop dance routine or gymnastics flips. That is basically what Taekwondo demos keep looking like. Taekwondo culture has absolutely no concern to be taken as a serious martial art when it keeps producing idiotic demos that do not teach children or adults to take martial arts as a serious thing, but just a fun and silly thing to do sometimes, like this:

Apparently, in the comments section of that video people are more concerned about the “awesome music” and the names of the songs than anything related to Taekwondo. What a joke. Is this the culture Korea really wants to portray to the world? Thank you kpop for your utter stupidity upon Korean culture! There seems to be no hope when even the Kukkiwon allows this trash and even promotes it. In the USA I expect martial arts masters to keep MTV out of their martial arts! But in Korea it seems the kpop (or MTV Korea) culture goes hand in hand with Taekwondo. It is beyond logic why this is so…it seems at one point some sabunim decided “Gangnam Style” is cool and it should be a black belt requirement to learn this dance if one wants to be on their demo team. Then all Korea Taekwondo went with it.

Who can save Taekwondo?

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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. 

More Taekwondo Korean’s Breaking Balsa Wood

        Here are some high pitched screaming crazy Korean Taekwondo guys breaking balsa wood with trick kicks.

Are people actually impressed with the ability to break paper thin wood pieces? Does it reflect real power and hard impact? I don’t think it does. It shows accuracy and I guess flimsy pieces floating in the wind, twisting around in the air, and  softly landing on the pavement might look more interesting than kicking paddles, but it does not show powerful striking ability or any strike that would hurt someone. Why is it that so many crazy Taekwondo demos like this have guys doing insane and inefficient kicks that are over the top, twisting and flipping in the air, but their basics or poomsae or any demonstrative action to show real martial skill is so freaking terrible? And do not even get me started on the Taekwondo dance routine they showed.

Here is an example of how stupid these flimsy boards are. In this demo video a guy holding a board is clearly seen accidentally breaking the board with his bare hands before the guy can even kick it. Then pretends like he broke it. What a joke. Here watch at 5:03:

When almost the entire martial world is engrossed in watching MMA fighting in the UFC and Bellator, GLORY Kickboxing and intense grappling challenges such as Metamoris, and many martial arts masters who train for self defense are laughing at us, why do such Taekwondoin keep doing this? People want to know why Taekwondo is a great martial art, why they should enroll in it, and how it is effective for self defense and fighting! They keep doing these demos no matter what. Instead they recruit people who lack any fighting interest and simply want to do dance numbers and show off with aerial acrobatics. It seems the madness will never stop.

Korean Tiger’s US Team. Apparently there is now a franchise going with the Korean Tiger name:

When Koreans themselves do not give a damn to promote Taekwondo as a serious fighting art and proving its worth, and do not respect their own cultures martial art with combative integrity we know Taekwondo is just going to die sooner than later. Only a ghost will remain of what once was. The only similarity left will be the wearing of a dobok…

…that is until the WTF introduces a more idiotic looking dobok that has nothing to do with the original and practical uniform that Taekwondo in Korea used with pride….and if the name Taekwondo still remains then it will just be a ghost with the name Taekwondo and nothing of the former life.

Children Need To Learn Self Defense Not Waste Time In A McDojang

        “We live in violent times” is a statement pretty much every generation claims. In modern times since the 1900’s every generation since has seemed to think the violence occurring worldwide and even locally is somehow an anomoly.  But this could not be further from the truth. The entire history of mankind is one of violence. It should be common sense that people need to learn how to fight and protect themselves no matter what kind of society they live in. This was the norm for practically every culture in history. Learning to fight was part of becoming an adult and being self sufficient.

        People in the United States often think much of the new kinds of murder and death occurring is such a far out thing. But one just has to look south of the border to Mexico and understand other countries’ cultures are blood soaked in violence. Much of the United States is full of violence and has been for quite some time. Much of American inner-cities are full of fighting and violence of all types. Only when suburban or off the beaten path communities experience a murder or a troubling gang infiltration do a lot of people assume learning how to use a weapon such as a gun, and learning martial arts is something people might want to start taking up. What confuses people even more is when children murder children such as the case of the Slender Man murder plot and assault with a knife by two 12 year old girls on another girl. Even worse is when a 12 year old boy actually full out murders another boy the age of 9 on a local playground.

        The fact is, now, children are attacking and murdering children. Self defense is pretty much mandatory for the well being of children in society. Too many kids who are “just plain evil” are being raised by incompetent parents, as well as such evil children just being evil despite their proper upbringing and good home life. The attack of a 12 year old on a 9 year old boy with a knife is one occasion that shows parents can never really trust unknown kids to play with their own. Parents must be involved and watchful of who their children interact with. In this case when it cannot be supervised, a play session should happen with a child properly instilled in situation awareness. Also, a child should be wary of unknown kids or certain neighborhoods kids who might be dangerous to play with. There has always been neighborhood bullies and juvenile delinquents, and now days some might attack and even kill. This occurrence on the playground in a Michigan mobile home park was random and without a known motive.

        One major problem is the fact so many martial arts schools claim to teach self defense when in reality they do not. So many of these schools, deemed mcdojangs because they only care about money, are wasting time and money from parents who want their child to learn how to defend themselves. So much time in such academies children are pretty much baby-sat with silly games and other nonsense that have nothing to do with actually learning martial arts. And when they are claiming to drill self defense the techniques are very suspect and have a very low chance of actually working in a real confrontation. Most of the instructors are told to behave extremely happy and silly and overly enthusiastic in order to coddle kids and make them have fun regardless if they learn anything realistic. This problem causes false security and confidence in kids who are given black belts far too soon and at a young age that is improper for a black belt to be.

        Parents need to make sure they enroll their child in a real martial arts school qualified by the traditional organization that oversees it and not a typical franchise chain with its own made up system created strictly for their own group. True Taekwondo exists as a martial art system, of course overseen by an organization from Korea that allows freedom for Taekwondo dojangs to teach what they want and run their programs in the way the instructor personally wants. At the same time they are still teaching proper Taekwondo and proper techniques with their intended combat applications. Other franchise gyms, the mcdojangs, have a corporate structure run like a multi-level-marketing scheme with forced guidelines existing simply to make as much money as possible. In these schools less time worrying about high quality students is spent and more time is spent on making as much money as possible through various gimmicks (belt tests, stripes, patches, birthday parties etc.). So less time teaching children in situation awareness, instilling proper values, giving proper self defense techniques, and instilling real discipline and a warrior mindset.

        Children need to attend a Taekwondo gym, or any style of martial art’s gym that instills not only physical skills but proper psychological mindsets for self defense. This includes situational awareness, character assessment of people they would meet in every day life, as well as true combat skills. If parents allowed their kids to be given the “military” style discipline that Taekwondo culture traditionally emphasized and taught to have a since of honor and to hold important the martial arts as a serious life skill then children will have a better chance to avoid being attacked. Maybe they would not have played with another kid in the first place, and if they did play possibly an attack could be avoided by situational awareness, and if the attack occurs regardless then combative defense skills will defeat the attacker as well as escaping and finding an adult to call the police. This is not to say the 9 year old boy lacked sense. It is impossible to know the full story. Sometimes an attack can kill even the most skilled people. That is life. No matter what reason the attack occurred and whatever the child could have done to escape is irrelevant to the point that children today, right now, in our american society, need to learn martial arts, to take them seriously as a life skill, and learn how to fight in order to defend themselves.

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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.