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.

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Comments
  1. 종원 박 says:

    Oh, don’t take seriously, dude. TKD, Karate, and even Kung-fu sometimes being joked by arrogant people. (And TKD is being less joked than karate and kung fu, I think.)

    Many people playfully imitate Boxing skills, but no one think that makes boxing silly.

    And yeah, frankly, nowadays koreans have been ruined the TKD’s true spirit.
    But what I want to say is “Don’t mind that and keep on your TKD.”

    Many people think TKD and Karate is similar or same, and It can make you angry.
    then, you can show them your devastating TKD skill. and just describe them about difference between TKD and Karate.

    I know, silly jokes and ignorance of martial arts make us angry. but keep calm and being peaceful are also needed to us I think.

    • White Dragon says:

      I dont mind martial arts jokes. I thought the videos were hilarious and I liked it.

      And yes if people like you and me keep training and teaching we can make Taekwondo hardcore again. Go back to the roots. We can make proper Kukkiwon Taekwondo hardcore.

  2. How about ITF Taekwon-Do demonstrations?

    • White Dragon says:

      Seen that demo. Of course ITF is not known for Taekwondo dancing, but I won’t be suprised if someone starts doing that in the ITF.
      Basically ITF demos are exactly the same as a WTF/Kukkiwon demo besides no Gangnam style (at least to my knowledge). They are just as cheesy and silly with theatrics and fake fantasy fight scenes and annoying screaming.

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