My Experience At The KTA 2015 Education Fair At The Taekwondowon

As a foreigner, being allowed to attend the official KTA 2015 Education Fair was a serious privilege. I was the only non-Korean there. It was a weekend of seminars on various topics of Taekwondo. It had the standard lectures of how to run a school, teach better, and some other less exciting topics, but the reason I went was to attend the technique classes and learn new combat concepts. I am extremely refreshed and encouraged to have seen high level Kukkiwon masters teach classes I was in about how to actually fight with Taekwondo. That is right, the Korean masters are teaching younger instructors about actually fighting and not doing performance and not only doing Olympic sparring. This was basically Korean street fighting.

My instructor, Master Jeong, from Bucheon who is a 6th dan, Kukkiwon Education Committee member, and official KTA instructor had connections to get me into the fair and take some seminars. I paid 30,000 won to attend the weekend events. That is about $30 US. AMAZING! It included food and a room with a shower and nice floor heater. It was top notch like a luxury hotel. I am so thankful to my instructor for getting me in to this. The Taekwondowon is a center for Taekwondo culture with many acres of land and several large buildings. There is the famous “Taekwondo Park” as well, but this event was in the winter so the park was not open. They were busy renovating it and repairing things. A lot of landscapers were doing work all over. The museum was not open either. I will have to go back and check all of this out. The Taekwondowon is very popular and has commercial aspects to it that may be annoying to me, but there is still enough traditional martial arts and serious things about it. It will be full of tourists when it is open. But the event I went to sponsored by the KTA was so great!

During this entire weekend event I did not understand a lot of what was spoken or written. I do not speak Korean yet and I cannot read it yet. So all of the seminars I just copied the way the master moved and positioned himself and a couple of nice Koreans helped me understand what was going on.

The first seminar I took was Sparring Coaching topics. It was taught by a Master Lee who is known for sparring and self defense. He taught various conditioning drills and footwork with kicking techniques that coaches can use for their students. It was pretty good stuff. I remember these kinds of drills back in my Olympic sparring days as a teenager.

The next seminar afterward was on the subject of Poomsae Applications. This was poomsae fighting technique. To use the techniques in poomsae for actual fighting. This class was taught by a Master Um who also wrote a book on the topic. He had us do blocking drills and using concepts from poomsae with partners. He emphasized modifying techniques to make them tighter and faster instead of doing them only the “poomsae way and speed.” I could tell he had some boxing or Muay Thai skills as well in how he would throw punches and kicks. But all of the techniques were official from WTF poomsae. He talked about targeting and adapting the strikes to whatever position the enemy is in and he was super fast! His class was a breath of fresh air to finally get poomsae techniques confirmed as for so many decades foreigners did not learn and were unable to teach applications to forms in Taekwondo. It has been lost. But like Karate teaching Bunkai it is great to know the Kukkiwon and KTA are teaching such things for Taekwondo. There were even boxing style slips and perries. This seminar was awesome and on par with the seminar I took the next day.

The next day I attended 2 more seminars. The first seminar was on Hoshinsool, straight up self defense. This session was taught by a Master Kim. Master Kang  was basically teaching us Korean street fighting and kixckboxing with Taekwondo for actual fighting. He had perries mixed with the traditional blocks and boxing style punches, bops, ducks and some kicks. He taught us various striking and blocking drills, and kikboxing types of arranged sparring drills for developing hand eye coordination. I thought this seminar was amazing. It was very action packed and he was emphasizing fighting and not sport sparring. He also wrote a book on self defense with Taekwondo that will be out in English next year.

The last seminar was right after the previous. It was a Poomsae seminar on white belt basics teaching taught by the #1 poomsae champion of Yongin University (a Taekwondo university). I never learned his name because I could not understand Korea. But he is quite famous like the others. The seminar teacing was about where feet should be held correctly, fist distance from body and other arm, and how to drills white belts to learn them. It was interesting enough, but of course I did not speak Korean and the entire seminar was basically a lecture and not an exercise class. I basically sat there clueless until he showed a couple of hand positions and stances. He even surprised I was there and said that he does not speak English, only Korean. Then he wanted to know my name. It was kind of funny.

I had a great time and it was very wonderful to learn that Taekwondo is a fighting art, not a sport and not a dance. There is a sport using Taekwondo called Olympic Sparring, but Taekwondo itself is a fighting art. That is why I train and that is what the KTA was teaching during the KTA seminar at the Taekwondowon in Muju, Korea.

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Comments
  1. richardconceicao says:

    Hello, i am actually very curious about this. as a Kukki practitioner for many years i have always found there to be a lack of actual fighting practice in most settings. is this a new emphasis (perhaps based on criticism from many camps)? i am also interested in the approach to the forms that you mention as, to me, that too has been sorely lacking. a quick perusal of the online Kukki material as to the applications of the forms is very scant, and mostly based on the old sparring distance kick/block/punch paradigm. perhaps if you could supply some examples of this sort of material, i for one would find it very helpful. thanks

    • White Dragon says:

      Thanks for reading. I think in Korea for quite some time they had more self defense oriented stuff that many foreigners may not have learned. I dont know when this emphasis on “bunkai”started but the masters were about 7th-8th-9th dans. Of course most Taekwondo people do not practice this way and only care about performance art poomsae BS and olympic sparring. But the very well known masters were showing this stuff. Even boxing style punches and slips with modified blocks. I think some of the old old masters do not like it becuase they are closed minded. But apparently the current presidentr of the Kukkiwon had trained Muay Thai before and understands the need for Taekwondo to stay combative. The masters who showed the techniques also wrote books but all of them are in Korean. This is probably why foreigners cannot learn this stuff yet. Not everyone can be in Korea or read Korean. But they are releasing English versions soon next year. My instructor also teaches more self defense oriented poomse concepts as well. Check out Master Jeong on youtube.

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