Just An Update Here In Korea, Is Taekwondo Dead?

        Lately I have been busy with work. I have not trained as much as I would like to. I will get back into it soon enough. I have still trained every week since I showed up pretty much though. It has been so dang cold here. Korea winters are brutal. It really takes the desire out of you. Especially when every building it seems is cold except restaurants. The dojang is often so cold I just cannot stand it. I am glad I did not have to train last night since there was what seemed to be a blizzard which left ice all over the sidewalks as I had to walk to work that night.

        The attitude of the average Korean about Taekwondo is pretty negative. I find it very interesting. The state of Taekwondo has got to seriously be re-formatted if it wants to survive. While there are the self defense promoting old Korean masters, the majority of Taekwondo is too busy practicing dancing in the mirror instead of hitting the heavy bag. The second biggest group of Taekwondoin are too busy trying to score points on electronic hogus and have a serious lack of fighting technique for actual combat. The rest, the ones who may or may not also be dancing, are too busy staring at themselves in the mirror trying to have a perfect poomsae angle or stance to impress WTF judges. I find this so annoying. Who can I spar? Who can practice hoshinsool with me? Who can practice one steps? Who can develop some serious self defense and combat strategy with me? No one it seems. It is extremely frustrating since I came to Korea in order to find true Taekwondo. I have found it here and there, but seriously, not enough of it!! I want more!! The KTA seminars were too short and nobody wanted to practice and perfect the techniques we learned. Instead practically every KTA student and instructor who attended were more interested in their smartphones than actually training in Taekwondo.

        Taekwondo is simply a business now. Is current Taekwondo a lifestyle of martial arts and a self defense mindset? Sometimes it is advertised as such, but in reality Taekwondo today is simply a business to make money and advertise and market a product. It is not about fighting, it is not about the spirit of a true martial artist. It is simple a way for corporate suits to market the hell out of a product in the guise of some Korean nationalism and make tons of cash. That is why the Kukkiwon for awhile was selling $2,000 grandmaster (9th dan) black belt ranks to foreigners. Since they got caught or accused by older grandmasters they decided to quit doing that. The ONLY reason they quit was because a few grandmasters got upset and protested. If no one said anything the Kukkiwon would STILL be doing that.

        As much as some old Taekwondo masters hate the lack of combative mindset in the scene today they are much too polite and quiet. Maybe this is some part of Korean culture, but it is a very bad attitude to have. It is bad because all it does is keeps silent when silence is the absolute worst thing we need right now. Too much politeness in order not to offend other greedy, Korean masters who sold out. Oh, sure they probably talk to each other behind their backs, but no one will dare openly accuse anyone of bullshit. But often times as a foreigner who spent more than half of his life in Taekwondo and standing up for Taekwondo in the face of ultimate martial prejudice against our style, suffering from the entire MMA phenomenon of ignorant MMA jocks who only badmouth Taekwondo (as well as traditional martial arts as a whole), refusing to quit even though all of the mcdojangs took over America, trying to find the good in Taekwondo to promote a serious martial art was a waste of time. Who has the balls to stand up to the nonsense Kukkiwon tolerates? It seems only foreigners are brave enough to actually open our mouths and tell the emperor he has no clothes. Is it true then, what I have been pondering, that foreigners love Taekwondo more than the Koreans? The few “waygooks” as they call us here, the very few who hate mcdojangism, who want a real fighting art are the ones who love Taekwondo now? It seems Korea does not give a damn about the stupidity of Taekwondo dancing, idiotic demos with paper thin boards, ribbon twirling, kpop TKD music videos and other bullshit and could care less about honor. It’s simply junk food for immature children. In Korea, men do not do Taekwondo unless they are business men. Obviously, this is with a few notable exceptions.But still…

        Is the only place I will perfect fighting skills or learn more concepts of martial arts at an MMA gym? Why did I come to Korea if I could have just stayed in the USA and trained MMA? Of course I got a decent job here, but besides work, what was the point? Non-martial arts-wise I am experiencing a new country and new culture and it is something a lot of people never get the chance to do. But martial arts-wise there is no added benefit. I could have gotten better MMA training in the USA, we do have the best. Everyone knows it. But Taekwondo-wise I assumed Korea had the best. If it does they are not promoting themselves enough and instead are allowing the kpop dumbasses and geedy business mcdojang men to take over Taekwondo, even inside the KTA they are openly promoting Taekwondo-dance and other terrible things. This is why adults in Korea do not take their own nation’s and culture’s martial art seriously. It is simply for kids to get some exercise. To jump rope half the class and do a few forms and go home. The adults never even give Taekwondo a though when thinking about martial arts. Instead Koreans are interested in Muay Thai and Jiu Jitsu. Foreign martial arts. I find this fascinated and worthy of study. The fact Koreans are so prideful about their country and act like it is God’s gift to the world and can do no wrong makes this even more fascinating. That something that totally represents the spirit of Koreans is ignored or looked at as silly. I would assume they would be diehard promoters of their own cultures martial arts as they are about their food, chopsticks, study habits, brands of cars, etc.

        I am now seriously looking into joining and MMA gym to learn more Brazilian Jiu Jitsu just because it is another martial art I truly love. I will still train Taekwondo on the side and get a master rank eventually (even if I should already have that rank, it’s not just me, but my instructor here thinks I should already have it as well), and I will still teach Taekwondo in the future, but there is not a big enough reason to solely train in Taekwondo anymore.

        Kukkiwon and whatever masters here lack vision. They lack the current time swe live in. We live in a post 9/11, MMA focused world world. Taekwondo needs to get a clue and start promoting Taekwondo as serious fighting and stop the nonsense. There is absolutely no reason that the KTA, Kukkiwon etc. does not promote more Kyuktooki (Kickboxing/MMA) and prove Taekwondo works in such sports in order to reinforce Taekwondo as a true fighting art. It only makes sense. Instead it seems they are too busy trying to show off with back flips and do dance moves and show sexy K-Tigers girls. Korea may pride itself and claim it has hardly any crime, low murders, no muggings, no street gangs etc. and so many Koreans believe there is absolutely 10% no reason to learn how to fight because they believe it is unnecessary  and believe they will never have to fight ever in their entire lives; and many Korean males also hate martial arts and prefer to persue less tough activities; but the truth is the world is dangerous!!!! Terrorism is on the rise (Korea is going to become a target soon enough), North Korea just detonated what is probably a hydrogen bomb and they have a war mindset to attack even more now than ever, and the rest of the world has all kinds of crime and danger. Korea has become its own bubble and refuses to accept the reality most of the world outside of this place already understands. The old generation of martial artists are pretty much dead and the new generation has adopted this bad philosophy of life. This is why Taekwondo is regressing, less popular in the world, continues to be seen as a joke in the martial arts world, while Kukkiwon and the like pretend they are actually progressing Taekwondo with groups like the Korean Tigers who want Taekwondo to become a dance and performance art and not a fighting style.

        What is really interesting is that Korea is thousands of years old and was a warrior culture. Some of that remains in their culture but hardly any now days. Maybe much like the Japanese “samurai businessmen,” Koreans have some warrior traits, but not in actual fighting. I remember reading some old articles about Taekwondo in its early stages, especially from some of the first Kukkiwon founders and those who fund raised hard for Taekwondo in the 60’s. There was a huge struggle to get the average Korean citizen to believe that Taekwondo is a noble activity and full of virtue when most Koreans believes Taekwondo or any martial art was purely for gangsters and ruffians. Not civilized people. Finally, the Taekwondo masters got respect and rightly so. The Korean government realized how valuable Taekwondo was and promoted it. That is the only reason we have Taekwondo today or it would have simply died out and stayed Karate. That is my opinion. So Koreans used to hate martial arts, then they loved martial arts (only the Korean ones pretty much) and now they hate martial arts (even the Korean ones), and the few young people who have a desire for something more in life than studying, working 12 hour shifts, and have an active lifestyle and a more aggressive or adventurous mindset are now doing MMA, Muay Thai, Jiu Jitsu and Boxing. They are not doing Taekwondo. Only children do Taekwondo it seems, and “stupid foreigners” like myself who did not realize they were enrolled in hip hop/ballet/modern dance classes their entire life because they mistakenly thought they were training to learn how to fight and defend themselves and thus got a black belt in modern dance. Oops!

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Comments
  1. Jonathan says:

    Hi from Venezuela. Sorry for my English. I just want to say that i love your blog. I have learned so much from your posts

  2. well well, this was entertaining! you ratify a belief that i have long held, and one that others have voiced behind closed doors. never having been in Korea, i could not have any certainty though. i have had a discussion with a somewhat noted (has 3 books on TKD) author, who said that if i really wanted the answers to the questions i had, i should go with him to Korea. i told him that if i really believed that they would answer the questions i had i would pay for his airfare first class. of course, none of those answers were ever forthcoming, something one would expect with tours run by a tourist agency.
    anyway, the TKD i learned was old school stuff designed as a fighting system. i don’t fit most of the new schools that i see. i am getting used to it, but wish it were different.

    i would like to have your permission to excerpt some of this material (with a link back to here) for a TKD study group i am a part of. Let me know if this is OK with you.

    • White Dragon says:

      Okay as long as you give me credit and don’t steel my article.

      I am venting a lot of frustration here. But keep in mind I still believe in Taekwondo and won’t give up. I will still pursue Kukkiwon 4th dan and master certification, but I will still o Mudo my way and the way I believe is true.

      I am also joining an MMA gym next wee and going to try hard to earn BJJ rank and spar a lot in Muay Thai. I am so sick of Olympic sparring. I am also bored of poomsae in the air and not actually partnering up to drill the self defense. I need some actual body contact for once. Also it will be nice to actually hit 200 lb. bags that will make me stronger.

      I really don’t care if Korea or any masters here gets upset at me for what I said. I am over it now. I do not wish to suck up or keep quiet about what is true. The fact is Taekwondo is not the world’s most popular martial art anymore. It is far from it. BJJ is more popular and Muay Thai is bigger than Taekwondo. Taekwondo is still bigger than Karate though.

      All girls even want to do Muay Thai and JiuJitsu here. ALl of the want to do it who decide to pursue a martial art or fitness. No one says, “Wow I really want to do Taekwondo and learn to fight.” ANd no one says, “I really want to work out and get in shape. I thin Taekwondo will help me get fit.” Seriously, no one says that here in Korea.

      The Koreans I work with think I am weird for coming to Korea for Taekwondo. They think I am wasting my time or it is just for kids. It does not make sense to them why I would come to train in Korea in Taekwondo. I am now understanding why their culture has changed this way about Taekwondo. Taekwondo is good for children and high school students who an pursue the Olympics in sparring as well as poomsae champions and any older Taekwondo people usually desire to join the KTigers or some “elite” demo group to learn Taekwondo dance. These are not fighter types, just people who like to dance and like kpop.

      I cannot understand why such old grandmasters allowed Taekwondo to suck so bad today. They just keep silent and tolerate it. They look the other way. I really think it is all about money and the grandmasters just want money and not to promote real fighting arts. A few individual masters see the problem but they cannot do anything about it. They even say the Kukkiwon people are stupid. ONe master told me he thinks the Kukkiwon people are stupid and he is also a Kukkiwon member.

  3. would never not credit anyones work, i posted two brief excerpts after this opening description of mine
    “i read an interesting post by an individual who is currently studying in Korea. it reflects his experience of TKD there. i commend him for his ability and willingness to say out loud what i and many others have discussed among ourselves. while i have provided a couple of excerpts, i strongly suggest that you read the entire post.”

    the post is linked to this page for anyone to follow. the group is composed of many TKD practitioners of high standing from all over the world. i hope that there is a good discussion. thanks for your allowing me to share this.

    • White Dragon says:

      No problem and thanks a lot for spreading the word. I don’t think we should walk away from KOrean Taekwondo or the Kukkiwon, just grin and bear it and just get our ranks and be foregners and teach what we want, as long as it still resembles TAekwondo we can stil teach real fighting. Just make sure to teach proper technique and don’t get sloppy bit promote MMA, UFC, self defense, weapons defense, and all kinds of real combative stuff. We can also appreciate the Olympics for what it is but I really hate the current WTF system with electronic hogus and also the stupid drive to wear spandex and Rollerball protective equipment that looks like Mega Man or some stupid crap.

    • White Dragon says:

      Can you drop a link here in the comments to your discussion? Thanks.

  4. Boseong Kwon says:

    There are politic everywhere. TKD still have a good resource as a Combat Art. I Trained Various martial arts. Most of them have a one or two good factor. There are no perfect martial arts. If you don’t like recent TKD politic as you mention this article. Just ignore it as I do. Keep develop the good technique of the TKD and training other combative martial arts and blending into your style. That is hard part. Every martial arts have different stance and footwork. For example, While you are kicking, you can’t use boxing head movement for defence. You have to adjusting all good component of other style fit for your style. TKD martial artist have to develop close distance techniques and grappling technique. And It doesn’t matter which style you practice you are still Taekwondoin. And we are the martial artist. Just workout Tkd development for next generation. I Can say people don’t think TKD is weak in my town. Don’t care about politics. You can go your way Mr Andrew!

    • White Dragon says:

      Thanks a lot master Kwon. You are always an inspiration to me online. I will do as you say, but someties I just have to vent and say it and not fear anything. I am Taekwodoin and I will train in other styles and I will develop Taekwondo MY way for future generations. Thanks for posting! It means a lot!

  5. Juan Manuel says:

    Hello!! I´m spaniard. I´m agree 100% White Dragon.I started with tkd in 1985.I´ve been tkd player since 1993 to 2008.I´ve been trainning kick boxing and boxing since stopped with Champioships(Olympic style).iits almost impossible find something more beyond sport rules.I love Savate,(kicking like tkd with low kicks and boxing techniques)but unfortunately is difficult to find in Spain.I going to start MMA whith a friend(Former Spanish Champion) whith experience in kick boxing and now learning and teaching MMA.

  6. Angry poom grade taekwondo student says:

    Alright. First, i absolutely agree. Lets talk. I mean, the master told me to go to the front to show juniors the demo to do one-step sparring. And then the master told me to punch. Then he just freaking fist blocked me on the forehead. Yea.. And that sure damn left a bump. Thats it. Stop this nonsense . He did that on PURPOSE! I quit this thing. Lets join Judo. Ya about that, im 13 years old. And a GIRL! think about that. I really enjoyed martial arts especially taekwondo. But the master made me create the hate in taekwondo. Pleasw reply and help me solve this thing.
    Thanks alot, white dragon.

  7. Angry poom grade taekwondo student says:

    Alright. First, i absolutely agree. Lets talk. I mean, the master told me to go to the front to show juniors the demo to do one-step sparring. And then the master told me to punch. Then he just freaking fist blocked me on the forehead. Yea.. And that sure left a bump. Thats it. Stop this nonsense . He did that on PURPOSE! I quit this thing. Lets join Judo. Ya about that, im 13 years old. And a GIRL! think about that. I really enjoyed martial arts especially taekwondo. But the master made me create the hate in taekwondo. Pleasw reply and help me solve this thing.
    Thanks alot, white dragon.

  8. Angry poom grade taekwondo student says:

    Hi. I’m 13 years old and a girl. Seemed like i have issues with my master. He hits me with a fist block on purpose and he hates me but he acts like im his favorite student. Please help me. Thank you white dragon.

  9. Dean Grant Baker says:

    I earned my REAL black belt in 1985
    My Master was a sixth Dan “old Korean Master”. Jay Park, whom at this time was the sitting rotational President of the main governing body.
    Barely spoke English.
    In ’86 I won my nation’s Nationals..in preparation for Korea ’88.Both sparring and poomse.
    In July ’87, we all were forced to compete again. [see reason below]
    They handed me head protection and body armour for these Nationals..wtf is this crap I thot.
    I won. Again. Was ready for ’88.

    No poomse this time..what a FARCE that had become with the new association’s take-over..nay..hi-jacking..turning TKD into a point sport from a deadly martial art lifestyle.

    Then I got knocked down with juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis.

    By Christmas ’87 I was bed ridden in hospital, and stayed there till the middle of March ’88.

    What I see now, isn’t a “joke”
    It shames and embarrasses me.

    I also know why this farce came to fruition.

    The city I live in had [has?] the largest diaspora of Koreans.
    BOTH Presidents of the competing governing bodies at the time were infighting..over styles, rules..and whether or not to include poomse..and which style.

    Hence the quickly thrown together second Nationals..and the dropping of poomse..Nobody knew the “new” “short step” I think it was called.. “Taegeuk”? style [tay-goo] it was decades ago..forgive me if my memory and Korean sucks.

    Having the largest population of Koreans outside of Korea led to BOTH opposing sitting Presidents at the time having studios in my city.
    Jay [6th Dan] and Hong Park [4th Dan]..no relations.

    The International Olympic Committee threatened to remove TKD from the ’88 Korean Olympics if they didn’t get their acts together.

    It was solved..?

    With a fight.
    Master v. Master

    a 56 year old Korean born 5’6″ 145lbs old man versus a 34 year old North American born [with one Caucasian parent] 6’2″ 185 lbs.. you can guess the results..and an see them today in Brazil

    Shameful and embarrassing.

    The best part.
    NOBODY from my nation’s Nationals ever went.. at the last minute my nation’s Olympic body..”randomly” chose a studio from our largest city..everyone that competed in BOTH nationals were hooped.
    Never received my National medals either.
    I was too sick to even care, I couldn’t even open a can of cola at the time.

    As sick as I am today..and as old..I watched some TKD..I would have knocked out every single competitor there..NOT braggadocio or hubris..FACT

    I refuse to call them..fighters.. or Martial Artists..

    and since when did we start carrying our hands by our knees..WTF!!!

    • White Dragon says:

      Wow great story! Of course with no rules maybe you could knock them out but if you play their rules then they will win most likely because they train for specifically Olympic competition rules.

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