Archive for July, 2016

I Completed The Kukkiwon International Instructors Course

        I completed this 51st Kukkiwon International Instructors Course for 2016 in Korea. It was held in the Kukkiwon itself in Gangnam in Seoul. Here is a video of what I was able to film. I really had no time to take many photos or videos during the training so all of the really cool stuff I could not film which is too bad. It was 5 days of lack of sleep for me and intense heat and hard work. I will never forget it. I am satisfied to claim I have completed master training for Taekwondo.

What I learned I will be able to take with me into my teaching in my future dojang. Not a lot of Taekwondo teachers have what I have since I was blessed enough to go to Korea.

My completion certificate and my new Kukkiwon/WTA dobok. Awesome!

Hwang In Shik is 73 years old and can still kick above his head like a maniac and do extreme cardio conditioning. 

I will post more details about the course later when I have more time. There are a lot of things to talk about and I feel motivated about the direction the Kukkiwon is taking Taekwondo. We were even taught by many famous Kukkiwon masters. Some of the guys I have seen in videos were there in person! I met Grandmaster Hwang In Shik and others.

 

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Is Taekwondo A Respected Martial Art In Korea?

        We all know Taekwondo does not get much respected around the world, but what about inside Korea? Do Koreans themselves respect their country’s #1 martial art style? I just want to give some quick thoughts during my time in Korea and to update a bit on what I have been doing.

        The truth is Taekwondo is not really respected in Korea and 90% of Koreans do not take it seriously or think it i an effective fighting system. I have talked to many adult Koreans about this and they all think Taekwondo is pointless or unimportant. When Korea itself has a lack of love for their nations national fighting art we know Taekwondo is in bad shape. Most adults will take up boxing or Jiujitsu instead of Taekwondo. Heck, hardly any even do Hapkido either. Taekwondo is seen as a child’s exercise. It is something for the moms to drop their kids off after school between going to hagwons (private academies for extra studying). A large amount of Korean kids are pushed to study school subjects all day even to late hours in the night. This gives kids an hour or less basically to do some physical activity. Most Taekwondo classes consist of kids jumping rope to kpop, techno, and hip hop music for at least 15 minutes. This gives the sabum much time to waste in his or her office where he gets paid to not teach anything. After they waste time jumping rope they may go over some punches or blocks and a few kicks. After that they may play a game with a ball or sit around and waste time. Even the people who claim to be real true martial arts masters of the Kukkiwon seem to do this. They literally teach the children for about 20 minutes total each class. The rest is spent jumping rope, sitting around for a “break” (oh they must be soooooo tired after all that lazy rope skipping in the mirror and talking they just did) and playing games like soccer or something. It seems like a necessity for every Taekwondo master to own a bouncy castle which they set up from time to time on occasions. I saw this with my own eyes.

        There are hardly any adults who actually train in Taekwondo seriously. The rest just casually do it for working out and never want to make any kind of body contact. They do not want to one step spar, practice hoshinsool or do any kyureugi. The serious adults who like martial arts will end up training in something real like MMA. The most popular martial art in Korea by far right now is not Taekwondo. It is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. After that comes MMA or boxing.

        There are teenagers and young adults who do Taekwondo as a demonstration for theatrical performance art. These black belts and masters specialize in acrobatics and dancing. They are not strong. There is an extreme lack of strong people in Taekwondo. People who have power and abilities for fighting. I talked to a Korean who practiced Kyokushin Karate and was a 2nd dan and he expressed a lot of anger about Taekwondo. There is a bitterness and frustration to many Koreans who like true martial arts about Taekwondo. He told me that the old masters of Taekwondo are very concerned that there are no longer any strong black belts in Taekwondo and they are all weak.

        Many older people I talked to about martial arts in my English classes were confused as to why I came to Korea to learn “real Taekwondo.” I now understand why as even I have become confused as to why I made this journey. Well I am not actually confused, I am just disappointed. Anything I came here to learn about “actual fighting” has never came about. I had to join MMA to actually learn combat. Anything I learned in Korea could have been learned in the United States. I could have found a Kukkiwon master who knows the current KTA standards in the USA instead of coming all the way to Korea. In Korea all that seems to be taught is poomsae half assed, and many repititions of moves in a mirror which I could have done by myself at home and not paid money for.

        Koreans know the truth. Taekwondo is not being taught for realistic fighting. The few masters who care about this have no power to change anything or simply do not care. The leaders of Taekwondo have no vision and are more concerned with money and spreading Korean culture worldwide and making Taekwondo into some corporate club for Korean nationalism that has nothing to do with fighting. In fact the culture of Korea you learn in Taekwondo or through dojangs and memberships or tournaments is not actual Korean culture. To really learn Korean culture you must live here for awhile and understand Korea is a cold and bitter place more often than not. If you want to learn Korean culture then learn Korean culture. If you want to learn martial arts you must study fighting. Taekwondo does not have enough fighting study in the dojangs around the world, especially in Korea. It is simply a way to make money for young masters who have dreams of running large Korean daycare centers that teach kids to kick things sometimes. This is really a shame.

        One that I feel sad about is the lack of Kukkiwon fighters. Where are our fighting champions who will prove this art is real? All we have are the latest Olympic champions of WTF sparring that absolutely nobody cares about outside of WTF Taekwondo. Ask people who Steven Lopez is. Nobody knows or gives a crap. And most certainly the average Korean has no clue who he is either. Korean kids and teenagers know who soccer players and baseball players are. Not who is a Taekwondo master who has accomplished anything.

        I have since walked away from my dojang in Korea and dedicated the rest of my Korean training in MMA from my Korean MMA and Jijitsu instructor who actually teaches me how to fight. The rest of my Taekwondo time in Korea will be spent studying and learning in the Kukkiwon Foreign Instructor Course and watching the World Hanmadang. I could not compete in the Hanmadang because the website was too dang confusing and by the time I tried to sign up it was past the registration date. Oh well.

        Taekwondo is respected in Korea only as some cultural heritage Koreans do as kids, or to show off demonstrations and eventually become kpop dance stars. Other than that nobody cares. The martial arts enthusiasts here simply do not care about Taekwondo very much. The few who do, the fighters who do MMA, the old masters, simply do not have enough power or influence to change this or they are simply keeping their mouths shut and allowing all of this nonsense to happen because of some cultural reason westerners do not understand. Why would old masters not talk about the problems of Taekwondo today and why do they all all of the stupid things such as Taekwon-dancing, and Olympic leg fencing to go on? Do they not realize the loss of popularity Taekwondo has suffered and the authoritative influence of the Kukkiwon is waning in foreign lands? Even with these problems I still fully 100% support the Kukkiwon as the authoritative organization of Taekwondo, to give rank and the historic linage of Taekwondo unifying through it. It seems it may take foreigners like me to openly talk about this and try to influence Koreans to start making Taekwondo a respected self defense system that actually works, and a fighting system. I hope more people start talking which will influence Koreans to openly talk and make a change. There are far too many lazy instructors who don’t care and half ass teach their students, and many corporate white collar types trying to make money. They need new leadership.

How To Get To The Kukkiwon In Korea

        If you are ever going to visit Korea you are probably going to go to the Kukkiwon at some point since you are a Taekwondoin. It is absolutely easy to get to the Kukkiwon once you know where it is. The first time I found the Kukkiwon I randomly walked into on on accident in Gangnam. I have since been there a few times doing whatever, namely to go to the Mooto and KSD store. Here is a video about how to find the Kukkiwon.

Basically take subway line 2. It is the light green line. You want to go to Gangnam Station. Once you get to Gangnam station go to exit 12 and walk up the steps. Once you get outside keep waking straight. You will see a McDonalds and Daiso store on the left. Keep walking to the first crosswalk. Do not cross the street. Instead turn left up the steps on the corner. There is a thrift store type fashion store with clothes outside right there. When you turn left up the street stay on that side and walk straight up. The street is a steep hill. You will walk right next to a Mooto store. Feel free to check it out and buy stuff. Or look and come back and buy stuff. Then you will see a park with a pavilion on the left. Keep walking. You will see the Kukkiwon gate, that is the sign you are basically there. Walk up the hill more and take the low road. The high road will take you beside the building and it will not be a good experience. You want to see the Kukkiwon straight on in the front for your first time to get the proper experience. Once you take the low road you will walk right in front of the Kukkiwon and you can walk up the walkway to the front steps.

After that you can check out the Kukkiwon and explore the halls and the dojang floor. It is usually set up like a theater with a stage since they do so many demonstration shows with theatrics. You cannot actually train there. After that go explore the outside grounds and see some rock monuments dedicated to the Olympics and things like that. You can walk around the whole building and behind it there is a pavilion that is nice to sit in and take photos. Behind that is a small fitness park for old Korean people. Across the front parking lot there is an area you can get a few of part of Gangnam with some sky scrapers and things. There is another small fitness park there. Behind the Kukkiwon on the left side the the Taekwondo museum which has a lot of Olympic trinkets and artifacts. It is actually quite boring since it has nothing to do with fighting or interesting stuff except joining the Olympic games. But I have to say there are some old doboks of world champions and some old sparring gear to look at. Other than that there is some faulty Korean history that is simply not true about Taekwondo and a lot of things dedicated to Dr. Un Young Kim. The best thing in the museum are the original Kwan seals on brass plates. It has all 9 kwans listed with their original spellings in English and insignia. Very cool and that is the main reason to go into the museum.

After you explore the Kukkiwon and have your Taekwondo fantasy realized to see the heart of Taekwondo worldwide you can relax as you will somewhat be disappointed in the fact the Kukkiwon is not at all impressive as a building and is boring…but still, YOU DID IT! Take tons of photos and be proud of your black belt rank! I am! Even though it is not very impressive I still like going an I still feel a Taekwondo connection. The next thing to do is go to the KSD store. Walk out in front of the Kukkiwon and turn left down the street and you will walk down a small hill right into the KSD martial arts store. You can buy Taekwondo gear. They usually sell Nike, Adidas, Star, and KSD brand equipment. They have cheap kicking paddles for 17 bucks. Cheaper than the Mooto store. They have some patches and cool t-shirts of the Kukkiwon for very cheap. There are cheap Taekwondo shoes and doboks. You can buy belts and more. The store is more plain than the Mooto store but you need to price shop and check everything out. After you leave the Kukkiwon make sure to buy what you need in the Mooto shop. Buy doboks, get an embroidered belt ordered for pickup, buy more patches than the KSD has, buy MMA stuff, shoes whatever.

Enjoy your time in Korea as a Taekwondoin and make sure you tour the Kukkiwon. You can walk in on your own. It is open to the public. When the Korean Kukkiwon people see foreigners they smile and nod or bow some and are happy to have you. But hardly any speak English so you have to ask for help and they will walk around until they find someone who speaks English and you can ask them what you want.

Finally, make sure that when you come to Korea and visit the Kukkiwon you have time. In the evening they usually have a free Kukkiwon Demo Team show you can just watch. It is top notch and really fun even if it includes some stupid Taekwon-dance crap and slly stuff. The flying kicks are amazing and the poomsae looks tight and it pumps you up. Enjoy it! It is entertainment.

Right now though they have The Greatest Taekwondo Show which is a huge demo which costs 40,000W (about $40 and if you have a dan ID card you get a discount for about 20 bucks). I think I will go to this show sometime just to check it out. This is a special event that has been running for weeks now. Maybe after they finish up they will go back to the free Kukkiwon Demo Team shows again. I am not sure.