Mudo Is Why I Train

        I got into martial arts in order to learn how to fight. I was bothered by a bully who came to my neighborhood and would call me out to fight and threaten to beat me up every time he came on my street. It terrified me. When I was 13 I started training in Taekwondo because I thought it was the most effective way since is focused on kicks as well as punches and not only punches, but some throwing and joint locks. I saw an advertisement explaining the differences between Taekwondo, Hapkido, and Judo. I thought the description of Taekwondo seemed to explain that it had everything Hapkido and Judo had plus kicking. Of course when I trained over the years I know it may have everything, but the focus is different. I thought the kicks would help me fight better and I saw many movies with awesome kicks in fight scenes and figured it was the way to go. Eventually I am where I am today an I still believe that Taekwondo has enough techniques and concepts for self defense, with it’s dynamic kicks that make it a deadly martial art. The real masters will train in everything and not leave any part out. This includes Mudo.

So many schools of Taekwondo leave out Mudo or Musul. Mudo is the Korean transliteration of Budo, which is the Japanese term for “Way of War, martial way, or way of the warrior.” Musul means “martial arts techniques.” Both of these terms focus on a warlike, military, and fighting aspect. Musul represents physical study of fighting techniques and how to defeat enemies. Mudo has to do with the internal struggle and war against one’s own ego. This helps a fighter become better focused and ready to fight and be a better person. It also has to do with martial arts morality and training for pure purposes and not evil.

There are so many gyms/school, or demo teams etc. in Taekwondo that use the term mudo in their name. They focus on musical forms, gymnastics, asthetic poomsae practice (not application: Bunhae), and sport sparring only for Olympics. Nothing they do has to do with war, or the art of actual fighting. It is very frustrating to me that Taekwondo has lost true mudo and instead has a superficial focus. If they do use self defense (hoshinsool: escaping from grabs and avoiding attacks and countering) it is a very, very shallow focus and weak. I really disagree with this. Taekwondo should be fun and be friendly, but there has to be a seriousness in it like any true martial art. When I see videos of Okinawan masters of Karate and Japanese Karate dojos, or even Kung Fu gyms in China I see their intensity, focus, and serious dedication to warrior skills. They have the intention to kill if necessary and perfect techniques to make them good at fighting. I really feel jealous of these gyms and look at how modern Taekwondo has become lost to these concepts.

Why is it that Taekwondo seminars or events have to do with guys in suits, classrooms with desks, Taekwondo-dance demonstrations, music and lights, and going over poomsae without application study? Why? We all know the answer is money, politics, and gaining popularity with masses of a politically correct culture that thinks “violence is never the answer.”

I may never be a world class fighter or athletes, but I can be the best I can be. That is mudo. To fight hard within yourself, accepting the limitations of your body but persevering anyway and pushing yourself. You don’t train to show off and impress, you train to defend your life. People have injuries and limitations that others do not. We are all on different levels. But we strive not to win medals, but to fight ourselves and remain confident regardless of personal issues and limitations. We want to perfect our art and train our bodies to perform it the best way we can. We are mediating on our martial art when we train. I really believe we need alone time and training alone. Going over poomsae with no one around, preferably outside in nature to take in the beauty God created. Dojang training is great but we also need to take the time to be alone as well, or in small groups and perfect self defense together.

When training for demonstrations or performance art such as dancing, the focus is lost. The ego is promoted because one is trained to impress an audience. The same for sport Taekwondo sparring. Winning medals is a great honor but to make it your entire Taekwondo focus is no mudo. One such as this is lacking in the internal and has only a superficial understanding of Taekwondo. Many win world championships at the expense of perfecting poomsae, hoshinsool, and real fighting. One could be a 5th dan master and still not know how to throw a proper jab, or hook punch and not know how to deal with a clinch or takedown as well. Or a realistic understanding of self defense.

My goal with White Dragon Dojang is to promote Taekwondo in it’s full martial art style and not neglecting anything. To promote it as a fighting art, to give warrior spirit to my students, and make sure they can fight. I want to fight my own ego as much as it comes up, and instill this thinking in my students to fight their own egos. I think the traditional approach has been lost so much. Also, modern combat adaptation is not being included either. I want Taekwondo to get with the times and promote the traditional hard ways of training other styles do as well as adapt to advances in hand to hand combat and even promote combat sports such as MMA along with Olympic Taekwondo sparring. So many Taekwondo masters, not just Koreans (though many), think they don’t need MMA, or MMA is immoral. Or teaching to fight for real is pointless. I don’t think the old masters of the 40’s and 50’s thought this way. It was life or death back then. MMA and combatives training is not just for the military or gangsters that many Koreans think. They used to think Taekwondo was for gangsters. Now it is accepted in society by being kid friendly etc. Taekwondo should include serious fighters and every black belt should have a basic understanding of how to defend themselves in a confrontation (or street fight). Taekwondo needs to be feared again.

I hope that what I do with my teaching and philosophy will keep martial arts morality and righteousness in training as well as not be afraid to train realistic combat with Taekwondo. I hope that what I do, my small part in the martial world, will gain respect to Taekwondo as a true martial art, a true fighting art. Keep mudo, and musul in Taekwondo!

Taekwondo attitude was much different back then

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Comments
  1. That is perhaps the best piece give written the last few years (in my opinion). Great work!

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