Posts Tagged ‘army combatives’

Taekwondo Is Effective For A Self Defense Program:  Why Taekwondo Is More Effective Than A Reality Based Self Defense Course (part 3)


III. Taekwondo is not inferior to modern RBSD programs


A punch is a punch, a kick is a kick, and a throw is a throw. There is no difference between a Taekwondo punch and a RBSD punch. It is the same. There is nothing new really being said in RBSD circles that has not been stressed within traditional martial arts circles already.


Taekwondo has every technique any RBSD program can offer

Taekwondo has every technique any RBSD program can offer, plus the focus on mastering technique and dedication to hard training makes a practitioner more able to defend themselves. It is often said Taekwondo is not effective for self defense and that the techniques are outdated and inefficient. The truth is that any technique an RBSD

program uses is already in Taekwondo. What RBSD programs do is claim all traditional martial arts are slow, ineffective, and would cause the student to be forced to learn 100’s of moves which is “too difficult, a waste of time, and out dated.” Hypocritically though, the founders of such RBSD systems will list their credentials for knowing how to teach self defense which most always consist of traditional martial arts styles. Take for example, “Urban Protective Solutions” founded by a husband who uses his wife to advertise that he,

 “…took his 25 years of martial arts, Commando krav maga (sic), ken po (sic), and brazilian jujitsu (sic), and simplified it to a woman’s needs” (                                                     

Also, she states, “This is not some complicated course where you have to learn hundreds of moves” (

There is nothing unique about this RBSD elbow strike compared to a Taekwondo elbow strike

So, someone who thinks martial arts are too hard to learn for average women and are a waste of time to focus on has hypocritically listed that it is important for us to know he did 25 years of traditional martial arts training prior. Now with all of the styles he listed it would be impossible within that time frame to master them all at the same time. So that shows it is apparent he is probably not an instructor or master of any of these styles and has thus, proclaimed he is now the instructor of his own made up system that is somehow better than his 25 years of training.


This Taekwondo elbow strike is the same technique as above

It leaves one to ask why he didn’t just quit all of the martial arts after he learned the very few, easy to memorize, techniques in his current system. It is also apparent that his wife, or he, cannot spell the names of such martial arts styles correctly such as “Kenpo,” “Commando Krav Maga,” and “Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.” If one was a master or advanced in a style it would seem obvious he would know how to spell the names of the styles he trained in correctly and not advertise with such errors. Besides this, Commando Krav Maga is a fraudulent organization and the founder, Moni Aizik, was sued in a multi-million dollar lawsuit by the true founders of legitimate Krav Maga (an Israeli RBSD system). Jamic (2014) claims,

“Moni Aizik and Commando Krava Maga AKA Combat Survival have finally been served with our large class action lawsuit for fraud, misrepresentation, unjust enrichment, fraudulent inducement, or tortious interference with business.” (

This is a common problem with a lot of RBSD systems, many are founded on false concepts and groups who are fraudulent or embellish their credentials.


It is a myth that you do not have to learn a lot of techniques

No matter what style of martial arts you train in you are going to have to learn a lot of techniques to be effective at defending yourself. This is true even with RBSD styles. The claim you do not have to learn 100’s of moves is a lie. For example, boxing has about 4 or 5 punches, and maybe 8 or 10 blocks depending on what boxing coach you train under. Yet with such a small amount of techniques there seems to be an endless way to combine them together including footwork and torso movement. A boxer memorizes 100’s of techniques. Likewise, RBSD which claims to be simple and effective is going to have you learn most likely 100’s of movements with sweeps, trips, joint locks and strikes. Traditional martial arts already have all of that in their 100’s if not 1000’s of techniques. Along with many techniques and ways of movement and combining them together, much time needs to be spent on repetition over and over to make this instinctual. 8th dan Taekwondo master and qualified self defense expert Sang H. Kim (2009) explains in his book “Taekwondo Self-Defense,”

“Taekwondo training is an education of the mind and body. It is a process of learning and remembering things by which neurological networks in the muscles and brain are linked. Training requires a significant repetitive amount of practice and time to make those neurological wires function properly. This type of learning is an artificially acquired process whereas instinct is an innate behavioral mode.” (p. 18)

Knowing more techniques is always better than not knowing as many. This is common sense.

The basics of Taekwondo are simple to learn and easy to apply. They can also be trained with pressure and live sparring. Many self defense drills and scenario training can also be applied just like any RBSD program. Often times RBSD instructors do not have their students spar live. They instead just do slow motion based movements such has countering a punch and sweeping someone’s feet or locking an arm. The idea is that it is too deadly to spar with, and martial arts sports such as Olympic Taekwondo with their live sparring are not “street effective.” This is ridiculous as Taekwondo sparring instills fighting spirit and a free range striking sparring can be done safely and in order within Taekwondo techniques that do not comply with Olympic rules. Taekwondo can be sparred with or without rules under the safe guidance of a qualified instructor.

RBSD styles are actually founded on proper martial arts techniques themselves from various styles. This is because the founders of practically every RBSD system has a traditional martial arts background. The RBSD instructor Tony Blauer, who founded the SPEAR System (SPEARS) popular in RBSD circles, as well as the one who created the “Crossfit Defense” program for Crossfit actually started out in Taekwondo. In an interview by Matthew Sylvester (2014) he even claims he created his own home dojo and was teaching students ( He developed his own way of training later that uses techniques already available in the Taekwondo he trained in. He just used certain marketing tactics to get himself known and continues to use sensational advertising. If Tony Blauer, an ex-Taekwondo instructor can teach self defense then any current Taekwondo instructor can.

Tony Bluaer demonstrating a technique already found in Taekwondo


Sang H. Kim demonstrates a Taekwondo technique the same as Tony Blauer’s SPEAR








RBSD uses overly technical language to fluff up its image

Most RBSD systems use acronyms such as SPEARS which stands for “Spontaneous Protection Enabling Accelerated Response System.” Why couldn’t it just be called fast reaction fighting? Using overly technical sort of “politically correct” words to describe a fighting system is just a gimmick to sound extra smart. Like they have one over the traditional styles such “Way of smashing with the feet and hands” (Taekwondo) or “Way of empty hands” (Karate) that use common sense, straight to the point names for their martial systems. People like Tony Blauer claim they doing something innovative and unique such as his spontaneous protection ideas with their claim of accelerated response. It seems as if he just thought up a cool sounding acronym and forced in technical words that could be used to describe self defense. Possible, he thought SPEARS sounds so cool and had to force in his technical jargon. Really though, he is not providing a unique or new concept. Such technical jargon can be summed up by saying “train to react fast and effectively.” We don’t need a SPEAR to do it. Sang H. Kim (2009) simply expresses,

“There is no single way in self-defense. You can survive only through spontaneous responses that arise from the situation you are in. Avoid becoming attached to a particular formula of defensive maneuvers.” (p. 49)

All of this has already been known and taught within traditional martial arts. There are a number of other RBSD programs with their own founders who use various acronyms with overly technical language which will not be delved into. If someone wants to find out more about RBSD styles one simply has to use Google.

On the other hand, some RBSD systems that have good techniques are actual martial arts styles like Krav Maga which was founded by the Israeli Imi Lichtenfeld. Krav Maga literally means “Contact Combat” in Hebrew (a very simple name). The Israeli military developed his style further. It is an incorporation of traditional martial arts techniques from Karate, Kickboxing, Savate, Boxing, Jiu Jitsu and others. The fact is every technique that styles like Krav Maga have is also found in traditional martial arts styles like Taekwondo. Throat strikes, hammer fists, blocks, vital point strikes, knees, kicks etc., are all in Taekwondo and can also be trained with aggression. There really is nothing special, new, or unique about what they do. It is just the way they talk about techniques and training and their extreme claims of total effectiveness that impresses people. Good old fashioned martial arts are good enough. The only problem is finding a Taekwondo teacher who is skilled, qualified, and teaches for effective realistic self defense.


Mcdonangism is not a good enough reason to discredit Taekwondo

It might be somewhat harder to find an instructor who cares about real self defense applications and uses hard training to make his student’s good at fighting when looking at the majority of Taekwondo gyms around. This is the mcdojangism of many martial arts schools. Mcdojang means low quality, poor, silly, and gimmicky martial arts and quickly earned black belts, such as how fast food places like McDonald’s serves low quality food very fast. One ironic issue is that many RBSD people will mock Taekwondo or Karate for giving out black belts really fast to people who have no skill. At the same time these RBSD instructor’s claim their system can be learned very fast, through DVD’s, at seminars, within a couple of months for “total effectiveness.” Often times a certificate of completion is given to the student after attending a seminar. They are guilty of the very mcdojangism they claim is promoted by Taekwondo, they just do it in military fatigues instead of doboks. The problem with over commercialization of civilian martial arts schools is not specific to Taekwondo nor is it a good enough reason to claim that Taekwondo is not effective; or that is cannot be used to properly teach self defense. There are people who do know how to teach proper Taekwondo and understand the applications for movements and are qualified to create self defense programs using Taekwondo techniques. A person just has to look for them and make it a point to find them. While, it is less popular to be a combative and serious Taekwondo gym, there are good instructors out there and a fine quality self defense program can be created using Taekwondo.

RBSD instructors often use straw man arguments against traditional martial arts mocking the way they train techniques. They do not understand the logic or reason for training exercises or techniques like the chambered punch. They fallaciously argue that no one punches with their hands down. This is not true and a chambered punch is a technique for a specific purpose. Taekwondo also has punches from above like a boxer as well. Learning various ways to punch is better than ignorantly assuming a Taekwondo fighter will stand in a wide horse stand with his hands at his hip when attacked. This is a flat out lie. Much of why an RBSD program might stay in existence is through constant belittling of Taekwondo and other traditional styles. Instead of providing much new information or their own doctrine they waste time making fun of Taekwondo techniques and telling their students why every other style is wrong but theirs. This is the same kind of behavior many cults use on their followers.


Go back to Part 2                                                                                              Go on to Part 4 


White Dragon is a 3rd dan Taekwondo Black Belt with over 19 years experience in the Martial Arts and head instructor of the White Dragon Dojang Martial Arts Training Program.  


Taekwondo Is Effective For A Self Defense Program:  Why Taekwondo Is More Effective Than A Reality Based Self Defense Course (Part 2)

II. Taekwondo is proven in war and used by U.S. Special Forces

War is a proving ground for what tactics work in an unpredictable chaotic environment. This of course goes with various weapons and vehicles, but even more so for unarmed combat. Taekwondo has been shown effective in this arena. Morgan (1992) states,

As anyone who has faced the army of the Republic of  Korea can testify, Taekwondo can be a devastating method of unarmed fighting” (p. 53).


Taekwondo was proven battle effective in the Vietnam War

Taekwondo is used by the Korean military to train troops for combat including being used in actual combat in the Vietnam War. Korean Special forces currently of course, train in their nation’s martial art of Taekwondo. Korean Taekwondo masters even taught the U.S. Military and South Vietnamese the art of Taekwondo during the war in Vietnam. Korea had special combat units that specifically trained in Taekwondo. They even spent a monumental amount of time training on base in Vietnam. They wore full dobok (Taekwondo uniform) attire. In a November 1968 article in Black Belt Magazine written by Jack E. Swift titled “Budo Demolition: The Famed Tiger Division of the Korean Army in Action!” it is explained how hardcore the special Korean Tiger Division was at fighting while using Taekwondo and how they killed many Viet Cong soldiers using brutal hand to hand combat ( Their effectiveness led to the interest of the U.S. military noticing that the Korean’s martial arts abilities would be useful for U.S. soldiers to learn.


The U.S. Military adopted Taekwondo techniques into their combatives programs

Consulting with Korean Taekwondo masters the U.S. government incorporated Taekwondo into the U.S. Military combat systems. U.S. Army Special Forces previously used Taekwondo and Karate for their combat studies and even have a military combat manual originally printed by the pentagon in the 1980 called “Hand-To-Hand Fighting (Karate/Tae-Kwon-Do)”(ST 31-204). This manual even outlines a timeline for a Taekwondo/Karate training program which included traditional forms practice. It should be noted that during this time the word “Karate” was used interchangeably for both Korean and Japanese martial arts. The U.S. Special Forces manual mentioned above also mentions that Taekwondo is the Korean style of Karate (p. 4). The current U.S. Military has incorporated Taekwondo techniques into its branches combat systems for training soldiers in hand to hand fighting. On an episode of Human Weapon featuring the “Marine Corps Martial Arts Program” it is explained that the military martial arts program of the Marines features kicks, blocks, and open handed strikes from Taekwondo and Karate (3:09).

Marines since the Korean War have also been stationed in Korea where they picked up “Korean Karate” techniques from Tang Soo Do (which was incorporated into Taekwondo along with 9 other martial arts schools to form Taekwondo in 1955) and Taekwondo. The Marine Core Martial Arts manual (MCRP 3-02B) mentions that far eastern martial arts such as Karate developed into the MCMAP system, which would include Taekwondo (Korean Karate). Taekwondo was also taught to CIA and other operatives from the U.S. government by grandmasters such as Grandmaster Tae Hong Choi (1935-2009) of Oregon who also taught U.S. Forces in Vietnam. In a newspaper article in the Oregonian Jung (2009) states,

While in the Korean army, he fought in the Vietnam War and taught hand-to-hand combat skills to Korean and U.S. special forces. That got him his next job of instructing hand-to-hand combat for top-level U.S. security agents, his family said, and he moved to Washington, D.C., in 1971.” (

A pamphlet at his memorial service in 2009 states:

…in the mid 60’s he found himself stationed in South Vietnam as a hand-to-hand combat instructor to the US Special Forces and South Vietnamese Army. His Eventful life continued as Grandmaster found himself training secret service agents, presidential bodyguards and CIA operatives.” (                           

Grandmaster Tae Hong Choi

There were a variety of Taekwondo grandmasters sought out to teach the military and government agents hand to hand combat techniques.


The Military and CIA shows Taekwondo is good for civilian self defense

If the U.S. government’s military and CIA operatives thought Taekwondo techniques were effective for serious life or death combat and included it into their training for elite soldiers and operatives, then it is plausible that Taekwondo itself is an effective martial art to use for modern self defense studies in and of itself. The military creates combatives programs that will train an unlearned soldier from basic training in order to learn fast and simple fighting techniques as well as train mental discipline to instill a will-to-win and extreme aggression for survival in a real fight. There is absolutely no reason why such things cannot be taught within a Taekwondo program using the martial art’s specific techniques. Even more, a serious martial arts student trains for mastery of martial arts and becomes more advanced than the average unlearned person who simply passed a combatives course in 2 months.

Contrary to how it plays out in some commercial schools, not every student in Taekwondo or any other traditional martial art deserves to earn a black belt or even will get good enough to earn it. Some people might train for awhile and learn the basics, yet effective, for self defense. The serious student will master the basics, earn a black belt, and apply very advanced techniques far beyond even a military combatives course. Martial arts focus on mastery of skills which is better than taking a seminar from an RBSD instructor that lasts only 3 hours (or even a 2 week course or what have you). Real self defense success takes a large amount of time to earn through methodical learning.


Go back to Part 1                                                                                                Go on to Part 3


White Dragon is a 3rd dan Taekwondo Black Belt with over 19 years experience in the Martial Arts and head instructor of the White Dragon Dojang Martial Arts Training Program. 

Taekwondo Is Effective For A Self Defense Program:  Why Taekwondo Is More Effective Than A Reality Based Self Defense Course (Part 1)

*There are multiple parts to this article and each will be posted over time on this blog. The sections come from a research paper I wrote about Taekwondo being effective for self defense and better than a reality based self defense course. All Works Cited will be listed at the end of the final part of this series. 


            Taekwondo is a great martial art for any self defense program and is better than the average reality based self defense (RBSD) program. RBSD discredits Taekwondo and traditional martial arts by saying they are outdated and ineffective because they are not based on reality. This is not true and is just based on straw man arguments. They claim their techniques are easy to learn with “total effectiveness.” In reality, Taekwondo has every technique any RBSD program has to offer and in fact can be trained better with a properly structured program that allows for masterful combat skills. Most RBSD instructors have a traditional martial arts background to begin with and base their credentials on being able to teach self defense on their training history. If an RBSD instructor who started out teaching Taekwondo can then create his own program and teach self defense, then any Taekwondo instructor can teach self defense using Taekwondo itself. RBSD is unnecessary and nothing RBSD instructors present is truly innovative or new knowledge. Taekwondo has been proven in war, modern combat sports, and is a very effective fighting system and good enough to use for a proper self defense program.



Taekwondo is Effective for a Self Defense Program:
Why Taekwondo is More Effective than a Reality Based Self Defense Course




I. Taekwondo is a fighting system

  1. Taekwondo is a full striking system
  2. Taekwondo also has joint locks, throws and takedowns, and vital point attacks
  3. Taekwondo’s methodical training will help a person retain knowledge and skills

II. Taekwondo is proven in war and used by U.S. Special Forces

  1. Taekwondo was proven battle effective in the Vietnam War
  2. The U.S. Military adopted Taekwondo techniques into their combatives programs
  3. The Military and CIA shows Taekwondo is good for civilian self defense

III. Taekwondo is Not Inferior to RBSD Systems

  1. Taekwondo has every technique any RBSD program can offer
  2. It is a myth that you do not have to learn a lot of techniques
  3. RBSD uses overly technical language to fluff up its image
  4. Mcdonangism is not a good enough reason to discredit Taekwondo

IV. Taekwondo is Proven Effective In Full Contact Fighting

  1. Taekwondo is effectively used in Mixed Martial Arts fighting
  2. Sport does not negate street effectiveness

 V. A Taekwondo Self Defense Program Can Run Better than an RBSD Program

  1. Uniforms or special clothing is not important
  2.  The progressive structure of Taekwondo motivates students
  3. The purpose is training effective fighting techniques first over everything else




A properly taught Taekwondo program is effective for realistic self defense studies. With proper knowledge from a qualified instructor the techniques can be taught effectively, and are valid for today’s modern standards of self defense.



Often times people claim that traditional martial arts are not good for learning effective self defense. Some critics claim that it takes too long to be able to use any of the techniques of traditional martial arts in a real self defense situation and that they are outdated and unrealistic; therefore the traditional martial arts are insufficient for learning real life self defense. Some claim learning Reality Based Self Defense (RBSD), from a number of various programs, is better and will actually work, and can be used within a very short time frame without many years of training. Such programs are very trendy and popular among many urban dwelling folks. It is the current trend to belittle traditional martial arts, especially Taekwondo, without much knowledge on the subject and follow any number of RBSD proponents with varying credentials (some of them not that great).

This paper argues that traditional martial arts are a better option for learning self defense, and specifically, Taekwondo is an effective martial art style for learning self defense and better than an RBSD program. It will also explain why some RBSD programs are typically not effective for training realistic self defense and suffer the exact same problems that critics of traditional martial arts claim. RBSD is a quick fix method that uses overly sensational advertising and overly technical words (usually stated in acronyms for the name of their style which becomes ridiculous) and often times gives a false sense of security to practitioners (which is the claim RBSD would make against Taekwondo but is actually the opposite if given a proper Taekwondo program as RBSD constantly uses straw man arguments against traditional martial arts). This paper will also briefly explain the issues of mcdojangism within the Taekwondo community and how such problems have clouded the judgment of people interesting in learning martial arts who would reject Taekwondo study. It will also express the fact that Taekwondo is proven in war, was used specifically by the military for training special forces (along with Karate as both Taekwondo and Karate were blended together), was trained to CIA operatives, has every technique any RBSD program uses, as well as the fact modern MMA fighters, including fighters in the UFC use Taekwondo to win fights or incorporate Taekwondo techniques into their martial arts arsenal. Also, the fact Taekwondo is an Olympic sport trained by elite athletes and is overall great for physical fitness which will aid a person in self defense success.


I. Taekwondo is an Effective Fighting System

For nearly 70 years Japan had occupied Korea from 1876-1945 destroying much of their culture and forcing Japanese culture onto Korea including the banning of the average person studying martial arts. Any martial arts Koreans practiced before Japanese occupation had been nearly forgotten or wiped out completely. Only a select few upper class Koreans were allowed to practice Japanese martial arts inside Korea, or were given the opportunity to travel to Japan to study at universities or travel to China. Koreans who went abroad were able to also study Japanese or Chinese martial arts. The Japanese government allowed some who went to Japan to run Japanese martial arts schools for privileged Koreans. In 1945 Korea was freed from Japanese occupation. Koreans who learned Japanese or Chinese martial arts were then able to freely start martial arts schools using their knowledge and skills gained abroad. There was a 10 year gap from this time until 1955 when five martial arts schools in Korea unified to birth the martial art of Taekwondo. Not much time later 5 more schools associated with the original five were annexed together to consist of 10 total schools combined to form Taekwondo.

The early martial arts styles that combined together to form the Korean art of Taekwondo was a mix of Karate, Jiu Jitsu, Judo, various Kung Fu styles, and Taekyeon. It was a mix of mostly Japanese and some Chinese martial arts, as well as their theoretical view of what indigenous Korean martial arts (mainly Taekyeon) they could remember from history and archeology, since before Japanese occupation. Korea has a history of fighting in war, especially since the last century. Within the 20th century Korea had been invaded and taken over by Japan and suffered through a brutal regime, after liberation from Japan post-WW2 Korea had to fight the Korean War with the United States help against the communist regime of the North supported by China, then later South Korea entered into the Vietnam War to help the United States against communists. Korean martial arts were birthed and continued to develop within a state of conflict that provided much opportunities to figure out effective unarmed combat techniques.

Taekwondo was born out of this mindset of serious fighting and state of alert. Only later has Taekwondo lost some of this mindset with the current generation of Koreans who did not have to suffer growing up, and always had enough wealth in their nation to feel secure. The combative attitude has subsided somewhat. Even so, Taekwondo still remains with its original techniques including further developed ideas for martial arts effectiveness. The official Taekwondo Textbook put out by the Kukkiwon (World Taekwondo Headquarters) lists various brutal techniques to use for self defense. One can pick up a copy through Amazon and see for themselves what specific techniques exist in the Taekwondo system. Taekwondo is a fighting system and true self defense is only learned through fighting.

Taekwondo Grandmaster Hee Il Cho (1988) explains that “physical confidence can only be gained by learning how to fight and knowing how to take care of yourself in a real situation” (p. 52). That is the goal is true Taekwondo.


Taekwondo is a full striking system

Taekwondo has a full range of striking techniques as well as blocks. Kicks, punches, elbows, knees, head butts, and various open handed strikes. Some techniques are brutal and can kill which was proven in the Vietnam War when the Korean Tiger Division fought Viet Cong in brutal hand to hand combat when the fighting became close quarters. They used deadly striking techniques to the throats, eyes, groin, various joints and breaking necks to kill the Viet Cong. Dougherty (2010) claims that a person may be better off striking an opponent than fiddling about with another technique (p. 183), and also that “[most attackers] will not roll about looking for joint locks or complex techniques” (p. 298) . Striking techniques are the basics for self defense, and Taekwondo has everything a person needs to know for a wide range of destructive striking options.


Taekwondo also has joint locks, throws and takedowns, and vital point attacks

Striking is not the only option in Taekwondo. Taekwondo also has joint locks, throws and takedowns, vital point, and pressure point attacks. It is a full range combat system for stand up fighting. All of these kinds of techniques are also listed in the Taekwondo Textbook put out by the Kukkiwon. The traditional forms, or patterns memorized by Taekwondo students, contain various self defense and close quarters combat techniques. There are a variety of options for each movement in Taekwondo.

RBSD claims their self defense ideas are better than traditional martial arts, but the same ideas and techniques are already in Taekwondo itself. Throat strikes, chokes, joint breaks, groin shots, eye pokes etc. All of that is within the Taekwondo system and any good instructor would teach them and explain Taekwondo movements and how they work in a fight.


Taekwondo’s methodical training will help a person retain knowledge and skills

Traditional martial arts are officially systemized curricula of collected techniques. They are taught with a progressive structure until a student has mastered each level of knowledge until they become experts. This is the way almost any kind of education is taught. People go to elementary school and pass grades in order to go to middle school, to high school and some will eventually head to college. Any teacher worth anything knows that proper structure is important for learning. You cannot just lay on a student a bunch of random facts or too much information at one time. Even if such information is somewhat simple it needs to be studied or practiced for a proper length of time before one can move on to the subject of any given topic.

Taekwondo is taught with separate subjects within its system that allow a student to progress smoothly in self defense. There are basic strikes and kicks, blocks, escapes from holds and restraints, punch and kick defenses, combination striking, vital targeting, forms, and sparring tactics taught in this deadly art form. Taekwondo is taught within 10 grades which are called geup in Korean Hangul (Korean language). 10 grades are displayed on the student with belt colors. Different Taekwondo gyms use different belt colors, but typically in Korea the colors are white, yellow, green, blue, and red. Each belt color having 2 grades within itself. Other Taekwondo masters might use another color set such as: white, yellow, orange, green, purple, blue, brown, red, 2nd red, pre black belt. This is still 10 total geup ranks. The next color of belt after geup ranks is black. For black color ranks there are dan grades or “degrees” of black belt. The advanced student has opportunity to master Taekwondo after black belt rank by continuing his studies with the intricacies of Taekwondo movement and applications. Realistically, not every student will become a black belt nor needs to be in order to learn very effective, realistic self defense. Some will remain color belts and quit studying Taekwondo, and some will just never physically train enough to obtain high quality black belt ability for various reasons, but even that is enough to have a firm understanding of self defense and combat for those less serious about martial arts pursuits. Even so, there should still be decent amount of black belt students who stuck with training and ranked up if given a proper program with a good instructor.

Contrary to how it plays out in some commercial schools, not every student in Taekwondo or any other traditional martial art deserves to earn a black belt or even will get good enough to earn it. Some people might train for awhile and learn the basics, yet effective, for self defense. The serious student will master the basics, earn a black belt, and apply very advanced techniques far beyond even a military combatives course. Martial arts focus on mastery of skills which is better than taking a seminar from an RBSD instructor that lasts only 3 hours (or even a 2 week course or what have you). Real self defense success takes a large amount of time to earn through methodical learning.

Unlike Taekwondo and other traditional martial arts, RBSD programs do not usually provide a clear structure, and teach movements at a very fast pace. They also seem to spend a lot of time quoting crime statistics and other trivial knowledge. The structure of RBSD most often will throw out various techniques, and quiz people on crime statistics in a seminar format or DVD program for home study. Sometimes RBSD is incorporated into a program for a company such as “CrossFit Defense” created by Tony Blauer for CrossFit, an internationally recognized fitness company with gym locations all around the world. CrossFit Defense’s website states the claim:

“Coach Tony Blauer created a physiologic and instinct-based system that is the seamless interface between the high-intensity CrossFit protocol and the human in-grained self-defense system. Coach Blauer’s S.P.E.A.R. System is the only personal-defense system in the world based on the bodys (sic) physiological response to danger what the body wants to do prior to any training. This makes the S.P.E.A.R. System easy to learn.” (

The website then makes the claim, “Participants will leave with skills to put into practice immediately” ( This is not true. No one can learn a self defense concept in a 1 hour class and then expect to immediately be able to use it effectively without repetitive practice. Such a claim communicates the idea that a person instantly should never be afraid of an attacker, and should expect to win a fight.

The language used to explain CrossFit Defense (SPEAR System) sounds really technical and smart, like some academic scientific claim, but it is really fluff. All that description is saying is that a person will learn to use natural reactions to attacks. This concept is not new, and therefore the statement that SPEARS is “the only personal-defense system based on the body’s physiological response to danger” is not true. Bruce Lee actually made this idea popular with his Jeet Kun Do philosophy he developed in 1967. Bruce Lee also taught that natural instincts are good to use when fighting. Thomas (1994) quotes Lee as saying, “when the opponent expands, I contract and when he contracts, I expand. And when there is an opportunity I do not hit—‘it’ hits by itself” (p. 188). Thomas also claims that after the Hollywood columnist Joe Hyams asked Bruce Lee what he would do in a serious attack where someone wanted to kill him that Bruce Lee explained,

I throw a ball and you catch it. You walk into a dark room and without conscious thought you turn on the light switch. A child runs in front of yours car and you jam on the breaks. You don’t think about these things, ‘It’ just happens. If someone tried to hit me I wouldn’t think about it, ‘it’ would happen. I would do whatever was called upon to be done without conscious thought” (p. 188).

Maybe Bruce Lee never mentioned the words “physiological” and “fear” in those sentences but the concept is still the same. Fear is an emotional response. The military combatives system of Krav Maga also makes a similar claim as what CrossFit Defense claims SPEAR is based on. One Krav Maga school on their website states that one of Krav Maga’s principles is “based on the body’s natural reaction.” It states,

Krav Maga is different from other martial arts since most other systems attempt to reprogram your natural reactions so that you can perform the techniques under the stress of an attack. This is why it takes so long to become combat proficient at other systems, since you have to relearn everything – walking, blocking, striking, etc… In Krav Maga we begin with the body’s natural reactions to stress then build techniques and combinations from those reactions. The result is Krav Maga feels more natural and students are able to learn the movements faster.” (

That sounds very similar to the claim Tony Blauer makes for CrossFit Defense and his SPEARS program. The idea of being “able to perform techniques under the stress of an attack” is the same as “physiological responses to fear.” The idea of it taking so long to become proficient in other martial arts systems and learning their style helps them learn self defense faster is also apparent. Imi Lichtenfeld developed Krava Maga was after World War 2 during the 1940’s. SPEAR System was developed by Tony Blauer in the 1980’s. This shows that the SPEAR System really is not an original self defense concept and the claims on CrossFit Defense’s website are false. In fact, the SPEAR idea that one should focus on fearful reactions of the body which are untrained techniques is very bad. Training is always better than not training. Developing skill through repetition, study and practice is the only way a person can become great at something. If someone wants to become great at self defense they must practice technique and train hard learning movements; because a fight really is just movement between two parties and one needs to learn to move effectively. Also, the claim that SPEARS uses untrained techniques of the body’s natural physiological reactions is silly since taking a SPEARS course itself is training. Watch any video of Blauer and you see him teaching students who are training a technique and practicing. It is a false statement and a contradiction to say that someone can learn untrained things. Or more simply train to develop untrained movements. That is illogical.

The results for these types of programs are to give someone a mediocre understanding of self defense knowledge and skills gained at a fast rate, and not true mastery. Taekwondo and other traditional martial arts provide an opportunity of self defense mastery because the way they are trained is structured with more intense focus emphasized. The fact is true self defense skills take dedication and time. It will not happen over night, and it won’t happen in a few seminars or DVD programs and it definitely will not happen “immediately.”


Go back to Part 5 (last part)                                                                          Go on to Part 2


White Dragon is a 3rd dan Taekwondo Black Belt with over 19 years experience in the Martial Arts and head instructor of the White Dragon Dojang Martial Arts Training Program. 


U.S. Special Forces Were Taught Taekwondo

        At one time in the United States military history, the special forces were taught Taekwondo and Karate. I find this fun to look into and awhile back I bought an old military combat manual reprint of the U.S. Army Special Forces Hand To Hand Combat Manual.

This manual was apparently released by the Pentagon for U.S. Army Special Forces only and contains Karate and Taekwondo techniques and a tiny bit of martial arts history as well as a list of what soldiers have to do to pass promotion tests for army martial arts instructor certification (they had to learn “kata”, but they do not teach the kata in this book only mention the names which were the Haian kata but it only mentions 1, 2, & 4 and not 3 for some reason, they also had to do a lot of free sparring). It has photos of soldiers in fatigues demonstrating movements and self defense techniques. I believe the Army created this manual after the Vietnam War or during it. I am not sure. Anyway, it is a good read and shows that Taekwondo and Karate were taken as serious fighting systems, even for killing an enemy in war. Very cool and inspired in me the oldschool hardcore nature of what Taekwondo was about when it was created and gives me a sense of pride in my martial art. This is a fun read for any serious Taekwondo lover.

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