Posts Tagged ‘combat sports’

Why Training In MMA Shorts Is Important For Taekwondoin

        As a Taekwondo fighter and life long Taekwondoin I have often stressed that most training should be done in the dobok of course, but I always saw the need to train in regular athletic clothes and shorts. We learn to kick wearing dobok pants, but many do not kick in shorts and the feeling is very different.

Training in MMA shorts is great because they are very mobile and allow you to kick high and the material wicks away sweat. I would often do a heavy bag routine in full dobok attire and kick the bag hard with my dobok pants on. This is good to do of course. When you kick with pants on you tend to really work the instep kicks using round kick It conditions the top of your foot really well. wearing pants lacks the tendency for you to kick with your shin. You can do it but you won’t want to as much as your brain usually uses the exposed skin of the foot as the landing weapon. When you do use your shin to kick a bag with your foot your pants cover your skin.

What happens when you have material over your skin as you kick is that sweat stays wet on your skin. You will not get a good skin conditioning to develop your pain tolerance to accept high impacts on your leg. Your feet will get conditions on the skin so the slaps of the heavy bag do not hurt anymore, but your shin won’t. The dobok pants stay wet with sweat and your skin will not get dry in the air as much. This is why you should also train while wearing shorts.

 

 

A good pair of shorts I like to use are the Elite Sports Star Series MMA Shorts. They fit well and feel great. You really want to kick when wearing them. They also work well for grappling, but that is besides the point. When I wear these shorts I can kick the heavy bag pretty well and my skin over my shin will be less moist from sweat as the air will dry the skin. When I kick the bag with my shin my skin toughens up over time and you develop the much needed callouses over the shin bone.

Kicking in the air with shorts is also different. When we wear dobok pants we can do poomsae well as we hear the snap of the clothing over our legs telling us when to stop. In the real world if we get into a fight while wearing shorts it may feel weird and the novice might not understand when to snap his kick or how to pull it without the “dobok snap” sound. When i was a color belt I had this issue. I felt so weird kicking in shorts. I got used to it. Also using shorts allows for the “heavy rotation” kicks like the downward angled kick pulling through to smash the enemy’s thigh or body. The full 360 rotation kicks often seen in kickboxing.

Image result for Elite Sports Star Shorts white

The reason  like the Elite Sports Star MMA shorts is because of their functionality and fit. The feeling that I am free to kick and move my legs as much as I want without any restraint. They are secure and stay on you well and the material so very comfortable and less plastic feeling as other brands of MMA shorts.

I am a huge advocate of cross training in martial arts as well as training in doors, out doors, in the official Taekwondo uniform and also in street clothes as well as MMA gear. For more to see about Elite Sports gear for combat sports check this video out:

 

 

 

Get the shorts: Elite Sports Star/Sublimation Series Fight Shorts

Elite Sports Website

au.elitesports.com
uk.elitesports.com

#EliteSports #TeamElite @EliteSports

Advertisements

A Great Gi For Jiujitsu! Elite Sports Navy Blue BJJ Gi

        I have been studying Jiujitsu for a long time off and on. I have spent time with grappling clubs as well as actual MMA/BJJ gyms. Last major training I did was in Korea where  I competed in 2 big tournaments. It was an exciting time. So back in USA years later I am trying to hone my BJJ skills and get the blue belt I deserve! With that said I want to tell you about a new gi I recieved recently. The Elite Sports Traditional BJJ Gi. I got the navy blue color and I am size A3.

Image may contain: 1 person, standing

When I first opened the gi I could tell the exceptional quality. Before I had used an old basic Judo gi, then I got a BJJ gi in Korea. My first BJJ was a basic gi like this one but the quality of the fabric was not as good and when I washed it (without drying it in a dryer and only hang drying since in Korea that is how we dried clothes) it still shrank! So I had a gi that shrank and had sort arms. I was not allowed to compete in the gi as it went against IBJJF regulations. So when I did compete I had to borrow a gi from a very large Korean man who had a lot of money who could afford to buy those trendy Shoyroll gis. The gi’s he lent me did fit me for both tournaments and felt great but knowing how much money it costs to buy such a brand was ridiculous to me. Now come 2018 and I finally get my hands on a new fresh gi for practice in the USA! I open up the Elite Sports package in the mail and instantly I can feel the fabric was just as good as the expensive brand. The feeling against my skin in training is great! The arms actually fit me and the legs too! Right to my wrists! Each Elite Sports gi is IBJJF approved and ready for both competition and training in the gym.

I got this gi sweaty and it did not drag me down. So it works great with sweat and does not cling too your body and ruin your performance after hours training. I washed it and hang dried it. Each gi is pre shrunk to fit you. I am 5’11 and 225lbs and I got a size A3. It fit me great! I have a larger chest and the extra room feels good. If you are even bigger or larger such as a body builder I suggest a size up from me. If you are a regular dude this gi will offer you enough room as it is.

Image may contain: 1 person

Image may contain: 1 person, indoor

This gi is a great choice for a first gi as well because the price is right!!! I swear so many gis are overpriced in the market. 80-200 dollars for a gi? Why? Elite Sports sells this gi for $59.99! Perfect price and awesome value! I definitely recommend choosing this brand.

Image may contain: 1 person, indoor

Image may contain: one or more people and people standing

When I roll in this gi I do not even know it is there. I am busy focusing on techniques and getting awesome at grappling instead of adjusting my gi around. Even the white belt that came with it, yes it came with a white belt at no extra cost, is sturdy and strong unlike other gi white belts I owned. I like the belt so much I put 2 stripes on it instead of my old white belt that already had 2 stripes I earned from my teacher in Korea.

I feel like I can roll around on the mat doing shrimp drills like I am on ice! I slide fast and smooth! I think this gi is incredibly comfortable. I would wear it all day!

I really like the draw string for the pants. The chord is stretchy somewhat and feels soft. It is long enough to simply tie it and the bow I tie the knot is does not press against my stomach or bother me in anyway. I can easy tug the chord in the back of y pants to tighten them to me comfort level and then tie a knot in front and I am ready to go! Pants stay on secure!

Image may contain: one or more people and people standing

Rolling feels so comfortable!

Image may contain: one or more people, people sitting and shoes

Image may contain: one or more people and indoor

This gi also looks great and is fashionable. It does not look boring as the logos are placed in great spots and are not too big. You can still patch it up and personalize your gi if you are into that. At least for a gym logo. So it still looks classy. I really like the navy blue color as well, it brings out my eyes and just looks fresh. It is not the simple blue, but has his nice darkness that looks formal. Now they do make this same gi in various colors such as white, black, regular blue, and gray. I suggest going to their website to check them all out.

Elite Sports BJJ gis all colors

Elite Sports Traditional BJJ Gi Navy Blue

Elite Sports Website

au.elitesports.com
uk.elitesports.com

 

 

Amazing Double Combo Back Kick In MMA By Amir Elzhurkaev

        In Russia, at the Absolute Championship Berkut 34 event recently, Amir Elzhurkaev threw a powerful liver shot by way of back kick. It was performed as a double kicking combo with a front leg side/or push kick (AKA cut kick) in the air followed by a rear leg back kick. It went straight into his opponent, Dmitrity Tomaev’s, liver. It knocked him out. Just another display of beautiful Taekwondo stuff working in MMA….Taekwondo is serious business and MMA fighters need to learn it and stop being pansies and petending it doesn’t work because they fear what the popular toolbag consensus of ignorant MMA meatheads believe about traditional martial arts. Not there is anything wrong with MMA, being an MMA fan, or training MMA, or supporting MMA; because I do; the point is the naysayers who are still claiming that Taekwondo’s flashy kicks have no place in a real fight.

THE VIDEO:

And my musical score made by the sounds of his kicks being rewound *LOL*:

I did not want to brush my hair and I was very bored…enjoy!

Training MMA In Korea

        I was invited to train with a small club for amateur MMA who meets at the gym where I train. We trained on Sunday and it was pretty hard training. We did pad drills, takedown drills and various kinds of sparring such as grappling with punches sparring, stand up striking like Muay Thai style sparring and NoGi grappling parring and finally MMA sparring. Of course we used plenty of control to make sure we were safe and no one got injured; but that does not mean it didn’t hurt or it wasn’t tough! It was! And it did hurt! But it was a good experience to make me a better fighter and martial artist. If I plan to teach Taekwondo I want to know what I am made of and if I am worthy of being an instructor who teaches people how to fight.

        I just have a sore jaw, nose and of course my injuries on my body are very sore from the past surgeries I have had. Some of the guys are advances in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Boxing, and Kickboxing. One guy who was nearly 6’5″ was a professional MMA fighter in Korea and a Korea Kickboxing champion. The rest were beginners. One was a wrestler/grappler with no striking experience. So we just had a lot of fun!

        Padwork

       MMA NoGi Grappling Sparring

       Stand Up Kicboxing Sparring

It was a goo training session and it gave me more confidence and showed me may weaknesses to try and fix. I hope to keep getting more confidence so I will not fear fighting and be a stronger person.

 

 

A Wonderful And Devastating Display Of Traditional Martial Arts At UFC Fight Night 82

        There was a wonderful display of traditional striking techniques shown by Stephan Thompson, a Kempo Karate expert and elite kickboxer at UFC Fight Night 82. Johnny Hendrick’s was on the receiving end up a few hard kicks and punches that knocked him out. A great article about this topic can be seen on Bleacher Report. You should give it a read.

From Bleacher Report:
“The traditional martial arts have long gotten short shrift in modern MMA. The Gracie family sponsored early UFCs as glorified infomercials for their Brazilian jiu-jitsu fighting style and quickly proved their point—that a fighter had to know how to grapple to succeed in real-world hand-to-hand combat situations.
Their early dominance briskly undid many previously long-held conventions about how to fight. Simply put, the Gracies made a lot of traditional, stand-up-oriented martial artists look like fools. Even as the legendary family faded from prominence in MMA, practitioners of no-frills western systems like wrestling and kickboxing largely went on to dominate the next two decades.
Jae C. Hong/Associated Press
Chuck Liddell throws his trademark overhand right.
Classic movie-house forms were summarily overshadowed. A lot of professional fighters may well have started in karate, taekwondo or kung fu as kids, but few of them fought like it once they arrived in the Octagon.
Former light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell—or at least his deltoid tattoo—claimed allegiance to kempo karate, but he fought like a brawling kickboxer when it mattered.
Welterweight kingpin Georges St-Pierre boasted a background in kyokushin, but he was known more for his dynamic wrestling during the heart of his UFC career.
Only light heavyweight titlist Lyoto Machida stood out for his classic karate fighting style—and his reign on top was so short it became a punch line. Machida’s elusiveness and counterstriking were always his calling card, but his patient, unorthodox methods sometimes seemed to work against him when judged according to MMA’s unified rules.
Andre Penner/Associated Press
Lyoto Machida is one of the few to find success through karate.
The Octagon forced fighting styles to evolve with unprecedented speed, and efficiency was at a premium. Techniques that were deemed outlandish or ineffective were quickly cast aside while less flashy but operational skills became the bedrock of modern MMA.
However, this latest—and arguably most unexpected—bend in the evolutionary road makes it seem as though some brands of traditional martial arts were dismissed too hastily. Without warning, our sport has perhaps crossed another generational threshold.
Suddenly, little by little, MMA appears to be headed back to the dojo. Methods that were once considered dead on arrival in the Octagon are experiencing a revival.”

What encouraging words from a standard MMA journalist. The prove is there again. Traditional martial art styles have always been valid. There was simply a point in history where Karate, Kung Fu, and Taekwondo styles were unable to keep combat effectiveness due to a lack of venues to fight in and a decrease in the acceptance of fighting for sport. Boxing and other mainstream concepts have always been acceptable to society through the last century, but more serious ideas such as kicking the legs and other parts has been looked down upon. Only in Asia did Muay Thai stay strong and other various kickboxing methods. In Brazil they have a history of Vale Tudo and the lack of understanding of grappling and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu reign supreme for nearly 100 years in Brazil.

Karate and other styles not having to prove themselves in open combat made it easy for shysters and charlatans and other bad things such as mysticism and nonsense to invade the arts. Moves increased this concept with all of the wild Kung Fu and Ninja films in the 70’s and 80’s that allowed martial arts teachers to hide in the shadows of mysteriousness and what is foreign and unknown. Of course many true masters kept the true traditional arts alive and strong (People like Mas Oyama etc.), and traditional techniques always have worked. It is just so many did not know how to make them work and the early UFC battled int he Octagon are a poor example of martial arts masters. That is why BJJ always won as well as wrestling. Now with the knowledge of grappling and how to stuff takedowns the stand up fighters are continuously knocking people out with wrestling and boxing backgrounds. If you did not train your body to kick high and have good balance or understand elusive techniques then he has a serious chance of getting knocked out be experts in a traditional style. Fight Night 82 is an example. I believe to be a good fighter and martial artist you should specialize in something and master it. Gone are the days is just power lifting an learning to throw left hook combos and sprawl. You really have to know more and also try and master something. Jack of all trades will no longer be the champions.

I Saw Road FC 28 Live In Korea

        I was lucky to be able to see Road FC 28 live in Seoul. It was a great experience and my first big level MMA show to see live. I have only seen low level local MMA in Louisville, Kentucky and Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, Alabama before. I had so much fun. The guys at Fight Gallery the MMA gym I train at had an extra ticket and called me up. Korean guys are so cool to hang out with! I had a great time.

        Also, Moon Jae-Hoon won his match! He is a WTF/Kukkiwon black belt Taekwondo fighter! YES!!! Here is a video of the match I filmed:

As you see it was a great day for the Korean martial arts scene and Taekwondo!

Movement Coaches Are All The Rage Now And I’m A Skeptic

        Word champion fighter Coner McGregor hired a movement coach named Ido Portal. He won his fight against Jose Aldo and now many MMA guys think they need a special movement coach to help them move better and somehow it translates into fighting.

Ido Portal is basically a hippy, new ager who created some movement routines for guillible hippies and hipsters. He even has long hair and a man-bun to “top it off.” In the above video you see all kinds of wacky movements, but most of the movements are not actually wacky and are found in various disciplines such as dance soccer, and martial arts. I am pretty sure Brazilian Jiu Jitsu guys work on crawling motions that are scene in the video. You do not need a special man-bun, new ager to teach you how to move if you already tae Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I don’t know what COner gets out of this training except some boastful psuedo philosophical, delusion of grandeur about his abilities. The fact is often times having a delusion of grandeur about yourself and how special you are to the universe helps you win titles in MMA and boxing. Even if you do win, some of the things McGregor says about himself are still total delusions. BUt that is part of his entertainment value. His movement training is also entertaining because of its silliness and total pretentiousness.

Ido Portlan has “movement camps” that you can go to f you are rich and want to waste time moving around with other people.

Yes some of the movements are hard to do and take athleticism, but the average person does not have such prowess. Many of the movements scene are found in gymnastics and various dance styles and some sports like soccer as well as taking concepts from martial arts. But obviously training in actual martial arts s far superior than wasting time in a movement camp.

The point I am trying to make is this new movement trend, which is basically a result of the hipsters taking over MMA and BJJ, is pointless when you can just train in traditional martial arts styles of various Kung Fu, Karate styles, and Taekwondo that specialize in all kinds of movements and intense motor coordination. The MMA world has often shunned all traditional martial arts not deemed acceptable by certain folks such as wrestlers and boxers and Muay Thai guys, yet now these MMA fighters are embracing this silly movement trend. So bypassing actual martial movement styles for some hippy dude with a weird name that sounds like a bag of potatoes and an internet program is just ridiculous. Why does poomsae and kata  exist? It is total body control. Also taking grappling classes will help you move on the floor just find without a man bun new ager guiding you.

I just don’t see a point and I am septical of this coach. I kind of agree with what one poster said on the Sherdog Forums, that Ido Portal is a snake oil salesman. Sure many of the movements he teaches are good because the average child already did them for many years on the playground at the park or school. Also climbing trees. It is funny to see grown men walking aroun an hanging on stuff like it is some spiritual mind and body unifying thing when 5 year old children do it every day without a thought.

Does anyone know Ido Portal’s credentials? Why even train with this guy? Why not go to a licensed physical therapist who is an M.D. and understands the anatomy of the human body in a scientific way? That sounds far superior than some street gymnastics guy. Nevertheless, Coner McGregor is still highly entertaining an his open mindedness about martial arts is refreshing and is one reason he is good, even if I believe he is being duped by this Portal guy.

If people an spend hours doing movement training, there is no excuse as to why an MMA fighter cannot dedicate a few hours a wee studying forms from Karate or Taekwondo. I wonder if ay MMA fighter will actually see the light and start developing crisp and precise movements through actual traditional martial arts motions. Most MMA fighters have no patience to learn perfect traditional movements of martial arts and think it is a waste of time. If they would open their minds to the older combat arts they would have better technique by far instead of so many with sloppy punches. By far people with years of traditional training who transition into MMA do better than the average MMA gym member with gold belt dreams (that will most likely never come true).

Korean MMA And Taekwondo

        MMA is popular all over the world and in basically every country. So it is only obvious that Korea, where I live, work, and train currently is one of the main countries where MMA is booming. MMA is practiced by a lot of people; more adults do MMA related things than train in Taekwondo here. MMA also has a large fan base of younger generation Koreans. Since I plan to begin training MMA for the sparring practice and BJJ skills I decided to make a post about the current MMA climate here. I am a Taekwondo man, and I always will be a Taekwondo man. I cannot deny the huge impact Taekwondo has had on my life and I cannot unlearn it and deny it as my background. I am proud of it, but I acknowledge the problems within Taekwondo politics and the culture that need the change and inhibit my progression in martial arts. Where it lacks I will pick it up in MMA and other martial arts styles. I am not only a Taekwondoin, I am a martial artist. I train through Mudo. And as a Taekwondo fighter I will promote Mudo my way and walk my own path as a martial aritist. This does not mean I will create my own style as so many frauds do, or buy ranks from random diploma mills to quickly become a “master rank.” I will still do the proper procedures, but I will promote Taekwondo and combat through my own beliefs about martial arts.

        Road FC is probably the biggest MMA promotion in Korea and they have a few cool Taekwondo fighters.

        Since practically every Korean male has trained in Taekwondo once in his life, and almost all females as well (most people trained when they were kids at one time or another), there are a lot of MMA fighters with a Taekwondo background. Some may give credence to Taekwondo, but many do not and do not acknowledge it as an influence. They ignore it or pretend it never helped them. Instead they promote Muay Thai and a variety of foreign martial arts: the meat and potatoes of MMA, the Muay Thai, BJJ and whatever the consensus is of “acceptable styles.” Even so, the few who are proud of Taekwondo sometimes do a decent job fighting. Some do very well, and others win but still need to work on their hands and grappling. Here are a couple of videos I found showcasing some of these kinds of Taekwondo fighters.  I do not know anything else about any of these fighters except for what I saw in the videos. If you know more please comment below about them.

Hong Young Ki

Taekwond VS Boxing

Jae-Hoon Moon VS Min-Woo Kim

I find it great a few Koreans are willing to prove Taekwondo as a strong martial art in a more serious combat format. This will only give Taekwondo ore respect and hopefully influence some future Taekwondo kids to have this mindset as well. The Olympic champions just are not going to cut it, we need more real fighters who actually fight.

Rules For Testing At The Kukkiwon

        There are certain rules you have to follow to test at the Kukkiwon. The main rule is to wait 6 months living in Korea in order to be allowed to test. You cannot just come to Korea in test at the Kukkiwon for dan rank. I found out that I am NOT allowed to test until I have lived in Korea for 6 months.

        This does not make much sense to me but it is the way it is. If I want to get my fourth degree black belt I must wait 6 months now. I have already done well past my time limit as third degree, but I have to wait 6 more months unless I want to pay an American master a hefty sum of money to get my rank now. One of the things that kept me from testing was the extreme price that American masters charge. And I am talking about the Korean American masters who charge well over $500 just to get a belt rank.

        The point for me is to get an official Kukkiwon rank and have Korean training. I do not want to pay an unknown small American organization just to get a belt rank. I want it to be the most official rank you can get in that is why I came to Korea. I have trained in Taekwondo for 20 years. Even my current instructor in Korea thinks that I have the ability to be a fourth degree black belt in actually deserve it but that is how it is in Korea they have special rules for foreigners. So anyone thinking they can just take a trip to Korea and test for their belt rank needs to know the truth that it won’t happen. The only thing you can do is set up the foreign instructors course and take that and get your master teaching rank certification on the exact date they specified. I will do that next year.

        It is frustrating, but I am not worried about it. The point is to be good at martial arts and to be a good fighter to the best of my ability, and to be able to understand self defense. I am developing skills here in teaching ability and that is what really matters. Not a notch on my belt. I know I’m better than many 4th degree black belt, and can’t eat better and also fight better. The rank really means nothing except it gives you a backing for potential students and parents of students to understand you have a real training and are not a fake.

        One of the funny things is there is a current Kukkiwon scandal where officials at the Kukkiwon haven’t given the ability to skip multiple black belt rank up to 8th and 9th degree black belt if you pay $2,000. It is a way for Koreans to make money off of foreigners around the world who want to rank up fast. This was all over the news in Korea and is a complete embarrassment to the Kukkiwon. Many high ranking Taekwondo masters were protesting and angry. They must fire these cookie one officials right now if they want to save face. It also angers me because I know I’m good enough to be an official instructor and I have waited a long time and still have not tested for my proper rank. So the fact that cookie one is doing things like this angers me as well. I really hope the future of Taekwondo can be saved from such corruption, and to keep Taekwondo unified as a Korean martial art. The future of Taekwondo technique seems bright, but with such corruption scandals it ruins Taekwondo’s image more than has already been done before because of mcdojang mentality and lack of combative mindsets. Even the average Korean citizens who does not even care about martial arts is upset about what the Kukkiwon did.

I do not know of a Korean translation of the following video, but it is the news report on what the Kukkiwon did and you can see certain masters protesting against it. The famous Grandmaster Kang Shinchul is one of them. He has the long gray hair and is yelling. I don’t know who the Grandmaster with his shirt off kneeling is. From what I understand they are explaining in the video how dumb it is that the Kukkiwon is selling out for cash.

Link: https://www.facebook.com/tkdkangsc/videos/899887983428707/?pnref=story

Apparently, Master Jeong told me a couple of days ago the Kukkiwon quit this stupid policy. Finally. They need to take off those fancy suits and ties, and their shiney shoes and put on a dobok. Go back to fighting skills, not marketing.

        I am just going to be patient and either wait 6 months in Korea, or just pay the ridiculous $500 to the Korean American master. I do have a job and can save up. I will figure it out.

The Danger Of Oldschool Olympic Sparring

        Olympic Taekwondo sparring of the World Taekwondo Federation used to be very dangerous and scary. It took a lot of guts to get in the ring and fight someone. Yes, FIGHT your opponent, because that is what it was, a fight. Just as the sport of boxing is a fight, the sport of Taekwondo sparring was a fight. Oldschool Olympic Taekwondo sparring was dangerous. By oldschool I mean the 80’s and 90’s. Here is a clip showing how it was dangerous and how often people actually got hurt in matches. The point of sparring was to show Taekwondo superiority by beating up your opponent as much as you could and scoring hard contact points; and hopefully knocking your opponent out. This is the same as how boxing is about scoring points and also hopefully knocking your opponent out.  Check this out:

I have to apologize for the extremely idiotic music choice for this video. Not everyone has good tastes in music and I did not make this video. So just mute it.

I remember Taekwondo sparring in the 90’s and how it was actually scary and took a lot of courage, and confidence instilled in me by my instructor to be brave enough to fight, especially in the black belt division. Olympic fighters were taught to have a serious fighting spirit and lots of aggression in the ring. You let loose, and went off on your opponent with all of your techniques, trying to cause him damage through the padding. As a teenager my training was so hard that every time I had to go to class I hated it. I never wanted to do the training because it was so stressful and so painful. I did it anyway! Besides regular Taekwondo class, I was in what we called “Champions Class” which was our dojangs competition team. As a color belt I was able to eventually be trained enough to go to the Junior Olympics in 1996 and represent Oregon Taekwondo.

Training was hard, we started off stretching of course (in full padding), then we did extreme plyometrics and a load of kicking and footwork drills. It was 100% cardio and endurance. Foot work and kicking drills could be anything from shadowing it and kicking in the air against nobody just to get the move down, kicking paddles and kicking shields held by a partner, and the majority which was kicking each others chest gear. We would kick each others chest gear hard doing certain kicks over and over, and the person receiving the kick just tried to stick his chest gear out to offer some more space between his body and the kick. It did not help much. So the partner receiving he kicks got beat up going down the length of the gym and the guy kicking would do a bit of foot work then a hard kick over and over until you got to the end. There were various drills and various kicks used with full contact. Then we switched and now the other guy would then be kicking and the previous kicking guy would then be getting kicked.  Also, if we were doing defensive drills we would have to block a kick with out arms and counter. So not only is the chest gear getting kicked hard which hurts your body, but your arm is taking kicks as well and bruising up. We often had bruised arms and legs and sore torsos after every class. Hopefully we recovered the next day before the next Champions Class. We did this for 1 hour with no breaks. There was no “Hey take 2 mins to rest.” It was non-stop. Also, in our class we were taught to keep our hands up the ENTIRE class, even when the instructor was talking to us and we were standing there listening to instructions for the next drill. If we for one second put our arms down we were forced to do 10 pushups. You did not want to do any pushups after all of the crazy workouts we had to do. An entire hour of keeping your hands up made our arms stronger, but extremely sore. It was hard just to keep them up and often students would then be forced to do pushups because they were too tired to keep their hands up. You did not want to have to do pushups when being that tired. It was not a relief to do pushups at all.  The floor was wet with sweat from everyone of us. We wore our sparring gear the entire time. Full gear. This made us extremely hot with drenched doboks underneath that added to the sweat on the floor. Our head gear caused our entire heads to be dripping. All of the hard workouts while wearing sparring gear took a huge tole on your endurance. Working out when you are burning up from the heat makes you even more fatigued. After 1 hour of training we spent 30 solid minutes with full contact sparring. So an entire Champions Class was 1 hour and 30 minutes long, if not more. Class was of course the last class in the evening and was done after standard class of basic Taekwondo training such as poomsae, basics, self defense, curriculum class.

When we did full contact sparring we actually did full contact sparring. No one said, “Hey be light and easy on each other.” We just actually fought in class. Once in awhile a person would take a very hard blow and get hurt and have to sit out the rest of class. But often, our pads and our technique helped us to simply take a huge beating on our bodies and arms just short of shutting us down. It may have been better to get knocked hard so you could quit class, but the gear protected you from that and forced you to keep taking hard beatings. The padding does not exist to make sure nothing hurts, it simply exists to make sure you do not receive a serious injury (which you would if there was no padding worn). So padding still allows you to feel pain and get bruised up.

In tournaments we were told to just fight and go off and win. Just to try your best even if you lost was what made our instructor proud. Not to quit. One of the scariest tournaments I had to fight in was when my instructor forced me as a blue belt (5th gup) to fight in the advanced division of red/brown/black belt. 9th-10th gup and 1st dan and above. I was 15 years old and in the 15-17 year old division. I beat a brown belt and actually beat on him pretty hard and scored the points to win. It was a battle of endurance. I even gave him a 10 count. After that I had to fight a Korean American 1st dan who was pretty solid. I went off on him and did total aggression and did so many body punches he was literally hurt. The problem was, body punches did not “score” if they were hooked upward, or too close. A punch that scored was a straight punch of a full extended arm that created a trembling shock on the opponents body. That means it would have to move him back or cause his torso to be displaced for a moment. Close in punches may hurt your opponent and cause him pain, but they do not cause the kind of “off balance” shock the judges looked for. Also, this was the start of rule changes that awarded jump kicks a lot more points. A jump kick occurred if both feet left the ground even if it was 1 inch high. The Korean American kid worked the system by slightly hopping at moments and scoring chest gear points. I may have kicked him more and harder, but his few hopping kicks scored higher. I would say I lost this match by a point or 2, but I literally beat him up and he was hurt at the end and also very resentful. He was pretty pissed off at me after the match and did not even want to shake my hand when I went up to him afterward. It is because he knew he got his butt kicked even if he got the win. After this I realized the tournament rules were changing. The reason I went so crazy was because I was scared! I am a blue belt fighting advanced levels! I was fighting a black belt! I was proud that I was a true fighter in this tournament even if I lost and I made my instructor proud.

In the 80’s and 90’s Olympic Sparring was about fighting. You beat each other up through the pads. Now days with rule changes of various scoring values and electronic scoring gear, it has now become a game of working a system to register a point with the electronics in the chest gear and other parts of the padding. The chest gear is much thicker now and more like armor than padding. It is also very expensive now to buy such gear and only wealthy people can afford to compete at the high tournament levels. Olympic Sparring while having its rules for very limited techniques such as no face punches, was still a fight and still scary to do.

Olympic Taekwondo Sparring instilled in me a fighting spirit and the will to win. It was an important part of my martial arts training and was very valuable. Black belt division was when tournaments got really serious and more dangerous. Knockouts were legal and expected. I learned many lessons about combat through it all. Over time I began to be disenfranchised with it as the rules were changing to make it less combative, and I realized that I started martial arts training to learn how to save my life in a real life situation. I began more to focus on self defense without rules limiting how I could win a fight. This was also the very beginning stages of Mixed Martial Arts development in America. I began to see the possibilities of fighting and how Taekwondo should develop and progress through watching early UFC fighting and also experiencing my own problems with bullies and gang behavior in my own town. I also got hit by a car which caused sever injuries on my body which took away any athletic pursuits I might have had. I now focus on Taekwondo as a self defense art above sport, and prefer using Taekwondo for Kickboxing and MMA sport over Olympic Sport. Taekwondo has so many techniques that can be utilized and it is being explored because of the popularity of MMA and I find this great.

Even so, I believe Olympic Taekwondo sparring is still important to study as a student, it is part of our martial art style’s culture. A decent amount of the footwork, endurance training, fighting spirit that is developed, and tactical maneuvers can be transferred into other types of fighting with effectiveness. Olympic Taekwondo sport is a noble pursuit even with the rule changes that I disagree with, and my hate for the electronic scoring gear. I still support WTF sparring and enjoy watching it during the Summer Olympics (but not much else). It is an avenue to develop skills and life lessons in students and should not be completely ignored. Supporting WTF sparring, even as a fan, still keeps Taekwondo relevant to society and might cause people to explore Taekwondo training which is good for Taekwondo. It hopefully will cause people to see the full martial art and all that it offers beyond sport. I may not like everything the WTF does, but still can appreciate the sport for what it is. I could never see how one can be a true Taekwondo black belt and never have once competed in a WTF affiliated tournament (such as your local state tournament every year). I personally believe WTF affiliated tournaments are a rite of passage for the Taekwondo student and should be mandatory to earn a black belt. It is an experience that cannot be taught in the dojang. It is okay to focus less on it than other things, but should not simply be forgotten. There is value in it.