Posts Tagged ‘KTA’

New Shirt: Oldschool Taekwondo

        Check it out yall! You all know you feel sad about the state of current Taekwondo and wish it would go back to being a serious martial art that was hard to contend with! This shirt represents the spirit of martial arts tradition from our beloved art of Taekwondo! Wear this and feel great and show your love with this awesome shirt showing an old depiction of makiwara (bong soo) training from early Taekwondo heavily influenced by Japanese Karate and Kung Fu. The “True Taekwondo/Oldschool Taekwondo” t-shirt. Limited time offer! Get it before it goes away!

Go here: Oldschool Taekwondo Shirt

True Taekwondo Heavy Metal T-Shirt Front

True Taekwondo Heavy Metal T-Shirt Back

Look good in this special and soft fabric tshirt! Impress all your Taekwondo ladies showing you know what the roots of Taekwondo are and you know what’s up! Taekwondo ladies if you wear this you will show the TKD dudes you know whats up too and are one tough high kicking lady!

 

 

 

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I Passed My 4th Dan Test In Korea

        I am proud to announce that I passed my 4th dan test in Korea. It was a great experience and such a relief! Finally after nearly 21 years I am a 4th dan black belt, master level, in Taekwondo. Master Jeong helped me register for this and drove me to the location to test. I am so thankful for him!

        The test is split up into 4 sections; 5 if you count basic motions as separate from poomsae. The longest part of the test is waiting for your time to perform as you sit there. Once you start the actual test it is very fast and only lasts about 30 minutes. It is rapid pace and you end up doing everything immediately. How it works is they separate everyone into groups. About 10 people in each group. Once they call your group you line up and perform.

        First, we did some basic motions and kicks back and fourth. They call all of the words out in Korean and expect you to know what they want you to do. So we did various blocks and a few strikes. Then we did 3 kicks. Only front kick, round kick and side kick That was it. After the basics they command you to do poomsae and they have 2 forms chosen. Everyone the entire test does the exact same motions and poomsae. Nothing is different from anyone else. This time they had us perform Keumgang and Taebaek. Lower dan levels had to do Koryo instead of Taebaek. But for us higher dan grades we did those 2 forms. After forms you are told to move to the other side of the room. The room is set up kind of like a tournament, but with only 2 rings. The first ring is for basics and poomsae, and the other side of the room is for sparring. For sparring they will have about 4 matches at once going on. Right away you put on sparring gear. You wear the full gear including a groin cup and mouth piece. But you do not have to wear the WTF tournament feet pads and gloves. You simply have to wear the basic arm guards, shin guards, hogu, head gear, groin cup, and mouth guard. They provided the hogu and head gear. You had to provide the rest of the gear. We then sparred. It’s supposed to be 1 minute of sparring and that is it, but my match went on for maybe 40 seconds. I think they count the 1 minute when the referee calls out the command before you even start fighting. I had to fight a tall guy who was bigger. It was kind of intimidating, but it was ok and I just fought like I was in a tournament. Master Jeong told me not to try and hurt people and not to go all out but in the heat of battle I felt like I had to actually fight. It was okay and no one got hurt. It just feels like a tournament and you have those nerves before you fight. After we sparred and did our thing the other guy was nice and very respectful to me and bowed to me and shook my hand. It was cool. Finally after sparring we had to break a brick. The brick was plastic. About 5 people in a line had to either break a plastic brick or plastic boards. The bricks and boards are supposed to be made to be as strong as the actual things. It is not easy to break the plastic bricks as they are very hard. But of course even a teenager can break them. I broke my brick the first try. I believe you get 2 or 3 times to try and break them. I am not sure, but I heard that breaking is not mandatory and you can still pass without it. So if you cannot break the brick you can still pass if you did well on other parts of the test. After the breaking technique there was  written portion of the test which was a multiple choice paper to fill out with 1 essay question at the end. All of the questions had things to do with Taekwondo history, philosophy, Olympic rules, theoretical knowledge of techniques and such. It was all in Korean and Master Jeong had to read it for me and explain it all in English. After I filled it out I handed it in and I was done. Boom! Test completed!

        Whew! After I did the brick breaking I was awarded a certificate of excellence and a gold medal for performing with top quality, especially for poomsae. They did not give these out to everyone. Only a couple of people got them in each division. I received the award for the adults testing for high dan rank.

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They printed out the certificate right there because they added my name on it, and spelled my name wrong but it is ok and I am so grateful to be acknowledged as a great Taekwondoin. To be acknowledged by the Koreans is so wonderful! I am so proud of myself and Master Jeong really taught me well!

        The Kukkiwon promotion test is not usually held at the actual Kukkiwon anymore. The only people who are allowed to test in Korea are residence. Either you are Korean and a citizen, or you have lived in Korea legally for 6 months. I have lived here for 6 months so I was eligible to test here. You cannot just travel to Korea and test at the Kukkiwon. They expect you to test in your home country and apply by mail. Also, in Korea you can actually fail the test. Unlike in America where virtually nobody fails ever because they paid money. But even so, some of the quality of students testing I saw was very poor and in my opinion not deserving of a black belt. So they still let things slide and allow low quality people to pass the test apparently. Hopefully, this changes. But if you do really, really bad or cannot remember the form or something, you can fail. That is what I have heard. The test is run in a strict way like the military. They yell commands and have you line up and bow. You are then told to move to other areas fast. It is very serious and strict. Testing is usually held in various regions of Korea. For whatever province you live in, that is where you will test. Our test is in Gyeong Gi-do and the city was Hanam. So it was held by the Gyeong Gi-do Taekwondo Association (GTA). Kind of like how in America each state has it’s own Taekwondo association under the USAT. In Korea it is all under the authority of the KTA. But yes, they do still hold promotion tests in the actual Kukkiwon, but not as much as they used to. It is mainly an office place and a place for special events such as demos they do every night for the general public.

4thdanbeltgive

Receiving my new belt for 4th dan from Master Jeong

4thdanTKD

        The purpose of the Kukkiwon promotion test is to check that you know the motions of Taekwondo, that you understand how to perform Taekwondo and how to actually use it. The sparring is held just to prove you can fight and know foot work and understand the sport rules as well. They also want to check your power with the breaking to show you are strong with technique. The Kukkiwon test is not to prove you are some gold medal world champion fighter or some deadly killer, but to show you have a mastery of the basics and are worthy of your dan grade. With all of the people testing, time is limited so the test is very short and straight to the point. I am sure the exam your local dojang holds for your test may or may not be much harder and more difficult. All that matters for testing is the Kukkiwon’s requirements of knowledge. Your instructor may have you do other things for him but the Kukkiwon requires just a small amount of things. That is how it is in Korea.

        I had a wonderful experience testing in Korea! I am not 4th dan and worthy of a Taekwondo master! YES!

My Visit To The Kukkiwon 

        After finding the Kukkiwon on the Lunar Holiday and it being closed I was able to go back to it a week later. I took the subway to Gangnam and was able to visit the Kukkiwon again and go inside. It was the moment all Taekwondoin worldwide want to experience. Visiting the “Mecca” of Taekwondo. Here is a video I shot inside:

A lot of people do not think the Kukkiwon is a big deal. Especially most Koreans. None are really concerned about it. But to foreigners it is mysterious and all of the stories of Taekwondo we heard, the superpowers of all the Koreans, and the power of Taekwondo being centered here is a huge deal! I heard other foreigners say they did visit the Kukkiwon and were unimpressed and bored.

Well it was fascinating to be inside, but I have to say the building of course is quit old and smaller than I thought it was. It actually is not that big of a gym. The Taekwondowon in Muju is way more impressive but less historically significant and is kind of a retreat park to go to for events. The Kukkiwon seems to hold less events. When you go inside you can walk around the entire dojang in hallways that have photos and posters of significant things in Taekwondo history. Some of them are kind of boring but others are interesting. If one has a lot of time to document Taekwondo history I believe they should spend a few days documenting the photos. Honestly most of them have to do with the Olympics and things I find quit boring. Like “so-and-so of whatever country introduces Taekwondo for the world tournament, or whatever. Like maybe a president of some random country is shaking hands with some master or whatever. One interesting photo is that of ITF North Korean Taekon-Doin with some Kukkiwon people who allowed them to do a diplomatic Taekwondo mission at the Kukkiwon. So in the past ITF and Kukki/WTF tried to have friendly relations and give respect to each other. Obviously, for the most part that is gone out the window, except you will have a very hard time finding a Korean master who will openly say bad things about the ITF. Instead they will use avoidance language and subtly say ITF is not so good, without directly insulting them. Anyway…

Inside the dojang floor one can see flags of many nations above. When I went half of the floor as taken up by a stage for doing demos. The Kukkiwon Demonstration Team puts on quite a show 5 nights out of the week at 7:30pm. So if you get a chance you and go see the show. IT IS FREE! What is amazing is the day I went hardly anyone was in the audience yet they put on a very high quality demo with great production. The demo team has worked so hard they are virtually flawless. This show could make a lot of money on tour at Arts Centers and Theaters worldwide. Kind of like how the Shaolin Monks tour, the Kukkiwon could do it too.

They had the floor covered with rubber so we could wear our shoes in the dojang. The demo has a lot of drama and theatrics, but for the most part it does not suck. The music and little drama really make the show good and most of the techniques are flawless poomsae, basic motions, and a ton of super high flying board breaks with kicks and punches. Very talented acrobatics and spinning kicks. Some of it is also “tricking” style. Then there are a few fight scenarios. One was a bit unrealistic and too fantastic to be believed could work and was more like a movie fight. Others had more hoshinsool oriented concepts which in my opinion was the absolute BEST scene of the entire demo. Unfortunately, at the end they add some cheese and do hip hop Taekwondo-dance with Gangnam style Taekwondo silly dance nonsense to close out the show. Of course the general public who are not martial artists or fighters will love it, but for me I hate it. Other than that the Kukkiwon demo was AMAZING and totally worth seeing.

Now besides that, I went to the Kukkiwon Museum which is a smaller building behind the dojang building which is above a cafeteria. I do not know when they serve food but it seems to be ONLY for special occasions. The museum above though is up some steps and the museum is quite small. The artifacts are 99% Olympic oriented artifacts and photos from world tournaments, International Olympic Committe stuff, various games and souvenirs and medals. Some doboks of former world champions, old hogu and protective gear are displayed too. One cool artifact was the original bamboo hogu. So it is true, the original hogu were bamboo instead of foam padding. The bamboo is covered by leather or some material that is the standard color of chest gear with the red or blue target area on white. The rest of the artifacts are quite boring, and also the false history of Taekwondo being 2,000 years old is promoted and pretty annoying. Saying in the 4th century Korean kingdoms practiced a version of Taekwondo. I wish they would be accurate about Korean martial arts history.

Now the best part of the museum in my opinion are the brass plates that have the original kwan seals on them. The 9 original kwans (they do not have a seal for the administrative kwan called KwanRiKwan, so it seems to be an unimportant kwan not worth mentioning) are displayed. I took some photo for people to see:

kwanseals

kwanseals2

MOO DUK KWAN

moodukkwan

JI DO KWAN

jidokwan

OHDOKWAN

ohdokwan

SONG MOO KWAN

songmookwan

KANG DUK WON

kangdukkwan

CHANG MOO KWAN

changmookwan

JUNG DO KWAN

jungdokwan

CHUNG DO KWAN

chungdokwan

HAN MOO KWAN

hanmookwan

So there is a good look at the artwork and symbols in the original kwan seals with their original spelling.

Overall, I believe if given the chance, even if it may be unimpressive to some, the Kukkiwon is a must visit place. If you can come to Korea you have to visit the Kukkiwon and experience it. It will further your Taekwondo life education and it is a nice place to hang out. You an hang out there outside in the park area under the Korean gazebo and use the outdoor work out equipment. It gives you a good view of the areas of Gangnam as well. What is amazing is the entire area had no houses, no buildings, and as just fields and woods when the Kukkiwon was built. The Kukkiwon stood on the hill in view of all. Now it is hidden by skyscrapers and large trees. You cannot see it unless you go to it. The whole city is huge now overshadowing the Kukkiwon. Gangnam is a fancy rich area sort of like the USA’s Beverly Hills and people go there to party and shop. The new culture is taking over and the old warrior culture is fading away.

In reality the Kukkiwon is just a building for office work and printing back belt certificates and registering people. The gym floor is usually used for demonstrations and less classes and training now. What is crazy is Conan O’Brian came to Korea the day after I went to the Kukkiwon. Conon visited the Kukkiwon the day after I was there. I fI showed up I would have saw Conan O’Brian in person breaking a board. CRAZY! Oh well!

I Randomly Found The Kukkiwon While Walking In Gangam

Yes I went to Gangnam and realized that the Kukkiwon is also in Gangnam. So after getting off the subway I decided to walk around in hopes of finding the Kukkiwon and before I knew it I walked right into it. WOW! Enjoy the video!

Chinese Taekwondo Students Visit Korea 

        Last week for 3 days Chinese students in 3 separate group came to the Chun Ji Hoe Dojang in Bucheon to experience Taekwondo from Master Jeong. Every group went through some basics and saw poomsae demonstrations by Master Jeong’s students and a mini-bunhae demo where Master Jeong showed some self defense techniques. The first group brought some older students with them who were part of a school Taekwondo team. They performed some poomsae for us and it was a great time. The 2nd group had less people and more children and they were new to Taekwondo and learned some basic punching. The last group were all white belts and middle school aged students. The cultural exchange was great and hopefully these kinds of thing can make a positive impression to foreigners who train in Taekwondo, especially Chinese martial artists. Koreans were able to have a positive experience with Chinese people and promote some Korean culture. Since I was there too I was able to represent America to the Chinese and hopefully made a positive impact to these young minds about what a American is like.

        These kinds of things are great. Politics aside you can create friendships and hopefully the future Chinese generations will have fond memories of an American as well as Koreans. Peace and friendship through martial arts.

        The first day unfortunately I had no video footage. I should have brought my camera or used my phone to record. That day I performed Pal Gwe Yeuk Jang. Oh well, but the second day I was able to capture video. I performed Pal Gwe Sa Jang:

Master Jeong’s top black belts perform poomsae:

The Chinese students learning some basics:

The Chinese school Taekwondo team performing poomsae:

Day 3 was the largest amount of people where the dajang had to cram 85 white belt students into itself with hardly any space to move around. Amazing! Watch the Chinese white belt kids practice the basic punches:

I performed Pal Gwe O Jang:

Master Jeong’s top black belts:

Master Jeong shows bunhae (application) of poomsae for self defense fighting:

The 3 days were a great time. I am blessed to have experienced this and be in Korea to hep promote Taekwondo and the martial arts to other countries. It is great to see Chinese people training an loving our martial art.

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.

Taebaek Poomsae Application (Bunhae) (Part 1)

        Just for fun I am going to make a few simple, short, not in depth at all but just showing the techniques, videos on TaeBaek and how you could use the movements in a real fight, or self defense encounter. TaeBaek is the second black belt form and it has a few interesting movements. To the untrained eye, the overly imaginative, the martial ballet dancer, mcdojanger, and the combat ignorant these moves look like performance. They sure are, but they are a performance of martial arts techniques that can actually work in a very simplistic way. Forms are a training tool to develop the basic way a fighter moves, his balance, motor skills, and various techniques. You would not fight in a poomsae fashion, but would modify them to a quicker more accurate defense and attack.

        One day I hope to make more serious and in depth videos on such topics, but the lack of people willing to do things with me, lack of skilled people to be in such a video, and and time limit me. But nonetheless here is one short video showing a portion of Taebaek. This shows how to defense against a grab and haymaker that is often used in street attacks. It shows how to block, punch them hard, crack their knee and smash their face with your elbow. It is really strong. I came up with this idea on my own just using logical reasoning on how to actually use techniques in a realistic and simple way. All actual uses of poomsae applications will be done in a very basic and simple way. Not dramatic movements as when performing the poomsae exercise.

Diamond block to punch counter, side kick and elbow strike on the second half of Taebaek:

 

        I hope you got something out of that video. It is my interpretation of the movements on the second half of the form.

        It is a shame that sport poomsae competition does not include actual combat application training. It instead simple focuses on aesthetically pleasing movements which I believe has weakened Taekwondo and made it too soft. The WTF really should emphasize fighting applications for forms training. Also, I do not limit myself to the standard self defense ideas the Kukkiwon says, but include them as well as create my own or find my own that already existed. A lot of ideas can be found in Karate as well because they have most of the same moves.

        Poomsae is also not the full extend of moves in Taekwondo, but a small portion. The forms are just a collection of important basic movements, but there are many other moves and technique soutside of poomsae that Taekwondo has in its arsenal. Many more.

        I will try and make a few more videos on this form and show more self defense concepts from it. Just keep checking over time.

        I must say, Happy New Year people!! May 2016 give you many blessings and good Taekwondo training! May you reach your goals! Thank you for reading my small blog!

Update On My Taekwondo Training In Korea

       I have been busy with work a lot so I cannot post as often as I would like, but here is a little update on some stuff I have been doing with Taekwondo in Korea. I basically train 3-4 times a week taking classes and free training. Master Jeong had a parents day for the kids and the students did a little demonstration of various things. I showed “English Taekwondo Class” by leading a short 10 minute min-lesson for the kids speaking English the entire time. The kids get to learn Taekwondo words in English which is a big deal for many Koreans.

I also performed some Pal Gwe forms. The floor is a bit slippery though so it is hard to make good stances. I did okay though.

In the near future master Jeong is going to publish his next self defense book. I will help him out with making sure the English translation is correct as well as be featured in photographs in the book with him as well as be in some videos that will be supplemental to the book for smartphone apps and computers. So a lot of cool things are going to happen very soon. I will keep updating my blog about this.

It is now Christmas Eve in Korea and I am going to go have some fun tonight as well as tomorrow. Keep reading and commenting!

My Experience At The KTA 2015 Education Fair At The Taekwondowon

As a foreigner, being allowed to attend the official KTA 2015 Education Fair was a serious privilege. I was the only non-Korean there. It was a weekend of seminars on various topics of Taekwondo. It had the standard lectures of how to run a school, teach better, and some other less exciting topics, but the reason I went was to attend the technique classes and learn new combat concepts. I am extremely refreshed and encouraged to have seen high level Kukkiwon masters teach classes I was in about how to actually fight with Taekwondo. That is right, the Korean masters are teaching younger instructors about actually fighting and not doing performance and not only doing Olympic sparring. This was basically Korean street fighting.

My instructor, Master Jeong, from Bucheon who is a 6th dan, Kukkiwon Education Committee member, and official KTA instructor had connections to get me into the fair and take some seminars. I paid 30,000 won to attend the weekend events. That is about $30 US. AMAZING! It included food and a room with a shower and nice floor heater. It was top notch like a luxury hotel. I am so thankful to my instructor for getting me in to this. The Taekwondowon is a center for Taekwondo culture with many acres of land and several large buildings. There is the famous “Taekwondo Park” as well, but this event was in the winter so the park was not open. They were busy renovating it and repairing things. A lot of landscapers were doing work all over. The museum was not open either. I will have to go back and check all of this out. The Taekwondowon is very popular and has commercial aspects to it that may be annoying to me, but there is still enough traditional martial arts and serious things about it. It will be full of tourists when it is open. But the event I went to sponsored by the KTA was so great!

During this entire weekend event I did not understand a lot of what was spoken or written. I do not speak Korean yet and I cannot read it yet. So all of the seminars I just copied the way the master moved and positioned himself and a couple of nice Koreans helped me understand what was going on.

The first seminar I took was Sparring Coaching topics. It was taught by a Master Lee who is known for sparring and self defense. He taught various conditioning drills and footwork with kicking techniques that coaches can use for their students. It was pretty good stuff. I remember these kinds of drills back in my Olympic sparring days as a teenager.

The next seminar afterward was on the subject of Poomsae Applications. This was poomsae fighting technique. To use the techniques in poomsae for actual fighting. This class was taught by a Master Um who also wrote a book on the topic. He had us do blocking drills and using concepts from poomsae with partners. He emphasized modifying techniques to make them tighter and faster instead of doing them only the “poomsae way and speed.” I could tell he had some boxing or Muay Thai skills as well in how he would throw punches and kicks. But all of the techniques were official from WTF poomsae. He talked about targeting and adapting the strikes to whatever position the enemy is in and he was super fast! His class was a breath of fresh air to finally get poomsae techniques confirmed as for so many decades foreigners did not learn and were unable to teach applications to forms in Taekwondo. It has been lost. But like Karate teaching Bunkai it is great to know the Kukkiwon and KTA are teaching such things for Taekwondo. There were even boxing style slips and perries. This seminar was awesome and on par with the seminar I took the next day.

The next day I attended 2 more seminars. The first seminar was on Hoshinsool, straight up self defense. This session was taught by a Master Kim. Master Kang  was basically teaching us Korean street fighting and kixckboxing with Taekwondo for actual fighting. He had perries mixed with the traditional blocks and boxing style punches, bops, ducks and some kicks. He taught us various striking and blocking drills, and kikboxing types of arranged sparring drills for developing hand eye coordination. I thought this seminar was amazing. It was very action packed and he was emphasizing fighting and not sport sparring. He also wrote a book on self defense with Taekwondo that will be out in English next year.

The last seminar was right after the previous. It was a Poomsae seminar on white belt basics teaching taught by the #1 poomsae champion of Yongin University (a Taekwondo university). I never learned his name because I could not understand Korea. But he is quite famous like the others. The seminar teacing was about where feet should be held correctly, fist distance from body and other arm, and how to drills white belts to learn them. It was interesting enough, but of course I did not speak Korean and the entire seminar was basically a lecture and not an exercise class. I basically sat there clueless until he showed a couple of hand positions and stances. He even surprised I was there and said that he does not speak English, only Korean. Then he wanted to know my name. It was kind of funny.

I had a great time and it was very wonderful to learn that Taekwondo is a fighting art, not a sport and not a dance. There is a sport using Taekwondo called Olympic Sparring, but Taekwondo itself is a fighting art. That is why I train and that is what the KTA was teaching during the KTA seminar at the Taekwondowon in Muju, Korea.

Korean Perception Of Taekwondo

        The Korean perception of Taekwondo is interesting. It can vary from people who think that Taekwondo is neat, but not a great fighting art to people who praise Taekwondo as a real martial art and something they are proud of that their country created it. I have heard women say, “There are no good Taekwondo schools in Korea.” This idea comes from the fact that mcdojangism is also a serious problem in the Land of Taekwondo. There are many elementary school children involved in Taekwondo just as there is in the U.S. And often times lik the U.S. instructors only care about money and rank kids up who do not deserve it. There are a lot of poor teachers, but being Korea, there are a lot of great masters here too. Some of the best masters in the world live here and teach. Enough Koreans are preserving the traditional warrior art of Taekwondo, while many of course use it to make easy money.

        Most Korean men have trained in Taekwondo in their life. Most trained in school as kids and almost all men have trained in Taekwondo in the military. I would say probably all of them except a very rare few. Military service is mandatory in Korea at the age of 18 and they must serve for 2 years. During this time many soldiers will earn a colored belt or two and some take it more serious and become black belts. Often in Korea men over time forget Taekwondo and it is more of a fond memory. Life gets in the way and work and family takes over. Many do not keep training in Taekwondo, but everyone respects it. To hear about a foreigner such as myself holding the rank of 3rd dan is impressive to them and many will assume I am a master of Taekwondo already because of it.

        There is a big trend of Taekwondo English schools, or English Academies that also teach Taekwondo in English. It is usually Korean English with heavy accents and most likely grammar mistakes here and there, but it is pretty cool in my opinion and at least they are trying to have a reason to be enthusiastic about English. I also teach 1 English Taekwondo class a week at Master Jeong’s Pure Mind Taekwondo Dojang in Bucheon. I teach 30 minutes for poom grade kids. It is very fun and they are excited to learn TAekwondo from a foreigner as well as learn English words. English Taekwondo classes can train future overseas Taekwondo instructors to help spread Korean Taekwondo around the world.

        Just like in the USA, MMA is very popular and more often they use the term K-1 or Kyeoktooki to describe cage fighting and more serious ring fighting like Kickboxing. I have also heard girls claim they want to learn Muay Thai or Jiu Jitsu because someone told them they are the best martial arts. Many are surprised to hear that Taekwondo is also a serious fighting style and strong if taught right. Taekwondo is culturally important and popular in Korea but it is not seen by the majority of young people as a strong and deadly martial art. They have the same view as America and Europe that MMA or Muay Thai is for fighting and Taekwondo is not as great.

        I am fortunate to work extremely close to Master Jeong’s Dojang. Master Jeong is the instructor who is known for his YouTube channel and online Taekwondo study course. He is also known for writing the book Hand Techniques Of Taekwondo For Actual Fighting KTA. I have been training at his gym for 2 weeks now. All of the work I do is highly technical and small refinements of my technique. It is a class for the serious Taekwondo student who wants to master the art. It is not for the impatient. It is worth it because he teaches the self defense concepts found within poomsae and teaches modified motions to quickly use them in tighter ways for actual self defense. It is a breath of fresh air to learn why we do certain moves and what tiny changes I need to make in my technique.

       We are also allowed to “kickbox” and hit the heavy bag with a plethora of techniques including MMA concepts. He encourages it. We are not simply doing Olympic sparring, all though there still is some of that left in to give the training a rounded out feeling. I am really pleased with it and feel so thankful I have thios wonderful opportunity to train in order to become a true Taekwondo master.

        Korea is also a wonderful country and has much beauty and a very cosmopolitan feel. It is so convenient to live in the city. You can also find various parks and even practice Taekwondo outside in front of people in your full dobok without being harassed or made fun of. NO ONE will bother you or care, but maybe some kids might drive by and practice English for 5 seconds before getting embarrassed and riding away on their bike. Koreans don’t usually talk to strangers though, unless you are an old grandma. The old grandmas are called “ajuma” and they are old and do not care about following the rules. They will talk to everyone and maybe will talk to you and say hilarious stuff to you. They are super tough old women so respect them!