Posts Tagged ‘realistic self defense’

Using A Double Knife Hand Block In A Fight

        *A MUST WATCH VIDEO FOR ALL TAEKWONDO PEOPLE!

        What is the double knife hand block for? Would you ever use it in a fight? Do you even know what it is for and how one would use it in a fight? Or do you simply want to use it to pose and look pretty in a demo? This video shows you possible combat techniques to use with the double knife hand block.

Start practicing it.

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Taekwondo Is Effective For A Self Defense Program:  Why Taekwondo Is More Effective Than A Reality Based Self Defense Course (Part 5)

*This is the final part of the series 

 

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

             Original Taekwondo is itself a reality based self defense system in its own right if it is taught properly with a self defense mindset. A Taekwondo program can be changed to fit any business model or self defense program for any company.

 

Uniforms or special clothing is not important

Taekwondo may wear a white uniform whereas most RBSD guys wear camouflage pants or athletic attire, or just stylish black clothes or a polo shirt. This is not important. With or without the dobok Taekwondo can still be trained effectively. Belts do not even have to be worn and the grades and degrees given (geup and dan) do not have to be literally visible things a student wears. It could just be a verbal or shown through a certificate that someone has attained a certain geup. Students simply would have to wear athletic type of clothing that is easy to move in and loose fitting and comfortable. It is not mandatory to run a Taekwondo self defense program with traditional uniforms.

Even so, if one wants to go full traditional style then of course wearing the dobok and wearing the physical belts is available. Uniforms serve a purpose such as uniformity in class, that all people including men and women both are equal in class, wearing a uniform makes someone feel important and focused, and most importantly the uniform is a very great training suit. It is durable and strong and no one will have to worry what clothes to wear to training each day.

 

The progressive structure of Taekwondo motivates students

With the progressive structure and ranks given Taekwondo motivates students and encourages them to train harder to get to the next level. With a written curriculum handed out to students for each level of training, students can know what they need to know at a given time. A Taekwondo instructor should hand out papers with new techniques and knowledge that the student has to know. Each rank they can keep a binder of syllabi as references they can go back to.

Formal testing is also a positive thing for students. It gives a good amount of stress which can simulate distressing circumstances a self defense situation would bring up. It also stresses importance of skill with each rank’s techniques. If one cannot perform movements properly they do not pass. The ability to fail a test is very important as it will encourage students to train harder and make sure they have learned what needs to be learned. Rank testing does not have to cost extra money either, or if you do charge it does not have to be expensive. The commercialization of Taekwondo has brought about many people who just want to make easy money. Charging for testing and then encouraging students to test gets people rich. Exchanging money for a test usually pushes the instructor to pass less than deserving students to the next level even if they should have actually failed. This is a problem. It is recommended that testing fees are very low with the possibility of student’s to fail, or cost nothing at all.

During a test students will display every technique they learned and show applications for movements as well as live sparring with mild contact. This will present realism and test if a student can actually apply his knowledge in a simulation representing a real threat. Testing should be done every 4 months or more.

 

The purpose is training effective fighting techniques first over everything else

Most RBSD programs encourage practitioners to pay into their system’s founder’s pockets by certification fees, seminar fees, annual membership fees, DVD purchases and t-shirts, special requirements, and other unimportant things. This is because most RBSD systems exist solely off of marketing gimmicks and seem to mostly exist for the sake of promotion of the system itself rather than training fighting techniques to students. Taekwondo should not be this way. Taekwondo should exist first for the training of fighting techniques for self defense, and everything else such as promoting Taekwondo as a wonderful art after the fact. The program should not exist just to market the program. Taekwondo does not exist just to market Taekwondo. First teach proper combat and promote self defense, then worry about members or a student brotherhood in the system. If the product is good then many people will follow.

 

Conclusion

            Taekwondo has everything RBSD has with methodical training practices. A self defense minded Taekwondo instructor will be able to teach anything an RBSD instructor teaches and instill dedication, masterful skills, and an aggressive mindset for self defense in his students. RBSD programs are unnecessary and they cause people to overlook the value of traditional martial arts styles such as Taekwondo. There is nothing truly new or innovative that RBSD teaches that is not already taught by legitimate traditional martial arts instructors. RBSD instructors spent a lot of time belittling the traditional martial arts, especially Taekwondo. This is because of mcdojangism’s influence on Taekwondo culture. Yet, this is not a good enough reason to discredit Taekwondo itself as a whole.

Taekwondo is a very good martial art style to use for a proper self defense program. It was birthed from the aftermath of a brutal Japanese regime in Korea and further developed within war. Taekwondo has been proven in war on the battlefield and used by the U.S. Military and government agencies. Taekwondo has lethal striking techniques which are the basis for very effective self defense. It is a complete stand up striking system that has combat effectiveness. The live sparring and training drills and focus on mastering techniques enables any Taekwondo practitioner to obtain and retain realistic self defense knowledge. The fighting spirit that Taekwondo offers and complete fitness can be trained with total aggression and a “will to win” attitude that will give people true confidence and not a false sense of security that most RBSD programs give. Taekwondo is an excellent self defense art.

 

Works Cited

        (2009). Training For Black Belt: Grandmaster Tae Hong Choi. Posted on March 17th, 2009 at http://trainingforblackbelt.wordpress.com/2009/03/17/grandmaster-tae-hung-choi/date accessed, September 24th, 2014.

Cho, H.I. (1988). The Complete Black Belt Hyung W.T.F. Hee Il Cho: Los Angeles, CA.

CrossFit Defense. (2014). The Philosophy. Posted at http://crossfitdefense.com/overview/the-philosophy/, date accessed, September 24th, 2014.

Department of the Navy. (2011). Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP). MCRP 3-02B. Department of the Navy, Headquarters United States Marine Corps: Washington, D.C. Posted at http://www.marines.mil/Portals/59/Publications/MCRP%203-02B%20PT%201.pdf, date accessed September 24th, 2014.

Dougherty, M.J. (2010). Special Forces Unarmed Combat Guide: Hand-To-Hand Fighting Skills from the World’s Most Elite military Units. Metro Books: New York, NY.

Hamic, R. (2010). Press About: Press Release Distribution: Moni Aizik and Combat Survival are Sued in Multi-Million Dollar Class Action Lawsuit for Fraud and Misrepresentation. Posted by SARAVANAN2, on August 24th, 2010 at http://www.pressabout.com/moni-aizik-combat-survival-sued-100038/, date accessed September 26th, 2014.

Human Weapon. (2007). Season 1, Episode 8. Marine Corps Martial Arts. First aired September 27th,  2007 on The History Channel. Quote starts at 3:09 into the episode.

Integrated Combat Systems University. Krav Maga Principles. Posted at http://www.victorvillekravmaga.com/22.html, date accessed, September 24th, 2014.

Jung, H. (2009). The Oregonian: Portland-area tae kwon do grandmaster pioneered sport in U.S. Tae Hong Choi, who established schools and taught thousands of students, dies at 7. Posted March, 11th, 2009 at http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/index.ssf?/base/news/1236745615165110.xml&coll=7, date accessed, September 24th, 2014.

Kim, S.H. (2009). Taekwondo Self Defense: Taekwondo Hoshinsool. Turtle Press: Sante Fe, NM.

Morgan, F.E. (1992). Living The Martial Way. Barricade Books, Inc.: Fort Lee, NJ.

Sylvester, M. (2012). Matthew Sylvester: Father, Author, Martial Artist: Tony Blauer: It’s not who’s right it’s who’s left. Posted May 7th, 2012 at http://matthewsylvester.com/2012/05/07/tony-blauer-its-not-whos-right-its-whos-left/, date accessed September 26th, 2014.

Swift, J.E. (1968). Black Belt Magazine: Budo Demolition: The Famed Tiger Division of the Korean Army in Action! Sine Pari, Kidokwan Martial Art International. Posted at http://www.kidokwan.org/historical/historical-articles-1960s/budo-demolition-the-famed-tiger-division-of-the-korean-army-in-action/, date accessed September 26th, 2014.

The Pentagon. (1980). Hand-To-Hand Fighting (Karate / Tae-Kwon-Do. ST 31-4. U.S. Government Printing Office: Fort Bragg, NC. Reprinted by Militaria Press.

Thomas, B. (1994). Bruce Lee: Fighting Spirit: A Biography. North Atlantic Books: Berkeley, CA.

Urban Protection Solutions/ Self Defense Classes. Posted at http://www.eventbrite.com/e/urban-protection-solutions-self-defense-classes-tickets-2779871671?aff=eorg, date accessed, September 24th, 2014.

 

Go back to Part 4                                                                        Go on to Part 1 (First Part)

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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 4)

IV. Taekwondo is Proven Effective In Full Contact Fighting

            It is said that a true martial art that works must prove itself in fighting. Taekwondo has not only proven itself in war, but also in current modern combat sports such as Kickboxing and MMA.

 

Taekwondo is effectively used in Mixed Martial Arts fighting

Mixed Martial Arts competition is considered by the general public of fight fans and people who are aware of martial arts as the current proving ground for effective fighting. Various Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighters use Taekwondo techniques, including elite MMA fighters who fight in the Ultimate Fighting Championship such as Cung Le, Anthony Pettis, Edson Barboza, Benson Henderson and others, to win high level bouts with knockout power and Taekwondo tactics. The Taekwondo round kick, Taekwondo footwork, the back kick, and even the spin kick have all been used with total success in MMA by such fighters as Dennis Sever and Conor McGregor.

Taekwondo spin kick in the UFC

Spin kick knockouts are not uncommon now as well as devastating back kicks. These are typically “fancy” techniques seen in movies that have now been proven effective in combat. MMA is the closest people can get to an actual fight while still remaining in the bounds of what is legal by the law as well as remaining typically safe because a referee and corner men are present and there are rules in place; yet a lot of techniques are allowed. If a combat sport avenue such as MMA has  allowed Taekwondo to demonstrate itself as effective then Taekwondo seems like a decent striking system and can definitely be incorporated into a self defense program.

Same technique as in MMA

Sport does not negate street effectiveness

The claim that sport is never realistic or learning a sport is not good for self defense is not 100% true. While if a person only trains for a sport with rules and never for self defense outside of his combat sport format, then the fighter will not have the best combat sense on the streets. This is even true for MMA. No one who is logical would ever claim Boxing is not an effective martial art that would not work on the streets. Boxing has always worked on the streets and just because people train within the rules of boxing does not mean they cannot use their boxing effectively for self defense. Of course a boxer really should take another martial art that allows for more techniques, but boxing in itself works. Likewise MMA of course works. It is the mindset of the practitioner. If he simply focuses on winning rounds and tapping a person out he will not do well on the streets. But if the same fighter takes his knowledge of MMA with a self defense mindset he will destroy the average person!

Taekwondo also has a sport aspect to it. The kicks and footwork from Olympic Taekwondo competition can also work in self defense. There are a variety of combinations and footwork that allow for quick speed and powerful attacks. Not every fight happens in close quarters and there are times when a self defense situation will demand an exchange of strikes. Taekwondo is the first and only martial art to extensively work on special footwork with unique foot switching and fakes with fast kicking combinations. Training to do these techniques well takes an incredible amount of fitness ability and will only aid in a persons personal self defense. Reality combat expert Martin J. Dougherty (2010) states,

“[Sport fighting] does not make Taekwondo bad. Far from it – it is an excellent sport for building fighting spirit, developing balance and fitness, and learning some powerful kicks.” (p. 26)

Of course there is so much more to Taekwondo than Olympic sparring, but the fact elite athletes with incredible fitness train in Taekwondo for the Olympics should only reinforce that someone studying Taekwondo will get overall competent fitness. It was not allowed into the Olympics because it was simple or easy. It is a dangerous full contact combat sport. Physical fitness is a very important part of self defense and Taekwondo offers it immensely. And it is evident that a Taekwondo self defense program will not focus on Olympic sparring competition, but instead self defense with all of the techniques that are not allowed in the competition.

 

Go back to Part 3                                                                                               Go on to Part 5

__________________________________________________________________________________________

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 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” (evenbrite.com)                                                     

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

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.” (pressabout.com)

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 (matthewsylvester.com). 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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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 (kidokwan.org/). 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.” (oregonlive.com)

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.” (trainingforblackbelt.wordpress.com)                           

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. 

Self Defense Seminars Will Not Save Your Life

        When people are thinking about self defense many will hear about “self defense seminars” being advertised by various groups who claim to teach people how to defend themselves. Most often women more so than men are looking for a way to learn self defense because they realize the world is a bit dangerous and want to feel secure when going out. These kinds of courses and seminars are usually called reality based self defense (RBSD) and include various systems with very silly overly technical and politically correct names.

        Often times women, as well as some men, believe they want a no nonsense lesson or two in self defense that gets straight to the point of self defense. Many people cater to this desire and claim that someone could go to their seminar or take their short course and learn all of the tools one needs to feel confident and defend themselves. Most of these seminar and course holder’s claims are that no one needs to learn 100’s of moves and memorize them and waste their time because you can learn to defend yourself with a few very easy and short steps.

        I found in a YMCA magazine for the local YMCA’s in this area an advertisement for a self defense course held at a YMCA by some local person who created a system called “Urban Protection Solutions” or something close to that. Urban Protection Solutions claims:

We have developed a simple, very effective self-defense/survival program geared toward you. This is not some complicted course where you have to learns hundreds of moves. THis (sic) program is designed for you to be able to incapacitate an assailant and escape.

Yeah sure…What RBSD people do is try to find a corporate sounding, politically correct, or technical term to name their style. Basically saying “How to beat people up so they don’t beat you up” is not very cool. Or even “The kicking and punching method” is not cool either. So names like Taekwondo “Way of smashing with feet and hands” or Karate “way of empty hands” is not cool or professional sounding. So they name them silly names like Urban Protective Solutions. I know of another guy here who claims to have various black belts in a lot of martial arts, and I mean a lot, who calls his style “Creative Combat System.”

        Honestly, the confidence many seminar people give to their customers is false. There is no possible way someone could take 1 seminar, maybe 3 hours or so long, or even a short week long course and assume they can effectively defend themselves realistically in that amount of time. The average person just cannot do it. It is nearly impossible unless you are somehow athletically gifted with extreme natural coordination. The claim no one needs to learn 100’s of movements is incredibly ignorant and dishonest. In realistic martial arts training you may or may not need to know 100 separate moves. It depends on the martial arts system you are training under. If not so many moves you will still learn 100’s of combinations, angles and other ways to do a set of a few different movements. Boxing for instance has about 8 punches and about 10 blocks give or take depending on what your coach classifies as a separate punch or block. You will learn 100’s of ways to throw many combos, many subtle steps and footwork etc. over a long period of time with proper training. The fact is a person needs to take many hours, days, weeks, months, and years to actually defend themselves properly. Sure you can always run, but if you are attacked with no prior martial arts experience, and you only took a 3 hour seminar there is a very, very, very slim chance one would come out okay. And to think taking a “rape prevention course,” even a typical college P.E. credited course such as RADS (Rape Aggression Defense System) for an entire semester is going to save you from getting raped well, you are wrong. You are STILL going to get raped. You need to realize this.

        A real problem with so many seminars/courses are that their techniques are not really that effective and often times are silly or very dangerous to assume it is a smart way to move. While I was attending my university as an undergraduate they had RADS as a P.E. course for females only. Everything they did in that class was secret and men were not allowed to know what they learned because it could help would be rapists know their secrets so they could better rape women or something like that…stupid I know…well one day I was sitting on a patio table on campus and found that a female had forgotten to take her RADS booklet back to her dorm and it was left open. I decided to look at this “secret knowledge” and found that one of the movements to defend against rape was to literally turn around on your stomach as the guy is on top of you and do some maneuver to get him off of you. Being a martial artist during my time studying at this university I ran the official MMA club and was founder and president. Knowing some BJJ I realized that it would be so easy to choke a woman out and then rape her anyway in that position. RADS is basically the type of course where women yell “STOP!” a lot and kick and punch a guy with a gigantic padded suit on. It gives false security to women since realistically a lot of untrained females do not have power to really damage a man nor the technical skill to choke him out or lock his joints up etc.

        During my university days I also took all of the martial arts courses for P.E. credits: Taekwondo, Total Self Defense (was actually a very very well run self defense course focusing on combatives), Karate (which was actually Tang Soo Do) and TFT (Target Focus Training). All of the classes were run very well and taught basic skills for fighting effectively, all except for TFT. TFT is the kind of system where the instructor will just give you statistics about crime and violence and talk “extra serious!!!!” and even cuss sometimes to emphasize how extra serious the techniques are. I took a full semester of TFT and I was told never to block or even try it or I could be killed. There is no ready position to hold hands up for defenses either, you have to keep your hands down casually. You only learn a couple of strikes which are a punch, palm strike, and ways to hit the throat. Most of the strikes are arching motions and not straight. There are hardly any kicks, more like steps or walking forward and pushing with the foot. You are told that if you are faced with an attack you should only attack back and hit the special “vital points” they tell you and also step around and dodge things. They assume any strike you do is enough to incapacitate a person and even “crush their throat with your hand hitting it, crunch or break their ankle simply by stepping on it and other nonsense. They also assume if you are hit in the groin every attacker will always bend over (not true). Every technique you learn is in slow motion and you are never trained to hit fast or full force, they just assume you will. They even teach you that if someone has a knife or a gun you should just hit the guy and go forward. You are not allowed to train it fast either, and if you even so much as motion that you are about to grab the gun you will get yelled at. I was told that martial arts techniques I know would not work and not to try them. They even have a silly stepping form with the feet called “leg dynamics” and it is only stepping and reminds me of very poorly copied Kung Fu walking.

Here is an example of the bullcrap training that TFT emphasizes. Its is like the Bujinkan of RSBD with slow motion nonsense:

        So many seminars and short courses claim to be from “reality based self defense” experts who claim their self defense system is based on realism and truth while the martial arts, what they clump together as all styles and systems of tradition, waste your time and focus on unrealistic and false techniques that will not save your life. There have even been online arguments on various martial arts forums about how the “Karate punch” is inferior to their “reality based self defense punches.” The truth is, a punch is a punch! You need to learn to actually fight and use techniques at full speed and they need to be pressure tested with resisting opponents. Traditional martial arts allow for this and any good traditional martial art teacher will also train you properly. Just because many mcdojos and mcdojangs exist does not make a style of martial arts worthless.

        The fact is people need to take up a martial art style or go to a martial arts school, plan to train for the long haul and make such exercises a part of their life. True self defense skills will be learned over time and kept by continuous practice. Not a 3 hour seminar, not a 1 week long course, not a summer camp, and not by taking a college semester of RSBD nonsense. RBSD in most cases are bullshido and the mcdojo of the DVD and seminar world.

        RBSD is not the only offender of such seminars. Filipino Martial Arts is notorious for this. The worst part is most FMA systems are very legitimate and good. For some reason most FMA masters do not open gyms or academies around the world and many just travel doing seminars. Kali or Eskrima has become an “add on art” instead of a full system. Often times the same fake training, learning nonsense drills, accompanies the FMA seminar. People go just to get ranks or certificates saying they did something to get a rank. FCS Kali is one of the most notorious for doing this. The FMA issue could be a whole different article so I will stop mentioning it now.

        There are possibly some RBSD styles that are good, Krav Maga comes close but everything they do is basically from Karate and could be learned in a Karate class with masterful skills emphasized instead of quick learning and sloppy brawling drills which happens in most Krav Maga classes. I personally think that most RBSD makes rdiculous and unfounded claims as well as do not save anyone’s life if all they do is train in their system. True self defense has to be learned with 100’s of moves memorized, hard and long training, various pressure testing and perfection of movements. Regular martial arts classes are going to give that to someone. Just because mcdojoism has left an ugly scare on some styles of martial arts does not mean that the art is a waste of time and silly. Find a decent traditional martial art school and train. Make martial arts a lifestyle as part of whatever you do in your life. RBSD just makes “learn quick deadly techniques fast” claims which are not true and most likely going to give a person false security and end up causing them real problems when a real self defense situation occurs. RBSD like the mcdojo simply exists to make money and they use extreme marketing techniques like any mcdojo in town. Even Crossfit made a RBSD program called “Crossfit Defense” with people associated with the TFT people. Beware.

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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. 

My Life Was Strengthened By Taekwondo

        My martial arts journey started around age 5 watching the movie “The Karate Kid” with my parents and being totally inspired. I thought it was so cool and wanted to learn Karate just like Daniel san! Karate was so mysterious as well! During this time I also would watch pro wrestling and root for Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior. I spent many afternoons with the neighborhood kids wrestling in the front yard of someone’s house and pretending we are certain wrestlers. In actuality we would do kicks and punches and pretend wrestling moves so it was more like play-karate-pro-wrestling. Doing this activity we figured out front kicks, side kicks and roundkicks on our own. But we called both roundkick and sidekick “sidekick” because we thought it was the same kick just done different. As I got older, other times we pretended we were ninjas or Karate guys, or even the Ninja Turtles or Batman from Nintendo games we played and fought in the front yard.

At age 6 my mom enrolled me into a neighborhood Karate class that was being held at the local middle school. My dad would walk me to the school for my classes. I probably stayed in that class for 1 month before quitting because it was so boring. I believe it was Shotokan and the Sensei had absolutely no clue how to teach kids or even pay attention to us. He was focused more on the adults. Also, we never actually punched or kicked anything. I wanted to punch pads so bad and we wasted time doing slow motion things almost the entire time because he could not seem to teach well. I was extremely bored so my parents let me quit. In some ways I wish I had not quit because if I stayed I could have been really good, yet my life turned toward Taekwondo later and I am thankful and satisfied.

Later in life in 4th grade I enrolled in my private school’s youth Wrestling program and spent 1 season competing as a youth wrestler. I only won 3 matches the entire year and lost everything else. It was annoying because there was no skill levels, just weight classes. So I was always wrestling kids who had years experience and I could barely ever win because I had only been training for a couple months. After the season was over I did not pursue wrestling again. I also wish I kind of did just like my prior Karate class because I would have been good but I switched to homeschooling the next year anyway and never thought to find wrestling. I honestly did not understand the power of grappling as this was pre-UFC days and felt I needed to learn how to kick and punch. So a few years later in 8th grade, at age 13 I joined a Taekwondo gym.

But before joining that Taekwondo gym, in my life, I had always been picked on by bullies. Bullies in the neighborhood would always harass me and scare me. Older mean kids would chase me when I was riding my bike, and other kids threatened to beat me up. Some would grab me an scare the crap out of me. Around age 11 or 12 I always had one mean kid from another neighborhood show up to some girls house on our street who was a tom boy. This kid would always harass me and threaten to beat me up and tried to get me to fight him. He was a really bad kid with a dysfunctional family, and he also smoked. Apparently, his sister was on a popular 90’s talkshow for sleeping with a large amount of men and people would bring it up to him and he would get mad. That tells you about his family. He was absolutely crazy. One time he even came to my house at night and smacked my bedroom window in the middle of the night to scare me. I was always so scared of this kid because I had never been in a fight before and was afraid I would get beat up. I knew I needed skills, strength and confidence to face my fears. I was probably around 10 when this kid started bothering me and it lasted through to age 13 off and on. This kid talked like he was some gangster and would quote Death Row Records lyrics from various rappers like Snoop Dog. He used to scream “Bowowow yippy yo yippy yay! Death row’s in tha mutherf***g house!!” He was a very strange and disturbed kid. When he would yell at me he would flip his shirt up and I never understood why he did that, like it was some gangster rap thing. The tom girl told me he was doing it because gangsters do it to show they have a gun in their pants. But he had nothing, he would just flip it up and I would see his stomach or belt. Made no sense.

This kid was always threatening me, and I don’t know why he mainly singled me out and not anyone else I knew as much. Well he did harass or have insult matches with some of my friends but he mainly targeted me, probably because I was outside more than the others who were playing Nintendo all day, or because I was shy and easy to pick on. My friends would go to 7-Eleven and play Mortal Kombat and I would watch and one time this mean kid found me at 7-Eleven and began insulting me and harassing me and came behind me while I was watching my friend play Mortal Kombat on the arcade machine. He pushed me trying to get me to fight him and he was flicking my ears and laughing in my face, and this lasted for a few minutes. It was extremely humiliating and I was afraid he was going to punch me, but he didn’t. Another time after playing Mortal Kombat at 7-Eleven my friends and I were riding our bikes back to our street and we saw that tomboy girl and one of my dumb and inconsiderate friends decided we should each scream out a fatality move from the game as if we would do them to this bully. I was coaxed into doing it with them and as we rode by one kid said, “I’m going to blow his head off!” (like Raiden’s fatality where he explodes the head with lightening), the dumb and inconsiderate friend who made up this stupid idea said, “I’m going to rip his head off!” (like Sub Zero’s fatality where he pulls off the head with his bare hands), and I finally said, “I’m going to knock his head off!” (like Johnny Cage’s fatality where he knocks the head off with an uppercut). So we rode by her and it was something like this:

*Tomgirl is walking towards us going to the bully’s house in the other neighborhood*

*we 3 ride by fast and yell our fatalities*:

“I’m going to blow his head off!”

“I’m going to rip his head off!”

“I’m going to knock his head off!”

*she smiles and laughs and walks on and we ride off*

WOW THAT WAS SO COOL!!! And we laughed…but unfortunately that only pissed off the bully, and for some reason he ignored what they said and only focused on me saying I will knock his head off. Then he came to my neighborhood and started screaming and going nuts and calling me out to fight. Even my parents heard him and knew he was out there, and my dad said I should fight him. But I was still so afraid. I would like to say that the story ends with an epic fight where I beat him but no it does not. There was never a fight, I never once got to fight him ever. I was too afraid. Eventually this kid moved on and stopped harassing me for some reason but there was never a reason given. He got bored and moved on. He became a cowboy after this and no longer acted like a gangster rapper. He never bothered me again and I would see him with a huge cowboy hat one and he would just not care I was outside and would walk on. Something changed him. Who knows, but I was just glad he did not bother me anymore even though I was full of anger toward him for his bullying. When I started Taekwondo training I knew that if I did have to fight him I would beat him easily. I got over it and also moved on and no longer thought about him.

Around this time in my life and during times when the mean bully from the other neighborhood was not around or was doing other things and it was during a cycle where he was not hanging out with that tomgirl so much I had other issues to deal with. Another couple of bullies was that tomboy herself and 2 mean male twins who lived at the end of my street. The tomgirl would get them to pick on me and call me names and threaten to beat me up. A couple of times I had confrontations and I then finally had my first real fight! The tomgirl and the 2 evil twins confronted me and a friend who were picking grapes from a persons grapevine that hung over a fence. Eventually through all of the threats and insults I got so pissed off. The girl was behind the twins, the older one was in front of her towards me and the younger twin was sitting on a fence and all 3 were insulting us and threatening me and my friend. I got so mad and fed up I just punched the older twin in the jaw, grabbed the back of the other twins shirt and pulled it and sprang him into a punch to his back while I was still holding his clothes which knocked him off balance on the fence. Then the tomgirl, who was very big and strong I might ad (bigger than me), attacked me and I started clinching the older twin and they tackled me and I fell on my back. The tomgirl began to jump double feet onto my chest over and over. My friend pulled them off and then grabbed a metal yard sign and began to attack them. Then some drunk guy across the street came out and said, “You kids get outa here! Stop fighting here!!!” and then me and my friend ran and jumped over a fence and the tomgirl followed in persuit and said, “You may be faster! but I have good balance!!!” We were fighting in someone’s yard on a street corner. Then she proceeded to jump over a fence and when landing on the street she slipped with her shoes on the pavement and skinned her knee. Then I began laughing soooo hard and mocking her about “Ohhh suure you have good balance!” and we ran away. They stopped following us because her knee was bloody. Other times I had confrontations with her and these twins and 3 more times I punched the same older twin in the face on the same spot and would run away and get away. It was a hit and run each time! Over time though, these twins moved away and seemed to calm down and were not under her influence anymore and all 3 stopped bothering me. It was one of those things where you have neighborhood kids who one day are cool with you, then hate you and fight you, then are cool and friendly again later etc., or just plain forget about you. Anyway after this even more problems occurred.

Still there were other mean kids who liked rap music and claimed they were gangsters and would yell “Westsiiiiide!” because of all the Los Angeles gangster rappers like Tu Pac, Ice Cube, Snoop Doggy Dogg, Dr. Dre, Westside Connection etc. were popular on MTV. That was the popular music and all the crazy mean white kids who had a troubled family life would pretend they were Crips and try to beat people up. They hated anyone who did not listen to rap. If you were into rock music or skateboarding or punk you would be targeted. It was gangsters vs skaters in this period of time. Skaters were always the victims of their hate. I still knew I needed to take martial arts classes.

During 6th and 7th grade I talked with some kid in my homeschool group who said he was a black belt in Taekwondo. I thought he must be a crazy awesome fighter. He told me how Taekwondo is the worlds most popular martial art and the best because it focuses on kicking. I thought kicking automatically was the best thing you could do and that’s why martial arts won fights. I did not know that Karate focused on the hand, and of course I thought ninjas were cool growing up. This Taekwondo kid was an ATA student. His instructor was a Vietnam veteran, so he told me that he studied “Military Taekwondo” and there is a camo belt because of it. He acted like he could win any fight and was not afraid to fight anyone. I thought it was so cool. One day my mom found out about a local Taekwondo tournament and she took me to go watch. It was a WTF tournament, but I had no clue about that. During the intermission they had a Filipino martial arts demonstration with sticks I thought was cool. 2 guys were showing self defense techniques doing them so fast and then doing them again in slow motion. It was all about fighting and self defense. With this attitude I assumed Taekwondo was also exactly like self defense and serious fighting techniques. I thought it was so cool kids were fighting and even girls were fighting! I saw a brochure by the host dojang who was running the tournament. The dojang was owned by a Korean master. He taught 3 martial arts: Taekwondo, Hapkido, and Judo. The brochure explained each martial art: that Judo focuses on throws and some joint locks, Hapkido focuses on joint locks with kicks, punches, pressure points, and throws, but Taekwondo focuses on kicks, punches, joint locks, pressure points, knees, elbows and is able to fight multiple opponents. So I thought Taekwondo was the best of all 3 and included every move the other 2 had plus tons of amazing kicks and strikes and was a serious fighting system! I thought Taekwondo contained every move of all fighting basically.

After being totally confident that I needed Taekwondo specifically, I told my mom to let me join Taekwondo and that I need to learn how to fight. I had no clue about Taekwondo being a sport and only considered it as a true fighting art that even Korean soldiers use and it gives you skills to fight in real fights including deadly killing techniques. I told my mom that I am 13 so I need to learn now before I get older. So she enrolled me in a WTF affiliated Taekwondo gym certified by the Kukkiwon. She didn’t understand that stuff and neither did I and had no clue there were other organizations etc. I thought a martial art style was simply a martial art style. But my mom saw the advertisement and went to this instructor’s gym with us and he met with us and told us all about his program. We were sold!

The instructor who ran it was a 3rd dan and eventually got his fourth during my time there. I received my black belt under him, but he took us up to see his teacher who was a Korean grandmaster in another city. I tested under that Korean grandmaster to earn my Kukkiwon ranked black belt at age 16. Before earning my black belt I had experienced various tournaments, lots of Taekwondo training and learning self defense, and even competed in a national tournament. Taekwondo gave me tons of confidence and I felt strong, skilled, and ready to fight anyone who attacked me.

Way before black belt though, I had went through 3 years of training and during that training the problems in the suburban streets did not stop. As mentioned earlier there were all those wannabe gangster kids causing problems everywhere. On occasions they would start fights at their school and also ride together on BMX type bikes in packs and threaten to beat people up. Multiple occasions these kids would ride to my street or I would be going to 7-Eleven or some store and they would stop us and threaten to beat us up. Often times we had to ride our bikes super fast to get away or run. One time me and 2 brothers I knew were riding bikes back from 7-Eleven and a car full of these guys drives by and says something which sounded like “Brazil.” But it made no sense. They were listening to loud rap music and then stopped ahead at the corner of this street. They immediately poured out of the car and flashed the “W” hand sign for “Westside.” They began chasing us and we all had to ride our bikes fast and get away. We were lucky because they were going to beat us up. I think at least 7 guys were in that car.

All of this time in Taekwondo training I was being given a lot of confidence and gaining physical skills and learning self-defense techniques. During my training I often did tournament sparring and a lot of our training was sport specific Olympic rules training. I knew there were all kinds of moves like face punches, knife hands, palm strikes, knees etc we were not sparring with but only did them if there was a self-defense technique for the next belt level we had to learn. We never free flowed with such techniques, nor used much live grappling training. We sometimes did hit targets with them for practice, but no sparring. But we did train for multiple opponents a lot and did drills simulating 5 or so people attacking you as well as sparring 2 or more people at the same time. Unfortunately, my training was not enough.

Around blue belt, and after fighting in a national tournament I got disqualified in for kicking someones head too hard, I was attacked by a local gang made out of the wannabe gangster kids. At least 15 guys and a girl or two were at this park. By this time at age 14 I took up skateboarding and listening to hardcore music. I went to a private Christian school in 8th grade and that ATA Taekwondo guy went to my school as well. So after 8th grade we had remained friends and would skateboard together sometimes and talk about martial arts. He had ninja books and various martial arts books I thought were cool. He was the type of kid who said he wanted to be in special forces when he grew up. At age 15 and a blue belt in Taekwondo I spent the night at his house and we skateboarded and even sparred Taekwondo style in his backyard. It was then I knew he sucked and I could beat him easy. He was extremely slow and I was super fast because of my Olympic style training. Later, we went to this middle school to skateboard not too far off and wanted to come back home around 8pm. By this time it had gotten dark and we had to go through a local park to get to his house. It was dark now and as we skated through the park we came out from a clearing in a pathway with trees to the main parking lot. In the parking lot, just our luck, over 15 or more of those gangster wannabe kids were all in the parking lot hanging out. The baddest of the bad of these kids were all there including people I had never seen before. All of the kids were White kids except one Asian kid who seemed afraid and worried and didn’t want to be involved with violence against us. The entire gang followed us and ran after us and eventually surrounded us because we were too dumb to run because the ATA kid had no clue they were following us. When I informed him he says, “huh? what?” and stops and goes to look (what an idiot) and by this time they showed up and surrounded us walking and circling on on both sides looking so menacing. They repeated, “We hate skaters!!!” and began to threaten us and how they are going to kill us. What ended up happening was the very first and so far only serious beatdown of my entire life. It was a huge wakeup call.

It was me, my ATA black belt friend and his little brother with our skatebaords surrounded by a White wannabe Black suburban hip hop gang in the street in front of the park we skated through. The little brother was able to break through and run away. Me and the ATA black belt remained. One gangster kid says “We hate skaters!!!!” and proceeds to walk towards me saying “Give me your board! Now!” and I said “NO! ITS MINE!” He kept demanding it and I was backing away and kept saying no, and I felt threatened and held my skateboard behind me and I then swung my skateboard at his head the hardest possible way I could and…..ting! It was an “oh no” moment realizing my skateboard only half hit his head only knicking the top of his head as the board turned at impact instead of the hard knockout thud I was aiming for where the full board was supposed to smack him in the head, wheels, trucks and all. Right then 5 guys bulldozed me and took me down to the ground punching me like vicious animals. As I landed on the ground I looked up to see a white high top sneaker heading straight toward my face and *BAM!* I was kicked right in the forehead followed by multiple blows from fists and stomps and kicks all over my head, neck, and back. I was recieving an incredible beatdown that lasted what felt like an eternity. Tons of sreaming and cussing and blows from the gang all over me. It could have been anywhere from 10 seconds to 30 seconds long. Either way it was brutal! Somehow the ATA black belt kid threw them off of me and they left beating me up and then attacked him. I got up extremely dazed but I was not knocked out. Right then the kid I hit in the head with the board came up and I was terrified he was going to kill me and get revenge and he demanded my board. Realizing he could turn it into a weapon I threw it over a fence instead. I was then being punched from every direction on my head and face. My ATA black belt friend was being punched too and ended up fighting 1 or 2 guys in the bushes on his back. The sole Asian guy with these White kids was saying “Hey cmon guys lets just fight them one on one ok!” and trying to get them to not attack us because I guess he had some sense even if he was hanging out with the wrong crowd. Anyway, then some gangster wannabe chick appears after we are being beat up and complains that her boyfriends sunglasses were broken. But he had broken them himself beating us up. How annoying! After all this I finally got to a random house and they called the cops and the gang ran away. Apparently, all of the notion I had about Taekwondo being able to defeat multiple opponents did not work in this case.

The next day we were pissed off and mad we got beat up. We talked to the police the night before and our parents both allowed me to stay over at his house anyway. The next day we went skateboarding to defy the gangs orders that we can’t skateboard there anymore. When we were skating down a road a pickup truck with 3 older guys drove by and parked ahead of us at the corner near a stop sign. We thought they were going to attack us because when the truck drove by it swerved toward us. When we stopped going in their direction the driver flashed the “W” sign for “Westside” out of his wonder and we knew they were going to beat us up so we ran behind a fence. The truck turned around screeching and we ran into a random backyard of some old guy’s house. The guys stopped their truck to look for us and got out and they were really huge white guys. We knew they had been told about us and how we got beat up and they saw us skating and were out to stop us. Luckiyl the old guy saw us in his backyard and said “Hey you kids get out of there!!!” and then we told him we were running from guys trying to kill us and then he saw them out front and said “Whats your problem?” and they said nothing and drove off really fast. We ended up talking to the police about it again. We honestly felt these guys including the 15 guys the right before wanted to literally kill us, no joke.

After such instances I realized I need serious fighting skills for self defense for any situation on the streets and I was wondering why me being a Taekwondo practitioner did not save me in this situation. I was a little angry and my mom was also upset at my instructor since nothing I learned helped me. A lack of emphasis on self defense and more on sport started to be promoted at his gym. The understanding I got disqualified for kicking too hard at a national tournament and then got my ass kicked by a gang really made my mother mad. My mom told my instructor, as did I, that I want to know how to really fight! I want real self defense. Otherwise there is no point to train. My instructor then started to teach us more realistic self defense including takedowns and other various things. Honestly it still was not enough but it was better than before. From that point on I realized Taekwondo has to be serious, it has to be full contact, and it has to be about real world fighting and self defense. Not a sport. The sport is just a side thing for fun but not the main goal of training. That is how I felt and still is my opinion today.

Over the years I kept up my Taekwondo training even though the UFC started taking off in popularity with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu claiming to be the only effective martial art in the world as well as Muay Thai guys making fun of Taekwondo. I was able to train under another Korean grandmaster and paid attention to various self defense and even sparred in a real world sense with people who would let me. Over the years I took classes in various other martial arts styles to understand their theories and supplement anything Taekwondo was lacking. I still train in random styles today especially BJJ and boxing. Only one other time did I get into another serious and scary fight. It was before college and I got attacked at a hardcore punk show by some thug and ended up sending him to the hospital. In this instance my Taekwondo saved my life, or at least saved me from serious injury.

With my determination to train Taekwondo realistically for self defense and try my best to perfect it as much as I could for my own bodies abilities and set my mind on serious combat and crisp technique I want to express it to others. I teach Taekwondo to help other people’s lives and give them the same skillset and abilities I have so they can save their lives in self defense situations. I believe Taekwondo is a martial art and is deadly and effective for self defense and should be promoted for such. Otherwise we are falsely advertising our martial art and going to let down a lot of people if they cannot use anything they learned in an actual fight. Taekwondo made a man out of me and greatly strengthened my life and I know it can do the same for my students. Without Taekwondo I would not be who I am today and have a lower quality of life.

The fact popular Taekwondo culture has profaned the martial art of Taekwondo, and has sold out for money and other silly pride inducing things such as showing off with backflips and TKD-dance recitals, really makes me feel sad. Taekwondo was and is a truly hardcore fighting art and this concept is being lost. It should train you to fight bullies and defeat them, handle multiple opponents such as a gang, and other thugs on the street who want to attack you. It should train you to save your life in a fight. So many people will not train in Taekwondo who want to learn self defense or know how to fight, and will thus skip out on a wonderful life experience and instead go to an amoral gym that teaches MMA or whatever the latest combat craze is. Instead, the wrong kind of people will join Taekwondo classes, spoiled brats, egotistical show offs who want to impress people, and other types. Instead of building confidence and strength in a weak person, it will instead poof up the pride of already arrogant kids. The 5 tenets of Taekwondo and the warrior mindset Taekwondo instilled in me is not going to be expressed much in future generations, including those in Taekwondo gyms today since the combative and warrior mindset is not taught and is traded out for dancing and acrobatics and movie fantasy nonsense and sport Taekwondo with its limited techniques. I hope by reading this story someone can be inspired and to train hard in Taekwondo, love the art, and learn self defense; and somehow a remnant will save Taekwondo from the pop-culture masses that have nearly destroyed any worth it has for real fighting. It also has lost respect and its dignity because of this. Even so, I know there are others who love Taekwondo for the truth and just as Taekwondo has strengthened my life, it has and will strengthen theirs.

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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.