Posts Tagged ‘sparring’

I Was Able To Train With And Spar Lee Dong Hee

        This month I was able to train with Lee Dong Hee and spar him. If you do not know he is sort of a Taekwondo YouTube celebrity in his own right. He always uploads interesting videos showing a serious combative nature of martial arts. He is a 5th dan black belt and a former Korean Tiger demo team member. So his days of Taekwon-dancing with sexy Taekwondo girls is far behind him and now his goal is real self defense and combat.

        Here are some videos of our day training. The first video is showing an immovable stance to develop proper tensing of muscles, and proper relaxing of muscles in order to keep your center balanced and learn to use your leg and arms for more powerful strikes.

The second video are clips from our sparring session. I had a great time and Master Lee is a great fighter! He is the type of Taekwondo master to enjoy training with. He has a very down to earth attitude and is easy going. You can simply talk to him and enjoy your time.

Of course we did not to no contact and were play fighting. It was just to go through motions and have fun and work on stuff. This is good training to keep you healthy.

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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.

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Receiving my new belt for 4th dan from Master Jeong

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        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!

Training MMA In Korea

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

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

        Padwork

       MMA NoGi Grappling Sparring

       Stand Up Kicboxing Sparring

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

 

 

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.

The Danger Of Oldschool Olympic Sparring

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interview With Master In Choul Jeong

        In Choul Jeong is a great Taekwondo master of our day who has been very influential with advancing Taekwondo techniques. He is on the education committee in the Kukkiwon. He is the author of Hand Techniques of Taekwondo for Actual Fighting written for the Korean Taekwondo Association (KTA). I found out about master Jeong through YouTube last year when I was looking up hand techniques for real Taekwondo fighting. I was looking up videos for Taekwondo and self defense. I stumbled upon this video:

When I saw that I was impressed and felt really encouraged to keep training hand techniques in Taekwondo. He even emphasizes use of the kwon go (Korean translation of the Japanese term makiwara, which is the board with rope tied around it used for the hitting of the fist) for hand conditioning, something Taekwondo people have forgotten which used to be one of the essential training tools in the old days. Now days it seems only karateka use it while taekwondoin (who came from Karate and used to use it) are busy training for tournament sparring without much use of hands.

Master Jeong also makes videos showing applications for poomsae. He shows what the movements mean and why you are training them, and how they relate to self defense. He keeps putting out one awesome video after another. I think more people need to know about his videos and subscribe to his channel. It is awesome to see Korean Taekwondo masters training for the purpose of fighting and self defense and not only doing demo’s or Taekwondo-dance which seems to be 99% of the videos you see online today.

I was given the opportunity by master Jeong to do an interview with him so he could tell us all more about his training background and martial arts philosophy! If you have not checked Master Jeong’s YouTube channel please do so! Make sure to like his videos and subscribe to his channel!

Enjoy the interview:

WHITE DRAGON: What’s your name? Where were you born? Please introduce yourself.

 MASTER JEONG: My name is In Choul Jeong, but my Face book page’s name is “Taekwondo master Jeong In Choul” (Korean style).  I was born in Seoul, South Korea. I teach Taekwondo to foreign people at the World Taekwondo Culture Expo, World Youth Taekwondo Camp and at my dojang.  Nice to speak to you all.

WHITE DRAGON: How did you get involved in martial arts and how old were you? What made you want to start training? Please list your training history and be as specific as possible. Who were your instructors in the past? Any notable characters?

MASTER JEONG: You are asking me many things at once! Haha! I started training Taekwondo at 6 years old. My father was a Grandmaster and so his Dojang was my playground. His name is “Soon Kyu Jeong”and he is at the level of 9th dan. He is a former vice president of Odokwan and he taught many students. One of them is Grandmaster Hwang (Kukkiwon Director, Instructor). Master Hwang is also my master. I think I am a lucky guy because I’ve gotten chances to learn from many great teachers: Grandmaster In Sik Hwang, Grandmaster Ik Pil Kang (World Champion at poomsae), Grandmaster Jae Ro Ahn (President of Cheongjihjoe), as well as many teachers in other martial arts. They are all my masters in my life.

3rd place poomsae division at World Hanmadang, standing with his father Master Soon Kyu Jeong

WHITE DRAGON: What are your ranks, certifications, or titles in martial arts? Do you have tournament titles?

MASTER JEONG: Taekwondo 6th Dan Kukkiwon

Kendo – 5th dan 

Kyungho Moosool (martial art for body guards) – 5th dan

Member of Kukkiwon Education Committee

Instructor of World Taekwondo Culture Expo

Instructor of World Youth Taekwondo Camp

Author of Hand Techniques of Taekwondo for Actual Fighting (KTA, ANIBIG,2013)

Author of Textbook for Kukkiwon Instructors (WTA, 2014)

International poomsae competition held during the Korean Open, 1st place

Taekwondo poomsae competition held on the honor of KTA president, 1st place in senior department

Taekwondo poomsae competition held on the honor of KITF president, 2nd place 

Besides Taekwondo, I have trained in Boxing, Muay Thai, Kendo, Kyungho Moosool,etc..

Master Jeong with foreign students

WHITE DRAGON: What is Kyungho Moosool and who is allowed to learn it? What techniques and concepts does it entail?

MASTER JEONG: Kyungho Moosool is a Korean martial art for body guards. It trains a person to protect VIP’s. I do not teach this even though I am 5th dan, but it was very helpful to study real fight Taekwondo. The president of Kyngho Moosol is named Jae Sool Byun. He was my father’s student and he has earned over 20 dan ranks from many styles of martial arts. He is the president of the Korean Special Kyungho Moosool Association in Korea. I received my certification in 2004. If someone wants to become a professional body guard he can apply to this program, but he should hold a rank of at least 3rd dan in some other martial art style before he will even be considered. There are many techniques and systems about defensive automobile driving, tactical firearms, and weapons disarms training in that program. They teach the principle of body guarding and all that it entails to protect a VIP. 

WHITE DRAGON: What is Cheonjihoe?

MASTER JEONG: One of the top poomsae teams in Korea. Master Ik Pil Kang was 1st president of Cheongjihoe, and I learned poomsae from him. The word means “the people who have pure minds.” 

WHITE DRAGON: Have you ever had to use Taekwondo in a real life fight or self defense situation? Have you ever been given a challenge by someone who wanted to fight you? If so how did you deal with it?

 MASTER JEONG: Yes, When I was a boy, I had so many fights and used skills of Taekwondo (It’s such a shame, I was so childish). Apchagi (front kick) to the stomach is a very useful skill and sometimes I used dwit chagi (back kick) to finish an aggressive enemy. When I was in my 20’s, I worked as a manager in my uncle’s night club. There were so many fights especially at Friday night. I usually tried to break up the fights and some guys tried to punch me. But I parried all their punches with steps and blocked the attacks with Taekwondo skills. After that I suppressed them easily. Actually, small and fast action is very important in a real fight situation, not fancy action.

WHITE DRAGON: What is your opinion on the modern state of Taekwondo? Many feel that Taekwondo has lost much of its combative nature these days. Is this true?

MASTER JEONG:  Yes it is. I want to answer with this famous quote, “You win some, you lose some.” Boxers can’t use kicks in a boxing match, so their punching techniques have been developed brilliantly and skillful. Likewise, we as Taekwondo competitors can’t punch in the face in a Taekwondo match, so the kicking techniques of Taekwondo are the best they have ever been now because they have been developed over time just as boxing developed punches in their sport. 

However, while we’ve developed great kicks because of sport, many of us have unfortunately lost the development of hand techniques. Sadly, many of us don’t train the hand techniques of Taekwondo anymore which causes many people feel think that Taekwondo is just a sport and is not effective for self defense.

But I want to say “The essence of Taekwondo” is a martial art for actual fighting. I will quote from my book Hand Techniques of Taekwondo for Actual Fighting (KTA, ANIBIG,2013):

The 1st and 2nd class Master Course Textbook (for Kukkiwon Taekwondo Master Training Course attendees) says the same thing – ‘Taekwondo is a martial art for knocking down enemies.’ (Kukkiwon Master Course Textbook). This is very important and we should remember this.

Hand Techniques Of Taekwondo For Actual Fighting book

The number of hand Technique is larger than the number of kicking in Taekwondo, nevertheless we barely use hand techniques in sparring training or a match. So I have intensely studied the techniques of Taekwondo for actual fighting and have written the book Hand Techniques of Taekwondo for Actual Fighting (KTA, ANIBIG,2013) with great masters Jaeyoung Um and Jae Ro Ahn. I have translated the book into English and you may be able to buy it online in a few months. (Special thanks to Master Andy Jeffries for supervising). Search for it on Amazon and other book outlets in the near future. 

Demonstrating accurate poomsae at a clinic for foreign students

WHITE DRAGON:  What is your opinion on the International Taekwondo Federation (ITF)?

MASTER JEONG: I respect Grand master “Choi Hong Hi” the founder of ITF. They  use  punches  to  the  face  in  competition  sparring and  they have been trying to keep Taekwondo as a martial art. I think that’s good.

WHITE DRAGON: It is said that martial arts change people’s lives. In what way has martial arts training influenced your life? What can it do for other people?

MASTER JEONG: People learn patience, concentration, courtesy, and manners while training Taekwondo. And so did I. The real power of education is changing a person. Not only in terms of combative martial arts, but also in terms of personal edification. Taekwondo is a very powerful martial art.

 WHITE DRAGON: What is your opinion of the “Taekwondo-dance trend”? The Korean Tigers really promote it and have made it popular all over the world. I would like to know your thoughts on that.

MASTER JEONG: I think of it positively and I like K-Tigers team. But I think balance and sequence are very important. If some masters teach Taekwon-dance to a white belt student, it is not proper. If someone trains Taekwon-dance over 30 minutes in a one hour training session, this is not proper also.

Kendo master

WHITE DRAGON: What is your opinion of mixed martial arts, and how does Taekwondo today fit in the world wide trend of MMA? Is MMA something to embrace as a Taekwondoin? Do you have any favorite fighters in the world of MMA or Kickboxing?

MASTER JEONG: I really like MMA. My favorite fighter is Ronda Rousey. Many MMA fighters and kickboxers are learning Taekwondo’s kicks and trying to apply it to their game. I am very proud of it. And I think Taekwondo masters should learn the skills of other martial arts and study them for upgrading. To develop something, we need flexibility, not a fixed idea, so I think “embrace” is an excellent word. Sometimes I do free sparring with MMA fighters or Kickboxers here and there. It is very helpful to understand more about martial arts.

Boxing practice

WHITE DRAGON: How important is poomsae practice to you and your philosophy?

MASTER JEONG: I learn the principles of body movement from poomsae, and I have been trying to apply the skills of poomsae to a real life situation. You can find my videos on YouTube and Facebook (search “Master Jeong In Choul”) demonstrating poomsae applications and scenario based self defense training with the movements found in Taekwondo forms. I believe that people will find the essence of Taekwondo in poomsae.

Taekwondo fit!

 

WHITE DRAGON: Do you enjoy Olympic Taekwondo sparring?

MASTER JEONG: Yes I do. There is an advantage in Olympic style techniques to learn and we should not ignore it. I think that a real master should be skilled with both parts (poomsae and kyorugi) and should be able to apply poomsae into actual fighting. When I was in elementary school I had won a few medals from national competition. I also did sparring in tournaments all the time when I was a middle school student. Unfortunately, my parents did not agree that I should be an athlete and instead made me focus on studying in high school. So my Taekwondo focus turned towards poomsae training and hoshinsool study. Then in college I trained sparring and usually competed. I was a sparring champion in the university union division. I still enjoy sparring with various people here and there from time to time. I just never compete anymore and focus on self defense concepts and poomsae applications.

WHITE DRAGON: Do you have any final shout outs, statements, or feelings to express? If so feel free to mention them!

MASTER JEONG: It was my pleasure to do this interview, thank you for asking me to do it! 

WHITE DRAGON: I appreciate the chance to interview you thank you!

MASTER JEONG: You’re welcome! Good bye!

*For more information on Master Jeong In Chul follow his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Jeonginchoul

and subscribe to his YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCy-Jg_befA1wq6eWnTSVz2Q

 Be sure to buy his book Hand Techniques of Taekwondo for Actual Fighting (KTA, ANIBIG,2013). It comes out in English this year! Look for it on Amazon! 

 

Military Taekwondo Stock Footage From Vietnam War

        Taekwondo is a traditional martial art, but it grew up as a military martial art as well, not simply a civilian style. Special fores soldiers in Vietnam learned it. The following are various stock footage videos showing literal Taekwondo training in full uniforms as well as combatives practices. Check them out!

Taekwondo was about 25 years old in these videos. The above video shows the primitive techniques and movements that that been of courses tweaked, changed, and developed into better and more practical movements. But it is interesting to see wide stances, wide choonbi  stances and the standard Karate gi style doboks they are wearing. It looks very cool. Even special forces soldiers start out as white belts in Taekwondo and even perform the part. The Vietnamese soldiers are very small people and very thin as well due to growing up in such a harsh place in war torn Vietnam.

You will also notice that one some scenes they seem to be doing parts of ITF forms. This is because the O Do Kwan was still run by General Choi and the KTA still used some of his early forms to be used in the military kwan. Around 1965 Choi had been asked respectfully to remove himself from the KTA and was given permission to develop his ITF organization. So there was some crossover is forms and style going from this time to the ealy 1970’s until the Pal Gwe and Tae Geuk sets of forms were created. Later, the KTA and all kwan groups of martial arts fully committed and promoted the Kukkiwon and the WTF (including the Oh Do Kwan which was Choi’s kwan which he led in the military). So the Vietnam era of Taekwondo is part of both ITF and Kukkiwon/WTF history as it was sanctioned by the KTA to teach South Vietnam Special Forces as well as U.S. Special Forces Taekwondo combat.

Another very important thing to notice is the sign that says “Tae Kwon Do.” It is spelled simply as Tae Kwon Do, which could also be written Taekwondo. Many ITF people strictly spell the style name as “Taekwon-do” or “TaeKwon-Do” with a hyphen. They claim that is the only way to spell the martial art name. General Choi apparently added the hyphen in English for some reason. This shows that historically Taekwondo was not written with a hyphen and it is not important to do so. In original Korean language (hangul) there is no hyphen, and I believe, nor should there be in English.

At the end you notice the Korean black belt instructors kicking and punching the hanging bag. One is doing a toe kick with his round kick. The other guy seems to have some form of gloves on as he punches as well. You never saw that much in Taekwondo gyms in the 90’s when I started training. The primitive and outdated kicking styles are seen as well. For their time it was pretty impressive and this is when the US military and others were just figuring out the martial arts systems for their soldiers.

 I love this footage. It is white belts sparring. I notice a lot of front legged side kicks and some jumping round kicks. The military salute instead of bowing is also cool. The interesting stances and way they are holding their fists is unorthodox for today.

More white belts sparring. Very terrible technique, but they seem to be having so much fun and all smiles. It is horrible to think they may have to fight in the jungles of Vietnam later and end up killing people or getting killed themselves. Hope their Taekwondo training was good if the battle comes down to hand to hand.

Notice the US Soldiers, white men, in the background watching and taking photos. The dojang is very cool with artwork of fists and techniques and a sign that says Taekwondo.

Here is some wild and crazy hand to hand and close quarters combat techniques show with Vietnamese Special Forces. Man these special forces look so young, like cute kids and all smiles. The grappling, flying and throwing techniques are pretty flashy. It is also funny to see these Special Forces guys smoking so much in the background. Clearly it cannot help their Taekwondo and grappling techniques. At the very end of the clip it looks as if they were learning how to fall properly and keep their legs up in a defensive position for ground kicks and deflecting attacks. But I do not really know.

Here are some Army Ranger’s teaching new recruits. I believe it is a continuation of the above video. The trainees clearly have no clue what they are doing. Imagine these guys having to be taught all of these techniques so fast and then expected to use them in actual battle. These are breakfalling and rolling techniques.

I like this video a lot. It shows some basic knife defenses in a dirty and not so perfect looking way. A South Vietnamese combat instructor is teaching the young cadets about what it means “to kill or be killed.”

Well this is some proof that Taekwondo was a military martial art meant for serious combat including killing. Taekwondo grew up in the military where it developed further self defense techniques over time. It was primitive back then but still got the job done, now days it has developed into way more crisp movements and precise movements. Unfortunately, much of the serious nature of Taekwondo as a martial art has been lost due to pop culture and a politically correct mindset that watered down much of Taekwondo. But in the dark corners of the Taekwondo world there are still Taekwondo instructors and fighters like all of us who love Taekwondo and train for realistic combat and self defense.

Flashy Spinning, Flying, Air, Kicks And Their Ineffectiveness For Real Fighting

*Authored by White Dragon. 

        Taekwondo is known for its kicks, especially its amazing, flying, twirling and spinning kicks. They are very impressive to audiences at demos. These kicks are amazing displays of acrobatic talent and agility. They take a lot of talent to perfect and years of practice to get good at. This is especially true when people use them to kick targets like kicking paddles, or demo boards to break as it displays accuracy of movement. Some Taekwondo experts can kick full on 1 inch pine boards which are the typical board to break for a display of power (mostly used for promotion testing), and are very different from the typical very thin demo boards many Taekwondo people use at shows (demo boards are incredibly thin, almost like balsa wood and a child can break it). But even still, the fact they can target correctly and smash these things is very cool. I have a lot of respect for high flying, crazy kicks because of the fact they are great displays of agility and talented athletic movement. On the other hand I do not respect them in the same sense as them being highly combat effective or necessary, or even important to learn. Being able to pull off wild kicks does not necessarily mean you are going to be a great fighter or even good at self defense. It is possible someone can be good at acrobatic kicks and fighting at the same time though (MMA stars like Anthony Pettis), but it is not as common. Yet, I personally believe more people who have such talent should (even though many are not) still be decent at using Taekwondo in a fight or self defense situation.

        It is not a requirement for a Taekwondo master or instructor to be an expert at flying kicks. Originally, Taekwondo curriculum did not demand this nor are such flying techniques in the poomsae of Taekwondo. Flying, flipping, and multi-spinning aerial kicks were never, and are not established as mandatory techniques for a Taekwondo master. Even so, a Taekwondo black belt should be able to do various and more simple jumping and flying kicks that actually are effective. Some of these kicks are found in the high dan grade of black belt poomsae such as the butterfly kick and flying sidekicks. Jump front kicks, jump round kicks, jump spin kicks, jump back kicks, flying sidekicks, tornado round and axe kicks etc. are all important kicks and work well. These are simpler flying and spinning in the air kicks that have a realistic combat effectiveness and one advanced black belt poomsae called Cheonkwon uses a butterfly-style-tornado kick. For an example of the effectiveness of a tornado round kick, watch this guy get knocked out with a such a kick in an MMA fight:

That was very combat effective Taekwondo kicking. He used a back kick, then set his tornado kick up with a connecting stepping axe kick to the face. That was a flying in the air and spinning technique. The tornado round kick. Usually you learn that around blue belt and begin to perfect it at red belt. So in themselves flying or spinning techniques are important to know and are effective. On the other hand there are a whole different breed of acrobatic and flying kicks that absolutely have no combat value and are completely ineffective. I do not consider many of these even Taekwondo, just adopted gymnastic, break dance, and Capoeria demo movements. These are what people call “tricking” which is a new term in the last decade that came into prominence through YouTube. Many kids join a martial arts class and strictly work on flying and twirling kicks. People compete in XMA tournaments to show off and have created a type of hip-hop-breakdancing attitude for martial arts. In my opinion this is silly and weakens martial arts, yet it is not completely a cardinal sin to do such things. I just personally believe the arrogance and ego that come with this competition is much like hip hop culture, “YEAH BOOYYY WHATCHYA GUNNA DO FOO’! YAAAYUUHHH. WE BAD!!” That type of nonsense is seen constantly in such videos of tricking. All these people do is show off doing gymnastics and the kicks they use could never work in a fight, and most would never even hurt someone even if they did connect with a kick since there is no power because their spins are counterproductive for impact. Many spins go in opposite directions of the kick. One way they market their “martial arts tricking” is by claiming it is “mixed martial arts with gymnastics.” But there is nothing “MMA” about what they do as they simply have a mcdojang attitude about everything. Most of these kids work at mcdojangs and are the mcdojang star at their academy and are used for marketing purposes and demos.

These same kinds of techniques of “tricking” are often displayed in Taekwondo demonstrations and shows by groups without the “tricking” attitude. The Kukkiwon demo team, the Korean Tigers etc. all do various acrobatic kicks and jump extremely high. Sometimes using people as bases to jump off of and are launched by such people with their hands catching their feet to lift them up in the air extremely high to do a back flip board break. In reality this is not going to happen in a fight. Or maybe it would, if for some reason, there was a bad guy standing on something high (like a balcony) and another guy and his Taekwondo friends were fighting him in a gang fight, and they launched the Taekwondo guy into the air to kick the bad guy. But then the impact of the kick is not going to be that hard to cause much damage. But then maybe it could who knows. Obviously, this is mostly fantasy and movie style fight scenes.

The following are some videos of the crazy kicks some Taekwondo people do. These are triple and quadruple spinning kicks:

Kicking 4 pads:

Wasn’t that amazing? That is a high display of foot and eye coordination and acrobatics. It was very cool, but it does not prove one can fight or use Taekwondo to defend themselves. It is much like gymnastics or a special acrobatic dance. This move is unrealistic in combat and those kicks would cause no damage to someone receiving them. The kicks would not impact hard. The first kick would stop the motion since a human being is solid compared to kicking paddles that allow the foot to pass through them. He is able to keep rotating because the paddles do not obstruct his motion. If he did that to a person his first 1 or 2 kicks would not allow him to keep rotating unless his kicks were very soft and he pulled them slightly. Also, what targets on a human being would these kicks be attacking? The angle of his kicks would not allow for a hard leg kick or any vital point. Sure, his last kicks could hit the face but not very hard. A person would just move out of the way of such a wild kick and counter attack with one good solid round kick and he would be hurt. Trying such a kick in a real fight would only put you at risk of being counter attacked with a basic kick that would actually hurt you, and your flashy kick would not have hurt them. Notice how when he landed he was completely off balance and tripping up. This is a big no-no in a true street fight situation. He is open for serious damage.

What is really delusional is that young people or someone not used to watching fights would assume he could actually kick 4 people at the same time with that technique. That he could knock 4 people out with 1 multi-spinning maneuver. There is no way, and it is ignorant to assume so.

Kicking 3 boards:

This guy tries to do a lesser impressive technique, yet which would still be impressive if he could have pulled it off. The only problem is he obviously did not practice enough to perfect it and messes up.  Imagine if he tried to do this in a real fight and messed up and ended up close to his opponent! He would get knocked out with a punch. Doing such a technique would be stupid in a real fight. Again what targets on the body would he be hitting to cause damage? None really. He also messes up. It is impressive he was breaking boards but again these are demo boards and very flimsy. The human body is more solid and sturdy and those kicks do not have power. The video above with the 4 paddle kick contained harder kicks than this video. So when in doubt and if you mess up, simply just do another flying spinning kick such as the 720 spin kick to make up for it so the audience still thinks you are cool, even if you actually suck at what you just did. Again this kick is hard to pull off. But this guy does show talent and skill in acrobatic kicking and it is still cool he can do a 720 spin kick. But it does not mean he is a really good fighter. His make-up flying spin kick he did as a last resort was extremely slow like a ballet dancer and would easily be avoided by an attackers and counter attacked.

So many people waste time only doing fancy kicks instead of working on basic strikes, blocks, and regular sparring for Taekwondo. I have met people who told me that every black belt should be able to do such kicks and Taekwondo is not about fighting. This makes no sense and is a lame excuse for their lack of combat ability. On the other hand some people can pull off great trick kicks like these and also fight good. Not every Taekwondo teacher can do demo kicks nor should they have to. All they need to do is the basics and proper flying, and more basic, spin kicks that can actually work. A Taekwondo instructor or master’s ability lies in his skills in knowledge of the most effective Taekwondo fighting techniques, many which are basics, and his teaching ability. Trick kicks and board breaks like these are simply extra sprinkles on top of an already amazing martial art and are for show. They are extra special things to do to impress an audience, but I believe a true Taekwondo dojang doing a demo should educate the public in simple and effective Taekwondo combat and not simply performance art. Also, not everyone has the ability to do crazy kicks like these nor should they be told they have to be able to do them. Some people have injuries, various body types (many very muscular guys cannot do such techniques but are still scary fighters). You would never see many hardcore, knockdown Karate fighters doing such techniques. Many are built like a tank and are scary fighters to mess with. Doing a quadruple spin kick will not beat them. Think about that.

Trick kicks are cool, but not necessary. If you can do them then enjoy it! If you cannot, do not feel bad about being a black belt as long as you can defend yourself. A good solid right cross might knock such tricksters out if you had to fight them after they do a flying kick and you step out of the way. One simple technique done right can usually beat an overly complicated flashy technique. Some MMA fighters like Anthony Pettis can pull off trick kicks and break boards, and even in an MMA fight he was able to jump off of the cage and do a round kick and knock out Benson Henderson; but if you are a regular Taekwondo practitioner you would know that jumping off of a wall to kick might be an advanced technique yet it is very simple and basic (I was able to do this as a white belt). It is simply a jump round kick which is taught to yellow belts, except using a wall to jump off of. Taekwondo techniques like that can catch people off guard and are flashy yet can be effective, but the extreme acrobatics such as triple spin kicks and backflip kicks after being launched by your demo team members 15 feet into the air are not effective. It is important for Taekwondo teachers to make sure their students understand the difference.

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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. 

 

Every Martial Artist Should Cross-Train In Boxing Part 1

*Authored by White Dragon

        Knowing how to throw effective punches and also defend against them is very important for self defense. Most people on the streets throw punches first before anything else. Whether or not a martial artist trains in a striking or grappling art, knowledge of boxing is a must. Every martial artist should cross-train in boxing, whether or not for a long haul or just a couple months, to learn the fundamentals of fist fighting. Just because your martial art style includes punching does not mean you should neglect practical, simple, and proven techniques by masters of punching technique. A boxing trainer is a master of the punch as well as a master of defending the punch. Who else is better to go to in order to learn better punching and defenses against punching but a boxing coach! Taekwondo has punches just the same as boxing but boxing is pure punching and nothing else. So to master punch fighting I, White Dragon, decided boxing is a must for me to grow as a martial artist and also a man. This article will document my training in boxing for 2 months and will be separated in parts in separated articles until I have completed 2 full months of boxing training at a real boxing gym under a qualified level 3 USA Boxing trainer who has had 87 professional fights. The article will be separated by each week.

        I have to admit that at first I was very intimidated to walk into the gym and ask to sign up for boxing. Part of me signing up for boxing was that 1. the gym was close by and the cost was not that expensive nor was there a contract 2. I want to grow as a martial artist and overcome my fear of getting hit hard in the face. Yes I have been in street fights and self defense situations and have taken punches to the face, but still the thought of facing experienced punchers is intimidating and the intense conditioning is something I need. This is going to be a life changing experience for me.

        Boxing culture is different from other martial arts styles’ culture and does not emphasize morality training like Taekwondo ( 5 tenets) or Karate (5 rules) and it is very street tough. The types of people who train at boxing gyms are typical guys and some are street tough and others are not, yet still tough. These people are not at all afraid to get hit in the face. The attitude is very matter of fact and definitely not politically correct at all. Boxing is not a baby sitters club nor does a boxing gym exist to teach you proper morality as boxing is purely a physical sport. It is about competition. The work is extremely hard and surviving the workouts alone is hard enough in itself. Even so, boxing still produces a sense of honor and real honesty in what a man can and cannot take. Boxing training has no place for an egomaniac or macho man tough guy. You will be set in your place and you will not like it if you come in thinking you are already good. On the other hand if you come in with an empty cup, admit you know absolutely nothing and are a baby and need to grow then training at the gym will be a very positive experience. At the current gym I went to the atmosphere has all ages, 9 years old and up. There are middle aged to even older people training there as well as young athletic guys and girls.

        I remember my experience signing up at a local MMA gym and hated every minute of it there for 1 month. You could cut the ego in that place with a knife! Everyone had something to prove and walked around with a chip on their shoulder or a stupid macho man attitude of “yeaaah man lets fight!” People always got hurt, the fighters who sparred you did not ease you into sparring and there was not much safety gear worn. The females there also were ridiculous and full of ego and just wanted to be one of the boys, or enjoyed hanging out with sweaty men. The F word was thrown around constantly by everyone for everything and yes it was not a very positive environment. And if I said a boxing gym is not PC, well this MMA gym is far less PC. I got rocked with punches in boxing class and Muay Thai. I got choked far beyond the time I had tapped out from a choke and even got a mat disease that lasted about 2 months on my wrist. The trainers at this gym including the head trainer barely taught me anything. I was left on my own just to free roll or hit pads with people who had no clue how to hold them. Everything was taught in a class and not much room for personal training existed unless you wanted to pay tons of money for private lessons. Then their cross training workouts were way too intense. People constantly got injured because of rough sparring and Jiu Jitsu rolling. So much ego and macho behavior caused a lot of people to lose control and hurt each other. This MMA gym was a negative place and dangerous to train for anyone who wants to learn real martial arts and get good fast.

        I came into the boxing gym wary of such attitudes yet the trainer assured me he was not like that and in fact everything the MMA gym owner knew about boxing he had taught him as he was his previous student and the boxing coach laughed and mocked at the thought that anyone could learn boxing in an MMA gym. On my first day I had sweat pants on with a Tapout logo on them. When he saw that he yelled at me and made fun of me for wearing that MMA shit.” He said that is how you can get your ass kicked and that if the guys in his gym saw it they would want to fight me. I only bought those sweats because they were really cheap at the Burlington Coat Factory and they allow me to kick well! He was pretty much joking or using sarcasm to just screw with me about it, but he was very serious about not wearing MMA stuff in his gym. He said, “Why would you even think that is cool???” Yes boxing gyms have cussing but not as much as the MMA gym it is very mild compared to an MMA gym. I now knew never, ever, ever to wear anything MMA related into his gym again! Yet the stange this is sometimes MMA fighters come to his gym to learn boxing and he is okay with them and helps them out. When I started training at this boxing gym it was very positive and the coach actually taught! He would literally teach me technique on his own, as well as have his fighters teach me technique and he coddled me into sparring and eased me into it just like any white belt needs to be! People at the gym said, “We are not here to beat each other up but to help each other learn.” But that did not mean the fighting was soft because after all it is boxing and boxing is full contact so you will get hit. Also, the workouts are given to you as the coach knows exactly what training and conditioning you need to do that day and you only do what he says so it is totally structured. Before I trained here I assumed the gym would just be like an open gym and you would be left on your own. Partly that is true but the coach gives you a definite structured direction on what to do every day. There is also group stomach work classes (sit ups, planks, burpees etc). Everything happens spontaneous. You are working on the speed bag then all of a sudden the coach yells at you to get in the ring with everyone to do ab work. Then later sparring. You do what he says. The following is my experience training for 2 months week by week. This is part 1 of the article separated by weeks:

Week 1

        I survived 1 week of boxing training! I feel amazing, yet still some fear exists because I have no yet spared fully yet.

Monday–        First day the coach has be jump on the elliptical for 45 minutes. After that he taught me the speed bag and lt me work on it for several rounds, then he gave me a crossfit routine with situps, pushups and dumbells. Later I had to learn a 4 punch simple combo that teaches hip rotation with punches.

Tuesday–        The second day I did much of the same and he told me where to go and what to do each time. I was having a lot of fun and feeling great that I am working out really hard. If I did not have a coach I would not want to do such exercises or be motivated. I did more of the punch combo.

Wednesday–        Day 3 I learned how to get into a proper boxing stance and throw a jab and cross. He went over the ins and outs of boxing with me that evening and took time to talk to me with much enthusiasm. I could tell this coach loved his craft and loves to teach. He also taught me a hook punch. He was also impressed I learned the rhythm of the speed bag on my 3rd day. Usually it takes people weeks. He realized I had to have some training before. I had to admit that I am a Taekwondo guy and he was cool with it. I was relieved because most people will bash Taekwondo or think I am some kind of competition for their commercial gym since I also teach martial arts. He let me work around in his gym on my own this day and every so often gave me corrections. When he gives corrections he is somewhat abrasive and sarcastic but he only does it to coach me. Boxing trainers are arrogant but they know what works and what doesn’t and you must be humble and accept his correction.

Thursday–        The fourth day I was taught by one of his amateur fighters and trainers how to move forward and backward in a boxing stance as well as throw combos. I felt so happy! The trainer told me I looked good.

Friday–        Day 5 there are no classes held on friday. This was a rest day.

Saturday–        Day 6 I had a realization that I WILL have to fight and will be in the ring. I saw guys sparring and they do not really pull punches much. I felt intimidated. I know i do Taekwondo and I have sparred and even did Kickboxing sparring but in a boxing gym there is no notion of “light contact” but there is a sense of “go easy” yet it is still rough. Boxing is not for the weak. In boxing you learn simply by trial and error. You are taught the correct form for techniques then thrown out to try it against someone who knows how to box. You will get punched in the face and no you will not like it, but how you react to getting hit will speak volumes of your abilities. Knowing this I have this anticipation about getting hit and I do not look forward to it. I am a Taekwondo guy who has sparring experience yet not much face punching towards me experience and I want to overcome my fears of punches coming at me and build confidence for full contact punching.

Sunday–        Day 7 he had me jump rope and did not tell me to stop and I ended up jumping for an hour and a half. He seemed impressed. I was taught more on blocking than the first day he showed me a boxing stance and jab and cross. Another student worked with me on catching the jab and jabbing back. Also the second block to a cross punch by lifting the wrist and elbow to the ear. I was told to spar in the ring now with jabs only. I sparred with jabs and catching the jab blocking against a seasoned boxer who threw the same back at me. I was hit a couple of times and no I did not like it but I also did get a couple of hits in myself. Boxing is extremely tiring and you have to have extreme cardio and stamina to survive. This is a life lesson. A real fight can be a marathon and if you are not in shape you will die. I felt great after training was over. But began to dread the next day.

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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. 

Fighting Is Imperative To Taekwondo Training

       *Authored by White Dragon. 

        If you claim to be a Martial Artist and you don’t fight then you really know nothing of the Martial Arts. This holds true for Taekwondo. You will know nothing of Taekwondo unless you fight. Regardless of physical ability (possibly handicaps, injuries, mental challenges etc.) a student must train to fight the best he can. By fighting, it does not mean you must fight in a tournament, or in a cage fight, or some kickboxing event only. No, by fighting, it simply means at least sparring in your dojang and sometimes going hard on one another. Another way to fight is outside of the dojang. If someone attacks you then you fight them. If no one attacks you then you could provoke them into fighting you so you can try out your techniques, but that really is not a good goal to have, for the essence of self-defense is to only fight back when attacked. Going out looking for a fight is immoral and against the principles of Taekwondo’s martial philosophy. Nonetheless, a Taekwondoin must fight if he wants to prove he knows anything about Taekwondo. This can easily be done in a gym environment supervised by a qualified instructor.

        It is a myth that for one to prove he is black belt quality he has to fight in an MMA cage, or Kickboxing ring for sport fighting. You can still be a decent fighter without competing. An example of this reality is when author Sam Sheridan (2o10) paid a visit to Renzo Gracie’s (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu master) gym in New York and met John Danaher “New Zealand John.”  Danaher is Renzo Gracie’s top Professor (Instructor) and a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu genius (Sheridan, p. 235). He has never competed! He had a childhood surgery go wrong on his knee so he does not compete but is excellent in knowledge and physical abilities in the gym (Sheridan, p. 236). He is so respected that even Georges St. Pierre took private lessons from him and many other top names in MMA. The point being, even though he does not train to fight in competitions he is still a good fighter. You can be a fighter even if you do not compete.

        The meaning of being a fighter does not necessarily mean you practice combat sports and are a paid professional fighter. The word fighter simply means “a person with the will and disposition to fight, struggle, and resist.” A Taekwondo fighter is simply that same kind of person with such a will and disposition who trains in Taekwondo. It should be acknowledged that any true Taekwondo black belt should, thus, be a Taekwondo fighter whether or not they participate in combat sports. Also whether or not they are soldiers in the military. Sport fighters and soldiers are fighters, but not all fighters are sport competitors or in the military. All true Martial Artists train to be ready in case there is a need to fight; whether or not they plan to fight in the ring or in honorable duty calls to defend one’s family, friends, and personal interests. Hopefully, all Taekwondo fighters embrace the 5 tenets of Taekwondo and will fight for what is good and not selfish ambition.

        There is no excuse not to spar in your school. At first sparring can seem scary, but over time confidence can be built through contact training drills that build up over time to harder connecting techniques. This can be from defensive drills where you allow yourself to get hit either on your body or padded gear; and also within sparring you can start out light contact with realistic techniques and over time develop into a fearless full contact fighter. Every Taekwondo fighter should experience full contact sparring at some point in their training history, at least in a controlled environment in the dojang under the safety of instructors watching. Hopefully the Taekwondo fighter makes this a reoccurring practice throughout his training life in order to keep skills up. Gradually, the Taekwondoin soon enough will develop self confidence and be able to control his fear.

        Many dojangs today over emphasize self confidence for emotional security and self esteem while spending hardly any time on physical self confidence. If people are built up to believe in themselves without proving it physically they are going to be in a lot of trouble as they will have a false sense of security. Overconfidence destroys Martial Artists. Grandmaster Hee Il Cho explains that “physical confidence can only be gained by learning how to fight and knowing how to take care of yourself in a real situation” (p. 52). That means not simply doing sport sparring for a tournament rules format, but free sparring with a wide variety of target areas and self defense techniques. Cho also expresses, “Fighting is imperative in the martial arts. Without fighting, you’re not understanding total and complete martial arts, because until you get physically hit by someone, you won’t know if something works” (p. 52). In the Martial Arts it is expected you will get bumped and bruised and even bloodied. This is just a fact and it is something to expect and fight through. Your instructor should help you with mental strength and pain tolerance. This is not to say it’s okay to be injured, it is not. A real Taekwondo instructor watches for the safety of his students and helps them avoid real injuries. Safety gear is important to start off with and can gradually thin out over time, and if one chooses to spar without gear that is up to them with a partner of mutual understanding and common sense. But bumps and bruises and even blood should be expected! Students must learn to get over it and realize it only makes them stronger when they heal up.

        Training for tournament fighting is a good start for any Taekwondo student wanting a fight experience with some benefits of extra safety. But it should not be the main goal of the overall fighting technique that student will know in his Taekwondo life. Becoming a tournament champion and earning trophies and medals in a point fight system can bread unnecessary arrogance and embellished claims of skill if one is not careful, nor has an instructor there to make him check himself. The development of the W.T.F.  has been a blessing and a curse for the art of Taekwondo. On one hand it brought world-wide awareness of Taekwondo and has received acknowledgment in many countries and governments and within international organizations such as the IOC. This has been great for the spread of Taekwondo, but the curse in all of this is that the W.T.F. explicitly only represents sport sparring and sport poomsae competition. They exist solely to promote the tournament sport with all of its rules and regulations and all of its limitations for real world combat. They do not care about anything else. This has caused so many Taekwondo masters to only care about their students winning sport fighting, point tournaments and poomsae competitions. They have a total lack of focus for open rules competitions such as Kickboxing and MMA, as well as an unconcern for real world self defense.

        If Taekwondo is realistically going to keep up with the times and develop further in the Martial Arts world this overemphasis on sport has got to stop. Sport is great, but not an overemphasis on it. If the Kukkiwon is going to be the leader in Taekwondo development and advancement then they should start developing fighters for other modes of combat sports such as Kickboxing, Knockdown style, and MMA. Why not create a Kukkiwon Fight Team and train them for such events? Taekwondo is, first and foremost, a fighting art. Such competitions will only allow Taekwondo to prove itself in more combative avenues which will increase its credibility. This will only cause people to notice effective techniques that could transfer over to self defense.

        Taekwondo also is in general, a fighting art for self defense. The republic of Korea teaches it’s soldiers Taekwondo, and the Martial Art has been used in the Vietnam War to kill the enemies by ROK Marines. Morgan (1992) concurs,

“As anyone who has faced the army of the Republic of Korea can testify, Taekwondo can be a devastating method of unarmed fighting. But to learn true combat, students must practice without the constraints of tournament rules.” (p. 53)

        To understand fully the art of Taekwondo, the practitioner must spend quality time in sparring; not just for tournaments but also for real life situations targeting all over the body from leg kicks, face punches, knees, and elbows. This can be done in a safe environment and there is no excuse not to spend significant time training in such a way to help the Taekwondo fighter become adequate with the full range of Taekwondo techniques. You cannot simply practice for spin kick tricks, poomsae competitions and demonstrations, or board breaking. One especially should avoid wasting time on “Taekwondo-dance” and all of the other silly antics that people have created to impress ignorant masses of pop-culture followers who have no concern for the warrior way or self defense, and just enjoy showing off and dancing. The Taekwondo student must  practice using Taekwondo for what it was originally intended for, which is fighting.

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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. 

Works Cited

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

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

        Sheridan, S. (2010). A Fighter’s Mind. Atlantic Monthly Press: New York, NY.