Posts Tagged ‘tang soo do’

What The Heck Is A Chodanbo Rank?

        The “Cho Dan Bo,” or “Chodanbo” rank is often heard of in Korean martial arts. I first heard it when I was a high color rank belt. I was told there is a belt rank before black belt called Chodanbo. It was a black belt with a re stripe going through the middle of it. I was told by my instructor that it means “temporary black bet.” I eventually earned this rank before I tested for full black belt.

Later when the internet was more popular and more martial arts websites were up I heard of chodanbo being a rank in Tang Soo Do. Some people said chodanbo was like the poom (or pum) rank, which the Kukkiwon considers a children’s “junior black belt” rank before receiving full dan grades as an adult. Some websites show the poom belt which is half black and half red, with black being on top and red on the bottom of the belt. I have seen it reversed as well. Other Taekwondo school’s websites would show the black belt with red stripe down the middle like I had, but others switch out a red stripe for a white stripe going down the middle. And lastly, some schools use a red belt with a black stripe going down the middle and call that chodanbo.

Various examples of “chodanbo” belts:
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But typically most schools use this color scheme as the guy on the left:

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I always thought this was weird as so many definitions for this rank exist such as “temporary black belt,” “pre black belt,” “probationary black belt,” and “deputy black belt.” If you try to find a Korean person who can tell you what the heck “chodanbo” actually means in Korean they won’t know. So far every Korean friend is confused and clueless except they understand that “chodan” means first degree. In Korean you can say “cho dan” or “il dan” for 1st dan. But nobody knows what the “bo” part means. Is “bo” even a Korean word? I thought it was possible it means “bu” as in how kicho forms are called “kicho il bu, kicho yi bu, kicho sam bu” etc. But no, I was told it made no sense. So it is not Cho Dan Bu. So where did this term come from and why do Taekwondo masters use it for their students? The obvious answer people will claim is “to make more money on an extra belt test” which is true in many cases, but I do not believe it exists simply for that. It is a transitional rank between the color belts and black belt. It is usually the rank of 10th keup which is right before the dan grades. Di Tang Soo Do start this fad?

As I was talking to my Korean buddy who is an MMA fighter he told me if you were going to say something like “previous or pre” you should say “yebi.” So a term that Koreans would ACTUALLY understand it “yebi chodan.” So preliminary, or reserved 1st dan is the exact translation. It makes way more sense and Koreans would understand what you are saying.

Now if you want to be suer technical you could say “yebi chodan gum eun” which means preliminary 1st degree black belt in English literally translated.

I do not think the concept of the Cho Dan Bo rank is a bad idea in itself. I had to go through it and earn it (by the way my instructor in the 1990s did not charge me a crap ton of money for the rank either) and I had to wait 6 months before testing for black belt. But from now on if I am going to promote that philosophy and concept for a belt rank before black belt I will use the term “yebi chodan.” It is a real Korean term in their language.

If anyone knows the history or where the term chodanbo came from please let me know in the comments. Personally I think the color of the belt SHOULD be a black belt with a red stripe going down the middle since you are transitioning from a red belt rank into black. A white stripe looks dumb to me, and half red and half black is reserved for the Junior Black Belt rank which is called a poom grade.

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General Choi’s Communist Sympathy Seen Through ITF 

        If there are reasons not to train in the International Taekwon-Do Federation style of martial arts or join the organization, one is that General Choi Hong Hi (1918-2002), the so called “Father of Taekwondo” by ITF enthusiasts, was obviously a Communist sympathizer. Worse, he was a North Korean “Juche” style Communist sympathizer. This is apparent in his flight to North Korea to bring his martial art there to teach soldiers and others the ITF Taekwon-Do style. He was such a sympathizer that he thought it was absolutely necessary to create a mid rank black belt form called “Juche.” Wikipedia states:

“Juche (or chuch’e) is a Sino-Korean word which is hard to translate. Literally, it means ‘subjectivity’ or ‘agency’, and in political discourse has a connotation of ‘self-reliance’ and of ‘independence’.

The official line of the North Korean regime attributes the origin of Juche to Kim Il-Sung’s experiences in the ‘Anti-Imperialist Youth League’ in 1930 in his “Liberation struggle” against Japan. However, the first documented reference to Juche as an ideology did not appear until 1955, in a speech given by Kim Il Sung entitled On Eliminating Dogmatism and Formalism and Establishing Juche in Ideological Work. The speech had been delivered to promote a political purge similar to the earlier Yan’an Rectification Movement in China.

Hwang Jang-yeop, Kim’s top adviser on ideology, ‘discovered’ Kim’s 1955 speech in the late 1950s when Kim, having established a cult of personality, sought to develop his own version of Marxism–Leninism into a North Korean creed.”

It is interesting that Juche was first publicly promoted in 1955, the same year Taekwondo’s formal name was established. Maybe Choi saw a revolutionary link between Taekwondo and Juche. The official website of North Korea, The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, explains Juche:

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is guided in its activities by the Juche idea authored by President Kim Il Sung. The Juche idea means, in a nutshell, that the masters of the revolution and construction are the masses of the people and that they are also the motive force of the revolution and construction.

The Juche idea is based on the philosophical principle that man is the master of everything and decides everything. It is the man-centred world outlook and also a political philosophy to materialize the independence of the popular masses, namely, a philosophy which elucidates the theoretical basis of politics that leads the development of society along the right path.

The Government of the DPRK steadfastly maintains Juche in all realms of the revolution and construction.

Establishing Juche means adopting the attitude of a master towards the revolution and construction of one’s country. It means maintaining an independent and creative standpoint in finding solutions to the problems which arise in the revolution and construction. It implies solving those problems mainly by one’s own efforts and in conformity with the actual conditions of one’s own POLITICS country. The realization of independence in politics, selfsufficiency in the economy and self-reliance in national defence is a principle the Government maintains consistently.

The Korean people value the independence of the country and nation and, under the pressure of imperialists and dominationsts, have thoroughly implemented the principle of independence, self-reliance and self-defence, defending the country’s sovereignty and dignity firmly.

It is an invariable policy of the Government of the Republic, guided by the Juche idea, to treasure the Juche character and national character and maintain and realize them. The Government of the Republic always adheres to the principle of Juche, the principle of national independence, and thus is carrying out the socialist cause of Juche.” (http://www.korea-dpr.com/juche_ideology.html)

All of that really says nothing. It is written in a confusing way and seems to be a lot of fluff. The deeper policies and beliefs of North Korea are not expressed well. There is not enough in those paragraphs to really differentiate Juche from what other nations do. It is obvious it has communist implications though. Even so, the above statements make Juche seem like such a nice, warm, and fuzzy belief system all Taekwondo people worldwide should embrace. Like it is just a great way to get everyone together in a country to solve problems and be creative and happy. Wrong.

The website “North Korean Christians” gives a truthful profile of Juche:

The idea of Juche, also known “Kimilsungism” after Kim Ilsung, is the religious, political, social and economic ideology of North Korea (“The Juche Idea”).

The Juche Idea was first introduce by Kim Ilsung in 1955 to distance North Korea from the Soviet Union, which at the time was undoing many of the Stalinist policies that Kim Ilsung liked.

Over time, Juche evolved, borrowing from Marxism, Leninism, Stalinism, Maoism and Confucianism whatever Kim Ilsung and Kim Jongil wanted, as well as their own ideas, and in 1972 replaced Marxism-Leninism in the North Korean constitution as the country’s official ideology.

According to Juche, there is no god but Kim Ilsung, the country’s “Eternal President”, which makes North Korea the world’s only country governed by an embalmed dead body. Juche attributed divine powers also to Kim Jongil, the sole author, editor and interpreter of Juche. Whether his divine powers trickle down to Kim Jongun remains to be seen.

Juche espouses political independence and uses as justification the Korean peninsula’s long history of suffering as a vassal state or the battlefield for the region’s stronger countries. In reality, Juche produced an isolated state immune to international norms and laws, where the only rule of law is Kim Ilsung and his family.

Juche also espouses economic independence, but the reality couldn’t be farther from it. The Korean peninsula’s northern half, only 18% of whose mountainous terrain is arable, historically depended on the agriculture of the relatively less mountainous southern half of the peninsula for its food. When the peninsula was split north-south in 1953, North Korea lost access to its bread basket, and Juche’s disdain for international trade destined its people to hunger and starvation.

The North Korean economy has been kept afloat not by Juche but by massive food and fuel aid from the Soviet Union, China, South Korea, Japan, United States and the United Nations, as well as Juche’s sole export crop, opium, which annually earns an estimated $500 million to $1 billion.” (http://northkoreanchristians.com/juche-idea.html)

Juche is an excuse for the iron fisted rule of the Kim dynasty, which has left millions upon millions of North Koreans dying of starvation. The Kim’s live in luxury while their people die. Any defectors are thrown in prison camps and executed. Kim Jung Un has recently executed a lot of people with anti-aircraft guns, including his uncle. North Korea is basically a hellhole of horror and death. If a person dissents or says something negative about the leader of North Korea they and their entire family are thrown into prison labor camps to die of starvation. Many torture methods are used, and often times prison guards and police use ITF Taekwondo to beat up, and even beat to death, political prisoners. This should give one a better understanding of the reality of what Juche means, and what it meant for Choi Hong Hi to give honor to Kim Il Sung and his Juche philosophy.

General Choi’s imagination of Karate moves was out of control…

General Choi’s martial arts experience and training history was said to be in Japanese Karate where he earned the rank of 2nd dan black belt in Shotokan Karate under Master Gichin Funikoshi. This is debatable though as there are claims there is no documented evidence of him actually testing or being certified. Choi often trained alone. The official Kukkiwon stance is that Choi never actually earned a black belt when he tried to take over the KTA and run Taekwondo for himself. That was another issue that angered kwan leaders. Before the KTA he never earned any serious black belt rank which would give him credence as a master of martial arts. This is why I believe that much of the ITF forms are ridiculous and not based on logic. Oh, there are a few which are good and I can honestly admit I once in awhile practice some, but these forms are ones probably developed mostly by Nam Tae Hi, his #1 physical performer who was actually a skilled martial artist. Choi developed the Juche tul in the 1980s which is a very showy form made to impress with flying kicks and other stylish movements. If there is any actual combat application I would like to know it, but it seems it was created just to show off and look flashy. It seems Choi’s imagination was out of control. This is displayed in his imaginative moves for his tul (forms in ITF are called tul, they do not use the term poomsae). For example, this is a serious application for a double block standing on one leg:

Now what are the actual chances of such a block being utilized in a real combat situation? I say slim to none. And more so, what are the chances of 2 guys doing high flying jump kicks at you at the exact same time in a real combat situation? Of course it could happen, but even if it did, wouldn’t it be smart just to duck or move out of the way? I doubt two forearm blocks like that would be strong enough to keep the flying kicks of two attacker’s full body weight coming at you full force while you are standing on one leg. It is not a logical move for defense. It is not plausible to explain the above photo by saying it was just to be fun, or cute, or even a joke. It is an absolutely serious photograph. A grandmaster of a martial art would not take a photo to show off like that unless he thought the moves he was posing in were actually profound. It is absolutely a silly photo.

The greatest thing about Korean Taekwondo, the Kukkiwon style, is that applications to movements are some of the most simple, common sense,  and easy to perform and pull off techniques, that can be realistically applied in a self defense situation. Of course the average student who is not advanced enough cannot see the multiple applications for moves, but when one finds out the applications from his instructor the student will see the movements are not ridiculous as in the photo above. At least they shouldn’t be.

Now back to Choi’s communist sympathies….

Choi was the first president of the KTA, then he briefly stepped down to do government duties in Malaysia. Later, in 1965 Choi acted as the 3rd president of the Korean Taekwondo Association after he was elected again. Even so, Choi caused a lot of strife within the Korean martial arts community and annoyed most of the early Korean martial arts leaders with his despotic attitude. He used his status and position as a general in the military to influence and intimidate people and get what he wanted done. Since he was in a position of power he could easily control people. The KTA members did not approve of General Choi’s behavior and did not agree with his desire to control Taekwondo. He was told to step down as KTA president in 1966. He was given the blessing by Lee Chong Woo to start his own ITF organization. This was simply a compromise to hurry the stepping down of Choi to get him the heck out of the KTA so they could progress. It is stated in A Modern History of Taekwondo:

LEE Chong Woo comments on the issue: ‘CHOI Hong Hi was like an authoritarian dictator so UHM Woon Kyu and I had to kick him out. One morning we went to visit him at his house in Hannamdong (near Yong San) to ask him to resign, but CHOI Hong Hi begged us to allow him to remain as KTA President for six more months. We told him he would have to choose between three things: ‘Money’, ‘Position’ or ‘Honor’. We told him that if he chose Honor and resigned, we would help him make his own International Taekwon-Do Federation, but we wanted him to resign immediately and get out of the Korea Taekwondo Association‘” (p. 25) emphasis mine

Since Choi Hong Hi was literally kicked out of the KTA and lost his control, and most importantly, his respect in the Korean Taekwondo community his ego was bruised and his pride was damaged. Being the egomaniac he was, he wanted to get revenge or snub the Korean Taekwondo Association members by claiming his International Taekwon-Do Federation martial art was the only true Taekwondo in the world. He quickly made huge efforts to spread the ITF worldwide ahead of the KTA. The KTA which later built the Kukkiwon facility, and developed the organizational structure of national Taekwondo, and the World Taekwondo Federation sport organization was slower at spreading Taekwondo to other nations. This made the world see Choi’s ITF first and gave it popularity. It was a power play and a smart move. A little later the KTA sent out many instructors worldwide to promote the Kukkiwon and WTF sport. There were disputes and conflicts here and there all over the world between the ITF and Kukkiwon instructors. It seems that since the Kukkiwon and KTA were linked with the nation of Korea and its government it gave them credibility and strong support. Foreigners training in the KTA/Kukki-style of Taekwondo could feel secure in the fact their Taekwondo was the Korean cultural martial art. Taekwondo was a Korean martial art much like Karate is a Japanese style that has its roots in Japan. Choi had established his ITF headquarters in Toronto, Canada and registered it with Canada shortly after resigning from his presidency in the KTA. The truth is that ITF members can trace their linage to a man, and not a national or cultural martial art (unless they wanted to say they trained in Canadian Taekwondo, but obviously they didn’t want to say that). With the government of Korea accepting the KTA and the development of Kukki-Taekwondo (National Taekwondo) Choi wanted to have it be known that his ITF was the real Korean version and he was left wanting more to be desired to propagate his ITF. He had to figure out a way to give more weight to his Taekwondo style being linked to Korea, besides the fact he was a Korean who created it. Choi for years always wrote Taekwondo in a normal way, but later he changed the spelling of “Taekwondo” to “Taekwon-Do” to differentiate his style from the KTA. He then began to claim this is the only true way to spell Taekwondo that it had to have a hyphen separating “Taekwon” from “Do.” This is why you always see ITF people spelling Taekwondo like “Taekwon-Do.” Many ITF members get upset if you spell it the normal way. The truth is Taekwondo is a Korean word and Koreans use Hangul to write words. In Hangul there is no hyphen or necessary separation of words. Literally translating the actual hangul with a hyphen is grammatically incorrect and makes no sense. So the original spelling of Taekwondo of the KTA is the true way to spell it in English.  Unless Choi wanted to claim that Taekwondo was an English word and not a Korean word. How would you translate the hyphen in other languages such as Arabic or Chinese that does not use hyphens either? So the whole hyphen emphasis is illogical. Choi not only wanted to be known as the sole creator of Taekwondo in it’s current ITF form at the time, but also claim that his “Taekwon-Do” of his ITF, was a true, historic, Korean martial art accepted by Korea. It can be said that Choi wanted to take Taekwondo to North Korea so he could claim a “Korean national” connection. To claim his ITF style is from Korean soil. He basically defected to the North.

In 1972 he betrayed Korea by having a soft view of the North Korean regime led by the despot Kim Il Sung (the “living god and father of all Koreans,” and “The Eternal President” according to North Korean mythology) by bringing his ITF Taekwon-Do to North Korea.

*an interesting side note is that the ATA mcdojang organization, which actually was an offshoot of the ITF, was founded by H.U. Lee who claimed he was the Eternal Grandmaster of ATA Taekwondo. It is obvious he got that idea from the Kims. The only difference is he did not have his body embalmed to be viewed in glass at the ATA headquarters for “eternity” after his death like communist dictators did*. 

Choi and his remaining loyal students performed demonstrations for Kim Il Sung, and his top instructors taught North Korean soldiers the ITF style. He became friends with Kim Il Sung and his son Kim Jung Il and found nothing wrong with what they were doing to North Koreans by their iron fisted rule. If he actually did find something wrong with what they are doing he probably wouldn’t have went there or became friends with such people. Unless, he kept his mouth shut and ignored the atrocities because he realized he benefited a lot out of the relationships for his own agenda. That would tell you a lot about his person, but it is more plausible to assume he did not find anything wrong with the Kims.

Linking up with North Korea and taking them martial arts, his Taekwon-Do style, was the ultimate insult to those in South Korea who he feels slighted them. He not only slighted the Korean Taekwondo Association, Kukkiwon, and the World Taekwondo Federation, he insulted his former nation and government by betraying them. After he made the trip to Korea, and after developing his ITF organization in Canada for several years he decided to tour North Korea and do demos and create relations with North Korea in 1979. Later in 1982 Choi left Canada with his family in early 1982 to live in Pyongyang. North Korea than headed he ITF. Therefore during the 80’s the idea that ITF is North Korean Taekwondo was spread by martial arts students worldwide who wanted to understand the difference between the ITF and what was then known as the “WTF style,” which people called South Korean Taekwondo.

Choi’s son states:

“the relationship became unnecessarily deep. In 1979, Choi Seung-chol of the United Front Department visited us in Canada and promised support for our family and the ITF. He proposed that my father visit the North. Soon after, the Choi Hong-hi Taekwondo Demo Team gave its first performance at Pyongyang Stadium in September 1980.” (http://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/news/article/article.aspx?aid=2894692&ref=mobile)

Ahn (2008) explains, “According to Choi, North Korea established pro-North, anti-South organizations around the world with the taekwondo masters that it has dispatched through the ITF. Such organizations were launched in Germany, Canada, the United States and other countries, he said.”

Choi’s son, Choi Jung Hwa, also claims his father had pro-North Korea policies which he did not agree with. He claims ITF used Taekwondo to send masters around the world who were actually North Korean agents who would be used for assassination attempts on South Korean officials and the president. He even admits that he was also trained to assassinate then South Korean president Chun Doo Hwan

Choi did not really flee South Korea because of a dictator…

Keep in mind that South Korea had a history of dictator rule as well. Syngman Rhee was the first elected president of South Korea and a staunch anti-communist. He was largely responsible for Korean independence against the Japanese and the promotion of Korean nationalism. But he eventually became an authoritarian regime leader and had people executed who were against him and kept power outside the rules of the Korean constitution. He also suppressed many communist activists. General Choi was in the military under this president and seemed to like him. He not only fought in the Korean War under this president against the communist North, but he introduced the first Taekwondo demonstration in Korea for him in 1954. It was during this demonstration that President Rhee was impressed with the idea of Taekwondo and decided that Taekwondo would be a good name for a unified Korean, national martial art. It was during this demo that Nam Tae Hi (Choi’s #1 man) famously broke a large amount of bricks with his bare hands causing President Rhee to express his desire for all of the military in Korea to learn Taekwondo. Of course the martial arts they were performing were basically Karate as Taekwondo was not officially named until the next year, and no special forms were created yet, as they still practiced Japanese Kata. In 1960 Rhee was ousted by a student led protest. Eventually this led to military coup d’états  that were very short lived and led to Park Chung Hee being elected president. General Choi actually supported the coup d’état, but was upset Park was then elected president. This is because Choi along with others in a military court voted to sentence Park to death for being a communist leader of a cell in the Korean constabulary in the late 1940’s prior. This is ironic since Choi defected to North Korea later in his life and shows his hypocrisy. The accusations were unfounded and Syngman Rhee commuted his sentence. When Park became president it caused problems for Choi because Park extremely disliked him. I would say it is rightly so after being voted to die by him. Anyone would resent someone for that. Choi was asked to resign from the South Korean military in 1962 and given the assignment of ambassador to Malaysia. This would no doubt have made Choi hate Park even more. This is where Choi developed most of his tul, on Malaysian soil. In 1964 he flew to Vietnam to introduce his tul to the Korean soldiers who were already training in Taekwondo. He wanted to make sure his forms would be spread and accepted by the military. He had help with his #1 man, Nam Tae Hi of course. It is very interesting Choi would be supporting the effort against communism in this way, serving South Korea, but later defecting and becoming a communist sympathizer.

After his first term, Park Chung Hee was reelected again and later became a dictatorship through various means. He angered North Korea a lot and was vehemently against communism. North Korea tried to assassinate him a few times but failed. Interestingly enough he was assassinated in 1979 by a Korean CIA director who wanted power, you know typical stuff that happens with men who desire power and control. The point of mentioning this is that many ITF proponents will express that Choi was exiled out of South Korea by an evil South Korean government run by a dictator. If Choi was such a great guy who wanted freedom from dictators why was he cool with Syngman Rhee? Choi stuck around with South Korea for long enough before leaving in 1972. He tolerated Park’s disdain for him and served as ambassador to Malaysia. He even had Taekwondo taught to Korean troops and the South Vietnamese Army in the Vietnam War, along with U.S. special forces. During this time both KTA and Choi’s ITF were being mixed and taught in Vietnam, there was much crossover. This is the era of Taekwondo in Korea that had much overlap from KTA and ITF since Choi at this time had already stepped down from the KTA. So Choi fully supported the fight against communism, against the North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong rebels. What a contrast from fighting in 1 war against North Korea, to support anti-communist struggles in Vietnam, to then turn around and support North Korea and the Juche ideology.

I don’t think the real reason Choi left Korea was because he somehow was forced. He did it on his own free will. ITF proponents will claim he spoke with dissent towards President Park and was forced to leave, but this is not true since Park tolerated him and gave him a position as ambassador to Malaysia. I would like to know exactly what public statements he made in history that would get him kicked out of Korea or executed. Also they will say that South Korea was run by a “brutal dictatorship.” President Park may have done some mean and nasty things that cannot be justified, but they are nowhere as evil or brutal as what was going on in North Korea with Kim Il Sung. Also Park did a lot of great things like boosting the Korean economy and making it progress and become a strong player in Asia (a tiger economy). Believe it or not sometimes dictators do good things and not only bad. And sometimes these dictators are worth supporting over another evil such as what North Korea and China would have done to South Korea if it won the war. If Park’s regime was so brutal you would think General Choi would have been tortured and executed, but he wasn’t. It seems evil dictators were not the real reason Choi left Korea. It seems he left simply because he was mad at the KTA an wanted to start an international movement of Taekwondo led by himself, to be the boss he wanted to be, to be seen as an important Korean figure, and control Taekwondo in the world. His attitude is very much like the dictators ITF proponents say threatened him. It also gives understanding possibly as to why Choi admired evil communist dictators in North Korea. He would probably be just like them if given such power.

Choi willingly promoted his Taekwon-Do to a truly brutal dictatorship in North Korea under Kim Il Sung. So historically ITF positively embraced evil. This is unlike the KTA and Kukkiwon which simply existed in Korea and did not willfully choose to be under dictatorships, it simply just survived and was allowed and promoted. It was after all Korea’s national martial art and sport, so why would a South Korean, nationalist president want to get rid of it? There is no dictator philosophy in Kukki-Taekwondo, but there are traditional Korean philosophical and cultural ideas promoted in it and martial arts philosophy of fighting. This cannot be said for ITF which literally has a communist dictator philosophy promoted in it of Juche. Also, much of the names for ITF forms are silly and named after historic Korean figures and things. It is kind of like if the United States made a martial art and named forms after George Washington or Paul Revere. Could you imagine that? “I will now perform The Midnight Ride Poomsae of Paul Revere! Seejak!! Most martial arts name their patterns after combat concepts, and philosophical ideas that apply to martial arts. ITF seems to have just been a way to be ultra nationalistic. At least in the Kukkiwon Taekwondo poomsae are full of philosophy and still distinctly Korean and display Korean,  national pride while still being relatable to foreigners. What foreigner literally cares about a guy named Dan Gun, or Toi Gye? Yes Dan Gun founded Korea in 2333 BC, and Toi Gye was the pen name of the scholar Yi Hwang who was a Neo-Confucianist scholar in the 16th century, but what the hell does that have to do with me learning to fight? I prefer the philosophy of Taegeuk, something that could be applied to anyone in any country and still is distinctly Korean. I do not prefer to embrace Juche and Kim Il Sungism in my Taekwondo.

2 kinds of Taekwondo existed but people did not understand that yet…

Before people understood the various separate styles and political organizational differences of martial arts the ignorant masses assumed Taekwondo was simply Karate. Karate was the buzzword for all martial arts in the West. In the early days of Taekwondo the term Karate was used all over the place to advertise Taekwondo gyms and much of that improper identification is still used today in various martial arts advertisements and signage. Lots of people all over the world trained in Karate in 50’s-80’s. During this era popular culture did not take into account the various styles of Karate, or that some martial art styles were in fact not even Karate, but were Aikido, Jiu Jitsu, or Kempo etc. Karate was also used interchangeably with Kung Fu when the popularity of Hong Kong Kung Fu fighting movies reached its height. Later, when people found out that there was a kind of “Karate” from Korea called Taekwondo, people assumed there was only one kind of Taekwondo in much the same way as people made no difference in their minds about different Karate styles and organizations. People assumed Taekwondo was just Taekwondo and did not understand there was an ITF and WTF which were not affiliated together or even the same styles. This was because both WTF/Kukkiwon and ITF would count all the people who claimed to do Taekwondo around the world regardless of organizational affiliation so that they could claim extremely large numbers of people training in Korea’s national martial art. They would add up both the ITF practitioners and WTF/Kukkiwon practitioners all over the world to claim that all of these people were training in the one style of Taekwondo with no differentiation of organizations. It benefited both sides and gave glory to Korea which was a common goal. For example if 2 million people in one country were training in ITF Taekwon-Do, and only 1 million people in the same country were training in WTF Taekwondo the WTF would state, “Over 3 million people train in the art of Taekwondo” in said country. Likewise, the ITF would claim that “3 million people trained in Taekwon-Do” as well and vice versa. Both ITF and Kukkiwon groups included memberships from both groups together to claim they are all doing the same martial art, or more accurately all of the numbers of people counted were training in Choi’s martial art if it was ITF propaganda, and if it was KTA/WTF/Kukkiwon propaganda they would simply say it was their style that had the numbers. Sometimes ITF may be in one country and WTF not in that country yet, but the WTF would act as if their Taekwondo is in that country by including ITF people in their worldwide numbers.

Even the lesser known groups at the time who branched off from the ITF and WTF to form their own organizations and the various large mcdojang groups advertise and claim numbers of practitioners the same way today. It is not uncommon for groups like the ITF, ATA and other mcdojang chains to claim that during the summer Olympics the Taekwondo event represents their martial art. An example is in Choi’s obituary in The Guardian which states: “…he and his students spread taekwondo across the globe, and saw it become a medal sport in Sydney at the 2000 Olympics” (http://www.theguardian.com/news/2002/aug/09/guardianobituaries.northkorea). Choi had nothing to do with the Olympics and his Taekwon-Do is a completely different style than WTF. They do not even use the same rules in their sport sparring. ITF sport is not in the Olympics. Only WTF sport is. Yet that is an example of propaganda making no differentiation of styles or organizations.

The reality of the population of the world training in Taekwondo was that some were training in ITF style and others in WTF style (just as it is today which now includes various smaller organizations and commercial chain schools). It benefited both sides to make the single martial art of Taekwondo seem like it was trained by billions of people. It was actually split up, but possibly the ITF in the early stages had more members and countries, but with the excitement and possibility of Taekwondo being an official Olympic sport in the 1980’s the majority then became Kukkiwon practitioners. Before the Olympic dreams, in the 1970’s, the ITF and Kukkiwon/WTF tried to unify and accept each other by giving opposite organization leaders honorary positions in each organization to create peace, but of course it did not work. It was very short lived. Even so, this also had an influence on the census of Taekwondo practitioners worldwide to keep being counting as one Taekwondo population instead of separate ITF and Kukkiwon populations. Koreans really wanted to take pride in that Taekwondo was “the worlds most popular martial art.”

There was also overlapping of instructors who liked both groups at the same time, or had training history in each group. I personally had a 9th dan black belt instructor who had training history in both ITF and Kukkiwon and was ranked in both. He was officially ranked as 9th dan in the Kukkiwon and ended up supporting the WTF. Over time such instructors either took full sides to either ITF or Kukkiwon. This especially became true when people heard about Choi’s trip to North Korea, and even more when he moved there. Many Koreans chose to distance themselves from him because of his support for North Korea. The majority of Korean master instructors began to support the Kukkiwon and join in the Olympic pursuit.

It was not long that pretty much everyone understood there were 2 kinds of Taekwondo, one was Choi’s ITF, and the other was Korea’s Kukkiwon. People were led to believe that ITF was from North Korea even though it came from Canada. Since Choi made claims that his ITF was the true Korean Taekwondo and he claimed “corrupt politicians” and “dictators” in South Korea cheated him, the North Korean connection of ITF, according to Choi, would then establish North Korea as the true nation of Taekwondo, not the South. This only promoted North Korean propaganda.

North Korean propaganda poster of ITF Taekwon-Do.  It says, “Let’s show the world our bravery and power!”

The funny thing is, not one ITF dojang that I know of has the guts to fly a North Korean flag inside, and always flies a South Korean flag at the head of the gym. This is ironic since South Korea does not acknowledge ITF as an official Korean martial art and ITF rank is not accepted by the Korean government. The only way you could truthfully declare Taekwondo as North Korean is if you believe the ITF propaganda, that the ITF is the true Taekwondo style, and Choi created Taekwondo himself. You would have to ignore the fact Choi created the ITF in Canada, outside of Korea. Before this he had developed his ITF forms (the tul) in Malaysia when he served as Korean ambassador there. So he developed the techniques in Malaysia and established ITF in Canada. Not Korea. Since you would be following a man, Choi, you could say he was born in North Korea and only went back to his homeland in Myongchon County, North Hamgyong province, North Korea, and this is the rightful place of Taekwondo, Choi’s birthplace. Except for the fact that when Choi was born in 1918 this area of Korea was simply part of the regular country of Korea. It was called “Meigawa-gun, Kankyo-hokudo Chosen” (Japanese words) as North Korea did not exist yet. Even more, this area was ruled by the Japanese Empire and considered part of their nation. Is Taekwondo Korean, or is it Japanese? You would have to ignore these facts to label North Korea as the true nation of Taekwondo.

Military Taekwondo, Traditional Taekwondo, Korean Taekwondo, North Korean Taekwondo, Traditional Korean Taekwondo, using various titles to make their Taekwondo sound better than yours…

When I started training in Taekwondo in the 1990’s people would explain that the difference between ITF and “WTF style” was that ITF was North Korean and “WTF style” was South Korean. Also, since Choi developed the Oh Do Kwan (the military kwan of South Korea), people would say that they trained in “military” Taekwondo and it is somehow more tough and hard. Groups claiming military Taekwondo were of course the ITF, but also the ATA (at least in the 80’s and 90’s). This made no sense, since South Korea used, and still uses, Kukkiwon Taekwondo in their military. This would also make “WTF style” (the Kukkiwon) military Taekwondo. But yes, North Korea teaches its military ITF Taekwon-Do. Another propagation was that ITF was “traditional” Taekwondo. That ITF was the traditional martial art of Korea, the first Teakwondo. This was before the MMA and Reality Based Self Defense caused a rift between what are termed “modern” martial arts and the older “traditional” martial arts such as seen from Asia. The term “traditional martial arts” was not a buzzword back in the 70’s to early 90’s and did not have the same meaning. The term “traditional” was often used by martial arts groups implying their organization or way of teaching a martial art is the traditional way or style as opposed to a newer version. As in the original way of training and the original style. So often times you would hear, ITF people claiming they do “Korean Taekwondo,” or “Military Taekwondo,” or “Traditional Taekwondo.”

Truthfully the Kukki-Taekwondo style is the style the military in Korea trains in. That would make it military Taekwondo. Yet civilians do not train in he same methods exactly as military, so no average citizen in any country can claim they are training in a military martial art unless they are a soldier in South Korea logically. Kukki-Taekwondo is also the traditional martial art of Korea, that would make it traditional Taekwondo. It is also the true Korean (as opposed to North Korean) style of Taekwondo. That makes WTF/Kukkiwon true Korean Taekwondo.

Choi gave legitimacy to North Korea…

With Choi claiming his Taekwon-Do was the true Korean Taekwondo, (as opposed to the south Korean Kukki/WTF not being Korean Taekwondo) he was giving North Korea legitimacy as the true Korea. The ITF has spread North Korean acceptance and sympathy through Choi’s teachings. This is immoral. With all of the human rights violations and suffering North Korea has dealt on its own people with its despotic dynasty supporting North Korea or trying to be diplomatic with them is a shameful thing. Choi’s spread of Juche love in his ITF also brings unnecessary and wrong criticism of South Korea and its policies as well as the United States. It gives North Korea the benefit of the doubt and tolerance. This can be seen in all of the “love fests” that are the diplomatic meetings and demonstrations in which a group of Americans (most often Taekwondo Times Magazine) petition for the North Korean Taekwon-Do Demonstration Team to come to their tournaments. I have also found out a local master instructor who is actually ranked in the Kukkiwon and runs a very large mcdojang in a city I used to live in invited the North Korea demo team as well. Of course large ITF tournaments invite them as well as if they are a special entity. The North Korean Demonstration Team is treated much like how the Korean Tigers or the Kukkiwon Demo Team is treated in the Kukki/WTF circles.

I believe there is absolutely no reason to support or try to be nice with North Korea because…they are evil! Acknowledging them gives them legitimacy and that is wrong. When I say “they” I don’t mean all of the peasents and starving people dying and those tortured to death in prison camps, I mean the North Korean elite and the leaders and brutal people in positions of power who have caused the deaths of untold millions and continue to threaten the peace and safety of South Korea and the entire world with threats of nuclear destruction. Also, the North Koreans are brainwashed to believe the Kims are gods. Asking for their demo team to perform at your event says that such ideology and brainwashing is acceptable.

Choi had tons of respect for both Kim Il Sung and Kim Jung Il…

Choi Hong Hi had a lot of respect for Kim Il Sung. So much respect that he decided it was absolutely necessary to create a black belt form with the unique Communist philosophy and ideology of “Kim Il Sungism.” He called the tul “Juche” and established it in 1986 in the official ITF curriculum.

Choi on the left holding hands with “the real Dr. Evil,” Kim Jung Il. It is so obvious Choi was a communist lover

Here is what the high ranking black belt form called Juche looks like. It is performed by a “super master world champion sine-wave lord”:

The Juche pose is the ready stance at the start and end of the form.

A side note…

Now on a side note, you know why I mentioned above how flashy this form was. Ridiculous flying scissor kicks, full leg-spin kick-extension, and balancing twirls etc…(can the average martial art student even perform these feats? Does being a black belt only qualify super athletic people without any physical disabilities?) A great thing about the Kukkiwon’s WTF approved poomsae creations are that they are techniques that the average person can do, or will be able to do with practice and they take in account the fact students may have disabilities or physical limitations. The moves are advanced enough to show serious skill, yet are not over the top and remain a basic concept for self defense at the black belt level and for the average person who obtains high dan rank. In WTF/Kukki-Taekwondo flashy kicks and twirls are reserved outside of poomsae and displayed by the physically gifted black belts, and it does not nullify the abilities of lesser gifted black belts. It is not a requirement to do a flying scissor kick or ballet twirls for rank, (but if you can do them then great, it is extra credit and desirable), but it seems that the ITF tries to make it a qualification for dan ranks by making such forms mandatory to learn for rank, yet the average ITF student I have seen cannot do these movements very well at all (now I know where the ATA got their ideas for their ridiculous looking forms, because the founders of the ATA were former ITF masters).

Another Side note, it is interesting that the form Toi Gye also contains the Juche stance/pose in the middle of the form, with the feet together close instead of shoulder width, but it is essentially the same thing and hands are placed in the same fashion. Apparently Choi was giving credence to Kim Il Sung before he ever created the Juche tul. Here is a video of the form look for the Juche pose at :25:

The communist Juche ideology in ITF…

Now if you look closely at the ready stance (chunbi stance) you will notice the pose has the fists on the waist and elbows stuck out. This stance is performed at the start and ending of the form. Here is a photo of General Choi posing in the Juche stance:

What is the reason for this stance? Is there a combat application? Absolutely not! It is simply thrown in there to honor Kim Il Sung, who is seen in many paintings, statues and other depictions in this position. Apparently, Kim Il Sung stood this way often and showed his strict authority and dominance as the leader of North Korea. Below is a painting of Kim Il Sung with his son (the real Dr. Evil) Kim Il Jung:

Left: Kim Il Sung in his Juche stance Right: Kim Jung Il (Dr. Evil)

 

   Left: Kim Jung Il         Right: Kim Il Sung in his Juche stance

It is the Juche stance! There are also 1 arm variations of this stance seen in large statues:

Kim Jung Il also is depicted like his father in a Juche stance:

So you get the point. Choi taught this way of standing at ready position for the Juche tul. It is exactly how Kim Il Sung and then his son Kim Jung Il stood often. They are depicted in propaganda and art to display power, dominance, confidence, and control. Choi, calling his tul Juche and making the ready stance before you start with the hands placed in this way, is a direct reference to Kim Il Sung. It was put in the form so that he will be honored by all ITF black belts. Choi wanted to honor the dictator, fully supporting his Juche policies that have left North Koreans starving and dying for more than half a century. With Choi Hong Hi’s influence and the spreading of ITF Taekwon-Do all over the world he has spread communist sympathies and interests. The references of this evil in the ITF are absolutely clear and cannot be denied.

Now we have dorky ITF ranked white guys in America who think they are cool posing in the communist dictator’s stance in front of South Korean and United States flags:

 

Because it makes sense to stand in a communist pose in front of 2 flags representing democracy, freedom, liberty, and capitalism. As if the South Korean flag represents ITF…

Any freedom loving patriots of America, Korea, or other democracies should not be practicing and promoting a martial art style that supports communist dictators. A lot of ITF practitioners ignore the truth, or are too prideful to drop the ITF and join the Kukkiwon. A lot of it has to do with not being a master, or keeping their rank if they leave to the Kukkiwon. But if someone wants to participate in the true Korean martial art, wants to be enriched by true Korean culture, and wants to stop doing crazy flashy tul and more reasonable poomsae and be better at self defense, and stop supporting evil North Korean dictators and the millions of dead caused by them, they should join the Kukkiwon. The absolute least thing they should do beyond that is to quit practicing Juche, which at least 1 or 2 ITF groups (there are 3 separate ITF groups due to ego-maniacal, in-fighting between leaders after Choi’s death) have either quit teaching Juche, or simply renamed it. But for the one who renamed it, hopefully they also stopped the “Juche pose” and replaced it with a standard chunbi stance or something else.

The majority of martial arts enthusiasts who train simply want to work on technique, stay in shape, and learn to fight better. The problem with the ITF is they keep politicking and have become a cult of personality for Choi Hong Hi. He is kind of like the original dictator of ITF. Choi seemed to be more concerned with “his style” being represented the way he wanted it, to make sure his forms were performed his way, and to make sure everyone acknowledged he is the god of Taekwondo. The Oh Do Kwan which he founded in the South Korean military literally means “School of My Way” as in Choi’s way. This says a lot! He literally did express that his name was “Taekwon-Do” which was given to him by God. So God gave him the name Taekwon-Do and we have to recognize it. He was always concerned with people following him and doing what he says. At the end of his life he was quoted on the ITF website stating that he is the man with the most followers in the entire world. ITF is all about politics and being part of an organization. It is not so much as training to be a martial arts expert and knowing how to fight. The most important thing to most in the ITF is if you believe in Choi, not so much as being good fighters or self defense experts. If they were concerned about combat techniques they wouldn’t be as closed minded as they are and would keep progressing in various techniques and concepts. It seems once Choi died that is as far as ITF will go. Unfortunately as Choi got older he not only fully embraced North Korean communism, but added ridiculous theories such as “sine-wave” in his style. It made ITF Taekwon-Do worse. With his death basically everyone in ITF basically will not change much. Stances in forms won’t change, self defense ideas won’t change much either. Heck their uniforms really haven’t changed either! It’s like they are stuck in the late 70’s. Choi never seemed to allow individual freedoms within ITF. In the WTF/Kukkiwon of course uniforms most of the time are “WTF approved” yet there are so many styles and brands you can buy. The ITF basically has isolationist policies within martial arts much like North Korea. It is no wonder. The Kukkiwon allows for individual freedom, dojang liberty and constantly progresses and develops technique for better training as knowledge and science increases. Taekwondo is about fighting, to train as a martial artist and develop yourself. ITF is always about Choi and whatever of the 3 ITF groups you belong to want to promote. ITF exists for itself and Choi and not for martial arts as a whole or the individual. This is wrong. True Korean Taekwondo as promoted by the Kukkiwon is about self defense and the individual to develop as a martial artist in their own being. This is the way it should be and this is why Taekwondoin should affiliate with the Kukkiwon and not ITF.

It is 100% clear that Choi and the ITF embraced the axis of evil that is North Korea. It cannot be denied that ITF Taekwondo supports North Korea. ITF is offensive in its sympathetic view of North Korea and tolerance of Juche communism. Many American and South Korean soldiers died defending Korea and trying to suppress communism in Asia in one of the most pointless conflicts Kim Il Sung started which was the Korean war. Only a maniacal and evil person would cause such a war only to not gain anything from it but death. It was much like the result of Saddam Hussein’s war with Iran where nothing was gained but death. No land was gained or any resources in the Korean war. At least America made sure the original land was regained or else the entire peninsula would be ruled by the Kims today. South Korea is a nation of progress and freedom and this should be expressed in Taekwondo.

 

Chuan Fa Influencing Early Taekwondo With Bajiquan From Ju An Pa Kung Fu 

        Kung Fu is often listed as a martial art that influenced the formation of Taekwondo in Korea. A Modern History of Taekwondo explains that the founding master named Yoon Byung In of the kwan Chang Moo Kwan (AKA YMCA Kwon Bup Bu) lived in Manchuria, China during his early childhood. There he learned the Chinese martial art called Ju An Pa (1999, A Modern History of Taekwondo, p. 7). I could not find any information on what exactly Ju An Pa is, or was, but people often label it Chuan Fa. It is a common thing to read on Wikipedia when looking up information on the early kwans, or when reading Taekwondo websites that have a history page, that something called Chuan Fa was practiced by early kwan leaders or was influential in the forming of Taekwondo. But that term simply means “Chinese martial arts” and has no distinction of a specific Kung Fu style. Apparently, the words Chuan Fa are a Chinese term meaning “law of the fist” (Oriental Outpost, date accessed 2015). So like the term “Kung Fu,” “Chuan Fa” is also an umbrella term for various Chinese martial arts. Much like the word Karate is an umbrella term for Japanese and Okinawan arts.

        It is explained in a Modern History of Taekwondo that Yoon Byung In trained with Chun Sang Sup (Founder of Choson Yoon Moo Kwon, which became Jidokwan) pretty much all the time. They trained so much together that they were labeled brothers in the martial arts (p. 7). Wikipedia also mentions they traveled to Manchuria together and train in Kung Fu together. This emphasizes that even the Jidokwan (formerly the Choson Yoon Moo Kwon Kong Soo Do Bu) must have dabbled in Kung Fu, or at least Yoon’s “Ju An Pa” influenced them. Wikipedia also states on the Chang Moo Kwan page that a style called Bajiquan influenced Taekwondo. Yet the source they cite cannot be found. A few websites of random Taekwondo school’s with a history page have also listed Bajiquan as a style that influenced Taekwondo. Just simply type “Kung Fu influence on Taekwondo” or “Bajiquan influence of Taekwondo” and you will see pages that claim this. Other sources not worth mentioning will simply list Kung Fu or Chuan Fa as a style that influenced Taekwondo. When I first saw Bajiquan being listed on Wikipedia I instantly went to look for youtube videos on the style to compare it to Taekwondo movements. Later, one blog I found that emphasizes ITF “Taekwon-Do” claims that Bajiquan influenced Chang Moo Kwan, and “probably” influenced the Jidokwan (So Shim Kwan, 2011, date accessed 2015). I have not found any academic sources or other types of “really credible” sources that mention Bajiquan or what kind of Kung Fu influenced Taekwondo, but I think the author of that ITF blog is right. Yet, I hate to actually agree with an ITF person’s view of Taekwondo history, but this part of Taekwondo history does not have to do with General Choi so I think it is acceptable to agree (note the sarcasm). I actually think it is plausible that Bajiquan did influence Taekwondo. It is a fact that Kung Fu (Chuan Fa or “Chinese styles”) influenced Taekwondo, and Yoon Byung In and Chun Sang Sup had access to it (in the form of Ju An Pa) and most likely taught the concepts in their gyms.

        I think it is possible thatt Ju An Pa must have been a name of a style directly related to, or an off shoot, of Bajiquan. Of course I cannot be sure 100%. There are several systems of Bajiquan created by various masters throughout the ages. This Chinese style also developed in areas within Manchuria where Yoon Byung In grew up. This style most likely developed from Shaolin Temple styles like most Kung Fu did in the North of China. I believe that it is more than likely that Ju An Pa is actually Bajiquan. A possible explanation for a strange name could be that his local instructor wanted to name his teaching something different like many instructors do. As there are many types of Karate with various names, Ju An Pa could be a name for a specific type of Bajiquan that his teacher developed that would label his style a more personal name. If anyone reading this knows what Ju An Pa means in Chinese let me know in the comments. Ju An Pa could also be a style that had influences from carious kinds of Kung Fu styles including Bajiquan techniques. I think that Yoon Byung In had to have been exposed to various kinds of Kung Fu in Manchuria besides the Ju An Pa he was dedicated to. Martial artists often trade techniques such as a kick or punch.

        The full name of this Chinese martial art (or Chuan Fa method) is Kai Men Baji Quan which means “Open-Gate Eight-Extremities Fist.” If a reader of this blog wants to know what that name means or why there are “8 extremities” I suggest looking up the martial art style and researching it. This article is not about researching Bajiquan, but about movements and concepts within it that I see have influenced certain motions within Taekwondo. I am not saying Taekwondo looks like Bajiquan, but that Taekwondo has subtle motions which are similar techniques and could possibly have the similar applications. I have found some video evidence that supports this. On quick notice it is apparent that Bajiquan looks absolutely nothing like Taekwondo. This is obvious, but the concepts of some of the motions actually do look similar. Bajiquan is a quick, explosive, and very intense form of Kung Fu. Taekwondo is mostly slow and rigid with a step-by-step basis. Yet, some of the Taekwondo poomsae do in fact flow more and are faster when it comes to advanced black belt forms. Some of these forms have motions that look similar to what can be seen in Bajiquan. Before I explain how Bajiquan has similar motions with Taekwondo I will first explain a little about Karate’s influence on Taekwondo.

        Taekwondo takes another approach to training movements. A slower or more singly-concentrated effort with power for each step. The rhythm is different from Karate and Kung Fu with each step being one at a time. Kung Fu styles can slow up and speed up as they go. Bajiquan shows intense power, slowly winding up then fast bursts of power. Karate often has a step-by-step way of moving one at a time, but there are often parts of their forms which explode in speed with multiple hand motions and faster stepping as well as going off line diagonally. Karate can throw a punch with one step, then take 2-3 fast steps exploding with fast bursts of hand speed with blocks and counter strikes. There are also very slow, flowing, meditative, multiple hand motions in Karate for each step more often than in Taekwondo.

       This below video is a good example of how Karate uses multiple flowing hand motions within one stance, and also speeds up and slows down and uses various angles of attack and defense. Instead of going in straight lines up, down, left and right, Karate often goes into diagonal lines. So Karate could be going forward, but then go off to the side diagonally to block or attack. Also in the video notice the many slow hand motions and directional changes that are different from Taekwondo.

Another example of fast bursts of speed instead of just one step at a time is this female Japanese Kata champion:

Taekwondo forms usually stay within the same rhythm and do not slow up or speed up very often. For example this daughter of a famous Taekwondo grandmaster performing Tae Geuk Pal Jang:

        Taekwondo is basically a step and strike/kick, or a step and block way of doing forms. A couple of forms have 2 or 3 blocks in one stance, and hardly any multiple, slow flowing, meditative hand motions in it per stance (examples are how Koryo has one meditative breathing motion in the form not counting the ready stance, Tae Geuk Yuk Jang also has only one etc.) Where Karate might have 2 or 3 separate meditative hand motions and deep breathing within one stance, Taekwondo usually has 1 within a stance. Taekwondo is a very slow paced stepping martial art when practicing forms. Yet, this allows a practitioner to concentrate more power into each strike and each block. It is less about looking attractive and more about practical motions. This is not to say Taekwondo does not look good. It is just a different theory of martial arts movement. Most of the founding masters of Taekwondo had high black belt ranks in Karate and originally taught Karate forms to their students. Why Taekwondo became slower paced and 1 step at a time and less flowing, I have no clue. It just developed that way and the people who created the Taekwondo forms back in the day must have decided they wanted to move less complicated and at a slower pace for whatever reason. Originally, the Pal Gwe set of forms were created which incorporated motions that were copied from parts of various Karate forms called the Pinan set. But they were modified and changed slighty, yet the same movement is apparent. Kyokushin Karate is a form of Karate that moves slower more like Taekwondo does. It also developed into more singular stepping in an unchanging rhythm. Kyokushin uses the Pinan Kata’s which show almost the same motions as the Pal Gwe Poomsae in certain parts. Examples:

Kyokushin Karate motion in a Pinan form (only watch from 2:50-2:56):

Taekwondo motion in a Pal Gwe form (only watch from 1:13-1:18):

Here is an example of the Shotokan pinan movements (watch 0:29-0:35 only):

Notice the differences yet its the same kind of motions, just slightly different, but essential the same application.

Also, the high black belt level form TaeBaek also uses the same motion (watch from 0:40-0:46 only):

Most of Taekwondo’s motions are variations of Karate motions, but done slightly different. The Pinans were developed from Shotokan and taught by early masters of Taekwondo, most specifically in Tang Soo Do. But various Karate styles incorporate them into their curriculum.

Later the Kukkiwon decided to make new forms called the Tae Geuk set which uses short stances mixed in with the standard long stances. If one is lucky he can find an instructor that will teach him both Pal Gwe an Tae Geuk forms.

Taekwondo is very much like Karate. I have the opinion that Taekwondo is 80% Karate and 15% Kung Fu and %5 modern renditions of Taekyeon (at least in spirit from what historical ideas that the Koreans found to re-create Taekyeon in order to instill national pride by trying to reclaim their culture lost from Japanese occupation). So most Taekwondo motions and forms are practiced very hard, rigid, and slower than Kung Fu and most Karate. Chuan Fa (Kung Fu) is more fluid and soft with various wild movements. Kung Fu looks great for dancing, yet Taekwondo looks stupid for dancing (but why are the Koreans doing this Taekwon-Dance trend!!!)    

Now back to Bajiquan! Practically every serious martial artist that trains in Taekwondo knows about the historic Japanese and Okinawan Karate roots of Taekwondo. But hardly anyone knows about the Kung Fu roots. People know there was a Kung Fu influence, but no one I know of can explain the exact types of Kung Fu that influenced Taekwondo except for what I read in A Modern History of Taekwondo which said Ju An Pa was a style that was practiced. But understanding the area Yoon Byung In grew up, and the types of martial arts taught in Manchuria, and the ways these styles move, and comparing them to certain Taekwondo forms, it suggests that Bajiquan is possibly a main style that influenced Taekwondo in various motions, and Ju An Pa is probably a type of Bajiquan.

        I will try to mark where, in the video’s below of Bajiquancertain motions are possibly influential to Taekwondo. To understand which movements you need only to watch the time limits I list.

1. The Bajiquan Long Form

2. Another version of the same form

3. Various Bajiquan forms

Notice the straight line movements. It keeps going forward with a lot of power. There are a few Taekwondo high black belt forms that behave in a similar way, all though without the same speed of Kung Fu flair. The forms that come to mind are Pyongwon, Sipjin, Jitae, Cheonkwon, and Hansu.

Upward elbow strikes

Bajiquan apparently is known for elbow strikes. Watch the first video at 0:12-0:141:23-1:25, 0:57-0:59, and 2:41-2:43.

Watch the second video at 0:09-0:10, and 2:09-2:11.

The Hong Kong TV Show called Kung Fu Quest did an episode on Bajiquan and showed an elbow strike. View the following video from 2:50-2:53.

Now watch the Taekwondo form Pyongwon video below from 0:26-0:27, and at 0:38-0:39.

Notice the elbow strike? It is a different stance, yet it has the same principle of an upward elbow attack from close range. The Taekwondo stance is opposite leg and arm, and the Bajiquan stance is same arm, same leg. Just like the Bajiquan master on the episode of Kung Fu Quest said, it is an attack they least expect. I know that Karate has upward elbow strikes as well, but this is just one similarity I see with Bajiquan and Taekwondo. The Pyongwong form also happens to be in a straight line much like Bajiquan’s form.

Linear directions and forceful stepping

        In this straight forward motion they use momentum to give power to strikes. Here is an example from the first video. Watch the first Bajiquan video up above at 0:27-0:30, and 1:47-1:54.

Now contrast the forward stepping and punches with the move in the Taekwondo form called Sipjin. Watch from 0:27-0:30, and 0:36-0:39.

Notice the forward stepping motion with a punch. I believe that is possibly one type of motion Taekwondo took from Bajiquan. It is of course practiced in a slower Taekwondo fashion, but it is nonetheless a forward stepping punch motion into horse stance much like Bajiquan’s. It allows for serious power in the punch going through the target.

“Santeul makki,” mountain blocking, or twin wide open blocking

        In Sipjin there is another move I notice that Bajiquan uses. It is what Taekwondo calls a “mountain block” which is hecho santeul makki in Korean. It is also known as “twinw ide open blocking.” Pyongwon also uses the same move. Looking up above at both the Sipjin an Pyongwon videos you will notice the move. The following video is an explanation:

Notice how the Bajiquan videos have this similar movement. Watch the very first Bajiquan video from 0:49-0:51, and 2:28-2:30.  Watch the third Bajiquan video from 0:32-0:34, and 5:27-5:33. Now of course they do it slightly different, and possibly their version are some sort of “hammer fist” strikes out to the side, or they could be blocks as well. The application for the Taekwondo movement of hecho santeul makki is the idea of breaking an attackers elbows who is grabbing you in front. You trap his arms and force your arms upward into his joints and break them. The Bajiquan movement could have similar application as well.

Downward hammer fist to the head level

        Tae Geuk O Jang, and Pal Gwe Pal Jang forms both have a downward hammer first strike. It is called mejumeok naryeo chigi. View the following videos:

Tae Geuk O Jang (watch from 0:58-1:20):

Pal Gwe Pal Jang (watch from 1:18-1:28):

Now watch the Bajiquan videos. First view video 1 of the Bajiquan videos above. Watch from 0:14-0:150:47-0:50, 1:24-1:27, and 2:23-2:26. Now watch the second Bajiquan video above from 0:23-0:25, 0:13-0:16, and 1:26-1:29. And finally, watch the third Bajiquan video from 1:51-1:53, 2:33-2:34.

The same motion is apparent. Of course it is done in a fluid Chinese way of moving as well as a different stance, but it is still possible that these motions were part of early kwan martial arts because of Byung In Moon and Chun Sung Sup’s Kung Fu teaching. Possibly these movements were common within early Korean Taekwondo and were put inside Pal Gwe Pal Jang, and later reissued into Tae Gaek O Jang. But then, if Karate also has these motions it could have come from Karate. But Karate originally developed from Kung Fu as well. I still think the downward hammer fists with the application of clearing a grab off of your wrist by swinging it underneath the armpit and your opposite hand’s palm clearing your wrist is probably from Kung Fu.

Fist to palm pulling motion juchumsegi palmok pyojeok chigi

        There is a motion in Taekwondo where one pulls the fist to the palm of the hand. The only poomsae that has the fist to palm or wrist pulling back motion is Hansu. This motion is called juchumsegi palmok pyojeok chigi or arae pyojeok makki. The first means horse stance, wrist target strike. The second means underneath (or low, or downward), target blocking. You can say it both ways.

Here is the technique:

Watch this video of Hansu from 0:31-0:33, and again from 0:45-0:47.

Watch this next Hansu video from 1:58-2:06:

And also watch this last Hansu video from 0:36-0:38, 4:42-4:59.

Bajiquan also has this same type of motion, although not identical, it still has the same motion and most likely a similar application.

Watch the very first Bajiquan video up above from 0:37-0:39, and from 2:06-2:08.

Watch the second Bajiquan video from 1:00-1:02.

And watch the third video from 0:19-0:21, 2:10-2:13, and 3:58-4:02.

        Of course, just as the other movements mentioned in this article, the move is not done exactly the same as the Taekwondo way, yet it is very much similar. It has the same concept. The Bajiquan guys are doing it higher on the wrist and arm, whereas the Taekwondo way is hitting the top of the fist into the palm of the other hand. I know this movement is also apparent in other Chinese martial arts as well. I firmly believe this move did not come from Japanese Karate, but from the Kung Fu roots of Taekwondo whether it be directly from Bajiquan or another style. Like I said before, Yoon Byung In had to have been exposed by various Chinese styles with similar movements.

 Simultaneous high block and face punch, keumgang apjireugi

        The movement of a high block simultaneous with a high punch to the face is called keumgang apjireugi. This means “diamond high punch,” or “diamond face punch.” An example of this movement is in the forms Jitae, and Cheonkwon.

Example of the movement in Jitae (watch from 0:44-0:46):

Example of the movement in Cheonkwon (watch from 0:59-1:05):

Now if you watched the sequence from 0:59-1:05 you will see the man do the movement 2 times. He does a sequence of movements with a downward double knife hand block, scissor block, the high block and face punch, butteerfly kick, then again the high block to face punch. He does keumgang apjireugi twice. If he was not wearing a Taekwondo uniform and was in regular clothing would you be able to tell that what he did in that sequence was Taekwondo in itself? I think a person could easily assume it was Kung Fu. The form Cheonkwon is full of Kung Fu types of movements.

Now see how Bajiquan has the same movement:

Again go back to the very fist Bajiquan video above in the list and watch from 0:33-0:34, and from 1:57-1:59.

Now go to the third Bajiquan video and watch from 1:01-1:04, 1:15-1:17, 3:31-3:37, 3:49-3:51, 4:03-4:05, 4:14-4:17, and 4:30-4:32.

The movement is the same as the Taekwondo technique. It is likely that Taekwondo got this move from Bajiquan. Now of course this may have come from Karate, but with the fluid Chinese style movements in Cheonkwon I believe this move came from either Bajiquan or another Kung Fu style. Various styles of Kung Fu have the same movement as well. Even so, reflecting on Yoon Byung In and his Manchurian Kung Fu training I think it is very plausible it came from his Ju An Pa or Bajiquan influence on his training.

        Now of course there are other movements I could go over, but this article was tedious enough. I could also mention other forms like Tae Geuk Chil Jang with its palm block in tiger stance, and tiger stance and back fist over the arm, and inside crescent kicks to the palm  into elbow strike. I could also mention cross stepping from Tae Geuk Pal Jang and the outsie block into elbow strike to punch as well. I could mention the butterfly kick in Cheonkwon too. These movements are all very Kung Fu-like. Especially the butterfly kick. Chinese martial arts are full of the tornado crescent style kick that is called the butterfly kick in Taekwondo. The move here you do a tornado crescent kick into the palm of your hand. Chinese martial arts have always had the inside the foot kicking to palm of the hand as well as the flying spinning tornado-like crescent kicks. Okinawan Karate of course also has small inside crescent kicks as well, but I believe the ones from Taekwondo come from the Kung Fu influence from various Chuan Fa styles, most most likely the Ju An Pa, or Bajiquan styles.

        I think by the time the poomsae of Taekwondo was being created these Bajiquan techniques were common practice in the early formation of Taekwondo and added in. They not only have a combat application, but they also look really aesthetically pleasing and display athleticism and agility. I think the Chang Moo Kwon and Jidokwan collaborated and had influence on the other kwons.

        There are many reasons why Taekwondo turned into a slow paced martial art in their forms doing one step at a time. The main reason is because most kwon leaders were Shotokan and Shudokan Karate masters and some were already practicing the Karate style in the form of Tang Soo Do, the Koreanized version of Karate. Both Yoon Byung In an Chun Sang Sup were Karate masters with high black belt levels. Yoon Byung In was so passionate about martial arts he received a 5th degree black belt in Shudokan Karate from Toyama Kanken when he went to Japan to study abroad. He most likely dedicated himself more to Karate than Kung Fu and his Karate influence must have influenced his Kung Fu interpretations of movements. It is said he still taught his students his Chinese martial art style as well. But why Taekwondo is not more Kung “Fooish” than it is, is probably because his Karate mastery became more prevalent in his personal expression as well as the other kwon leaders all studying Karate. Chun Sang Sup of Chosun Yun Moo Kwon Kong Soo Do Bu (Jidokwan) also studied Karate first as well as Judo before he collaborated with Yoon Byung In‘s Kung Fu. Yoon Byung In possibly started to like Karate more than his Chuan Fa as he gained such a high level of expertise in it over the years.

        Since most of the kwon leaders were Karate masters (iroically excluding General Choi since there is absolutely NO evidence he got above 2nd dan in Karate) as well as studied Judo one can see why the early Korean masters adopted the Japanese gi (uniform) and not other kinds of clothing like you see in Chinese styles. Chinese styles have no belt system, but Japan was so influential on Korean culture they adopted the belt system as well and the same uniform. Only later did they create the v-neck style that we wear today. One can see how Taekwondo is heavily influenced by Karate, yet now after understanding the knowledge about Chuan Fa movement through Bajiquan and what Ju An Pa possibly was one can also see how Taekwondo has a very real Kung Fu influence from China. Taekwondo is a very eclectic martial art. This has given Taekwondo the ability to refine, and adapt techniques over time to make them better. Taekwondo technique is still being refined and researched by the Kukkiwon in Korea today.

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)

__________________________________________________________________________________________

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 

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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 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

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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 1)

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

Abstract

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

 

 

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

 

Outline

Introduction

I. Taekwondo is a fighting system

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

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

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

III. Taekwondo is Not Inferior to RBSD Systems

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

IV. Taekwondo is Proven Effective In Full Contact Fighting

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

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

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

Conclusion

—-

 

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

 

Introduction

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

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

 

I. Taekwondo is an Effective Fighting System

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

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

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

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

 

Taekwondo is a full striking system

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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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 Not Karate, Taekwondo Is Karate, Karate Is Not Taekwondo, Karate Is Taekwondo

*Authored by White Dragon.

        Taekwondo is a Korean martial art system with its own name, own ranking structure, chosen techniques, and its own style. Taekwondo came from various influences of martial arts with the most heavy influence being from Japanese Karate. In this way Taekwondo is not Karate, yet Taekwondo is Karate. But one point that needs to be made: It is time to stop advertising Taekwondo schools with the word Karate and stop trying to make it synonymous with Karate.

        Some examples of this issue is how people now talk, “Oh my son is at Karate he will be done at 3.” But in reality you drive by and the gym is a Taekwondo gym with Korean flags everywhere. How often do Karate gyms that actually teach Japanese or Okinawan Karate claim to teach Taekwondo? Not many if any at all. So why do so many Taekwondo organizations advertise with Karate and use Japanese terms for everything like, “Sensei” and “gi.” This is annoying. These are signs of mcdojangism and a fake Taekwondo style that has absolutely no historical significance to Korea or proper Taekwondo.

Some ATA Taekwondo guy puts these posters up around my neighborhood. Bully prevention and leadership skills from Karate training huh? Except for the fact it's not Karate. Heck it isn't even really Taekwondo!

Some ATA Taekwondo guy puts these posters up around my neighborhood. Bully prevention and leadership skills from Karate training huh? Except for the fact it’s not Karate. Heck it isn’t even really Taekwondo!

        Early on in the 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s many legitimate Taekwondo masters did advertise using Karate. On very old gyms one can still see traces of this with old rusty signs and old paint on rooftops that say “Karate” in big, bold lettering. The reason many Korean grandmasters used the word Karate was because the word Taekwondo was not known to the average person who would have no clue what a Taekwondo gym is. Since taekwondo is obviously linked to Karate many masters saw it necessary to use Karate when advertising or making a sign in order to let people know “Yes, this is a school where you learn to fight in an Asian way.” The average American did not understand the difference between Karate and other fighting styles and once they got into the gym they did realize they were learning Taekwondo. Back then there was leeway for this method of advertising for Korean martial arts and I believe it was okay to use the term Karate. But not anymore!

        The year is 2014 and it is time to move on and stop using the term Karate for Taekwondo gyms! In the late 80’s and early 90’s Taekwondo at that point became the world’s most popular martial art and still maintains an extremely high degree of popularity worldwide. There are Taekwondo gyms with Korean flags in every town. People know the difference between Karate and Taekwondo now. The Taekwondo masters have had over 2 decades to educate the ignorant public about Taekwondo as its own style and there is no excuse to keep using the term Karate. Not only does using the term Karate piss off actual Karate masters and Karate school owners and takes away from their Japanese and Okinawan arts, it also disgraces Taekwondo by portraying the idea that one must hide the term Taekwondo, or that one is actually training in Taekwondo in order to look better to the public. It is as if Taekwondo gyms are admitting Karate is superior to Taekwondo and they wish they were Karate. It is offensive to the martial artist who loves Taekwondo and should also offend Korean masters who worked hard to get Taekwondo spread worldwide. Did they do this in order to pretend they were a Japanese style? No way! Korean nationalism does not allow for this!

        Yes Taekwondo could be said to be a kind of Karate and was known as Korean Karate for a very long time. One of its predecessor styles called Tang Soo Do which literally was Korean Karate with the exact same forms and movements as Karate does exist, but Taekwondo is far beyond just being a Karate style and has totally developed into its own unique style with its own theories and applications. It is time to just call it Taekwondo. Yes Taekwondo is Karate, yet Taekwondo is not Karate. Taekwondo is Taekwondo and has progressed beyond Karate even if they use a belt system and uniforms much like Karate fighters. Mcdojangs have got to stop using the word Karate on all of their advertising. Both the ATA and Tiger Rock are notorious for committing this crime, yet they are not even real taekwondo anyway so it is not crazy to understand such fake systems would use incorrect terms,  but I have seen actual Kukkiwon gyms and ITF gyms still using the word Karate. Now if this was from decades earlier and it is too expensive to change a sign I understand, but not in current advertising please!

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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. 

 

Proof That Taekwondo Was Meant To Punch You In The Face

*Authored by White Dragon 

It is often said that Taekwondo practitioners suck at punching and if they ever do punch, they never punch the face. This would make Taekwondo very boring. Well, here is some video evidence of early Taekwondo in its foundational period (1950’s) showing people punching and hand attacking to the face!

Taekwondo face punching:

The best part of this video is the free sparring. Notice how they are constantly attacking the head with their hands, and even throw low strikes to the body. This shows the heavy influence of Japanese Karate in Taekwondo’s foundational period. There are plenty of hand techniques that many Taekwondo instructors are not teaching which is sad. 

More exciting oldschool footage. Some of the same footage but other footage as well. Notice that even doing basics they have some hand techniques that are rarely taught today to students. Some of the hand techniques and stances look somewhat Kung Fu in style. This shows some of the Chinese influence on Taekwondo. Also, it is great to know that even in the early days they were practicing flying kicks, but it seems way more practical and useful flying kicks and without the boring gymnastics that demo teams do today. 

 

This is some glorious footage! Don’t you just love old Martial Arts video footage like these? Notice their doboks are in the pure, white Karate gi fashion. This was before they instituted the v-neck style and the black v-neck for black belts.

Here is more footage of interesting things:

Back in the day when Martial Artists actually cared to collaborate with other stylists and learn useful things. This is Mas Oyama the founder of Kyokushin Karate collaborating with Korean Taekwondo students. 

Here is some more modern footage showing proof that Kukki-Teakwondo does have face punching and it should be trained. 

Another modern Kukki-Taekwondo video showing various hand and arm strikes. He has some epic kiaps and overdramatic students! Awesome techniques!

And even another Kukki-Taekwondo master showing various face punching technique!

 

And just for fun here is an early Taekwondo master in the 1960’s showing some badass self defense techniques. Here you can see the influence Judo had on Taekwondo for self defense and that Taekwondo is a self defense art useful for combat and not just a boring sport of foot tag.

        Taekwondo is a deep Martial Art with all kinds of techniques. Ignoring most of them in order to be good at a sport that disallows pretty much 95% of the techniques makes you less effective for self defense. It also makes Taekwondo very boring. Taekwondo should not be boring as it is actually an exciting and useful fighting method. If you are not a Martial Artist and you want to attack a Taekwondo fighter then you deserve to get a punch to your face! If you are a Taekwondo fighter and you just read this article then…Get back to training and start punching people in the face and throwing people, along with your kicks!

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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.