Posts Tagged ‘Vietnam War’

Military Taekwondo Stock Footage From Vietnam War

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advertisements

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 4)

IV. Taekwondo is Proven Effective In Full Contact Fighting

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

 

Taekwondo is effectively used in Mixed Martial Arts fighting

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

Taekwondo spin kick in the UFC

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

Same technique as in MMA

Sport does not negate street effectiveness

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

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

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

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

 

Go back to Part 3                                                                                               Go on to Part 5

__________________________________________________________________________________________

White Dragon is a 3rd dan Taekwondo Black Belt with over 19 years experience in the Martial Arts and head instructor of the White Dragon Dojang Martial Arts Training Program.  

Taekwondo Is Effective For A Self Defense Program:  Why Taekwondo Is More Effective Than A Reality Based Self Defense Course (Part 2)

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

War is a proving ground for what tactics work in an unpredictable chaotic environment. This of course goes with various weapons and vehicles, but even more so for unarmed combat. Taekwondo has been shown effective in this arena. Morgan (1992) states,

As anyone who has faced the army of the Republic of  Korea can testify, Taekwondo can be a devastating method of unarmed fighting” (p. 53).

 

Taekwondo was proven battle effective in the Vietnam War

Taekwondo is used by the Korean military to train troops for combat including being used in actual combat in the Vietnam War. Korean Special forces currently of course, train in their nation’s martial art of Taekwondo. Korean Taekwondo masters even taught the U.S. Military and South Vietnamese the art of Taekwondo during the war in Vietnam. Korea had special combat units that specifically trained in Taekwondo. They even spent a monumental amount of time training on base in Vietnam. They wore full dobok (Taekwondo uniform) attire. In a November 1968 article in Black Belt Magazine written by Jack E. Swift titled “Budo Demolition: The Famed Tiger Division of the Korean Army in Action!” it is explained how hardcore the special Korean Tiger Division was at fighting while using Taekwondo and how they killed many Viet Cong soldiers using brutal hand to hand combat (kidokwan.org/). Their effectiveness led to the interest of the U.S. military noticing that the Korean’s martial arts abilities would be useful for U.S. soldiers to learn.

 

The U.S. Military adopted Taekwondo techniques into their combatives programs

Consulting with Korean Taekwondo masters the U.S. government incorporated Taekwondo into the U.S. Military combat systems. U.S. Army Special Forces previously used Taekwondo and Karate for their combat studies and even have a military combat manual originally printed by the pentagon in the 1980 called “Hand-To-Hand Fighting (Karate/Tae-Kwon-Do)”(ST 31-204). This manual even outlines a timeline for a Taekwondo/Karate training program which included traditional forms practice. It should be noted that during this time the word “Karate” was used interchangeably for both Korean and Japanese martial arts. The U.S. Special Forces manual mentioned above also mentions that Taekwondo is the Korean style of Karate (p. 4). The current U.S. Military has incorporated Taekwondo techniques into its branches combat systems for training soldiers in hand to hand fighting. On an episode of Human Weapon featuring the “Marine Corps Martial Arts Program” it is explained that the military martial arts program of the Marines features kicks, blocks, and open handed strikes from Taekwondo and Karate (3:09).

Marines since the Korean War have also been stationed in Korea where they picked up “Korean Karate” techniques from Tang Soo Do (which was incorporated into Taekwondo along with 9 other martial arts schools to form Taekwondo in 1955) and Taekwondo. The Marine Core Martial Arts manual (MCRP 3-02B) mentions that far eastern martial arts such as Karate developed into the MCMAP system, which would include Taekwondo (Korean Karate). Taekwondo was also taught to CIA and other operatives from the U.S. government by grandmasters such as Grandmaster Tae Hong Choi (1935-2009) of Oregon who also taught U.S. Forces in Vietnam. In a newspaper article in the Oregonian Jung (2009) states,

While in the Korean army, he fought in the Vietnam War and taught hand-to-hand combat skills to Korean and U.S. special forces. That got him his next job of instructing hand-to-hand combat for top-level U.S. security agents, his family said, and he moved to Washington, D.C., in 1971.” (oregonlive.com)

A pamphlet at his memorial service in 2009 states:

…in the mid 60’s he found himself stationed in South Vietnam as a hand-to-hand combat instructor to the US Special Forces and South Vietnamese Army. His Eventful life continued as Grandmaster found himself training secret service agents, presidential bodyguards and CIA operatives.” (trainingforblackbelt.wordpress.com)                           

Grandmaster Tae Hong Choi

There were a variety of Taekwondo grandmasters sought out to teach the military and government agents hand to hand combat techniques.

 

The Military and CIA shows Taekwondo is good for civilian self defense

If the U.S. government’s military and CIA operatives thought Taekwondo techniques were effective for serious life or death combat and included it into their training for elite soldiers and operatives, then it is plausible that Taekwondo itself is an effective martial art to use for modern self defense studies in and of itself. The military creates combatives programs that will train an unlearned soldier from basic training in order to learn fast and simple fighting techniques as well as train mental discipline to instill a will-to-win and extreme aggression for survival in a real fight. There is absolutely no reason why such things cannot be taught within a Taekwondo program using the martial art’s specific techniques. Even more, a serious martial arts student trains for mastery of martial arts and becomes more advanced than the average unlearned person who simply passed a combatives course in 2 months.

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

 

Go back to Part 1                                                                                                Go on to Part 3

__________________________________________________________________________________________

White Dragon is a 3rd dan Taekwondo Black Belt with over 19 years experience in the Martial Arts and head instructor of the White Dragon Dojang Martial Arts Training Program. 

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

__________________________________________________________________________________________

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. 

 

U.S. Special Forces Were Taught Taekwondo

        At one time in the United States military history, the special forces were taught Taekwondo and Karate. I find this fun to look into and awhile back I bought an old military combat manual reprint of the U.S. Army Special Forces Hand To Hand Combat Manual.

This manual was apparently released by the Pentagon for U.S. Army Special Forces only and contains Karate and Taekwondo techniques and a tiny bit of martial arts history as well as a list of what soldiers have to do to pass promotion tests for army martial arts instructor certification (they had to learn “kata”, but they do not teach the kata in this book only mention the names which were the Haian kata but it only mentions 1, 2, & 4 and not 3 for some reason, they also had to do a lot of free sparring). It has photos of soldiers in fatigues demonstrating movements and self defense techniques. I believe the Army created this manual after the Vietnam War or during it. I am not sure. Anyway, it is a good read and shows that Taekwondo and Karate were taken as serious fighting systems, even for killing an enemy in war. Very cool and inspired in me the oldschool hardcore nature of what Taekwondo was about when it was created and gives me a sense of pride in my martial art. This is a fun read for any serious Taekwondo lover.

Book on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1601700032/ref=rdr_ext_tmb

Taekwondo Is A Serious Deadly Killing System

*Authored by White Dragon

        Taekwondo is not a sport, as Mr. Simmons from the movie “Foot Fist Way’ would say, “Taekwondo is a serious deadly killing system and probably the best of all martial arts.” The latter of that statement is debatable, but the first part of that memorable quote is true and always has been true. Taekwondo actually is a deadly serious killing system. Most Taekwondo practitioners today do not realize the deep history Taekwondo has had in warfare. Taekwondo was given the ultimate proving ground for legitimacy that any Martial Art system could ask for, war. Taekwondo was used in the Vietnam War. Korean ROK Marines also taught this style to U.S. Special Forces soldiers and also South Vietnam Soldiers during that war. The U.S. military adopted Taekwondo for its Special Forces training along with Karate. Taekwondo techniques were added into U.S. Military Martial Arts programs because of the styles effectiveness.

Taekwondo warriors training to kill in their black belts on a military base in Vietnam

After Taekwondo was formed in 1955 about a decade later the Vietnam War took place and Korea entered into it. They along with U.S. soldiers fought against the communist regime of the North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong guerrillas. Taekwondo was given opportunity to not only prove existing techniques work for killing in war, but also develop more techniques for use on the battlefield. The military division that was known for hardcore Taekwondo was the elite Tiger Division, and to a lesser extent the White Horse Division which was larger and had Taekwondo fighters but were not elite troops. Taekwondo combat was used for hand to hand fighting in various situations when soldiers did not have guns or were in close quarters situations. One such type of situation was when Viet Cong would hide in bunkers and the Korean Marines did not have heavy weapons to blow them up. They would charge in there fighting with Taekwondo techniques and bayonets. They were known to cave in ribs, snap necks, choke people to death, and use bone crushing strikes with conditioned fists and feet, along with stabbing people to death.

The military branch of Taekwondo was the Oh Do Kwan led by General Choi at the time. He taught the Korean military Taekwondo and the Tiger Division came from that kwan. The Korean Taekwondo Association at the time and had since given General Choi the permission to start his own, seperate, and unaffiliated branch of Taekwondo in his International Taekwon-Do Federation which left the KTA. The KTA remained and eventually fully entered into the Kukkiwon and is a World Taekwondo Federation national member today. While the ITF was their own separate entity and was based in Canada. So since Vietnam, some soldiers went into the ITF, but the official military kwan, the Oh Do Kwan, remained with the KTA and was absorbed, as the rest of the kwans were, into the Kukkiwon. The Vietnam War is part of Kukki-Taekwondo’s history and Tiger Division is part of the true linage of Taekwondo.

During the Vietnam war Captain Yoon, who was only a 3rd dan black belt, was the leader of the Tiger Division and a serious badass. Only 4 other instructors in this military unit were 4th dan black belts while he only had 3rd dan. This shows that dan ranking meant something really important in the old days. If you had a black belt you were a serious fighter and no one to mess with. A solid dan rank such as 3rd dan meant you were even more deadly. 4th dan has always been considered a high dan rank and qualifies a person as a master. Unfortunately, now days dan ranks pretty much are ambiguous and do not necessarily mean anyone is capable of fighting well, but they are supposed to. Even so, Captain Yoon being a 3rd dan and being the Captain of the Tiger Division speaks a lot about the hardcore fighting ability of 1960’s Taekwondo fighters.

Training to defend and kill

Korean Taekwondo Marines practice sparring, rifle against empty hand

Captain Yoon emphasized training on the makiwara, an Okinawan Karate training device that toughens the fist. Striking the surface of this object conditions the knuckles so the bones dense up in order to strike with extreme power without injury. It also deadens the nerves to pain. The proper fist alignment from the chambered position also strengthens the wrist for impact as the makiwara gives slightly when struck. Hitting this tough surface that slightly gives (though not very much) develops a powerful punch in the trainee. The Tiger Division base camp had makiwaras all over camp so soldiers could strike them and practice. They also hit sand bags, that were used to line up the walls near machine gun turrets for protection, as striking objects all around the base. It is very rare now days to find a Taekwondo dojang with a makiwara in it. Some dojangs don’t even have a heavy bag to kick. This is a bad thing as fist and shin conditioning is vital to using Taekwondo punching and kicking for self defense. The focus on sport sparring and demo teams has brought a lack of black belts with conditioned fists. Even without makiwaras there are other ways to condition the fists with other objects. There really is no excuse to be a black belt and have weak fists. Many Taekwondo black belts today who do not train for “killing” or self defense will break their hands when striking someone’s head.

Captain Yoon, a 3rd dan black belt, and leader of the Tiger Division striking a makiwara on base

Taekwondo makiwara training on base

Apparently, the Tiger Taekwondo warriors walked around on base in their doboks doing all of their duties. They only wore field gear and military fatigues when they went out on missions. They even had a dobok inspection when reporting for training. They had to have clean uniforms just like any military uniform. The dobok was considered a military training uniform for this division. That is something more taekwondoin should understand, that their uniform is just as important as a military uniform, and should be respected just as much. It was once said by a Taekwondo grandmaster that “the only difference between Taekwondo and the military is the uniform” obviously applying it to civilian taekwondoin today. Notice that back then in the 1960’s in Vietnam the dobok was still in the Japanese, Karate-gi style. Very slick.

Taekwondo demonstration on base

Reporting for duty in our nice clean doboks sir!

The military base’s dojang with hard wood planks for a floor

The Tiger Division patch for their Taekwondo uniform

Color patch for their military field uniform

Taekwondo soldiers often taught the Vietnamese civilians self defense to protect themselves from communist terrorists

When someone mentions the words “tiger” and “taekwondo” in the same sentence most people will automatically think “The Korean Tigers.” The Korean Tigers demo team that dresses up like b-boyz and dances gangnam style. The same silly group that cares more about their haircuts than fighting who do gynmastics demos in black belts and silly fantasy movie fight scenes. Hopefully people who read this article and look more into the history of the Tiger Division and read up on them will now think about badass, elite, Taekwondo warriors who could cave in rib cages and snap necks and who fought against the evils of communist terrorists.

Now you know some very interesting history that should give pride to every Taekwondoin out there. Hopefully, now, many Taekwonoin will understand the serious nature of Taekwondo; the fact that it is meant for self defense and is also a deadly serious killing system and should be respected and used properly. This mindset will only benefit future Taekwondo fighters.

*Most of these photos were originally from an old Black Belt Magazine article featuring the Tiger Division (taken from the Kidokwan blog), some were taken from other Vietnam history websites. 

_________________________________________________________________________________________

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.