Posts Tagged ‘way of the warrior’

Mudo Is Why I Train

        I got into martial arts in order to learn how to fight. I was bothered by a bully who came to my neighborhood and would call me out to fight and threaten to beat me up every time he came on my street. It terrified me. When I was 13 I started training in Taekwondo because I thought it was the most effective way since is focused on kicks as well as punches and not only punches, but some throwing and joint locks. I saw an advertisement explaining the differences between Taekwondo, Hapkido, and Judo. I thought the description of Taekwondo seemed to explain that it had everything Hapkido and Judo had plus kicking. Of course when I trained over the years I know it may have everything, but the focus is different. I thought the kicks would help me fight better and I saw many movies with awesome kicks in fight scenes and figured it was the way to go. Eventually I am where I am today an I still believe that Taekwondo has enough techniques and concepts for self defense, with it’s dynamic kicks that make it a deadly martial art. The real masters will train in everything and not leave any part out. This includes Mudo.

So many schools of Taekwondo leave out Mudo or Musul. Mudo is the Korean transliteration of Budo, which is the Japanese term for “Way of War, martial way, or way of the warrior.” Musul means “martial arts techniques.” Both of these terms focus on a warlike, military, and fighting aspect. Musul represents physical study of fighting techniques and how to defeat enemies. Mudo has to do with the internal struggle and war against one’s own ego. This helps a fighter become better focused and ready to fight and be a better person. It also has to do with martial arts morality and training for pure purposes and not evil.

There are so many gyms/school, or demo teams etc. in Taekwondo that use the term mudo in their name. They focus on musical forms, gymnastics, asthetic poomsae practice (not application: Bunhae), and sport sparring only for Olympics. Nothing they do has to do with war, or the art of actual fighting. It is very frustrating to me that Taekwondo has lost true mudo and instead has a superficial focus. If they do use self defense (hoshinsool: escaping from grabs and avoiding attacks and countering) it is a very, very shallow focus and weak. I really disagree with this. Taekwondo should be fun and be friendly, but there has to be a seriousness in it like any true martial art. When I see videos of Okinawan masters of Karate and Japanese Karate dojos, or even Kung Fu gyms in China I see their intensity, focus, and serious dedication to warrior skills. They have the intention to kill if necessary and perfect techniques to make them good at fighting. I really feel jealous of these gyms and look at how modern Taekwondo has become lost to these concepts.

Why is it that Taekwondo seminars or events have to do with guys in suits, classrooms with desks, Taekwondo-dance demonstrations, music and lights, and going over poomsae without application study? Why? We all know the answer is money, politics, and gaining popularity with masses of a politically correct culture that thinks “violence is never the answer.”

I may never be a world class fighter or athletes, but I can be the best I can be. That is mudo. To fight hard within yourself, accepting the limitations of your body but persevering anyway and pushing yourself. You don’t train to show off and impress, you train to defend your life. People have injuries and limitations that others do not. We are all on different levels. But we strive not to win medals, but to fight ourselves and remain confident regardless of personal issues and limitations. We want to perfect our art and train our bodies to perform it the best way we can. We are mediating on our martial art when we train. I really believe we need alone time and training alone. Going over poomsae with no one around, preferably outside in nature to take in the beauty God created. Dojang training is great but we also need to take the time to be alone as well, or in small groups and perfect self defense together.

When training for demonstrations or performance art such as dancing, the focus is lost. The ego is promoted because one is trained to impress an audience. The same for sport Taekwondo sparring. Winning medals is a great honor but to make it your entire Taekwondo focus is no mudo. One such as this is lacking in the internal and has only a superficial understanding of Taekwondo. Many win world championships at the expense of perfecting poomsae, hoshinsool, and real fighting. One could be a 5th dan master and still not know how to throw a proper jab, or hook punch and not know how to deal with a clinch or takedown as well. Or a realistic understanding of self defense.

My goal with White Dragon Dojang is to promote Taekwondo in it’s full martial art style and not neglecting anything. To promote it as a fighting art, to give warrior spirit to my students, and make sure they can fight. I want to fight my own ego as much as it comes up, and instill this thinking in my students to fight their own egos. I think the traditional approach has been lost so much. Also, modern combat adaptation is not being included either. I want Taekwondo to get with the times and promote the traditional hard ways of training other styles do as well as adapt to advances in hand to hand combat and even promote combat sports such as MMA along with Olympic Taekwondo sparring. So many Taekwondo masters, not just Koreans (though many), think they don’t need MMA, or MMA is immoral. Or teaching to fight for real is pointless. I don’t think the old masters of the 40’s and 50’s thought this way. It was life or death back then. MMA and combatives training is not just for the military or gangsters that many Koreans think. They used to think Taekwondo was for gangsters. Now it is accepted in society by being kid friendly etc. Taekwondo should include serious fighters and every black belt should have a basic understanding of how to defend themselves in a confrontation (or street fight). Taekwondo needs to be feared again.

I hope that what I do with my teaching and philosophy will keep martial arts morality and righteousness in training as well as not be afraid to train realistic combat with Taekwondo. I hope that what I do, my small part in the martial world, will gain respect to Taekwondo as a true martial art, a true fighting art. Keep mudo, and musul in Taekwondo!

Taekwondo attitude was much different back then

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Junsado Can Be An Enhancement To Your  Martial Art

        A martial artist must have strategy along with the theories he learns and be creative and full of ideas for combat. Bruce Lee started Jeet Kun Do with this kind of idea, and since his death Jeet Kun Do has become a concept and not a martial art style, except it is a style of no style. Some people have teaching certificates in it or whatever ranks. There is another concept, or idea, called Junsado which translates as “way of the combat expert” which is an idea based on strategy created by Sang H. Kim. I have known about Junsado for awhile but never really looked into it except for 2 DVD’s I bought from Turtle Press. They contained some pretty cool ideas on self defense. I recently found out about a book called Combat Strategy: Junsado: The Way of the Warrior, which was published by Turtle Press around 1992.

        This book is an interesting read and has 5 section within it which are called “books” in themselves. Each book teaches different concepts within the Junsado idea. There is the explanation of Junsado strategy part, the applications and basic skills part (which is the largest chapter), the strategy itself and maneuvers part, the beyond strategy part (which speaks of the mental game of combat and preparing oneself), and the philosophical or spiritual part (which is very short). This book is an excellent academic read on fighting strategy and uses scientific explanations for movements and maneuvers. I find it helpful to the martial artist who wants an intellectual approach to combat and self defense. It is also a must read for martial arts instructors.

        Hanho is the pen name of Sang H. Kim who is at least 8th dan in Kukkiwon and has master levels also in Hapkido and Kendo and was also a special operative for the Korean government and military. This book blends well with Korean martial arts because of Kim’s martial arts background. But it can definitely benefit all martial artists of any style. There is a lot of maneuvers talked about and attacking and defense techniques: various foot positions, reaction timing,. kicks, punches, throws, joint locks and more. The last book is the philosophical and spiritual teachings. It contains a lot of encouraging stuff but it also has the eastern religious aspect from Zen Buddhism and Taoist ideas. I ignore those since I do not hold to such beliefs and only absorb the psychological and encouraging parts.

        Junsado is not a martial art, a style, or program. It is simply a concept and ideas one can individually apply to his own martial arts training. It is not its own style, it is simply an enhancement to your own martial arts training. It will enhance your martial art itself and open your mind to strategy. There are no certifications, ranks, schools, teachers, or seminars on Junsado. It is simply something to study by reading and watching Kim’s various DVD’s. I own 4 DVD’s of Junsado. Two of them are self defense DVD’s which contain information on self defense preparation and standing and ground combat. The other 2 I bought were knife defense fundamentals and advanced techniques. I have never bought the various stick fighting and staff fighting DVD’s as I did not have an interest in them. But the 4 DVD’s I do own are pretty solid and if someone trains the movements they can have better knife and hand to hand combat self defense techniques.

        I will say that the only negative things in this book are the fact there are several typos or misspellings, and grammar errors. He is Korean so I think this has something to do with the errors. Also, a few of the photos did not line up with the captions. This book was also written in 1992 just before the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu boom. So it does not contain significant information on ground combat that would be effective today, but the little ideas in the book about grappling are still beneficial, but it is not extensive on it.

        There is another electronic book Kim put out called Junsado: Standing And Ground Combat that can be downloaded to a kindle device but there is no physical book.

I have not read this book yet, but it seems to be an update and more in depth than the book I have. The book I own and read was the only one physically published that I know of for Junsado. It is nice to have and can be bought on amazon used for less than a dollar (plus shipping though). Also, Kim has various Taekwondo and self defense books as well but are not labeled Junsado. If you want more information on Junsado go to http://www.junsado.com his official website.

Here is a short book review video:

        I found the book Combat Strategy to be motivating, encouraging, and intellectual and something a person living a martial arts lifestyle should check out. It will enhance your training and make you mentally better as a fighter.

Fighting Is Imperative To Taekwondo Training

       *Authored by White Dragon. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Works Cited

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

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

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