My Traditional Taekwondo

I have trained in various martial arts, but I draw primary inspiration from my training with American Karate and Taekwondo Organization, then known as Southwestern Taekwondo Organization.

The syllabus A-KaTo uses was brought over from Korea by GM Jhoon Rhee in the mid 1950s. I have learned in recent years through discussions with A-KaTo director GM Keith Yates that GM Jhoon Rhee came from a Chung Do Kwan Tang Soo Do lineage. This is an interesting point in that the Taekwondo Chang Hon syllabus we inherited was transmitted through a Tang Soo Do perspective.

A further point of interest is that it was brought over to the states during Taekwondo's formative years, and had not undergone a lot of the evolution that would start a couple of years later as it sought to create an identity separate from Karate. Unlike other Taekwondo schools which have embraced such a natural evolution, our school was happy doing things as you'd probably see them in a Tang Soo Do school - which really looked a lot like a Karate class (or more accurately a Korean Karate class)!

I have continued this spirit and have sought to bring a clarity to this style of Taekwondo I have myself inherited. In my mind I practice a 1950s styled Karate-Taekwondo Hybrid. I call this style 'Traditional' as opposed to other schools which call their Korean Karate 'Classical'.

By traditional I am not saying that I do things the 'traditional' (read sadistic) way - line drills, shouting at students, lots of basics, hard training, etc. By traditional, I mean my style is locked in time for a specific reason - and that reason has been to allow me to add stylistic and pragmatic value to my martial arts by looking at developments and practice occurring before the 1950s that would then influence those practitioners of that early Taekwondo. This includes other hard styles that directly relate to early Taekwondo practitioners like Tang Soo Do or Shotokan, and softer styles such as you have it from Jujutsu or other Chinese based systems.

This liberal approach to martial arts practice brings a great wealth to my practice as I look at all other styles through a 'Traditional Taekwondo' lens, and I don't feel limited by any 'official' bunkai syllabus that a 'traditional' karate practitioner would probably have to consider. As you will ultimately find out, I value my patterns highly and the corresponding syllabus that results as an extension of my patterns.

But the compartmentalization stops there - as A-KaTo does, we train in Shotokan patterns at black belt and above. :-)

All lessons, counting, and explanations are done in English. Very little Japanese or Korean terminology is featured during class - only for the sake of identifying the name of the technique for posterity. Many of the Japanese and Korean terms featured on this blog are for keyword optimisation. My pet peeve lies with those who would link quality or credibility of any training program with the usage (or misuse) of Asian terminology. My take? All lessons should be conducted in English - so that the best possible explanations and analogies can accompany training sessions.



Patrick Parker said…
I have posed a quickie question on my blog related to this topic. There are already several good threads of discussion going on in the comments. You might enjoy checking it out...

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