Joong Do Kwan's Taekwondo Applications

Joong Do Kwan's Taekwondo Applications
JDK Instructors share the passion with ITF friends in Perth

31 May 2012

A Story about Saving a Little Girl

Maritime Museum at Fremantle Black Belt Obstacle Course
This is a story about how I saved a little girl.

I refrain from using the word 'heroically' in the title just because there was no time to think about heroics, nor about ability, nor about the consequences of failure. As I often think about my role as an instructor, I was but the 'lens'.

A beautiful sunny day in Fremantle several years ago found my children and several friends at the Maritime Museum. It's got amazing architecture and beautiful sweeping views of the ocean. Go visit if you have the chance.

When we were finished, the other parents and their children exited the building through the big revolving glass door. It was a huge feature, and it was moving quite fast. I decided to take up the rear so everyone, including my children could go through safely.

As the last person through, I slowed to a walking pace when I entered and looked backward. To my dismay a little girl was walking toward me, and seemed intent on entering the revolving door. She was perhaps only 4 years old. So I put up my hand to indicate she should stop. But while she looked at me, she didn't comply (tsk tsk tsk), and continued walking towards the door.

The revolving door caught her at just the right time, and her body was sandwiched within the circumference between one of the revolving blades and the metal frame. As I looked at her, her face was getting squashed by one of the large glass panels, and time started to travel slower.

All I knew was that there was this large rotating door that needed to be stopped and reversed, and there was no time to be fluffing around trying to push it the other way. So I drove a forebalance chongul seogi stance into it with as much power as I could - intent on stopping that vast structure on a dime. When my knee hit the glass, there was huge scary resonation and the entire moving structure started reverberating all around me.

The same Taekwondo 'door stopper' skill but this time used against an opponent.

It was a kodak moment. The girl was sandwiched in place - held safe only by my knee wedging it still. Her eyes were wide with shock but the door had only begun squashing her cheeks, so there was no pain involved.

You know, I've never practiced self defence against a revolving door before. But there you have it, when required, the skills and the mindset we use in practice can affect the course of events around you. Of course I could have walked up ahead accompanying my children through. What was it that affected my intuition and which made me bring up the rear like that? And how did I choose what could otherwise be described as a 'non-technique' to stop that door, saving the girl from requiring the services of a cosmetic surgeon?

Eventually when I ensured the door was stopped in place, I looked down and notice picture perfect form. It's of course somewhat strange to see this done so out-of-context, but it was a simple move which was required by the circumstance - nothing more nothing less.

And this is a lesson for what good martial arts should be. While many a teenage pimply adolescent (including myself once a long time ago) yearns for victory and glory against some ugly aggressor, martial art training should be for the greater good. The best of us is keeping it understated, and your role is but that 'lens' through which the essence of training flows.

Be safe.


Related Pages

Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
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29 May 2012

Blogging Carnival at Bunkai Jutsu

Following the recent Anti-Bully Blogging Carnival hosted here, I am pleased to announce that Charlie Wildish from Bunkai Jutsu is hosting the next carnival on Women's Self Defence on July 14th 2012. The blogging carnival is a way to get martial art bloggers to work together on specific themes, and for such themes to bring value to both the martial arts world and the local community. If you have a martial art blog, a website, or even a similarly themed FaceBook page, and if you'd like to get involved or if you'd like to get yourself on our mailing list go to Colin's Blogging Carnivals.

Please participate and support the next carnival by clicking:

See you there!

Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
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23 May 2012

Knife Defence by Hanshi Tim White

Check & Stun Knife Defence Program by Hanshi Tim White
Several years ago I had the honour of training in Hanshi Tim White's Check & Stun Knife Defense Program that he designed and uses for the police defence tactics training he offers professionaly. It was immediately clear to me that I should have brought a much larger knife to this session. The tactics he used were hard-hitting, effective and no-nonsense. I was battered and bruised.

The moves were simple in order for an untrained defender to initiate physical self defence and cope with a knife wielding attacker whilst under duress. Most of the elements required no fine motor skills - you lay into the attacker and no one fiddles around trying to find a lock. At the time I was a 4th degree black belt, not used to giving up, but when you have this mountain of an 8th Dan smashing your knife wielding hand ... let me tell you, it took a lot of control not to flinch, drop the knife, cover and retreat.

Of course I wasn't jacked up on steriods or drugs or heavy metal, but the second strike assumes I am - and what felt like a baseball bat gets slammed into the neck. It's more than a bit uncomfortable. The strike is designed to shut you down immediately - and as you can see from the photos, it's a staple of this program.

Of course I wasn't jacked up on steriods or drugs or heavy metal, but the second strike assumes I am - and what felt like a baseball bat gets slammed into the neck.

A major lesson for any of student - see how simple the blocks and strikes are. This is what practical martial arts is. You reduce the target area on your body by dropping your head/tucking your chin in and raising your arms, then go for solid targets using simple moves that you learn at white and yellow belt level. Don't forget you can also distract the attacker by engaging him verbally with a question. Then all you've got to do is lay into the knife wielding arm and neck with intent because beginners and intermediate students lack a good amount of experience to fiddle around. Besides, holding back in this sort of scenario will get you slashed .

In a few of the photos - sorry they're so small - you can see Hanshi maintaining a reference point on my stabbing arm. What this does is to apply forward pressure onto the attacker, so that if and when I retract my arm, the 'defender' can continue pushing forward to finish off the tactical combination. The trapping arm is also a source of distraction - as an attacker, I don't 'like' having that lead weapon thwarted or 'trapped' and will actively pull away. This creates an additional delay before I can think of launching a secondary attack.

The program in itself is a very simple approach of dealing with an edged weapon, and that's why it is perfect for participants who typically aren't formally trained: deflect the knife wielding arm, attack the limb, and shut the person down. It is also a great 'plug and play' module that can be used agnostically by other stylists - you can use this program, and then tack on whatever moves you feel comfortable with before or after direct engagement.

Keep it simple, folks!

Traditional Taekwondo Self Defence Links
Women Self Defence
Martial Arts and Self Defence
Nat from TDA Training Asked if I am Causing Conflict ...
Martial Arts Against Martial Arts (The Best Blog Post)
Aikido Philosophy, Taekwondo Technique ... Is it possible???
Self Defence: Trained v Untrained
Your Nuts With Taekwondo
Basic Taekwondo Perspective on Self Defence - How to Be Effective when Fear Strikes
Poomse teaches proper mental attitude towards self defense by M Clark
Fantastic Self Defence Vid Posted at Mokuren Dojo
The One TKD Book You Must Get, 15 Jan 2008
Martial Arts Blogs
Multi-person Drill
Relying on What You've Got From Traditional Taekwondo
Won-hyo: The Kihon Kata Koma
Black Belt Coaching Course
Taekwondo Self Defence Against Shoulder Grab from Behind
Article: The Best Defence
Always Innovate
I fear for my students

Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
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21 May 2012

Overwhelm the Opponent

What a pretty technique. It's effortless. Uke would probably catch some air.

Over the weekend I was honoured by an invitation from Master Peter Wong 7th Dan to teach a group of his black belt student practitioners. One of the drills we did accomplished what you see in the photo above - addressing both opposite and same side arms. Our end result was to attack the opponent's arm or elbow and hyperextend it. No, it wouldn't result in a pretty photo op.

Ours would never look anywhere near as effortless as what you see above. Taken directly from Won-hyo this is what we did - We pounded the opponent into the ribs. Grabbed tricep skinfolds from the arm. Smashed our forearms into opponent's neck. Trapped his arms. Went for punches to the temple. And then we grabbed an upheld arm to apply our end strike to the extremity.

It's going to make contact if Niaal doesn't block it.

The net effect was to overwhelm the opponent. To hurt him.

Even in a controlled environment, the opponent should feel threatened by the onslaught. You are inflicting pain from one spot of the body to another. And this shuts higher-level thinking down. It's hard to deal with an attack like that ... and that is exactly why we have to practice like this. For both opponents.

Yes, that's a bare unmatted floor for Niaal to fall on. I hold him up of course, but I'm taking him down for real.

The attacks follow technique sequences directly from the pattern, but it doesn't have to be applied exactly like that. You can just use one strike over and over again, or choose to bypass one or a few of the strikes. In fact, headbutt your opponent and see the same hands fly up to his face. Then take one of his arms, strip it away from him and attack that extremity. Martial art tactics were always meant to be mix and match.

They fully enjoyed and appreciated your instruction and would like to have you back again. Its always beneficial to experience other Instructor's training methods and learn from one another.
- Master Peter Wong 

Making sure they know I'm there....

I hit every one of those black belts hard, grabbed painful skinfolds, hit their shins, made them do spiderman pushups, squat kicks, took a few of them down, drove my knee into their ribs when they were on the floor, and I remember tickling one of the younger black belts while he was immobilized on the floor. And they enjoyed it! Fantastic!

Looking forward to doing that again soon. :-)

For a follow up to this post see 'Walking up the arm'.

Taekwondo Won-hyo List of Posts

Won-hyo: Defending Against a Kick Punch Combination
Won Hyo: Defend Against Anything!!
Making Kata Work for You
Taekwondo Hyung: Won-Hyo Step 27 & 28 as Over the Shoulder Throw
Won-Hyo: Defensive Side Kick
Won Hyo: Scoop Block v Kick Punch Combo
Calibrating the Side Kick
Won Hyo Hyung Side Kick
Won-hyo: Where are your eyes on the back of your arse?
Won-hyo: The Kihon Kata Koma
Won-hyo: The Taekwondo Side Kick
I've Broken My Finger and Have Lost the Will to Fight

Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
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18 May 2012

Taekwondo Won-hyo: Over-the-shoulder throw

This is a revisit of an old post Taekwondo Hyung: Won-hyo Step 27 and 28 as Over the Shoulder Throw published August 3 2008. Thought I'd search for some images to see the flow of the Over the Shoulder Throw or Judo's Seoinage but specifically for hard stylists.

Beginning with the standard Judo grip, first you drive into the non-compliant opponent pushing him backward with your forward momentum. The opponent may stumble back or seek to push toward you. 

The setup requires you to 'punch' the opponent and driving him forward with the right arm, whilst pulling back with your left ... not necessarily too far, but you're setting him up and confusing him so that it makes your throw easier.

This is where your Tsurite or 'lifting hand' is going to lift up the opponent's elbow similar to the 'Haiwan Uke' or  the high level double forearm block in Won-hyo.
This is how the arm looks as it's being lifted.

That's the technique we're tacking on to preparatory stages of the 'throw' in Steps 27 and 28 of Won-hyo.

The net effect should be that the opponent is pushed back, and then while his arm is lifted, he is forcefully jerked forward. So you begin the throw by driving forward into the opponent - then you switch your legs and then throw him by driving him forward over your hip. Don't forget to get your hips lower or 'under' his hips, so that there's an obstacle under his centre of gravity. 

Thanks to Soo Shim Kwan, we can describe this down up down motion using Taekwondo's Sine Wave. You go down to get your hips under, you push up to throw him over, and then when he lands, you again drop, driving your knees into the lump laying on the floor.

See that end position? That's NOT what I'm talking about. What I'd like to see is the thrower (the Tori) with back straight up, and knees driven into the guy's ribs or head. If you ever find yourself bent over like this guy, make sure to protect yourself against the opponent's leg - he's going to want to kick you in the chops for throwing him on the floor.

That's more like it. In my book you throw the opponent either across the room or you throw him right at your feet.  Once he's close by hold him tight so you know where he is! :-)
In the end you're holding the opponent up and you shift your hands to a 'Teacup Saucer' or koshi gamae 'hip preparatory' stance controlling his wrist. This extends the opponent's arm and  if you so desire, you can drop down into a kneeling position which will hyperextend his elbow over your knee. Too easy!

Taekwondo Won-hyo
Seoinage is not a crack-of-the-butt throw
Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
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15 May 2012

The Way, the Zone, Stress Testing and the hope for a better person

Dojo - The place you practice the Way
In recent weeks, I've come across people who are preparing themselves for academic tests and exams.

However they're preparing themselves for their tests, few of them prepare themselves for the stress of the situation.

In my previous life as an Assistant National Coach, much of what we do is to prepare the sportsman for the rigors of competition. What we do is a mix of physical ritual and mental visualisation. We do this in the hope to bring the relaxedness found in certain aspects of practice into the competition environment. We put in a lot of effort in order that the sportsman consistently enters 'the zone' and of course to peak at the right time.

Without too many words, we do many similar practices in the martial arts.

I remember a time I was planning for a dojo to be built at the back of my house. One of the consultants that participated in the planning process was a kenjutsu practitioner, and whilst he was drawing up rough plans for my little backyard dojo, he described the surrounding and the path he wanted to create leading up to this place. He says traditional outdoor dojos typically come with this 'path' so that as the practitioner is walking up to the dojo, they leave the outside world behind them and prepare themselves mentally to enter the space of the training hall, the place where you practice 'the Way.'

What an elegant way of mental preparation, to have the environment welcome you into this sacred space where you put aside worldly concerns in order to work on the way.

But what is the Way? Just recently I read on another blog that the kanji shows a person balancing on a boat. The Way, or 'do' or 'tao' originally indicated the natural order of the Universe. The later Buddhist connotation indicated a middle path that is achieved through the following of doctrine. Ch'an or Zen, a particular sect of Buddhism further believes that 'do' is about being present; not to be waylaid by extraneous thought.

The place where you engage in 'Walking the path', however, is not to be mistaken for some blissed out state. The path especially for the warrior is a path that is described by constant striving in physical, mental, and spiritual terms. It's partly analogous to modern sports psychology, where the modern approach would be to include any preparation to get that person into 'the Zone' as consistently as possible for peak performance.

In addition to the concepts of physical ritual and mental visualisation I mentioned before, lots of this preparation is about stress testing the participant. This idea that a practitioner only has to do technique to perfection and will be adequate for the challenges of real confrontation is ridiculous. Stress testing is a valuable tool to prepare the individual for confrontation and combat. Such stressors that you can replicate in your training environment that will mimic the kind of stressors that you will face in competition or conflict will mean your practitioner will be able to focus on the task at hand rather than be a loose and unpredictable cannon which will misfire at the wrong time.

Facing one opponent is easy? Well, then increase the time of those encounters. Still coming out tops? Bring in fresh opponents. When that's fine, introduce two opponents. Then when that becomes easy, tie up one arm, and repeat. Keep on increasing the odds and make sure the student practitioners keeps his cool. That's stress testing.

The priority of 'Do' of course is not solely on physical preparation as high-level sports people seek, as martial artists we want the mind centred and we want the individual to be progressing spiritually through further study and meditation.

While there are those who would speak poorly of martial art philosophy and traditional training techniques, the Way is not an excuse for poor performance nor does it mutually exclude solid ability. It is merely a philosophy of how things should be. Many think of the Way as tied to those schools which have isolated themselves from practicality or from reality.

I urge all practitioners to understand their path, and to look at how they are improving on themselves.


Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
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11 May 2012

Chulgi: Punching Across the Body

App 1: Chulgi's or Po-eun's 'double punch' applied as a blow to the back or side of the opponent's neck
App 2: Chulgi's 'punch-across-body' applied as a blow to the side of the opponent's neck.
When does your arm travel across the body in Taekwondo? Well, below black belt you've got the ol' Tea Cup Saucer position in Won-hyo, the tension press open palm 'block' and double augmented block in Yul-gok, the punch-across-the-body in Joon-gun, and the punch into the fist and the side punches-across-the-body in Hwa-rang.

I wasn't happy with the standard explanation of the punches across the body. Some of what I saw showed demos of double punches landing at the same time, some showed short range punches, and others tried to explain it with kyusho or some other esoteric explanation. What I like about the two apps above are the simplicity of the movement, the ruthlessness of the technique, and the elegant way in which they resolve the movement and tie in with each other. Aside from these, I have space in my heart for explanations that include elbows to ribs, joint hyper-extensions, and some escapes (but not all).

I could never swallow explanations for short punches because the reverse snap punch which is a very powerful strike should be the primary weapon of choice for any short range encounter that required a strike at mid level. Why would I choose a less powerful weapon when all I needed to do was to turn my body and fire off a reverse punch? 

App 1 has the defender deflecting the oncoming strike. If you are trying out variations with the form, try step 1 and bring both hands together, same side hand stops the blow, and the other opposite side can redirect it over the top and then draw the attacker toward you. Moving forward you open the back of the neck as a target area and you can land a good strike with shoulder rotation.

App 2 has the defender wrenching the attacker to one side using a pull of her elbow from opposite hand. The defender then reaches around the head, grabs onto chin or nose and turns the attacker using a 'lower block' motion, and this opens it up to strikes to the side of her neck. Done repeatedly, if necessary. A kick to the side of the knee or the ribs ends the struggle.

It's interesting to know that these two techniques work better when you're closer to the opponent. It's like a dance, a slow dance. If you're too far, you're disconnected. Don't forget to cover and raise your guard, and never just stand in one place. Be ready to move away from the opponent's primary, and then secondary weapon.

Note: Chulgi or Iron Horse is the same pattern as Naihanchi (Okinawan) or Tekki (Japanese). Our lineage learns Chulgi at Black Belt because that's what GM Jhoon Rhee taught when he brought Tang Soo Do, Korean Karate, and Taekwondo over to the United States.

Chulgi List of Posts

Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
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8 May 2012

My Work as Curator of a Taekwondo System

World Organizer of Martial Arts (WOMA) Instructor Training Day 28/29 April, Perry Lakes, W. Australia. Author of Traditional Taekwondo Techniques Colin Wee is standing at the far right.
It's fast coming to the end of my 20th year in Taekwondo.

While I still lead a small Traditional Taekwondo practice, I find myself reaching many more people with this blog and my online network, my FaceBook presence, articles submitted to Stuart Anslow's Totally Taekwondo magazine, the workshop series I started up for my school, and my networking with a broad range of instructors partly from my participation in WOMA's Instructor Training Day (see above photo), and partly through my insistence on an open door policy for my own training hall.

Through the years, I have continued my work as a 'curator' of Traditional Taekwondo, my efforts continually developing my relationship with this art, and at the same time allowing other people to understand that once upon a time, in a land far far away, an oppressed people, through immense hardship and against all odds, repurposed a hard style system which they felt was too rigid and too prescriptive to be of any use to them.

My work in the last few years has been recognised by visitors to this blog, authors who have generously included me in their books, and the various promotions and awards that, in my opinion, have been overly charitable to this practitioner.

While I have often stated that Traditional Taekwondo was exported out of Korea in 1956 and there it was practiced in isolation from the machinations of the ITF and WTF, the truth is that my lineage continued to develop in close proximity to other styles such as Karate and Tang Soo Do, both of which were anathema to Gen Choi's idea of Taekwondo.

While I highly respect the work of the Korean pioneers of Taekwondo, it was my intention to set aside political rancour and recognise that Taekwondo benefited from both the old and the new and does not become any less unique by reaching out equally to the pre-Korean source material. I crystallized this new philosophy with the renaming of my school Joong Do Kwan, which means School of the Middle Way. Middle is that point between older predecessors of the art and newer Korean innovations.

In Joong Do Kwan, the hyungs form the backbone of our syllabus, and in summary:
Chon-ji has strikes to extremities;
Dan-gun speeds it up with block, traps and counters;
Do-san is where we develop powerful close range strikes;
Won-hyo teaches us to gap close, target the neck, and perform takedowns;
Yul-gok works on two hand deflection and counters;
Joon-gun works on controls and hyperextensions of opponent's arms;
Toi-gye focuses on leg defences and takedowns;
Hwa-rang continues to develop close quarter tactics; and
Choong-moo works on blocking and redirection of opponent's strikes.
While there are strengths in the Taekwondo training methodology, there are those skills such as groundwork, grappling, and weapons which would round off our program, and which should be something any serious student should embark on outside of Taekwondo as it is offered in most schools.

As an aside, I highly recommend any Taekwondo practitioner to include striking post training into their daily practice. The heart of our forms is a karate engine that would have continued to teach focus and solid upper body strikes if the essence of those kata had not been changed. However, since many Taekwondo schools are so stylistically different from hard style Karate, it is my recommendation that practitioners return to such simple training equipment to learn how to strike with 'focus'; focus meaning using the entire body by 'locking down' or decelerating upon impact.

What is the future of Taekwondo? Why ask me. My future is way different from yours. This blog was never to indoctrinate others to follow what I'm doing. It was to spark an idea that Taekwondo can give so much more without becoming any less. After all, if it is a methodology, then what is it that you are seeking to develop with that methodology? This answer has always been up to you.

I will end by thanking my teachers and mentors - too many of us forget how fortunate we are that there are individuals who are ready to bestow their precious time so that we may find our own way on the path. I also thank visitors to this blog - for if I didn't get the traffic, I would probably not invest as much time to explore certain topics the way I do so here. Again, remember to write us a few lines or 'like' us on FB if you want to see this blog improving.

Good luck in your training.


Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
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4 May 2012

Toi-gye: 'W' Mountain Block

Toi-gye Step 12 - 18 is typically represented as 'W' blocks (in Karate that would be yama uke or 'mountain block'), requiring you to perform them with a hard snap of the arm and a big 'stomp' with the foot. There are a few applications that I actually like which bring more combat value to this technique beyond the swinging of the arms and the stomping down hard.

Taekwondo 'W' block - as it is performed in the form Toi-gye step 13

The sketch above from my personal Taekwondo journal shows off the W block as a leg capture and take down. Step 12 requires you to bring your arms back to your hips and can be thought of as a guard or block/cover, and when your arms 'pop' back up, that's the leg capture to a kick thrown at you. To improve speed, you've got to look for the opponent's telegraphing of either roundhouse or side kick. You can perform this on any kick that goes for a good extension, so long as you step out of the way or work around the force of the kick.

You will also need to 'give' your same side arm permission to pop back up under the leg. Do this by increasing sensitivity for impact on the outside or top of the forearm - and when you feel that contact, pop back under the leg and crimp the leg with your arm. You might benefit from grabbing uniform or skinfold at the same time.

None of this will work if you stand still. You have got to be surging ahead whilst the attack is accelerating on its flight path. Protect your face region with the back hand. On contact with the leg, you should be able to reach the opponent with your back hand. This grabs on to uniform (somewhere around shoulder or lapel region) or hair (less likely if you're doing this on a long range kick) or outstretched arm (possible). The 'stomp' on the upswing is an attack to the lower extremity of the opponent or abdominal/groin region. Most hard stylists can ad lib here and wrap your leg behind or sweep opponent's leg to effect a takedown.

Am I breaching copyright here? You can do a reaping throw or sweep dependent on where you  strike and put your foot down. In the above shot you might have hit the opponent in the groin or abodomen and then performed the reap.

If you'd like to try something different, all you've got to do with the 'W' blocking motion is to pivot and move his entire body towards his extended leg. The 'blocking' motion ends up as an unceremonious body dump.

You can do this with the opponent looking towards you or looking away from you - see the following photos.

Applying the W block as a takedown with opponent facing away from you.

If you're in a bad mood, you could even lift the opponent in the air, and tip him onto his head. Again, the 'W' blocking move is where you shake him out of your arms.

Keep it safe!

Toi-gye Links
Pragmatic Self Defence Images
Toi-gye Jams the Leg and Throws the Opponent
Taekwondo's Applied or Augmented Blocks
Taekwondo Toi-gye Manji Uke
Pattern Toi-gye 'Y' Blocks
Toi-gye Mountain Block against a Shoulder Grab
Toi-gye Step 28: Manjiuke 'When you fight you need to get it almost right'

Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
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1 May 2012

Taekwondo is the SAME as Karate

In an informal discussion over the weekend an ITF guy (of all people) said, "Taekwondo is the same as Karate." It was his unspoken idea that Taekwondo began with instructors that were trained in Shotokan, amongst other things, 'repackaged' Karate and started on a major rebranding exercise.

But listen, Karate as practiced in Tokyo in the 1920s was very different to how karate is practiced nowadays. Master Funakoshi, Father of Modern Karate, was highly opposed to jiyu kumite or free sparring, and even more opposed to the idea of competitions. Shotokan Karate then was kata, kata, and kata. It was Hironori Ohtsuka (Funakoshi's assistant) who pushed for the inclusion of kumite from 1920 to 1930. Only in the 1930s and beyond, with the publication of Funakoshi's Karate-Do Kyohan is there the introduction of 'kihon, kata, and kumite'. The 'Golden Age' of karate started in the 1940s and beyond.

Funakoshi Sensei was for Kata but against Free Sparring

So we have Korean masters who were trained in the original kata, kata, kata (in addition kihon and makiwara) looking at the applicability of this system for their own usage. I think it was brilliant that they recognised that this early system was too rigid for them, and innovated footwork and movement when they were freed from wartime Japan and Korea. Did they draw from Taekyon? Taekyon was a street game, 'played' amongst children everywhere. Their awareness that Taekyon could introduce lighter footwork and more dynamic, long-range kicks was all that was needed to start repurposing techniques for their use.

The General was looking to keep core value but wanted marketing differentiation - okay, that's  not correct. He wanted to lose the rigidity and incorporate longer range versatile kicks into his arsenal

I trained in two very different systems early on - one focused on long-range fast kicks, and then when I entered traditional taekwondo, it was all about kime, focus, deceleration. Imagine that. Those early masters would have continued the practice of 'kime' to preserve the power of their strikes at close range (anyone who practices this kind of focused power knows how addictive it is), but would be enjoying the longer range and the relaxedness of their new kicks. It was a juxtoposition of power and speed that was not present in pre-1930s karate.

I think Taekwondo finds great value in the source material of Karate linked to Okinawan systems, but beyond that I think we need to give credit to the brilliant innovation from those early Korean instructors.


Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
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