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.
- Karate v Taekwondo
- Choi Hong Hi meets with Mas Oyama
- My Perspective on Taekwondo Sux
- Taekwondo FAQs
- Historical Lessons Beyond Historical Facts
- Personal Reflections on Taekwondo
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