Poll: TKD: sport, self-defense or both?
Sport
Self-defense
Both
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TKD: sport, self-defense or both?
#1
Question 
Let's start the TKD section off with a poll.  How do you view TKD?  No wrong answer and people take the martial arts for a variety of reasons.  So what is your TKD training geared towards?  And is it meeting your expectations/needs?  And if it is, how is it meeting your expectations/needs?
Two thousand years ago wise men sought Christ, wise men still do.

Techniques are situational, principles are universal.

Fast as the wind, quiet as the forest, aggressive as fire, and immovable as a mountain.

He who gets there first with the most...wins!

Minimal force may not be minimum force!

We don't rise to the occasion...we sink to the level of our training.


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#2
It is both, but the self-defense aspect is almost dead. We are a long way from the Black Tigers and the White Horse Division of the ROK.
Martial Arts done well leads to a more virtuous life because everyone is fighting something.

"If your eye is single, your whole body will be full of light.  But if your eye is evil, even the light that is within you will be darkness.  If the light that is within you is darkness, how great is that darkness?"  (Jesus of Nazareth)
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#3
Started out as self defense but, in my opinion, today it is more sport oriented
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#4
I voted for both. Old school or traditional TKD was self-defense oriented. Today its mostly a sport. Just memorizing moves of a kata without any care to it's meaning and all techniques geared towards tournament sparring. And yes the Taegeuk forms if taught correctly has good self-defense meaning. In my system of KemTaeDo I teach a few of the Taegeuk forms. International TKD is a good example of old school.
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#5
I voted 'both' because it seems more like a sport nowadays. When I took it 30 years ago, it was a formal and very serious setting for me. It was very much like how I picture boot camp to be. We were focused and disciplined or Master Lee would say "you students are too unfocused and undisciplined-Mark, grab my belt" and then he would make me fly across the room until I got the point. Someone told me that Master Lee had a "blood belt" which you only get for fighting someone to the death in Korea. My snarky friend asked him about it in class but he brushed it off. But I can believe it, because he trained us like we were going to be sent off to die or something. It seemed a little austere to me at 18. I've been a student of other arts and this was the most "martial" setting I was ever taught in.

So it wasn't taught to me as a sport and I don't think Master Lee or any of the instructors saw it that way in their dojo. I would have been afraid to even ask him at the time. Everything I said to him resulted in "Mark, grab my collar" or something similar lol. It seemed like he only taught us Hapkido when we were having any kind of fun in class.
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#6
I voted both because it is both. Some are sport, others are not. Case in point, I run a Tae Kwon Do outreach out of my church. There is another gentleman about 20 minutes away who also runs a Tae Kwon Do ministry out of a church. He is 90% sport. They train for sport and competition in both forms and fighting. He's a great guy and using TKD to bring about great change in the lives of the kids he teaches. His students are encouraged to compete and he is very up on the most current rules regulating sparring and poomsae.

I, on the other hand teach a very self defense oriented TKD. We do low strikes, elbows, knees, chokes, throws, joint locks, sweeps, etc. None of my students have every competed and are not pushed to do so. We spar with no limitations regarding hands and feet being favored to either degree. Very different, still TKD. And like my friend, using TKD to bring about change in the lives of the kids I teach.

What I appreciate is that both of us are completely up front when prospective students are checking us out. He is clear that he is a sport school, I am clear that I want nothing to do with sport. Both quality programs with the integrity to own the brand of TKD we do without apology.
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#7
I truly believe that if the total aspects of TKD are trained for, then it is an all-encompassing art. In otherwords, if the sport portion is disregarded as not being a part of the art, and if one can truly utilize all the principles that I personally believe exist in the forms then TKD holds everything one would need for SD.  From my perspective, self-defense oriented TKD should look very similar to Hapkido.

It is when sport TKD (or any martial art) tries to pass themselves off as self defense that I take issue.
Two thousand years ago wise men sought Christ, wise men still do.

Techniques are situational, principles are universal.

Fast as the wind, quiet as the forest, aggressive as fire, and immovable as a mountain.

He who gets there first with the most...wins!

Minimal force may not be minimum force!

We don't rise to the occasion...we sink to the level of our training.


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#8
I've been remiss in offering a voice for this subject, so I'll just present an actual account of my first day at a TKD school. I signed up my kids, because the Goju Dojo was a little to over the top for their ages and I watched a session or two and really didn't care for the instructor. Now the TKD Master offered me a family discount, so I figured, what the heck, at the very least the work outs were good and I could use some getting back into shape. He was aware that I already had a Dan ranking in Goju, but I wanted to start as a white belt, so my kids could boss me around (lol). Anyway, first day we go through the warm up's, then stretching, then whatever form was applicable for your rank. I did Sanchin Kata and everyone around me thought I was having a fit. OK, then into some kicking drills and by then I have a pretty good sweat starting, feels like old times. Now we pair off for sparring, but not like the 2 man Kata drills I was used to. We stand about 4 feet from each other and then the Master says fight (or in this case spar), but I wasn't aware of the rules. I'm up against a second Dan adult, who was quicker than exlax, but when the command to fight was given, I blocked his roundhouse by stepping in and slightly side ways and proceeded to grab him by the throat, at which such time his eyes bugged out and the Master came running and yelling "no fight like that". Needless to say, after I was informed of the how's and why's, then that 2 Dan proceeded to give me a what for, but this time on his terms. Couldn't really blame him, but I wager there were skid marks down under. Now I stayed with that school for a good number of years, because something in me said attempt to let the students understand the difference between sport and SD. In the long run, I may have influenced a couple of adults, who may have taken the training quasi seriously, but for the rest, in one ear and out the other. Why?, because there's a tournament next week (seemed like there was at least one every month) and then there was testing (had to learn the one steps and SD moves that were taught, that would not work, but hey, that was not the focus of the school). Medals and trophies were the mainstay of a successful school, and this guy was successful in spades.

Here's another story about one of the students in that school. Came to class Monday with a black eye and a missing tooth. Now he was the reigning state sparring champ in his weight and age group (17) and was a 2 Dan. When I asked what happened, where you in a car wreck?.......the answer was, no, was in a fight in the pool hall. OK, so just what exactly happened? Well we had words and then he sucker punched me. Well just how close where you standing to him that allowed a sucker punch, I asked. he replied, we were almost nose to nose. I then asked, haven't you been warned about being that close and what could happen? Yeah, he said, but I was just about to step back into a sparring stance and as I started to move, he let it fly. Knocked me on my butt, but was able to get back up and started kicking (roundhouses to the thigh), which didn't seem to do that much to him. He probably felt it later, but not at that particular moment. He was able to step into my kicking range and caught me with another punch. What finely worked, was a frontal sidekick above the knee and an elbow to the face, which almost knocked him out, but bloodied his mouth and nose. Neither of those movements were in the offered school curriculum and when I asked "how did you manage to come up with those"?, he said for some reason I remembered a self defense drill that you taught last week, when you took over the class when the Master went to answer the phone. I said, now do you think you know and understand the difference between sport and real self defense. He said yeah, but then I also said, the real SD in that situation would have been to just back up and walk away, before it came to blows and if you couldn't do that, he never should have been able to unload on you at all.
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#9
Students in my school have only entered one tournament. Though one of the students actually won his division, he was almost kicked out several times because of excessive contact or illegal moves. The other students simply didn't adjust as well to the "tag, your it" style of tournament sport sparring. One student in particular (named John) kept doing something very similar to what sidekick described. He would step in on a roundhouse, check it, and choke the opponent. John did this two or three times. The ref was actually fairly tolerant. John didn't get disqualified. But he fought as he had trained to fight and he couldn't switch it off. Every time he grabbed or choked his opponent, the ref just called break and told him to stop doing that. Eventually the opponent got his required points and won the match.

The opponent was obviously skilled. In fact, I know his teacher, who is very good. But the sport enthusiast is usually shocked in such situations. John's opponent expressed admiration for John's abilities and inquired about our class. But he has never come.

In another example, an excellent WTF Taekwondo practitioner named Welton from Kim's Karate came to our class and sparred a young man named Brian. Welton had crazy, high, fast, powerful kicks. Plus, he was significantly taller and heavier than Brian. So, Welton's range kept Brian at bay for a few seconds. But Welton fought from that crazy, leaning way back, front leg way overextended stance that one sees in sport taekwondo. After a few seconds, Brian stomped on Welton's front foot, pinned it to the ground, came in with an overhand right that spun Welton around, and then applied a choke. The choke was a merciful option.

This was no reflection on the skillset of Welton. He obviously had skills. But the difference in focus and application was obvious.
Martial Arts done well leads to a more virtuous life because everyone is fighting something.

"If your eye is single, your whole body will be full of light.  But if your eye is evil, even the light that is within you will be darkness.  If the light that is within you is darkness, how great is that darkness?"  (Jesus of Nazareth)
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#10
I've mentioned this story a few times, but it bears repeating as it goes with the subject.  About 15 years ago, back when I was teaching with Master Craine at the FOP lodge, a co-worker brought his daughter to us for training.  Now his daughter was already a 2nd Dan in WTF TKD.  And she was good...I mean Olympic caliber good.  Among her teachers were Joe Lewis and Bill Wallace.  But it was ALL sport.  The father knew what we taught, which is why he brought her to us for training.  I was teaching a yellow belt class when she came in and I was demonstrating a takedown we call the 'Linda Blair' as a nick name.  Her eyes got as big as dishes and she was in shock and I remember her saying, 'we have to put our hands on someone'?  The thought of actually going hands on was a totally foreign concept to her.  Now this may not be indicative of all WTF TKD training, but it was a reflection on what she had been taught exclusively up to her current 2nd Dan. 

Doesn't mean that what we offered was better, only that it was different in focus and something she had not been exposed to in years of her TKD training.
Two thousand years ago wise men sought Christ, wise men still do.

Techniques are situational, principles are universal.

Fast as the wind, quiet as the forest, aggressive as fire, and immovable as a mountain.

He who gets there first with the most...wins!

Minimal force may not be minimum force!

We don't rise to the occasion...we sink to the level of our training.


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