Traditional Taekwondo Vs Sports Taekwondo
by KwanInNim Kevin Rhodes
A review on Taekwondo for Taekwondo practitioners
The term Taekwondo has been around since 1955 when the Korea TaeSooDo Association changed its name to the Korea Taekwondo Association. There were 9 styles of Korean martial arts that unified under the banner of Taekwondo. We will discuss them later.
Since that time the name Taekwondo has been spread around the world. Even though Taekwondo is hugely popular it is very difficult to find a qualified instructor outside of Korea. This is because in countries like the USA and others, Taekwondo is unregulated. This means that anyone who wants to, can open a school and claim to teach Taekwondo. Of the 15,000 Taekwondo instructors in the USA only 1% meet the standards of the World Headquarters in Korea and its branch member in the USA, the US National Taekwondo Association.
Taekwondo is No-Doubt the most popular martial art in the world. Taekwondo has taken a big turn in 80’s when the mother body of Sports Taekwondo “The World Taekwondo Federation” started its operations to make it an Olympic Sport. In 1988 Taekwondo become a demonstrative sports in the Olympics.
The requirements to become a Black Belt in Olympic Taekwondo are very low because you only learn the sport techniques, not the lethal skills of the Military Art of Taekwondo taught by the Kwans. That is why 4th degree black belts and higher in Olympic Taekwondo are supposed to be addressed as “Coach”. Even though they lack the skill of a traditional Taekwondo stylist many of these Coaches announce themselves as “Master” or even “Grand Master” because their students are not aware of the difference.
Let us review what is Martial Arts and Sports by definition.
Martial Arts: Comprised of the word “martial,” or warlike, and “art,” martial art is literally translated as art of war. Originally used in actual combat as fighting arts in East Asia, the martial arts now encompass hundreds of different styles of weaponless and armed fighting arts around the world.
In recent years, many of the martial sports derived their names from military arts or martial arts creating a lot of confusion by the public.
A martial sport is governed by a set of rules for competition. No-one on the street is going to obey these rules making this system of fighting almost useless in a real self-defense situation.
The martial arts are distinctly and uniquely superior to martial sports, since they allow development to occur on many different levels simultaneously and provide users with a means of understanding and bettering themselves. Martial Arts develop the mind, body and spirit while martial sports focus on idolization of individuals through sports awards.
The practitioners of Taekwondo are to some extent little disturb about the term Sports Taekwondo or Traditional Taekwondo and wanted to know are they the same thing or different?
To understand the term traditional Taekwondo, one must know that before the formation of WTF, there are about 9 Kwans or striking styles in Korea who are responsible for teaching the art and science of Taekwondo and are still working under the Korea Taekwondo Association.
THE KOREAN KWANS (School of Martial Arts in Korea)
The first Kwan was opened in 1945 in Yong Chun, Seoul. This dojangs (gymnasium) was named the Chung Do Kwan, “Gym of the Blue Wave” under master Won Kuk Lee.
The JiDoKwan was founded by Chun Sang Sup, on May 3, 1946, as the Choson YunMooKwan KongSooDo Bu school. The Kwan is famous in Korea and all over the world for its connection to Korean mafia and crime lords.
It is founded after 1946 by Won Kuk Lee student, Hwang Kee established the MooDukKwan in Seoul, originally calling it TangSooDo.
Yoon Byung In, who taught MuDo with Chun Sang Sup in the Choson YunMuKwan, founded the Chang Moo Kwan in 1946 at the YMCA in Jong Ro, Seoul.
The SongMooKwan was founded by Ro Byung Jik in Kae Song in 1946. SongMooKwan founder Ro Byung Jik studied together with Chung Do Kwan founder Lee Won Kuk in Japan.
The OhDoKwan is founded by Major General Choi Hong Hi and Nam Tae Hi.
The KangDukWon was founded after the Korean War in 1956 by two people. They were Hong Jong Pyo and Park Chul Hee.
Lee Kyo Yoon founded the HanMooKwan in August 1956 and it was the leader of the new schools in the mid 1950’s.
Lee, Yong Woo, the founder of JungDoKwan had begun teaching privately in 1944 but this is often not recognized because he was a student of Won Kuk Lee at the time. He later became famous for helping the police clear the streets of Korean Gang members after the Korean War to help restore civil order to the city of Seoul.
Mostly the curriculum designed in traditional Taekwondo based on the above five set of techniques.
1- Forms – Poomse
2- Sparring – Kyorugi
3- Self-defense – Hosinsool
4- Breaking – Kyokpa
5- Theory – Shin
The traditional Taekwondo makes an extensive use of forms (Poomse) training to develop balance, co-ordination, and speed.
One can become an expert in Taekwondo techniques if he also practices one-step sparring as well as self-defense techniques to masters in the art of Taekwondo.
Wooden board breaking develops power, target accuracy and confidence while theoretical knowledge makes his mind powerful.
Traditional Taekwondo also emphasizes the complete development of the student in Mind, Body and Spirit. Development of life skills such as stress management, self-esteem, focus, and self-discipline help the students to achieve their personal goals both inside and outside of the dojangs. The class exercises not only teach our students how to defend themselves, but lead to improved fitness, weight loss, muscle conditioning, improved flexibility, and improved cardiovascular condition.
The term Sport Taekwondo, Kukki-Taekwondo, started after 1973 when World Taekwondo Federation Coaches start emphasizing sports sparring in their school curriculum.
Through the elimination of deadly techniques and the watering down and elimination of philosophy, Taekwondo coaches converted their military art of Taekwondo into a system of sports competition that focuses on self-admiration instead of self-development.
Although we support those individuals who want to test their skills in competition, the US National Taekwondo Association’s priority is to teach traditional Taekwondo for the benefit of students and families who want to learn the entire mind, body, and spirit training of the military art of Taekwondo.
With all respect in Taekwondo,
Kevin H. Rhodes
Membership Committee Chairman, USNTA
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