Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Why Taekwondo history research matter

Introduction: I put a lot of emphasis on both my writings, research and energy (not to say money as
well) into learning and understanding Taekwondo and martial arts history. Often I am asked why I bother with it, as there is perceived to be very little to gain from this, and it can be quite time consuming. Also I have heard (and will undoubtfully hear it more in the future) that understanding and learning history will not make someones side kick any better. It is true that history will not make you perform physically better, but in my opinion it is one of the areas that are grossly overlooked and despite what people believe and perceive, I personally have gained a lot from this research. In the hopes to motivate others into delving a little more into history I will write a few points on what this is in this post.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

The interconnectedness of Poomsae

In the old days it was normal even for a master of the martial arts to know as few as 1-5 forms, but
these forms were studied in great depth. Today we have a situation where we have an abundance of forms, which promotes a wide but shallow study of them, but as Funakoshi writes and I am paraphrasing heavily here; the forms are just variations on a theme. This means that if you know one or a few form(s) indepth, you will come to understand another form much more easily than someone who does not have a clue. The forms are made for self defense, and this is even confirmed for the Taekwondo forms of the KTA (also recognized by the Kukkiwon and WTF) by Lee Kyu Hyun in his 2010 book "What is Taekwondo Poomsae?". This means that the "problem" or "theme" that the forms are a variation of is the same for Karate, Taekwondo and many Chinese systems as well, the theme being self defense, or the countering of physical violence.

Friday, 7 October 2016

Sword + Taekwondo = True?

Taekwondo is concerned with unarmed
conflict for the most part, allthough it would be a lie to say that it did not have defenses against weapons too in its syllabus. It does not matter wether you look into the Kukkiwon Textbook or the Encyclopedias of Choi Hong Hi on this matter, and most of the early books on Taekwondo included some defenses against weapons. Many will probably be suprised when I say that in the Kukkiwon Textbook there are examples of defenses against long stick, club, knife, pistol, bayonet and the sword. Many will indeed be suprised, as these are not widely practised anymore, but others will still be taught defenses against all or some of them even today. My take on this is that to be able to defend against weapons you need to familiarize yourself with them, so I find it likely that the older practisioners of Taekwondo had some basic training with all of these weapons. That being said, weapons forms, and more systematizised weapons study has not typically been seen in Taekwondo Dojang. Sure there are those who wants to charge more money form their students and include some XMA inspired "weapons programs" (note the "-signs in "weapons"), and there are those who are even more "ingenious" when it comes to including weapons training. One Korean master I came across had developed a revolutionary weapons program with the sword where you would essentually be doing the Taegeuk series with a sword instead of the normal hand techniques. And Amarican master I came across tried to sell the idea of an ancient sword form that he had discovered in a Korean temple which turned out to be Taegeuk Il Jang with a sword. Except for Master Kim Bok Man I do not know of any Taekwondo masters who teach weapons as a genuine part of their art. This goes to show that Taekwondo is essentually a weaponless system.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Micro post; This months quote

Hi there:-) I was reading "The unfettered mind" the other day and one of the things Takuan Soho writes made me think about why we do Poomsae over and over again. It made perfect sense to me, so I thought I should share it with you here. As you know I think that Poomsa (among other things) display tactics and strategy, or principles through a collection of techniques in other words.

The Unfettered Mind by Takuan Soho page 11:

"Even though you know principle, you must make youself perfectly free in the use of technique"

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

The relationship between sparring and forms, a Taekwondo perspective

This article was originally published in Totally Taekwondo Magazine 1st of July 2016. It looks at Taekwondo litterature ranging from 1958 to 2010 and looks into how Taekwondo textbooks have defined sparring and forms individually and then tackles the age old quesiton wether the two have a relationship between them. I hope you will find this interesting, and since this is meant to be a serious article and not "just a blogpost" it contains references to all the books I have used for this article, as well as exactly where each of my quotes has been found. Earlier I have done a lousy job With this, just providing the person behind the quote and maybe a title, but if a reference is to have true value it needs to pinpoint a location so that people can go and check all my claims, and do it easily instead of having to sift through a whole book each time. It is my hope that more will try to write and produce more serious Taekwondo litterature over time so that we can elevate the martial art we all love and respect. I might not be a scholar but I do try, and this is the result of just that.

Friday, 29 July 2016

Dangkinun Son - The pulling hand

Dangkinun son (당기는손) or the pulling hand refers to the arm/hand that is seemingly doing nothing
in the textbook applications of Taekwondo basic techniques. This is the hand on the hip in most techniques in Poomsae. While one hand is punching, striking of blocking the other hand is pulled back to the hip. We know based on the writings of Funakoshi (and several others) that this part of the technique is actually a very important active part of it and not something passively done for the sake of it. Nor is the hand placed on the hip to be "ready" for the next move (although that happens also sometimes). More often than not the other hand is checking the opponents arm, removing his defenses, pulling him off balance and generally opening the opponent up for a strike. Taekwondo is often said to be a simplified version of Japanese Karate, Japanese Karate being an already simplified version of Okinawan Karate. I think that the Taekwondo we generally see today is simplified in the extreme (albeit with a lot of added foot techniques), not because it was based on Japanese Karate, but because over time Taekwondo has been sportified and defanged in many ways to appeal to new students. This has worked a lot when looking at the number of students as the number one sucsess criteria, but in my eyes a lot has been lost over the years. The concept of the pulling hand is one of these things. Why I devote so much time on this concept you ask? It is one of the most distinguishing features of our basic techniques, and after reading Richard Chun`s 1976 book I again was firmly reminded of what has been lost.