From Okinawa to Korea

Discussion in 'Tae-Kwon-Do' started by Michele123, Jan 8, 2018.

  1. Michele123

    Michele123 Orange Belt

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    Hello,
    I studied Shutokan (a small offshoot of Shotokan) as a teen in the 90’s and earned 1st Dan before moving off to college. I continued to train when home, but that was just short stints. Then in 2004 I married and we both went to graduate school. At that point I ceased training altogether.

    Fast-forward to now. My daughter (almost 6) and I started Tae Kwan Do back in October. Because I have smaller children waiting for me at home, I can’t stay and ask all the questions I want after each class. I was hoping maybe this thread could serve as a place for me to ask questions and just talk about the transition from Okinawa karate to Korean Tae Kwan Do.

    First, Shutokan was heavily based on self-defense. We didn’t study traditional weapons. We didn’t compete. It was often discussed that Tae Kwan Do is flashy and impractical. Tae Kwan Do was all kicks and competition and the targets that would be most useful in a self-defense situation you are taught *not* to hit in Tae Kwan Do because of its tournament focus. Do you all find this true? Is Tae Kwan Do so focused on flash and competition that it is impractical? I like the idea of studying a martial art that I can continue if I move again. Tae Kwan Do seems to be in every town. But I don’t want my daughter to have false confidence and not have the self-defense skills it is important for a woman to have.

    Second, in karate it was very important to stay the same height in our katas (forms). In Tae Kwan Do, with walking stances verses long stances and everything else, it seems that bobbing is preferred. Why? Am I misunderstanding something? The goal with not bobbing in karate was so your opponent couldn’t figure out what you were doing next.

    Finally (for now), what is the first Tae Kwan Do form (name escapes me at the moment) so similar to the first Shutokan kata (Pinan Shodan)? I thought Tae Kwan Do wasn’t considered a karate?

    I’ve been enjoying classes very much. I’d forgotten how glorious it is to push yourself and train hard and become so in tune with your body. As kicking was always my favorite part of Shutokan, I’m enjoying the plethora of kicks in Tae Kwan Do. Apparently I understand too much theory already as I’m asking questions that are uncommon for a white belt to ask.

    That leads me to another question. Rank order. Is this different between different Tae Kwan Do schools? At this one, you start as a white belt candidate, then have to learn a form and several basics before testing for your white belt. Next is orange followed by yellow. This seems strange to me as yellow is a lighter color than orange and in Shutokan yellow followed white then orange followed yellow. So a flip from the Tae Kwan Do here.

    Anyhow, because of my background I’m picking things up quickly. I tested for white belt in December and my instructor says he wants me to double test at the end of this month since I already know most of the material and whatnot. I’m actually pretty excited about that. I just wish I had the time to practice that I did back when I was a teen. Being a mom to three little kids, plus two work from home jobs (university professor and database developer) in addition to all the typical household chores, leaves me little time to practice. Most of my practice time is visualizing while rocking the baby to sleep or cooking dinner or drifting off to sleep at night.

    Anyhow, Thank you for reading. I’m excited for this new martial arts journey! I just hope my old way of doing things doesn’t trip me up too much!


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  2. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    It's really not. Not any more (or less) than any other system. That's because the focus is determined more by the school than the style.

    See above. If you're in a school that doesn't know the difference between tricking and kicking, or that is focused entirely on Olympic style competition, then what you've said may be true. But TKD is far, far too large and disparate to make such sweeping statements.
    As far as practicality goes, I will say this. I am involved in physical confrontations about once a week. No, I'm not just a jerk (or at least I don't think I am...); I work in an ER, and this is something that happens on a far too regular basis. While I don't kick patients, I do use my MA training constantly, in real situations. And I've got no complaints about TKD being impractical.

    If you think your head is going to stay the same height during a fight, I question how much actual self-defense orientation that school really had...
    The purpose of staying the same height vs moving up and down has to do with the philosophy of power generation being used and/or purely a stylistic choice.

    There is no one "first" taekwondo form. There are at least 6 different form sets, all of which have a first form.
    Tang Soo Do and Soo Bak Do schools do teach the pinan forms, or close variants thereof. But they're not TKD, either, even if most people would be hard pressed to explain WHY they're not TKD.

    The roots of TKD are directly traceable to Shotokan, however. The founders were primarily trained in that art, with a smattering of Judo and Northern Chinese influences. So in the early days (bear in mind that TKD didn't exist until the mid-1950's) many schools were teaching the Pinan forms (or minor variants) simply because the various TKD form sets hadn't been developed yet.

    Rank order is the same. 10th geup through 1st geup for colored belts, 1st Dan through 9th (or 10th, in a few systems) Dan for black belts.
    The COLOR assigned to a given geup rank varies widely. There's at least one system that uses a camouflage belt...
     
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  3. Headhunter

    Headhunter Senior Master

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    Simply every school is different. Some focus more on self defence others more tournaments
     
  4. Headhunter

    Headhunter Senior Master

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    One reason I've been told about keeping stances same height is that when your fighting if you bob up and down its easier to see an attack coming than if your the same height and move in. Personally I don't agree that much but that's another reason given
     
  5. DaveB

    DaveB 3rd Black Belt

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    There is something to be said for minimising movement around your technique, but not enough to dismiss those who dont make a big deal of it.

    Mostly the keeping level is a power thing though. Also debatable as to what difference it makes.
     
  6. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    And yet, pretty much every professional fighter, be it boxing, grappling or whatever, bobs and weaves. Which tends to make me think that, while power generation theory may play a role in the choice of bob vs steady state of the head during forms, stylistic reasons are probably a bigger factor.
    Just FYI, the Moo Duk Kwan does 'level head' forms.
     
  7. skribs

    skribs Master Black Belt

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    I am going to agree and disagree with the above posters. Because Taekwondo is an Olympic sport, most schools cater to the sport aspect of the art compared to the self defense or practical aspects of it. Now, Taekwondo doesn't teach *not* to hit. You will find that you'll do some non-contact sparring in Taekwondo, but that's usually because half the white and yellow belts will kick each other in the knee on accident if they do contact sparring from the start. My recommendation is to go to the schools, talk to the masters, and try them out to see if its a good fit for what you want.

    My Taekwondo school is more traditional and we keep deeper stances for the majority of our forms. We don't really focus on head height, though. My Master has stated he prefers deeper stances, because if you do need to change levels you can go up or down, but in the shallower walking stances you can only go down. I don't think it's so much about bobbing up and down (although I believe the "sine wave" was part of the curriculum a long time ago), but about being able to change levels and work from a standing position or a deeper stance.

    The self defense that we teach sometimes has short steps and sometimes has long steps, it depends on what we're trying to do.

    My first school had "Exercise 1" as the first thing you were tested on, to get your first yellow stripe, and "Kibon Il Jang" as the first basic form. The school I'm at now starts with "Kibon Il Jang." Most schools in Kukkiwon Taekwondo use either the Palgwe forms or the Taegeuk forms, so your first form will be Teageuk Il Jang or Palgwe Il Jang. "Il Jang" basically means "chapter #1".

    Note that this is just in Kukkiwon, you'll either have Taegeuk or Palgwe forms and might have some extra forms or drills thrown in. In other organizations (ITF, ATA, etc) you may have others. Kukkiwon is also supposedly working on new forms, but I'm not sure if those are going to be for colored belts or black belts.

    Within Kukkiwon, my understanding is there is no standardization pre-black-belt. The school I went to as a kid went white-yellow-orange-purple-green-blue-red-brown-black. When I started, each belt had 3 stripes before getting the next belt, so my old white belt has 3 yellow stripes in electrical tape around it. Halfway through my time there, they switched to a system using the belts with a stripe down the middle, so you'd go solid belt - white stripe - black stripe - next color. I don't know what they did for white belts, but that significantly reduced the amount of tests needed.

    The school I'm in now goes white-yellow-purple-orange-green-blue-red-black. The first four belts are all solid color, we get 1 stripe on green, and 2 stripes each on blue and red. You'll notice there's no brown belt, and that purple and orange got flipped around.

    However, within Kukkiwon, if you get your black belt, then all the other schools in the organization have to recognize you as a black belt. You could be a red belt and go to a new school and they start you over because you're not a red belt in their system, but once you have your Dan rank, you are a black belt no matter where you go.
     
  8. Rough Rider

    Rough Rider Green Belt

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    The first thing to learn is it's Tae Kwon Do, not Tae Kwan Do. Please understand, I'm not trying to be a nit-picky jerk. Both kwon and kwan are Korean words with different meanings.

    Kwon 권 means to strike or smash with the hand
    Kwan 관 means school or organization

    Welcome! I hope you enjoy Taekwondo 태 권 도 as much as I do.
     
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  9. skribs

    skribs Master Black Belt

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    That makes a lot more sense to me now.
     
  10. Michele123

    Michele123 Orange Belt

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    Ah thank you. That makes sense.


    Fascinating! Thank you for such a thorough response. I’ll need to read more about Tae Kwan Do. I didn’t realize it borrowed from Shotokan. That explains why there are a lot of similarities in some areas.

    I looked up the form name in our handbook. The one that seems so similar to Pinan Shodan is called “Ki Bohn Poomse.” The form I’m learning now (only have the first half so far) is “Taegeuk Il Jang.” This is the one that has different stance heights. You had some good points about that just being style. Thank you. I haven’t heard the term “geup” yet. Is that basically the Korean version of “kyu?”


    Ok cool. The one I joined has tournaments but that doesn’t seem to be the focus (whereas it *was* the focus at the first school I tried this summer who claim to be karate but in the fine print it says “westernized Tae Kwan Do.”)

    Yes. This is what I was taught in Shutokan. In sparring we worked hard to keep our head the same height so as to catch our opponent off-guard. Obviously jump kicks were different.

    I’m curious. How is it a power thing?


    Interesting. Thank you.

    Ooh, this was super helpful. Thank you!

    The school I’m at now is the second one I tried and definitely seems more practical than the first one I tried but I am only able to go once a week and only started at the end of October so I figured asking here would be helpful.

    By saying Tae Kwan Do teaches not to hit certain targets, it was in regards to sparring. There were no off-limit targets in Shutokan (though we didn’t do full power contact). From people in my old dojo, I had head that Tae Kwan Do does not allow targets that would be very effective in a self defense situation because they want people in a competition to be safe.

    All your info regarding Kukkiwon is very helpful. I looked up my school’s website and it says they are a part of that. The first form I had to learn to earn my white belt was Ki Bohn Poomse. But I am now in the process of learning Taeguek Il Jang.

    ———-

    I’m really loving training in Tae Kwan Do. Being a mother to three little kids is great but also exhausting. Training in Tae Kwan Do (even if it’s only once a week) has been amazing for my energy and mood. I’m really excited to continue. Christmas break was rough! I look forward to Summer when I won’t be teaching university classes and can go to Tae Kwan Do more often!



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  11. skribs

    skribs Master Black Belt

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    If it was about being safe they wouldn't include the unprotected face as an acceptable target for head shots. We had a LOT of cuts on the faces of practitioners at the last tournament our school went to.

    It's more about the fact that anyone can punch you in the face, but it takes more technique to kick to the face.
     
  12. DaveB

    DaveB 3rd Black Belt

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    When you move all your energy goes forward instead of a portion of it going up.
     
  13. granfire

    granfire Sr. Grandmaster

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    when I started Taekwondo, I started to study the theory a little more, only to find out there are tons of variations.
    if you train with one school, you know exactly one school, even if they are in the same franchise.
    there are Poomse, Hyongs, and what not in terms of forms, the sine wave, oh yes, subject to many discussions, on the yeah or nay.
    But in the end, deep stances train the strength in your legs. You can always stand more upright, but crouching more is really painful when untrained or tired. But that was a lesson learned in fencing, a long time prior to TKD.

    As stated, while Korea has a long illustrious history, TKD isn't but 60 some years old. and then it took the megalomaniac of a general to 'unify' it in some shape. And a lot of good that did! LOL

    there are the olympic style schools, kick to the head, or go home, and the other schools.
    I trained at a school with medium contact in sparring.
    most students were kids, and us adults had day jobs and could not afford to get beat up playing.

    But in terms of self defense, the biggest components are
    awareness of your surroundings, don't go stupid places.
    physical fitness, because, you know, couch potatoes don't last long
    and self awareness. Once you train, you carry yourself different, making you an uninteresting target for the casual mugger.
    and of course, putting some tool at your disposal, just in case. and getting you used to being yelled at, and hit and kicked.
    I think we do neglect the yelling part though. because that is - especially for females, a huge sticking point. we tend to freeze up! I guess that's why you get yelled at in boot camp all the time!

    I believe around a hundred corners, my school traced itself to the ITF.
    the Hyongs where named after relevant korean events and people.
    Chong Chi was the whitebelt form, and while I was always athletic, I thought I was learning how to walk when I started this, not to mention my Spongebob moment 'Three hours Later' WHERE IS THE FRIGGIN END OF THIS FORM!!!!'
    ah, good times! :)

    But aside from asking your Sabum, there is a lot of material out. Not all applicable for you, but hey, Tuttles on TKD was one book I found at the library, next to Tuttles on Karate.

    But yeah, due to the long occupation of Korea by the Japanese, Karate is the cradle of TKD.....
     
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  14. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    Really? And how many schools have you spent enough time in to make this determination?

    The Taegeuk forms are the official forms for KKW schools, and the ONLY forms endorsed by the KKW. Basically, if you're not learning the Taegeuk forms, you're not following the KKW curriculum.
     
  15. skribs

    skribs Master Black Belt

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    I'm going mainly on second-hand knowledge here; a combination of the reputation of the art and what people at other Taekwondo schools in the area say about the art.

    I've heard this. I also know I have a 2nd Dan certificate from KKW, along with certificates from 11th keub to 1st keub, and the Dan ranks up to where I am.

    I also know my school isn't the only KKW school that uses the Palgwes instead of the Taegeuks. Are the Palgwes used in any other organization?
     
  16. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    So, basically, it's a completely unfounded and unsupported assertion. Got it.
    I just find it amusing (as well as a sad example of the state of our educational system) that some people will take a sample size of 0.001% and honestly think they can extrapolate from that to make statements about the entirety of taekwondo.

    Certainly. The KKW is too large to police schools to see if they're following the curriculum. So they have to rely on the integrity of the instructors when they sign off on a form stating that you know the KKW curriculum.

    They're used in our branch of the Moo Duk Kwan.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2018
  17. auntlisa1103

    auntlisa1103 White Belt

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    As others have said, I think many of the differences you are noticing have more to do with the school and instructors than with the art.

    At the school where I train you don’t test for white, and there are not multiple stages of white, yellow or orange. It goes white, yellow, orange, two gups of green, two gups of blue, two gups of red, two gups of brown, cho dan (temp black), then 1st dan black.

    Our white belts learn 2 saju kong bang forms, then from yellow forward we learn tae geuk forms.

    In sparring, we are not allowed head shots until black belt because some people have more control than others. Years ago they actually changed the script of one of our one-step spars from a snap kick to a knee strike because a brown belt got over zealous and bashed his partner’s teeth in. They also do only one-steps until black belt, when they start three-steps. This is because years ago a brown belt got shot in the shoulder because he did nothing more than block the first two punches and tried to wait for the third attack before he countered. The third attack was the gun. That day, my Master says, they moved to one-steps.

    If a student chooses to compete they will help us train for that, but it’s not a focus. It’s about self defense and how everything would apply if we ever had to use it in a real life situation.

    So as I said, I really think it’s more about the people running the school than anything else.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2018
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  18. CB Jones

    CB Jones Senior Master

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    Yeah, the lineage my son is part of was founded in 1948 but did not adopt the “Olympic style” or adhere to any rules or regulations by KKW or any other organization.
     
  19. Michele123

    Michele123 Orange Belt

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    Thank you all for your comments. This has been very enlightening. I really do like the school I’ve joined and am very excited to climb the ranks again. The adult class is small. For regulars there are 8 black belts, 2 second dans, a red belt (getting reading to test for Black), a purple belt (2 belts away from black I think), and myself (a white belt). Th youth class has many more students and belt ranges. The little kids class (that my daughter is in) only has 3 or 4 students. I love how close-knit the TKD families seem to get as well as how welcoming they are to newcomers. By my second class I felt accepted and part of the group.

    Today is Tuesday and I am crazy excited for class. Hopefully I’ve got the first half of Taeguek Il Jang down well enough that I can learn the second half tonight.

    So, in regards to TKD KKW schools, is Taeguek Il Jang the same in each school? Or are there even variations within the forms?

    Also, we have things to learn call “basic one-steps” (I’ve learned 1-7) and “basic kicking” (I learned 1-5 for my white belt and I’ve been shown and am working on 6-12 now). Is this a school-specific thing or a system wide thing?


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  20. skribs

    skribs Master Black Belt

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    The Taegeuk forms should be the same, although KKW likes to make minor changes to them each year to force Masters to attend their meetings.

    Other forms will have vast amounts of variation.
     

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