Taekwondo - the public image - why it sucks!

Discussion in 'Tae-Kwon-Do' started by Markku P, Aug 4, 2011.

  1. Markku P

    Markku P Blue Belt

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    Taekwondo - the public image - why it sucks! ( this was in my blog )

    I think I have written about this before but I feel so strongly about it that I have to continue with it! First of all Taekwondo and its public image: how much of the public knows about us? What do they know about us? If they know about us then what is our message or so called "brand image".

    When I look at World federations or the Kukkiwon's web site, I almost feel I have to vomit! Who is behind those sites? What is their message and purpose? Have they hired some 12 year old kid to create them? (OK, this was actually a joke, 12 year old kids today can do much better work with web-sites!)

    The Kukkiwon and WTF are two of the most important Taekwondo organizations right now and many people are visiting their web-sites to get more information about Taekwondo.

    ...and what will they find?

    We have to have a clear identity within our message. Who are we targeting and what are our strengths?

    Who is training in Taekwondo and what kind of people do we want to attract?

    For me the answer is simple. I’d like to get more children and their parents to get involved. I’d like to get intelligent adults who are looking for something for the body and soul (like Yoga) or some who are looking for something that will challenge them physically and mentally.

    My problem is how we representing our art in the mass media. No intelligent person likes to see someone getting kick in the head or someone getting hurt, for that matter. That is how we show our art...Where are the smiling kids who are having a good time with their training, or pictures of adults who are training and showing 100% focus in their eyes.

    Perhaps we should learn something from the field of yoga! They have a great image right now. They show that yoga is spiritual training, and at the same time great physical training...and what are we showing? Kicks to the head?

    We should really define what we’d like to be and put that message out! Everything starts from the high level; the world taekwondo federation is our main organization so they should act first. Then Kukkiwon should start to follow their own rules and keep the standard high for black belts (this is easier to say than do), this is the first step. Clean up our own act and then we are ready to show up in public.

    Of course we get the biggest media coverage from competitions so we should clean our act there. The fighters, coaches and leaders should be held more accountable for the ways they act. Winning or losing, it doesn't matter; everyone should show a high level of respect and good behavior towards others. (Just remember that fighter from Cuba in the Olympic games 2008).

    Perhaps I am just dreaming about all of this but like someone once said... "I have a dream..."


    Yours,

    Markku P.
     
  2. Cyriacus

    Cyriacus Senior Master

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    Ah yes, the public image. I can never decide who to blame for that. The KKW having poor marketing, or everyone stereotyping the MA based on the WTF Sparring Form.

    Ill start by saying, that although personally i prefer the ITF Form; For reasons im sure you would all approve of, and which is written in my Blog so i dont have to repeat myself; i have a great deal of Respect for the KKW Form. And it is truly tragic that it is hard to take it seriously, if you either A: Introduce yourself to it via the Internet, or B: Fall in with the Stereotype.

    I shall say no more; You covered the rest.
     
  3. thelegendxp

    thelegendxp Yellow Belt

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    Yeah, as far as the public(general public, as opposed to martial arts communities) image is concerned, the media is definitely the biggest contributor. However, I personally do not think that there is no quick fix to this because of the general image of "Asian martial arts" portrayed by many media. Kung Fu, Karate, Taekwondo, etc. are simply treated as very similar entities (similar to how chinese, japanese, and koreans are treated as "Asians") and the subsequent portrayal of the martial arts as a very "asian-ninja-kickass" thing causes the general public to possess a set image towards almost all martial arts. The image of Asians being socially awkward, being a nerd, or cheap still stands strong in core media such as Hollywood production movies. Though I value that there are people out there that are concerned, I do think it is a tough thing to deal with. Still, I also "have a dream" that the media portrayal of today will start to make shift!
     
  4. thelegendxp

    thelegendxp Yellow Belt

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    I get that a lot. I transferred from a KKW to an ITF recently, and I get so much **** with everything that I say or do. I think they almost demoted me to a white belt for using the instep instead of ball of my foot doing a 90 degree roundhouse. I still take pride in that I get to work as an ambassador of KKW TKD!
     
  5. Cyriacus

    Cyriacus Senior Master

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    XD - There are Instep Kicks, but they are stored seperately. The way you phrased that is quite amusing :)

    If im not mistaken, the Patterns are quite different as well. Im sure that when, or when you do, get to do some Patterns, it was or will be, great fun to hear their response :D
     
  6. ralphmcpherson

    ralphmcpherson Senior Master

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    First of all the general public's image - the general public usually do not know the difference between karate, tkd, kung fu, kenpo, jujitsu etc etc, they just think they are different asian sounding names for the same thing. I was 30 when I started, and even as an adult who had some previous karate experience I thought they were basically all the same. Even most of my non-martial arts mates when they first found out I had a black belt in tkd started with all the "ooh, I wouldnt mess with you" comments. I think the real image problem comes from other martial artists, which used to concern me. These days it doesnt concern me because I realised 99% of all martial artists who are negative towards tkd have never actually done tkd, they have just googled it. I had a martial artist ask me recently "why is there no punching in tkd?", I asked how long they had done tkd for and they replied "Ive never done it". Enough said.
     
  7. msmitht

    msmitht 2nd Black Belt

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    Watch "The Foot Fist Way". For most in the United States, this is the kind of TKD they have been exposed to. That, combined with the ATA and that crap they show on ESPN2 at night, is a major reason why the general public does not like TKD.
    Oh yeah, there is also this thing called MMA............
     
  8. ralphmcpherson

    ralphmcpherson Senior Master

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    I agree about foot fist way, but the same could also be said for many other types of martial arts, Ive seen many karate clubs, for instance, that resemble that movie. I dont know about MMA, with their ruleset no MA by itself will be successful. You hear people say that no tkdist has been successful in MMA, but if you went and fought MMA rules and 'only' knew muay thai or 'only' knew bjj you would get destroyed, you basically need to cover all ranges, which means combining several ma's, so the same could be said for most arts in regards to mma.
     
  9. Tez3

    Tez3 Sr. Grandmaster

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    You are correct of course about no one art being any good in MMA ( I won't state the obvious lol about it being MIXED martial arts) but a good many TKD people are successful in MMA because of their standup including punches.
     
  10. oftheherd1

    oftheherd1 Senior Master

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    OK, first I am not a TKD practition (nor did I ever play one in a movie :)). But I did study it for over a year, albeit some 45+ years ago. But probably all MA suffer from image problems to an extent. TKD may have its own branding problems, but so do other MA.

    As mentioned above, it probably comes from competition and the media coverage of that. Competition rules, whatever you say about the reasons good or bad, are not MA rules per se. They are competition rules to prevent injuries. MA are after all, generally about causing injury or death. Competitions are not.

    I don't know the history of the current TKD competition rules. When I studied TKD, the idea was to always use maximum power, and always seek a new maximum. That was a thing Jhoon Goo Rhee said over and over in training. However, it was also understood that the punch or kick had to be controlled, so in competition it could and had to be, stopped just short of contact.

    Perhaps that wasn't considered realistic by some teachers or students. We never had a problem understanding when to contact and when not to. It had to do with the way we were taught. But I think the point is that under the current rules, it still doesn't "look" that realistic in competitions. The public doesn't see what is taught in class, if they see or hear about anything, it is competitions. Hearing about world organizations argueing with each other can't be good for an MA's image either when the public hears about it.

    As to MMA, I guess I am preaching to the choir, but they have rules too. Any other MA practitioner that has to leave his MA's teaching, and enter a MMA competition is going to be at a big disadvantage. He doesn't know the rules, and doesn't know how to use many other things that are allowed in MMA. It would be the same if a TKD practioner (or most other MA), had to fight a boxer. If you have to fight by a boxer's rules, you may go down pretty quickly. If you are allowed to use all your skills, the boxer won't have a chance.

    Just my two cents.
     
  11. Manny

    Manny Senior Master

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    For me the resposible for the bad attention TKD is having are many factors, one is the media, you see the olimpics and only see two people weaqring a protector vest (hogu) (now an electronic piece of ......) a helmet and a pair of electronic socks that not always score right points, plus you see two competitors bobing playing around feinting and with an unrealistic low guard trowing a couple of kicks and then go for the clinch and stop the fight, other factor for the bad rap for TKD are the masters and instructors who teach only sport TKD and leave the self defense and martiality in the last part, the clases are all the same, you see a lot of kids doing unrealistic kicks to the head (doly chagui, chigo/neryo chagui, bakat chagui, an chagui, troenado kicks ,etc,) and never or almost never practice punching or another hand techs., other big component to the bad rap on TKD is the WTF and the KUKIWON they simply are looking sports ahead.

    Just pass by the JKA web page and you see what a martial arts web page must be, sobrius,nice,elegant and showing the true beauty of karate do.

    Manny
     
  12. Cyriacus

    Cyriacus Senior Master

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    See now, i can understand how if someone randomly found this, they wouldnt be too impressed.

    When they fight, its good. When theyre not, theyre aimlessly feinting, and standing around. This is what uneducated preconceptions are made of.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 24, 2014
  13. oftheherd1

    oftheherd1 Senior Master

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    Hello, IT Department? Can you send someone to look at my sound card please? I'm watching something on youtube and can't get the music to play.

    You are so right Cyriacus. It illustrates my point above about competition rules.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 24, 2014
  14. Manny

    Manny Senior Master

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    Too much atention to sport competition and too little atention to the real clasic TKD that's why TKD has a bad reputation amoung the martial arts circle. A couple of weeks ago I was in a Shotokan Dojo invited with another martial arts teachers (aikido,lima-lama,budo taijutsu) and when it was my turn I explained what TKD is nad have clear statemets that TKD is a Korean Martial Art like Karate or Lima-Lama or even Aikido, for thta matters I show a couple of kicking combos and self defense techs. I also said TKD is a nice full contact sport.

    Manny
     
  15. thelegendxp

    thelegendxp Yellow Belt

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    As you have said, I think this largely applies to bad reputation among people who know at least something about martial arts , but in the general public in mind, the media's portrayal of 'kickass and dangerous asian martial arts' has greater effect. I think what needs to happen is a shine of light in the true TKD, to raise awareness among MA practitioners and to fight against the bloody stereotypes of today. One is easier than another
     
  16. Kong Soo Do

    Kong Soo Do IKSDA Director

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    Mark, you've asked a very serious and direct question. It deserves a serious and direct answer if anything is going to come of it other than just another thread on some web board.

    First, what IS the public image. Difficult to answer for ALL the public, but we can generally start with what is probable. Taekwondo, as an image, is day care kiddie karate. It isn't a serious martial art. And to be blunt, it isn't really a martial art it is a martial sport. It caters to children and allows 6 year old black belts to run around yelling 'hi-ya'. It offers a questionable Olympic sport and local competitions for bullies and poor sports, including the adults. It has belts that have every color of the rainbow including stripes to keep the carrot dangling in front of the kid (or adult doing a hobby), with a $50 tag attached to each. It has a easily achievable BB in the shortest amount of time because hey...if a 6 year old can do it...

    That is the image of TKD. And to be honest, that is just what many people want. It makes them more money that way.

    In my area TKD schools come and go. They have no staying power because to be honest, with the internet, people are waking up to what a crock TKD actually has become. The schools in my area that have demonstrated staying power are Okinawan Karate, Aikido and Jujutsu. Why? They are perceived, justifiably, as serious martial arts with stringent standards. The Aikido school for example has a minimum of five years to BB if all requirements are passed. The student wears a white belt the entire time until BB is achieved.

    Alright, let's talk. You've seen me and Glenn go around on this. You've seen my deliberate and straight-forward view on the WTF and KKW (and others). There is a reason Mark (and everyone)...they are a joke and SHOULD make you want to vomit in your own mouth. They violate their own standards on a whim. They have zero accountability. Leaders have committed crimes against the organization and other members. There has been deliberate racial discrimination. The majority of BB's in the organization belong to children in Korea where it is passed out like candy. And now they have a world wide money grab...er, special testing.

    And this is suppose to be the premier TKD organization? Really? Seriously? And then you wonder why TKD gets such a bad rap?

    How about all of you ditch the WTF and KKW? Oh, I know someone will say they provide a unified standard to follow. My response, what unified standard? The one they make you follow or the one for their buddies? Which side of the double-standard are you? Those that sing the praises of these corrupt organizations...what is there angle? Are they hooked into them in some way that requires the orgs continued existence and financial flow? Are they hooked into it for their rank? Have they spent so much time and money that they have nothing else without it? Serious questions.

    Maybe a BUNCH of you should for a cooperative? One with serious and strict standards and rules that don't get changed at a whim. One that doesn't charge an arm and a leg to join. Here's a thought...make it free (or at least only what is needed to print a cert and ship it...about $10). The ones that are only in TKD for the money won't join, but then you don't need or want them anyway.

    The KKW and the other big orgs aren't going to change unless they are really shoved hard to do so. And no one is really going to be doing any shoving anytime soon are they? Be honest. This makes a dandy web discussion but that's all it is isn't it? Great place to rant and complain but it isn't like any of you are going to do anything...are you? Here's a little lesson from physics; an object at rest (KKW) tends to stay at rest unless acted upon by an outside force (you).

    So...does any of this go beyond MT or is it just a feel-good-to-rant thread?
     
  17. ETinCYQX

    ETinCYQX Master Black Belt

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    KSD...You do understand that the KKW does NO enforcement right? That's not their job and it never has been. And as far as the WTF goes, if you like to compete you'd be a fool to be involved anywhere else really.
     
  18. Kong Soo Do

    Kong Soo Do IKSDA Director

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    Perhaps it should have been from the beginning. It would have avoided quite a bit of the problems that have arisen.

    And if people want to compete under the WTF then this means that you WILL do what they tell you to do. You WILL follow their commands. If there is any wrong doing on their part you WILL look the other way. And you WILL do it without complaint.
     
  19. ETinCYQX

    ETinCYQX Master Black Belt

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    The WTF literally only tells me what I have to wear to their events. They've never cheated me nor anyone I know, what I pay to the WTF indirectly is not worth mentioning, and I still run my classes exactly the way I would anyway. Literally the only thing I "have" to do is own a V neck dobok.
     
  20. ralphmcpherson

    ralphmcpherson Senior Master

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    So true, great post. That is exactly why our club went independent and you only have to see the looks on the faces of those who come to our club from kukkiwon clubs to see it was the best decision the club ever made. I will say though, there are plenty of 6 year old karate black belts running around also, not as many as tkd, but there are more tkd clubs so obviously there will be more tkd kiddie black belts.123
     

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