discouraged by the TKD community

J. Pickard

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Lately I have been feeling very discouraged and ashamed to say I train in TKD as well as calling what my school teaches Taekwondo. My lineage is mostly Chung Do Kwan and followed into Kukki TKD under the late Ed Sell. When I inherited my dojang from my instructor a few years ago we were with the US CDKA. I made the choice to leave for what I considered to be dishonest and cult like behavior as well as a very steep decline in quality control. Not caring about gaining new rank I decided to remain independent but had a few students asking about certification from Kukkiwon or ITF for when they left for college just in case their rank was questioned (spoiler, it wasn't). Looking into how to go about joining either one and through reading a lot of posts on this forum as well as others I have discovered a lot of things I would consider negative about both organizations and the state of the TKD community as a whole; ITF is very much a cult of personality bordering on full on worship of Gen. Choi and Kukkiwon seems to care more about the money in your wallet and pushing a nationalistic message than anything else. I started training to learn practical martial arts and my original instructor was taught TKD as a practical martial art. My philosophy in training mostly comes from a letter to my instructor from Richard Chun. In it he says "Train as you have been taught, but keep an open mind. Just like in life, there are no absolutes in Taekwondo". So imagine my surprise when I begin to make connections (some here on MT) and begin to network within ITF and Kukkiwon and nobody gives a damn about exploring Taekwondo as an effective martial art. Instead I am bombarded with comments from ITF about how if it isn't how Gen. Choi taught it then it's wrong and if it doesn't work for you that way then you need to train harder. Kukkiwon keeps telling me about all of the books/dvds I need to buy and seminars I need to attend, telling me that the old KKW textbook is wrong in every way and the only way I can learn "real" Kukki TKD is by buying the newest version; a sentiment I have seen repeated on this forum a few times. Everyone is focused on doing it HOW either organization says it should be done and never explore the WHY it is done that way or even looking to see if there is another way equally as good or better. There is no room for discourse, there is no room for exploration of the art to try to make it practical. Why, oh why, is Taekwondo even considered a martial art at this point? ITF is so dogmatic that I'm surprised it doesn't have tax exempt status in the US and Kukki TKD is unrecognizable as a form of effective combat but damn if they don't know how to sell ******** (what the hell even is "taekwondo dance"?). Every time I drive past a daycare center I wonder how many of the kids in there are Kukkiwon black belts and when I see a faith healer I wonder if he learned his moves from C.K. Choi or his father. The only time I see genuine interest in Taekwondo as an actual martial art is from old timers (meant in the most respectable sense) that started training in the early days of either organization and/or instructors that have since gone independent. I have seen more posts on this forum about how another art has made an individual's TKD more practical in a fight and never vise versa. How did the two major governing bodies of a once great martial art come to care about every aspect of taekwondo EXCEPT for the martial art part of it?

And before you go into the "tHerE Is MoRe To MaRtiAL aRts ThAn FiGhTing", if you can't fight with it in the most minimal of aspects then it's not a martial art (it's literally in the name). If you only train for the non combat aspects (better focus, discipline, balance, etc.) then what you are doing is tantamount to LITERALLY ANY OTHER PHYSICAL ACTIVITY THAT USES THE BODY AS THE VEHICLE FOR ACHIEVEMENT. Call it what it is, if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and you do TKD you might say it's a rooster.
 

Earl Weiss

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I don't speak for all or any of the ITFs. Certainly not for KKW. However, However, I understand that if you want to join and accurately represent the system they follow, then you need to teach perform and understand that system accurately. This is " quality control" Otherwise you return to the fractured systems of yesteryear where everyone does different stuff and the rt is no longer "portable." Having said that, knowing numerous people in various ITFs and having been (No Longer) an ITF member for 38 years, while accurately representing the system is required I have never heard anyone say you can't do other stuff as well. So, if "An effective Martial Art" is your goal, teach whatever the heck you feel that is in addition to whatever the standardized requirements are.
 

dvcochran

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Lately I have been feeling very discouraged and ashamed to say I train in TKD as well as calling what my school teaches Taekwondo. My lineage is mostly Chung Do Kwan and followed into Kukki TKD under the late Ed Sell. When I inherited my dojang from my instructor a few years ago we were with the US CDKA. I made the choice to leave for what I considered to be dishonest and cult like behavior as well as a very steep decline in quality control. Not caring about gaining new rank I decided to remain independent but had a few students asking about certification from Kukkiwon or ITF for when they left for college just in case their rank was questioned (spoiler, it wasn't). Looking into how to go about joining either one and through reading a lot of posts on this forum as well as others I have discovered a lot of things I would consider negative about both organizations and the state of the TKD community as a whole; ITF is very much a cult of personality bordering on full on worship of Gen. Choi and Kukkiwon seems to care more about the money in your wallet and pushing a nationalistic message than anything else. I started training to learn practical martial arts and my original instructor was taught TKD as a practical martial art. My philosophy in training mostly comes from a letter to my instructor from Richard Chun. In it he says "Train as you have been taught, but keep an open mind. Just like in life, there are no absolutes in Taekwondo". So imagine my surprise when I begin to make connections (some here on MT) and begin to network within ITF and Kukkiwon and nobody gives a damn about exploring Taekwondo as an effective martial art. Instead I am bombarded with comments from ITF about how if it isn't how Gen. Choi taught it then it's wrong and if it doesn't work for you that way then you need to train harder. Kukkiwon keeps telling me about all of the books/dvds I need to buy and seminars I need to attend, telling me that the old KKW textbook is wrong in every way and the only way I can learn "real" Kukki TKD is by buying the newest version; a sentiment I have seen repeated on this forum a few times. Everyone is focused on doing it HOW either organization says it should be done and never explore the WHY it is done that way or even looking to see if there is another way equally as good or better. There is no room for discourse, there is no room for exploration of the art to try to make it practical. Why, oh why, is Taekwondo even considered a martial art at this point? ITF is so dogmatic that I'm surprised it doesn't have tax exempt status in the US and Kukki TKD is unrecognizable as a form of effective combat but damn if they don't know how to sell ******** (what the hell even is "taekwondo dance"?). Every time I drive past a daycare center I wonder how many of the kids in there are Kukkiwon black belts and when I see a faith healer I wonder if he learned his moves from C.K. Choi or his father. The only time I see genuine interest in Taekwondo as an actual martial art is from old timers (meant in the most respectable sense) that started training in the early days of either organization and/or instructors that have since gone independent. I have seen more posts on this forum about how another art has made an individual's TKD more practical in a fight and never vise versa. How did the two major governing bodies of a once great martial art come to care about every aspect of taekwondo EXCEPT for the martial art part of it?

And before you go into the "tHerE Is MoRe To MaRtiAL aRts ThAn FiGhTing", if you can't fight with it in the most minimal of aspects then it's not a martial art (it's literally in the name). If you only train for the non combat aspects (better focus, discipline, balance, etc.) then what you are doing is tantamount to LITERALLY ANY OTHER PHYSICAL ACTIVITY THAT USES THE BODY AS THE VEHICLE FOR ACHIEVEMENT. Call it what it is, if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and you do TKD you might say it's a rooster.
Have you looked at Moo Duk Kwan TKD?
It is our base style. We crossover into WT/Kukki style for competition and upper belt progression but the training is very different.
That said, I feel there is depth in each system you may be missing by only looking at them from a face value, academic perspective. However, I agree Kukki is not very deep at all.
 

SahBumNimRush

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So, I wear the name Taekwondo, but our training and curriculum look more Japanese/Okinawan Karate than they do "modern" Taekwondo. As DVCochran, I also train in Moo Duk Kwan Taekwondo, and I guess I represent a version of Taekwondo that fractured from the modernization movement in the 1960's.

There was a time, when I had seriously considered KKW certification, but I later came to the conclusion that the KKW does not represent the "version" of TKD that I teach and practice. Therefore, it provided little benefit for me.

At this point in my journey, I'm more concerned with the training, and less concerned about what organization I belong to. I would probably feel different if there was an organization that perfectly represented what I do, but there isn't. I do belong to an organization that helps to promote these types of "traditional" schools, but it's more of a path for rank promotion and preservation of the heritage of the original kwan practitioners in the U.S.
 
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J. Pickard

J. Pickard

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So, I wear the name Taekwondo, but our training and curriculum look more Japanese/Okinawan Karate than they do "modern" Taekwondo. As DVCochran, I also train in Moo Duk Kwan Taekwondo, and I guess I represent a version of Taekwondo that fractured from the modernization movement in the 1960's.

There was a time, when I had seriously considered KKW certification, but I later came to the conclusion that the KKW does not represent the "version" of TKD that I teach and practice. Therefore, it provided little benefit for me.

At this point in my journey, I'm more concerned with the training, and less concerned about what organization I belong to. I would probably feel different if there was an organization that perfectly represented what I do, but there isn't. I do belong to an organization that helps to promote these types of "traditional" schools, but it's more of a path for rank promotion and preservation of the heritage of the original kwan practitioners in the U.S.
What forms/kata/poomsae/hyung do you practice? Sounds like you train very similar to how I do.
 

SahBumNimRush

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What forms/kata/poomsae/hyung do you practice? Sounds like you train very similar to how I do.
Kicho 1-3, Pyung Ahn 1-5, Bassai, Naihanchi 1-3, Chinto, Kong Sang Gun are the main forms in our curriculum. I know my KJN used to teach a few others, but discarded them from the curriculum decades ago. I also know, Rohai, Seisan, Jion, Wanshu, Ship Soo, and Kong Sang Gun Dae, but it's not a part of our official curriculum.
 

dvcochran

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So, I wear the name Taekwondo, but our training and curriculum look more Japanese/Okinawan Karate than they do "modern" Taekwondo. As DVCochran, I also train in Moo Duk Kwan Taekwondo, and I guess I represent a version of Taekwondo that fractured from the modernization movement in the 1960's.

There was a time, when I had seriously considered KKW certification, but I later came to the conclusion that the KKW does not represent the "version" of TKD that I teach and practice. Therefore, it provided little benefit for me.

At this point in my journey, I'm more concerned with the training, and less concerned about what organization I belong to. I would probably feel different if there was an organization that perfectly represented what I do, but there isn't. I do belong to an organization that helps to promote these types of "traditional" schools, but it's more of a path for rank promotion and preservation of the heritage of the original kwan practitioners in the U.S.
I was able to see my 7th Dan MDK certificate signed by GM Jae Kyu Chun shortly before his passing. This will always carry great gravity and be dear to my heart. The Chun family are great people with a great MDK legacy.
I am a traditionalist at heart but did get very involved in the Olympic circuit in the 80's and 90's. One of the big downsides (as I get older at least) is keeping up with the 50 plus forms for both sides (MDK & KKW).

We still test MDK for the color and black belts. We have a strong college age clientele who need to test KKW for transfer reasons so most people test both ways. A luxury we have through our GM and our structure without people having to travel to test. For 6th Dan and below testing's we have KKW officials come to Nashville for testing.
For all other KKW functions (Master License Course and such) we have to travel.
 

Buka

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I've had a hate/love relationship with TKD for fifty years. Some of my dearest martial friends are TKD.
Some of my sworn mortal enemies are TKD.

I hold a fourth in TKD from long ago. Only studied it to fight them from within.

The moral of this is - accomplished Martial Artists can have an effect on younger Martial Artists. Sometimes good, sometimes not so good.
 

SahBumNimRush

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I was able to see my 7th Dan MDK certificate signed by GM Jae Kyu Chun shortly before his passing. This will always carry great gravity and be dear to my heart. The Chun family are great people with a great MDK legacy.
I am a traditionalist at heart but did get very involved in the Olympic circuit in the 80's and 90's. One of the big downsides (as I get older at least) is keeping up with the 50 plus forms for both sides (MDK & KKW).

We still test MDK for the color and black belts. We have a strong college age clientele who need to test KKW for transfer reasons so most people test both ways. A luxury we have through our GM and our structure without people having to travel to test. For 6th Dan and below testing's we have KKW officials come to Nashville for testing.
For all other KKW functions (Master License Course and such) we have to travel.
Ah yes, the 80's and 90's. My KJN, GM Sok Ho Kang was involved with the olympic development at that time as well. I competed on the Junior circuit, qualifying for the Junior Olympics a couple of times. GM Kang never supported us getting KKW certification at that time, as his reputation, and the rules at the time did not require it.

There was quite a scandal within the USTU in the 90's, and the end result was that we backed out of supporting Olympic development. He felt it was detracting from the true essence of TKD, and the corruption of money and power were ruining the reputation of TKD.

I had mixed feelings about it, but at the end of the day, we remained under his direction and maintained our "traditional" curriculum.
 

drop bear

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By the way. You find a tkd club that competes in kick boxing.
 

Dirty Dog

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What forms/kata/poomsae/hyung do you practice? Sounds like you train very similar to how I do.
It seems to be fairly typical of MDK schools. We do the 6 Kicho forms, the 8 Palgwae forms, then the same yudanja forms as a KKW school. We do offer KKW certification, and those students learn the Taeguek forms. I also teach the Chang Hon forms, but those are entirely optional. Most of our students have stayed with MDK. We also do the various forms at different ranks. Our Dan tests use the same forms as the KKW, but one rank sooner. You do Koryo to earn 1st Dan, Keumgang to earn 2nd, etc.
 

dvcochran

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Ah yes, the 80's and 90's. My KJN, GM Sok Ho Kang was involved with the olympic development at that time as well. I competed on the Junior circuit, qualifying for the Junior Olympics a couple of times. GM Kang never supported us getting KKW certification at that time, as his reputation, and the rules at the time did not require it.

There was quite a scandal within the USTU in the 90's, and the end result was that we backed out of supporting Olympic development. He felt it was detracting from the true essence of TKD, and the corruption of money and power were ruining the reputation of TKD.

I had mixed feelings about it, but at the end of the day, we remained under his direction and maintained our "traditional" curriculum.
I remember your GM. He is close in age to my GM Seoung Eui Shin. Sad but true of the scandal about the USTU which is why is was dissolved and USATKD took over.
Political jockeying is a way of life in the Korean MA's culture for as far back as I can remember. The titles and names change but the background jostling and poking seem to stay the same.

I went to the battle of Cincinnati several times. Maybe we crossed paths?
 

SahBumNimRush

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I remember your GM. He is close in age to my GM Seoung Eui Shin. Sad but true of the scandal about the USTU which is why is was dissolved and USATKD took over.
Political jockeying is a way of life in the Korean MA's culture for as far back as I can remember. The titles and names change but the background jostling and poking seem to stay the same.

I went to the battle of Cincinnati several times. Maybe we crossed paths?
That is entirely possible. By Battle of Cincinnati, are you referring to GM AHN's tournament? We supported the Ahn Classic for most of my competitive days. Then there was the Battle of Columbus (GM JP Choi) and Battle of Indianapolis (GM YP Choi). But yeah, I was at all three pretty consistently in the mid 80's through the 90's.
 

dvcochran

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That is entirely possible. By Battle of Cincinnati, are you referring to GM AHN's tournament? We supported the Ahn Classic for most of my competitive days. Then there was the Battle of Columbus (GM JP Choi) and Battle of Indianapolis (GM YP Choi). But yeah, I was at all three pretty consistently in the mid 80's through the 90's.
Yes, we have definitely ran in the same circles. Good times.
How about the Battle of Birmingham (GM Kang), Georgia Classic (GM Uhn), Kentucky (GM Lee)?
My KKW circuit was a little more south/southwest extending to Texas but I am very familiar with all the instructors/tournaments you mention.
 

SahBumNimRush

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Yes, we have definitely ran in the same circles. Good times.
How about the Battle of Birmingham (GM Kang), Georgia Classic (GM Uhn), Kentucky (GM Lee)?
My KKW circuit was a little more south/southwest extending to Texas but I am very familiar with all the instructors/tournaments you mention.
Looks like you were going south, while I was going north. Pittsburgh, Akron, Canton, Cleveland, Dayton, DC, New York. I did compete in Kentucky a couple of times though. Never made it as far south as Alabama and Georgia in competition, except for Jr. Olympics.
 

InfiniteLoop

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Taekwondo training has always emphasized flashy and impractical techniques to distinguish itself as Korean, which is why it has tended to be low on the totem pole among budo systems in popular opinion.

One is free to disregard the flashy content, but to suggest that TKD training was once grounded and realistic is not accurate.

Even Tang Soo Do had more flashy kick training, so it's always been that way.
 
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SahBumNimRush

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Taekwondo training has always emphasised flashy and impractical techniques to distinguish itself as Korean, which is why it has tended to be low on the totem pole among budo systems in popular opinion.

One is free to disregard the flashy content, but to suggest that TKD training was once grounded and realistic is not accurate.

Even Tang Soo Do had more flashy kick training, so it's always been that way.

I suppose that depends on what you define as "flashy." The time frame that Tang Soo Do developed, Savate-influenced techniques had been incorporated into Shotokan by Funakoshi's son. Did the Koreans emphasize them more than the Japanese styles? I can't speak to that. Here's some early Moo Duk Kwan footage.


Here's a connection historically to what I'm talking about with Savate and Karate/TSD.


If you are referring to TSD's historical emphasis on these types of kicks as being 'low on the totem pole among budo systems," I'm not sure I fully agree, but everyone has their own opinions. TSD/TKD has such a fragmented and fractured existence, I find it difficult to have a broad sweeping generalization about the art. I'm sure many Karate-ka feel the same about Japanese or Okinawan Karate.
 
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