Does Shotokan Do Less Jumping Than TKD?

K31

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I've heard that Shotokan uses fewer jumping and high kicks than TKD.

I'm curious to find out if that is true because I have arthritis and anything that would be easier on the knees would be better for me.

Thanks.
 

exile

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I've heard that Shotokan uses fewer jumping and high kicks than TKD.

I'm curious to find out if that is true because I have arthritis and anything that would be easier on the knees would be better for me.

Thanks.

Historically, Shotokan and other variants of Japanese karate have employed fewer high kicks that competition-oriented TKD. But what you'll find, K, is that combat-oriented TKD, particularly the approach based on applications encoded in the hyungs, doesn't use jumping or high kicks either, for excellent self-defense reasons; kicks are low, aiming at lower-body targets, with limb destruction the goal, and often used in conjunction with an upper body attack (as well as to help set up such an attack). Since the technical base of TKD and TSD is almost completely based on Shotokan forms (something, I've noticed, that TSDers seem much more willing to acknowledge than many TKDers, though the historical record is very clear on the point), the lack of high kicks in practical applications of that base in either the Japanese or Korean variants of the art isn't surprising. But a lot of TKD schools—maybe the great majority—tend to focus on high kicking, and a competition sparring toolkit, much more than on close-range SD techs. In such schools, you're going to be expected to kick high, and maybe use popup, jumping and `flying' kicks to a much greater extent than in a Shotokan dojo.

But it's also the case that a number of karate dojos go in for sport karate, and here, apparently, a number of high kicks typical of TKD dojangs have been introduced into the syllabus... I was just reading something about this, wish I could remember the source. So you need to check that possibility out, if you want to avoid a curriculum which emphasizes hign/aerial kicks.
 

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As one of the TKDers who has no problem admitting to the connection between TKD and Shotokan :), I will also point out that the jump kicks in TKD have evolved over time. They were added over time, as various practitioners pushed the envelope of the techniques they had been taught.

As far as your question goes, K31, you need to consider the instructor and class as much as the style - a good instructor will start from where you are and what you are physically capable of, and take you as far as you are able to go, with due consideration for what is difficult for you, and what your physical limitations will prevent you from doing. As a TKD instructor, I have had students with short- and long-term disabilities, ranging from sprains to problem with major joints to spinal problems (e.g. ruptured disks in the neck, herniated disks, etc.) as well as permanent disabilities (one of my students has cerebral palsy), and the key, in my mind, is to monitor their abilities and improvement.

An example: I have several students who all started at the same time, and who are all the same rank (they just tested for 3rd gup high blue belt). However, one is a 13 year-old girl, one is a 25 year-old man, and one is a 44 year-old man. They have come up through the ranks together (the older man is the father of the girl; the younger man is a family friend), and they practice together outside of class. Of the the 3, the 25 year-old man has the best technique - not because he tries harder, necessarily, but because he is younger and in better shape physically; he is more coordinated than the girl, who is still growing (3 inches in the last 3 months), and more flexible than the older man. In addition, the older man ruptured a disk in his neck a couple of months ago (skiing, not in TKD), and was only cleared to start jumping again a couple of weeks ago. However, they have all showed massive improvement since they started a couple of years ago, and that improvement is as much a facet of judging their abilities as how they compare to the standard of the rank they currently hold.

What I'm trying to get at is that each person is an individual, and should be treated as such. Choose an instructor and class that fits your personality and interests - in many ways, the style is less important than the instructor and the tenor of the class. Look here for a compilation of discussions on how to choose the right school for you.
 
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K31

K31

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Thanks to each of you for your responses.

Kacey I guess a little more of why I'm interested is in order.

Next week my dojang is closed and I'm hoping to take the opportunity to check out other classes that are available in my area. This is a rare opportunity because for whatever reason, most of the other places in the area have the classes I'm interested in on the same nights as my TKD class. So I'm trying to narrow the field of what I should look at. One possibility is Shotokan, and since I heard that there is less emphasis on jumping kicks this seems like a good choice.

I haven't mentioned to the instructor about my problems. Some are obvious but most are not because of the medication I am given. I guess I don't feel comfortable asking for special treatment and I'm worried that I would not be promoted if I could not perform all that's required. Maybe I should not worry about being promoted but I don't want to become bored either. In another art perhaps this wouldn't be a problem.

Do you advance students who you excuse from certain moves?
 

Kacey

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I haven't mentioned to the instructor about my problems. Some are obvious but most are not because of the medication I am given. I guess I don't feel comfortable asking for special treatment and I'm worried that I would not be promoted if I could not perform all that's required. Maybe I should not worry about being promoted but I don't want to become bored either. In another art perhaps this wouldn't be a problem.

I think you should talk to your instructor - while I understand completely not wanting special treatment, there's a couple of other things to consider. First, if you're not comfortable telling your instructor about your physical limitations, you need to think about why; if it's your own concern about special treatment holding you back that's one thing, but if you are concerned about your instructor's reaction, that's something else, and needs to be part of your considerations. Second, you need to think about this: you are putting your instructor at a disadvantage by not telling him about any medical conditions you may have; you have removed the option of alternate forms of instruction based on your medical needs from his purview, and are putting yourself at increased risk because he is not aware of what is going on. The latter is a liability risk for your instructor and for the other students, and that also needs to be a consideration in your decision to tell him or not tell him.

Do you advance students who you excuse from certain moves?
It depends on the student, the move, and the reason s/he can't do it. All students are expected to try - but what constitutes success varies from person to person. I can't really give a more definite answer than that. If you're referring specifically to jump kicks, then yes, I know of a couple of instances in which I, or my instructor, or other instructors, came up with alternate methods to determine if a person who was medically unable to perform jump kicks understood them from a technical perspective, and the person I'm thinking of was passed to the next rank.
 

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As one of the TKDers who has no problem admitting to the connection between TKD and Shotokan :),

Yeah, I know that... Terry also is big on the connection, along with a number of other members.... but not everyone is :wink1:...

I will also point out that the jump kicks in TKD have evolved over time. They were added over time, as various practitioners pushed the envelope of the techniques they had been taught.

I found the comment that I'd read and forgotten; it's by David Mitchell, in The Overbrook Martial Arts Handbook—he's primarily a karateka and JMA specialist, and his views of TKD are severely skewed; but he makes the nice point that

[The Koreans'] infatuation with high and circling kicks is not a characteristic of the Japanese systems and it is likely that the Japanese actually learnt these from the Koreans. Since the rise in popularity of Taekwondo, Karate practitioners have adopted many of its techniques.

(p. 161) I think he's right about the events, but very strongly suspect that he's got the (admittedly only implied) causal factors a little mixed up: it wasn't the popularity of TKD per se that lead to the adoption of these kicks, but the increasing sports orientation of karate and the demonstrated crowd-pleasing aspects of the complex aerial kicks, which led karate competitors to figure that they'd do well to adopt these moves to please their own crowds. If it works in TKD, the reasoning goes, why not sport karate competition? And there you go...

As far as your question goes, K31, you need to consider the instructor and class as much as the style - a good instructor will start from where you are and what you are physically capable of, and take you as far as you are able to go, with due consideration for what is difficult for you, and what your physical limitations will prevent you from doing. As a TKD instructor, I have had students with short- and long-term disabilities, ranging from sprains to problem with major joints to spinal problems (e.g. ruptured disks in the neck, herniated disks, etc.) as well as permanent disabilities (one of my students has cerebral palsy), and the key, in my mind, is to monitor their abilities and improvement.

An example: I have several students who all started at the same time, and who are all the same rank (they just tested for 3rd gup high blue belt). However, one is a 13 year-old girl, one is a 25 year-old man, and one is a 44 year-old man. They have come up through the ranks together (the older man is the father of the girl; the younger man is a family friend), and they practice together outside of class. Of the the 3, the 25 year-old man has the best technique - not because he tries harder, necessarily, but because he is younger and in better shape physically; he is more coordinated than the girl, who is still growing (3 inches in the last 3 months), and more flexible than the older man. In addition, the older man ruptured a disk in his neck a couple of months ago (skiing, not in TKD), and was only cleared to start jumping again a couple of weeks ago. However, they have all showed massive improvement since they started a couple of years ago, and that improvement is as much a facet of judging their abilities as how they compare to the standard of the rank they currently hold.

What I'm trying to get at is that each person is an individual, and should be treated as such. Choose an instructor and class that fits your personality and interests - in many ways, the style is less important than the instructor and the tenor of the class. Look here for a compilation of discussions on how to choose the right school for you.

This is excellent advice, very important, which why your comment, K, that

I haven't mentioned to the instructor about my problems... I guess I don't feel comfortable asking for special treatment and I'm worried that I would not be promoted if I could not perform all that's required.

is somewhat troubling. No good instructor will regard you as asking for special treatment if you point out your problems; a good instructor will ask you for 100% of what you can give, and if certain physical problems preclude your effectiveness in a certain range of performance, you won't be asked to perform in that range. Other things will be emphasized that are in your range of possibility. And if the instructor insists on one-size-fits -all instructionally... then you need a different school fast. You're certainly not asking for anything out of line if you make these limitations clear to the instructor. On the contrary, how can they give you good instruction if they don't know about them?
 

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I've heard that Shotokan uses fewer jumping and high kicks than TKD.

I'm curious to find out if that is true because I have arthritis and anything that would be easier on the knees would be better for me.

Thanks.

Hi K31,

I would like to mention that yes it is mostly true that Shotokan is not as crazy with the jumping and high kicks.

But....!!!! Shotokan is known for its very deep stances which can be and are stressful on the knees and other joints.

You should mot be discouraged by any means. What I am saying is that with any art there is going to be stress and strain on your body and joints. It is important to work on your body mechanics to lessen the strain and build up strenght as to not damage yourself.

My knees have seen better days yet I studied Shotokan for 7 yrs before moving on. My legs have become stronger as a result. I still feel the aches and pains after all we do age. The thing to do is train SMARTER.

If it hurts too much and and you feel like you are damaging yourself modify the technique or exercise to a point where it is still effective but not destructive to yourself. I wish I figured this out sooner.


-Marc-
 
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K31

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Kacey,
I understand your statement re risk and liability but I am not a litigious person and would not ever take any action against my instructor or dojang that was a result of my health. While I did not volunteer any information about my health I was, surprisingly, not asked either. I've told both my primary care physician and rheumatologist that I was taking TKD and while the later said that they usually did not advise people to take MA because of the joint impact she did not tell me to stop.


Hi K31,

I would like to mention that yes it is mostly true that Shotokan is not as crazy with the jumping and high kicks.

But....!!!! Shotokan is known for its very deep stances which can be and are stressful on the knees and other joints.

You should mot be discouraged by any means. What I am saying is that with any art there is going to be stress and strain on your body and joints. It is important to work on your body mechanics to lessen the strain and build up strenght as to not damage yourself.

My knees have seen better days yet I studied Shotokan for 7 yrs before moving on. My legs have become stronger as a result. I still feel the aches and pains after all we do age. The thing to do is train SMARTER.

If it hurts too much and and you feel like you are damaging yourself modify the technique or exercise to a point where it is still effective but not destructive to yourself. I wish I figured this out sooner.


-Marc-

Marc,
my condition is an auto-immune one in which the body attacks the cartlidge. The medication made it so I went from being barely able to walk to being able to do TKD and lift weights again. So I am more concerned with doing further damage than with dealing with pain because there are really very few instances where what I'm doing in TKD causes pain. One though is the jumping. Maybe this is why I am reluctant to approach the instructor about it because he is relatively young and people have varying knowledge about arthritis.
 

Last Fearner

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K31,

Please do not be misled into believing that because you are studying Taekwondo, that you are required to do high kicks or jumping. You don't even have to kick at all if your health prevents it (I have taught students with many physical limitations including one in a wheelchair with lower body paralysis). Like all other systems and schools of Martial Art, Taekwondo is for the purpose of improving and maintaining good health, as well as using what physical abilities each student has to learn self defense.

Quite frankly, your question has nothing to do with what a select group of men did 50 to 75 years ago, nor what Koreans did one to two thousand years ago in defense of their country. It is all Taekwondo to me, and all systems have been influenced to some degree by each other. For many Taekwondo Masters, it is not a debate over the "connection" or influence of Japanese Martial Art into Korean Martial Art (Shotokan, Judo, Aikido, Sumo, etc), but the interpretation that Taekwondo was born out of Shotokan. A broad view, and an in-depth study into the culture and history of combative skills in Korea, and the reason the name "Taekwondo" was adopted paints a different picture, but that is another topic that really has no place here.

What I believe you are concerned with is, what is Taekwondo and Shotokan like today and will the training in either of these two require you to do something to compromise your health.

As Kacey has stated, it depends greatly on the instructor. Only an inexperienced, and foolish instructor would force a student to do techniques that would risk the health of that student just because it is part of a standard curriculum. Instructors need to learn this, and you can help by making this point clear to any instructor you wish to train from. If they are not cooperative, then move on to the next instructor.

Maybe this is why I am reluctant to approach the instructor about it because he is relatively young and people have varying knowledge about arthritis.

Kacey is also correct that your instructor needs to know (regardless of why you are reluctant). Any instructor must be aware of all pre-existing conditions, and new injuries in order to make sound decisions about your training. If the instructor is young and inexperienced on this topic, educate him so that he can be a better instructor in the future. Each student is responsible for their own bodies, and for keeping their instructor informed AT ALL TIMES, as to any pain, injury or physical limitations!

Train in the techniques of Taekwondo, Shotokan, or any other system which does not put your health in jeopardy, and don't consider it "special treatment" but rather focused application of what you are capable of doing. This is all any student will accomplish, and you are not alone in this situation.

Respectfully,
Chief Master D.J. Eisenhart
 

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I agree a good instructor will work with your limitations so you don't hurt yourself. But a suggestion on styles to help ease the stress on the knees would be Shorin Ryu (seibukan does have lower stances though so you would look for Matsubayashi, Kobayashi, Shobayashi or Matsumura Seito), Isshin Ryu possibly even Uechi ryu but the sanchin training may affect your legs in an adverse way.
 

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I've heard that Shotokan uses fewer jumping and high kicks than TKD.

I'm curious to find out if that is true because I have arthritis and anything that would be easier on the knees would be better for me.

Thanks.


K31 is your instructor not willing to modify some of the kicks to accomadate your arthritis, most school will give you a lower variation of the kick to work insteed of risking injury.
 

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I've heard that Shotokan uses fewer jumping and high kicks than TKD.

I'm curious to find out if that is true because I have arthritis and anything that would be easier on the knees would be better for me.

I have arthritis as well, but I do TKD. I do jump kicks and have had no problems. Age is more my enemy there - them durn 20 year old whippersnappers get a lot higher off the ground than I do at age buzzmumble. :wah:
 

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I have trained in both arts, at traditional schools. Both of these schools were no-frills type of areas that focussed on practical techniques.

In Tae Kwon Do, we did practice a good number of kicks to the head, but we also strongly emphasized that kicks to the body, as well as low kicks, sweeps, were equally important. We put an equal emphasis on punches and kicks. Yes, we did practice jumping and / or spinning kicks on an infrequent basis, and were strongly cautioned on their use, since a miss would leave you very, very exposed.

In Shotokan, we wouldn't really encourage anyone to kick above solar plexus level, unless they had a clear shot at the head. Even then, you wouldn't use something like a front or side kick to the head. There was a heavier emphasis on using your punches, but if you saw the opportunity to use a good kick, you were strongly encouraged to take it. We did practice a few jumping kicks, as well as a few spinning kicks, but no jumping and spinning.

In my TKD dojang, though, we had several folks who were unable to kick above the waist for various reasons, whether it was due to injuries, or even if one were naturally horribly inflexible. That was perfectly fine, since they could simply improve other aspects of their training, learning how to sweep better, work better punching combos, etc.

Even if my sahbumnim were a hard teacher, he was still an understanding fellow, that knew that not everyone is going to be blessed with certain physical attributes, and that he would work with them to maximize what they had.

The same held true for my Shotokan dojo. We had some folks who were at the rank of shodan, that had bad knees or ankles, and to have them do the 360 degree spinning jump in Kata Empi, would have been impractical, so they would stay on the ground, spinning on their feet, instead.
 
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