Is Taekwondo Closed-Minded?

Gwai Lo Dan

2nd Black Belt
Joined
Nov 3, 2010
Messages
860
Reaction score
115
I thought I'd start a fun discussion. Do you see taekwondo instructors as being closed-minded, with only 1 "right" way of doing a technique?

I was watching the following video and thought that most tkd schools would say that his kick "without chambering" at 29 seconds is "WRONG", even though he is explicitly saying that it is faster (i.e., for speed).

My general viewpoint is that almost any technique can be done with different paths, with a trade-off between speed and power. So for instance I am aware of why my sparring school wants me to throw a spinning hook kick with very little arc - the school favors speed over power, due to the focus on WTF point tournaments.

My first introduction to the concept of there being more than one "right" way was as a white belt. Everyone had a fighting stance as instructed with one hand high and one hand low. But a chinese student who had previously studied Chinese Martial Arts kept both hands high.

I asked him why he didn't use the schools stance and his answer was, "In Canada, people only want to punch you in the head. So I block my head." I thought about that, and asked, "You said in Canada. What about in Hong Kong?". He explained, "Oh, in Honk Kong, they'll kick you in the balls, so I'd definitely keep a hand low there."

What are your thoughts - do tkd schools teach too often that there is only 1 "right" way, without talking about trade-offs?

 

Kung Fu Wang

Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Joined
Sep 26, 2012
Messages
10,747
Reaction score
2,761
Location
Austin, Tx/Shell Beach, Ca
What are your thoughts - do tkd schools teach too often that there is only 1 "right" way, without talking about trade-offs?
I agree that there are more than 1 way to explain just a simple kick. A kick can be more than just a kick. A kick can be used to:

- cause damage,
- close the distance,
- set up a punch, a kick, or a throw.

If you use your kick to close the distance, or set up for something else, you may only want to apply 30% of your kicking power, the chambering won't be needed. The speed is more important than the power at that moment. After your have thrown your kick, you should land your foot where you want to land and you should not pull it back. For example, if you throw a low roundhouse kick at the inside of your opponent's leading leg, you can slide down your kicking leg along the back of his leg, hook your foot behind his ankle, and apply a scoop.
 
Last edited:

TrueJim

Master Black Belt
Joined
Jun 21, 2014
Messages
1,006
Reaction score
370
Location
Virginia
Just the other day my instructor made a comment I'd never heard him make before: there's a way to do a kick for sparring, another way to do the same kick for demonstrations, another way to do the same kick for breaking, and another way to do the same kick for forms. I think his point was that in class we have been learning one "right way" to do each kick, but that as we become more advanced we'll realize there are subtle optimizations you'll want to make for the various different applications of the kick. (He's Korean so English is not his native tongue; sometimes it's difficult to be sure what he means -- I think that's what he was trying to say.)
 

Dirty Dog

MT Senior Moderator
Staff member
Lifetime Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2009
Messages
18,093
Reaction score
4,941
Location
Pueblo West, CO
First, you're going to find that it is pretty much impossible to talk about "TKD schools" as if there was any universally common truth. There isn't.

I started training in 1968 or 1969. I was an Air Force brat at the time, so as you may imagine, I trained in more than a couple places, with more than a few instructors. I don't recall ever being told that there is only one way to do anything.

Yes, there is a particular and specific way to do every technique in forms, which are somewhat stylized. But even that will vary somewhat between different schools using the same forms.

In sparring or self defense, there are virtually unlimited ways to perform and apply every technique. Frankly, I'd question the competency of any instructor who claimed otherwise.
 
OP
G

Gwai Lo Dan

2nd Black Belt
Joined
Nov 3, 2010
Messages
860
Reaction score
115
I trained in more than a couple places, with more than a few instructors. I don't recall ever being told that there is only one way to do anything.
I was really confused at my first club as a white belt, about the "roundhouse". The 3rd dan taught it as a dollyeo chuggi, hitting parallel to the ground. Then when he was away, the first dan (a tournament competitor) told me I was doing it wrong and that it should be at 45 degrees (peat chuggi). Finally I had to ask the 3rd dan when he came back, and the 3rd dan explained traditional vs sport!
 

Dirty Dog

MT Senior Moderator
Staff member
Lifetime Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2009
Messages
18,093
Reaction score
4,941
Location
Pueblo West, CO
I was really confused at my first club as a white belt, about the "roundhouse". The 3rd dan taught it as a dollyeo chuggi, hitting parallel to the ground. Then when he was away, the first dan (a tournament competitor) told me I was doing it wrong and that it should be at 45 degrees (peat chuggi). Finally I had to ask the 3rd dan when he came back, and the 3rd dan explained traditional vs sport!

Both are useful. and both should be taught. I wouldn't even say it's traditional vs sport so much as power vs speed. Peat Chagi, especially from the front leg, is similar to the jab. Dollyo chagi, especially from the rear leg, is a finisher.
 

Earl Weiss

Senior Master
Joined
Jan 27, 2009
Messages
3,230
Reaction score
628
First, you're going to find that it is pretty much impossible to talk about "TKD schools" as if there was any universally common truth. There isn't.
.
Exactly. People may be closed minded. The art is not.

IMO The "Standard" methods are there for reasons..
This is no different than many other athletic activities.
They provide a method to measure what the student has achieved, both from understanding and performance.

They provide a firm foundation from which adaptations can be made.

Consider a sphere with a point in the center. That point is the standard technique. From that point moving outward 3 dimensionaly 360 degrees are the ways the technique can be altered as circumstances warrant.
 

Earl Weiss

Senior Master
Joined
Jan 27, 2009
Messages
3,230
Reaction score
628
Just the other day my instructor made a comment I'd never heard him make before: there's a way to do a kick for sparring, another way to do the same kick for demonstrations, another way to do the same kick for breaking, and another way to do the same kick for forms. I think his point was that in class we have been learning one "right way" to do each kick, but that as we become more advanced we'll realize there are subtle optimizations you'll want to make for the various different applications of the kick. (He's Korean so English is not his native tongue; sometimes it's difficult to be sure what he means -- I think that's what he was trying to say.)

Your instructor is a smart man.
 

Metal

Green Belt
Joined
Feb 13, 2012
Messages
175
Reaction score
44
Location
Essen, Germany
I would say that a lot of times those who're doing it 'wrong' are the closed-minded persons who won't accept any of the 'right' ways to do it. ;)

And yeah, while there are definitely wrong ways to do certain techniques there are also several right ways to do them.

Over here in Germany there are a lot of older instructors with a Chang Hon TKD background, who received a Kukkiwon Dan at one point (sometimes du to the fact that they didn't like the changes in ITF Taekwondo when the Tul were introduced) but wouldn't adapt to the Kukkiwon style of TKD. They'd just change the forms, but would keep everything else the way they learned it and pass this on to their students. The results are Poomsae like this:


Within their world of TKD everything in that 'Koryo' is done the right way. I'm fine with people practising different styles of TKD, but when it comes to this Koryo Poomsae I'd say that nearly everything in that form is done wrong. Yet I wouldn't say that I'm a closed minded person.

I mean what would a Chang Hon or ITF TKDin say if I'd perform a Chang Hon form or the ITF Tul in the Kukkiwon style?

When it comes to competition techniques I'd say the right technique is the one that scores. ;-)
 

tshadowchaser

Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Founding Member
MTS Alumni
Joined
Aug 29, 2001
Messages
13,461
Reaction score
730
Location
Athol, Ma. USA
my first instructor never said there was only one way he simply said "If I did not teach it I don't want to see it"
It was always his way, the way he thought he was instructed , was the only correct way.
That changed when he wanted more rank and started changing systems to get rank.
But NO I don't think there is any 1 way to do something and that is the only correct way
 

Kung Fu Wang

Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Joined
Sep 26, 2012
Messages
10,747
Reaction score
2,761
Location
Austin, Tx/Shell Beach, Ca
Is his side kick correct by using the TKD standard?

1. raise up your leg,
2. pull your knee back as far away from your opponent as possible,
3. point your knee, foot, your opponent in a straight line,
4. kick out,
5. pull your kick back, but still remain your knee, foot, your opponent in a straight line,
6. point your foot down,
7. drop your kicking leg.

Which steps are

- absolute needed?
- nice to have?
- OK to skip it?

 
Last edited:

andyjeffries

Master of Arts
Joined
Sep 25, 2006
Messages
1,968
Reaction score
271
Location
Stevenage, Herts, UK
I mean what would a Chang Hon or ITF TKDin say if I'd perform a Chang Hon form or the ITF Tul in the Kukkiwon style?

The funny thing is I've been wanting to see this very thing for years. I'd love for a really great Kukkiwon Taekwondoin do one of the best ITF forms. I find ITF style movements weird (as a dyed in the wool Kukkiwon standards evangelist), so I'd love to see how their pattern looks done in a Kukkiwon style so I could form an opinion of the pattern itself rather than the patterns plus the movement style.
 

Tez3

Sr. Grandmaster
Supporting Member
Joined
Oct 13, 2006
Messages
27,356
Reaction score
4,646
Location
England
I'm not sure why a kick clearly labelled Sanshou would be held up for examination by TKD people?
 

tshadowchaser

Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Founding Member
MTS Alumni
Joined
Aug 29, 2001
Messages
13,461
Reaction score
730
Location
Athol, Ma. USA
simple by your standards would that kick by correct if one of your students or a TKD student did it that way? It is so a comparison can be made and analyzed
 

Tez3

Sr. Grandmaster
Supporting Member
Joined
Oct 13, 2006
Messages
27,356
Reaction score
4,646
Location
England
simple by your standards would that kick by correct if one of your students or a TKD student did it that way? It is so a comparison can be made and analyzed


If people make the comparison what does that have to do with the OP? I'm puzzled by this.
 

tshadowchaser

Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Founding Member
MTS Alumni
Joined
Aug 29, 2001
Messages
13,461
Reaction score
730
Location
Athol, Ma. USA
Tez someone that is not a TKD practitioner wants to know how this kick compares with similar TKD kicks. Is it close to what is done by various TKD people and why it would be incorrect or correct. Was it chambered the way it is done in TKD, was the body in the correct position, etc. This gives those of us that may not study or have not studied TDK a reference to go by.
It also gives TKD people a visual to compare and say yes we do it this way because or no we do not. A side kick is a side kick unless you do not think it is because your doing one differently in your organization and have reasons to not call it one
 

Dirty Dog

MT Senior Moderator
Staff member
Lifetime Supporting Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2009
Messages
18,093
Reaction score
4,941
Location
Pueblo West, CO
The side kick as performed in the sparring match, I would say is fine. Nothing wrong with it by our standards, because it's used effectively under the specific circumstances under which it's applied. As I said, there is a stylized "perfect world" sidekick used in forms, and near-infinite variations for the near-infinite circumstances for application.

As far as the poomsae video... there's lots that would be considered wrong if that form were done in our school. Starting from the beginning...
Ready stance: tongmilgi joonbe seogi should be done with the palms parallel, facing towards each other, not triangulated.
Back stance/middle knifehand block: Weight should be on the rear leg, not centered. Blocking arm should be bent, not extended.
Double kick: those are supposed to be sidekicks, not roundhouses.
Kiap: KKW has it the same place she does it. Our school has it one step later, on the knee break.
After the targeted punch to the hand, the hands should be pulled back during the sidekick, not pulled back during the step. And the step should be in front, not behind.
There are plenty of other issues, but that about covers most of the major ones.
These issues, however, are all stylistic, not functional. While we teach the "ideal" backstance as having most of the weight on the rear leg, in application the weight will be... wherever it needs to be. Double roundhouses are every bit as useful as double sidekicks. And a step behind sidekick is every bit as useful as a step in front.
If this is how they teach the form in their system, that's fine. Forms are a teaching tool, and if this works for them, then that's peachy. It wouldn't score well at a WTF-sponsored competition, but might do very well at an open tourney.
 

Thousand Kicks

Green Belt
Joined
Feb 19, 2013
Messages
110
Reaction score
18
I think it is important for beginners to be shown one way of doing a technique. I also believe they should be shown the version of the technique that is the most "classic". When first learning techniques in any style you have to start somewhere and overloading with information usually results in confusion.

So, I think it's best to start with "This is a roundhouse kick, and this is not" Once a student has gained a certain level of competancy you can then say "These are the variations of the roundhouse kick and this is why they exist" That one statement could keep somebody occupied for months.
 

chrispillertkd

Senior Master
Joined
Apr 10, 2007
Messages
2,096
Reaction score
106
Location
Pittsburgh, PA
Over here in Germany there are a lot of older instructors with a Chang Hon TKD background, who received a Kukkiwon Dan at one point (sometimes du to the fact that they didn't like the changes in ITF Taekwondo when the Tul were introduced) but wouldn't adapt to the Kukkiwon style of TKD. They'd just change the forms, but would keep everything else the way they learned it and pass this on to their students. The results are Poomsae like this:


As an example of Chang Hun TKD body mechanics that was ... not good. Many things done incorrectly from a stylistic perspective; knife-hand guarding blocks, side kicks, etc.

Within their world of TKD everything in that 'Koryo' is done the right way. I'm fine with people practising different styles of TKD, but when it comes to this Koryo Poomsae I'd say that nearly everything in that form is done wrong. Yet I wouldn't say that I'm a closed minded person.

I'd say the same thing, and I'm an ITF practitioner. That was not a good example of a Chang Hun stylist doing a KKW form, IMNSHO.

I mean what would a Chang Hon or ITF TKDin say if I'd perform a Chang Hon form or the ITF Tul in the Kukkiwon style?

Depends on the person, I'd imagine. There are some things that each art (Chang Hun Taekwon-Do and KKW TKD) simply do differently for which there simply aren't simple one-to-one correspondences. We simply don't have an equivalent of the KKW apseogi, for example. Which means we couldn't even really do movement 1 of Taegeuk 1.

Pax,

Chris
 
Top