Is TKD a Martial Art?

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isshinryuronin

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If you look at the traditional white crane form of sanzhan it is similar enough to the karate sanchin that you can tell they are the same form, or at least derivative of the same system, yet one is defined as kung fu and one as karate
Yes, karate's sanchin is visibly a holdover from pre-karate days. But sanchin is just one of about 30 common karate forms, just like sanzhan is just one of many crane forms. Cherry-picking can be used to make any point. But comparing a number of forms between the two arts is much fairer and will reveal differences 90% of the time. I checked several on youtube. While a similarity will show up here and there, for the most part they are clearly much different from each other, more so than comparing karate to TKD forms.
Why isn't TKD Karate anymore? because the philosophy and training methods are different even if a lot of the techniques and applications are the same.
If two boxers are in the ring, both using similar techniques and applying them the same way, but one no longer uses the speed bag or jumps rope while training, and instead uses a trampoline and tap dances, and thinks about things differently, he is no longer a boxer but is employing a new art?

Reminds me of one of the Rocky movies. Rocky fights a Russian. His training there differs a heck of a lot from Drago's, and I'm sure they have different mind sets. So, one guy is a boxer and the other isn't?

How does TKD philosophy and training differ from karate to the extent it's a different art, despite the techniques and applications being the same?





 

J. Pickard

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If two boxers are in the ring, both using similar techniques and applying them the same way, but one no longer uses the speed bag or jumps rope while training, and instead uses a trampoline and tap dances, and thinks about things differently, he is no longer a boxer but is employing a new art?
Boxing is less of a style and more of a ruleset. Get a karate guy to train karate for a boxing match and during the match it will all look like boxing. Any style of martial art can compete in boxing and if they follow the rules, it will all look like boxing. Maybe not good boxing, but still boxing.
How does TKD philosophy and training differ from karate to the extent it's a different art, despite the techniques and applications being the same?
TKD philosophy and training is very different. For one, TKD is constantly eveolving and changing based on new data. Kukkiwon employs major universities to study kinesiology relating to TKD to make it better as the years go on. Based on this data changes have been made to forms and how techniques are taught to improve power, speed, mobility, and to prevent injuries that were once common in TKD such as compounding knee, hip, and back damage. Conversely, karate often does things the way they do because thats the way its always been done and they want to preserve the tradition.

The philosophy behind the creation ofnTKD forms is purely from a nationalistic point of view and is inspired by Korean taoist philosophy without any of the metaphysics, specifically the philosophy of taegeuk. This makes the way tkd forms and techniques are done and trained very different in meaning and intent than karate.

But, I digress. I am not really on either side of the fence. I can see how TKD can be considered both a form of Karate and a completely separate art depending on where you draw that line that defines a style.
 

punisher73

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I believe TKD is its own thing because it was removed from its original cultural origin and changed to reflect the Korean culture.

Just like we don't say that "karate" is "kung fu" because it was also removed from its original cultural origin and then changed to reflect the Okinawan and then Japanese cultures.

That being said, I have noticed that there are a lot more TKD schools in our area so many times people use "Tae Kwon Do" as a generic catch all for any stand up striking based martial art.

Much like in the early days, many people advertised their school as "Karate" because that is what people knew and used it to get them in the door no matter what they actually taught.
 

Steve

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Boxing is less of a style and more of a ruleset. Get a karate guy to train karate for a boxing match and during the match it will all look like boxing. Any style of martial art can compete in boxing and if they follow the rules, it will all look like boxing. Maybe not good boxing, but still boxing.

TKD philosophy and training is very different. For one, TKD is constantly eveolving and changing based on new data. Kukkiwon employs major universities to study kinesiology relating to TKD to make it better as the years go on. Based on this data changes have been made to forms and how techniques are taught to improve power, speed, mobility, and to prevent injuries that were once common in TKD such as compounding knee, hip, and back damage. Conversely, karate often does things the way they do because thats the way its always been done and they want to preserve the tradition.

The philosophy behind the creation ofnTKD forms is purely from a nationalistic point of view and is inspired by Korean taoist philosophy without any of the metaphysics, specifically the philosophy of taegeuk. This makes the way tkd forms and techniques are done and trained very different in meaning and intent than karate.
This is the traditional mindset. In a traditional style, fidelity is more important than results (not to say results are never important). The idea is that why you do something and how you do it is critical. If you dont do it the way you were taught, youre doing it wrong.

Boxing, in my opinion, is 100% its own distinct martial art. It is simply not a traditional martial art. As a result, the identity of the art is less intrinsically tied to ancillary behaviors like kata, trampolines, or tap dancing.
 

Taiji Rebel

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This is the traditional mindset. In a traditional style, fidelity is more important than results (not to say results are never important). The idea is that why you do something and how you do it is critical. If you dont do it the way you were taught, youre doing it wrong.

Boxing, in my opinion, is 100% its own distinct martial art. It is simply not a traditional martial art. As a result, the identity of the art is less intrinsically tied to ancillary behaviors like kata, trampolines, or tap dancing.
TKD is clearly a martial art. Boxing too. Earlier in this thread J. Pickard makes a strange statement about karate guys using karate in a boxing match and it will look like boxing - I am not sure I follow the logic of that statement. Neither do I understand the comment made about tap-dancing and trampolines. Steve believes Boxing is not a traditional martial art but it derives from practices which go way back to the ancient Greeks and Romans. Katas are seen in all styles to one degree or another. Some evolve their methods, others stick to forms as original taught. As artists we can choose to take traditional methods and adapt them to suit ourselves. Some prefer to hold to tradition in a strict manner, others enjoy modifying the older forms to suit the modern age.
 

Tony Dismukes

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Following up on my earlier post, I think that martial arts styles/families are often distinguished from each other for the same reasons as languages/dialects.

For example, Bosnian and Serbian are mutually intelligible, but are identified as different languages for political reasons. Meanwhile, many dialects of Arabic are not mutually intelligible, but are still considered to be "Arabic" for cultural reasons.

Looking at the Kung-fu -> Karate -> TKD continuum ... I would say that Uechi Ryu looks at least as close to White Crane as it does to Shotokan. The reason Uechi Ryu and Shotokan are both considered Karate is after centuries of Okinawa paying tribute to both China and Japan, it was Japan that finally formally annexed the islands. (It was also Japanese nationalism that brought about the change in the meaning of "Karate" from "Chinese hand" to "Empty hand".)

Early TKD was essentially Shotokan, but Korean nationalism brought about the rebranding as TKD. Over the years, TKD has evolved so that most varieties are as distinct from Shotokan as Shotokan is from Uechi Ryu.

But in the end, it's all just names and semantics. How you train is how you train. Some Karate practitioners train in a way which is closer to certain TKD practitioners than it is to certain other Karate practitioners. Some do not.

In my own wheelhouse, most people typically label Judo, BJJ, Sambo, and Catch Wrestling as different martial arts. (Except for those who say that BJJ is Basically Just Judo.) From my own perspective, they are different sports, but functionally equivalent as martial arts. Everything I have ever learned from Judo, Sambo, or wrestling integrates seamlessly into the BJJ I teach.
 

Tony Dismukes

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For example, Bosnian and Serbian are mutually intelligible, but are identified as different languages for political reasons. Meanwhile, many dialects of Arabic are not mutually intelligible, but are still considered to be "Arabic" for cultural reasons.
For anyone who is interested in this subject, this article would be a good jumping off point. I've been developing a layman's interest in linguistics over the last couple of years. Fascinating stuff.
 

Steve

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TKD is clearly a martial art. Boxing too. Earlier in this thread J. Pickard makes a strange statement about karate guys using karate in a boxing match and it will look like boxing - I am not sure I follow the logic of that statement. Neither do I understand the comment made about tap-dancing and trampolines. Steve believes Boxing is not a traditional martial art but it derives from practices which go way back to the ancient Greeks and Romans. Katas are seen in all styles to one degree or another. Some evolve their methods, others stick to forms as original taught. As artists we can choose to take traditional methods and adapt them to suit ourselves. Some prefer to hold to tradition in a strict manner, others enjoy modifying the older forms to suit the modern age.
I think youre making my points very well. Some folks are traditional. Some evolve. You can consider whether something is traditional or not at every level: individual, school, and system.

Boxing as a system has traditions, but is not traditional, because the focus is on the end result, not how you got there. My impression of TKD is that how you train is very important... doing things the way your teacher did them, and replicating as closely as possible the techniques and movements of your teacher. So, even though there is a combat sport element to some TKD, it remains traditional.

And both are martial arts. In my opinion.
 

Steve

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For anyone who is interested in this subject, this article would be a good jumping off point. I've been developing a layman's interest in linguistics over the last couple of years. Fascinating stuff.
I dipped my toe in this subject decades ago. I have undergraduate degrees in English and philosophy, and you can't really study the English language without learning a little about its evolution.
 

Hot Lunch

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Question: Do TKD practitioners generally consider their art to be karate?
Answer: No.

Question: Do karate practitioners at large generally accept TKD practitioners as fellow karateka?
Answer: No.

Those are the two most important questions. Seems pretty cut & dry to me.
 

gyoja

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Following up on my earlier post, I think that martial arts styles/families are often distinguished from each other for the same reasons as languages/dialects.

For example, Bosnian and Serbian are mutually intelligible, but are identified as different languages for political reasons. Meanwhile, many dialects of Arabic are not mutually intelligible, but are still considered to be "Arabic" for cultural reasons.

Looking at the Kung-fu -> Karate -> TKD continuum ... I would say that Uechi Ryu looks at least as close to White Crane as it does to Shotokan. The reason Uechi Ryu and Shotokan are both considered Karate is after centuries of Okinawa paying tribute to both China and Japan, it was Japan that finally formally annexed the islands. (It was also Japanese nationalism that brought about the change in the meaning of "Karate" from "Chinese hand" to "Empty hand".)

Early TKD was essentially Shotokan, but Korean nationalism brought about the rebranding as TKD. Over the years, TKD has evolved so that most varieties are as distinct from Shotokan as Shotokan is from Uechi Ryu.

But in the end, it's all just names and semantics. How you train is how you train. Some Karate practitioners train in a way which is closer to certain TKD practitioners than it is to certain other Karate practitioners. Some do not.

In my own wheelhouse, most people typically label Judo, BJJ, Sambo, and Catch Wrestling as different martial arts. (Except for those who say that BJJ is Basically Just Judo.) From my own perspective, they are different sports, but functionally equivalent as martial arts. Everything I have ever learned from Judo, Sambo, or wrestling integrates seamlessly into the BJJ I teach.
There is also the courtesy and respect issue at play here. I have spent many years in the Middle East, and to call an Iraqi a Syrian was extremely insulting. Although they share a similar religion and root language, they are still culturally different with their own histories and rivalries. The same is true in Korea. To use Japanese terms to refer to any aspect of Korean life is extremely disrespectful. There is really no reason to refer to a Korean martial art with a Japanese word.
 

Hot Lunch

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This doesn't make sense. Tang soo do and Kong soo do are both korean pronounciations of the japanese word karate. TSD/KSD are literally karate. 蝛箸 this says Karate-do in Japanese, it also says Kong Soo Do in Sino Korean. also says Karate-do in Japanese and it also says Tang Soo Do in Sino Korean.
Then this would have to work both ways. Can Japanese and Okinawan karate be called "tang soo do" too?

"Taekwondo" literally translates to "the way of kicking and punching." Can all arts that have kicking and punching, including karate and Muay Thai, be called "taekwondo" then?

The word "kempo" means "boxing." Can we call western boxing, with its Marques of Queensbury Rules "kempo?"

Until the end of WW2 and Korea's desire for a new national identity there wasn't even a distinction between Japanese and Korean karate because the only reason TSD schools were even allowed to open in Japanese occupied Korea was because they were teaching a Japanese art. The strong desire for a national identity driven by Korean cultural practices, including martial arts, is the biggest reason TKD even exists as it is today; it was changed and renamed to give it a uniquely Korean identity to break away from Japanese oppression.

As far as SBD, that was just some Hwang Kee shenanigans and is claimed to have an equal, or sometimes greater, Chinese influence as it does Japanese. But the discussion of claims made by Hwang Kee are best left for another thread.
To be completely honest with you, if I accept TSD/SBD as "karate," I'm going to look at it as a bastardized form of it. Korean flags, Korean terminology, trimmed uniforms, hangul on belts and everywhere else, and not a single Japanese thing to be found anywhere in the dojang. It's far easier to respect it as its own separate martial art - which I do, by the way.
 

gyoja

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Then this would have to work both ways. Can Japanese and Okinawan karate be called "tang soo do" too?

"Taekwondo" literally translates to "the way of kicking and punching." Can all arts that have kicking and punching, including karate and Muay Thai, be called "taekwondo" then?

The word "kempo" means "boxing." Can we call western boxing, with its Marques of Queensbury Rules "kempo?"


To be completely honest with you, if I accept TSD/SBD as "karate," I'm going to look at it as a bastardized form of it. Korean flags, Korean terminology, trimmed uniforms, hangul on belts and everywhere else, and not a single Japanese thing to be found anywhere in the dojang. It's far easier to respect it as its own separate martial art - which I do, by the way.
I have run into more than one Shotokan student that made it very clear that TSD was just a watered down version of their master art in their opinion.
 
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isshinryuronin

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To use Japanese terms to refer to any aspect of Korean life is extremely disrespectful. There is really no reason to refer to a Korean martial art with a Japanese word.
Yet, Americans and most of the rest of the world have adopted the word "karate" for what they do. Even the Okinawans let go of their original word for "Chinese hands," "toude" for the Japanese word "karate." I will grant that Korea's experience with Japan in WWll could have led to them rejecting things Japanese, so their using a different name is understandable, but what you call something doesn't change what it is. Or does it?
 

gyoja

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Yet, Americans and most of the rest of the world have adopted the word "karate" for what they do. Even the Okinawans let go of their original word for "Chinese hands," "toude" for the Japanese word "karate." I will grant that Korea's experience with Japan in WWll could have led to them rejecting things Japanese, so their using a different name is understandable, but what you call something doesn't change what it is. Or does it?
It is different because the techniques and philosophies are different. As with the example that I made before regarding TSD students competing in a Shotokan tournament, if they were the same then the judging standard would be equal for both. In reality, the standard is the Shotokan technique is considered correct for them, TSD techniques for us. The American issue with the terms was more of a marketing ploy than anything else.
 

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I have run into more than one Shotokan student that made it very clear that TSD was just a watered down version of their master art in their opinion.
I'm a Shotokan guy.

To be honest, I think it depends on who you ask and situation in which you're asking.

Similar to what you've probably seen in the Army as it pertains to the National Guard. You'll hear regular active duty Soldiers claim that Guardsmen aren't "real" Soldiers, or that the National Guard isn't the "real" Army. But the second a Guardsman refers to the National Guard as distinct entity from the Army, those same active duty Soldiers will be quick to remind the Guardsman that the tape on their left side of the uniform says "U.S. ARMY."

That's how I've seen some Shotokan guys look at TSD.

I wouldn't call it "watered down," though. For example, TSD split from Shotokan before Gigo's influence (i.e., lowered stances, removal of gedan shuto uke, etc). So the stances in TSD are closer to what Gichin taught than what is practiced in Shotokan today.
 

gyoja

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I'm a Shotokan guy.

To be honest, I think it depends on who you ask and situation in which you're asking.

Similar to what you've probably seen in the Army as it pertains to the National Guard. You'll hear regular active duty Soldiers claim that Guardsmen aren't "real" Soldiers, or that the National Guard isn't the "real" Army. But the second a Guardsman refers to the National Guard as distinct entity, those same active duty Soldiers will be quick to remind the Guardsman that the tape on their left side of the uniform says "U.S. ARMY."

That's how I've seen some Shotokan guys look at TSD.

I wouldn't call it "watered down," though. For example, TSD split from Shotokan before Gigo's influence (i.e., lowered stances, removal of gedan shuto uke, etc). So the stances in TSD are closer to what Gichin taught than what is practiced in Shotokan today.
I didnt mean to stereotype all Shotokan guys. I worked out and studied with many great Shotokan teachers. These teachers recognized that TSD is a separate and distinct martial art, and we learned a lot from each other. Rivalry among competing schools was the driving factor in the negative opinion.
 

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Question: Do TKD practitioners generally consider their art to be karate?
Answer: No.

Question: Do karate practitioners at large generally accept TKD practitioners as fellow karateka?
Answer: No.

Those are the two most important questions. Seems pretty cut & dry to me.
You hit the nail on the head, right there. Hard for anyone to argue that.

Well said.
 
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