Limited Emphasis on Forms/Poomse

Kacey

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Last I heard was that the copyright issue was thrown out and that the court rules that as they have been in exsistance for so long, by so mant, no one would be allowed to exclude others in using them!

In the US, the laws are somewhat different - they hold the copyright, and charge for the privilege of using the logos.

I have contacted an ITF man in the know on this issue and will report back once I hear from him. The USTF is no longer part of any ITF, though are thinking of jining ITF-V I think.. still, why would they want to enforce such a thing anyway!

The USTF has rejoined ITF-V, as an AA.

Bottom line is:
1. C K choi the designer of the logo said it is allowed by all.. technically, he holds any real copyright
2. Im in the UK, so US rulings dont affect me
3. I dont really care about it TBH. If they wanna cover the costs of my students uniforms and make a big ho ha about it, Ill happily change.. until then.. I dont care.. Im a martial artists, not a bickering baby.. those orgs should take note!

We are all products of our environments, as are our attitudes - and in the US, it's all about money; only those clubs/schools/students who are members of the USTF can use the ITF logo, and being a member has a cost. Not only were associations outside the USTF threatened with lawsuits, so was the only licensed outlet for ITF-logoed doboks in the US, as which point they refused to sell to anyone who wasn't on the USTF's approved list. Thus, the assumption that the use of such logos has a monetary incentive. If the laws are different in the UK, then of course you would have a different perspective.

I would ask, however, why you don't just buy plain doboks? I buy them plain and have our association's logos either silk-screened or embroidered on them. I have a student from the UK who arrived with plain doboks in white and black - so they must be available somewhere.

Nonetheless, this is off the topic of the original post - which was about schools limiting the emphasis on forms in preference to what the OP described as "more practical" skills. As I said in my original response:

I think that in limiting patterns, and teaching your students that they are only valuable to "provide an artistic element and a tie to tradition", but that they are "not practical in terms of self-defense or sparring", you are doing them a major disservice. For more detail on why I think this, see this thread for a discussion of the value of patterns in training.
 

Kwan Jang

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First, I'd like to apologize to Stuart for the landmine he stepped into on this thread. This weekend I suggested to him that he should drop by MartialTalk and that it's TKD section was a great place to discuss the art and that there was a very knowledgeable group around here. I had not seen this thread or the direction it was taking when I invited him . Having said that, I am going to horn in with my own opinions on the subject at hand and I suspect that these will ruffle some feathers around here. Still, they are based on historical truth and the facts (at least as far as I know them.)

I do feel that if you understand the proper bunkai/applications of the forms used in TKD, they are a valuable training tool, but ONLY IF you do take the time to properly train them with resisting opponents and can really make them work. There is little doubt that the forms used in TKD, whether they are ITF or WTF (at least the pal gwes and pinans, I will say nothing of the tae gueks) decended from the Okinawan forms via Japan. Gen. Choi and the Korean Kwan leaders at Kukki may have reformatted them and put in their own touches, but the techniques and their sequences are basically just re-spliced. Even the Okinawan masters can trace the roots of their katas to the Tai Chi Chuan 108 movement form.

One of my own side areas of study has been the kyusho and tuite (Korean term keupso) of forms and put quite a bit of time and study in this area for over a decade. During that time I developed a good friendship and training relationship with Master Will Higgenbotham (Okinawan-style 8th dan) and GM Leon Jay (GM of SCJJ). They have even used my school to shoot some of their instructional DVD's and Will has approached me about doing a DVD on the Korean forms. Maybe one day our schedules will ease up at the same time and allow this project to happen.

I am more of a generalist and MMA guy than a specialist like some others on this forum. TKD is just one of several systems that I have earned rank in (BTW, no cross ranking. Only one of my dan rankings in several systems-American Kenpo is the result of any accelerated training), but I do hold a master's rank in it. Because of this, and a strong interest in and curiosity of martial arts history, I am not really very tied down to romanticized versions of TKD's history as some around here seem to be nor have any emotional attachments that make me turn a blind eye to historical facts.

According to the research I've done, the kyusho and tuite applications of the bunkai of the katas were rarely (if ever) taught prior to a student reaching 3rd dan (after the kyu/dan system was adopted). Gen. Choi was only a 2nd dan in shotokan (and even that is giving him the benefit of the doubt since some Japanese sources say 1st dan), it was unlikely that he ever had any exposure to ANY of the true applications of the forms. Therefore his applications and those he passed down to his students in the ITF are likely flawed as well. Especially since they don't match up with the applications of those of the parent arts on which the TKD forms were based.

I would like to address some of the things Master Arnold brought up and what appeared to me to be the spirit underlying his points (at least how I took it, perhaps I am misjudging him). I would like to remind him that while Gen. Choi was responsible for a huge amount of TKD's growth and the acceptance of the actual naming of the system, he was NOT one of the major technical founders. That honor goes to the original leaders of the kwans(Kwan Jang Nim's). To back up this claim, just remember that when the kwans were originally brought together, despite his political position, Gen. Choi was only given an honorary 4th dan (based on his position as the de facto leader of the military kwan based on his rank as a two star general), as opposed to the real 4th dans issued to the actual kwan leaders. It should also be noted that this honorary rank was later taken back when he tried to act like it was an earned rank and also demanded a promotion to 6th dan from the KJN of the CDK. This happened years before his exile from Korea and while he was still a powerful man with an incredible amount of "juice" in Korea.

I am going to shut up now before I offend many of the great TKD practitioners who come from a ITF lineage. I just have a problem with the "party-line" that some with an ITF lineage take about those outside their lineage not being "true practitioners of TKD", especailly given what the documented history is rather than the revisionist version that some ITF people try to make it out to be. BTW, even though my lineage in TKD goes back to WTF MDK, if the evidence supported Gen. Choi's position, I'd give him his props and I think the Kukki/WTF crowd still does not show the proper respect for his contributuions often enough.

One last note to Master Arnold, if I misunderstood where you were coming from and misjudged your intent, I do apologize. I have heard this line from many of those who came from an ITF lineage and may have just assumed that this is what you were implying.
 

StuartA

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I would ask, however, why you don't just buy plain doboks?
Because where my school was founded it is a poor area and a plain ITF style dobok didnt exsist in the UK and would have to be made special order for the Academy, in the same mould as making up a funky coloured suit, as the ITF ones were mass produced, hence cheaper, hence the students could afford them.
Nealy 10 years down the line we could get them specifically made up (they still dont sell plain ones in the UK AFAIA) but all the students have the ones we originally got and its mass task and TBH too much to ask for students to all buy a new, only slightly different type.

plus the reasons I mentioned before.

My old organisation sent a message via the grape vine when I first started teaching saying I should ensure I wasnt wear thier dobok as I would be mistaken for stil being an instructor under them. I sent a message back (same way), saying i woudnt want that as I no longer wanted to be associated with them and they might recieve some kudos from me 9this bit was in jest btw) and that Im happy to return my dobok if they send my money back.. until then, I paid (OTT) for it and I won it! I never did wear it anyway btw.



I buy them plain and have our association's logos either silk-screened or embroidered on them. I have a student from the UK who arrived with plain doboks in white and black - so they must be available somewhere.
Not seen where myself, perhaps a mass order for a group of clubs or an org.

Nonetheless, this is off the topic of the original post - which was about schools limiting the emphasis on forms in preference to what the OP described as "more practical" skills. As I said in my original response:
Yup

Stuart
 

StuartA

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First, I'd like to apologize to Stuart for the landmine he stepped into on this thread.

No need to apologies. I am happy to take on the martial arts stalwarts misconceptions when needed.... goes with the terriotory of being a little bit known Im afraid.

Furthermore, I am please and privilidged you showed me a forum of intelligent, genuine martial artists... discussing the arts for their benefit. Not all forums are as forthcoming.

So thank you,


Stuart
 

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...I am going to horn in with my own opinions on the subject at hand and I suspect that these will ruffle some feathers around here. Still, they are based on historical truth and the facts (at least as far as I know them.)

I really enjoyed this post, and just want to comment on some of the many good points in it.

I do feel that if you understand the proper bunkai/applications of the forms used in TKD, they are a valuable training tool, but ONLY IF you do take the time to properly train them with resisting opponents and can really make them work.

Yes—and this is one of the main emphases of the modern bunkai-jutsu movement in karate. It's probably true, as one of our experienced members, cstanley, has pointed out, that a lot of what people are in effect reconstructing from the evidence of the kata themselves have been known all along to the senior master Okinawan practitioners, but given that, the movement (arising, so far as I can tell, from mostly Shotokan roots) to recover these practical street-effective applications has been accompanied by a new view of training, what Abernethy calls kata-based sparring, which involves very intense realistic noncompliant training quite different from standard tori/uke one-step training. As Iain Abernethy notes in his April, 2007 article in Black Belt, 'Making Kata Work',

If you wish to use the form's techniques and principles in live situations, you need to practice against noncompliant opponents because that's what you'll be facing... I've bled, broken bones and dislocated joints through my own adventures, so I fully appreciate that heavy contact isn't for everyone...

It's essential to gain live experience in applying the fighting techniques and principles recorded by kata. Without it, all the knowledge you gain from kata study will be theoretical. It's foolish to expect this theoretical knowledge to miraculously become practical knowledge when you need it.

(p. 103). This is directly relevant to the OP question, because there seems to be assumption implicit in the OP that you either have practical combat training or you have kata-based training, and that the two are kind of mutually exclusive—that's my reading of the OP, anyway. But as Kwan Jang and Abernethy are both pointing out, there is absolutely no conflict between making forms central to your curriculum and training street-effective SD; the problem is leaving out the actual combat practice. I always think of it this way: you can read a physics text book and see how the various concepts introduced allow you to find relationships between certain physical variables—force, energy, momentum, temperature, pressure etc. But once you've seen how these different dynamical notions are mathematically related, how do you actually use those relationships to look at a certain situation where you know certain values for certain of these variables and use that knowledge to determine the values for other variables? And that's where the problem section in each chapter comes in. You don't really understand the physical relationships amongst the various notions until you are able to use these relationships to solve problems, difficult problems. Every competent engineer or physicist has probably solved a thousand textbook problems for every 'conceptual' section paragraph they've ever read. There's no other way to learn how to solve problems than to solve problems. That goes for all branches of knowledge, including knowledge of martial arts.


There is little doubt that the forms used in TKD, whether they are ITF or WTF (at least the pal gwes and pinans, I will say nothing of the tae gueks) decended from the Okinawan forms via Japan. Gen. Choi and the Korean Kwan leaders at Kukki may have reformatted them and put in their own touches, but the techniques and their sequences are basically just re-spliced. Even the Okinawan masters can trace the roots of their katas to the Tai Chi Chuan 108 movement form.

One of my own side areas of study has been the kyusho and tuite (Korean term keupso) of forms and put quite a bit of time and study in this area for over a decade. During that time I developed a good friendship and training relationship with Master Will Higgenbotham (Okinawan-style 8th dan) and GM Leon Jay (GM of SCJJ). They have even used my school to shoot some of their instructional DVD's and Will has approached me about doing a DVD on the Korean forms. Maybe one day our schedules will ease up at the same time and allow this project to happen.

I am more of a generalist and MMA guy than a specialist like some others on this forum. TKD is just one of several systems that I have earned rank in (BTW, no cross ranking. Only one of my dan rankings in several systems-American Kenpo is the result of any accelerated training), but I do hold a master's rank in it. Because of this, and a strong interest in and curiosity of martial arts history, I am not really very tied down to romanticized versions of TKD's history as some around here seem to be nor have any emotional attachments that make me turn a blind eye to historical facts.

A couple of points here:

(i) I've wondered for a long time if there was a Korean equivalent for the tuite aspect of original Karate; thanks for the info on the Korean term keupso. As enough practitioners become aware both of the Japanese notion of bunkai, the analysis of forms for practical use, and the existence of Korean analogs (e.g., boon hae for bunkai) it may one day be possible to develop a Korean technical lexicon which makes reference to the Japanese terms unnecessary. This is desirable, I think, not for reasons of Korean nationalism (though Koreans may, quite understandably, find it so) but because the existence of a Korean terminology for such combat-based analysis, including the controlling-move and weak-point striking aspect will in effect build these notions into the KMA lexicon, so that when we look at a hyung, asking about what the boon hae and the keupso aspects of the hyung are will be entirely reasonable, because there is a vocabulary which takes the existence of these kind of combat applications for granted. And once that's accomplished, the assumption that hyungs and practical combat techniques have little or nothing to do with each other, or that the former are irrelevant to a school curriculum which emphasizes the latter, or—especially—that it's all (and only) kicking, punching and blocking, in the end—will be well on the way to its deserved oblivion.

(ii) There is now a huge body of impeccably documented researched, much of it peer reviewed by professional MA historians, which unequivocally demonstrates the correctness of the statements I've bolded above in KJ's message.

The following articles have appeared in the past 15 years and provide, amongst them, exhaustive documentation of the very recent origins of TKD/TSD as the legacy of Japanese karate in Korea, the irrelevance of 'tae kyon' to the modern TKD technique set, and the fantasy status of claims of ancient indigenous Korean combat systems so far as the modern KMAs are concerned:

Young, Robert W. 1993. The history and development of Tae Kyon. Journal of Asian Martial Arts 2.2, pp. 45-69.

Capener, Steve. 1995. Problems in the identity and philosophy of T'aegwondo and their historical causes. Korea Journal, Winter (available here)

Burdick, Dakin. 1997. People and events of Taekwondo's formative years. Journal of Asian Martial Arts,

Burdick, Dakin. 2000. People and events of Taekwondo's formative years [expanded version of the 1997 JAMA article], available at http://www.budosportcapelle.nl/gesch.html

Henning, Stanley. 2000. Traditional Korean Martial Arts. Journal of Asian Martial Arts.

Adrogu矇, Manuel. 2003 Ancient Military Manuals and Their Relation to Modern Korean Martial Arts. Journal of Asian Martial Arts.


These guys have gone meticulously over every physical artifact, every bit of 'ancient' documentation, every misleading etymology, ever assembled on behalf of the completely spurious '2000 year old' history of TKD, and shown that in every single case the evidence is about on a par for the Bermuda Triangle and cold fusion. A very cold light indeed is shed on the motivations and historical integrity of certain prominent MA proponents of these views in the recent interview in the January Black Belt by our own Robert McLain with Gm. Kim Byung-Soo; I won't say any more about that interview here, but I'd urge all to read it in conjunction with the foregoing sources, particularly certain information in the Young article I've cited. The fact is, there is nothing that gives claims for ancient TKD anything beyond the status of wishful fantasizing, and, as Gm. Kim says, this is increasingly coming to be recognized, even in Korea (where, as Young points out in his article, a number of major TKD figures have, fairly courageously, debunked the claims that have been made for TKD's mythical 'Three Kingdoms' origins).

According to the research I've done, the kyusho and tuite applications of the bunkai of the katas were rarely (if ever) taught prior to a student reaching 3rd dan (after the kyu/dan system was adopted). Gen. Choi was only a 2nd dan in shotokan (and even that is giving him the benefit of the doubt since some Japanese sources say 1st dan), it was unlikely that he ever had any exposure to ANY of the true applications of the forms. Therefore his applications and those he passed down to his students in the ITF are likely flawed as well. Especially since they don't match up with the applications of those of the parent arts on which the TKD forms were based.

Gennosuke Higaki's Hidden Karate: the True Bunkai for the Heian Katas and Naihanchi provides testimony from Higake's own instructor, who trained personally with Funakoshi one-on-one as an advanced elite student, that the expat Okinawan masters had a kind of gentleman's agreement, strongly monitored by their own instructors back on the islands, to not teach the Japanese the true, most effective bunkai. Funakoshi let some of these techs slip when working with favorite students, but for the most part the agreement (which Hagaki refers to as the 'secret pact') was adhered to. But Funakoshi, as we know, took over many of the most militaristic and implicitly racist attitudes of the Japanse society he so strongly desired to assimilate into (see Rob Redmond's article here for a sobering assessment of Funakoshi's strategic and tactical choices with respect to his adopted country) and given what Higaki and many other sources report, it is very unlikely that he would have shared the technical knowledge he did possess about the deepest bunkai applications (which Choki Motobu has written about dismissively, saying that GF's technical knowledge of bunkai was negligible) with many Koreans, whom the Japanese regarded with the same hostile contempt as their other colonial subjects. This would have been an additional barrier to the young Choi's getting much in-depth information on the bunkai of the kata he was exposed to and which, according to GM. Kim, he taught faithfully during the first phase of his postwar MA career in Korea.

I would like to address some of the things Master Arnold brought up and what appeared to me to be the spirit underlying his points (at least how I took it, perhaps I am misjudging him). I would like to remind him that while Gen. Choi was responsible for a huge amount of TKD's growth and the acceptance of the actual naming of the system, he was NOT one of the major technical founders. That honor goes to the original leaders of the kwans(Kwan Jang Nim's). To back up this claim, just remember that when the kwans were originally brought together, despite his political position, Gen. Choi was only given an honorary 4th dan (based on his position as the de facto leader of the military kwan based on his rank as a two star general), as opposed to the real 4th dans issued to the actual kwan leaders. It should also be noted that this honorary rank was later taken back when he tried to act like it was an earned rank and also demanded a promotion to 6th dan from the KJN of the CDK. This happened years before his exile from Korea and while he was still a powerful man with an incredible amount of "juice" in Korea.

I've read essentially this narrative in a number of independent, well-documented accounts of the history of TKD written by people without a horse in the race, so to speak.

The time is coming when a clear, cold-eyed evaluation of modern KMA history, and of the partisanship which has resulted in so much legend, wishful thinking and sheer propaganda, will become available. And a lot of what Kwan Jang has to say in his post will, apparently, be part of that evaluation....
 

Kacey

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There is little doubt that the forms used in TKD, whether they are ITF or WTF (at least the pal gwes and pinans, I will say nothing of the tae gueks) decended from the Okinawan forms via Japan. Gen. Choi and the Korean Kwan leaders at Kukki may have reformatted them and put in their own touches, but the techniques and their sequences are basically just re-spliced.

The Ch'ang H'on (ITF) tuls are heavily influenced by the Shotokan forms; I have a 1965 edition of The Encyclopedia of TaeKwon-Do, which includes a number of Shotokan forms. Comparison of those forms shows the similarity; Master Arnold demonstrated this similarity at his promotion last Saturday, when he performed Heian (Heian 1?) while I performed Dan-Gun, the second form in the Ch'ang H'on tul set, next to him. The similarities are striking; there are very few techniques in either form that is not in the other, and most of the techniques are the same, and in the same sequence.

Many of the applications (bunkai) in TKD were lost for a variety of reasons: details were not transmitted for one reason or another; practitioners chose their own favorite interpretation and discarded others; practitioners were not taught interpretation (either in limited forms or not taught at all); practitioners were taught "this is the way you use this technique" and did not search out other applications; oral transmission is often faulty; other reasons apply as well.

I had the privilege of listening to GM Lang and GM Steiner discuss this very issue last weekend; I only wish I had had a tape recorder, as I can't remember nearly as many details I wish I could have. I do recall a discussion of applications of techniques in Chon-Ji I'd never considered, including the preparatory motion for the low block being the preparation for a throw, with the blocking motion, with the hands beginning crossed back to back at the wrists, and then the blocking hand moving in an arc across the lower abdomen and the reaction hand moving back (elbow to the rear) could also be a throw - although I can't describe the demonstration clearly at this point (and it was pretty restricted; we were in a restaurant eating breakfast).
 

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