Looking for a Taekwondo mentor

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bluepanther

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As far as the benefits you get from the forms, I believe I've recreated that quite nicely. I also think I've paced it better. 8 forms up to black belt, no new forms after black belt. My forms are slightly more difficult than a typical Taekwondo colored belt form, but much easier than the types of forms I see Kung Fu guys post on here as "Form 1". The idea behind only having 8 forms is that once you get to a certain point (i.e. black belt), you've learned enough forms already that learning more forms is just proving you can memorize more stuff. The time it takes to learn a new form is much less than the time it takes to go from one degree to the next
This sounds very efficient. I remember many years ago there was a karate school that taught a "condensed" version of the art. They only did Pinan 1-5 up to blackbelt and did Kusunku as a blackbelt and that was it, 6 kata. They kicked and punched the makiwara and sparred constantly. They had so many trophies in their window and had a reputation as hard fighters. Sometimes less is more. All these endless bunkai never win a fight, but hard and fast punching and kicking will. This is in a striking context, of course.
 
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This sounds very efficient. I remember many years ago there was a karate school that taught a "condensed" version of the art. They only did Pinan 1-5 up to blackbelt and did Kusunku as a blackbelt and that was it, 6 kata. They kicked and punched the makiwara and sparred constantly. They had so many trophies in their window and had a reputation as hard fighters. Sometimes less is more. All these endless bunkai never win a fight, but hard and fast punching and kicking will. This is in a striking context, of course.
I know that a lot of us at my old school felt that there was too much stuff to memorize. I was able to keep track of it all, so this isn't a "I can't do it so I'm just gonna whine."

One of my friends has done probably 30+ years of martial arts, but most of them he'd only done for a couple years until the Army moved him around, and then he'd pick up something different. He did manage a 3rd degree in KKW and 4th degree in ATA, but also dabbled in BJJ, Hapkido, Tuk Kong Musool, and a bunch of other stuff. He was getting frustrated that we were doing more forms and not transitioning to application.

My parents were 2nd and 3rd degree. They were in their 60s and struggled to keep it all together. My Dad said at one point, "I can memorize everything or I can improve what I know, I can't do both." And I certainly saw people focus on memorization and not improvement, and saw others who would only focus on what was new and not what was old. I was the only one (besides the Master and his wife) who could keep track of the whole curriculum, both colored belt (as an instructor) and black belt (as a student).

Even my Master couldn't keep track of the 3rd degree stuff. He hadn't done it in a while, and so every time he'd show me the latest stuff, he would remember it differently. Even the 2nd degree stuff he'd waffle on whether a punch defense ended in a punch or a limb destruction (and if he thought different than you, you were "wrong").

Up to my level, we had:
  • 67 memorized combos (11 intermediate, 21 advanced, 35 black belt)
  • 30 unarmed forms (5 Kibon, 8 "Palgwe", 8 Taegeuk, 5 Yudanja, 4 Yudanja variants)
  • 157 self-defense (96 before black belt [no more than 26 per test], 60 after black belt)
  • 28 memorized weapon combos (15 nunchaku, 8 escrima, 5 double escrima)
  • 10 weapon forms (1 double nunchaku, 2 staff, 2 knife, 5 sword)
Compare that with my plan, which is that someone testing for the same level would need:
  • 8 in-house forms (+2 self-created forms)
  • 3x memorized combos (self-created)
  • 10x memorized self-defense (self-created) or 10-minute presentation on a self-defense concept
There would be more in the test than this, this is just the rote memorized material I would expect. And the class wouldn't always focus on what's required for testing. If this is all you need to prepare specifically for the test, you have more time to train for things other than testing.
 

Earl Weiss

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Compare that with my plan, which is that someone testing for the same level would need:
Issue with doing your own thing is with your students relocating, or people who may re locate to your area to train with you.
 
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Issue with doing your own thing is with your students relocating, or people who may re locate to your area to train with you.
The thing is, I think the majority of folks are going to transfer somewhere that doesn't have a 1:1 relationship anyway.

If someone comes from ITF or TSD or Karate, they're going to be doing new stuff. If I run a KKW school and someone comes from another KKW school, it may be 50% new stuff.
 

isshinryuronin

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This sounds very efficient. I remember many years ago there was a karate school that taught a "condensed" version of the art. They only did Pinan 1-5 up to blackbelt and did Kusunku as a blackbelt and that was it, 6 kata. They kicked and punched the makiwara and sparred constantly. They had so many trophies in their window and had a reputation as hard fighters. Sometimes less is more.
Five or six kata may be enough, depending on the kata and if the bunkai is fully mastered. The old masters seldom taught more kata than this, although they often knew more.

As for the pinans being enough to provide a full curriculum, I'm not so sure. These were formulated by Itosu Anko at the beginning of the 1900's as a structured course of study for the general population. They are short and easy to learn. I enjoy them but not sure if they were intended to be the end all instruction. I know he taught select students outside of school and suspect that he taught them other kata as well.

I know the 8 empty handed kata of my system, as well as its weapons kata: 3 bo, 2 sai and a tonfa kata for a total of 14. I also learned the 5 pinans additionally required for black belt at our dojo, and the first kenpo kata plus 2 of their sets from my time with Parker. I regularly practice my system's 14 kata and think that's plenty of stuff to last a few decades. Oh, I also knew all the iaido kata for black belt but have not wielded a sword for over 25 years and only remember the first 5 or 6 short ones and none of the kenpo forms.

The total kata I've learned number about 40 and there is no way one could practice them all. While I'm glad to have had learned them, I am fully satisfied to work with and further explore my core system's 14 - just working those are a full time job.
 
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Five or six kata may be enough, depending on the kata and if the bunkai is fully mastered. The old masters seldom taught more kata than this, although they often knew more.
A question I posed a few years ago in another thread:

So where is the point where you say each of the following:
  • We don't have enough forms
  • We could get by with what we have, but more would help
  • We have enough forms, but a few more wouldn't hurt
  • We have enough, we don't need any more
  • WHY DO WE HAVE SO MANY????
As for the pinans being enough to provide a full curriculum, I'm not so sure. These were formulated by Itosu Anko at the beginning of the 1900's as a structured course of study for the general population. They are short and easy to learn. I enjoy them but not sure if they were intended to be the end all instruction. I know he taught select students outside of school and suspect that he taught them other kata as well.
But are kata supposed to be the end all instruction?

I think they may be more integrated into the Karate training. But I think if you took them out of Taekwondo (and kept everything else) you wouldn't miss much, compared to if you took the kicking drills out of Taekwondo.
 

Earl Weiss

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The thing is, I think the majority of folks are going to transfer somewhere that doesn't have a 1:1 relationship anyway.

If someone comes from ITF or TSD or Karate, they're going to be doing new stuff. If I run a KKW school and someone comes from another KKW school, it may be 50% new stuff.
Depends if they are looking for something in particular and where you are located. I have had ITF transfers and visitors looking for a system from throughout the USA and the World including Argentina, Canada, The Netherlands, Slovakia, the Check Republic, Russia, Siberia, Ireland, Great Britain. (Several recent visitors from Kyrgyzstan) The Core curriculum is Identical. I would say less than 20% is new. Being just outside Chicago, near O'Hare airport may make this more of a thing for me than for others not located in an international crossroads.
 

HighKick

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If every movement has meaning then why limit yourself to a set form. If literally every movement can have multiple martial arts meanings, then a "tie my shoelaces" form that may appear to you as I am tying my shoes actually is a combination of strikes, takedowns, and joint locks.
If a frog had a clutch, it would not jump.
 

HighKick

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However, when I stopped looking for practical application, and instead started to look at what else a form can do for you, I started to connect with them a lot more.
Now you are starting to get the application.
Well done.
To be fair, lots of people will say that "the forms are the art". I don't agree with them, but that argument is made enough online. And it's made so vehemently that if someone doesn't fully connect with the forms, it can be used as a personal attack.

To me this is the major line between the art and the sport.

With few exceptions, forms/kata started it all and are the root of the whole martial arts tradition. They have been so successful as a training tool they still exist and continue to evolve today. That swings a huge hammer, but the onus is on the practitioner to figure out the value. It is never a "here, do this 10 times and you will get it, or you will get better" kind of relationship.

I blame the "I want it and I want it now" generation for expecting the martial arts to cater them in that respect.
 
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bluepanther

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know the 8 empty handed kata of my system, as well as its weapons kata: 3 bo, 2 sai and a tonfa kata for a total of 14.
I never studied Isshinryu but it really does seem like an excellent compact system. 8 empty hand katas, all solid traditional katas. Plus, just enough weapons to round it out. If there were a school near me, I would seriously consider jumping the Korean arts ship for this.
 

isshinryuronin

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But are kata supposed to be the end all instruction?
I meant this only in terms of the short pinans providing enough material compared to other more involved kata. I think the kata collection should at least substantially represent the style's principles via the techniques contained therein and perhaps provide a physical challenge.
 

BaehrTKD

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I'd like to start my own unaffiliated Taekwondo school. One prerequisite that I have for myself is that I have a Taekwondo Master in mentorship over me, at least 5th degree, preferably at least 6th degree. I'm starting to put feelers out to look for a mentor. If anyone knows of any groups I should look into, I'd appreciate it. Or if it's something you're interested in helping me out with, please reach out to me. I'd really appreciate it.

I am now a 7th Dan black belt in Taekwondo and Hapkido. I do private instruction (for a fee) if you are interested.

I also have a YouTube channel (called "Taekwondo Time") that viewers can watch at no charge.

My instructor was Chung Oh (now deceased), who might have been as high as #2 (behind only General Choi). We teach the original style of Taekwondo, before the ITF was formed. (Most people don't know that General Choi actually lived in southern Ontario for a time.)

My school is called Baehr Taekwondo.

If there are any items you would like to purchase for your school I also have training content for sale, instructor sheets for sale, etc.
 

Earl Weiss

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My instructor was Chung Oh (now deceased), who might have been as high as #2 (behind only General Choi). .
It seems to be often referenced that Nam Tae Hi was the highest rank after General Choi being the Hands on Instructor at the Oh Do Kwan. Di you happen to see any of your instructors ITF certificates and recall the Dan #? That would be a great historical tidbit.
 

BaehrTKD

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It seems to be often referenced that Nam Tae Hi was the highest rank after General Choi being the Hands on Instructor at the Oh Do Kwan. Di you happen to see any of your instructors ITF certificates and recall the Dan #? That would be a great historical tidbit.

His certificates were on the wall at one point when you walked in the doors. He was a 9th Dan black belt in Taekwondo and Hapkido, and he taught both arts together. He was either the 1st or 2nd instructor to open a Taekwondo school in Canada, and was the highest ranking in Canada. (We're talking early 1970's here.)

He was taught BY General Choi. Not many instructors can say they learned TKD from General Choi himself.

Chung Oh was also on the first ever Olympic team for Canada (as a coach) when TKD became an Olympic sport in 1988 in Seoul, Korea.

Many people don't know this but the ITF headquarters was located in Toronto, Ontario for a period of time. General Choi left Korea and lived in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. My instructor ran schools all over southern Ontario. They knew each other very well. General Choi used to come to some of our tournaments to watch. There are lots of things he taught my instructor that weren't in the Legacy book.

Here's a picture:
 

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Earl Weiss

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He was taught BY General Choi. Not many instructors can say they learned TKD from General Choi himself.
:
Well sir I don't know how you define "Many" but General Choi taught 187 Multi Day Instructor courses as well as numerous seminars. I spent over 100 classroom hours with him during 7 courses (One of which I hosted) plus various seminars. Many of those who attended those courses did the same or more.
 

Earl Weiss

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His certificates were on the wall at one point when you walked in the doors. He was a 9th Dan black belt in Taekwondo and Hapkido, and he taught both arts together. He was either the 1st or 2nd instructor to open a Taekwondo school in Canada, and was the highest ranking in Canada. (We're talking early 1970's here.)
The late GM Park Jong Soo went to Canada in 1968.
It's a shame you did not make note of GM Oh's ITF Dan #s since I saw Han Cha Kyo's certificate # K-8-6 which was dated 1973 meaning there were 5 Senior to him . If K-8-1 was assigned to General Choi, that only leaves 4 and conjecture has been that those may have been assigned to Seniors like Nam Tae Hi - Probably #2 as well as CK Choi, and Kim Bok Man. Would be great to know for certain who had what numbers and in what order.
 

MadMartigan

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The late GM Park Jong Soo went to Canada in 1968.
It's a shame you did not make note of GM Oh's ITF Dan #s since I saw Han Cha Kyo's certificate # K-8-6 which was dated 1973 meaning there were 5 Senior to him . If K-8-1 was assigned to General Choi, that only leaves 4 and conjecture has been that those may have been assigned to Seniors like Nam Tae Hi - Probably #2 as well as CK Choi, and Kim Bok Man. Would be great to know for certain who had what numbers and in what order.
FYI" According to GM CK Choi's biography on the Taekwondo Pioneers webpage, his ITF number was #5.
 
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