Tae Kwon Do Evolution

TigerWoman

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jfarnsworth said:
The time should start immediatley. As for myself, I would never give somebody any type of rank if they didn't deserve it. My first instructor and I have had conflicts where he passed someone as I stated they were not ready for promotion. He over rode me 2 or 3 times and that was it for me. I would expect no less if I were testing for any belt level.

The black belts in our school, whatever rank, actually only 2nd, or 1st dans, do not even get a say in the testing. Its judged solely by the master. Once last month, was the first time he asked our opinion. He wanted us to grade a form by a teenager. He didn't tell us what he decided after he got our grades. Typical for him. I have disagreed (but not openly) with alot of people passing including black belts.

One second dan testee couldn't remember hardly any forms, had to to do them over and over, slowly trying to think of the next move, very haltingly, poor stances. He had always tested with me going through the ranks but he wanted to go ahead so asked and was granted early testing. Well he did most of his breaking that night but was told he didn't pass the forms. So he had to retest for the forms the next month, when I was doing mine for the 2nd dan test. He was the same except fewer forms were messed up. I left to get on sparring gear and he was passed. Who knows what happened. But it happened before when I left the room, they were passed.

So I have trouble with breaking for my 2nd dan test, can't do the last break, jumpback2/jumpspin heel-1, broken the bottom boards and cracked the top board three separate times. But he will not pass me until I break the top board clean apart. Meanwhile, this other 2nd dan he passed has been leading the class that I am in, but that will always be the case since he tested one month before me.

So I have been stuck doing this break for 14 months. And now he changes the standards for the next testees for that "technical" break to be a blindfold jumpspin heel. Standards are now easier... and that is across the board. I can elect to do the easy break too. TW
PS. It was "it" for me too. I have been out of class for a month now.
 

bignick

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I think the real problem is how big tae kwo do has become. It starts innocent enough...we work hard and we love this art so we want to share it with others. But not everybody has the right mentality or is cut out for the martial arts. Tae kwon do has become one of the most, if not most practiced martial art in the world. It's become so bloated and so many have branched off, saying you're this rank or that has no real meaning anymore. There is absolutely no consistency anymore. Some schools will promote to black within a year...others may take 5...or even closer to a decade...and even then...what does a black belt really mean....let's say you put in five years of hard work to get your black belt, what is five years compared to 20...and whats studying tae kwon do for 20 years compared to 50. Right now, I think there is a lot of really good tae kwon do out there and a lot of really bad tae kwon do out there...all you can really do is try to pass along the art as best you can and hope the schools that give tae kwon do a bad name either begin to follow suit or die out when the students realize they're not learning what they should be or need to be learning from their training and begin to look elsewhere
 

glad2bhere

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Dear Bignick, MichiganTKD, Disco et al:

I, too, have become pretty cynical about the state of Korean MA, and am really at a loss to say where the solution lies. Its pretty apparent that right now the prevailing attitude is that KMA are something that we take things FROM. There is a kind of "consumer mentality" that says, essentially, "I paid $XX and now I expect, or was promised "_____". And, I would like to offer a special warm "thank you" for all those wonderful Korean nationals who so effectively modelled prostituting a Korean institution into what it is today. But as people pointed out, its not just the commercial model thats to blame. As people have mentioned it is the lazy lack of dedication to a martial ideal that has trashed the KMA as well. Personally I don't teach "dance" or "knitting" or "bowling". I teach Yon Mu Kwan Hapkido and its a martial art. No trophies, or tournaments, kids classes, "black belt clubs" etc etc etc. I don't charge. You show-up and you get taught. You don't show up --- you don't get taught. Its just that simple. And guess what? People show up and sniff around for a while but when it becomes plain that its a matter of hard work, sweat, learning and change they go back to their Reality TV-s, beers, cell-phones and celebrity soap operas. And let me share two other interesting things you may find curious.

I recently mentioned to my personal students that I was considering letting some of my more dedicated Club students attend classes at our private facility. Know what the response was? A resounding "NO". Its not that there is no "Jung Do" in their hearts. Its that they are the last few of what was once about 80 students and have put up with a lot of crap introduced by people from the outside and are acutely familiar with the sorts of dynamics we are talking about. They don't want "visitors" or "guests" or people who are intersted in seeing what Hapkido is "like". I share this because these folks in my mind represent the flip-side of what we are talking about here. Too few to support a commercial school they "pay" for their training with commitment and dedication and in return I do whatever I can to help them grow.

The last thing I would point out is that for quite a while I traveled around the Midwest offering seminars to people who wanted to learn Hapkido or wanted to incorporate Hapkido into their KMA curriculum, usually as part of their hoshinsul. No charge. Guess what? When folks found out that Hapkido required work, discomfort and a lot more than just dancing around in a do-bok in front of a mirror they went back to buying tapes and books and learning from that. "Martial arts? Sure--- as long as it doesn't inconvenience us". FWIW.

Best Wishes,

Bruce
 

bignick

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You make a lot of good points...i've found the problem usually stems from the fact the most people try understand asian martial arts through their western sensibilities...which doesn't really work since asian thought, philosophy and development was/is fundamentally different from the West. A lot of students have the same mentality that I you see in people that get together and play church league softball or some other weekly activity...yeah they get a little excersize, have some fun, but it's more a social activity than anything...i recently had the privilege of helping out at kids class because the assistant instructor was going to be gone for a while. Suprisingly a lot a of the kids did take it seriously and were willing to work hard...but the attitude from the parents was radically different, to them it was the same as dropping there kid off at soccer or baseball...In fact, one student was preparing for a rank test and the instructor was bringing in the head instructor of our schools and the girls mom was like, "Hmm, that won't work for us, she has '____' that night". I can't remember the specific activity. People need to understand that it's more than a 2 night a week commitment where you come, work out a bit, kick some targets do your poomse and then go home. Anyway, there's not a whole lot more on the subject I can say that really hasn't been said a thousand times. But I'll enjoy hearing other people's thoughts on the matter.
 

Martial Tucker

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glad2bhere said:
But as people pointed out, its not just the commercial model thats to blame. As people have mentioned it is the lazy lack of dedication to a martial ideal that has trashed the KMA as well.


Best Wishes,

Bruce
I think this "hits the nail right on the head", and as I have said here in the past,
I think what has happened to KMA in this country is, in economics terms, a "demand-pull" dilution. Bruce also mentioned the willingness of Korean nationals to
"prostitute" their country's art. Interesting observation AND interesting choice of words. I know when I drive through my city, there are TKD schools all over the place. At the same time, I sure don't see many kenpo, shotokan, kung fu, jujitsu, etc. schools. Could it be because these arts have held to a higher standard and require actual sweat and work and time before they hand you a black belt? How appropriate that it is popular to describe a group of "watered-down" TKD schools as McDojangs. When you go to McDonalds for food, what do you get? A barely edible, poor nutrition product. BUT, it is fast and easy. "Fast and easy" plays right into what our culture demands anymore. As I said before, when I drive around my city, there are TKD schools every few blocks, it seems. The front windows are usually filled with trophies. I look inside and see "snot-tots" wearing black belts. I see adults working on their "jumping, triple whirly-bird hook kick" that can't throw a straight punch hard enough to crush a grape, and if I snuck up behind them on a dark street and yelled "BOO!", they would crap in their pants. But, by golly, they can tell their friends they're black belts.
And it only took them 1 1/2 years!

When someone walks into our school and (usually) one of their first 3 questions is "How long will it take to get my black belt?", it's a sure bet they will end up at one of these places. Let's get back to Bruce's "prostitution" metaphor. You can be dead set against human prostitution, and complain about how terrible it is, and even pass laws prohibiting it, but you will never get rid of it, because there will always be a demand for that "product". Same goes with the "McDojangs". Our "feel-good" culture wants it all, and it had better be fast and easy, or we'll find something different to do. The Koreans have just been more willing than others to give us what we as a culture want: The ability to feel like we've achieved something and feel good about ourselves, but without having to pay a high price.
 

glad2bhere

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"Can I get an 'amen'!!"

Right on the money and I will add (at the risk of losing some people) a parallel system that gets ignored every bit as much!!

Now and again people talk about Hapkido or the KMA in general and wonder loudly "does this stuff work?". Many of us know some pretty nasty material and can probably use it. But then there are other places that don't teach such material. Why? Because the students can't be trusted not to misuse or abuse the knowlege and so incurr liabilities to the school. Now why is THAT? Because teaching a person to do damage to another human being, even in self-defense, is only one half of the job. Instilling values that cause the person to reflect on the right time to act, how to act and why is the other whole side of it and most teachers are simply not up to that. Its like the schools that say morals should be taught in church because of its religious association and the churches say it should be instilled in school because of its educational implications. Our current crop of practitioners can deal with KMA on a cash and carry basis like they are buying time at a bowling alley because noone ever instills in them the belief that its more than that. The message is that they are getting time at a MA school the way some people buy time at a fitness center. Now--- I have a solution for this. Let the people who want to practice Korean martial arts and do martial things like it was a subscription to a gym stop calling what they do "martial arts" and start calling it "civil arts". I'm asking for a divorce. They go their way and I will go mine. They can do all the tournaments, and trophies and demo-s etc etc they care to, just don't call what they are doing "martial art". Its not. I know it and I think in their hearts THEY know it. They can dress up in all of the loud costumes they care to, eschew forms, ignore ethics and mix and match their material all they want. I only ask that they leave genuine Korean martial arts alone and not represent what they are doing as such. FWIW.

Best Wishes,

Bruce
 

Martial Tucker

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Bruce, you raised a point/question that made me start a whole new thread in the General Martial Arts section, but if you or anyone want to comment here, fine by me...

The question is: Other than teaching the techniques specific to an art, what is the job of a teacher in terms of instilling martial values/ethics/responsiblity in a student?

Assuming you are dealing with an adult student who presumably already has an established set of values and ethics, should a good martial arts teacher attempt to "shape" those pre-existing attitudes into something appropriate for the "martial knowledge" they are going to be learning, or is it unrealistic to expect to have much of an "attitude impact" when dealing with an adult?

I know my teacher speaks often of "martial values" and tradition and responsiblity, but it is more as if he is stating his opinion than trying to actively change attitudes in his class. He does that in another way: Anyone who comes in to our and school acts in a manner inconsistent with the martial values/responsiblity that our teacher espouses is sent packing rather quickly.
In other words, our teacher considers himself more of a "gatekeeper" than an
"attitude shaper".

I'm curious what other people's teachers do in this area, and what you think he/she should do?
 

TigerWoman

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Martial Tucker said:
I know when I drive through my city, there are TKD schools all over the place. At the same time, I sure don't see many kenpo, shotokan, kung fu, jujitsu, etc. schools. Could it be because these arts have held to a higher standard and require actual sweat and work and time before they hand you a black belt? How appropriate that it is popular to describe a group of "watered-down" TKD schools as McDojangs. When you go to McDonalds for food, what do you get? A barely edible, poor nutrition product. BUT, it is fast and easy. "Fast and easy" plays right into what our culture demands anymore. As I said before, when I drive around my city, there are TKD schools every few blocks, it seems. The front windows are usually filled with trophies. I look inside and see "snot-tots" wearing black belts. I see adults working on their "jumping, triple whirly-bird hook kick" that can't throw a straight punch hard enough to crush a grape, and if I snuck up behind them on a dark street and yelled "BOO!", they would crap in their pants. But, by golly, they can tell their friends they're black belts.
And it only took them 1 1/2 years!
.

I don't think this is fair. Not all TKD schools pump out blackbelts in 1-1/2 yrs. and in fact I don't know of any in my area. Trophies in the window do not signify that the school is bad. Nor do children. Making fun of a typical TKd kick is making fun of our art. Generalizing about punching and lumping in every TKD school? Cheap shot. TW
 

bignick

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I agree with you that it was a cheap shot...but what makes me so mad, and maybe what touched your nerve is that just like every other stereotype and cliche out there..hidden behind it is a kernel of truth...but i know of judo and karate schools that pump out black belts just as fast as the most disreputable taekwondo dojang. The problem is that the worse schools have the loudest voice, just like won't see a traditional jujitsu school with a giant flashy ad in the yellow, most of the good taekwondo schools lay low. The only advertising our school does is a sign on our dojang with the name of our school on it and word of mouth from the students. Every once and a while we will do a public demonstration..maybe 2-3 a year...that's it...
 
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Very true.

In my area, there are one or two Instructors who are what I call media whores. They waste no opportunity to advertise, get their students outside where they can be seen, and generally do whatever they can to get publicity for their school. From what I've seen, their technique is crap, and the Instructors care more about making money than in producing good students.
But people see them and assume they are good schools. A LOT of very young students by the way. As mentioned, the really good schools will always be smaller and hard to find because what they offer-hard work, dedication, sweat, pain/aggravation, and (sometimes) injury-are not what most people want. They want the quick fix, pretty uniforms, fancy techniques, and Kid's Club.
I have no problem charging class fees every month. I have a building fee to pay, and my dedication is not free. But my main concern is not money, and tournament trophies in a window do not a great school make. My Instructor was the Korean National Champion 5 years in a row, and he kept his medals in a room in his house where very few people ever saw them. His trophies were the students he turned out.
But getting back to topic. I personally don't think there was ever a time where Tae Kwon Do was all good. Crap Instructors have always existed. But I think with Olympic Tae Kwon Do in jeopardy, Tae Kwon Do will have to take a long look at itself and make some tough decisions. But for some of us, that decision was already made. I have students who conceivably might want to train for tournaments. That's fine. For everyone else, I train them the way I trained. And that way ain't easy. And it never goes out of style.
 

glad2bhere

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Dear Martial Tucker et al:

".....Assuming you are dealing with an adult student who presumably already has an established set of values and ethics, should a good martial arts teacher attempt to "shape" those pre-existing attitudes into something appropriate for the "martial knowledge" they are going to be learning, or is it unrealistic to expect to have much of an "attitude impact" when dealing with an adult?....."

I'm sorry to sound so dogmatic about this, but to me this question is a "no-brainer". It is not a question of "should" a teacher shape pre-existing attitudes but that it is absolutely imperative that they do! This theme is fundamental to my particular view of the KMA so I will work hard not to get into a rant. Please consider the following two points.

I teach YMK Hapkido. It is not an embroidery class. People learn to do things to another human being whose results may not be reversible. Putting out an eye, breaking a knee or elbow joint, brusing or crushing the cartilage in the larynx, bruising or crushing the testicles against the pubic bone or executing a shoulder throw to fracture the spine or neck are not games. In teaching such material to people I am responsible to do everything in my power to make sure that the people I am teaching this material to are responsible enough not to misuse what they learn. Both Osensei Kano and Osensei Funakoshi reported in their writings that they repeatedly had to intervene with their students lurking around darkened ways in the city to test their skills on passer-bys. And even modern students are tempted by the questions, "I wonder if this stuff really works?". Now if you look at the BUBISHI (See: Patrick McCarthys' Translation) you will see that the Oriental culture invoked 7 techniques as "forbidden" as an attempt to safe-guard training and practice, and honestly we modern teachers can always cut out the more dangerous material. However, to me that is just a way of circumventing our responsibilities as teachers.

Flipping from the student to the teacher I would make this other point. As a teacher is it my responsibility to reconcile the very question you are asking. For instance, if I am unable to teach sound ethics because I am afraid of alienating students and reducing my revenues what does that say about my OWN growth and standing as a teacher? What does that say about my OWN values? In like manner, if I am unable to reconcile the very question you are asking because I MYSELF have never found the answer in my OWN practice what does that say about my pretending to follow a Warriors' Path (let alone attempt to teach others)?

To me, if we were discussing firearms I don't think anyone would question needing to teach sound ethics or principles in gun ownership. I don't think anyone would question assessing a persons' maturity or emotional/psychological stability. Just because I don't teach the curriculum the way that GM Myung teaches doesn't mean that I am any less responsible for doing the best I can to make sure people are up to owning what I teach them. Hope this makes sense.

Best Wishes,

Bruce
 

Martial Tucker

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TigerWoman said:
I don't think this is fair. Not all TKD schools pump out blackbelts in 1-1/2 yrs. and in fact I don't know of any in my area. Trophies in the window do not signify that the school is bad. Nor do children. Making fun of a typical TKd kick is making fun of our art. Generalizing about punching and lumping in every TKD school? Cheap shot. TW
Hi TW,

I don't believe I ever said that ALL or even MOST TKD schools are guilty of these things. The topic being discussed was how there does seem to be more
"belt factories" in TKD than in other arts, and how the reason was that our culture has evolved into a lot of people who want it all, but doesn't want to do the hard work or time required. The Koreans who have proliferated TKD in the US have noticed this, and have just done a better job than the others of giving us what we want.

We all hear the word "mcdojang" frequently. The word came into existance for a reason, I assume. I have yet to hear anyone use the word "mcdojo". I live in the Chicago area, and there are TKD schools all over the place. So, not knowing where you live, perhaps I have a larger universe of schools around to "sample from". But my point remains: Many of the schools in this area award black belts in a very short period of time. I have met 3rd dans who have been studying 6-7 years. I have met 20 year old 5th dans. I have seen 10 year old black belts. The schools I am referring to produce students that are capable of winning trophies in a competition, but would get their butts kicked in a real street fight.

I am not saying these things to take a cheap shot at TKD, I am taking an
intentional shot at what many people in our society have become....
Someone who wants quick gratification and the means to feel good about themselves, but don't want to work hard, suffer, or endure time for success.
Again, my point was only that many of the promoters of TKD in this country have taken advantage of this phenomenon by opening schools with sub-standard curriculums, and they happily pat their students on the back with one hand and take the checks from the student with the other hand.

Bignick pointed out in his last post how you don't see jujitsu schools with big flashy ads in the yellow pages, and the good TKD schools seem to lay low.
True....these schools attract fewer students because they have
difficult, challenging curriculums and they don't cut corners or "sell belts".
As such, they can't afford to advertise, and even if they did, 99.9% of the people who respond to the ads won't stay past the first week of training. I've seen this firsthand too many times.

The whole point/title of this thread was the evolution of TKD. I don't think you can dispute the fact that there are many "mcdojangs" out there.
The point I was trying to make was WHY. I love TKD. I put my heart and soul into it almost daily. I happen to have a traditional bias and consider TKD to be
a martial (read: fighting) art designed for self defense with many traditions that should be upheld. Some of these traditions include a lot of sweat and time for advancement. And, the meaning of a black belt includes an assumption of maturity, control, discipline, and judgement that you cannot realistically expect to find in a child. Now, don't misunderstand....I love kids and I think kids studying MA is a great thing. They are the future of our art.
My school is very traditional, and we have a kids class, and I enjoy teaching this class frequently. But, they're still children. We try to teach them self-confidence, discipline, and work ethic (not to mention some self defense!)
and make it fun for them, too. But, we're not going to stick a black belt on them and tell their parents they're raising the next Chuck Norris as we hand them a bill. Don't laugh...this happens at a lot of places. How many children do you know studying shotokan, jujitsu, or kung fu? Few, if any, I'll bet. Why is that? Are those arts that much more difficult to learn? Or, could it be that many TKD schools have lowered their standards to bring in more students and give them a greater chance for advancement and to feel good about themselves? This is not what "martial tradition" is about, and unfortunately, it's the KMA schools that seem to be the main perpetrators. But, as I said...
They're just giving us what we are asking/paying for.
 

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glad2bhere said:
Dear Martial Tucker et al:


I'm sorry to sound so dogmatic about this, but to me this question is a "no-brainer". It is not a question of "should" a teacher shape pre-existing attitudes but that it is absolutely imperative that they do! This theme is fundamental to my particular view of the KMA so I will work hard not to get into a rant.

Bruce
Hi Bruce,

Go back to "defcon 3", I didn't mean to trigger a "rant"!!

But seriously, my point was more along the lines of: is it realistic for a teacher to assume that he can have much of an impact on the pre-existing and often
centrally-held attitudes of an adult student? I didn't mean to imply that as a teacher you should not feel an obligation to "educate" your students as to the potential harm they can do with certain techniques, or educate them as to the proper times and situations when such techniques may or may not be appropriate. In my TKD school, we study and practice (very carefully) techniques which will cause damage very similar to what you described. Our teacher is very careful to point out the potential damage these techniques can cause, and we discuss the conditions in which their use may or may not be appropriate. But on a less lethal level, if you have a student that is the type to go out and look for trouble, just to "test" his abilities, can you really have much of an impact on that student's attitude? My experience (as a student, I'm not a teacher) is that you can pick these people out of a class pretty quickly by watching how they practice with others, but in your experience as a teacher, can you really change them by the time they get to you? I am not asking this to debate your post, I am asking as a future teacher, because I am genuinely curious as to your experience. As I said earlier in this and a previous post, our teacher stresses the damage potential and "appropriateness of use" of the more dangerous techniques. To do any less would be grossly irresponsible. But, on an everyday level, he just tries to weed out the "jerks" from the class, and if it means less money coming into the school, he is way OK with that, because he is more concerned with a quality program for the rest of us. In other words, he considers himself more of a "jerk filter" than a "Mr. Miyagi". I don't have enough background to say whether that is right or wrong, but as I said, I am just interested in your experience as a teacher dealing with a student that is a potential troublemaker.

Regards,

MT
 

glad2bhere

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Dear MT:

".....I am not asking this to debate your post, I am asking as a future teacher, because I am genuinely curious as to your experience........ on an everyday level, he just tries to weed out the "jerks" from the class............ In other words, he considers himself more of a "jerk filter" than a "Mr. Miyagi". I don't have enough background to say whether that is right or wrong, but as I said, I am just interested in your experience as a teacher dealing with a student that is a potential troublemaker......"

I think everybody knows this role of the teacher and what I was talking about in no small way speaks to this albeit from a bit different angle. The question you are focusing on, I think, could be the "cutting edge" for any person who teaches, or wants to teach a martial art. The way I see it there are a couple of consideration.

1.) Will you be using the Kwan Model?
A kwan is not just a "gym" or a "school" or a "style". It is a group of people who share an activity because that activity relates directly to how they see commonality in their individual purposes. In other words, a group of people could do basket weaving but what hold them together is not that they like weaving baskets as much as that they all agree that there is something that they want to be fundamentally different about themselves and the desire for that difference and what is to be different is the same and they all want to use the same behavior or behaviors to get this thing accomplished.

2.) Can you discern between Reason and Purpose?
Anybody can have an external motive ("reason") for doing something. The problem is that when the reason goes away they are no longer motivated to do the activity. A person with an internal motivation ("purpose") will continue to drive himself regardless of what goes on around him or what other people say or do. A purpose cannot be taken or thwarted because it is a fundamental change a person wants to make within himself.

3.) Are you founded firmly enough in your own practice that you can, in turn help others grow the way THEY define it NOT the way you define it?
This is tricky. A person whose purpose is to numb himself emotionally and build skills so that he can be the most satisfying child rapist has defined a purpose and according to his own values. Good for him. I cannot and will not help him grow in the direction he had defined. A person who wants to be the baddest person on the block has defined a reason but not a purpose. Actually I don't think I could do much for him. A person who has identified a lack of confidence in his own judgement and wants to change that I could probably help. He has a purpose and even if I think its more important for him to work on something else like tolerance or acceptance, as a teacher I need to help him move towards the goal he has defined for himself, not what I think is best for him----- otherwise I just become another reason for him. Does this make sense?

There are some other things I would add but I think these theme touch on the major points for me. I'd be curious to hear what other teachers have to say.

Best Wishes,

Bruce
 
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