Sometimes people forget that a martial arts journey is a personal journey of self realisation. We are all critics and being criticized in all manner of things. Funny how what you say about your journey is the same as the journey of life as we age.
You tell us what brought you to TKD,why did you stick with it. You are high ranked in Hapkido as well so the KMA's are your main study,yet your origins would seem to lead you down another path.I hope this is not too personal,if so feel free to disregard.I am leading us way off topic as it is.
I started in Japanese martial arts and to tell you the truth, I enjoyed it when I was a kid. Then, in intermediate school, a Korean boy transferred in. One day he came into the bathroom that my friends and I took over and used to smoke in. When he was using the bathroom, I asked him if the rumors that he was a taekwondo guy was true or not. He ignored me and just looked straight ahead. So I told him, hey I'm a shotokan guy so let's spar. I lightly reverse punched in him the face a couple of times, and on the third move, he back kicked me so hard that I folded over. I looked up in time to see his roundhouse kick coming at my head, so I ducked and my friends all mobbed him after that.
I had heard about taekwondo kicks but never felt it up front and personal like that before. I told my uncle about it, and my other friend told his father, and they both recommended the same taekwondo teacher who they both knew. So a bunch of us joined that club. I was taking Shotokan at the time, and so my purpose was to supplement my shotokan and learn how to mainly defend against kicks, and if I learned some kicks, that would have been great too, because shotokan wasn't really into kicking other than front kick.
But after a while, I found that I really enjoyed Taekwondo and stopped Shotokan completely, which I found to be stiff, rigid and unbending. There was no adding in Shotokan, and you had to do it one way and that was it.
My first Taekwondo instructor, a non-korean practitioner, had a background in kung fu, judo, aikido and other arts so he was open minded and flexible. So I stuck with it.
On the way to my friend's house, we used to catch the bus and it would take us past this Hapkido school that opened up. After driving past a few times, I decided to check it out. The instructor, who was Korean, was again very open minded and didn't care if you took other styles, as long as you did what he wanted in class.
I like Taekwondo and Hapkido for different reasons. I enjoy Hapkido because it is a combination martial art and anything really goes. I remember when I was leaving GM JI Han Jae to move back to Hawaii and asked him if there was anything that he wanted me to focus on. He told me that Hapkido has no rules and I could do whatever I wanted. So Hapkido satisfies the need for freedom of expression, because the art as envisioned by GM Ji, who many recognize as the modern founder, actively encourages innovation and creativity in his students. Or at least he used to. Maybe he is saying something different to those that came after me, I don't know. Hapkido I can study in the comfort of my own club or my own house, with little interaction with the outside world. It is a completely personal study for me and I am less apt to share my discoveries and innovations and technical insights. I do Hapkido for me and a big part of me doesn't care how other people do their Hapkido. My Hapkido, maybe it works, maybe it doesn't, but it is rarely tested unless I or my students go out and test it in a self defense situation.
Taekwondo I like because of its constant evolution and change and yet there is a unifying principle behind it as well. I like the idea of a unified taekwondo, with a unified curriculum and unified certification. Being a part of Taekwondo makes me feel like I am part of something that is larger than myself or my own little private dojang world. I enjoy interacting with people from all over the world through Taekwondo. It is an awesome thing, different from any of the other arts that I have studied and I try as much as possible to give back. I have probably spent more time and effort attempting to understand Taekwondo on all of its levels, so while it is one of the most simpliest, it is also one of the most complex. Whether Taekwondo works or whether it doesn't comes to bear in tournaments. There, you can see whether your training or your teaching is effective or not, in a controlled situation. If it is, you win. If it is not, then you lose. I try as much as possible to go ""conventional" with Taekwondo, to the point of trying to understand exactly what the developmental course was, and why. I inject as little as possible into my Taekwondo and do it as much as possible "by the book", or or accurately, "by the pioneer's book". Creativity and self expression and veering from the established path I save for Hapkido.
Some people do it the opposite way. They try to standardize Hapkido or they feel they do not have to follow what the Kukkiwon or anyone else says about Taekwondo. To me, that goes contrary to what the pioneers wanted. I'm interested in the original intent of the arts and practicing how it was meant to be practiced, with freedom or standardized. And most of the arguments and criticisms of me and with me revolve because people disagree with that or have a different picture in their head as to what the "original intent" was.