5 Reasons TaeKwonDo is AWESOME

By Jean Paul Fender

 

It’s me again, the Dysfunctional Parrot.  Some of you know me as the most trustworthy fitness expert in cyberspace.  Others know me as that dishonourable Gaigin dog who said something bad about their martial art once and therefore needs to be stoned to death with bonsai trees for the betterment of all mankind.  Clearly, the internet is a fickle mistress.

Given that I occasionally point the finger at the goofy world of martial arts, it should also be made known that I only do so because you fight the most with the ones you love.  But relax and allow me to demonstrate how I’m really not all bad and bask in 5 Reasons TaeKwonDo is straight up awesome.

For the purposes of clarity, this article is referring to WTF ( World TaeKwonDo Federation ) style TKD.  ATA style TaeKwonDo is not now nor ever will be awesome.

Silly moves yes, but…

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Traditional martial arts are incredible.  Karate movements take TKD moves to the damn cleaners.  They are sharp, fluid, amazing and nothing is there that should not be.  When that reverse punch is coming, that sumbitch is going to connect with legendary force.  Yes, traditional martial arts have the power, but they also have one small problem.

They are also boring as all Hell.

WTF TKD saw karate and said “hey, what if we added some spin and a cheap polyester uniform to that?”  Thus a new martial art was born.  As a die hard traditionalist, I find flashy kicks to be the epitome of useless fluff more apt to get yourself killed than providing an effective defence.  But you can’t deny the skill level involved in pulling some of those acrobatic kicks off.  Doing a flying spinning back kick and breaking a few boards is actually kind of neat when you think about it and most karate-ka wouldn’t come anywhere close to being able to do a stunt like that.  Also, can you imagine if someone connected with one of those haymakers in an actual real life situation?  It would be awesome.  It would be like winning the lottery.  They should write songs about that person and have it sung by Vikings.

So yes, there is tremendous skill involved in TKD fancy kicks that have the potential to pack a hearty dose of Vitamin Wow.  Just please, don’t BS me in the comment section about how you or someone you know managed to do a 360 spinning back kick and took down a gang or roaming thugs only to stand over their bodies as the sound of oriental pipe music filled the night air.  They were either comatose or Scottish-level drunk.

#4. Family is not a liability

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As someone who spent most of his training in hyper-traditional karate, I can honestly tell you that family is seen essentially as a liability.  Don’t believe me?  That’s because you’re either unmarried, under 18 and living at home, or full of Gaigin feces.  In fact, the number one reason people leave karate is because they get married and have kids.  Naturally I have no statistical data to back that up.  However, neither do I see any evidence to the contrary.  Seeing as this is my site I guess that makes me right.

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TaeKwonDo?  Hell, bring the kids!  Who cares if they’re still in diapers!  TKD doesn’t see age as a liability, they see it as a business opportunity.  TKD doesn’t seem to have a problem taking itself so darn seriously that they cannot understand that families exist in a post-Shogun society.  For me, having kids was the final nail in the coffin for my karate training.  And no…it wasn’t one dojo.  I’ve been in a ton of dojo’s across Canada and I can truthfully say that karate is very family unfriendly compared to TKD.  Only when your kids reach past 12 are they seen as potential members and not little sacks of dishonour that take your time away from pledging allegiance to a dead Okinawan.

Finally, be honest with yourself people: none of us martial artists are as good as we think.  Ahh, I saw you crack a smile!  Even GSP must submit to the Louisville Slugger with a nail driven through the end.  So given that we are most likely not training to be Navy Seals or Israeli Commandos, why not have fun with it?  It’s either that or your kids rotting the remaining remnants of their 8-bit brains away on Minecraft.

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#3. Mix it up

tkd-not3Many TKD clubs have opted to spice things up to stem the tide of people who walk out the door never to return.  Brazilian Ju Jitsu classes?  Sure!  My old TKD club even had some P90X classes which ultimately led to me quitting because why would I pay to do an at home workout somewhere else?  Nonetheless, their intentions were good if not somewhat shortsighted.

Personally I despise this kind of gimmickry with the red hot intensity of a collapsing star and think stupid badges in “BJJ” do more to make the practitioner look like a Harlem Globetrotter than a serious martial artist.  But then again the numbers don’t lie.  My die hard traditional Shotokan Karate club had a strong core of devoted members but the biggest dojo I attended maxed out at maybe 30-40 students.  Many TKD clubs double or triple that with much larger registration fees to boot as well as providing multiple classes for different age groups on the same day!  Evidently people dig variety.

Another huge point for TKD is weaponry.  Yes, this is not exclusive to TaeKwonDo by a long shot but it is a plus nonetheless.  Now I don’t know about you, but a lot of clubs in Canada teach nunchaku once you hit black belt.  That is straight up awesome.  What will be less awesome is when the Mounties haul your ass away for using an illegal weapon in a fight, but don’t bore me with such trivial legal details.

hardtime

Other clubs give the option of escrima sticks.  Or bo staff.  Or whatever that bamboo sword is called.  The point is that TKD has no problem throwing in some good old fashioned toys into the mix and they should be congratulated for it.

#2. Who said a black belt has to take X number of years?

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No really.  Who made up the rule that a black belt had to take a certain number of years to obtain in order to be worthwhile?  I’ll tell you…the style that made it take just a bit longer so they could feel superior.  In other words, guys like me of ten years ago.  You know what, screw those people.  If someone out there is keeping score then that person needs to take a long look in the mirror to see the obsessed martial arts loser they have become.  Quit your dojo, tear down the oriental imagery in your homes and throw the bonsai trees to the composter.

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I’ve said it before but it bears repeating that a piece of cloth around the waist has no value apart that which the owner bestows upon it.  The most reputable combat training has no belts whatsoever.  None.  So to be consistent it would therefore stand to reason the belt has no value at all outside the dojo walls.  It cannot be used on a resume or college application unless you want people thinking you’re some kind of total weirdo.  Just lie and say you’re into sport-fishing, carpentry or at least something well adjusted folks enjoy.

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So do you have a black belt in TKD and it only took you two years?  Good for you.  You probably have amazing kicks, have a had a lot of fun and even had some bonding moments with your kids.  And odds are you didn’t even have to become a martial arts nutjob to get there.  If that’s the case then in the grand scheme of things you’re ahead of the game.  Just remember that if your black belt is in ATA, it actually has negative value as technically it is not really a martial art.

#1 Flexibility in training

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Ok, your mileage on this one will vary radically, so if you come from a great dojo run by normal people then give yourself a polite golf clap.  Now, for the rest of us 99%, let me tell you another thing about traditional training…they will punish your dishonorable ass should you take a hiatus.  Twice I took a one year break and twice I was received with a certain level of suspicion and oh yeah, once even a demotion.  Wait…they can do that?

Sigh, no problem though.  You get knocked down you get back up again right?  That’s just what you expect for Kyu ranks but once you hit the big Shodan you start to feel a bit resentful.  At Nidan even more so.  I mean, you PAID for that test not to mention those completely indecipherable certificates on the wall which cost a pretty penny even though they probably never came from Japan and took almost a full flipping year just to be shipped up from Philadelphia…damn you ISKF.

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Walking back into TKD is a little easier I found.  Need time off to be with the family?  Have a kid?  Climb Mount Kilimanjaro and brag about it on Facebook even though you only made it half way up?  The WTF TKD clubs I went to were all cool with that.  No attitude and not even a rank demotion, just picking up where you left off with the expectation you will need time to get back up to speed.  Hey, that’s all one can ask for!

You can even move from dojang to dojang with no problem.  WTF TKD membership is like a passport.  If everything is in order, then come on in and have a seat!  In karate, screw you.  Your previous credentials are met with scorn and summarily set on fire and extinguished by being pissed on by yellow belts.  OK, maybe I’m exaggerating just a bit there.  But often when I mentioned my old instructor I got the “oh…that guy.  Well we do things differently here”.  Of course the training was never any different so I have no idea what any of them meant by that.  Sadly I was never good at politics which ultimately led to my undoing.

I still see this today.  In fact most comments on the martial arts articles come from many other styles generally saying “Your style was bad. My style is good”.  This is a very common example of the infighting within karate.  Especially when Kyokushin-Ryu is in the room.

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So there you have it.  While WTF TaeKwonDo is certainly not without its major problems, take comfort in knowing that in many ways it is still a pretty decent way to spend a weekday evening.

  

2014, Dysfunctional Parrot. All rights reserved. No reproduction of written material is permitted.

Jean Paul Fender

Jean Paul Fender

Supreme Overlord at DysfunctionalParrot.com
Jean Paul Fender ( aka. The Dysfunctional Parrot ) is a disgruntled Systems Analyst who wanders the Canadian wastelands saving small villages with the power of Kung Fu.  His chair is also a little too close to the twenty year old microwave.  As you can well imagine, this has had certain side effects.
Jean Paul Fender
Jean Paul Fender
Jean Paul is the author of the comedy apocalyptic novel, LOOPBACK.
 
 
  • HAKKA MANTIS

    Any martial art is good, so long as it is taught correctly and trained hard. It is not the art that makes the difference, it is the practitioner, how well do you understand your system and apply it!

    “Just remember that if your black belt is in ATA, it actually has negative value as technical it is not really a martial art.” HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA ‘like’

    • HadEnoughWithCopyPastedCrap

      “Any martial art is good, so long as it is taught correctly and trained
      hard. It is not the art that makes the difference, it is the
      practitioner”

      Every reply of a delusional who never cross-trained or trained at all.

      These arts are done by movement. Each motion is different. There is always a superior and efficient way of movement and there are also unnecessary shit like 90% of TKD. Don’t reply unless you actually spar against different arts.

      • HAKKA MANTIS

        You’re absolutely right. Sad to say but many schools today (and this is especially prevalent in tkd) focus on sport and demonstration, fun to watch but useless for self defense. It’s true you should always spar around with as many people as possible, not just within your style but with practitioners of other martial arts. How else can you know what works, there’s no substitute for experience.

    • http://dysfunctionalparrot.com Dysfunctional Parrot

      Martial arts always seem to bring out the strong opinions. The strongest are generally held by nut-jobs ( looking at you there ‘HadEnough’ ) who usually have the least amount of experience but saw a lot of UFC so now they’re an expert.

      Martial arts are like coffee. Everyone has their favorite for their own reasons and some of those reasons have nothing to do with being a great fighter, but rather just having fun. Seeing as we all hope to not be bar brawlers but rather well adjusted people ( right? ), this is indeed admirable.

      However, ATA is like the K-Cup brew of martial arts. Once you’ve had a fine Italian latte it is very hard to settle for the cheap stuff!

      • HadEnoughWithCopyPastedCrap

        Stop projecting, Parrot. You have only spent your time in Shotokan and other point sparring arts.

        First off “Everyone has their favorite for their own reasons and some of those
        reasons have nothing to do with being a great fighter, but rather just
        having fun.” Everyone knows this, this is completely redundant and off topic to what HAKKA posted as he is referring to EFFECTIVENESS of the arts.

        I have practiced Escrima & Silat for 5 years, and Muay thai for 2 years and a half.

        Our school’s 17 year old Nak Muay(one who trains Muay Thai) that only trained for 3 months defeated a nearby kung fu dojo wingchunner veteran around his early 20’s who claims to have practiced the art for 6 years and is also an assistant trainer. He defeated him with only 4-5 leg kicks before he collapsed to the floor holding his right leg in pain.

        He could have easily knocked him out if he throw hooks in his exposed face. They have this weird stance where their arms are chest level straight at the enemy like they’re aching to get grappled into a clinch and eat knee strikes.
        Same goes to the Aikido practitioner who thinks he can grab hold of a boxer’s hands and arms when in motion and not standing still for a demonstration, his nose wasn’t the same after that.

        • http://dysfunctionalparrot.com Dysfunctional Parrot

          Taking this a little on the serious side are you not?

          My experience is Shotokan, Gojo-ryu, Uechi-Ryu, and WTF TKD. I’ve also done escrima but only for about a year so I’m certainly no expert in that area. As such these articles are based on MY experience. Not yours and not anyone else’s…mine.

          Saying who can beat who in a fight is a fools argument. True fighters are born not created and I’m sure the right ATA practitioner can lay waste to a Muay Thai guy. Or vise versa.

          What I’m trying to say is, none of us are as good as we think, and the guy that does the most chest puffing is almost certainly the guy who has the least chance of winning. True strength never needs to prove itself.

          • HadEnoughWithCopyPastedCrap

            ATA is a well known McDojo… But sure a TKD practitioner can have a chance at defeating a MT guy but the chances are very slim unless the TKD guy is someone with a superior physique.
            (TKD guys don’t do strength training and conditioning for pain tolerance..Just flexibility exercises based on my experience)

            I also had my experience from Martial Arts Expos such as SEA Games. Did some spars with em(trade techniques etc).
            It’s really the lack of striking weapons to begin with. MT has fists, elbows, knees, shin & feet as weapons as well as clinch work, sweeps and takedowns. Very big advantage. Being able to defend yourself against those will make you ready against any hand to hand striking art.

            I’m just tired of seeing the famous saying that all art is equal. It’s very ignorant. There’s a huge difference from combat tested arts to arts for show/demonstrations.

          • http://dysfunctionalparrot.com Dysfunctional Parrot

            Well, I wouldn’t say all martial arts are created equal, that is certainly for sure. Personally I’m a huge traditionalist and feel modern TKD is terrible in contrast to karate for example. But given that very few of us are training to be real life fighters, I tend to give the lesser arts a little slack because they still have excellent value as recreation. If being a true to life fighting machine is your goal then neither karate or TKD is the shoe that’s going to fit your foot. I would recommend joining the military and hoping you have good genetics.

            And I’m certainly not famous. I’m just a guy with an opinion based on my own piece of the experience pie. :)

  • wha- why?

    Not all tae kwon do is crap because at some places you learn to kick very fast also hepkito (think i spelled that wrong) which is basically bending a persons body until they cant move without pain.

    • Allen J

      The spelling is Hapkido, and if you consider TKD to be the offensive martial art of Korea then you can consider Hapkido the defensive art, with it’s focus on joint-manipulation.

  • MasterR

    Love your articles..

  • Sensei Marcin

    Of course, the point is: no karate, but taekwondo is ok. Interesting. But so far from true.

    • http://dysfunctionalparrot.com Dysfunctional Parrot

      Not sure where you got that notion.

  • capcom

    Taekwondo kicks apparently work, since Hwang Jang lee supposedly killed a weapons expert threatening both Hwang and the students, in a korean demonstration. Did Hwang win the lottery by managing that? Or the weapons expert was scottish- level drunk?:)

    • http://dysfunctionalparrot.com Dysfunctional Parrot

      Hard to tell. Was the attacker wearing a kilt?

      • capcom

        Not quite. It was the korean army. The attacker claimed taekwondo was bullshit against someone good with knifes, and attempted to kill him. I hope your worldview is not completley shattered by these findings.

        • http://dysfunctionalparrot.com Dysfunctional Parrot

          I really don’t base my worldview on this kind of trivial stuff. Neither should you. Martial arts…their adherents in particular…sort of weird me out.

          Anyways, in the words of Wolverine, “It takes no skill to kill.” Taking a life is remarkably easy and not something to be admired.

          • capcom

            Your were the one claiming the kicks don’t work, Not I:)

            The reason I stress killing, is because in self defence, in the street, you might need to save your life. And any martial art style that comes short of that is, in my opinon, useless.

            Why else do it? You can do yoga, or read ancient philosophy, if that’s what you seek to acquire

          • http://dysfunctionalparrot.com Dysfunctional Parrot

            I never actually said the kicks don’t work. I just said they were silly. I very clearly state that a successful connection with one of those silly kicks can be quite lethal.

            And…you desire to be a fighter? That seems a strange life goal. I assume you want to do this in addition to an actual career like Dentistry or carpentry? If you seek this lofty goal of being a super fighting machine, you may want to quit TKD and get started elsewhere…like joining the military. Clock is a ticking!

          • capcom

            It’s not a life goal. I seek to be a great fighter when undertaking martial arts. Just like a mathematican hopes to excel in math by doing undergraduate in mathematics. How is that in any way strange? I am an undergraduate in philosophy, but will most probably drop it.

            The problem with martial arts training in karate (and to some degree taekwondo) is, as you yourself state, that it has very little to do with real fighting. I have enjoyed reading your articles quite a bit.

          • capcom

            Btw, since you mentioned it in the articles… ITF-Taekwondo is clearly superior to WTF in form stances. They are completely different, from the ugly poomsae in WTF. However, I fail to see any difference between Shotokan hand strikes, and the ITF (traditional) taekwondo style.

            So why do you think ITF-TKD is still worse than shotokan? I am going into ITF (from WTF). Could you do an article on ITF-style? It looks pretty much the same to me as karate, apart from a few kicks.

          • http://dysfunctionalparrot.com Dysfunctional Parrot

            Shotokan and ITF are probably so close I wouldn’t get too concerned choosing one over the other.

            I’m not sure I ever said ITF was worse than Shotokan. I also wouldn’t really be the best guy to do an article on ITF because I like to have a significant amount of experience in an art. Although many punches and kicks would be the same, it’s the little things like dojo etiquette and certain traditions I would’t be up to speed on. Despite many assumptions in the comment section to the contrary, I really do like to speak from an abundance of experience.

            And yes…the poomse in WTF are hideous compared to most any karate form. I was a kata junkie in Shotokan and I just couldn’t abide the WTF forms!

            Judging from your comments, I assume you will enjoy ITF very much. I kind of wish I took it instead but there are very few ITF clubs compared to WTF clubs in the area. Plus I’m kind of done with dojo life!

          • capcom

            Some people don’t really concider WTF as real “taekwondo”, since the hand strikes are thrown out the window, and the very few left in are laughable.

            I respect shotokan aloth. It’s the training I object to. My father is Shihan blackbelt in Shotokan Karate, in fact. But he’s rarely home.

            I can’t stand the excessive kata training in karate. So hoping to get the best of both worlds. My master in ITF-TKD is an 8th degree blackbelt, and offers early sparring. Hoping it’s not a Mcdojo.

          • Allen J

            I can’t speak too much as my experience is limited when it comes to full contact sparring and such, but in my area (the north west USA) we use quite a lot of hand striking. This is WTF by the way. We use our hands for purpose of trapping a blow, parrying, and most certainly striking. We also do quite a lot of elbow and forearm strikes. Now this may just be my particular school, but it all seems balanced to me. As I said my sparring and actual fighting experience is limited, but I do have a grasp of what I’m talking about, I currently hold a junior black belt at the age of 14. Our techniques string in hand blows very consistently and fluidly. But I do see where the opposition for TKD comes from as the most widely known version is the sport, with its focus on points rather than an all-out brawl, if you only see the sport and not the teaching of it as a self-defense method it is very ridiculous.

  • Interestinmartialartspolitics

    Hi DP, I have enjoyed your blog with respect to martial arts. I tried TKD for a few years and switched to more-or-less American style karate. I am 35+ and do find many of the jumping/spinning kicks difficult. I do have to admit, I enjoy taking the classes with my family and have made some friends. I think we are all relatively sane, and don’t see karate as a panacea for our problems or picture ourselves in the MMA at any upcoming bout. It is a for profit school, and there are a lot of teen and under black belts. Promotions belts are based on a certain number of visits so it is not necessarily a merit based system. I am an intermediate belt, and I am interested in the politics of rank promotion after brown. In the words of Donald Rumsfeld, this is a known unknown. I would be really interested if you can share the “politics” — perhaps in general terms. I know each dojo is different, but any light you can shed on this somewhat uniform topic across karate martial arts studios (politics) would help me in my “journey”…and the more information I know about when my last time in the dojo is, the better off I will be. Thank you.

  • noway123456

    the thing with Tae Kwon Do is it’s an introduction to the art form. I think. It allows one to decide if they want to learn it, or not. It also gives basic techniques in a fight, and some life lessons about fighting in general. For me, I used TKD as a start. I then decided that if I wanted to be better, I needed to learn other styles. But I also saw it as this: Martial Arts in it’s simplist form began with farmers who didn’t know how to fight and figured out to defend themselves against an attacker. Granted it’s it’s simplist and not an overall generalization because I know the military did use several techniques from martial arts and I didn’t study the history of every martial art so please allow some leeway here. But I also see martial arts and indeed every style of fighting as lifelong learning. The master is someone who never stops his training when they leave the dojo. They incorporate other styles into their technique throughout their life.

    Martial arts is fluid, you take something and mold it into your repertoire. Be that from Hapkido, TKD, or JuJitsu or something entirely different. In that way it’s an art and constantly changing. Granted the TKD/Hapkido/Jujitsu/etc groups are great, they made definitions for attacks and blocks and gave order to dis-order. I agree, but in a real-life fighting situation where you very well could lose your life, it’s not just punches and kicks and eye gouges. It’s about mental ability. What if your attacker got the drop on you, and put you in the choke hold or even a knockout punch and you awake to find you are tied up. What then? Maybe you get attacked in a hallway or on stairs or in the water making certain moves useless. Personally I like to mimic. I take something that I think is good and effective and use it in my technique. So I guess that makes me MMA. Never stop learning, but realize that in a real life situation one can’t always follow the generals orders. Being creative in your attacks sometimes can be the best route.

 
 
 
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