I have been practicing martial arts for over 20 years now, 24 years to be exact. Though my main interest has been Taekwondo, I have also trained in Hapkido, Haidong-gumdo, Maui tai, Judo, Jiu-jitsu, Tai chi, and other such stolen words and names. The truth of the matter is, all forms of martial arts share with the other, while still maintaining their unique characteristics. Each one ranges in intensity and focus. Each should be considered and respected for it’s practicality and formation in the martial arts realms. There are of course the deceivers, those who give each style a poor reputation, but we look to the true practitioners, those who lay the foundations of the style. Reject those who break off from the source and claim their own path. You must be rooted in the headquarters and purest form of the style. Consider my previous arguments for this. Referring to Taekwondo, it receives much ridicule as not being a good self defense, as not being practical. This can be for a couple reasons.
The first can be attributed to many false claims to Taekwondo by programs that do not actually practice real Taekwondo. They practice what is referred to as, “Traditional”. Another way of thinking of this is simply, “American Karate”. This style resembles Karate more than it resembles Taekwondo. Japanese terms are used and more Japanese practices are used, and yet, they call it American Taekwondo. This is very watered down martial arts. As there are a few franchises, this is problematic, but then there are plenty of programs who call themselves Taekwondo, but look nothing like true Taekwondo. This puts a bad view in the public’s sight.
The second is the transformation of Taekwondo in competition in the international and Olympic stage. The international and Olympic stage is high competitive, obviously for the competitors, but also for each country. They push to host the next event in their nation, their city, than the interest for one’s sport. This year, Karate will be in the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. Japan is hosting the Olympics and has the vote to introduce Karate as a competing event. Even though Karate will be debuting this year, it will not be in the 2024 Olympics in Paris. The interest in the sport and air time cost money, the competition is high. The World Taekwondo officials continue to find ways to cut down on slow periods in sparring, in order to, as they have said, “Razzle, dazzle”. This has on the surface and in transition made our sport and martial art look a bit weak.
It is the honor, however, the respect, that is seldom found in any other form that I appreciate in Taekwondo. Taekwondo is clean, pure, and true to its nature. The sport is meant to be safe, fair, and fun, which means I can keep doing it for a long time. There is an established discipline that sets it apart. The instructors do not need to be harsh, or aggressive. The students and instructors interact in humility and kindness. Surely there are prideful individuals. I am merely speaking of the teaching. I know personally that if I were to flex my abilities and ego, I wouldn’t have many students.
And yet, it baffles me, I have been in several other programs where the instructor is aggressive, capable or not, with a bad attitude and they may have more students. They demean their students in these other programs, there is a lack of discipline, or it can be over militaristic. The students and instructors show no humility or honor and the over all tone is aggressive.
I can’t help but ask, what is being taught? What are the instructors and students gaining? If you get beat up constantly, will you get stronger? Will your body heal, will your mind heal?
At some point in our training, we must realize that there is no mystery to the art. We must understand that there are consequences to our actions. We must know that everything must work together, move together. This is the basics of martial arts. For those that mistreat their student, they do not understand this. You must be authoritative with your students. But you must first be in proper health, both mentally and physically. The same goes for how each art treats the other. My concern is not for the phonies. But for the true forms, we need to start respecting each other and helping each other understand. As I mentioned at the beginning, each should be considered and respected for it’s practicality and formation in the martial arts realms.