Monday, June 22, 2009

What does "traditional" taekwondo mean to you?

Annyung Haseyo Fellow Martial Artists,
Welcome to the new Chosun Taekwondo Academy blog space. As many of you know, my third book, Taekwondo - A Path to Excellence is about to be released by YMAA of Boston. This work focuses primarily on concepts unique to traditional taekwondo. Many practitioners outside of our school have asked me what "traditional" taekwondo means. What would you answer?
I look forward to your responses.
Sabum Doug Cook


  1. Well, first off I would like to say thank you to Master Cook for opening my eyes to "Traditional Taekwondo" .. This is exactly what was missing from my life.
    If someone were to ask me what traditional Taekwondo is, I guess I would answer the following:
    Taekwondo is not just about fancy kicks, high flying acrobatics and point sparring..
    Its also rich in tradition, and has roots that date back centuries...
    If my memory serves correct, this art comes from Japanese karate, which was influenced during the occupation of the Japanese in Korea from I believe 1910 to 1945. When WWII was over, the Koreans developed a bunch of different arts that focused mainly on high spinning kicks and so on.
    On April 11th,1955 the founding fathers of all the different fighting arts in Korea came together and agreed to call it "Taekwondo", sort of unifying the different arts.. General Choi was credited with creating the name "Taekwondo" , and was head of the KTA ( Korean Taekwondo Association ) which later became the WTF ( World Taekwondo Federation ) ..General Choi was also credited with creating the Chang Hon forms that are mainly used by the ITF ( International Taekwondo Federation ).
    My previous school's main focus was the "sparring aspect" of Taekwondo. Even though I was taught a lot of the curriculum based moves and belt requirements, I was never taught the philosophies or history behind the art. I had no clue there were 3200 striking, blocking and kicking techniques in taekwondo.. "Traditional Taekwondo" focuses on this, and for the most part stays away from the "point sparring" part of the art. In my opinion, the tradition is much more important, although point sparring has its place in the history of Taekwondo as well, and has brought a whole new following to the art since it became an official Olympic sport in the year 2000...


  2. To me, Traditional Taekwondo means an emphasis on the traditional values, respect and training which has been passed down for many years from teacher to student. I think the emphasis is on the old forms or poomse, not the flips and acrobatics one often sees now in forms competition. Some of these new competitors look like gymnasts, not martial artists. Maybe one way to tell the difference is to ask; "would that technique work in a real life self defense situation or is just how high can I do a back flip?"
    In a traditional school you will rarely see the colorful uniforms and overall lack of respect. A traditional school will uphold the values of it's founders. Students will bow and show respect for each other. They will do that willingly; grateful to be taught an art which is steeped in tradition and stands the test of time.

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