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Matt Wallis
May 20, 2002, 12:30 PM
Alright, here's a question. Despite the hyperbole surrounding most Taekwondo promotional material which advertizes it as a 1000 year old Korean Art, most honest practicioners (including some written histories, like Choi's) will admit that it is mixed with a lot of Shotokan techniques. Although they still maintain that it has a base of tarditional Korean kicking.

My question is, are there any surviving and intact pure Korean arts? Or is anyone attempting to reconstruct a pure Korean art (kind of like we're doing with Medieval Western Arts today)?

Regards,
Matt

Skorzeny
May 20, 2002, 02:23 PM
Matt:

No. First of all, there is absolutely NO historical, documentary or archeological evidence that there ever was a native, "pure" Korean martial art.

Any "systematic" art being practiced in pre-colonial Korea was Chinese in origin. Koreans did have some folks style wrestling and such (the precursor to Ssireum), which were common in most Mongol/Ural-Altaic tribal cultures.
will admit that it is mixed with a lot of Shotokan techniques. Although they still maintain that it has a base of tarditional Korean kicking. That's just "damage control" in PR terms. In 1945, Tae Kwon Do was simply Shotokan as practiced by Korean students of Funakoshi. Of course, TKD can be claimed to be a distinct martial art today since it has evolved very differently from STK since then (largely by introducing theatrical techniques like high kicks and multi-kicks).

BTW, there is this persistent myth that "ancient" martial arts involved punching, kicking and grappling (this bizzarre myth of unarmed man beating the armed). It wasn't so. Most parent systems or arts that modern martial arts claim as ancestors were invariably weapon arts, either about using the weapons or preventing the draws of the same in close quarters. Weapons were mostly spears, swords and bows (the big three of the ancient world). This "farm implementation" business is largely bunk.

Then there were contest sports like many forms of wrestling in most cultures, which was most certainly not "martial" (war-fighting) in nature, but competitive events.

Skorzeny

LASur5r+P
May 20, 2002, 02:52 PM
Skorzeny,
just out of curiousity, are there books, etc., that show the typical techniques used in the "ancient" martial arts? In the old days?

Halffast
May 20, 2002, 03:43 PM
Matt,

Here's a link that might answer some of your questions.

www.kuksoolwon.com/histhome.htm

David

Matt Wallis
May 21, 2002, 07:18 AM
No. First of all, there is absolutely NO historical, documentary or archeological evidence that there ever was a native, "pure" Korean martial art.

Wow. That is a bold statement. I suppose it, in part, depends on how one defines pure, and how one defines "martial art." But I've found, through my study of western MA, that just about every culture that fights (and just about every culture does), developes some form of MA. The degree to which it becomes systemized may vary. But as people find what works in battle, it gets re-used, refined and passed on. Don't you think that this would have happened in Korea as well?

Of course, "documented" is another case. It could very well be that these techniques always remained undocumented and informal. And of course, most fighting techniques are pretty universal (the human body can only move in so many ways, after all), so "pure Korean" technique may be a bit of a misnomer anyway.

Any "systematic" art being practiced in pre-colonial Korea was Chinese in origin. Koreans did have some folks style wrestling and such (the precursor to Ssireum), which were common in most Mongol/Ural-Altaic tribal cultures.

Influenced by the Chinese is not hard to believe. But again, I would have trouble believing that no native Korean arts developed. And besides, I do count folk styles of wrestling as martial arts. Rudimentary and mostly non-lethal, but MA nevertheless. But I'd like to hear you say more on this.

In 1945, Tae Kwon Do was simply Shotokan as practiced by Korean students of Funakoshi.

What about Taekyon? Real art or not?

Most parent systems or arts that modern martial arts claim as ancestors were invariably weapon arts

Hey, your preachin' to the choir on that point! The myth that unarmed arts were developed in a vacume, or that they were/are in some way superior to weapons arts was a myth I had exploded early on in my WMA training/research. I have found that most MA have their origins on the battlefield. Civilian MA usually developed afterwards (with the exception of things like folk wrestling, which you already mentioned).

this bizzarre myth of unarmed man beating the armed

Heh, heh. Yeah. If that's true how come Shaolin Temple was destroyed by the Ching army!? (It is Chings, right? I always get them and the Mings mixed up.)

And Halffast said,
Here's a link that might answer some of your questions.

Well, how trustworthy that link is (and other Korean Art "histories") is actually the subject of this post. Every Korean Art claims, or at least talks as if it were an ancient, purely Korean Art. I'm asking here if thats even possible.

Regards,
Matt

Halffast
May 21, 2002, 12:26 PM
Every Korean Art claims, or at least talks as if it were an ancient, purely Korean Art. I'm asking here if thats even possible.
Matt,

While anything is possible, I would doubt that any martial art is "pure". The problem is how would you go about proving or disproving it?

David

boris_01
May 21, 2002, 03:22 PM
Ancient? Modern? Pure? Innovated? What difference should it make. Unless you are into history. I personally look for practicallity. And if you look at most so called traditional martial arts, you will see a lot of impractical techniques. And a lot of modern ones for that matter. I mean to me, what does it matter where an art originated? What matters is does it work? Does it apply to what it was supposed to? And as for some of the traditional arts originating on the battlefield? I doubt it. Unless a lot of techniques have seriously changed over the years. A lot of the techniques are too flambouyant and impractical for use on the battlefield. If these techniques were used, then they must have had some sloppy form. Because I'm sure the battles did not look as precise as the scenes on late night "Kung Fu Theater" do.

Skorzeny
May 21, 2002, 04:14 PM
LASur5r+P:
just out of curiousity, are there books, etc., that show the typical techniques used in the "ancient" martial arts? In the old days? Regrettably not as far as I know. However, "typical techniques" of pre-modern martial arts were spearmanship, swordmanship, archery, shield-work, horsemanship... you see the point. There are archaeological and documentary evidences that demonstrate the weapons and techniques - these can be found in history books, archaeology books and even art books and such.

Halffast:
Here's a link that might answer some of your questions.

www.kuksoolwon.com/histhome.htm The pre-1910 history section of that link is pure nationalist fantasy.

Matt Wallis:
Wow. That is a bold statement. It's really not. It may sound "bold" to those who have accepted the 1,000 year "ancient" art line uncritically. What archaeological and documentary evidences exist about the state of Korean martial arts from the Middle Ages to the pre-modern times demonstrate an undisputable and almost unaltered Chinese transmission of knowledge.

During this period, Chinese culture, technology and political system (not to mention Chinese writing) were accepted as something akin to god's gift by Koreans, who were basically Sinicized Ural-Altaic-speaking tribesmen. This is not to say that Koreans were without their own culture and history - merely that they adopted Chinese culture with reckless abandon, deeming it superior. Until a relatively recent creation and adoption of a native Korean alphabet system (Han-Gul), Koreans used Chinese writing exclusively (they still mix a considerable amount of Chinese script with their own as Japanese do).
Of course, "documented" is another case. It could very well be that these techniques always remained undocumented and informal. Perhaps. But we can only go by what records that are preserved, not by word-of-mouth from some Korean instructors who repeat their nationalist myth of 1,000-year old Korean systems.
But again, I would have trouble believing that no native Korean arts developed. And besides, I do count folk styles of wrestling as martial arts. Rudimentary and mostly non-lethal, but MA nevertheless. Koreans adopted Chinese methods of spear and sword fighting. Where they independently excelled was in archery. Korean bows were very similar to Mongol bows (their ethnic cousins), and were prized by the Chinese (who often took huge quantities from Koreans in tribute). Northern/Manchurian tribal Koreans (Kokuryo and Balhae/Pohae) also excelled in horsemanship and mounted archery (as Mongols did). I already mentioned folk wresting (which I do NOT count as a "martial art" in the purest sense of a "military art). BTW one medieval Korean document, referring to the Japanese methods of swordmanship goes "we are aware of the midget barbarians' notable swordfighting skills."
What about Taekyon? Real art or not? No evidence whatsoever. The term became current after the nationalization of Shotokan into Tae Kwon Do. There is some evidence that TKD added some Chinese systems (mostly northern styles with lots of kicks) being practiced in Korea up to that point to their version of Shotokan.
Civilian MA usually developed afterwards (with the exception of things like folk wrestling, which you already mentioned). The true emergence of empty-hand martial art was the during the Meiji period in Japan when wearing of two swords was banned. This led to a number of "ancient" Jujutsu/Yawara schools altering sword-based systems to more hand-based systems. Such "transitional" systems led to arts like Daito-Ryu Aiki-Jujutsu (you can see the sword, I mean blade-hand, in most defense techniques). The real revolution of "civilian" martial art was Dr. Kano Jigoro and his Kodokan Judo - the system that introduced a rigorous, scientific curriculum, belts, promotions, tests and etc. Crucially, this was also the system that incorporated traditional techniques with Western methods of full-strength sparring and wrestling (Randori). He trained his students in mostly those techniques that could be practiced safely thus - then went on to defeat every other school in police-sponsored contests (except once, defeated by a school that specialized in ground wrestling techniques, which led Dr. Kano to add such techniques, thus "completing" Judo's curriculum).

Skorzeny

Slish
May 21, 2002, 09:43 PM
Do I remember correctly that the student Kano sent out to these contests actually used aiki-jutsu techniquest instead of "pure" judo?

Also, to reiterate boris_01's statement, if you are looking for a defense-oriented school, forget the names. Look for what is being taught. I don't care if it's Korean, Japanese, Chinese or Martian... it's the stuff being taught and the manner in which is taught to be used that's important.

Although I am "ranked" in ITF TaeKwon-Do, I've "played" with Aikido, Kyokushinkai, and Ueichi-Ryu and little bit of what was being called "Combat Karate". What I've found after almost thirty years is that essentially one martial art pretty much ends up looking like any other. Yes, they all have their specialties, but it all comes down to "a punch is just a punch and a kick is just a kick" (my apologies if I have mis-quoted the late, great Bruce Lee, but he got it right)!

"Pure" styles??? Doubtful anywhere in the world today unless you find someone on a remote island with no previous contact with the outside world. Koreans learned Chinese techniques, Japanes learned Okinawan techniques which came from China which came from ... who knows where?

If you are looking for a good Korean instructor, look for one who doesn't rely on rote and thinks for himself / herself. Again from Bruce, "take what is useful and discard what is not."

Skorzeny
May 21, 2002, 10:55 PM
Slish:
Do I remember correctly that the student Kano sent out to these contests actually used aiki-jutsu techniquest instead of "pure" judo? There are those who claim that - the truth was that a number of highly skilled practitioners of what I call transitional Jujutsu schools (of which Daito-Ryu was a part) saw what Dr. Kano was doing, joined him, was trained by him in his new methods and went on to become champions.
Yes, they all have their specialties, but it all comes down to "a punch is just a punch and a kick is just a kick"... Sure, but I disagree with the implicit assumption there - as someone else pointed out, human body can only strike and lock in so many different ways. Still, it is the context in which one (or one's school) trains that makes the crucial difference. For example, there are knee techniques in Tae Kwon Do, but compared to how Muay Thai fighters train in, and use, knee strikes, TKD knee strikes appear amateurish (there is a reason why Jeet Kune Do Concepts derives its main knee technques from Muay Thai).
"Pure" styles??? Doubtful anywhere in the world today unless you find someone on a remote island with no previous contact with the outside world. Koreans learned Chinese techniques, Japanes learned Okinawan techniques which came from China which came from ... who knows where? Not so. First of all, most Japanese systems explicitly acknowledge Chinese and Okinawan influence. Furthermore, most of these systems were highly internalized and evolved by the Japanese (for their own practical purposes, not just to make them different from the original foreign systems). They can be said to be Japanese arts. Most Korean systems make no such acknowledgements. If one looks at the "official" Hwa Rang Do history, for example, one will see the nonsensical and completely ridiculous claims of "the art that was practiced by the Hwa Rang warriors of the Shilla period" when in fact the system was derived almost entirely from Japanese modern arts (like Shotokan, Aiki-Jujutsu, Judo, etc.).

Sure, the practicality of the techniques should be very important in picking the right schools, but in my opinion, propagation of inaccurate, even fantastical historical myths of their systems says a lot about the intellectual honesty of such schools and instructors.

Skorzeny

Matt Wallis
May 22, 2002, 07:40 AM
Boris said...
What difference should it make. Unless you are into history.

Ah, but I am into history! Heh, heh. Besides, I think what Skozeny said also applies; that, to put it in my own words, if an instructor is willing to lie to you (or at least, heavily propagandize) that may indicate a problem with the instructor or the art. And if the art is really effective, why would there be a need to fabricate a history for it. (And BTW, I'm not saying TKD isn't or can't be effective.)

Skorzeny said...
It may sound "bold" to those who have accepted the 1,000 year "ancient" art line uncritically.

It sounds bold to me and I haven't uncritically accepted the "1000 year old" myth for years! ;)

During this period, Chinese culture, technology and political system (not to mention Chinese writing) were accepted as something akin to god's gift by Koreans

Ah, now this is starting to make more sense to me. I did know that Chinese culture heavily influenced Korean culture, and I did know about the language connection as well. In fact, I'd always heard it described as Chinese being to Asia like Latin was to Europe. Chinese was always the language of the literati.

You also mention the influence of Northen Chinese styles, especially in kicking techniques. This also makes sense to me, and in fact, I've heard that before. But doesn't that actually support the idea of, for example, TKD not being just a Korean version of Shotokan? If Korean MA in pre-colonial times was heavily influenced by Chinese MA, and heavily influenced by Japanese MA afterward, then wouldn't it seem believable that Korean MA would include all of those influences (and all of them filtered through a Korean "take" on them)?

Mind you, I'm not arguing so much here as I am trying to work through these things according to my understanding of them.

I already mentioned folk wresting (which I do NOT count as a "martial art" in the purest sense of a "military art).

Well, I usually take "martial" not to mean "military" but rather more broadly as "fighting". So I would still consider folk wrestling a "fighting art". But that's all semantics really.

we are aware of the midget barbarians' notable swordfighting skills

LOL! That rocks. Heh, heh. Although it does help to perpetuate the myth of Japanese swordplay being superior to all others. :p

The true emergence of empty-hand martial art was the during the Meiji period in Japan when wearing of two swords was banned.

Interesting history. But just for the record, I was referring to the emergence of civilian MA in a general sense of what I've studied in most cultures. Eg. Civilian MA in Europe didn't really hit it's stride until the Renaissance which is when it started to develop techniques that worked on the street, but not on the battlefield. Before that, all MA really were military arts. Even when used in duels and single combat the weapons were always weapons that could be (and were) used on the battlefield.

There is some evidence that TKD added some Chinese systems (mostly northern styles with lots of kicks) being practiced in Korea up to that point to their version of Shotokan.

So Chinese Arts influenced Korean combat. I'm assuming that influence was going on for "1000's of years"? Over that time unless there was constant contact and oversight between the Chinese and Koreans I find it extremely hard to believe that Korean practicioners did not develop and modify techniques. Assuming they did, by the time Japan colonized Korea I would think those Chinese arts had been pretty well Koreanized. So that would make TKD a combination of Shotokan and "Taekyon" which is one of those "ancient Korean arts" itself descended from ancient Chinese MA. Sound reasonable?

It's all musing though. I wonder if there is any archeologucal evidence of this? I wonder if there are any modern practicioners of "Taekyon" and if so, what it looks like. If it looks like a Chinese northern style, but with some significant difference in technique... Anyway, it's fun to think about.

There is one other problem I have with all this, though. What you're saying, Skorzeny, does sound a lot like the whole, "all MA come from China" idea which is patently false. Now again, it may depend on one's definition of MA, but all cultures tend to develop their own methods of fighting. Even if Chinese MA were really so influential, it would make sense that they then _influenced_ local MA. But replaced them, or filled a vacuum? That doesn't really make sense to me.

However, "typical techniques" of pre-modern martial arts were spearmanship, swordmanship, archery, shield-work, horsemanship...

And grappling! Don't forget the grappling! At least in the west, it was a crucial part of MA, even on the battlefield.

BTW, just want to add that I am a TKD guy. I have a 1st dan in ITF TKD. So I am not busting on the art. I've just always been curious about the history of it.

Regards,
Matt

Skorzeny
May 22, 2002, 11:15 AM
You also mention the influence of Northen Chinese styles, especially in kicking techniques. This also makes sense to me, and in fact, I've heard that before. But doesn't that actually support the idea of, for example, TKD not being just a Korean version of Shotokan? If Korean MA in pre-colonial times was heavily influenced by Chinese MA, and heavily influenced by Japanese MA afterward, then wouldn't it seem believable that Korean MA would include all of those influences (and all of them filtered through a Korean "take" on them)? Except that there was really no "organized" martial art in the empty-hand sense in the pre-colonial Korea. There were very small number of people who practiced Chinese arts, and even this very small number disappeared during the colonial oppression by the Japanese. TKD was Shotokan in 1945 when Japan surrendered to the Allies. At that time, in fact, there was no TKD. Even when the name TKD was adopted, all forms were Shotokan forms. By the time the heavy rush was on to promote TKD as a purely Korean art, there weren't really any legitimate (read "real") Northern Chinese style practitioners in Korea to impart any serious influence on the TKD development.
Well, I usually take "martial" not to mean "military" but rather more broadly as "fighting". So I would still consider folk wrestling a "fighting art". But that's all semantics really. I am a huge fan, and a practitioner, of grappling. I think that it has some good last-ditch self-defense value in today's largely unarmed society. But grappling has NEVER been a real military art during the pre-modern times. They were always masculine contests (equivalent of today's sports) whether Greek, Mongolian, Korean (today's Ssireum) or Japanese (Sumo).
Over that time unless there was constant contact and oversight between the Chinese and Koreans I find it extremely hard to believe that Korean practicioners did not develop and modify techniques. Assuming they did, by the time Japan colonized Korea I would think those Chinese arts had been pretty well Koreanized. What would've been the point of "Koreanization" of Chinese martial arts? Koreans were purists as far as Chinese culture was concerned (even today Koreans use archaic Chinese characters while Chinese themselves have moved on to using simplified scripts - it's really mindboggling). Japanese had more reasons to internalize cultural transmissions - their contacts with China were more intermittent, they never really became Chinese vassals and their sense of nationalism developed much sooner. This is not to say that somehow Japanese culture was superior to Korean one (the Japanese were living in practically stone-age culture when the Koreans brought Chinese culture to Japan in two huge migrations - a Western scientific study of Japanese nobility has found that some 40% of the most notable Japanese aristocratic families, including the imperial family, derives its origins from Korean ancestors; this publication was immediately banned in Japan and its authors declared persona non grata).
There is one other problem I have with all this, though. What you're saying, Skorzeny, does sound a lot like the whole, "all MA come from China" idea which is patently false. Oh, no. I don't suggest that "all MA come from China." Chinese MA were probably derived from Indian and Southeast Asian fighting arts, combined with considerable internal development. Japanese arts were derived from Chinese (direct and Korean transmitted) and internalized. I'm just stating that there is no similar internalization of Korean systems in the pre-1945 eras with a few exceptions (archery and wrestling, for example). BTW, I should add that I believe Japanese Sumo to be a descendant of Korean Ssireum. I personally find Korean Ssireum to be much more technical and intricate compared to Sumo. You certainly don't see gigantically fat guys who can't support their weight on their own knees playing Ssireum.
BTW, just want to add that I am a TKD guy. I have a 1st dan in ITF TKD. So I am not busting on the art. I've just always been curious about the history of it. I have family members who are Korean and family members who are Japanese (and a whole lot of mixed ones of all kinds). I am not knocking anyone or any culture here.

Skorzeny

Danger Dave
May 22, 2002, 11:37 AM
Skorzeny is correct.

It would be hard to say what a "native art" is, anyway. Everything is infuenced by contact with the outside.

Oh, and the ones who claim to be practicing "TaeKyon" are full of it. It's some other martial art, or a pastiche of a few. TaeKyon ceased to exist many, many years ago - at least in any verifiable form.

Hapkido is as close to a native art as there is in Korea, and it claims to be a descendant of Aiki-jitsu (as does Aikido). Wherever it came from, it's certainly unique and Korean, although it isn't even recognized by the Korean gov't as an official martial art. (sorry - don't mean to open another can of worms altogether).

Just a little personal note - I've been in TKD since 1980, and I was taught the "old forms"; that is, the Shotokan forms that Funakoshi taught. There's a reason it used to be referred to as "Korean Karate". Interestingly enough, I've noticed that when my instructor (7th dan ***/KTA/CMK) does a side kick, it lacks the distinctive TKD chamber (knee up high, kicking foot in front of standing knee) and instead looks very much like a Japanese side kick with the foot-to-knee chamber. I've also noticed this among the handful of "old timers" I've met over the years. I picked this technique because it's one of TKD's "signature" techniques - it seems to have changed in the last 40 years.

And the modern "martial" arts are a lot more geared to personal self-defense/combat than any military action. I just can't imagine - in any age - a massed formation side-kicking their way through the enemy.

Matt Wallis
May 22, 2002, 11:52 AM
Skorzeny,

I've found this discussion to be hugely edifying! So I really just have a couple more comments and a question. Let's do the question first.

Is there anything written somewhere that refers to the Korean practice of what is now TKD as Shotokan? That would be the real nail in the coffin, so to speak. Although, come to speak of it, I do remember reading someone's bio (can't remember who) that said they studied TKD, which was then called Korean Karate. The light is slowly turning on...

And I wanted to respond to this too...But grappling has NEVER been a real military art during the pre-modern times.

Not true, at least in the West. Grappling (more like Aikido with throws and joint locks, but very little on the ground work) has always been a part knightly combat. Check out the grappling sections in Fiore De Liberi (1409) and Hans Talhoffer (1467). Very extensive. There is even grappling included in the _armored_ fighting sections. Very cool.

Matt

D.W. Drang
May 22, 2002, 05:37 PM
My question is, are there any surviving and intact pure Korean arts? Come on now, everyone knows that the Sun Source Of All Martial Arts is Sinuiju, north Korea.:D

Skorzeny
May 22, 2002, 06:07 PM
Danger Dave:
I just can't imagine - in any age - a massed formation side-kicking their way through the enemy. You made me laugh. :)
Is there anything written somewhere that refers to the Korean practice of what is now TKD as Shotokan? There are interviews in various magazines and articles, in which some of the "founders" of TKD speak more candidly about their origins. There is a sports jounalist in Korea who was writing a critical (and objective) book that intends to debunk much of this "pure Korean" MA mythology. He is not very popular (anymore) in Korea, needless to say.

Obversely, try to find any documentation that supports the "pure" art view. You won't, except for the "there is no documentation because, you see, I learned it from a secreat mountain monk" bit.

D.W. Drang:
Come on now, everyone knows that the Sun Source Of All Martial Arts is Sinuiju, north Korea. Hey! I know some folks who are originally from that area (NW Korea, near Chinese border?) who now live in ROK. I've never met people who hated "communism" more than these folks.

Skorzeny

shy_man
May 25, 2002, 06:07 AM
I found Tae Kwondo of Korea almost the same to Japanese karate that has emphasis on kicking techniques. I myself have studied hard this art, but find it that it has no so much difference to japanese karate.

D.W. Drang
May 26, 2002, 12:51 AM
Skorzeny
You disappoint me. How can you have spent so much time there and not have studied and absorbed the wisdom of Chiun? :D
We read those books religiously when I was at the language school, mostly when we should have been trying to memorize Hanja.

RobRPM2222
May 27, 2002, 01:23 AM
grappling did have some practical military value back in the day, although it certainly wasn't hugely important.

Many Western fencing fechtbuchen (fight books, essentially instructionals for knights) contain both grappling with daggers, and appropriate methods of grappling with swords and without. However, some of these techinques were mainly appopriate for the judical duel. Many koryu Japanese sword systems were connected with a corresponding jujitsu that taught anti-sword empty-hand techniques and sword grappling.

of course, you have to remember that the common sword was mostly dead last on the list of battlefield weapons in Europe, Japan, and Asia. Bows, spears, pikes, halberds, and later gunpowder weapons all ranked higher in most people's estimation. Sometimes 5 to 6 feet long two handed swords were used (i.e. "claymores", no-dachi's, etc. depending on tradition) against pikes, or normal sword and buckler men against pikes. The Spanish swordsmen were especially renowned for their techinque against pike formations, slipping through the cracks.

Swords were important, and take on so much mythology, because they were intensely personal weapons. Just like a modern soldier loves his rifle and says that, "There are many rifles like this one, but this one is mine," so the sword of the Middle Ages was analogous to the handgun of the modern American civilian and the rifle of the soldier. Most soldiers in practice owned their swords, and they considered it a little part of them.

Matt Wallis
May 29, 2002, 12:21 PM
of course, you have to remember that the common sword was mostly dead last on the list of battlefield weapons in Europe, Japan, and Asia.

Rob, I think you're overstating here. Though it depends somewhat on the time and place, the sword was certainly not dead last. It wasn't the usual primary weapon either. It's true that simpler, easier to manufacture and train with weapons like the spear were the norm for peasant infantry. And Knights had an arsenal of other weapons to use as well. If that's your point, you've no disagreement from me. But dead last? I don't think so. Just look at some of the archeological excavations of medieval battlefields. One finds plenty of swords and evidence of their use. They were still a common battlefield weapon, just not the most common.

Regards,
Matt

RobRPM2222
May 30, 2002, 03:31 AM
Rob, I think you're overstating here. Though it depends somewhat on the time and place, the sword was certainly not dead last. It wasn't the usual primary weapon either.

you're right, that was a bit of hyperbole. Long and short daggers would have actually been lower than swords, same with studded wooden clubs which were used by some peasants.

It's true that simpler, easier to manufacture and train with weapons like the spear were the norm for peasant infantry. And Knights had an arsenal of other weapons to use as well. If that's your point, you've no disagreement from me.

that's basically what I am saying.

Skorzeny
May 30, 2002, 11:56 AM
Until the late medieval times, the two dominant weapons of war in almost all areas of the world were: spears and bows.

I should also add that shields were often associated with spears, horses with bows.

Skorzeny

GePZo
May 31, 2002, 02:42 PM
The link posted earlier to kuk sool won's page probably explained this better, but here goes my quick attempt:

Kuk Sool Won is based upon the traditional martial arts of Korea. It teaches techniques based upon 1) Royal Court martial arts, 2) family, or tribal martial arts, and 3) Buddhist monk martial arts.

The Royal Court martial arts include many of the weapons, and shows a lot of Chinese influence, probably because it was the Chinese that were running the royal court. Weapons used include: sword, spear, short knives, fans, bows, halberds, etc.

Family or tribal martial arts are the simpler weapons, like staffs, rope, etc. These were probably more distinctively Korean than the royal court arts, since they were developed by locals for their own use, not for display in the royal court.

The Buddhist monk arts would include some weapons, such as the cane and short staff, and are where much of the Ki training comes from. You can see differences between the staff techniques of the monks vs. those of the court and tribal within the Kuk Sool Won system itself, which I found interesting.

As far as history, Kuk Sool Won was created from the teachings of many masters in Korea, which were passed on to In Hyuk Suh over 60 years ago, from the time he was a small child until adulthood. He put them all into a single system, called it Kuk Sool Won ( National Martial Art), and started teaching it to others about 40 years ago. The schools are run in a traditional manner, where the students learn some Korean language ( the names for the kicks, punches, etc. ), are encouraged to show proper martial arts etiquette, and all wear black uniforms, etc. There is a rank system, and advancement to black belt usually takes several years of training, usually over 3 years. Further advancement takes even longer.

There's some reference to the hworang, or 'flower-of-youth' in the Kuk Sool Won literature. They were a group of warriors in Korea around the 1500's, I think, maybe even earlier , almost like knights, in that they were trained as fighters, and held to a strict moral code.

When reading about Korean history, I'm struck by its resemblance to Greek history. They were all lumped together as Koreans by others, but it was more like a whole bunch of independent city states, each fighting with and against the other, as well as the Chinese and Japanese.

Note that there was influence both ways between the many cultures in the area, such as Korean sword techniques and technology going to the Japanese, Chinese techniques going to the Koreans, and all of them intermingled at various times.

There are many interesting stories about the Korean peninsula, if you're interested in the martial arts of the area, you would probably like learning more about it.

Gepzo

Skorzeny
May 31, 2002, 03:17 PM
As far as history, Kuk Sool Won was created from the teachings of many masters in Korea, which were passed on to In Hyuk Suh over 60 years ago, from the time he was a small child until adulthood.That's wonderful. Even if all these systems actually existed, how is it that Mr. In Hyuk Suh came to learn all these? From whom?
There's some reference to the hworang, or 'flower-of-youth' in the Kuk Sool Won literature. They were a group of warriors in Korea around the 1500's, I think, maybe even earlier , almost like knights, in that they were trained as fighters, and held to a strict moral code.Ah, I was wondering when "Hwarang" was going to come out. These were a group of noble youths from Shilla Kingdom during the Three Warring States period (circal 7th Century AD). There hasn't been a real "Hwarang" for about 1,000 years. Pretty unlikely that anyone alive today knows anything about Hwarang "martial arts," "Hwarang-Do" notwithstanding. These people are even more ridiculous than those who claim to practice the Greek Pankration (which also died out a LONG time ago).
When reading about Korean history, I'm struck by its resemblance to Greek history. They were all lumped together as Koreans by others, but it was more like a whole bunch of independent city states, each fighting with and against the other, as well as the Chinese and Japanese.They were hardly like the ancient Greeks. They did not have city-states or republics, for one thing. There are too many differences to elaborate them all. As for inter-tribal fighting, that went on everywhere, including in China and Japan.

Skorzeny

GePZo
June 4, 2002, 04:19 PM
I have a nice picture here, its of a young boy, with Down's Syndrome, running in the special olympics... its very moving, such strength of will, such determination, and a sense of triumph over adversity...

The caption reads: Arguing on the Internet is like Running in the Special Olympics. Even if you win, you're still retarded.

This isn't an argument. I was trying to convey information, and I was doing a bad job of it, apparently.

If Matt Willis wanted to know about Korean martial arts, he's got enough info now to start a more directed search, and I hope he's happy with that.

I'm saddened that some posters have chosen to make this into a soap box for debate about the merits of certain systems.

Peace,
Gepzo

Skorzeny
June 4, 2002, 06:02 PM
GePZo:
This isn't an argument. I was trying to convey information, and I was doing a bad job of it, apparently.Forgive me, I am going to be frank about it. You directed us to a Kuk Sool Won advertising site, which patently contained incorrect, and quite frankly, highly fantastical historical information.
I'm saddened that some posters have chosen to make this into a soap box for debate about the merits of certain systems.We aren't so much debating merits of certain systems as debunking the historically false claims of many Korean systems and instructors.

For the record, it happens with everyone, not just Koreans. In fact, in another thread, I am debunking (or more accurately, citing a historian who debunks) Herodotus' fantastical claim of about 300 Spartans standing against 1 million Persians at Thermopylae.

Skorzeny

Matt Wallis
June 7, 2002, 08:56 AM
So what it seems is most likely is that "native" Korean Arts were highly influenced by Chinese MA in pre-Colonial Korea. This makes sense since almost all Korean Arts have an emphasis on kicking, much like Northern Chinese styles. However, even these Korean Arts were suppressed and mostly lost during the Colonial period of Japanese occupation.

My further questions are... What about the "kwans"? (I think that's what they were called.) When TKD was being adopted as the nation Korean Art (the name was being chosen, forms made, etc.) it is my understanding that all the leading Korean martial artists got together to develop this new national art. They were each the head of a "Kwan" or style. Choi Hong Hi's Kwan mostly won out and his art (admittedly very based on Shotokan) won out as the main basis for TKD. This is the history (minus the emphasis on Choi) that the *** promotes, BTW.

We know Choi studied Shotokan in Japan. And we know he claims to have studied a pre-Colonial Korean Art Tae-kyon. I know there appears to be little or no evidence of Tae-kyon actually existing. But what were these other "styles" being practiced in Korea at the time. They couldn't have all been Shotokan, could they? And if not what were they?

A bit of history... Chuck Norris who studied over there in his time in the military says what he was taught was called Tang Soo Do at the time, though he says that's now Tae Kwon Do. If Tang Soo Do was one of the Kwans that became TKD, what was it? Where did it come from?

Regards,
Matt

Danger Dave
June 7, 2002, 09:29 AM
Okay, here we go:

First, all Japanese Karate is based on what Funakoshi brought from Okinawa - that is, Shotokan. It all comes back to that. Second, all of the Kwans appeared after WWII, when the Koreans had become more exposed to Japanese Karate, although they didn't all study under the same teachers, and no two students learn the same thing at the same rate. But what they studied was Japanese Karate, which came from Shotokan. Now, I'm not going to say there was no influence from existing Korean/Chinese arts, but what was left (if anything) were fragments - techniques perhaps, but not an entire art. The ones that started the Kwans certainly didn't forget what they had learned before, but it was overshadowed by the depth & reach of Funakoshi's karate to the point that only 50 years later, no one can prove what came from older Korean styles, what came from Japanese styles & was modified, and what was developed within the Korean schools after the occupation. What is known is that the first kata/poomse/forms taught by the Kwans were the same kata that Funakoshi taught in Japan. That can't be coincidence.

BTW, a better translation of Kwan is "school" not "style". They Kwans were/are very similar in terms of technique, it's mostly a difference in philosophy & emphasis, just like the ryu in Japan.

Basically, what I'm saying is that there is more to a style than just techniques - those come & go, and are changed by each generation of student. A style or school has roots, traditions and a general philosophy about how the techniques are to be used together - something that just isn't documented about any of the Korean "traditional" styles.

BTW, Tang Soo Do is Choi's name for his art/school which he founded, later renamed to Moo Duk Kwan, later Tae Kwon Do Moo Duk Kwan. Moo Duk Kwan (which is pretty fragmented, after the ITF/*** split), Ji Do Kwan, and Chang Moo Kwan are the only three remaining Kwans (out of the 7 who founded the Korea Tae Kwon Do Association, +2 more who joined later), the rest having been disbanded in an effort to unify the Korean martial arts under the World Tae Kwon Do Federation. Tang Soo Do, Tae Soo Do, Kong Soo Do, Tae Kyon - they no longer exist as verifiably separate arts; what they became is TKD.

And, I wouldn't say TKD was based on Choi's style, that's a lot of ITF hype there. It's based on different people's interpretations of Funakoshi's style, modified over the last 50+ years, no matter how hard they try to deny it.

Matt Wallis
June 7, 2002, 09:51 AM
Dave,

I practice TKD in the ITF tradition, which explains my Choi-centrism. ;) I am very much enjoying this discussion. I haven't believed the hype for years, but still really enjoy TKD. I began my study in Chicago under Mr. Jim Langlas who was a student of the late Grand Master Han (sorry, I know there' a billion Korean "Han's" but I can't remember the rest of his name. I'd probably know it if I heard it, though). I eventually moved to St. Louis where I studied under Grand Master Yong Yun Cho, from whom I recieved my 1st Dan. That was about 4 years ago, and though I still train, I haven't trained formally since then (due to several moves). So, hey, I guess that's my "lineage."

Dave, am I confusing you with someone else, or are you yourself a TKD instructor?

Regards,
Matt

Danger Dave
June 7, 2002, 11:20 AM
Matt, I'm not an "instructor", I'm only a first dan. I've been involved/training for about 20 years, under the same instructor. He's a rare bird - a caucasian 7th dan ***/KTA/Chang Moo Kwan Master Instructor. He teaches a small class because he enjoys it, and I train because I enjoy it. At least, when I've had the time between college, work, family, kids, etc, etc... I guess it's a hobby to me more than anything.


Please don't think I've got anything against Choi - he made larger contributions to TKD than just about any other, but I don't think splitting off from the ***/KTA was good for the art as a whole (neither was busting up the Kwans, but that's another story). The political infighting from those on both sides of the fence was, IMHO, disgusting. When they should have shaken hands, they turned on one another. But, I don't believe I've seen a "friendly" split in any martial arts organization. Politics, ambitions, pride & ethnocentrism are, I think, the biggest reason why the history of TKD before the foundation of the KTA is cloudy, at best.

Don Gwinn
July 3, 2002, 10:37 AM
I know I'm dragging this back from the dead, but I found this one immensely interesting. I had always assumed that only Americans called TKD "Korean Karate" and that only because, at the time, Americans assumed that all "martial arts" were forms of "karate." I just started in TKD last week and so far it has been a lot of fun. Before anyone brings it up, I am aware of certain limitations to the art when it comes to "streetfighting." I am resolved to study it for what it can give me--conditioning, discipline, an understanding of range, movement, quickness, balance, speed, and powerful striking techniques. AFTER I become proficient at TKD I will fill in gaps as necessary by cross-training in other arts.

In particular, I wonder about some of the other schools named. If Hwarang-do is dead, and Tang Soo Do became TKD. . . . well, what would one be studying if he walked into a dojang with the following arts on the sign?

Tang Soo Do?

Kuk Sool Won?

Hwa-Rang Do?

HapKiDo?

Skorzeny
July 5, 2002, 04:00 AM
Don Gwinn:
I am resolved to study it for what it can give me--conditioning, discipline, an understanding of range, movement, quickness, balance, speed, and powerful striking techniques.Now, I don't want to engage in "my Kung Fu is stronger than your Kung Fu" routine, but TKD is not really considered by "serious" martial artists as having "powerful striking techniques." Fast, yes. Multiple foot slaps in one kick, yes. Powerful, no. Muay Thai - now there are some powerful striking techniques!
If Hwarang-do is dead, and Tang Soo Do became TKD. . . .Hwarang-Do is not "dead." There never was Hwarang-Do. There were Hwarang youths (Shilla period noble youths training for war and refined culture) who may have studied to be warriors (swords, spears, bows, etc.) hundreds of years ago. But there was no such thing as Hwarang-Do back then and they certainly did not practice hand-to-hand techniques a la Aiki-Jujutsu.
Tang Soo Do?

Kuk Sool Won?

Hwa-Rang Do?

HapKiDo?All Korean derivations of Japanese systems such as Shotokan and Aiki-Jujutsu, that have evolved as they became Koreanized. Nothing more.

Skorzeny

kungfool
July 5, 2002, 12:09 PM
Good points being made for sure. As for taekwondo being over one-thousand years old, of course not. While it is taught that it's origin's go back at least two-thousand years this could be said about most martial arts.

I have found that there is much more alike about the striking arts than there are differences.

There is no art that is better than another. To strike only doesn't work when someone gets passed your guard. Grappling is not so effective when faced with multiple attackers.

Self-defense is not a part-time commitment. To truely benifit from any martial art one must make it their lifestyle, to include staying in good physical condition.

Bruse Lee's Jute Keen Do philosophy summed it up well. Stay in optimal physical condition. Train hard. Use what works for you and throw out that which doesn't. It should be noted however that Bruce Lee had a firm base in Kung Fu. Though he helped revolutionize the way martial arts is approached, (especially in the USA) his jute keen do philosophy did not put a heavy reliance on the tenets of martial arts, which no matter the art, should be it's base.

Martial arts is more about a way of living than it is a way of fighting. To put much emphasis on fighting and little on the moral base is in my opinion, getting away from the real roots of any martial art.

Toadlicker
July 5, 2002, 01:31 PM
Now, I don't want to engage in "my Kung Fu is stronger than your Kung Fu" routine, but TKD is not really considered by "serious" martial artists as having "powerful striking techniques." Fast, yes. Multiple foot slaps in one kick, yes. Powerful, no. Muay Thai - now there are some powerful striking techniques!

Having taken a side kick to the liver area from a tae kwon do practitioner, I must disagree. I was holding an air shield, but the center had been worn out to the poing of near uselessness. It took several minutes to recover fully from that one.Side kicks are often telegraphed, though, and thus fairly easy to avoid.

I'll agree that the thai roundhouse usually hits harder. There's more "oomph!" behind it. The point-sparring flip kicks seem to be designed to mildly annoy one's opponent more than anything else.

Skorzeny
July 5, 2002, 04:27 PM
Toadlicker:
Having taken a side kick to the liver area from a tae kwon do practitioner, I must disagree. I was holding an air shield, but the center had been worn out to the poing of near uselessness. It took several minutes to recover fully from that one.Side kicks are often telegraphed, though, and thus fairly easy to avoid. (emphasis mine)Having trained in TKD for over 10 years (some of which were in ROK), I have taken kicks from the best of the best. As you point out, most TKD demonstration kicks are highly theatrical and are telegraphed too easily. When I say "powerful," I mean "dynamic powerful" as in sparrings or fights. Having trained extensively in TKD, I thought that I knew about "powerful" kicks. Then I had an occassion to spar with a Midwest area Muay Thai amateur champion. When he struck my thigh (lots of nerves!) with his shin, the feeling was, well, nothing I've ever experienced from TKD practitioners. Of course, like many MT practitioners, he can do the neat party trick of breaking a wooden baseball bat over his shin!

Since then I've met several serious MT students and competitors (some of who trained in Thailand) who really paled the TKD boasts of "powerful striking techniques." I don't even have to go into MT elbows and knees - there are elbows and knees in TKD too, but I have yet to see one TKD practitioner who could use them like MT people can.

Skorzeny

kungfool
July 5, 2002, 05:06 PM
To say "I'm not saying my kung fu is better than yours but" and then going on to say that TKD kicks are not as powerful is a statement that sells short all striking arts.

TKD kicks not hard? Where have you trained? TKD has some devastating kicks. (mass+speed = power)

Side kicks too easy to read?.....Sure, if all you are trying to do is stand there and wait to sidekick someone. but when combined with movement and other techniques they are very difficult to read. (especially a sliding side kick off the front leg) "Superfoot" Wallace won a world championship and ALL he used were sidekicks!

Spin heel kicks are difficult to read and will practically take one's head off if not controlled.

Tang Soo Do still exists today (though I do not beleive it is very popular. No, Tang soo do was never a fore-runner of TKD. There were several kwans that formed to create one style eventually to be called taekwondo, hapkido had no part in any of these kwans.


If I had to name one man who is the most responsible for modern TKD I would hands down name General Choi....(and I am a *** practitioner, though my blackbelts must know all taeguek AND Pal gwe forms)

If I had to pick the man most responsible for bringing TKD to America it would be Jhoon Rhee, my personal hero though is Hee Il Cho, (who is ITF). I believe it would be in the best interests of both the *** (Dr. Kim) and the ITF (Gen. Choi) if they could resolve their political differences. That and the current USTU scam are the two (and we only have two) political blackeyes in TKD.

Don Gwinn
July 5, 2002, 05:17 PM
Well, here's how I see it, and this is why I enrolled in a TKD school. I've talked about learning one art or the other for years, but I've never had the money, the time and the opportunity all at once. So I continued to talk about it and never to do it. Now I'm one of those shooters you've all seen who can shoot pretty well but couldn't run five miles to save my life.

I see a trend emerging, and it is this--the cross-trained fighter who wants to be Bruce Lee or Ken Shamrock, but is a jack of all trades and master of none. Too much emphasis on knowing a little about every system known to man, too much emphasis on having more techniques than everyone else. Too many teenagers who claim to practice five or six arts--when they've actually only attended a few classes in most of them before they got disenchanted that they weren't learning grappling, or locks, or whatever. This approach can be good, but it's worthless to someone who is not already a seasoned, skillful and fit fighter. Therefore, the first order of business is to become truly proficient in one art. THEN you branch out and learn all sorts of neat tricks from other areas.

Frankly, I don't understand the idea that TKD strikes are not powerful. Muay Thai supposedly may have more power in the roundhouse, but the explanation I've been given by practitioners is that the shin is used, the hips are turned quickly during the movement, and the body follows through. That's all great, but what's to stop a TKD practitioner from doing the same thing? I just started, but I've already been admonished several times that I should be turning or switching my hips for more power. I have noticed that it seems like Muay Thai fighters follow through more powerfully. It seems like they generally turn a full circle after the kick. I've also noticed in some MMA competitions that when a kick doesn't connect this provides a big opening for a grappler to shoot. A .44 is more powerful than a .45, but that doesn't mean it would be useless to carry a .45.

What is it that a Muay Thai practitioner does that makes his kick more powerful than a TKD practitioner? If I can find a Muay Thai class around here, I'll probably try it out sooner or later, but for now I'm intent on mastering TKD. I'm not a fool; I'm not going to try to axe kick some punk who pulls a knife on me. If I kick, it will probably be for knees. However, I want to be good at timing and range. I want to be fast. I want to be quick. I want to be accurate. I want to be agile and well-balanced. Once I have those things, the techniques should matter less because I can go out and learn any technique I need. I believe it's the Indian more than the arrow, and a determined man willing to work hard and apply the art to combat in his thinking and in his training can become a proficient fighter in TKD. Many arts have flowery stuff that you would not use against a lethal opponent, and even the good techniques don't work in all situations. You wouldn't do that Muay Thai clinch to deliver knee strikes if the other guy had a knife, would you?

LawDog
July 5, 2002, 06:08 PM
I'm going to beat that drum yet again: It ain't the style, it's the warrior.

Somebody remind me of just how many middle-weight full-contact championships Chuck Norris won using what seems to be regarded by many here as woefully inadequate tae kwon do?

If you're dedicated, mauy thai is an excellent fighting style. If you are a dilletante looking only for buns of steel and a new title to drop at cocktail parties, muay thai ain't worth squat.

On the same paw, someone who trains and dedicates himself to tae kwon do, takes it with a warrior mindset, and learns, then tae kwon do is as effective as any other style out there.

LawDog

eviltravis
July 5, 2002, 08:57 PM
The martial arts style wars have erupted once again. What can I say? Each art has it's merit. I have studied for only 15 years, and I still know very little. I have trained with Practitioners of different systems, and found that they all have common elements. Korean, Japanese, Chinese, or even American, they all have shared with one another to add to martial art. I have listened time and again to people who say that "this" art is better than "that" art, or that one kind of training is more effective than another. The time spent on these arguements could have been used to train. Whatever system you choose, train diligently, and you will add to the martial arts. If you are looking for pure martial art style, or technique, your not going to find it here. There is not one single WAY, or, STYLE, or SYSTEM. There is no master sitting on a hill top who has the ultimate training in it's purest form. There is just us.

Skorzeny
July 6, 2002, 05:58 AM
Perhaps I am bitter - because for over 10 years I was fed too much BS by my esteemed Tae Kwon Do instructors, all high ranking Korean blackbelts. For the record, TKD was my first "martial art." While I lived in East Asia for years (mostly Japan and Korea), I trained in it extensively, earned my black belt at the Kukiwon (World Tae Kwon Do Federation Headquarters) in front of several prestigious Korean masters.

Then I witnessed a highly touted Korean "full-contact" champion get beaten senseless by an amateur Muay Thai competitor while on tour in Thailand. It was like watching a five-year old fight a grown up man. Admittedly, this was under Thai rules (which certainly allows most and perhaps all TKD techniques), but it was certainly illuminating. I thought that this was a fluke. But it happened time and time again, including to me.

Now, to the specifics:

kungfool:
"Superfoot" Wallace won a world championship and ALL he used were sidekicks!Mr. Wallace was great at what he did. But how long do you think that he would've lasted in a Thai bout? Not very long.

Don Gwinn:
Frankly, I don't understand the idea that TKD strikes are not powerful. Muay Thai supposedly may have more power in the roundhouse, but the explanation I've been given by practitioners is that the shin is used, the hips are turned quickly during the movement, and the body follows through.Because TKD folks aren't taught to roundhouse with the shin! That's why! TKD folks roundhouse with the top of their feet, which is a fairly weak part of the body. Thai uses the shin (okay, a highly callused shin), which can shatter baseball bats.
That's all great, but what's to stop a TKD practitioner from doing the same thing?They can, but they DON'T because that's not how it's taught. Rigid adherence to tradition. Compare that to Jeet Kune Do, which adopts techniques from others (like knees from Thai) when it becomes apparent that some techniques ARE better than others.

Aside from that, it's all how the training is conducted. Let me use boxing analogy. TKD has a flurry of punching techniques. But, no one familiar with both boxing and TKD would seriously suggest that TKD punching techniques are as powerful or as effective as boxing hand techniques (holding all other variables constant if we could do such a thing). Why? Because boxers train with much fewer constraints on their punching when they train dynamically (sparring), which is where one finds out whether "air" trained techniques work or not. Same story with Thai boxers - they are less constrained when they train dynamically with elbows, knees and shin kicks.
I've also noticed in some MMA competitions that when a kick doesn't connect this provides a big opening for a grappler to shoot.And TKD does really well against grapplers? We are speaking of strict striking match here, if you will. But if you must, MT does much better than TKD in MMA in my view.
Many arts have flowery stuff that you would not use against a lethal opponent, and even the good techniques don't work in all situations.Sure, that's true. But you also would NOT say that all arts have same percentage of flowery stuff, would you? Obviously some would have more of those than others, wouldn't they?
You wouldn't do that Muay Thai clinch to deliver knee strikes if the other guy had a knife, would you?No I wouldn't. I wouldn't use Thai or TKD with someone with a knife. I'd run first. If I couldn't, I'd attempt to defend myself with a firearm. If I didn't have one, I'd improvise a weapon (something stick-like) all the while trying to evade and escape. If nothing else still, I'd flick out my pocket knife and try to put my limited Arnis training to use, still looking for a speedy exit. And so on and so forth.

What would you do? Kick the knife accompanied by a big Kihap? We aren't talking about whether Thai or TKD is good for knife-defense as neither has anything to do with such a thing (Thai never pretends to while many TKD instructors do). We were speaking of the relative power of striking techniques between the two.
I see a trend emerging, and it is this--the cross-trained fighter who wants to be Bruce Lee or Ken Shamrock, but is a jack of all trades and master of none. Too much emphasis on knowing a little about every system known to man, too much emphasis on having more techniques than everyone else. Too many teenagers who claim to practice five or six arts--when they've actually only attended a few classes in most of them before they got disenchanted that they weren't learning grappling, or locks, or whatever.Who is this referring to? As for the whole teenager comment, look no further than TKD, which has done so much to McDonaldize and MTVize martial arts.

LawDog:
I'm going to beat that drum yet again: It ain't the style, it's the warrior.Sure, it's the warrior. But his techniques does play a role, no? Polish lancers could have all the elan, bravery and "combat mindset" of super-duper warriors, but could not overcome German Grenadiers or Panzers in 1939. Why? Two main reasons - obsolete equipment (technology) and outdated doctrine (technique). Spirit is a great thing, but not something that can win by itself. The Japanese learned that the hard way.
On the same paw, someone who trains and dedicates himself to tae kwon do, takes it with a warrior mindset, and learns, then tae kwon do is as effective as any other style out there.What if "someone who trains and dedicates himself to MT, takes it with a warrior mindset, and learns" and fights the above guy you cited? Who wins? Obviously the one who trained more effectively and realistically. I am merely arguing that Thai techniques are largely (no absolutes here, just some generalities and simplifications :) ) more realistic and, yes, powerful. Why? Because they need to be - the exigencies of their competition and training require so - while those of TKD do not.

BTW, show me a TKD guy who can do this (long download, about 16 megs or so, but worth a watch for martial arts fans): http://www.sherdog.com/cgi-bin/highlights.pl?21-VanderleiSilvaLQ.zip

Of course, he is no ordinary human being - he is the "Axe Murderer." :)

Skorzeny

Don Gwinn
July 6, 2002, 05:13 PM
No, I would not attempt to kick a knife from someone's hand. The point is not how TKD deals with a knife (I don't know yet; as I said, I'm a beginner) nor how MT deals with a knife. The point is that you can take any technique out of the context in which it works and then say "see? It doesn't work." I believe in the axe kicks I've been trying so inadequately to perform so far. I may not use them in a fight, but I believe in the flexibility that training them gives me, and I believe in improving my balance and my leg strength. To put it another way, your option of running would probably not work for me, because to put it delicately, I am disgustingly fat. Dunlop and all. Since I started TKD I'm already lighter on my feet and more energetic. I will lose the weight and I will be faster than I've been in a long time, making running an option. Right now, it is not.

Your point about "they could, but they don't is well taken. However, it doesn't invalidate the philosophy I put forward above. The point is, if the big difference is the shin, then when I've mastered the art of throwing a roundhouse with speed, power, accuracy and no telegraph I'll just start throwing them with my shin. If it works better for me, fine. But for right now, it would be silly for me to pester my instructors with questions about esoteric differences like this when I can't even perform a roundhouse properly in their style.
The problem is that I am NOT a martial artist by any stretch of the imagination. I am not able to throw even one really good roundhouse kick yet. It would be a lot more productive for me to shut up and train in my TKD sessions than to be looking for the door so I can go out and learn Muay Thai. I believe that mindset would lead to leaving Muay Thai before long in order to study Jiu-Jitsu, and leaving that to study JKD, etc. etc.

I don't want that. I want to put my head down and train balls to the wall until I am strong, agile, fast and accurate. A strong, agile, fast, accurate man who applies TKD with a warrior mindset should be just fine. If I need Muay Thai principles, or boxing, or whatever at that point, then I'll go out and find them. But I have to believe that it's easier for a master of one art to borrow from others because he will understand his weaknesses much better.
Right now, all I have are weaknesses.

LawDog
July 6, 2002, 08:52 PM
Polish lancers could have all the elan, bravery and "combat mindset" of super-duper warriors, but could not overcome German Grenadiers or Panzers in 1939. Why?

Good point. 40-ton tanks tend to give a bit of an edge against horse-cavalry. However, one tends to opine that the difference is the same as the difference between a muay thai stylist and a man with a scoped .300 magnum at 400 yards. In other words a bit of a non-sequitor in a discussion regarding hand-to-hand combat styles.

What if "someone who trains and dedicates himself to MT, takes it with a warrior mindset, and learns" and fights the above guy you cited? Who wins?

Who wins? The man who wants it the most.

Having, during my Wandering Through Life, gone toe-to-toe with Emotionally Disturbed Persons having no/nada/zero/zilch training in the finer points of CQC but having an intense and fervent desire to put my fuzzy little butt in the hurt locker; and

Having done the Adrenaline Tango with house-mousey mothers protecting their children; and

Having the occasional opportunity to Protect the Public by putting under arrest the off-paw random critter who has fried his/her cerebral cortex on meth/crystal cat/formaldehyde/PCP --

It is my studied and firm conviction that in the field of mano-a-mano tussling: style takes a distant third place behind 1)the rabid single-minded desire to stomp a mud puddle in someones butt before walking it dry; and 2) training mindset.

Just my two centavos, YMMV.

LawDog

kungfool
July 7, 2002, 02:51 PM
lawdog...........very well said.

Don Gwinn
July 7, 2002, 05:09 PM
Lawdog is always worth listening to, and he and Skor have probably lived in more places around the world than any other 10 TFLers together.

Ian is being a bit modest, though. He is the only person I know who has been toe-to-toe with a killer robot assassin and lived to tell the tale. :D

Skorzeny
July 7, 2002, 11:35 PM
Don Gwinn:

I am in NO WAY knocking your initiation into TKD. In fact, I want to say "good for you" in the loudest way possible. TKD has many benefits and build excellent attributes, and it seems, from what you write, that you will benefit from them.

My contention has been with the idea that TKD teaches "powerful striking techniques." Obviously that is a relative statement as, naturally, some systems have more powerful striking techniques than others, but in no way was I suggesting that TKD was useless.

One specific point, however: The point is, if the big difference is the shin, then when I've mastered the art of throwing a roundhouse with speed, power, accuracy and no telegraph I'll just start throwing them with my shin.It wouldn't be enough to just switch later on. For one thing, muscle memory will force you to kick with your foot even if you intend to switch (a problem that I went through when I started Thai) and require quite a bit of unlearning. For another, your shin won't have the same attribute as someone who has callused it through repeated kicks with it. Not everyone can have baseball bats broken over his shin.

LawDog:
Good point. 40-ton tanks tend to give a bit of an edge against horse-cavalry. However, one tends to opine that the difference is the same as the difference between a muay thai stylist and a man with a scoped .300 magnum at 400 yards. In other words a bit of a non-sequitor in a discussion regarding hand-to-hand combat styles.That's why I said "German Grenadiers" as well as tanks. Many historians would argue that Poles would have lost even if they had possessed technological parity because of outdated doctrine (operational technique). The Allies of 1940 arguably had technological parity, if not superiority, and certainly they had numerical superiority, but they still lost due mainly to outdated operational art (again, technique). Techniques do matter, and matter mightily.

Not all "martial arts" are the same. Not all have same techniques. Not all of them are equally effective (particularly in different contexts). They aren't simply the "same thing" with different nomenclature.

A martial art that trains its students to participate in point competitions, form competitions or even highly constrained "full-contact" competitions is unlikely to train its students to effect "powerful" dynamic striking techniques as another that trains its students to survive in a brutal ring match that allows free flowing elbows, knees, punches to the face and kicks to the back of the neck.

Certainly I agree with you that fighting spirit is a sine quo non of any kind of fighting, but a body that is full of spirit, but devoid of physical attributes and techniques would be useless, just as technique that is devoid of any physical attribute (let alone spirit, desire, "combat mindset," etc.) would be useless.

Don Gwinn (again):
...he and Skor have probably lived in more places around the world than any other 10 TFLers together.Only ten?
:)

Skorzeny

Skorzeny
July 7, 2002, 11:38 PM
BTW, has anyone checked out the link I listed above (Vanderlei Silva highlights)? Fun to watch, no?

Skorzeny

SDforce
July 8, 2002, 08:37 AM
Skorzeny,

Nice clip :)

kungfool
July 8, 2002, 10:50 AM
lawdog.....I read your stories....having spent a good part of my life in Texas (not so much the panhandle) I can really enjoy them.....I think you have a style that combines the best of Hunter S. Thompson and Willaim Faulkner........with just a bit of Tim Wilson thown in to get the "good 'ol boy character down pat. Make a book......I'll buy it!