Sunday, May 6, 2007

Why Tae Kwon Do Sucks

Karate Vs. WTF TaeKwonDo

It's not always fair to make blanket comparisons between fighting styles, But Dojo Rats gotta call 'em as they see 'em. This fight clearly shows why Tae Kwon Do sucks.
--Now, keep in mind this Rat got his Second Dan while in TKD (Third Dan later in Kenpo) and loved every minute of my TKD training. It provided a strong foundation for further training and many life-long friendships. But even at the time I knew that as a comprehensive fighting art, Tae Kwon Do sucks, and this fight shows why.
Now, how can this TKD fighter not have to re-examine his training methods after getting his ass kicked like this. At two minutes into a four minute fight he has completely dropped his guard, his hands useless appendages flopping at his sides. If the rules would have allowed the Karate fighter to hit to the head, the fight would have ended right then. Furthermore, the Karate fighter uses some knee strikes and sweeps, easily catching the TKD guys leg. At one point he catches the leg and has a grip around TKD's throat, pushing him into the ropes. In another he has a clean sweep and slams TKD to the mat. What the hell is the TKD guy thinking? Why doesn't he open his tool box and find another tool? Why is this chump limiting his options and techniques?
The only answer is he simply never trains with other techniques. I knew these kind of guys back in my TKD school. Boy could they flash-kick. Jump 360-degree spinning hook kicks seven feet in the air. Big f-'in deal, they couldn't handle themselves in a streetfight if their life depended on it, and it might. They carried their center so high a good grappler would have them on their backs with the wind knocked out of them in a heartbeat, pounding their face in.
I don't mean to pick on TKD so much, it's just that the sport is such an easy target. Readers familiar with this site know I have no patience with other martial arts that do not practice some sort of objective reality in fighting, let alone long term form practitioners that have no idea what applications of their forms are.
In this way, I feel the modern approach to martial arts training, which includes cross-training in various styles is the solution to stagnant, ineffective fighting styles.
For my previous ranting on Tae Kwon Do, see the November 24 2006 posting in the archives- "The Long And Short Of Tae Kwon Do"


xingyiquan5 said...

"One Punch one Kill!"


This kind of competition kinda sucks tho. No grabbing no throwing, no pucnhing the face.

Might as well play chess or something.

I mean, it might be fun to limit your options for training purposes, but this makes about as much sense as a push hands tournament.

Amazing that karate still couldn't really hurt the guy with so many punches to the body!


Hand2Hand said...

I think most of the martial arts are being watered down for the sake of sport or exercise. Tae Kwon Do is just the best example of that.

At one time, Asian arts like Karate, Kung Fu and Tae Kwon Do were much more complete arts with a wider arsenal of techniques.

I heard once that Funakoshi Gichen changed the original Shorin kata he learned to make it easier to learn and, allegedly, to make them less lethal.

I don't know how true it is, but it makes sense. I've always been impressed by how hardcore were some of the classical Okinawan instructors I've met.

One other thing about TKD's emphasis on kicks - I think TKD is just giving people what they want. Most people don't like to get too close to someone who's trying to do them harm. They like the kicks partly because they think it means they won't have to get too close to their opponent.

In my experience, I have a hard time finding people who want to learn Wing Chun, Filipino Tribal Arts or Taiji T'ui Shou. I'm no sadist and I'm very safety conscious, but I find that most people can't psychologically handle the close proximity those arts require.

People I know who do Judo, JiuJitsu or Greco-Roman wrestling tell me the same thing - no one wants to get that close.

That's why if I were going into a shitty neighborhood after dark, I'd prefer to have a boxer, judoka or arnista watching my back than 99 percent of the TKD people.

Dojo Rat said...

H2H, you know I have a special place in my heart for my TKD training, but I can't help see the faults.
Then I look at the video of my San Shou, and I see more faults. Life is a cycle of yin and yang and constant improvement, and we are our own worse critics; (if we are honest).

Hand2Hand said...

Hey DR,

I did TKD too, but it was a much different art when I did it. The stances were lower, there was more use of hand techniques. It looked more like Shotokan than what is called TKD today.

Yes, I think Shotokan has gotten much more watered down as well, but that's another rant.

Still, TKD has gotten very commercialized. A friend of mine once called it "The Pizza Hut of the Martial Arts."

It's easy to forget that at one time it was considered a much more viable fighting art. It's founder, Gen. Choi Hong Hi, was looking to create a method of hand-to-hand combat for Korean resistance members in their struggle against Japanese occupation.

As one TKD instructor told me "A long time ago, tae kwon do was for killing, but we changed it to make it a sport."

To me, that is the best description of TKD's current state.

Tomcat's Taekwondo said...

There's no way a fight between two individuals who train in different styles can be taken as a "mines better than yours" argument. Maybe the Karate guy is simply "better" and would have won if he'd learnt TKD and the other guy trained in Karate. Taekwondo (WTF Taekwondo IS a sport). In the days of street thugs carrying knives & guns I don't see a lot of point in focusing on self defense. Focus on your fitness and get away.

Hand2Hand said...

But not all self-defense involves guns and knives. Last year I had to fight off a pit bull that attacked my dog. If it wasn't for my training, I'd have been burying my dog.

And is there any TKD that isn't WTF? I'm sure it exists, but it's getting harder and harder to find.

TKD has gotten so watered down for the sake of sport and as a pastime for kids that it's useless for self-defense. Most martial art schools (and the overwhelming majority are TKD) don't offer much more than an afterschool activity that is cheaper than day care for working parents.

The sad part is that it doesn't have to be that way. Boxing, judo and wrestling are taught and practiced as sports, but if I had to go to a shitty neighborhood after dark, I'd choose one of those three before a TKD black belt to watch my back.

I have a good friend who has a yidan in TKD from a very reputable master here in Florida. Yet my friend cannot punch a standard heavy bag without having his wrist collapse upon impact.

To me, there's something very, very wrong with that picture.
That's because boxing, wrestling and judo still emphasize some hardcore conditioning (mentally and physically) along with practical techniques that win fights.

Dojo Rat said...

Thanks for checkin' in, TomCat.
The reason I feel I can comment on TKD (Especially WTF) is because I am a 2nd Dan WTF Black Belt, regestered at the Kukiwon in Korea.
I have seen the martial art change to martial sport.
Now, to put things in perspective, I am just as critical about the Chinese internal arts such as Tai Chi, even though I am now an avid internal art practitioner. There is good and bad in all aspects of the arts. Some Tai Chi people have no interest in self defense. Fine. But EVERY instructor should be able to demonstrate application for those that want a well-rounded and holistic training program.
Tell those TKD guys to keep their hands up and show them how to hit and fight!

Chris said...

You are correct your critique of WTF Tae Kwon Do in terms of a traditional martial art.

But such comments such as that would in the day draw an an immediate fight from a Ji Do Kwan student. They are not in the "sucks" group. Wiki it. Hap Ki Do is also part of its study.

Even their patch only has 2 colors "Red/White". White is the purity of Korea. Red is the blood they'll shed defending it and its honor. TKD is their national sport.

Also, red is a sacred color representing blood. This is why seals are in red, sealed by blood. That's why you never write in Korea using red ink.

JDK is a small group and defend TKD vigorusly. They are the only Kwan that still wears their Kwan patch. (Wiki it) Except Chung Do Kwan sometimes (ITF).

Remember alot of TKD was refined in the Korean War, see General Chong Hong Hi. (I know about his Shotokan).

The old timers taugh what worked and what worked in war.

Before you rip into me, I'm an Air Force Vet that was stationed in Okinawa. I also have a 4th in Ji Do Kwan TKD.

I've fought Okinawan Goju-ryu, Shito-ryo and Uechi-ryu "tough guys" and it was like fighting a green belt.

I Never got touched, actualy one Goju-Ryu guy got a broken jaw where I faked a hook to his right side of his jaw and pulled my foot up and over and kicked in the left side of the jaw.

At my rank, exageration is not necessary, so believe what you wish.

All true arts are good and should be respected.Words like "sucks" are inappropriate. The WTF's goal was always to be "like baseball".Revenue for post-war Korea because Judo and Karate were huge money makers. It's just economics.

I was here in 1988 when Dr. Ung Young Kim came to Chicago to collect the funds raised for the 1988 olympics in Seoul.

I know what I'm talking about, my advice is turn off the UFC and talk to your elders.

Master C. C. Pieschala

Chris said...

Cheers in your study!

Hand2Hand said...

Hey Chris,

Sorry if it seems like we're picking on TKD here. If you go over my other posts, you'll see I'm pretty critical of the state of Japanese and Chinese arts as well.

But if I seem to spend a lot more time focusing on TKD, there's two reasons for it.

1. I also have also held a shodan in TKD, so I feel it is my place to comment.

2. TKD is the biggest martial art out there, hence it is the biggest target.

I know that TKD was a much different art when it was founded by Gen. Choi Hong Hi. He was looking for a way to teach hand-to-hand combat to members of the Korean resistance to Japanese occupation.

Admittedly, TKD is not the only example of an art that has been horribly watered down. Allegedly Shotokan has had some of the more lethal applications removed for the sake of sport.

Personally, I think Shotokan, as it is currently taught, places too much of an emphasis on promoting an ancient code than with practical self-defense.

I think the Chinese arts are often little more than forms anymore. One of the reasons I like this site is because DR is so interested in the combat applications of neijia. Sadly, most people have no idea how effective arts like taijiquan are because no one practices them for self-defense anymore.

Karate, Gung Fu and Tae Kwon Do were much more lethal fighting arts 50 to 100 years ago, when people actually practiced those arts for fighting.

Today, it's just another pastime, like golf or scrapbooking.

I would like to see some of that old hardcore flavor come back to those arts. If there is any hope for those arts, it'll come from people like you who are working to preserve them as combatives.

Chris said...

H2H you had fair remarks, I understand that and I'm glad you have an open mind. FYI Shodan is a Japanese word for 1st dan in Korean like TKD it's ch'ot-dan for "beginning black belt" "il-dan" for a literal translation or just "kyo sa nim" for an instructor, not to get knitpickey.

Shotokan is not Okinawian, is was Funakoshi's deal when he brought it back to the mainland there are huge cultural differences between the mainland and the Ryu-Kyu islands.

Kicks are TKD's trade mark, but the earlier Kwans taught more with the hands. See the arguement about naming it Tae Soo Do vs. Tae Kwon Do. Moo Duk Kwan and Ji Do Kwan were the only Kwans who stuck by the nationalistic name of TKD. With TSD sounding "too Japanese".

Yudo (Korean Judo), Aikijutsu, jujutsu all got brought back to Korea when the Japanese annexed Korea. These all got blended in various Korean arts.

Who was your instructor? Whom was he associated with?

I wish this UFC & MMA stuff would fade like disco so that the origonal arts can be taught once again.

And FYI - I've never been put on the ground. If I had my HKD would still work fine. And I have 20 years experience and been around a bit.

There are too many "book readers" that claim to be experts without actually being hit or doing the hitting.

Hand2Hand said...

Hey Chris,

I originally studied TKD with Moosoo Hwang of New Haven, Ct., as a member of Hwang's Judo Karate and Aikido School. That school is long gone, but I think at least one of the Hwang brothers still has a dojang in that area.

I left TKD in 1980 and got involved with Chinese arts and Tang Soo Do, which I eventually earned dan ranks under Robert Cheezic and later from Jae Joon Kim.

These days, I mainly practice Chinese and Filipino arts, primarily Wing Chun, Yang Taijiquan, Jeet Kune Do and Arnis.

I haven't done TSD, TKD or Hapkido for years.

I think the attraction for MMA and UFC is that many people are not getting what they want from what are mistakenly called "classical" arts today.

I say mistakenly because originally those arts were much more complete. Like I've complained about before, these days the emphasis is on sport, aerobic fitness and afterschool child care.

Fifty or 100 years ago, there was a wider arsenal of techniques Karate, TKD or Gung Fu, including striking, kicking, groundfighting and grappling. True, each art had its area of emphasis, but they still tried to cover all the bases.

That's not true these days.

And personally, I give UFC and the whole MMA movement a lot of credit. Love 'em or hate 'em, they've definitely forced people to re-examine their arts and take a much more critical look at how they are training.

Lastly, I like your remark about "book readers" who've never been hit. I've said for years that I have little doubt that I could take 99 percent of the black belts out there.

I'm not bragging when I say that. That's a criticism of the sorry state of the martial arts.

The truth is, it's possible to get a black belt in many schools without hitting anyone or anything, or being hit. The last time I punched a makiwara or tolyonbong in a commercial dojang, I was asked by the instructor to stop. He said it disturbed the neighbors.

If I have any advantage of those 99 percent of black belts, it's this - I actually strike things in my training. My home gym includes a heavy bag, square sandbag, mook yan jong and a bucket-of-beans-and-rice for hand conditioning.

I go through copious amounts of dit da jow.

As my old boxing coach told me, "you'll never be a fighter unless you get a heavy bag and practice hitting."

Chris said...

Sounds like we're on a similiar page then.

Also Americans do not understand the Asian concept of "inside" vs. "outside" students. Inside students still depending the Master learn the real stuff. The thing is only about 0.1% ever gain that and if you're not Korean your chances are worse,

I was on the inside and I live in Chicago so there was alot going on in the 80's.

When I said hitting I meant people. JDK prides itself on its sparring.

For me, I've been sparing so long I can tell what a guy is going to do almost always. Even trained fighters telegraph very badly.

I credit my success and love for JDK & TKD based on this. It's almost as if they're moving in slow motion.

I can smash an eardrum,gouge an eye and tear off an ear before the guy can follow through with his attack.Using two hand movements and two arm movements. And you gotta get close to do that, I know TKD but I prefer the inside vs. distance.

This is only from years and years of training and studing people. Kids today are too impatient. (now I feel old)

You don't see stuff like that on the UFC. Which I think is BS and Gracie propaganda. But that's another story.

TKD does not suck Commercialized Martial Arts do, look no farther than cardio kickboxing or Tae Bo.

Tomcat's Taekwondo said...

Sounds to me as if a lot of schools are treating it purely as a sport - hope my comment didn't imply that was the case at my club. I suppose before saying anything else, I should point out I'm NOT a DAN grade yet.
Most of the lessons I attend do have a small amount of time allocated to self defense techniques (Ho Sin Sul). All our instructors hold first DAN grade or higher in Hapkido as our chief instructor is a bit keen on the self defense aspect. He runs Hapkido lessons separately, but I just haven't found the time to get along to them yet, and (maybe I shouldn't mention this!) I've met the Hapkido students that don't do TKD. They know some great self defense moves, but when they turn up for the occaisional TKD lesson their poor level of fitness really shows. For me, only able to make two lessons a week, TKD is more "rounded", but maybe I'm lucky and at a good club ;)

Robert said...

I think one video is sorta a poor basis for your sysnopsis on martial arts. Having studied martial arts for most of my life I disagree on any one style being superior. I have studied Tae kwon do in Korea and let me tell you, if you think its anything like the poorly trained fighters in the ring then you need to see where it originated. I have seen many things from monks practicing Shaolin wushu to Korean grand masters conditioning. Don't base your opinions especially with the words sucks untill you really know what your talking about. I understand your point, his form is poor, but i think we can play nicer than derogatory words. I am currently working on my 5th dan in tae kwon do, and have a black belt in Kung fu. And to be honest, I think tae kwon do in actual fighting (not the wattered down competition sparing) to be much more effective in combat than any other martial arts I have studied.

Colin Wee said...

DR - I've placed a link to your post at Taekwondo v WTF Video, which is part of a series of Taekwondo sucks videos. Hope this renews your thread. Colin

ThePurdude said...


the karateka in here does kyokushinkai. Kyokushinkai Karateka love to claim that they can execute "ichigeki hissatsu" (one technique to kill) however, none of them ever has the proper technique to do it. They have completely misinterpreted the concepts of inner mechanics, center squeeze, and body rotation.

Many other karateka do not even consider kyokushinkai to be a valid form of karate. Mas Oyama was some homeless hermit who snuck off to the mountains to train himself after studying karate (i'm not sure on what style) for a few years. And although the training he did was completely badass, his kyokushinkai lacks solid techniques and relies too much on external forces while thinking that he is generating power internally.

Anonymous said...

Hi my name is aditya and i am also a player of taekwondo .And i know TAEKWONDO is best .THERE are 560 kicks in taekwondo and there are only15 or 14 kicks in Karate SO TAEKWONDO IS BEST

Ryan said...

no offense, but this isn't a fair fight. the opponent is clearly much older and stronger, wich gives him the upperhand. still, the tae kwon do martial artist literally had no guard up, which left him completely wide open.

Shalu Sharma said...

I am surprised that comparisons are made. I have a 6 year old son and we have a choice between Tae Kwon Do and Dojo. Reading this suggests Dojo is the best.

Anonymous said...

Go to and search Kwonkicker... Watch some of his videos ok?

Anonymous said...

This comment Is for anonymous, I don't do martial arts and only a street fighter. But, If you think kicks alone make an art the best. you are misled or an Idiot. I fear one comingthe man who has practiced one kick a thousant times than the guy who knows 560 kicks without mastering any of them. I seen a black belt tkd modern sport art guy get his ass handed to him by a homeless 50 year old vet and a beer bottle. even I with no training I could have seen that coming. Dude,I mean no disrespect to any martial artist on here but My mother's school had green belts stomping black belts from other schools. That says In Itself how many schools have broken from the true teaching into a sport flash buncha crap that a good street fighter with no training can maul.

Dr. J said...

My background is similar to yours! I started in TKD (Chee Do Kwon/Chung Do Kwon), and reached Shodan. I then found a Kenpo school and they felt that my kicking was fine, but they taught me to be a complete fighter and I got up to 3rd dan in Kenpo. On returning to my original TKD school, I was very effective :-)

Anonymous said...

Those of you studying kenpo, and believing that its any better than TKD, are simply ignorant. All those flashy techniques will be useless in an actual street fight. But reading the comments, it's obvious that none of you have been in a real street fight, only sparring. Oh well, lets hope you never have to find this out the hard way.

Anonymous said...

I have been training in Tkd for 16 years but recently moved onto muay Thai, which for any competent Tkd practioner is easy to do because you have the foundations built.
Tkd was never designed to fight man against man it was designed to fight off warriors on horseback.
Tkd has excellent self defense STRIKES; side kick to knee, throat strikes, etc but now days people teach automated self defense techniques so technical and complex they are next to useless(most martial arts do now days)
The problem with Tkd is not that it is commercial but that it focuses on kicks that are useless on the street, spinning heel kicks that knock people out in the Olympics for example are only thought of as good because of just that, many clubs now teach there students to fight with their hands down, anyone can throw a foot to someone's face who fights that way..

I am not bragging but I know I can kick very hard but when I want power I'll use my shin not the instep, I noticed this even while training in Tkd on the hand held body bags, if you want power you use your shin and of you want precision you use yor instep..

I believe Tkd has its uses, it has great 1 hit 1 kill/maim skills and is a great beginner art because it teaches foot work, flexibility and balance, but after that you need to move onto something else.

RIP Mr Chang

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Anonymous said...

Everyone remember, if you're going to train Taekwondo, for self defense, don't train Olympic taekwondo, it's completely useless. Honestly, Olympic taekwondo has ruined taekwondo. Taekwondo literally translates to 'The Art Of Fist And Foot' not the art of looking cool and flashy kicks. If you don't believe me, look in the Taekwondo traditional forms, there aren't many flashy kicks are there? Most things are punches and elbows and around 45% of the form is kicks.


Thank you, enough said!

atif ariff said...

i am a white belt in wtf tkd now which i joined after a gap of almost 10 years after completing my school, i studied jkd for a year or so under a jkd student during my school days and flipped through books of martial arts, apparently the problem i see now in tkd is that the students forget they have hands too to punch with, and they waste a lot of energy jumping, the more jumps the more tired you get, the more kicks the more tired you get, takedowns are not allowed, punch to face and kicks to groin are not allowed, grappling with opponent on the ground i didn't see,attaching the vital points like the eyes groin pressure points on the body etc if these are not taught what good is a martial arts if one gets into a life threatening situation? if the teacher does not teach us i think the students should learn it on their own by forming a group themselves.