What is traditional Taekwon-do?
Taekwon-do is a Korean martial art officially born on April 11, 1955. It is both the result of a long martial tradition and the fruit of the work of synthesis of one man: Grand Master Choi Hong Hi.
Traditional Taekwon-do is defined as the Way (“do”) by the art of striking with the feet (“tae”) and fists (“kwon”).
The Way (with a capital “V”) is the Way of Taoism, “tao” in Chinese being pronounced “do” in Korean. It is therefore a search for harmony and inner peace through self-defense exercises. Concretely, Taekwon-do is defined as the scientific and rational use of the body for the purpose of self-defense through the search for maximum power and efficiency for each movement.
It is said that Taekwon-do is an art of self-defense based on the scientific use of the body because it takes into account Newton’s work on bodies. Without going into details, Newton’s law says that any force created on a body has an equal and opposite force. This means that when a car crashes into a wall with a force of 2000 pounds, the wall returns a force of 2000 pounds to it.
Thus, if an opponent rushes against you at full speed, the blow you deliver to him will have its devastating power increased by your opponent’s own speed. This first element makes Taekwon-do an art of self-defense by definition, and not an art of attack, since for a Taekwon-do movement to reach its full effectiveness, it requires an opposing force. This force is called “reaction force”.
Finally, Taekwon-do is a scientific martial art, or rather a rational martial art, in the sense that the targets of the body are attacked with the corresponding natural weapons.
Taekwon-do and Chinese Martial Arts
Chinese martial arts, often referred to generically as “Kung fu”, often make specialists in pure self-defense methods smile because of their rituals borrowed from animals and their ample and smooth movements. And while it is a mistake to believe that these martial arts lack effectiveness in real combat situations, it is true that they have taken ritualization further than Korean and Japanese martial arts.
Taekwon-do and Japanese martial arts
Just like Chinese martial arts, Japanese martial arts are very diverse and rich. It is thus difficult, there again, to generalize.
- Taekwon-do and the arts of projections and dislocations : Judo, Aikido, Aïki-jutsu, etc. These martial arts have based their existence on the richness, diversity and complexity of the techniques of seizures, projections and luxations. Taekwon-do is a “foot-fist” art, and as such does not emphasize these aspects of martial practice. These techniques are a minor and less in-depth component of Taekwon-do.
- Taekwon-do and Karate: The different Karates (Shotokan Karate, Kyokushinkaï Karate, etc.), are without a doubt the martial arts that most resemble Taekwon-do. Like him, they are martial arts that have made the choice of percussion, while maintaining a work of projections, sweeps, grasps and dislocations.
Traditional Taekwon-do and Sports
It is difficult to compare Taekwon-do and sports in general, on the one hand because Taekwon-do is not strictly speaking a “sport”, and on the other hand because the sports are so numerous and varied that many are difficult to compare. But if we were to make a distinction allowing comparison, we would say that we must distinguish between leisure sport, competitive sport and health sport.
Where is Taekwon-do located?
To be brief, Taekwon-do is neither a leisure sport, nor a competitive sport, nor a health sport. However, these three aspects are present in the practice of Taekwon-do, the health aspect being even more important. Moreover, as a discipline with a fundamental physical aspect, the practice of Taekwon-do allows you to rediscover the pleasures traditionally found in the practice of a leisure sport.
Meeting with friends, sharing a moment of relaxation, letting off steam without thinking about the worries of everyday life are very positive aspects of leisure sports that are also found in Taekwon-do. But Taekwon-do goes beyond that.
For if this aspect of distraction is essential in the practice of leisure sports, it is secondary in the practice of Taekwon-do. It is induced by it, but it is not the cause. In other words, if the distraction justifies leisure sports, it does not justify Taekwon-do. It is a cause, not a goal.
Now concerning competitive sport, it is undoubtedly the type of sport approach farthest from martial arts. Competitive sport places the sportsman in a dynamic of development of his ego in order to make it stronger than that of the others, whereas martial practice places the practitioner in a dynamic of erasing the ego, often perceived as a negative aspect of the personality, source of illusions.
The goal of a martial art is the harmonization of the self in the universe. This quest for harmony can therefore naturally not go through the development of an oversized ego. in conflict with the world There is therefore something contradictory with the martial spirit that to want to integrate competition into the practice of a martial art.
Moreover, there is also in competition a confrontation with stress and the unknown, with fear (fear of doing wrong, fear of the other, etc.), which allows one to get used to emotions that it is up to each person to learn to control. In fact, and even if Taekwon-do is not a “competitive sport” in the strict sense, this aspect is very present.
But of course, the competition is in no way in the line of sight of the practice. In this way, practitioners are not under constant pressure. Competition is seen as a playful interlude to regular practice. Victory is perfectly secondary, because when one has met other people, shared a good dinner, faced one’s fears, one is always a winner.