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Archive for April, 2010

Have you thought about studying Tai Chi or Qigong?  Since there are many styles/systems of Tai Chi and Qigong, are they all equally beneficial or not?  If not, how do we recognize which ones are better than others. This article will briefly explore the CORE answers to these questions.

Qigong:

Qigong has two main components:

1. Health Benefits

2. Meditative (sometimes referred to as Spiritual) Benefits

Qigong is usually recommended when you have specific health concerns which it is designed to address.   Or for people who seek an illness preventive discipline that also reduces stress, has little to no impact and doesn’t teach martial arts.

Valid methods of Qigong work on specific problems within the body via the movements or postures, and breathing, which in turn trigger their corresponding meridians.  So, as long as a person is working on the correct meridian then they can help the specific ailment associated with that meridian. 

Yet, it is important to note that no individual Qigong is a complete system/approach by itself.  This is because one Qigong usually only works on one, or a limited number of meridians.   Therefore, if a Qigong is to be a complete heath system it must offer enough postures/techniques which in turn work on ALL meridians.  But, and this is VITALLY IMPOTANT, these meridians MUST be activated in the correct sequence. 

This “correct sequence” is known as the Qi Cycle or Horary Cycle.  This cycle sequentially depicts the 24 hour flow of Qi in our bodies.  Following this exact meridian sequence is VITAL for our balanced health. 

 

As such, if you are practicing a Qigong which works merely on one or a few meridians you may produce short terms benefits.  Thus we get the claims from people about how specific Qigong’s helped them with this or that problem.  But keep in mind that this is ONLY a short sighted approach and can be detrimental in the long run.  Why?  Because our bodies were meant to work as a complete unit via a holistic approach. If we don’t practice the entire Horary cycle in the correct sequence our intrinsic life force (Qi) we will never be activated in a balanced manner and thus we cannot energetically live in optimal health. 

Yet there is an additional concern even if one practice several Qigong’s that follows the correct Horary cycle.  That is, Qigong in and of itself can be categorized as a Yin system and to be optimally balanced it needs a Yang compliment.  And this Yang compliment is Martial Arts.  Hence the problem with merely practicing Qigong as a way of life.

This is where Tai Chi comes in. Correct Tai Chi IS a Qigong and much more.

Tai Chi:

Tai Chi has three main components:

1. Health Benefits

2. Martial Arts Benefits

3. Spiritual or Meditative Benefits

Let me start by saying that the reasons there are many forms of Tai Chi is complicated.  In some cases it is because there have been people who felt that they could create a better Tai Chi system than the one they initially learned.  Maybe they felt this way because their initial system or instructor was not very good.  Or, maybe they created a new system because they had a strong ego and wanted to be revered or looked up to.  Maybe they wanted to make more money, etc. The reasons are varied.

So, the quickest and best way to identify which Tai Chi system is valid is to examine its components.  It MUST have all three of the above “components” if it is to be a valid Tai Chi system. Yet, virtually any Tai Chi system can make this claim.  So how do we distinguish a valid Tai Chi system from one that is not in our best interest?

To our knowledge there are only two systems of Tai Chi which are complete and valid.  These are:

1. The Original Yang Lu-Ch’an Tai Chi Chuan (Originally known as H’ao Chu’an, translated as “Loose Boxing”)

2. The Yang Cheng-Fu form (which was a watered down version of The Original Yang Lu-Ch’an Tai Chi Chuan) 

(Note: Please refer to this ARTICLE for more details.)

To avoid over complication I’ll focus strictly on the KEY points of what’s makes these Tai Chi systems “valid”.

1. Health – Only these systems follow the Horary Cycle. In other words, the sequential techniques/postures of the forms (with proper breathing and SUNG) activate each meridian in the correct sequence mimicking the 24 hour Horary cycle.  While other forms of Tai Chi DO NOT DO THIS and the end result can only be defeating. 

2.  Martial Arts – Virtually any Tai Chi motion can be manipulated to simulate a defensive technique.  But with the valid systems of Tai Chi you learn more than this, you also learn Dim-Mak.  Dim-Mak (literally meaning death touch) is the art and science of vital point fighting.  Vital points are the vulnerable areas of the body that when struck properly causes, is the best case scenario pain and the body to not function normally, and in the worst case scenario, results in death.

Some vital points are just structurally weak areas in ones anatomical construction (such as the throat, or knee cap, etc).  Most martial arts systems seem to focus on these structurally weak areas.  But there are other vital areas specifically related to points located on the various meridians.  The science of striking these points is a very advanced methodology of fighting.  For more details on Dim-Mak read this ARTICLE.

One of the numerous genius aspects of the valid systems of Tai Chi are that each technique is a finishing blow if used correctly in a fight.  The motions of Tai Chi are designed so that they strike vital points in the correct direction, and in proper succession with other points to optimize their defensive effectiveness.   In other words, one point can be used by itself or enhanced if used as a set up point for another succeeding point(s), etc.

So, Dim-Mak makes Tai Chi one of the world’s most deadly martial arts in that every single move can be a killing motion if, God forbid, such a need arose.   And while some may cringe at the idea of using Tai Chi as a killing system and thus may wish to focus only on its health benefits; well, this is a short sighted approach. It is like taking the Yin out of the Yang, the night from the day, the male from the female. It can’t be done without causing unfortunate side effects.  Therefore, Tai Chi MUST have both the Healing (Yin) and Fighting (Yang) aspect to be Balanced.

And when Tai Chi is practiced as a complete and Balanced discipline its side effect (beyond the above mentioned benefits) produce coordinate spiritual/meditative results often described as “moving meditation”. 

In summary, authentic Tai Chi stands out because:

1. Its techniques follow the Horary Cycle. 

2. Its Martial Arts system is the pinnacle of self defense based on the art/science of Dim-Mak.

3. When both the Health and Martial Arts are unified one attains Balance and gains optimal meditative/spiritual benefits.

Note: There are of course numerous other components of a healthy and holistic lifestyle which include proper diet/nutrition, proper hydration, social interaction, etc.  But Tai Chi is the perfect complement to virtually anyone’s lifestyle if they seek to live in a beneficial and holistic way.

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            Taekwondo is a very effective martial art with both its Mu Sool (Martial Skills) and moral tenets.  In this paper I will reveal little known advanced principles in Mu Sool vital point striking, many of which can be used effectively in taekwondo.

            Generally, when people think of taekwondo they see a martial art which utilizes phenomenal hand and foot techniques which are applied with focus, timing, speed and power against an attacking opponent’s weak areas (vital points). In this way, the resulting self defense applications have a much greater success in their effectiveness; as opposed to just punching or kicking randomly on the opponent’s body in hopes that you will defeat them.

            The intelligence of utilizing these vital points on the opponent’s body sets apart an advanced taekwondo practitioner from a novice.  But what if there was an even a greater methodology to vital point striking than what is typically known?  If so, this knowledge could further the advanced practitioners skills. Well, there is a more advanced science to vital point striking and to the Chinese it is known as the science of dim-mak.

* * *

 

            In order to accurately comprehend aspects of this paper, one needs to have some understanding of the energetic meridian based system found in traditional oriental medicine. Generally speaking, the human body has 12 bilateral primary meridians (see “Yin/Yang Channels” below). There are also two special vessels (the Conception Vessel – CV and the Governor Vessel – GV) that are not bilateral. These are singular channels, which follow the midline of the body, one in front and one on the back.

There are a number of ways in which the Primary Meridians can be classified. One method is to classify them into two groups, according to their polarity of Yin and Yang. The Chinese determined that some of the meridians are predominantly of Yin energy, and some are predominantly of Yang energy.  We will be referencing certain vital points and their corresponding numbers using the abbreviations found in this meridian system.  

Yin Channels (Organ) Yang Channels (Organ)

 

 
Lung (LU) Large Intestine (LI)
Spleen (SP) Stomach (ST)
Heart (HT) Small Intestine (SI)
Kidneys (KI) Bladder (BL)
Pericardium (PC) Triple Heater (TH)
Liver (LV) Gall Bladder (GB)

 

Number of Points on each Meridian

Governing Vessel = 27

Conception Vessel = 24

Lung = 11

Large Intestine = 20

Spleen = 21

Stomach = 45

Heart = 9

Small Intestine = 19

Kidney = 27

Bladder = 67

Pericardium = 9

Triple Heater = 23

Liver = 14

Gall Bladder = 44

Note:  Certain Meridian’s have more than one name and or abbreviation. Here are some examples:  Triple Heater (TH) could also be Triple Warmer (TW).  Large Intestine (LI) could also be Colon (CO). Bladder (BL) could also be Urinary Bladder (UB).

One additional but critical aspect to meridian vital point striking is in knowing the direction of the strike since different effects are produced depending on the angle of the strike.  This is important for single strikes as well as multiple strikes, and how they affect each other.  (refer to #4 below Dropping the Heart Rate”). 

In order to have a fundamental understanding of which direction to strike a point, one must first understand that the energy or (Ki) in the posterior meridians on the arms and legs flows in a downward fashion, while the Ki flows in an upwards direction in the anterior regions of the arms and legs. The energy flow in the torso and head can be a bit more complex to follow. 

Note: When one examines the numerical system along each meridian in acupuncture the ascending numbers reflect the direction of the energy (Ki). But with dim-mak vital point striking, one must think of the energy flowing in the opposite direction from acupuncture. For in dim-mak striking we are trying to hurt or kill, not heal.   

Next one must understand what effects the points, used individually or in combinations, have on the attacker. This science is very comprehensive and beyond the scope of this paper. If you would like to study this topic further I recommend the exhaustive works, “The Encyclopedia’s of Dim-Mak”, by Erle Montaigue and Wally Simpson.

* * *

 

There are five ways to cause a knock-out.  These five methods are the same ways one can also kill an opponent. So the utmost caution must be used when applying this knowledge.

Note: It is dangerous to knock someone out regardless of how it is done. We lose a few million-brain cells every time we are knocked out. Not to mention possible long-term damage and or death.

1. Head Trauma Black Out: (Blunt Trauma or Concussion)

Most of us know that a strong percussion type strike anywhere near the head, chin, face, etc., will cause a knock out. This is because these areas are vital to human survival and when struck, the brain simply causes the rest of the body to faint thus saving all of the energy and blood for the affected area. This is the first and most basic of the knock out techniques. This method is often seen in boxing or mixed martial arts fights.

 

2. Air Restriction to Lungs: (Lack of Air)

There are two approaches using this method.  The first one, and the one most often considered, would be to restrict air to lungs by cutting off the airway through a choking, compression, or crushing techniques on a person’s airway (larynx).  The second method causes the muscles around the lungs to constrict violently by going into spasm thus causing the person to black out. With this approach, using the meridian based system; we could, for example, perform strikes to ST 15 or to SI 11.  The strike to SI 11, which is located in the center of the scapular, will have the same effect as a good kick in the gut.

 

3. Stopping Blood Flow to Brain: (Lack of blood)

In this method the blood is restricted or stopped in its ability to get to the brain, such as a squeezing method which cuts off circulation to the carotid artery (a.k.a. the old sleeper hold).  One must be careful since prolonged constriction can cause brain damage or even death whereby the opponent may not revive.

If the person is knocked out or the heart has stopped from a sleeper hold type choke then we can use CPR.  Another approach is to lift him into a sitting position placing our hands under his chest from the rear and jerk him upward while squeezing inward lightly. This should bring him around. If not, a medium slap on the back in between the scapular should work.

 

4. Dropping the Heart Rate: (Shock, or rapid disruption of systems)

With this fourth method we would strike at vital points to cause the heart rate to drop, such as striking the carotid sinus or (ST 9). For another example, envision an attacker who uses a right arm hook punch. In defense, we could use our left palm swinging up and outwards in a blocking type motion striking the attackers point known as Neigwan or (PC 6).  The key to this block/strike, (Note: with dim-mak all blocking motions are in fact strikes or set-ups since blocks are seen more or less as wasted motion which makes one susceptible), is that we hit PC 6 in an adverse direction (against the flow of energy – or in this case, the direction of the attackers wrist) while virtually simultaneously we use our right palm striking to his carotid sinus point (ST 9).

There are three other organs which when struck in certain directions will also cause this blood pressure dropping effect. Gall bladder (or GB) and the intestines are the ones that are the easiest to get at. We have gall bladder points all over our bodies from the feet right up to the head and any of these points will cause the knock out when struck in the correct direction.  Take for example GB 14, located just above the eyebrow in the middle of the forehead.  This point can be struck in three different directions each causing a different effect.  For instance, if we strike with an upward blow to this point it causes what is known as an energy or Ki rush to the head resulting in a knock out or death. (Essentially the brain explodes energetically!) But if we use dim-mak points in a different way, they can also be used to heal. For instance, we know that the antidote for striking GB 14 is the point GB 21 just on the shoulders. If we put pressure onto this point and quickly brush to both sides, this will bring the Qi back down out of the head. And since striking GB 14 results in the exact same symptoms as a person suffering from a bad case of sunstroke, we know that GB 21 can also be used for sunstroke victims. In short, sunstroke and striking GB 14 are the result of too much yang energy in the head.

Another approach for striking GB 14 is to use a set-up point.  For example, if I block a punch by using an inwards strike towards me on the posterior side of the attackers arm, this accelerates the normal Ki flow; in analogy this would be just as if I was pushing water downstream.  This method with both water and Ki basically increases the rate of speed and volume.  Thus by causing the Ki energy flow to increase in the arm when striking a specific point, GB 14 will also become engorged with even more Ki than normal. And if GB 14 is struck at this instant and in an upward fashion, it causes an even greater energy rush type effect than by striking it alone, again resulting in a sunstroke type effect.

In another totally separate example, if I were to strike GB 14 in a downward fashion it would lower the blood pressure, which could cause the heart to slow dramatically or even stop thus causing knock out or death (from the heart not starting up again). And if I used a set-up point in conjunction with this point, the negative effects would be further enhanced.

Dim-mak becomes even more complicated when we learn that there are certain points that when struck will cause seemingly totally unrelated parts of the body to react. For instance, if SP 20 (Spleen 20) is struck in an inward manner, it will cause either the right or left leg (whichever side was struck) to lose control and the person will fall to the ground.

5. Neurological: (Disruption of nervous system)

An example of this type of knock out is an inwards strike to the chin which pushes it back towards the upper spinal cord area.  This causes pressure on the spinal column and results in a momentary blockage of information from the central nervous system to the brain. Neurological shut down is a strange human phenomenon, which the martial artist is able to use to his advantage. There are certain parts of the face which when struck with a slapping motion will cause the whole nervous system to shut down. Martial artists wanting to show off have used this practice for years. However, the dangers of this type of strike are even worse than the others. This is because it seems as if there has been no real damage but years later the recipient of such a strike suffers from mental illness, or in the very least becomes paranoid. Certain nervous disorders will also grow over the years, all of which could have been prevented if the person showing off wasn’t irresponsible or ignorant of the effects of the strikes.

* * *

 

To complete the science of vital points striking one must be knowledgeable of the following:

Location:

            Every vital point, whether it is associated to a meridian point or just some anatomical structure of the body, (the latter being something like the Adams apple), has a precise science on how to locate it. 

            For example, in oriental medicine each person can find points based on their very own anatomical body structure.  One such measurement is the width of one’s thumb (called an accu-inch).  One can therefore use their own accu-inch and measure out each meridian point with complete accuracy.  Suffice to say that no two accu-inches are exactly the same. An interesting side note here is that meridians also change their pathways in the body dependant on numerous factors such as diet, stress, sickness, etc.  In acupuncture these deviations are important to note.  However, the pathways rarely (if ever) deviate beyond the effectiveness of dim-mak.  In dim-mak one does not have to be as precise in relation to a point as say an acupuncturist would need to be.  As long as one strikes in the area around the point approximately the size of a large coin the strike will be effective. 

Connections:

One must learn how strikes (or healing) to certain points/meridians affect other meridians.

Direction of Strike:

            Some points only have one direction (straight in) while others have multiple directions, often with different effects.

Damage:

            Light, moderate and heavy strikes produce different effects. In some cases you may only wish to drain the energy of an opponent, while in other instances you may need to knock out or even kill an opponent.  (Refer to “five ways to cause a knock out”)  

Set-up point:

            Set-up points are those which when struck a split second before another point will enhance the effect of the main strike. These can be found on most of the main points used in real self defense techniques.

Antidote:

            Some points have antidote points which can be used to reverse the effect of the harmful strike. However, some points are so dangerous that there is no antidote.

Healing:

            No art in hurting or killing is complete without knowledge of how to heal. Although a martial artist isn’t a licensed medical doctor, they should have a decent understanding of healing techniques which they can apply in martial arts related situations/scenarios. Obvious approaches such as first aid and CPR are vital to any martial artist. But there are also methodologies whereby one can use meridian points in a healing way, such as using ones fingers, palms, elbows, etc, or even by running ones hands over the body without touching it projecting Ki energy to certain areas.

Applications:

            Finally, one must know effective martial art techniques (blocking, striking, grabbing, kicking, etc) to apply dim-mak.  Consider that many people create martial arts hyung (forms) merely for their dramatic look or beauty.  But serious martial artists know that forms contain real applicable techniques for real fighting.  They know that one technique is followed by another which has a direct subsequent fighting application (block followed by strike, etc). 

Yet in the case of even more highly developed martial arts which use dim-mak forms/techniques, we learn that the hyung strategy is taken to a whole new level. Not only is there a basic block/strike type application available for anyone to learn, there are also hidden applications for those who understand dim-mak.  In these hidden applications, one learns all of the above mentioned specifics (point location, direction of strike, etc).

***

 

            Obviously through learning dim-mak one can decisively enhance their martial art. Yet to truly complete ones martial art journey (“Do” or the Way) one must develop their character, ethics and spiritual values transcending ego, striving and attaining enlightenment.

Some of the major problems with many martial arts today revolve around the over emphasis towards merely pugilistic and strenuous training approaches.  Another major problem lies with instructors who are egotistical and need to be noticed, popular or famous at the expense of the students or art. With the advent and popularity of martial sports, such as Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), violent and fantasy martial arts video games/movies, and the overall tendency for instant (albeit superficial) gratification, many martial artists have lost sight of the deeper more perennial aspects of our art. Suffice to say that there is a disdain or just plain apathy towards the “Do” (Way).   

It’s not that hard to hurt or even kill someone with some training.  However ask yourself, can you heal just as well?  How’s your self defense as it pertains to not only your or others physical bodies, but how is your defense against the enemies of your own psyche, emotions and other debilitating faculties?  It is incumbent that we understand the vital points of our inner being and annihilate any area which threatens our inner mastery.  Mastery of one’s self and all else will follow.

References:

  1. http://www.yinyanghouse.com/
  2. http://www.taijiworld.com/
  3. Montaigue, Erle and Simpson, Wally; “The Encyclopedia of Dim-Mak”, Paladin Press, Boulder Co, 1997.
  4. Montaigue, Erle, “Dim-Mak: Death Point Striking”, Paladin Press, Boulder Co, 1993.
  5. Montaigue, Erle and Simpson, Wally; “The Encyclopedia of Dim-Mak: The Extra Meridians, Points and More”, Paladin Press, Boulder Co, 1997.
  6. 6.      Tedeschi, Marc, “Essential Anatomy: for healing and Martial Arts” Weatherhill, 2000.

 

Author: Brian Alexander

October 24, 2009

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Martial arts is a broad topic based on a philosophical, scientific, artistic and spiritual approach.  The following are eight categories within the martial arts framework known as Mu Sool (Martial Skills). (1)

  • Striking/ hitting techniques
  • Avoiding and blocking techniques
  • Holding or grabbing techniques
  • Throwing techniques
  • Weapons techniques
  • Internal techniques
  • Healing techniques
  • Spiritual or metaphysical techniques

 

Mu Sool can also be categorized into four divisions. (2)

  • Wae Kong  – which is the externalization of Nae Kong and deals with the offensive and defensive combative applications found within martial arts.

 

  • Nae Kong – which deals with one’s internal energy (Ki power).

 

  • Moo Gi Kong – which involves the offensive and defensive use of traditional weapons.

 

  • Shin Kong – which is the study, development, and control of the human mind in order to attain one’s full potential and mental capabilities.

 

In this paper, martial arts and Taekwondo (TKD) are considered dynamic based action philosophies of Asia.  Their pragmatic science, art and philosophies revolve around the Eastern macrocosmic principal known as the Universal Law (Tao) and its microcosmic counterpart the Law of Change (Um/Yang).   Both of these in synthesis are known as Samjae (Triple Essence) where in the universe is divided into Heaven, Earth and the Human being.

The force by which all action is utilized is known as Ki.  The human’s ability to tap into this life force, via technique, is critical to the quality of energy receptivity and output they wield.  Hence, the greater ones power, knowledge, etc, the greater their connection to the Tao and subsequent Ki accessibility.  This, in turn, is proportional to the degree of balance they consciously wield in the Law of Change through their daily activity or martial arts training.

I believe that such concepts are indispensable to a comprehensive martial art as a way-of-life (”way-of-life” denoting a direct integrative synthesis between martial arts and ones daily activities).  Martial arts cannot utilize these principles optimally if there is an excessive co-dependence with external resources, such as the sciences and technology.  In other words, personal power and mastery of self is the quintessential attribute for the martial arts practitioner.  Thus, personal power is the only power one truly has control over and so any attainable information must be integrated via personal experience for it to be optimally valuable.  Validating information from anything but personal experience, regardless of what the masses do via social science, etc, can only lead to personal neglect and ignorance if direct integration and comprehension isn’t obtained.

At present Taekwondo (TKD) integrates some of the aforementioned categories and philosophy through its four core training methods, which are patterns (poomse or hyung), breaking (kyukpa), sparring (kyorugi), and self-defense techniques (hoshinsul).  

However, I am of the opinion that TKD should strive to be a more inclusive martial art eventually expanding into all eight categories, etc.  It should predominately focus on holistic paradigms, which in turn engender a stronger connection to self and martial arts as a fulfilling way-of-life.

As the world’s largest martial arts organization, with approximately 5 million black belts and 50 million practitioners residing in 170 nations, TKD has the necessary groundwork to effectively change into a more comprehensive system. (3) Such a large organization offers a vast resource for empirical research and development unpararelled by any other martial arts organization.  Conversely a major draw back due to its size, is the ability to find consensus regarding valid or accepted techniques followed by the difficult task of accurate dissemination and integration.    

However, with the advent of science and technology there has been a monumental increase in communication mediums and modes of transportation.  Such ability has made the world community smaller, contributing tremendously to the possibility of  cosmopolitan growth via person-to-person interaction unlike any in history.  As such, it is my belief that TKD has current and future resources available to facilitate a workable plan towards making it a more comprehensive martial art.

A major argument against expanding TKD into a comprehensive martial art is the appeal towards simplicity.   The theory being that the simpler the art form the more attention to detail and the greater mastery one can obtain.  While this is certainly true from a certain perspective, (this simplicity reflected in TKD’s premise that using kicking and punching predominately can be effectively utilized in most traditional combat scenario’s regardless of the opponents style of combat), it is reasonable to conclude that a grounded knowledge in other methods of defense/attack can assist in certain combative instances that the current art of TKD is not fully prepared to respond to. 

After attending the first Korean Taekwondo Association Instructions course in 1994 and subsequentially two United States Taekwondo Union Instructor courses, I have witnessed a need for comprehensive growth in TKD.  For instance, instead of these seminars being held in a metropolitan area/hotel why don’t they hold mountain style retreats instead.  Doing this would foster a stronger connection to the roots of TKD, via a strong connection to nature and simplicity.  This would set the tone for a more holistic approach that would resonate with the majority of TKD practitioners and not just sport minded athletes.  (Of course such an environment shouldn’t totally dismiss the utilization of any facilities or modern approaches via media, etc, where they may be needed.)

Also, too much emphasis is put on sport TKD and its particular technical approach.  I don’t understand this trend since the use of the whole body is needed in fighting and to forgo implementing the hands, grabbing, takedowns, weapons, etc, is unrealistic and eventually damaging to TKD as a martial arts.  Further, there are ways of conditioning the hands, etc, for kyukpa using special training methods and liniment that do not scare, disfigure, callous or redden the limbs.  And even more advance methods of conditioning using danjon hohup and meditation, which go beyond mere physical conditioning.  A comprehensive understanding of vital points for martial and healing needs should also be integrated combined with western medical approaches.   Finally, the option to defend physically doesn’t mean that physical harm should always be the end result of the conflict.  Knowing and utilizing certain non-collision/ redirecting techniques on your opponent resulting in little to no physical injury should also be a realistic option in pugilism energy/efforts.

By implementing the various topics I have generally discussed throughout this paper in a systemized and thorough manner TKD can expand its technical and scholastic repertoire to a level that few martial arts organization/ systems can compare to.  Such a change would catapult TKD to the forefront of true comprehensive martial arts and gain the respect and admiration of the martial arts community in the world.

 My views on this topic and TKD began when I meant my Master Sung Hong Park.  At the time, (in my teens), I had already studied under my cousin in an eclectic form of Shotokan and was well read on a diverse collection of martial arts.  However,  I wanted formal education.  So I chose to study with Master Park since after our meeting, I felt he represented a true master. In actuality I never sought to study TKD per say. 

In the successive years I have evaluated my choice to remain in TKD.  Overall it has been very enjoyable and good to me and yet I have often felt an affinity towards a more comprehensive system of martial arts.  I was fortunate to have a Master who had a diverse background and so this need was some what satiated.  As I mature the need to see TKD grow into a comprehensive martial art increases.  This is further prompted by TKD’s trend to disproportionately revolve around the sport and or economic/business sides which often over-shadows what I connote as the traditional martial arts values of TKD.

The term “tradition” may be a misnomer since it often precludes a static unbending concept attributed to mere culture or race.  But to me a traditional martial art doesn’t reflect a static predilection to some group or culture without room for growth.  It includes research, development and innovation, which in turn are tempered with the long time tested values of sound perennial tradition and lineage which the individual can integrate into their lives.  There is room in TKD for tradition, sport and business.  In fact it would be imprudent to disavow either since each projects a certain social pragmatic value and philosophical development. But in my humble opinion the trend to focus TKD around either the sport and or business paradigms is not as beneficial as focusing on a comprehensive martial arts approach.

Bibliography:

(1)   Tedeschi, Marc. Hapkido,  2000: Weatherhill, Trumbull, CT, p.18.

(2)   Website, http://www.hwarangdo.com/hrd3.htm.

(3)   Tedeschi, Marc. Taekwondo. 2003: Weatherhill, Trumbull, CT, p. 32.

Author: Brian Alexander

November 2003

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