How is your training? What are you looking for? Is your evolution in the art in accordance with your expectations?
It’s necessary to answer the above questions to properly adjust your effort.
In present time the general tendency focuses in the sport area, leaving aside the other components of the Art.
Why do I have to train patterns if my wish is to excel in free sparring? Why do I have to train obsessively the sport combat system when my core interest is a better use of different techniques related with self defense?
It’s supposed that I have to fortify my hands and feet as to deliver a deadly attack to a vital spot on the opponent’s body. However, in the sport area such a blow is prohibited. Then, when I’m training the sport free sparring, am I toughening my self defense system or weakening it?
Why do I have to train patterns in details if I am not going to use such techniques in free sparring?
All these questions and probably more others come up to the mind of many practitioners who pretend to evolve in their training. Of course there is also the one who only thinks in his next tournament and all these questions are meaningless for him.
If you pay attention to the theoretical mandate, you’ll see that the cycle of Taekwon-Do is composed with several items that demand permanent training to be effective.
Nowadays the main purpose of the Art seems not to be taken into consideration. In our time the self defense is, for some institutions, an item of competition only, containing a lot of fancy coordinated choreographies as to show different abilities in flying kicks and spinning in the air. For other entities it turned into synchronized movements executed in slow motion. In both cases these abilities are only trained for those that will participate in the competition, but their study is not part of the regular instruction in class. In both cases the mentioned capacities are lacking the required spirit in a real self defense technique as to face a sudden attack. In other words this point is an exhibition for competition teams only.
Patterns are not anymore the vertebral column of the Art. They have also turned into in a sport item only.
It was already said that the biomechanical of the movements is executed with different characteristics that identify the institution that organized the competition. Power and the application of the movements are no more the targets to pursuit because the main goal is to apply obsessively the strict geometrics of the stances, which in most cases have a doubtful practical application due to its stiffness.
It is necessary to remember that the main critics done to the Taekwondo written altogether normally called world taekwondo, always was their great emphasis in calling the activity just a sport, denying the self defense purpose of the Art. Well, taking into consideration the training places where nowadays the Gral. Choi’s Taekwon-Do is taught, the only difference with the sport version utilized in the borrowed name, is the uniform’s design and the name and diagram of the patterns applied. In both places the training system used are related with the sport area only.
Is this actual fashion good? To answer this question it’s necessary that you reply the questions established in the beginning. Now, if your intention is to become in an integral Taekwon-Do’s practitioner, you’ll need to understand that the Art has a philosophy and a particular purpose that goes beyond the competition item and will demand to you a tougher training than those actually used to be successful in the sport area.
Toughening hands, forearms and feet and the resistance in receiving a blow was the normal routine.
Nowadays strengthening the hands is a target to pursuit only for those competitors in power breaking. It is more, some instructors says that such item it is not necessary letting aside the Taekwon-Do’s Founder command who always highlighted it requirement as unavoidable for a black belt.
It’s possible training both systems? Of course, it was always possible and so was done until the actual fashion was established.
Can the students change the training and go back to the integral training system?
It is very hard because the student depends of the Instructor’s training agenda.
What can they do? The answer is to follow the Instructor’s training system adding the personal toughening exercises, preferably with the Instructor supervision.
Are you a champion in free sparring or are you a champion in patterns competition?
What about your skill in self defense techniques? Do you trust your capacity in such item?
Taekwon-Do is an Art of self defense with a sport area and not vice versa. To be consistent on it, the whole training will be necessary. If you’re not practicing in such a way you’re not performing the Gral. Choi’s style in spite of the uniform you’re using and the names of the patterns you’re executing, You are only participating on a sport called Taekwon-Do…Or have you already begun to write its name altogether (taekwondo)?
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Senior Grand Master Ricardo Desimone
International Taekwon-Do Organization