A Legal TKD?

Human inventiveness is constantly surprising. The martial art known as Taekwon-Do, founded and developed by Gen. Choi Hong Hi, has undergone all kinds of modifications since his death: biomechanical, procedural, systemic, and administrative. However, a new way of referring to it has emerged from one of the many organizations claiming to develop it.

Until recently, this group claimed to be the official Taekwon-Do, but once it became clear that only an entity funded by public money and representing the state can be called official, they stopped using this adjective. One implication of claiming to be official was that selected competitors could demand coverage for travel and accommodation costs to represent the country (as part of an «official» delegation). Consequently, they stopped being official.

In response to this speculative mislabeling of a federation whose registration status is uncertain, a new ruse has emerged to differentiate itself while retaining a similar connotation. The new term used by this organization is «legal.» They self-proclaim as the legal Taekwon-Do, implicitly labeling others as illegal.

If we analyze the meaning of the word legal, the dictionary indicates it is an adjective meaning prescribed by law and in accordance with it. The question arises: what law has been enacted that designates this company as the heir to the founder’s legacy, disregarding all others (48)? Where and when was this law promulgated?

These questions have no answers. Therefore, there is no legal Taekwon-Do related to the creation made by its founder.

The only sporting activity under the name Taekwondo included in the Olympics is developed by the World Taekwondo Federation (WT). This federation can be called official and legal because its representatives are official representatives of their respective countries, and the entity itself is legal because it has been legislated to be recognized as the representative of the Olympic sport called Taekwondo.

This truth is painful for those of us who have supported and developed since its early days in the West the martial art called Taekwon-Do, founded by Gen. Choi Hong Hi. However, it is the truth; the rest is speculative. The rapprochements between South and North Korea are only goodwill missions (these countries have been in unresolved conflict since 1953) but have yielded no concrete results for the martial art or the sport.

The Founder of the art wrote an encyclopedia and his memoirs. Among the many interviews he gave and the many videos of his seminars, he is shown without double-talk. For me, what he narrated about the art’s history is sufficient. To doubt what is written in his books is to doubt his person. Why should I believe him when he talks about technical or philosophical development but not when he writes the history of what he did? If a 15-volume encyclopedia is not sufficient credit, it would be good for those who deny it to show their own.

In fact, speculative notes have recently appeared that cast doubt on what the Founder narrated in his literature. A political tinge emerges from them, contributing nothing to the practitioners or the body of instructors and Masters who develop the activity. While the General was alive, he had many critics, but none of them were significant. Moreover, none dared to confront him, despite his willingness to answer any questions posed to him.

As his translator into Spanish for interviews, seminars, and meetings with authorities, I can assert that he never had double-talk. However, there are always people willing to disparage his work and question his assertions now that he has passed away.

SGM Ricardo Desimone

 

Biomechanics

It is publicly known that the biomechanical diversity is one of several factors that feed the unnecessary creation of entities that claim to teach the art founded by General Choi Hong Hi.

In a note written some time ago, I’ve described how evolutionary has been the art over the years. However, this necessary evolution has contributed to several mischievous to do their pranks.

It is evident that Taekwon-Do offered by General Choi to the world in the late 60s and early 70s, has nothing in common with the biomechanical, aesthetic, protocol and pedagogical development instituted in the 80s and 90s in his hands “exclusively”. In the term exclusively is the key to what happened after his death.

The 15-volume encyclopedia of his authorship and with an exceptional photographic and narrative profusion leaves no room for doubts about how to move, the parameters to follow and the reasons that feed them. Quantities of videos of his seminars in different countries confirm what he said there. As a translator into Spanish of his condensed encyclopedia (1995 version), and assisted him in more than 10 of his seminars or IICs, and having received direct instruction from him, I can attest what I say.

The objectives to be achieved were the trigger for these evolutionary factors. The objectives haven’t changed in their unique martial destiny. In other words, if you don’t follow the pre-established parameters of that evolution, if you change something, the objectives inexorably will change. Yes, the goals have been changed. Who did it? The naughty ones mentioned above. And why have they changed them? Because they are more papist than the Pope, and they consider that the Pope didn’t know as much as they do, considering that necessary arrangements had to be made to improve the matter. The other reason is to put their heads out of the bag and say, here I am, in their need to advertise something that differentiates them from the rest and produce a better capture of members.

It’s very difficult to see what happened if you haven’t been, as it is my case, practically since the beginning of art in the West. To order the narrative, let’s say that the biomechanics, the aesthetic, the protocol and its pedagogical system have been altered, modified after General passed away.

The emphasis placed on the creation of a misunderstood sine wave has been exacerbated, to the point of take away the practical usefulness of certain movements and kicks. It is very easy to see the exaltation of exhibitionism and not the effectiveness. The semantics of the words corroborate this, the exhibitionist dedicates himself to exhibiting and show their “abilities” without caring too much if what he does is useful or not, if he can apply it or not in actual self defense. On the other hand the practitioner is who uses what he has learned to reach the targets, who sets in motion the mechanisms based on effectiveness.

The necessary, inevitable and natural sine wave that feeds the creation of greater power in performances is produced in a static and dynamic way. When it is well understood and well taught, movement retains its naturalness. When pedagogically the opposite happens naturalness disappears and the power is reduced due to the use of an erroneous methodology.

The human body is provided with several joints in its lower extremities, therefore we are a walking sine wave without realizing it. The General insisted in his seminars on the need to be relaxed in the execution of the movements.

There are biomechanical teachings that erroneously incite to forcibly muscle tension to maintain the vertical of the spine. With an unnecessary cervical and shoulder muscle stiffness and with the execution of a robotic, unnatural movement you’ll obtain the opposite result than those looked for. Until the present, I still hear the voice of Gen. Choi insisting in his seminars: «both arms and both legs must be properly bent while the movement is in motion.»

Today, however, the opposite is taught. In order to transfer the body weight in a dynamic and descending way (from a walking stance to another walking stance), the performer is asked to raise his structure by extending the knee of the supporting leg when he moves, creating with this erroneous execution the saw tooth wave, considered from theory and practice as a factor to reducing power, in other words contrary to the desired result.

With a single action is enough to show what happen. Look at a performer’s posture when making a power break with their hands and you’ll notice the absence of cervical and shoulder muscles tension when he moves toward the target. If this were not the case, its execution would be a failure due to the lack of speed.

Patterns (Tul) are there to help us to improve our biomechanics and not to hinder it. Patterns should help us to know and execute movements that we can’t find in combat with a single oponent.

For some years now, unnatural biomechanical parameters have been created and competition judges have been trained in this regard. Therefore, when the judge does not find the absurdity that has been sold to them as good in the performers, they deduct his score. In other words, stiffness, never taught by the founder of the discipline, is rewarded.

Would you use for your actual self-defense against one or more opponents the robotic movements you have been told to do when training patterns? If the answer is no, I think something is wrong with the biomechanics of your training.

SGM Ricardo Desimone

Decisions

Generally speaking, to take a decision is the act of choosing or selecting something.

It’s established that countless private enterprises under the same name but with little curious details added, advertise that they teach Gral. Choi’s Taekwon-Do. They also say they are the original one and the best to follow the Founder’s legacy, but none it is. As his direct student, translator into Spanish of his Encyclopedia (1995 version), several IIC, seminars and interviews (written and by radio and TV), I can assure that Gral Choi, never gave to nobody such entrustment. The Instructors and Masters of those times, today became in GMs, knows that the Founder of the Art, always carried on with his wishes which were let in written in his memories, Encyclopedia and interviews, that his creation is totally independent.

As he used to say, Taekwon-Do has no boundaries of countries, race and none religious or ideological dependence. It is also true that Taekwon-Do born in South Korea while he was an army commander in its arm forces. It’s true that he was born where nowadays is known as North Korea and it is also true that he has gone there to die only because it was his last wish; another interpretation is a mere political speculation with dark intentions behind it.

Taekwon-Do was founded as a martial art by Choi Hong Hi. It was systematized by him with an effective pedagogical development. None of the entities who use the same name and publish to teach the general Choi’s discipline follows his pedagogical system.  These teach with sporting methods but using the general Choi’s name and his picture to capture students. It’s evident that they are only sport training places as previous step to take these students to participate in championships.

The question is:  what are the students looking for? Are they looking for becoming in a fighter by free? Or they are looking for a discipline who promotes a deep knowing about its philosophy with a revolutionary biomechanical development that increases their physical power in techniques of self defense?

At present to become in a fighter by free is not a good deal. In boxing, MMA or in other fighting sport systems there are fighters, but nobody by free. One thing is going to compete in some Taekwon-Do’s sporting event to know or check its own capacities in a controlled confrontation and another thing is to be part of a circuit whose earnings are darkly established.

Which is the final goal in Taekwon-Do? a medal?, a trophy? or a good handle about self defense?

It is necessary to take into consideration that there is a huge difference between both targets.

When you’re training only the sport area, your mind will be trained in that sense, however the martial arts’ mind have to be built with other parameters.

In the sporting area the final target is to gain one or more points over the average of your opponent using protections authorized by the tournament’s organizer and following the rules and commands of the umpires.

In self defense there are no rules, no protections and no umpires. The unique trophy is to remain alive.

As it is possible to see, a big difference exist between both offers as different will be the training to get the goal. The decision is yours.

SGM Ricardo Desimone

To be aware ready again the previous notes

The era of seminars

Most likely, the majority are unaware that, in the early days of the discipline in the West, everything revolved around attending the practice venue. The Instructor/student relationship was the gateway to guidance and knowledge of the sought-after skills.

The emergence of literature related to the martial art being practiced (in our case Taekwon-Do, even before its divisions), made it possible to access information that was difficult to acquire due to language barriers and limited class time, which conspired against accessing such explanations.

The rise of supposed «gurus» with exotic appearances and half-hearted explanations sold non-existent Oriental mysteries.

Did you know that very few Orientals seriously delve into martial arts? Did you know that only a handful of them have theoretical/practical knowledge about these arts? Did you know that many of them take advantage of their Oriental background to sell non-existent mysteries from that part of the world to the West because they realize that Westerners are inclined to buy and idolize them?

Well, if you believe that learning the art from an Oriental guarantees something different, that’s your choice, but remember, despite that preference, there is an undeniable truth that KNOWLEDGE HAS NO RACE.

Today, this market is not only for Orientals but has also been invaded by others who exploit it, many of them audaciously since their pedagogical skills leave much to be desired. However, the real needs of practitioners are no different from the original ones.

Why would you want to become an International Instructor if what you teach needs to be endorsed by supposed Masters or Grandmasters who, to justify their position, will say things that are not what you claim? Isn’t this a veiled way to undermine you, the International Instructor, in front of the students you bring to these «international seminars or courses»? Perhaps this is one of the reasons that promote the frequent switching of schools.

If we put things in perspective, we must agree that an International Instructor seminar is for International Instructors (4th Dan and above with certification for that specialty) and not for lower ranks. Of course, gathering thirty or forty black belts of 4th Dan and above is not the same, economically speaking, as assembling two hundred or three hundred lower-grade black belts, who, despite attending these courses, will not change their level because they lack the time for it and the maturation on their grades .

Is an International Instructor seminar a place to generically dictate whimsical technical combinations of strict sports application? Is that the purpose for which the attendees were called? For many, it’s also a good opportunity to acquire another certificate to add to their personal collection.

I believe an International Instructor Seminar should be directed exclusively at this hierarchical level. Only International Instructors recognized by the institution offering the course and those who have accumulated the credits for promotion should attend, not lower grades. Lower grades (1st to 3rd Dan) should be taught by these International Instructors; otherwise, the order of ranks in the Black Belt ladder would be absurd and unjustifiable. It would be like giving authority only to take it away.

To hold an International Instructor seminar, a unique place must be occupied, granted by the institution that congregates, and be impartial in its linguistic and technical use. However, being promoted to the highest rank of the art does not authorize one to occupy such a place. We know many instructors holding the highest rank (9th Dan) have knowledge often not commensurate with that degree.

This place must be granted unanimously and not contain expressions and actions that create discrepancies or doubts.

To be called a seminar, the source of information must be of the highest level, which doesn’t only mean the highest rank. Both should coincide, yet we know that often they do not.

 

Longevity in the discipline is sometimes confused with knowledge and pedagogical ability. The field of pedagogy is a separate skill that requires scientific training to transfer knowledge unequivocally, in an impartial language, and with unique biomechanics.

The only person to hold such a position so far has been Gen. Choi Hong Hi. The rest only fed the nowadays divisions.

According to the dictionary, a seminar is: a specialized meeting with a technical and academic nature whose goal is to conduct an in-depth study of a certain subject and where theoretical/practical harmony is sought.

As can be seen, this has nothing to do with showing or trying to «teach» punches and kicks of strict sports application with fleeting uses for effective self-defense.

All calls that deal with sports aspects are merely special classes; seminars, when they are occasionally necessary, are something else and should be treated with the seriousness detailed in this note.

Senior Grand Master Ricardo Desimone

To be aware read again the previous notes

Humpty Dumpty

As you know, comparisons are sometimes inevitable. I’ve been watching TV series and noticed how the same names are used over the years for different things. One of them is a very popular English nursery rhyme whose name is similar to that of a large cannon used in the English Civil War (1642-1649), the name is Humpty Dumpty. The antagonism is so notable that it instinctively demands attention.

A cannon is a cannon and has no other purpose than to destroy each time it comes into action. In the nursery rhyme, interestingly, that name is also associated with destruction, but with a child-like figure in the shape of an egg.

However, and when it breaks, it’s also complete destruction like the outcome produced by the cannon. The destruction is so great that I found the comparison with the element that brings us together in our daily work inevitable. We belong to a martial art called Taekwon-Do founded by General Choi Hong Hi in South Korea on April 11, 1955. This man also created an international federation to contain his creation within this administrative system and to develop it worldwide.

That federation grew internationally very quickly, just like the art also created by him, even with internal attacks by people who couldn’t accept such success. When this entity increased its development, political ambitions used this name to obtain an Olympic status, setting aside its martial origin and disguising it as a sport. The determination of its founder kept it in the martial field with a sportive facet, and openly his speech talked about the political maneuvering. Over the years, that fight shows the tenacity of the Founder, which was accompanied by the success of his art worldwide.

His death allowed the appearance of opportunism. Another story began to be written with the art and with the entity where it was administratively contained. His art was no longer his art. The entity was no longer his entity; it wasn’t even called by the same name. Why? Because the name is similar but with some words added or signals that differentiates them. When an entity is unique, it allows controlling the handling of the art in all its aspects: times between categories, abilities, uniforms, sport rules, ranks, and recognitions. Diversity is the complete opposite.

For all of us who have been in this activity since its beginnings in the West, we have an inevitable comparison between the fate of the character from the nursery rhyme and that of the federated Entity created by the Founder of Taekwon-Do.

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall

All the king’s horses and all the king’s men

Couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty together again

SGM Ricardo Desimone

To be aware read the previous notes again

The reason for the system

Many things have been said about different training’s procedures. Vast majority put a great emphasis on their sport application, letting see a fantasy in it successful application and putting again the cart before the horses. The excessive way of seeking sport’s success has led to a modification of the training system and the way of instructing discipline.  In the current way of teaching, important factors for the student’s evolution are ignored.

The unequivocal statistic that only 20% of students are interested in participating in sports competition has been set aside. This fact shows us that the remaining 80% are forced to train unintended goals.  Among the factors that have ceased to be considered in training and even in courses and seminars, are the age and physical structure of the students.

On many occasions they are required to achieve things that they are unable to obtain: acrobatics with consecutive turns and repetitive kicks that are used in the Olympic system that use the same name but without practical application in self-defense. To apply with it some training systems that are foreign to this art have been incorporated without necessity with the illusion of improving the performance of the students: jumping on car tires or small obstacles consecutively, etc.

Gen. Choi refers to the obligatory need to consider the personal conditions of each individual in the learning process and developing Taekwon-Do techniques, to such an extent that he advises adapting the patterns (tul) to the possibilities of the student and not vice versa (Vol. 1 page 76 of the Encyclopedia of his authorship).  Curiously, and having been his translator in more than 10 International Instructor Seminars among many other events, he never did any reference to the benefits of sports free combat, in fact, he considered it absurd and lacking of experience to teach technical combinations for that type of combat.

This is understandable due the physical difference and receptiveness of the participants that could be very notorious. An exercise of exclusive sporting application for free combat confrontations should not be unified in an order. Unifying combinations of legs and hands without considering the physical differences of the participants should be avoided. If you have among your students in your class or in a course several persons who are over fifty years of age and other of different ages but younger than these, it is improper and ineffective to demand an imitation of a technical combination that could be performed by younger people but not by the older. The same criterion is applicable for different physical structures and weights beyond their age.

Taekwon-Do is a martial art and as such, demands rigorous and specific training for the effectiveness of its achievements. This training is indicated and pre-established for a gradual growth of the psychophysical possibilities of people of both sexes who have decided to be part of this discipline.

Nowadays, the sporting aspect has been developed excessively. The true essence of the martial art and the training that it demands for its objectives, have been left aside.

Why follow the system?

Because you’ll find that the training proposed by its founder entails a different use of the personal possibilities of each student.

Training and strengthening the different parts of the body is undoubtedly a basic requirement. Nowadays it has become fashionable to train only what is related to sports combat, avoiding everything inherent to the martial art in its different aspects and psychophysical rigors, necessary for a successful self-defense. The system has been proposing this since its inception but has been ignored.

Sports’ training only aims to improve performance in this exclusive field.

SGM Ricardo Desimone

To be aware read again the previous notes

Ignorance

Normally, ignorance and lack of adequate training lead to mistakes. Most human beings errors and mistakes are due to the lack of information on a particular subject, a job to be executed or in the pursuit of an achievement.

The media have evolved exponentially, in such a way that the negative factors mentioned above are incomprehensible. However, as an act of stubbornness, information and the means to obtain it continue to be ignored on countless occasions.  We must recognize the enormous effort that some people do to force disinformation, highlighting the inevitability way to errors.

There is no better candidate than an unaware person to buy what is sold to him, he has no tools to be sure if what they told him is true or not, right or wrong.

In Taekwon-Do such circumstances are an everyday issue. Countless «seminars» or «master classes» are given by those who occupy places by degrees or hierarchies acquired between cocks and midnight. The rank would have to be matched with the knowledge that the holder of that ranks has, however in extraordinary occasions that is the case.

Excessive sportsmanship is a determining factor for such a thing to happen. Every day there are «seminars» where they teach how to fight…????  and where the techniques or combinations to apply  are general orders regardless of the physical or different ages of the students.  I think it is appropriate occasion to remember that General Choi never did such a thing, not because he couldn’t, but because he considered it inappropriate.

How they indiscriminately teach technical combinations that may be are good for some people and terribly inadequate for others!

There is an obvious critical path to avoid regression. Any information not based on a theoretical approach or basis is a shot in the dark. Any theoretical excess, without practical application, only leads to a mere intellectual exercise. This critical path: theory, system and its application allowed the founder of art to fix the disorders that different «connoisseurs of the thing» had scattered all over the world. Of course, this lasted until he lasted. Since then, a path has been set up that permanently feeds division. Therefore, just as the information is divided, so are the results.

How are you going to explain the philosophy of art to those who don’t understand art, to those who only consider Taekwon-Do as the perfect place for exchanging kicks and punches? How you’re going to explain the theory to increase the power in the use of tools for defense and attack to those who have not even read the factors that feed it?

How can you explain the application of Newtonian laws to someone who doesn’t know their existence? However, this is done; it is sown in arid soil, many times intentionally. Therefore, the result is often discouraging. On one occasion, faced with this observation, a today GM present there was able to say, I need that kind of people, I live from them.  Ignorance is often the mother of mistakes, false beliefs, and the purchase of inadequate prophets. Taekwon-Do is the opposite.

SGM Ricardo Desimone

To be aware read the previous notes

Fallacies

A fallacy is an invalid or erroneous form of reasoning that appears to be correct. It is a deceptive or inaccurate (fallacious) form of reasoning that aims to be convincing or persuasive. All fallacies are forms of reasoning that violate some logical rule.

The preceding description is crucial and important because it provides an explanation for the current state of our art. Many entities offer fallacious explanations to justify their existence.

In a previous note, I expressed my astonishment when someone counted 42 entities using the same acronym to promote the discipline created by General Choi Hong Hi. Each of them claims to be different from the others, and to highlight this difference, they add another acronym or word. Phrases are not lacking to attract followers to their lines: this is the official Taekwon-Do, a united Taekwon-Do, for a better Taekwon-Do, we are a family, etc.

They all have things in common: the use of the acronym that identifies an administrative system they have turned into a style and the photo of General Choi. Apart from this, everything else consists of discrepancies with the system originally founded and exponentially evolved by its founder.

The first question that arises on this matter is: Why, if General Choi created a single Taekwon-Do, are there now different versions of it? They have divergent biomechanical versions, different training systems and uniforms, etc. But all claim to be, without being so, what the General founded.

For those of us who belonged to the pioneer generation in countries where Taekwon-Do began to spread outside Korea, all this mishmash tastes like opportunism. In fact, many practitioners have realized this and try to take advantage by changing «schools» to be promoted to ranks that, if there were a serious and unique regulatory entity, they could never attain.

Black belts with very high ranks that, due to age and background, they would not have been able to achieve. There are Federations and Associations that falsely use those names because legally they are not.

In conclusion, we must acknowledge that, as has happened with other disciplines, the fragmentation of the original administration of Taekwon-Do has turned the fragmented parts into schools, so far without the possibility of reunification and using legally unregistered names for their purposes.

A positive step is to become aware of this reality. This will allow us to understand that a world, continental, national, or neighborhood champion is only such in the school (called «federation,» «association») that organizes that sports event, and other schools will hardly recognize them as such.

Fifty years have passed since the first division that took practitioners from all latitudes as unwitting hostages to the political ends that produced it. These are until now, without a solution.

Twenty-one years have passed since the fragmentation of the administration that General Choi founded and presided over. These are until now, also without a solution. In jurisprudence, it is said that time is the truth that escapes. Here, paraphrasing that saying, it can be said that time is not only the truth that escapes but also the possibility of unification that dissipates. Thank you for your time.

SGM Ricardo Desimone

to be aware read again the previous notes

Average

It is very challenging to assimilate the current trend in the development of Taekwon-Do, especially if one has been involved in the art from its very beginnings in the West. The problem is that this discipline was conceived as a martial art with a sports aspect, but now we are moving in the opposite direction.

It has become so important to win a medal or a trophy that hardly anyone pays attention to the fact that the martial feature of the art is diminishing. Beyond the technical differences between organizations, many world champions in patterns (Tul) have a high level of expertise in that particular area of competition, but their performance in combat or power breaking is often unknown.

The same thing happens with many world champions in sparring. Their skills are excellent in that specific area of competition, but it’s usually very difficult to find any of them excelling in other aspects of the sport.

For those who think that Taekwon-Do is about fighting, it is essential to remind them that Taekwon-Do is not about fighting; it is a martial art for self-defense. You may have to fight to defend yourself, but there is a vast difference between fighting for a medal and fighting for survival.

The combat system in the sports arena involves defeating a single opponent without causing serious harm within a limited area, with limited tools, in a set time, following rules, with various protective gears, and under the supervision of a referee. It’s obvious that such circumstances do not exist in self-defense. In the sport arena, you will never have to deal with a hold, fight on the ground, or be attacked by two or more opponents. Then why train more than six or seven techniques that are the average you’ll need to fight in the sport area. But what happen with the other 3.200 techniques of the art?

And for those who only train in patterns to become a champion in that small segment of the art without testing their skills in a real confrontation, have you ever trained how to release a hold? Have you ever trained your hands for material breaking, or do you only attempt it when it’s time to be examined?

Did you know that to be successful in a confrontation against multiple opponents, you need to train that aspect with the same dedication and repetition as when preparing for a tournament against a single adversary?

In summary, you need to understand that Taekwon-Do is a martial art composed of various areas that require training with the same dedication you put into your preferred aspect. Taekwon-Do is not fighting, it is not patterns, it is not only breaking materials, it is not just theory and it is not reciting its philosophy, Taekwon-Do is all of these together.

Many times, black belts are tested by a board that asks them to escape holds or break materials they have never trained for; in other words, they are expected to demonstrate what they should know to honor their rank. The question is: are they trained to meet this demand, or do they do the best they can with evident lack of adequate preparation?

I believe that the current instruction is focused solely on competition, then, the other items will be out of training, pushing the candidates to be promoted doing what they can.

To be honest, the required response for a black belt to honor their rank is to be proficient in all aspects, not just one. A black belt should be an average. After to master such knowledge, if the person wants to be a competitor is his or her choice but not in the contrary. To achieve this, it is necessary to change the current training and mindset regimen.

SGM Ricardo Desimone

To be aware read again the previous notes

A martial art is also a healthy art

In an alarming article published in a newspaper in Puerto Rico (San Juan Star), there was a description of what happened to a police officer from California when he was going to train at a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu place. While applying a technique of this art or sport, I’m not really sure what it is, he suffered a knee flexion pressure that forced him to stop practicing. He also had a great difficulty in working at his full capacity for more than six months. This article triggered a serious reflection on one of the proposals of Taekwon-Do in its connection to health. General Choi Hong Hi, as the founder of Taekwon-Do, always cared about the health benefits that Taekwon-Do training brings. Moreover, this is well explained in his Encyclopedia (Volume I, pages 69 to 72).Personally, I have given lectures on this topic, mentioning the benefits and advantages of practicing this martial art in various important places (Rotary Club in San Juan and the School of Medicine and Sciences in Ponce, both in Puerto Rico), among others. The original sports rules of Taekwon-Do spoke of stopping strikes 2 cm from the target when using bare hands, producing a light touch when using pads or protectors. It’s important not to forget that Taekwon-Do as a martial art is about directing kicks and hand strikes to critical points for use only in self-defense. Time has passed, and the current wave of tournaments has led to indiscriminate use of attack tools, forgetting the original intention of prioritizing the participants’ health. Boxing and MMA have professional participants who typically risk their physical integrity for money, not for a medal. That’s their job. Professional boxing and MMA are not considered martial arts; they are sports with a high risk to the human body’s integrity. To understand this point clearly, it is necessary to define what a martial art is. Martial arts are military arts or arts used in times of war. So, the intent of a tool applied in self-defense is very different from the same technique used in a sports competition. The rules, referees, judges, and organizers will never admit a martial intent in competition. Nobody wants a death in a confrontation. Killing or severe injury would be the result of a martial dispute. Being recognized or not with a medal is the outcome in a competition. A strike due to a controlled attack on some part of the body is accepted in martial arts training, but not an injury that prevents normal social development. Any contact to the head is considered dangerous because of the potential consequences that can appear over time. All individuals who participate in professional confrontations are aware of this; however, they accept the physical risk because of the money involved. Eastern martial arts were originally developed for wartime use. Over time, they became social practices in that part of the world. In the twentieth century, due to immigration from people of Asian origin, these arts became known in the West. Under proper regulation, some of them became Olympic sports. In Taekwon-Do, the health benefits are very well explained. Those entities and instructors who do not adhere to this basic consideration should be socially rejected due to the risk involved in such practice and should be considered misleading by the general audience. It is necessary to remember that children are involved in martial arts practices. Parents take them to martial arts training seeking discipline, proper use of social relationships for their personal lives, and basic knowledge of self-defense to prevent bullying in their schools. Occasionally, these aspects are forgotten in the hands of instructors who have lost that goal in their pursuit of a winner. Instruction in martial arts is one that encompasses all aspects of life: health, discipline, philosophy, and proper relationships. In other words, it can be a wonderful way to help the human being. In the wrong hands, it can become the opposite. Thank you for your time.

 SGM Ricardo Desimone

To be aware read again the previous notes