Unique to Taekwon-do?

Discussion in 'Tae Kwon Do' started by Smitfire, Nov 23, 2015.

  1. Smitfire

    Smitfire Cactus Schlong

    Having recently got back into TKD I'm looking at it afresh.
    Especially in light of my experiences in other arts in the intervening time between being "in" TKD initially and then now.
    Trying to pick through the "DNA" of TKD and making sense of how it is today and what I can draw from it.

    In particular I'm wondering what is "unique" to TKD? Anything?

    We all know (I hope) that the major component of ITF TKD is re-jigged and re-arranged shotokan karate (which is in itself re-jigged okinawan karate).
    We all know (again I hope) that Won hyo is very similar to Pinan ichi/Heian nidan and Po Eun is clearly drawn from the tekki/Naihanchi katas. Most of the other kata have elements that are almost directly taken from Karate kata. Many of the main techniques have direct Karate equivalents (obverse/reverse punch, middle blocks, low blow, rising block, front kick, side kick etc).

    So where do any additions or subtractions come into effect?
    Any additions from other arts?
    The encyclopedia has Judo throws for example but these don't seem widely taught in TKD. Hee il Cho has incorporated boxing style punching into his TKD from the early 80's IIRC and some of the early military pioneers also had boxing experience.
  2. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    TKD revolutionised kicking.
  3. ap Oweyn

    ap Oweyn Ret. Supporter

    I haven't been in taekwondo for years and years. When I was doing it, I think it was ITF taekwondo. Though I'm absolutely sure that it wasn't a big point of discussion back then. It was just taekwondo. In any event, it was the modified Shotokan you mentioned.

    Since then, I've seen a lot more WTF, etc. And that does look mechanically unique to the karate I've (briefly) practiced and the taekwondo I practiced. So I feel like it really rather depends on what taekwondo we're talking about.

    That said, I don't particularly object to it if it is simply a repackaging of Shotokan.
  4. Thomas

    Thomas Combat Hapkido/Taekwondo

    I am "OK" with looking at it as 'repackaged Shotokan' as well.

    Where I think there is some uniqueness is in more of the WTF/Kukki style of sparring and training... especially the herky-jerky footwork and the spinning/jump/multiple part kicks. They themselves may not be totally unique to Taekwondo, but I think their application, especially under the WTF ruleset for sparring, makes for a unique experience in training.
  5. bassai

    bassai onwards and upwards ! Moderator Supporter

    Sine wave movement ?
  6. Smitfire

    Smitfire Cactus Schlong

    I didn't mean "repackaged shotokan" to be disparaging. Just a fact really.
    I'm just trying to unwrap the wrappings of TKD's muddy heritage and see what's inside.

    Yeah....erm...erm...you can keep that to yourself mate. Ain't no sine wave in my TKD (apart from the natural rise and fall and sinking of weight found in all arts). :)
  7. bassai

    bassai onwards and upwards ! Moderator Supporter

    It's the only "real" difference I've ever heard of , Shotokan has always emphasised keeping on a level , much like a cat stalking.
  8. Smitfire

    Smitfire Cactus Schlong

    How many Shotokan kata you know bassai? I suppose it'd take someone with a knowledge of both systems to see what made the transfer over from shotokan to TKD?
  9. Ben Gash CLF

    Ben Gash CLF Valued Member

    The PJs
  10. ap Oweyn

    ap Oweyn Ret. Supporter

    I've only done about 6 months of Shotokan in college, and 5 years of taekwondo (more years ago than I care to contemplate). I didn't learn more than one Shotokan kata, and I couldn't tell you which one. So I can't speak to that question. But more generally, I could identify a few differences. Many of them may well come down to teaching style though, rather than actual technical differences between two styles.

    Aside from more attention being paid to different nuances, the big thing was (unsurprisingly) the kicking. In Shotokan, I noticed the comparatively small hip commitment in kicking. In taekwondo, I was used to a lot of hip commitment. Side kicks would result in my back being partially turned to an opponent (though obviously not so much that I couldn't see them). Round kicks would involve the base foot turning all the way over. In Shotokan, the base foot was more like 45 degrees turned over. The hip felt "closed" to me during a kick because we didn't turn our hips over as far as I was used to.

    That's not a criticism. I think it speaks to kicking within the broader context in each style. In Shotokan, the hands are more dominant than in taekwondo. A closed hip when kicking brings the hands to bear more quickly again when the kick is finished. The hip doesn't have to return as far to position for a reverse punch, for instance. The more committed hip turn of taekwondo felt like it lent itself more to a followup with (you guessed it) another kick.

    This may have been one of those teaching differences, but I felt like the body angling (taisabaki) was more emphasized in Shotokan. We learned the traditional blocks in taekwondo, but I felt like my shoulders were generally squared in both the blocks and counterpunches. In Shotokan, we angled our hips and shoulders during blocks, which made a lot more sense given my experience of arnis in between the two styles. Evasion, angling, footwork. I could see all of them in Shotokan, where I couldn't in taekwondo as much.
  11. bassai

    bassai onwards and upwards ! Moderator Supporter

    Confidently ? Maybe 15.
    I suspect JWT may be able to offer more insight , maybe Mitch ?
  12. EmptyHandGuy

    EmptyHandGuy Valued Member

  13. Mitch

    Mitch Lord Mitch of MAP Admin

    The freedom for moving up and down whilst stepping is important. Not the requirement note, not the exaggerated sine wave of recent years, just letting the body move more naturally. Dr Kim described it to me as Shotokan plus Korean body culture, the way a Korean moves.

    Also the hip movement is different, even in those of us training old school TKD. We'll actually move the hips in the opposite direction to at least some Shotokan guys during a low block for example, at least from my limited understanding of Shotokan.

    Ap's point about the hip engagement in kicks and the resultant change in angle of the supporting foot is a good one, and something JT and I have discussed before.

    My own experience does not chime with his comments on angling though, both from the point of view of individual techniques, where shoulders and hips should be angled when blocking for example, but also from the point of view of sparring, where the more continuous nature of TKD sparring tends to lead to more angling and evasion.

    I have a hunch that studying the stepping movements of Shotokan would lead to some interesting thoughts for TKD, as the greater use of grabs, sweeps, unbalancing etc must relate to c stepping and attacking/wedging/stopping an opponent's knee, something TKD doesn't look at enough.

    Just a few thoughts to start with :)

    Oh, and the PJs are very different Ben. TKD guys are even wearing man made fibres, stretch fibres etc these days, certainly not heavy gis! For most this is for athleticism, for me it's more about the paunch :D

  14. Earl Weiss

    Earl Weiss Valued Member

    As General Choi acknowledges no one person or country can lay claim to having invented martial art techniques. He analogize it to developing the wheel or discovering fire. May simultaneous developments. Having said that and depending on what your frame of reference is since there is some debate in Shotokan circles as to what some things should be, many "Karate" practitioners use deeper less mobile stances. The reason might be found in the "deeply rooted" idea of Shotokan even to the extent of the legend of Fuankoshi standing on a roof in a Typhoon to test his deeply rooted stance as comapared to TKD making power while moving or jumping.

    As with many things there is much overlap , but lead leg kicking used in TKD does not seem prevalent in Karate. One seminar I attended had a Karate guy showing deep stances needed to score well in Kata competition an showing how it was needed for a powerful rear leg kick. Worked for him, but for TKD people who may want to do a lead leg kick it was counter productive. There are myriad other differences such as placement of arm for low outer forearm block finish and if hand chambers over or under for rising outer forearm and reasons for each.

    Then again I have seen Okinawan stylists use many kicks and when I asked about the seemingly large variety the answer was because it was an Okinawan style and not japanese KArate.
  15. Mitch

    Mitch Lord Mitch of MAP Admin

    Most people have two arms and two legs so there are always aspects of similarity. I don't think there's any question of where the TKD patterns came from though :)

  16. ShogunGall

    ShogunGall Valued Member

    I think that it's not necessarily a matter of the moves that are unique to tkd per se, but rather the style of the moves/fighting.

    For example, one could say that all of boxing's moves are found in other martial arts (yes I know that bobbing, weaving etc is unique but I'm just trying to make a point :) ). Despite this, nobody discredits boxing, but rather acknowledge it as the king of punching.

    The same could be said for tkd, although it's moves/poomsae are not necessarily different, the footwork and long range kicks that are used for speedy attacks make it uniquely it's own martial art.

    Even in comparison to shotokan one could say they are very different, but I think due to shotokan's emphasis on precision, as well as taekwondo's emphasis on lightening fast kicks (I mean even their spinning kicks happen so quickly) clearly differentiates them as different arts (or at the very least, clearly different subsets of the same origin).
  17. Earl Weiss

    Earl Weiss Valued Member

    Well, at least many of the color belt patterns. I am not sure the BB patterns have as many long sequential similarities.
  18. Smitfire

    Smitfire Cactus Schlong

    In part this thread was inspired by something I saw posted on facebook.
    Some guy made a list of things that separate TKD from Karate. Thus...

    Now to me these things are pretty much utterly trivial. Mostly to do with appearance (four are to do with the damn uniform as if that's important) and terminology. Two things that have been very variable through the years both in TKD and Karate anyway.
    To say that if you don't adhere to this list you are doing something other than TKD is ridiculous.
    So this got me thinking what are the differences that really matter?
  19. Dead_pool

    Dead_pool Spes mea in nihil Deus MAP 2017 Moi Award

    [ame="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6l_YHu40M-k"]World's youngest black belt - 5 years old - tears it up with the bo staff. - YouTube[/ame]

    5 year old black belts?

    edit - my mistake your just copying karate with their 4.5 year old brown belts -

    [ame="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rr7_klYSq-o"]4-yr-old attempts Guinness Record for youngest Black Belt winner - YouTube[/ame]
  20. Mitch

    Mitch Lord Mitch of MAP Admin

    I suspect you missed out *every art that might have an instructor lacking in integrity.*

    Which means EVERY art.

    I bet that right now, there is a 5 year old MMA Blackbelt somewhere in the US.


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