Real studies into TKD
A thought came to my mind from the "Why do you take TKD" trainwreck in which BM was attempting to use scientific studies as a justification for the badassness of TKD. I have read some studies that are specific to TKD and general martial arts (see peer reviewed in academic journals) that do give weight to Mr. BM's remarks.
For instance there was a paper written by a gentleman who has a background in psychology and has a 2nd degree in TKD (Kukkiwon if anyone cares) He discussed Bandura's concept of social learning and how modeling is incredibly important in a MA training environment. I don't think this idea is anything new as a lot of times the coaches and trainers who are the best at what they do already model techniques very well in addition to explaining. I think the article itself was important as it actually did provide some theory behind the learning process associated with MA training.
In a general sense there are other studies that explore non specific training ie) elastic resistance, plyometrics, etc . . . that can be used for MA training but do not specify anything about sport specific exercises (which is were my spot in this whole debacle started); however, the theory developed from these studies could be used for development of exercises that are more sport specific.
In comparison to other sports from my recent searched there is very little study done on TKD . . . at least available to me at this point (there may be more available in Korea as they do have phys-ed/kinesiology programs focused on TKD). Do we really need studies done that are specific to our sport or can we simply focus on developing good conditioning/technique drills from non sport specific studies? Would a strong scientific approach legitimize TKD and other combative sports (MMA) or would this simply be a waste of time and energy on a researchers part as there are so many "instructors" out there who are to into themselves to listen and evolve with the rest of the world?
I do think you're absolutely right that TKD would gain a lot of legitimacy if scientific studies were done. The problem is twofold. First, martial arts does have a lot of trouble distinguishing itself from just another sport in most contexts of medicine, psychology, or exercise science. Second, martial arts requires a dedication that usually separates it from higher education, so most martial artists that rise high in their system's ranking have long since given up graduate school.
With regard to research distinguishing MA from other sports, as well as 'legitimizing' TKD, I think often you find it's a bit of a moving target.
By that I mean that often the goal of an MA and what is rigorously researchable don't easily line up. To look at any MA from a physiological point of view is easy and has been done...to great effect I believe (at least in instances where the results were taken on board). Looking at 'how best to kick' is very different than 'how best to kick high'. You can investigate the former in a number of different ways...you might value speed, height, force or actual combat ability...the last being the ostensible goal but the hardest to research (and the one fraught with the most bias).
Did any of that make sense? I really need to not post right before bed.