Mastering Taekwondo - Versus Muay Thai, Karate, MMA and much more
The Mastering Taekwondo series featuring JongSooPark (9th Dan) is currently a ten DVD set, covering topics such as sparring, patterns, and self defence. These topics are pretty much the stable of Taekwondo instructional DVDs, but tucked away in this series is one disk with the lengthy title of ĎMastering Tae Kwon Do Versus Muay Thai, Karate, Mixed Martial Arts and Much Moreí.
Video sites such as youtube.com are testament to the popularity these days of people testing their art against others, ranging from kids in backyards to fighters in rings in front of TV cameras. It seems that someone has acknowledged this and decided it was about time to release a DVD which will, as the front of box says, allow you to ĎLearn to beat the other arts using pure TKD!í.
The DVD starts with a montage of JongSooPark performing TKD demos, going through sections of patterns, and some prearranged sparring with his students. All nice enough but it seems fairly unrelated to the topic of the DVD, but it may well be just the regular opening credits used in the Mastering Taekwondo series. After this we cut to an introduction from Bob Wall. His introduction looks a little uncomfortable, filmed in what appears to be a basement. After he gives a little of Jong Soo Parkís back story we cut to the man himself, again in the same basement which will now be the backdrop to the rest of this DVD.
JongSooParkís English isnít fantastic. I assumed that Bob Wall might come back to provide us with a voice over, but the rest of the disk will force you to try and decipher what point Park is trying to convey.
The first art to be covered on the disk is Muay Thai. Park starts by talking about the stance he adopts when fighting which seems to be a pretty standard back stance. He talks about covering his body with his front hand and his head with his rear. This system he explains allows him to cover himself against both body and head strikes. Try and recall this as the DVD goes on as this is the only time youíll see him in this stance.
We start out by looking at the Thai style low kick. Rather than checking the kick we are advised to dodge back followed by a lead leg sidekick as a counter. We then move onto a high section Thai roundhouse kick which is dealt with by simply leaning the body back. As the techniques progress it is clear that they can only really be applied assuming that your opponent has no idea about throwing strikes in combinations.
Thereís no introduction to who the Thai practitioner is or their experience. Towards the end of this section Park demonstrates a lead leg hook kick counter to a low roundhouse kick. This counter will work against a Muay Thai fighter as he claims the will drop their hands when they kick. He then has to physically correct the hand position of the apparent Muay Thai fighter so that he can perform this technique. The Muay Thai fighter is now dropping his left hand to his waist in a chambered position while striking with his right leg. Search through Muay Thai fights and see if you can ever find a fighter doing this. It just doesnít happen or theyíd end up risking getting punched in the face every time they went to kick.
The next chapter is on boxing. The professional boxer brought in to demonstrate his art looks suspiciously like the guy just demonstrating the Muay Thai. It seems a boxerís hands can be defeated in the same way as a Muay Thai roundhouse kick; you just have to lean back slightly. Only a jab cross combination are looked at, no flurries of strikes, no uppercuts, no hooks.
The boxing section seems to over quickly and weíre into the MMA section. Of all the sections on the disk this could be the one that proves to be the most crucial. Taekwondo is a predominately stand-up based art. The advantage most MMA fighters would have is their ability to fight both on their feet and on the ground. Surely a section looking at ways to defend against various takedowns and holds is to follow. Now who might be drafted in to represent the ever popular art of MMA? Oh why look, itís the same guy who just moments ago was performing as a boxer.
What follows in this section is almost painful to watch, it shows a complete misunderstanding of what is both involved in a MMA style takedown and how they are generally executed. Our MMA fighter hunches over and walks forward towards Park, reaching out to put his arms around his waist. Thereís no level change, itís initiated from outside of punching range, and thereís no forward momentum. The result of which is Park simply stopping the advance by moving to the side slightly and kneeing the guy in the chest.
He then demonstrates what might happen if you get caught with the takedown. It seems rather than sprawling, the best course of action is to simply switch to a walking stance. By doing this the MMA fighter will not be able to shift your weight. It is also fine to leave your front leg hanging out there because thereís no chance the MMA fighter would simply just see this as a gift and grab it for a single leg takedown. Youíd be forgiven for thinking that this kind of ignorance about grappling had been slowly dissolved over the years since, but it seems pockets of resistance still exist.
The MMA section then looks briefly at haymaker style punches, they might have meant to have been hooks but its hard to tell. Why this couldnít have been covered in the boxing section is hard to tell, but once again its clear that its assumed that other arts only strike in single shots, without combinations.
Before the end of the MMA section Park stops for a moment to reflect on an old story he has heard. Not about fighting, but about animals. I mentioned previously that Parkís English isnít great and Iíve listened to this story several times now and Iím still not fully sure Iíve understood him. I believe heís trying to say we should look at a mongoose for inspiration when fighting due to their ability to dodge a snake then counter. I could be wrong as I think he calls it a mango, which could have a completely different connotation to how we should approach fighting.
The Karate section sees our Park demonstrating techniques on our now familiar opponent, this time kitted out in a brand new looking gi, complete with black belt. It could well be this gentleman holds a black belt in some form of karate. I doubt this very much however as at one point, midway through a sentence, Park leans over to him and tightens up his black belt for him.
The penultimate chapter is about knife and stick defence. The knife defence is the usual non resistance style self defence youíll have seen in martial art demonstrations. A lot of the moves work on the assumption that a single counter attack will be enough to either knockout your knife wielding attacker, or force them to relinquish their weapon. What was surprising however was the number of techniques shown that didnít retain control of either the weapon of the attackers arm, leaving them in a position to attack again with the knife. The stick defence largely talks about closing the distance between your self and the attack, reducing their ability to swing at you.
The final chapter is entitled Taekwondo Take Down Techniques, any hope however that this may see some of the techniques youíd hoped to have seen in the MMA section is quickly vanquished when you realise itís all about throwing and sweeping techniques. Park talks about the importance of learning correct break fall techniques, but then before we get to see these or any of the throws/sweeps in action we come to the end of the chapter and the disc.
In terms of production value, itís obviously been produced with a low budget. This isnít such a big deal for instructional DVDs as theyíre about imparting knowledge to the viewer. However in this case some extra time invested in editing or voice over work could have made the whole thing a lot more precise and easier to follow.
There is however, an underlying flaw to the whole product which no amount of voiceovers or fancy backdrops could rectify. The DVD touts itself as being TKD versus other arts, but at no time are you given the impression the people representing the other arts have any prior training in them. More fundamentally it raises the question of whether or not the techniques demonstrated here have ever been tested against practitioners of the other arts, non compliant otherwise.