Why do you no longer train TKD?
Someone made a suggestion that this thread shoul be created in the "Why study TKD thread?" and since no one has yet done so I thought I would. (Ok so it's Christmas Eve, I'm at work and I'm bored)
I trained TKD off and on over the years and have approx. more than 6 yrs. worth of total time in TKD, 4 yrs. in the U.S. more than 2 yrs. in Korea. This was a basic training week while in Korea;
Monday: Heavy cardio conditioning, kicking drills, break fall training, more cardio
Tuesday: Light cardio conditioning, kicking drills, sparring drills, more cardio
Wednesday: Light cardio conditioning, kicking drills, sparring, more cardio
Thursday: Light cardio conditioning, forms, more cardio
Friday: Light cardio conditioning, exercise game (for the children), everyone else; kicking drills, sparring, more cardio.
Everything was pretty informal, respect was shown towards instructors but no more than what was normal for their culture. I had on several occassions went drinking afterwards with the instructors.
In addition to training TKD while in Korea I cross trained several other arts along the way with similar experiences in each school. When I returned the U.S. , 4 yrs later, I went in search of a new TKD school that had a similar training regiment. Below is what I found available in my town;
Monday: Warm up, one steps, kicking drills, forms for 30+ min. sparring for a few minutes.
Tuesday: Warm up, one steps, kicking drills, forms for 30+ min. sparring for a few minutes.
Wednesday: Warm up, one steps, kicking drills, forms for 30+ min. sparring for a few minutes.
Thursday: Warm up, one steps, kicking drills, forms for 30+ min. sparring for a few minutes.
Friday: Warm up, one steps, kicking drills, forms for 30+ min. sparring for a few minutes.
More attention paid to courtesy and bowing than actually learning to fight. Sparring on some nights was almost non existent and many high ranking BBs who were in horrible physical condition. I actually went back to my old TKD school at one point and found the same situation. During that visit I was asked to lead warm ups and ran the warm up like I was accustomed to doing in Korea. After 2 min all of the higher ranking BBs quit because they couldn't handle it, after less than 5 minutes I stopped the warm up when it became obvious that no one else was going to be able to finish.
After witnessing the deplorable state of training TKD in my city I decided I was better off finding something else.
My first run in with TKD was when I went into the military. I met a really cool dude in boot camp and we used to spar with each other. He did TKD. When I went to advanced training I met up with a TKD instructor on base. I was watching his class and he asked me if I was interested in. I told him I'd have to get permission from my sifu, as was tradition but I'd come back next week if I got it.
His attitude changed and he seem to down play the fact that I did kung-fu and that TKD was more effective. He asked me to come on the floor so he could prove his point. He asked what I would do in this case and he immediately attacked forward. I side steped him and threw a focused backfist to his face. Turning a little red he told me that was fine but look what could happen and asked me to do it again. This time he followed me and threw a focused reverse punch to my ribs. I thanked him and started to leave the floor. As I left this other guy from base had watched the whole situation he told me if the instructor had continued he'd go out and beat him down. I was young back then ( 17 I entered young) and I never questioned an instructor. You just didn't do that sorta stuff and I didn't understand the politics of what just happend or how ridiculous that instructors demo was.
I opted for an early out and went to college from the military. From there we formed a college group that was resided over by a Goju Ryu 6th degree and a Hungar Sifu (who would later become a mentor of mine)....
My wife is telling me it's time to go more to come...
Your story reminds me of the first time I left TKD. Just in reverse, a Kung Fu/Kickboxer asked me to show him what I could do.
I had been training for over a year and thought I was getting pretty good, that I could kick ass and all that. Then I met up with a guy who was a Kung Fu stylist/ pro kickboxer/ pro boxer. After he smacked the **** out of me a couple of times I started cross training with him on the side. That lasted for almost a year, after that I hooked up with a JKD school where I continued a similar kind of training regiment, focus pads, bag work, drills and sparring.
6 months later I had reached eligibility for my BB in TKD. $300 to test. I left and didn't go back to TKD for another 3 years. Instead I continued to train in JKD and finally went to China and trained Mantis for a little while.
Last edited by Ronin.74; 12/24/2007 3:38pm at .
Oh yeah, read further you're going to love it.
Originally Posted by Ronin.74
So where was I? Oh yeah, so there was a local tournament coming up and I wanted to get ready for it (yeah it was sport karate stfu). I went to the tournament and our 'point sparring match' almost turned into a full contact match. As tempers flaired I was chewed out by the local TKD 'master' (really TSD but bear with me on this there's a pattern).
The next month another TKD instructor came to one of my practices at a park we had moved to. My Sifu had told me to start teaching so I had grouped together a few students here and there from the college club. One of my students knew this instructor and invited him to practice. They wanted to do some 'friendly' sparring and I started to practice with all this instructors students. One incident had this guy go for a kick over my head. After he kicked I punched him in the face and a brawl almost insued. I asked what the problem was and he said I should've awknowledged the kick to my head. I told him he didn't make contact and he told me it was a focus shot. I told him if I thought it was going to hit my head I would've ducked. His instructor came over and took his side obviously and I bit my tongue. I told the instructor we should move to full contact.
So we started up and one of his guys swept my leg. I got up and looked at the instructor "we're doing throws?"
"Of course we're doing throws you said full contact and you can throw on the street".
I looked at my student and wispered "Did you tell him I have a blackbelt in Judo?" My student shrugged.
So we start again and I sweeped the guys foot. We stand back up and tries to tackle me and I do tomae nage on him (well modified, I forgot the official name...it translates to bag toss). The next time we get up I do o goshi on him and we start on the ground and he starts hitting the back of my head. I looked up at the instructor and he doesn't do anything so I spin around and choke him out. He doesn't know about tapping so I let him go before he's completely out. I tell the instructor I've had enough and am ready to head home.
The instructor brings me aside and tells me that most of the instructors in town think I'm fake that I gave myself a blackbelt. I look at him and say "You mean in Kung-fu?" and he replies "yes".
I told him that technically their right we just adopted the belt system a few years ago. He told me that I needed to test for a blackbelt in front of a legit panel like they do in TKD then I do have a legit blackbelt in Judo if that would satisfy him. He said we weren't allowed to do that. I asked him why, citing that's how they did it in a few other styles and he denied it. I told him he was more than welcome to go argue his case to my sifu (s) if he had a problem with that but if anybody asks I'll let them know the same thing.
(I'll insert that all that stuff happened years before the UFC)
3 years later after getting interested in expanding into Kickboxing and then later Shootfighting I hooked up with a TKD school. Another friend of mine invited me to do some sparring and the Sa bu nim asked if I'd be interested in getting a TKD blackbelt. I said yes when I found out they also had a SAMBO group I could work out with. I proceeded to get my BB in TKD in 6 months time (Jeez those forms are easy). During my blackbelt test I was told to take it easy on the guest 2nd degrees that had shown up to test our sparring skills.
Many years later I got caught up into the WTF TKD Olympic crap (yes I was a member of bullshido). I became a coach because I thought it'd be fun for the kids. I could have my mma on the side and still be able to keep the school open. We struggled at first but I finally found a Olympic style coach to come in and train the kids. He took me to my first event only to watch the biggest load of **** competition wise that I'd ever seen; a girl who cried her way to a win. The referees felt so sorry for this girl they ended up awarding her the win. Then I went to my next competition and watched all kinds of crap happen. I finally told the coach after the 3rd time that I'd had enough of the competitions and I'd rather focus on the mma training and grappling as well as the new system of Kung-fu I had come up with.
We found a huge facility in the next city where we moved. The coach offered to take over the business end of the school so I could concentrate on promotions and fighters. Some of the kids had expressed to me they didn't like the WTF stuff and asked me to teach them the more practical stuff. I agreed to it only to have him try to hinder me. Then I watched as he promoted 2 kids to blackbelt that didn't deserve it and then pronounced them full blackbelts. He knew how I felt about that crap. I finally had enough and told him I was going to just leave and reopen my other studio. He locked me out of the gym, stole monies from me and then bad mouthed me to the other students. He did some many unscrupulous things it'd take another website just to document it all.
We decided we had enough. No more TKD and we told any student that wanted to come with us that we were dropping the program. We picked up mma full time and kung-fu and moved into a small facility. After less than 6 months we were filled to capacity and found our current location cage and all.
6 months ago Sirc, Cassius, and Anthony all watched as I shredded my TKD ID. 3 months ago I had a run in with another TKD instructor. I kept sending people who were interested in doing TKD to him and he yelled at them and said he didn't want anything to do with me or my gym. I went over there and told him to get his head out his fucking ass and stop acting like a punk. As I walked away he basically challenged me to a fight. I told him to grab the waiver for and I'd punk him in his own gym. He called the police. Gee, I wonder why?
Why don't I do TKD anymore? This is a short version of my experiance with it. If it weren't for a few cool guys I've met over the years including DngrRuss1 I'd say TKD is **** and nobody should do it.
The simple reason I left TKD is that it didn't grow with me. As I got older (and wanted to learn to fight more effectively), TKD was really starting to limit what I could and couldn't practice. I mean, I wanted to punch to the face, kick the legs, and throw somebody... but that's dangerous talk at a TKD school, so I just stopped going. I found other places that would teach me that kind of stuff. It doesn't mean I learn it very well, but at least they try to teach it.
Well, as I was evidently the instigator behind this thread, I guess I should add my 2 cents.
When boiled down, the short story is pretty much the same as airman claus's, but I'll give the long version for fun.
I started tkd at nine years old at the local YMCA. It was a very small WTF-style dojang run by one instructor as a branch of a larger club. The instructor was a young guy at the time (late twenties) and was great with kids. The vast majority of the students were kids, and no one was over blue belt when I began. The head instructor was a pretty strict guy we mainly only saw at gradings. He wasn't much of a business-person and very rarely visited us to train or teach, but having a separate person testing kept the standards fairly high (er, in a tkd context; the self-defence was, naturally, pretty rubbish, but I'll get to that later) and he was happy to fail a student.
I never cared much about self-defence. We did it, but I don't remember anyone in the club who trained for the reason of learning to defend themselves. I think this is something that is often lost in MA debates about the effectiveness of tkd - many practitioners aren't 'fooled' into thinking they're learning effective techniques, they just don't care that much. I mainly enjoyed tkd because of competition sparring and the fitness aspect. Actually, by tkd standards, the self-defence my instructor was teaching was actually relatively ok. He had previously trained in judo, and had some CQC training and done a variety of seminars on different methods. He encouraged students to cross-train to expand their knowledge, and at the senior levels, the defence stuff we did involved scenario training, discussion of the psychological aspects of SD, and occasionally some medium contact stuff. Our club eventually split from the parent club, and a while after, my instructor ditched most of the one-step and static, useless defence drills, which is a credit to him.
I wouldn't say we learned amazing or even exceptionally effective techniques, but it was better than what 90% of tkd clubs over here taught as self-defence at the time.
I started training more and more and eventually few of the people I'd begun my training with were still there and I, as a red belt, was one of the senior students (the club was and still is overwhelmingly populated by kids and teenagers. This is really just a reflection of the demographics of the area it's in rather than the training itself).
At around 2nd/1st gup and maybe age 13ish, a few others and I began to assist in classes in preparation for our black-belts. Although I was young, I really enjoyed teaching and took the job seriously. I got my black belt with a few others when I was maybe 14 (a child black-belt!) and began teaching regularly alongside my instructor. We were the first black belts at our club.
By this stage, my instructor was living solely off the tkd club. He still didn't make much money and it was very cheap training, but nevertheless, I think this caused some problems. Several times he had to take weeks or even a month off for family things, and I largely ran the club myself. I was about 16. I enjoyed it, but it was very stressful for a teenager, and I wasn't really compensated well. Money wasn't an issue for me, but it's not a very sustainable way to run a club.
I kept training, but eventually the other (older) black belts got caught up in other aspects of life and dropped out and it was increasingly hard to find anyone at my level to train with. I also got a bit sick of competitions.
As I said earlier, we split off from the parent club. With this came a pretty sharp decline in standards. Now, I would never accuse the instructor of being money-driven, but he is a total softy. He felt it was fine to promote students who 'tried really hard' or needed the self-esteem boost, even if they were rubbish or lazy. A few years later, he promoted an over-weight 12-year-old to 1st Dan even though he couldn't kick above his waist (and never really tried very hard to improve this situation). He doesn't charge for black-belt gradings, so the money wasn't the reason, he just thought the kid had 'put in the time' and couldn't stay at red belt forever. This kid was the start of a very slippery slope. Now, I'd never say I was a 'worthy' black belt by the standards of other people here. I couldn't have fought my way out of a paper bag and I was barely a teenager when I graded. But within the context of the organisation, I had trained very hard for the belt, knew the syllabus inside-out, kept in good physical shape, coached, instructed, competed (and won) regularly, attended every necessary seminar - and I was good at taekwondo. Again, probably not great at fighting, but I was great at WTF taekwondo.
Needless to say, I was pretty put out by the drop in standards and sometimes I would have to leave the room when watching a class because the low standards of some students annoyed me so much.
Eventually, these factors, plus uni and work and just having other stuff to do as I got older, meant I trained less and less and eventually stopped other than the odd visit. Although I always said I'd go back to training when I got the time.
About a year ago, after not training much for about a year and a half, I started a job within the martial arts industry (well, peripherally). Specifically, my job mostly entails lots and lots of taekwondo-related stuff - talking to instructors, writing a lot about tkd, etc. I've also been able to spend a lot of time meeting and learning about other martial arts instructors and what they're doing. The effects were two-fold: a) I got interested and excited about martial arts again, and b) I very quickly realised what good, effective self-defence is and that some people and arts are doing great, innovative stuff, and some are just teaching utter crap. It's funny how accepting you are of stupid and pointless techniques when you're in the bubble of your school and style, but literally comparing techniques of different arts and instructors on a daily basis is pretty eye-opening. It doesn't take a genius or MA expert to look at what good BJJ instructors are teaching and some of the ridiculous groundwork techniques many tkd schools teach and see which is actually effective.
I went from thinking MMA was brutal and against the 'spirit' of martial arts, to being a big fan.
But, still, with my renewed interest in MA, I thought, 'What better time to return to my tkd training?'
Of course, I was wrong. Returning to my dojang, I could see standards had dropped even further. Ninety per cent of the students were red belt or above. Maybe ten per cent of those were training hard and seriously. In fairness to my instructor, if someone wants to train properly, he will train them well (he used to get up very early in the morning so few students and I could train before school). But he doesn't seem to push lazy students, either. It was pretty painful to watch the crappy technique and knowledge of most of the black belts (some of whom were instructing!).
But I think the main thing that bothered me was this: If I had my own MA school (I wouldn't, but hypothetically) and ESPECIALLY if running that school was my only job, I would do my darndest to make it the best school possible for my students. I would be cross-training in other arts to learn more skills and address gaps in the style. I'd be organising other instructors from other styles and schools to be doing loads of seminars and sessions with my students. I'd be talking to a sports scientist to make sure all the exercises we were doing were sound and beneficial. I would be running regular sessions with my instructors and black belts to help them develop skills as instructors and to 100 per cent ensure they were up to scratch on every single bit of what was being taught.
The instructor has a very open mind to self-defence, cross-training, etc. But he doesn't do anything to better his or his students skills in this area. He just bases the non-tkd techniques on some seminars he did in other MA's and styles years ago. Or, for example, one senior student recently started some boxing training, and the instructor got him to introduce some of the exercises into the tkd training. Again, it's better than having a closed mind to other techniques like so many tkd instructors, but god, if you want to introduce boxing techniques, I think you owe your students better than having them taught by a total beginner.
So, this is a very long-winded and roundabout way of saying: Knowing what I know now about what other instructors and styles teach - knowing what good fighters look like - I just find the weaknesses in tkd too much to stomach. The lack of standards, mcdojos, and crappy techniques aren't worth my time. I'll always be friends with my instructor, but I know i can get better training elsewhere. Personally, self-defence STILL isn't my main prerogative in training, but I can't stand training at a club that teaches bad techniques to their students and lowers standards for the sake of being nice.
I'm not really training in anything at the moment because I'm too busy and poor, but I plan to start training in Muay Thai as soon as I can. Because I have a black belt in tkd and I can't punch to save myself. Considering that (and considering my instructor KNOWS I can't punch well), it's ridiculous that I ever got a black belt in a striking art, and THAT is why I no longer train in tkd.
(Man, that is so freaking long. Apologies if it bored the hell out of you. I've never really discussed this with anyone, so it's pretty cathartic to write it all out)
Last edited by retrograde; 12/25/2007 9:54am at .
retrograde nice read. It's to bad you're instructor could'nt read what you just typed. Maybe it would open his eyes a little.(probably not) but maybe! good luck with Muay Thai, you will like it.
No, I wouldn't expect it to change his mind, either. When I was teaching, I did get some say in who did and didn't grade and whether they passed or not, but it was still an uphill battle. He's not unaware of the situation, he's just of the attitude that creating good people with self-confidence is more important than creating competent fighters. At least he's not screwing them out of lots of money and there's no sign on the door that says 'LEARN SELF-DEFENCE'. But the ethos still doesn't gel with me.
I think instilling confidence and ethics or whatever in students is an admirable goal, but I don't think it precludes teaching people good techniques or setting high standards. I'm sure the people who are crap and put in no effort are well aware they haven't really achieved much.
From his perspective, I guess, the school is humming along well enough, so why do any more? Last time I went in to say hi, I noticed the class going on had well outgrown the humble YMCA martial arts area and they were crammed in with many students training off the mat. I asked (politely) if he had plans to change things around to fix this (from restructuring the classes to finding a different room to leaving the Y all together), but he laughed and said there's no way he'd want to do any extra classes. He teaches three nights and one afternoon a week. He enjoys spending the bulk of his time with his wife and kids, which is lovely, but the school reflects the order of priorities.
I spent a solid decade dedicated to TKD. I started in 1993/94 at a school that had a reputation in town for winning tournaments and for turning out people who could fight. When I started the kids class was pretty heavy on reaction drills and forms and onesteps. I was in the kids class for 2 years then joined the adult class.
The adult class was technique work, then sparring 2 days a week, and nothing but sparring on fridays. We did heavy contact but kept the TKD point zones since we were generally training for tournament competitions. I was pretty hardcore about it and ended up ranked top 10 in the nation for my division in 98, (18-22, 1st dan). I stuck with TKD even as I travelled around training in Maryland and Florida as well as a different school in Georgia. I never found that kind of intensity in any of those schools though.
I finally found my old instructor teaching at the YMCA and rejoined his classes, but again all of the intensity was gone. We never sparred, the place was full of little kids and even the adult class was full of people who were terrified of contact. I was pretty disgusted with it, but stuck to it until a tournament that we hosted.
I was judging a ring for some of the 9-10 year old green belt sparring and I was APPALLED the two kids would cross their arms over their chest, walk towards each other then one would throw a backfist and freeze and the other would throw a backfist and freeze. They just waited there for us to call break. They didn't even understand the rules of the competition. So these kids weren't just not learning to fight, they weren't even learning to compete under TKD rules.
Then later in the adult divisions a friend of mine ended up in the grand champion match vs a 3rd degree BB, He was a green belt at the time but had won his division and then the colored belt championship division. He had been training with me for a while before starting TKD there and had kept training sparring with me afterwards. He beat the holy hell out of the 3rd degree, but the judging was incredibly biased towards the BB. I became so disgusted that I walked out of the tournament and never went back.
I joined an MMA gym about a week later.
The short version is that I left TKD because of politics in the art and the lack of true pressure testing in the art.
I started in TKD when I was about 13 years old. Got 1st dan at 16. I personally like it at first, but I come to realize over time that where I was studying was a McDojo and left when I got the chance.
The McDojo part wasn't the main reason I left. I left because I hit a pleatu in training. I wasn't getting any better and where I was studying wasn't doing anything to help me improve my skills, so I just got bored. Plus after 9/11 happened I really didn't want to train at that point, so I took some time off and focused on my education in hopes that I could get into a decent college.
Personally I couldn't go back to TKD, even if it was the last martial arts left in the world.