In Taekwondo there is a few things that is very well understood these days. Two of those things are Taekwondo defense and combat distance. Taekwondo defense these days amount to either hard blocking (smashing the attacking limbs away from you) or dodging the attacks (sometimes there is also a focus on dodging and countering in the same movement). I am
not saying that hard blocking does not have their place (I think they do), but to exclude all neuances in "Makki" and dogmatically apply everything as hard blocks each and every time is something I think is wrong. Likewise with the focus on sport sparring the distance techniques are applied in is just plain wrong. Taekwondo as a martial art is relativly "new" when compared to other Martial Arts out there, but the techniques it contains are a lot older than the art itself. This is important to understand.
Some techniques are meant and developed for sport, other for combativly "duelling" (fighting) and yet others are old school self defense techniques. The forms we have and practise today largely consists of techniques and sequences of the latter which is why so many fail to see the link between application of forms and the performance of forms.
In part 4 we started to look at contemporary sources because eventhough the sources are clear on wether grappling is a genuine part of Taekwondo or not and that the series has largely seen positive feedback, one negative one centered around the fact that the sources I used to draw my conclusions from were too old. We are talking about sources specific to the KMA from 1958-1968 here, allthough
I also referenced earlier ones from the root martial arts of Taekwondo to illustrate that there were much more in the original martial arts as well and not just in Taekwondo. In part 4 we looked closely on the Kukkiwon Textbook and how trips, take downs, joint locks and throws are as much part of Taekwondo as any "Taekwondo kick" out there. It is not the "kukki Taekwondo system" that is lacking, rather it is the knowledge about the system that is sorely lacking, something that even very high ranking masters is clearly displaying when they say stuff like: "In pure Kukki Taekwondo there is no grappling". In this post I will focus on the 15 Volume Encyclopedia written by Choi Hong Hi or more specifically Volume 5 in that series. Many practisioners today learn Taekwondo (wether WTF/Kukki/ITF/Chang Hon) as a pure kick block punch art with little to no grappling at all.
I can understand that "Kukki Taekwondo" People believe that there is no grappling because of the sport focus that has been relentless since the 1970s, and the fact that the Kukkiwon Textbook was hard to come by until recent years (just order a copy on Amazon). The thing I do not understand is how ITF or Chang Hon Ryu groups of Taekwon-Do claiming to follow the teachings of Choi Hong Hi can claim that there is no grappling in the art. The man himself documented his art in the most comprehensive way that has ever been done in any martial art (that I have come accross). A book series of 15 Volumes each book being houndreds of pages thick, everything illustrated in 1000s and 1000s of photographs and the 1986 version is available online for free! Sadly this unrivaled incredible resource is not often used in a pragmatic way, most of them that do use them usually look at how forms should be performed and thats it.
Here is the latest quote. The original quote is a little longer and explains more about the role throws have in Taekwondo (they should only be used when the oppertunity presents themselves and the opponent can not counter) but the thing I wanted to get across was that Choi Hong Hi himself said in writing that a Taekwondo man should know how to throw an opponent and gave examples of how to do just that. Unfortunatly few people practise this skill set today be it in Kukki, Chang Hon Ryu or independent Dojang (plural). Therefore I think this "Picture-Quote" (new word for the new format) is very important to share. Not just with those claiming to follow the system that Choi Hong Hi designed but all of Taekwondo. Oh Do Kwan representatives were a part of the formation of Kukki Taekwondo so this applies to us as well:-)
Many come to this blog in search for combative meaning to puzzling movements that seems to make no sense. I like to believe that sometimes the blog helps them find that meaning and I also hope it
helps them see things in a different light. One technique that I found very strange (to the point I felt it was useless) was the Gawi Makki (scissors block) that you see in Taegeuk 7 Jang and Taebaek Poomsae. The official applications to the block did nothing to alter my view for it being useless but I stumbled upon a few different ideas that changed my view completly.
So we have looked at throws, joint locks, and the usage of the the non striking/blocking hand and seen that the sources depict Taekwondo as a very holistic martial art with a diverse selection of tactics. The feedback on this series has largely been positive and this is by far the best work I have ever done in this blog (my personal humble opinion) to demonstrate what I have been trying to get accross for so long now: The founders and pioneers of Taekwondo knew far more about their martial art than what people are giving them credit for today. Also another thing I have been trying to say for years is that Taekwondo contains so much more than high kicks and sparring in an Olympic format. There has also been a great deal of negative feedback which started back at part 1 in this series and that is that the sources I use(d) in this series were too old. Taekwondo has evolved so there are no grappling techniques in "pure" Kukki Taekwondo. Perhaps there were grappling in the old days (1950s-70s) but there is no grappling what so ever in Taekwondo today. Well this post is purely for those "nay-sayers" and while I know what I should tell them (I know you are going to read this and smile knowingly) I will instead write a rather lengthy post using contemporary sources so that we can once and for all put the belief that there is no grappling in Taekwondo firmly to rest beyond any doubt!
One feature that I have tackled before on this blog (a very very long time ago in fact) is the seemingly unpractical "pulling hand" or "Dangki Son". This refers to the iconic feature in our basics and forms where one hand is pulled back to the hip or seemingly placed in "guard positions" like in front of the Solar Plexus. I have lost Count on how many times I have heard phrases such as "That wont work on the street", "Chambering on your hip leaves you wide open", "If you are going to put your other hand
on your hip you better be ready to block with your face" etc. It does not help when we do the same chambering and pulling back to our hips when doing formal sparring either. I think that the hand on the hip coupled with the huge focus on "stances" are the two primary reasons why Traditional Martial Arts such as Taekwondo and Karate have lost their place as self defense arts in the publics mind. The complete lack of grappling in modern Taekwondo does not help either, but when we look at the source(s) of Taekwondo we saw that there was quite a lot of grappling in the traditional martial art of Taekwondo (an extreme amount compared to the popular belief that it is "non existant"). So if we do look back at the sources what do we find?