First Martial Arts CM: Taekwondo

The martial arts colloquium began in full yesterday with a brief exploration of the philosophy and history of Taekwondo (hereafter TKD).  Next week, we will meet with someone, likely from the TKD club, who will teach us some basic techniques.

The most interesting note from the discussion was on the kick-based style of TKD.  First, I never thought about a martial art’s physical style.  The mental aspect was my main reason for participating in this colloquium, and I simply had not considered the physical side. It surprised me to have overlooked something fundamental to a interesting subject. This type of “How did I miss something so obvious?!” moment is part of the reason why I am interested in science, but this subject must be left to another post.

Second, it seems odd that a major world martial art would limit itself to mostly use of the legs. As I understand from the discussion, this historically stems from practitioners’ displeasure with soiling their hands. It appears that this is meant mostly in a spiritual, rather than physical, sense. Nonetheless, I feel that the apparent over-emphasis on foot strikes would be limiting in practice. If the attacker managed to get too close for effective leg strikes, then a TKD practitioner would seem to be at a disadvantage. I will pose this question at next week’s lesson.

Roughly 30 minutes of our hour remained after the discussion on history and philosophy. At this point in the meeting, I was concerned that we would enter the lesson next week with absolutely no knowledge. I think this would not only be rude to the teacher, but we would also learn very little from the lesson. I suggested that we do some research and practice before each lesson, but another member had the very good idea to watch and discuss a few videos as a group during each philosophy week.

The most relevant video we watched was on a TKD World Championship Semi-Finals match.  Our discussion of the video highlighted several interesting aspects of TKD. The two competitors were both very mobile and feigned many of the kicks. The pace was also very different than I expected. I expect that this sport variety of TKD will be slightly different from the training variety we will experience next week, but I still feel that the video was very useful.

I think that the familiarity will help us in the techniques lesson. However, I still doubt that we are going about this in the best way. I know well the difficulty of unguided self-study. I’ll be delving into this subject much more throughout the semester, but for now, I think this meeting was a good start to the colloquium.


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