Taekwondo was used to train the newly formed Korean army after WWII. Taekwondo was devastating when used in recent wartime situations, and Korean soldiers were feared in the jungles of Vietnam for their prowess in hand-to-hand combat.
And if you think any of that is going to affect your own meagre abilities, you are deluding yourself.
When I went through the army, we woke before 5am, trained throughout the day – often bearing loads of up to 20kgs, carry on like that for 7 days a week, and were drilled to do just about everything we were told to do without delay. If you had put a Viet cong in front of us, we’d probably do a pretty decent job eating him up for breakfast if we were ordered to do so. Don’t get me wrong, I’m in no way disrespecting the abilities of Korean soldiers in any wartime situation. What I’m trying to say is while I know of many martial artists who expect a lot from themselves, I know of no one who trains like that. All I do know is that Taekwondo schools often cite tenuous connections to the Korean military or some mythical Silla Dynasty warrior – only to draw your child into their child care program.
Taekwondo as I know it, and as I teach it, is an anachronistic system taken from a world that no longer exists. We then bend it to our own devices as a civilian defence system; a system which promotes its ethical use and our legal understanding of reasonable force. While most such arts are associated with spiritual progression, I provide no pseudo religious training nor philosophical sound bites. I share my own insight freely through a FaceBook page called The Struggling Master, but in no way does that affect performance or progression within our school.
So what is the Martial Way of Taekwondo? For me, it is that system to help a person achieve his potential in the face of adversity. An untrained person is ineffective in a conflict situation. The martial arts seeks to lift that person closer to his 100%. We do not sell magic bullets, we do not teach chi manipulation or ‘no touch’ knockouts. We teach physical skills. These physical skills are grouped into tactical applications. And tactical applications help us achieve strategic goals.
Of course, we are also not faking ourselves to believe that there are any guarantees in life. In any game, even if you follow all the rules, you might still not win. Thus, it is so with Taekwondo, you can only hope to hone your mind, body, and spirit to prepare yourself for conflict. But you do not have to dwell on it, nor mire yourself in the possibility of defeat. This is the Martial Way.