The Tao of Taekwondo

Notes and reflections from a deeper practice of traditional taekwondo

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Welcome to the Tao of Taekwondo

I have been practising Kukki style taekwondo for four years now and was promoted to my first dan in December.

I consider myself to be a traditional practitioner of taekwondo, in the manner that Doug Cook has written about. This is largely the product of my training and the lineage of my teachers. My sabum, Master Tony Kook was an excellent competitive player, winning two Canadian championships. And yet at our school, there has been almost no emphasis on the sport aspect of taekwondo aside from lots of non-contact sparring which we perform more to master techniques and tactics rather than developing athletes. We compete in poomsae at regular tournaments, but not in kyrogi. I'm not even sure if any of our students own sparring gear. We are essentially a traditional school. Master Kook's teacher is Master J. Sun Choi who was himself a product of the original Moo Duk Kwan.

My black belt promotion was a traditional affair, and our witness, Master Shin Wook Lim, himself a trainer of perhaps Canada's best competitive taekwondo player, Ivett Gonda, confided in us that he worried about the future of the art if the sport aspect were to dominate. He expressed his confidence in me and my three mates that we had somehow understood the traditional aspects of the art and that our promotions boded well. It was a lovely and encouraging comment and it set me on a path to discovering the tao of taekwondo as it shows up in my own practice as a black belt.

There is much about taekwondo relating to the combat sport. But taekwondo as a traditional martial art (or more accurately, a contemporary martial art approached in a traditional way) is almost a different thing altogether. It is a fertile practice ground for the exploration of many aspects of life, embodied in the root philosophies and attitudes out of which taekwondo was born. It is a worthy pursuit, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

Inspired by Bruce Lee's book of notes, The Tao of Jeet Kune Do, and seeing so little of this way of thinking openly shared on the web, I thought I would contribute this perspective as a student. I make no claims for my expertise in martial arts. Despite (or perhaps because) I am a 1st Dan black belt, I am a beginner in many ways, and feeling that even more strongly with every passing year. There is is much to learn and explore and I welcome any readers along for the ride.

Welcome to the Tao of Taekwondo.



Blogger Colin Wee said...

Chris - I added your link to my list of blogs. Rgds, Colin

Traditional Taekwondo

October 24, 2008 6:54 AM  

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