Martial arts clubs often place their emphasis in different directions; some very definitely aim towards sport, taking part in competitions, winning trophies, and as such training to do so. Others are a kind of ‘lifestyle choice’ giving a martial arts/aerobics philosophy. Whilst in my clubs we train to compete in sport martial art and we work on fitness, and I do teach a degree of ‘warrior philosophy’, a main aim of my training is geared towards personal self defence in the real world.
There are only so many ways a person can be attacked. Whether it be a woman being grabbed by the hair, or somebody having a broken bottle swung at them. I refer to these as “The common acts of violence”. Once my students are past the beginners stage and are comfortable with the basic way of moving, I then teach the individual how to use the Tae Kwon-Do techniques they have learnt to address the common acts of violence that they may encounter in real life.
There are such things as ‘self defence courses’; these however have a very short term effect. Any skill that is not regularly serviced and maintained will fade. Many short term once a week self defence courses are little more than entertainment – it takes time and maintenance for real skills to be available when needed.
“Boards don’t hit back” ~ Bruce Lee
The breaking of boards and other materials is a traditional part of Tae Kwon-Do. It is used as a test of power, correct technique and accuracy and what in TaeKwon-Do we would call ‘Indomitable Spirit’ (see the TaeKwon-Do tenets). Within the TAGB the students are tested for their destruction ability at black belt level only, and this also applies at competition level. We also perform breaking at demonstrations.
However, I’m with Bruce Lee on this one – the boards don’t hit back! For me it is much more important that any of my students can truly defend themselves than they can bare knuckle punch through three boards! That said however, I often compete in the destruction events at local tournaments and recently have had the monopoly on hand destruction gold medals… see you at the South West Alec?!!
I see a clear difference between the martial art used to win trophies and that used to defend yourself. Unlike our free sparring, there are no rules in a real fight. For a Tae Kwon-Do student to be able to defend themselves realistically, they have to be prepared to use and be trained in the techniques that are banned from sparring.
As part of my own personal studies of the self defence applications of Tae Kwon-Do, I have personally attended seminars and studied at great depth the material of some very well respected senior martial artists – Sensei Patrick McCarthy, Vince Morris, Ian Abernethy to name but a few. I have gained a black belt in Shito Ryu Karate – an ancient form of Karate which has enabled me to look back at the very roots of a lot of the moves we now use within Tae Kwon-Do. From these studies I am now able to pass on some of the original applications of our Tae Kwon-Do moves – I now host regular ‘Applied TaeKwon-Do’ sessions which look purely at the self defence aspect of our art – these sessions are available to senior grade students only and attract both students and instructors alike from all over the South West.
For more information on ‘Applied TaeKwon-Do’ visit my other website: www.appliedtaekwondo.com – I now have DVD’s and pay-to-download DVDs for sale! I also have a YouTube channel showing various clips of applied TaeKwon-Do: www.youtube.com/user/RussMartinAppliedTKD