T Nation

Is Tae Kwon Do Worth It?

I struggled to follow your story…and I’m not sure what the lesson was.

I was going to ask his age and calculate how many head kicks he’s administered to date, and on a yearly basis.


Is hilarious to say about something you did “a few weeks later” after “a few weeks prior”, meaning it could have been yesterday, or even this morning.


I will say the best lesson I got on head kicks was from our 65 year old grandmaster. I was a punk teenager at a seminar he was putting on. We were stretching out and he asked “wanna see a 65 year old kick you in the head?”

I responded with an affirmative, so he swept my legs out from under me and kicked me in the head while I was on the ground.

Work smarter.

Damn, funny as hell this morning, thanks for posting.

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@idaho Happy to do so dude. As much as TKD may not have taught me how to fight well, I still had a blast doing it, haha.

So I had a bit of a revelation regarding TKD blocking yesterday after doing some reading, implemented it today and it worked fantastically. The whole “grab defense” thing has some merit, but really, calling them “blocks” just confuses things. They’re hard parries.

The low block

Is just a stupid idea to block an incoming roundhouse kick OR to try to force on force stop a front kick (snap or teep)

BUT, if you step off to the side as you do it against a front style kick, it’s just a parry , and should put you in a position to capitalize on a counter attack (assuming you circle to the back).

Same with the middle block


Not going to stop anything, but you step to the side and do it against a straight attack and it’s a parry.

That picture is stupidly exaggerated, and we drilled keeping it close and just using it to move the punch off line, but it’s making the first form a lot less stupid.

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@jshaving, let me know if you’d prefer I make my own topic, but in the midst of the world in quarantine I figure I’d keep talking about my experiences teaching TKD now.

Promoted my kid to orange belt today, after about 2 months of consistent lessons. One of the critiques about TKD (especially the American TKD Association/ATA) is that it’s a “belt factory”, where testing is the primary concern and you bilk parents out of hundreds of dollars by constantly testing for new belts. It’s a legit critique, but kids also just plain love getting new belts. It’s a simple motivator of “you’ll learn that at X belt” or “Keep doing well at this belt and you can test for a new belt”. With me teaching, it’s only setting me back a few bucks for whatever amazon will sell me belts at.

Also, from my limited time with Jits, there were never “blue belt techniques/purple belt techniques”, etc: everyone drilled the same stuff: the higher belts were simply better at it than the lower belts. With TKD, it’s like an education program with grades: you learn certain material at certain belts. From a teaching perspective, I honestly like the latter more. Now, that said, I also know grappling schools DO have beginner classes, intermediate, advanced, etc, but it was also common for the advanced guys to be slumming it in the lower ranked classes just to get in some more reps and mat time, whereas you’d very rarely see a red belt in a yellow belt class unless they were there to assist. It also makes it easier as the instructor to go “Oh, you’re an orange belt: you don’t know how to do sidekicks yet. We won’t work on those then: we’ll just do roundkicks”.

In teaching TKD, I’m actually going to revise one of my previous thoughts: it wasn’t necessarily that learning TKD made me a worse fighter: it was learning it in the manner that I learned it. And I don’t even blame the instructors for it: it’s because I had zero context of what any of this stuff meant. I see this now with my own kid. I’m trying to teach things like parrying and side stepping as a defense and my kid makes it look like something out of a ninja movie because, to THEM, THAT’S what fighting looks like. They see the overexaggerated stuff on TV and have never been in an actual fight. I’m by no means the greatest fighter, but I at least DID get in a few short fights and I had some hard sparring sessions, but this was all AFTER TKD. At the time I was learning TKD, I had no idea what a real fight was like, so I was just mimicking the movements, doing forms in the air, and fighting ninjas in my mind.

Just like the idea I had on blocks above, I see a move or an idea in a form and I go “Oh, ok, so THAT’S what they mean by that. Ok, that can work, if it’s done like THIS.” I’m hoping I can instill some of that in my kid. The roughest thing is going to be that they’re not going to have a real sparring partner when it gets to that, but we’ll do what we can. There’s a Tang So Do school nearby which, once the world opens up again, we may hit up. Think my kid might be crushed to learn that my ranking system has no authority and can’t transfer to other schools, haha.

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So do adults, which is part of why there are so many people who couldn’t fight their way out of a paper bag ranked highly in BJJ.

Aren’t you a black belt though?

In BJJ the conversation would go like this:

Who gave you the orange belt?

My dad. He’s a black belt.

Who gave him his black belt?


Okay, you’re an orange belt here too.

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You’re not wrong, haha. Hell: I still wanna get a few more belts. But while BJJ has white, blue, purple, brown and black (and I understand some schools are using stripes now) I had 9 colored belts to get through (white, orange, yellow, gold, green, purple, blue, brown and red) before I could get my PREPARATORY black belt, since I was under 15 when I test out of my red belt. This was a black belt with a colored stripe down the middle of it. There were 9 of THOSE as well (all the same colors) before I could test for my first degree black belt. So that’s 18 different belt tests, until you factor in that, in between each colored belt there were 2 stripes I needed to test for before I could test for the next colored belt (and it was a full testing fee to earn that strip of electrical tape). So now it’s like 27 colored belt tests and 9 black belt tests, so 36 tests.

It’s the whole “if you spend all your time testing, when you are LEARNING” sorta thing, haha.

As for the belt granting authority, TKD is like a combination of powerlifting and crossfit. There are a ton of different TKD federations (International TKD Federation, World TKD Federation, American TKD Association, and there’s a few more but I forget what they all are), and each insists that THEY have “the real TKD”, so sometimes, just out of principle, they won’t recognize other ranks. Other times, it’s because each federation uses their own set of forms, so you may be a black belt in one style, you might even be a badass and able to hold your own in a fight, but I say “Ok, go do the orange belt form” and you do something I’ve never seen before and I say “You failed the orange belt form: you’re not qualified to be a black belt”

And it’s like Crossfit because you have to pay your dues, literally, to be rank granting. As a first degree black belt, I’m like a level 1 crossfit coach, in that I can teach other people how to do TKD, but I don’t have the authority to grant rank under the style. I’d have to be a higher ranked black belt.

It’s also a factor that the nearby school is Tang So Do rather than Tae Kwon Do. Both Korean martial arts, but style different streams. That said, a real legit place will give them a schools evaluation and see what they know and grant them a rank based on that.

But if my kid wants to do it, and if they’ll tolerate me, I’ll put on the white belt with them and start from zero. I think it’d be a blast.

That’s the way to go. Let the kids pick the interests, even if you end up paying for a decade of hockey instead of a decade of performance boat ownership. I’ve tried to get my stepson to come to BJJ but him and his buddies are dedicated practicioners of Canadian Hockey Fighting. They’re all black belts in grabbing each others shirts and blasting each other until someone goes down.

They’d do this for fun and record it. I’m pretty sure it’s been a few years since this was their idea of a good time, thankfully.

My first thought was “that’s a lot” but then I realized my instructor’s school has a test for each stripe leading up to black belt. 16 stripe tests, which for a serious trainee would be two per year, three at most.

Then there’s the BIG TEST, which very few even get the opportunity to take.

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No issues here, dude. Public forum, post wherever you please.

Oh for sure: I just know you get a notification every time I post here, and figured that could be annoying, haha.

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Nah I don’t mind. I’ve been following along with the discussion anyways.


I’m hoping to see @T3hPwnisher and his son defy the TKD community and start their own federation centered around training with the BAS.


I’m sure people would notice its striking similarity to Muay Thai, haha.

Hey, so I think I’ve finally found a way to reconcile chambered punches, as seen here

The way I’m teaching them is that you’re grabbing your opponent with your non-punching hand and them pulling them into your punch: dirty boxing kinda stuff. This means we train both the punching AND the pulling hand to move as hard, fast and strong as possible. Under that paradigm, it makes sense as to why it’s so different from boxing style punches, and also allows for BOTH to exist in a curriculum. With TKD being about self-defense vs combat sports (not counting Olympic stuff), the punching style contained within it is less about how to set-up a knockout combo and more “how do I create some space so I can run the f**k away”, and grabbing a dude and popping him square in the nose is a good way to get in the element of surprise and then beat feat. That said, when your one hand is occupied with shirt/hair/whatever, it’s not going to be great at throwing punches OR being up to guard your face.

I can at least make peace with this, because not having a hand up drives me crazy when it comes to punches, but saying that we’re training a “grab, pull, punch”, NOW we’re training an ok habit.

And maybe one day my kid can aspire to this level of mastery

I forgot one other thing, and originally I was going to make it an edit on the main post but it got so big I thought of making it it’s own post.

I thought about: punching FROM the chamber even makes sense under the paradigm of “grab the dude and pull him into the punch”. Specifically how the hand it turned upside down and comes to a full rotation at the end. Mainly because, when you execute a short range punch, you tend to rarely be able to come to full extension (especially so with body punches), and in such circumstances, I’ve found a punch with the palm up to be stronger than one with the palm down.

My favorite example is, of course, Haggar from Final Fight


But in the real world we’ve seen these kinds of punches before




I know I’ve done this in a clinch before. Actually hit the guy so hard I picked his feet up off the floor.

In addition to that, I had a move I used a few times where I caught a kick, then pulled the dude in to me, punched him in the gut, clinched from there and slammed/suplexed. At the time, it seemed very instinctive, but looking at it now, I was legit chamber punching in a fight. And when you have a dudes leg in your hand, you’re in a VERY good place to not have a hand up to defend yourself.

Of course, this depends on the ability to pull someone off their feet with one hand…which I’m good at, but your mileage may vary. Still, I’m somehow coming around to chambered punching ACTUALLY making sense. I think it’s a little silly to make it the ONLY way you train punches, and to leave it completely unexplained will cause some bad habits, but I’m excited to explain it this way to my kid.

Says the guy with a near 800 deadlift … no shit Sherlock !!!

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@simo74 Bob Sapp demonstrated it’s a viable strategy, haha.

Ok, more “there might be something there” stuff. I’m really trying my hardest to not teach things to my kid just because they’re in the form, but to try to make some sense out of it. So with that, we’re working through the second form now: Dan Gun.

That double knifehand block at the beginning wasn’t too hard to turn into something: we’re using that front hand to parry an incoming straight strike. But what the hell is this?


That’s the twin forearm block. But calling it a block is really silly. That top hand isn’t blocking crap: it’s setting up for a rear diagonal/horizontal elbow.


Specifically, what we’re drilling is that you move in on the opponent, either by slipping a straight punch or just crowding with that front hand, and then that top hand comes down with the elbow. The elbow IS a part of the TKD curriculum, so I’m not too crazy to introduce the idea here, but Muay Thai of course tends to have a better handle on it since it’s allowed in their sparing.

The fact it’s followed up with by a punch in the form is a tragedy. I think it would be great to actually drill this exact concept in the form: hit the twin forearm block, slam the elbow. Be a solid time to introduce the idea of inside fighting. I get that TKD likes to keep people at a range, but this is another solid “change the fight” sorta short shot. If you can get in quick and open up a cut, you got a chance to beat feet and get the hell out of there.


Don’t turn your back on Jeff Goldblum,

And apparently round 2

this was much better entertainment than the one I just posted in Tactical. the Shirt wearing man seemed to have some skill and willingness to apply it.

Lol, that’s like 2 miles from my house, haha