I have been doing Taekwondo consistently for just over a year now. I was enjoying it, so much I decided that I wanted to teach it. I think it I my duty as a teacher to know that what I am teaching is good. That the techniques work, and have sound explanations. I thought I would go back to the encyclopedia, to find out the 'True art' that General Choi dedicated his life to developing. Sadly, what I have found in the encyclopedia has made me re-think my entire viewpoint in Taekwondo. I previously thought it was a great martial art, watered down by restrictive competitions and mcdojos. I realize now I was wrong, and that even General Choi was indulged in a fantasy world about the effectiveness of the system. I have not got too far into the encyclopedia, because frankly its depressing me, and these are the reasons why. Choi states that strength is not needed, and that through impeccable technique, you can beat raw strength. Technique is important, but equally so is strength. There are black belts at my club with impeccable technique, but are smaller and weaker than me. In a real fight, I would have the advantage. It is untrue, and therefore dishonest, to tell people they do not have to be strong to defend themselves. It just adds to the mystical idea that by mastering a martial art one can overcome any opponent, and this simply isn't true. It is living in a fantasy realm. His thoughts on patterns. He is wrong. Patterns were used by the original Karate masters as a way of recording techniques in a logical sequence. As tools for developing athletic and physical qualities they have little or no value. As tools for developing technique, they have some value, but no more value than just doing the technique on its own. As a substitute for sparring they have no value. As a way of developing techniques you cant do in other ways... Insane implication. If you cannot demonstrate that technique in other formats, it doesn’t work. Add to that the fact that the original patterns, and the effective techniques they contain, have been altered to make them more aesthetically pleasing makes them ineffective for developing true technique. The reaction hand. It comes from the old Karate masters. Ask any Karate or Taekwondo master what the reaction hand is and you will either get people saying this is for power, or because its 'ready to react'. Its not. This is a misinterpretation of the original patterns. It symbolizes grabbing something, an arm to make room for a punch, a head to pull onto a punch. It is part of the close range grappling of the original Karate that has been lost, and just as most Karate instructors today have no clue as to its real use, neither did the people who taught Choi. He states that it is due to 'equal and opposite forces' and to generate power. Thats pretty ropey pseudo-science, and its clear from doing it that there is no significant addition of force, as opposed to using good technique. Certainly not enough to justify sacrificing the protection of having the hand high. His emphasis on breaking, leaping and jumping. He talks about how through practising Taekwondo you can learn to break boards 11 feet in the air, or jump over a motorcycle and break a board or other seemingly inhuman feats. I am not doubting the ability of people to do these stunts, just what application they have to self defence. Again there seems to be a focus on supernatural abilities such as punching through concrete or spinning kicking through tiles, and just like the implication that strength is not important, this neglects the reality of fighting. What determines your ability to fight is not how many boards you can break, it is your ability to apply your strikes to a resisting opponent effectively. Its wreaks of mysticism and becoming super human, but completely neglects the things that make a good fighter. The belts, uniforms and everything else borrowed from karate. I dont know if this was a throwback to tradition, but belts and uniforms were introduced only about a century ago, when Karate was struggling to survive as a fighting system in Japan, and copied Japanese Jujitsu clubs in becoming a sport. The belts are borrowed from the Japanese school system, and the dobok is a lightweight Gi. Belts and an abstract grading system transfer the focus of the practitioner away from fighting skill, towards a focus on meeting arbitrary criteria. Set clothing I guess helps 'unify' the schools, but there is no real reason for having it, and most of the time these days it is just used by mcdojos to imply tradition and culture and bring in people wanting to learn the mystical arts of ancient kung fu masters, instead of people that just want to learn to defend themselves. The self defence techniques show. In one, a woman is being groped by a man on a bench. She stands up, in sitting stance and elbows him in the head. Another, she is being bearhugged. She turns his head to the side, and with no explanation of why, the next picture she is falling from his grasp and jumping front kick him. These things are just insane. And wrong, and these are things I took at random, I didnt just look for examples to back up my point. It really makes it hard for me to take Choi seriously as a master when he is advocating things like that. There are plenty more things like this, these reasons are just a few examples. I was really excited about leaning Choi's version of Taekwondo, so that I could learn the whole system. I even wanted to teach it, and I still want to teach a martial art, but its clear to me that Taekwondo as an art is built upon troubled foundations. Everything I have read so far either wrong, or really wrong. I honestly dont know what to do. If I were to teach Karate, I would have a mandate to teach the real, and effective techniques of the art, because I could show how the original masters used them. Taekwondo was built from a lot of different systems, including a bastardized version of Karate, and all the misconceptions, misinformation and down right idiotic things that Katate masters thought in the 50's were passed onto Taekwondo. I feel like as a teacher, I would have a responsibility to be teaching the real thing. Something that would help people. Because Choi was so wrong in my opinion the only way I could do that would be to directly contradict what our original master, General Choi said. I really love the art I have been taught, and would love to teach a good system based on Taekwondo. By doing so, I would have to sacrifice 'stylistic purity' in favor of effectiveness, otherwise it would be immoral. I am at a loss as to where I should now go in martial arts. Maybe I will focus solely on boxing. At least I will be free to find the most effective techniques that way, instead of being forced to adhere to techniques that are ineffective, but right, for no other reason than because Choi said they were.