Archive for April 8th, 2007

Taekwondo reference book – a “must have”

Sunday, April 8th, 2007

On occasion, I like to browse the used book stores to see what I can find. Yesterday, I picked up Tae Kwon Do: The Korean Martial Art by Richard Chun.

Originally published in 1976, just when taekwondo was becoming a popular sport, this book remains to this day a comprehensive manual of taekwondo. The only thing missing are the newer colour belt patterns (called “taeguk”) and the black belt patterns, but there are plenty of Kukkiwon sanctioned books containing those.

Some people may think that a book published over thirty years ago would be outdated for a martial art. In fact, not at all. This book was written as an attempt to retain the original training and teaching of taekwondo before it became “just a sport” (as some naysayers like to describe it) with flashy kicks. (There is nothing wrong with the sport aspect of taekwondo, it still builds fast reflexes, and I respect many of the competitors; however, the danger is the martial art may diminish into only a sport and we lose much of what should be taught still.)

As a colour belt, I was privileged to have studied at a school that retained much of the original training and teaching of taekwondo (kicking and hand strikes). While flipping through this book (which is all I’ve had time to do so far), I was astounded at how many of the techniques and exercises I was familiar with. I was also happy to discover other things that I was never taught.

Taekwondo is the “art of kicking and punching”, which lately has been diminished to the art of kicking with the occasional hand blocks. This book shows that there is much more to taekwondo besides the kicks. There is a chapter dedicated to “hand, arm, and head attacking techniques”, followed by “blocking techniques” (which also includes a knee block), then “kicking techniques”. There is also a chapter on “advanced positions and combinations”, and of course “sparring techniques”. Additionally, the book includes “self-defense techniques”, which includes sections on falls, throws, and ground defense. As mentioned, the forms in the book are the old palgwe patterns, which is great in my opinion. I’ve been wanting a good book on the old patterns, now I have it.

This book is a must-have for taekwondo students. It is especially important for those students who are interested in learning the full art of taekwondo. For those who think taekwondo is all about the kicks, get a copy of this book (available on amazon.com) – it will prove you wrong.

Richard Chun was an 8th dan when he wrote this book. He is a 9th dan Grandmaster now, and is still teaching taekwondo in the United States.