When you think of Taekwondo, what do you think of first? Do you have images of lots of high flying kicks? Or perhaps watching two Taekwondo players spar in an Olympic match on television where there seems to be mainly kicking and no others strikes or other obvious techniques being played out? To the uneducated eyes of the general public Taekwondo could be viewed as nothing more than a martial sport, or a martiala rts that is good for demonstrations and competitions. But is Taekwondo an art that teaches one how to truly defend themselves? There is many misconceptions of what Taekwondo is or what it teaches. Most think that all we do is kick. Well let me put this to rest right now.
Yes Taekwondo is best known for its’ vast array of kicking skills and techniques that are literally in the hundreds but we also have other very power tools at our disposal. Take a look at the various blocks that you see in Taekwondo forms, step sparring, and self defense practice. A good mixture of hard blocks that can break human bones with very powerful snapping motion combined with the softer style blocks that merely displace an oncoming attack as not to hurt the attacker. An example of these two styles of blocks would be a traditional harder inner forearm block that uses the inner part of the forearm to smash against an oncoming punch to break an attacker’s forearm. A soft block being a cross body palm heel block that either stops an attack or moves it away from its’ original point of attack.
Now how about strikes with the hands and arms? Taekwondo practitioners use a variety of strikes using the different parts of the hands as well as their elbows and forearms. Such techniques as the straight punch, reverse punch, ridge hand, knife hand, palm strike, tiger mouth strike, spear fingers, back fist, horizontal elbows, descending elbows, and etc,. can be found throughout the various forms, one steps, and self defense strategies of Taekwondo. These strikes are very powerful as they are used in power breaking demonstrations and competitions where stacks of concrete, breaks, pine boards, clay tiles, slabs of marble, and other material are broken to test ones’ strength, power, and accuracy of these techniques. Almost all of these techniques are banned from various competitions because of how lethal they can be.
Taekwondo also has various other techniques that you would not see in competition. Such techniques include but are not limited to various wrist locks, arm locks, throws, sweeps, chokes, and other take downs. These various techniques can be used to control an attacker in a peaceful and controlled manner or can be used to break and hurt their attacker. The ability to control or hurt depending on the situation is very important. Taking these various joint locks, throws, chokes, and various other techniques and combine them with the strikes and kicks of Taekwondo, you have a very well rounded system of self defense that also has a sports/demonstration side to it. So don’t be fooled into thinking that Taekwondo is all about the Olympic sparring and kicking, we got other tools that we can use as well.
Master Jonathan Field