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Old 06-03-2010, 12:02 AM   #1
OwlMatt
 
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Dojo: Milwaukee Aikikai
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TKD dilemma

Before I start, I want to make clear that this thread is not about the validity of taekwondo as a martial art or the compatibility of taekwondo training with aikido training. I have encountered strong opinions on both these subjects in the past, and I'd like to keep this thread from getting sidetracked. This thread is intended to address a specific ethical question that could be applied to any martial art, but which has arisen in my life in connection with taekwondo. Please keep this in mind as you read on.

The school where I work teaches taekwondo in place of more traditional physical education, and this has offered me the opportunity to begin practicing taekwondo alongside my students. Over the past few months, I have found taekwondo to be both enjoyable and fulfilling, and good exercise to boot. Practicing taekwondo at work has given me the unique opportunity to broaden my martial arts horizons without taking time away from aikido, which I consider to be my primary martial art.

I have recently begun to look deeper into taekwondo's history, particularly according to the Kukkiwon and WTF, whose style of taekwondo I practice. What I have found seems a little distasteful to me; the authorities of the WTF/Kukkiwon style of taekwondo tell what appears to be a nationalistic, propaganda-filled revision of the history of the art, largely inconsistent with what facts I have been able to uncover. I will not go into the specifics here, since that really isn't the point of the thread.

My question for my fellow martial artists is this: can a martial artist simultaneously be a dissenter and an honest practitioner? Specifically, in my case, can I continue practicing an art honestly when I believe the authorities of that art are being dishonest about something so fundamental as its history?

I suspect I am not the first martial artist to ask himself this kind of question, so I'd like to hear from more experienced martial artists than myself. Have you ever found yourself in disagreement with your superiors or your organization about your art (be it aikido, taekwondo, or something else)? How did you move forward?
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Old 06-03-2010, 01:43 AM   #2
Amir Krause
Dojo: Shirokan Dojo / Tel Aviv Israel
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Re: TKD dilemma

Why should you even care what the "authorities of that art" are saying?

Would you avoid training in Koryu arts because it's founder claims to have been taught by a mountain spirit?
Would you stop training Ueshiba Aikido had he claimed to have gotten it through divine intervention?

Most M.A. have myths surrounding their foundation. Often those ridiculous in the eyes of a person from another culture. Practicing the art does not mean you have to believe any nonsense someone is telling you about it,

Amir
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Old 06-03-2010, 05:19 AM   #3
dps
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Re: TKD dilemma

Quote:
Matthew Story wrote: View Post
Have you ever found yourself in disagreement with your superiors or your organization about your art (be it aikido, taekwondo, or something else)? How did you move forward?
Lol, happens all the time not just in martial arts but in work, religion, any hierarchical organization.

As long as the benefit is greater than the irritation stay, if the irritation is greater than the benefit leave.

David
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Old 06-03-2010, 09:49 PM   #4
bernardkwan
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Re: TKD dilemma

One of the issues that I struggled with a little bit when I first studied Aikido is that to my mind Ueshiba (before his supposed conversion to peace after the war) was if not a war criminal, an active supporter of the military class and probably actively supported the war effort in Asia. Many of his students had strong right wing beliefs (e.g. what was Shioda doing in Shanghai during the war?)

I have learned to separate that out from my practice Aikido and just enjoy Aikido for what it is. (It was easier once I started to take this Art of Peace philosophy less seriously and more realistically) I think it is slightly easier for me as I feel I am still an outsider looking in, and not Japanese, and to that extent do not feel so invested in the lineage and propogation of the art. (This will probably garner angry responses from many other international practitioners who feel they now "own" a stake in it). If I were Japanese, it would probably raise more awkward questions regarding heritage and legacy.

Similarly if I were to practice TKD, if I were Korean, this would be a much more sensitive question of history, and "national shame" at the hands of the Japanese. But for me, would be happy to practice and I am glad I know better and can see through the obfuscation and don't really care what the authorities are saying. Although I would not be afraid to express my views to those who are interested or trying to brain wash me.
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Old 06-03-2010, 11:19 PM   #5
JW
 
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Re: TKD dilemma

Quote:
Matthew Story wrote: View Post
the authorities of the WTF/Kukkiwon style of taekwondo tell what appears to be a nationalistic, propaganda-filled revision of the history of the art, largely inconsistent with what facts I have been able to uncover.
Wow, that sounds vaguely familiar. You should be certain of your facts, and if they are contrary to what the organization is saying, I hope you aren't shy to tell the truth even within the TKD world. Even if some tell lies, at least those who know the truth can spread that in the face of the lies.

Quote:
Bernard Kwan wrote: View Post
I have learned to separate that out from my practice Aikido and just enjoy Aikido for what it is.
I think that is exactly it. Humans can be a bit twisted, but human culture can produce wonderful things-- the art of aikido is a great example. Ueshiba was a Japanese man, and we are lucky that he managed to be eccentric enough to produce what he did. There was enough cultural pressure on him to be nationalistic and imperialistic, but he still produced a way for people of all nations to better ourselves from within, and shared it with the world.

So, the good works that humans make can transcend our evil tendencies, and we can always appreciate that good on its own. Nothing humans make will ever stay free of the nonsense that we are prone to spewing. The only way we can hold onto the good and renounce the bad is to be aware of the bad and keep practicing the good. I wouldn't blame the art of TKD for the deeds of the folks currently in charge of it.
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Old 06-05-2010, 05:22 PM   #6
statisticool
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Re: TKD dilemma

Quote:
Matthew Story wrote: View Post
I have recently begun to look deeper into taekwondo's history, particularly according to the Kukkiwon and WTF, whose style of taekwondo I practice. What I have found seems a little distasteful to me; the authorities of the WTF/Kukkiwon style of taekwondo tell what appears to be a nationalistic, propaganda-filled revision of the history of the art, largely inconsistent with what facts I have been able to uncover.
On this topic, http://www.amazon.com/Killing-Art-Un.../dp/1550228250

is a thought-provoking read,

Justin

A secret of internal strength?:
"Let your weight from the crotch area BE in his hands."
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