Our founder studied Shotokan Karate early in his martial arts career and was also a member of a U.S. Chung Do Kwan school. Eventually, many of the USCD schools in the area decided to break with USCD and form their own accrediting body. In the process they modernized their taekwondo curriculum. The reason I bring this up is because our school’s founder would always say that our lineage is Chung Do Kwan. This particular style of taekwondo is the oldest and at its creation (late 1940s and early 50s) it was essentially a combination of Japanese Shotokan Karate and Korean Taekkyon. (I will refer to this style as “traditional Chung Do Kwan” from here on out) Other schools can trace their lineage to the other Korean kwans (eight in total) and it is through this diversity that you get different styles of taekwondo and combat philosophy.
- Chung Do Kwan (loosely translated to “blue wave school”)
- Moo Duk Kwan
- Yun Moo Kwan
- Chang Moo Kwan
- Oh Do Kwan
- Ji Do Kwan
- Chi Do Kwan
- Song Moo Kwan
During class Sabum might mention certain fundamentals from Shotokan (usually stances or in relation to power generation) and he might also talk about USCD (usually expressing his displeasure with the organization). In fact, I really think he respected Shotokan’s influence on taekwondo’s history and he certainly taught us things that he learned in Shotokan and Chung Do Kwan (most notably DEEP stances!). However, it was very apparent that at the end of the day he thought taekwondo was superior. Considering that he won a gold medal in the Junior Olympics I cannot argue that point.
Interestingly, my current instructor’s boyfriend practices Shotokan. However, they tend to avoid discussing each other’s art because it often leads to “disagreements”.
My knowledge of Shotkan amounts to this: 1) Deeper stances, 2) Punching 70%/kicking 30%, 3) Katas which are somewhat longer than ours, 4) Sparring without gear, and 5) A much greater emphasis on tradition.
Apparently my knowledge is flawed.
Last night I’m perusing Half Price Books and come a across Chung Do Kwan: The Power of Taekwondo by Simpkins. The taekwondo that this book presents IS traditional Chung Do Kwan as practiced in the late 40s and 50s. After perusing the book and the internet it appears that there as still schools out there that teach taekwondo like this. Comparing it to the style that I am learning was very interesting. The first thing I noticed is a greater emphasis on hand techiques. The second thing was the fact that there are far fewer kicks and they are not as complex; same for the footowork. I’m pretty sure that the forms (aka katas) presented in the book are slight variations on Shotokan katas. I also noticed some familiar stances including a deep front stance, a deep horse stance, cat stance, and x-stance. In fact, they illustrate x-stance with the double uppercut which is part of my newest form.
However, what shocked me is the concept of “no-contact sparring”! After a little research I discovered that traditional Chung Do Kwan and Shotokan practice no-contact sparring. This means you train to stop your punch or kick an inch before hitting your target. Moreover, the punches and kicks are at full power and speed and no protective gear is worn. This explains how my instructor’s boyfriend got a bruise on the tip of his nose without a broken nose: Apparently he was victim of a Shotokan punch gone slightly wild.
Free contact sparring (i.e. put on protective pads and go at it) is generally more prevalent in TKD clubs; sparring in Shotokan is “no contact”-each technique is arrested a few millimeters from contact. Further, Shotokan students are introduced to sparring systematically over a period of 2-3 years, and free sparring is not emphasized until black belt level.
Contrast this to our training: During one-steps we train to pull our punch or kick (i.e., “no contact”). However, we develop power, speed, and technique on padded targets, shields, and the heavy bag through full-contact. We also break at every test and we practice full-contact sparring (belt level to head with protective gear) with the rule in practice being never hit your opponent harder than you are willing to be hit. Finally, we start teaching free-sparring (point sparring at first) after the student gains their first belt rank, not at black belt. We then gradually expose them to continuous free-sparring.
I’ve heard some criticize taekwondo as Shotokan Karate with more kicks. However, it really is incorrect to make that statement. Traditional Chung Do Kwan might be. However, given the eight original kwans with different approaches, two main governing bodies (WTF and ITF both with different philosophies), “modernization” of the art by some schools, different forms, and you really don’t know what style of taekwondo someone is studying until you either 1) Talk to them or 2) Visit their school.
Regardless, I recommend the above book for any tko practitioner because it is a short read which does a good job of covering certain historical aspects of taekwondo.
[tags]taekwondo, Chung Do Kwan, Shotokan Karate, karate, Taekkyon, martial arts[/tags]