Friday, 28 August 2009

Martial Arts Kill instructor heading for UK

Yesterday the BBC reported that here in the UK we are expecting a visit from a Mr Tim Larkin from the USA. Tim is an American Martial Arts instructor who hes reputedly trained members of the US Navy Seals and the FBI.

This man trains people in techniques designed to kill - with the suposition that his students will only use them when put in fear of their own lives during an attack. He claims to be able to teach these dangerous techniques to the young and the elderly.

The idea that there are techniques within Martial Arts systems that when applied correctly can kill isn't anything new of course. Taekwondo includes techniques of this kind. I'm aware that the higher Dan grades at my club know a great many advanced techniques which I would rater I did not end up on the receiving end of.

Importantly, my instructors, however potentially dangerous they may be do not alarm me by being so. Quite the reverse as I know they have only been trained to their high level because they have the self control necessary to be able to chose a suitable (non-deadly) means of defense. My chief instructor is highly diligent in ensuring his students only include people with the right mental attiitude to train. There has been more than one instance I'm aware of in which people were refused training at the club as they were felt likely to abuse what they learned in the Dojang out on the street.

Teaching people with no previous experience dangerous and potentially deadly techniques is like putting a gun in the hand of a child. I'm surprised Tim is being allowed to publicly advertise the purpose of his training.

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Friday, 10 July 2009

Website change - a new name

For the last couple of years my Taekwondo site has sat on a sub domain of my personal website at http://tkd.tomcatuk.net. I initially chose to do it this way for a couple of reasons.

One was pure and simple - cost. To add a subdomain to my tomcatuk.net domain didn't cost me anything. I've decided the site deserves it's own web address and managed to aquire a nice domain for it which is relevant, olympictaekwondo.org (you should see it in your address bar).

The other reason for using a sub domain was purely technical. I'd read up on how search engines treat sub domains, and wanted to see for myself how well/badly a site would perform if it was on one. The experiment is now effectively in phase two as I guage whether or not the site performs better with it's shiny new domain.

I've applied a 301 redirect to the new domain from the old sub domain, so all being well no-one visiting via an old bookmark or link from anywhere else should have any problems.

As a footnote, apologies for my lack of updates on this site (it's been over a year since my last blog post for example). I've been concentrating on other things, but am determined to keep this site running. My thanks to all of you who visit, particularly those that come back time and time again.

Andy

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Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Etiquette in Taekwondo (bowing)

The first of the five tenets of Taekwondo is Etiquette, which means that as a student of Taekwondo you should show respect and good manners to others. Not just within the training hall (Dojang) but in your everyday life.

The most noticeable way this happens within the Dojang is the bow which should be performed whenever appropriate, and specifically:

  1. When entering or leaving the Dojang. If an instructor is within the Dojang when you enter or leave, you should bow towrds them. If the Dojang doesn't have an instructor in it, the bow should face the centre of the Dojang.
  2. Before and after performing a pattern.
  3. Before and after any sparring activity (bow to your opponent).
Additionally, when an instructor calls you to come over to them, etiquette states you should stop one pace before reaching them and bow before taking the final step into their presence. This is particularly important at gradings - bow before taking the final step up to the examiners desk. If you've been doing it in lessons, it will come naturally.

The bow should be performed with closed fists at your sides, feet together, a slight bend at the hips, and another bend at the neck so you are looking down at the floor. It should be pointed out that maintaining eye contact when bowing is considered impolite, and possibly aggressive.

When I first started training, I mentioned Taekwondo at a family gathering (my wife's side of the family). At the time I didn't know why, but a stony silence reverberated around the dining table. After a minute or two, the conversation moved elsewhere and things seemed back to normal. When we left, my wife berated me for mentioning Taekwondo in front of her relatives. Obviously I expressed my surprise and asked why this had caused such obvious offense! My wife's family are keen church going Christians, and it turned out the practice of Eastern Martial Arts is, by some Christians, seen as a violation of the Bibles' teachings. In particular, the bow is sometimes seen as an act of respect towards a deity other than the Christian God, namely Buddha. I laughed when I heard this and assured her I hadn't become a Buddhist, although if I chose to do so, I didn't see why I should face intolerance for doing so. The bow is simply a show of respect towards your instructor, fellow students and Taekwondo. Nothing more, and more importantly, nothing less.

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