The traffic system in South Korea was based on the United States and dates from the 1960s and 70s when President Park Chung-Hee pushed for economic reform that included great infrastructural development. South Korea's roads and traffic laws were modelled after that of the United States. While Korea's traffic system dates from this era, Korea's pedestrian habit of walking on the left side has an earlier source – the Japanese occupation.
|A photo of a samurai carrying his swords|
on his left side.
The reason I'm recounting Korea's (and Japan's) walking habits is to show how the way we move is often influenced by the culture and socio-political environments we find ourselves in. It is undeniable that the techniques we learn in whichever martial art we study were forged from within a specific culture, with its historic influences, and a certain socio-political context. And sometimes such techniques become outdated. South Korea decided recently to change the pedestrian habit which is not in sync with the more recently developed traffic laws. Similarly, some techniques in our martial art may be outdated or be culturally irrelevant. There are a number of examples, but I will focus on only one, because it so vividly illustrates my point.
|A throwing technique from a kneeling position.|
It is important for any instructor to research his system's techniques and question their current validity. If they are not of value within your cultural and socio-political contexts, then maybe you should not spend too much time on them. In a previous post titled “I Don't Like Your Self-Defence” I discussed this issue in more detail. Not spending as much time on the techniques that are culturally or socio-politically of less value is one thing, another important point is to actively increase the training of those techniques that are fitting the likely scenarios your students may find themselves in. This may very well require you to reinterpret the techniques in your system and make them practical and sensible for your cultural and socio-political context.
|Korean marines training during the Vietnam War.|