15 July 2013

Taekwon-Do Grappling: Letter & Reply

Someone recently send me the following email. I decided to post it here, with me reply beneath.


I have a question regarding taekwondo, I will really appreciate your answer on this one :)
My question is whether there is a full and complete grappling curriculum for taekwondo.
By grappling I mean clinch, ground techniques, locks, pins, takedowns etc. Would that be comparable as judo or jujitsu?
Is there any book or encyclopedia that completely and fully demonstrates these techniques?
Thank you in advance.
Looking forward to hearing from you
My best regards


Good day,

Thank you for your question.

I can only speak for ITF (Chang-Hon) style Taekwon-Do, and not for WTF Taekwondo. But WTF Taekwondo, as far as I know, do not have a grappling arsenal.

Regarding ITF, grappling style techniques are covered in two parts in ITF Taekwon-Do: First, the general stand-up grappling techniques such as the clinch, wrist locks and so on. These are generally covered under self-defence (hoshinsul) sections of the ITF Encyclopaedia. And second, ground grappling techniques which are known in ITF as ground-techniques (nuwo gisul), with a particular emphasis on specific striking and kicking techniques from the ground and can be found in Volumes 3 and 4 of the ITF Encyclopaedia.

As I understand it, General Choi did not want to standardize self-defence in Taekwon-Do because he believed that self-defence is contextual and so instructors ought to provide the type of self-defence teaching that his or her students are most likely going to need and which are most fitted for their personalities and body types. As such, the ITF Taekwon-Do Encyclopaedia does not provide any set self-defence (including grappling) syllabus. However, based on principles from the ITF Encyclopaedia, National Governing Bodies and instructors compose their own syllabi. This means that in some countries ground techniques and grappling may not be covered, while it is part and parcel of the technical requirements of other countries; similarly the self-defence curriculum may be quite diverse from one school to another -- with some that do teach grappling, and some that don't.

Regarding ITF Taekwon-Do's grapping arsenal, first their is the sweeping and toppling techniques derived from Taekkyeon. Judo had an early influence on ITF Taekwon-Do as some of the original masters had a Judo background; hence many basic break falling, throws and so on are very similar to that of Judo. (The basic principles for throwing and falling techniques with some examples can be found in Vol. 5 of the ITF Encyclopaedia.) Later, Hapkido techniques were incorporated into Taekwon-Do's self-defense arsenal, so joint-locks, pins and so on are quite similar to that of Hapkido. However, the ITF Encyclopaedia does not refer to joint-locking, only joint-breaking, keeping in mind that originally Taekwon-Do was a military combat system, not a civilian self-defense system.

Later still, the sine wave motion was introduced which follows wave and circle principles found particularly in the Chinese internal martial arts like Tai Chi and Xingyi, so some instructors -- like myself -- emulate the Chinese "chin na" type techniques to reflect ITF Taekwon-Do's current evolution. "Chin na" [逮捕] is known as "chepo sulgi" [체포술기] in Korean and translates as "arresting techniques"; i.e. these are the types of techniques used by law enforcement to control a criminal and arrest them.

Regarding a book, Tony Kemerly and Steve Snyder's "Taekwondo Grappling Techniques: Hone Your Competitive Edge for Mixed Martial Arts" is probably the only book I know of that specifically focus on ITF Taekwon-Do grappling techniques. The book follows the ITF patterns and derive specific grappling style skills from each of the patterns. The book therefore provides a systematic way of learning such techniques and could therefore work very well as a grappling syllabus, but since it follows the patterns the techniques all commence from a standing position and therefore does not really cover ground fighting, but it includes various joint locks, throws and some pins. I hope this helps.


1 comment:

Ørjan Nilsen said...

You are correct when you say that WTF Taekwondo does not have a grappling element. The WTF is an organisation that promotes and govern the sport of Taekwondo. It is purely a sporting organisation and have (at the time of writing) nothing to do With curriculum Development, dan certificate or anything. They do recognize the dan grades of Kukkiwon though, but it is the Kukkiwon who develop a syllabus and issue Dan certificates, and Research and develop Poomsae etc. WTF = Sport, Kukkiwon = Taekwondo martial art. Now wether Kukkiwon maintains this role in reality or not is another discussion, but the WTF does maintain its role as a sporting organisation:-)

Your answer regarding grappling in Taekwondo is just as relevant for Kukki Taekwondo as it is for Chang Hon Taekwondo. Oh Do Kwan got to influence most other Kwan since everybody had to have 2 years of millitary service and while in the millitary they practised Oh Do Kwan Taekwondo. Also representatives of the Oh Do Kwan were part of the Foundation of the Kukkiwon (as were all the other Kwan) so it is no Wonder then that Your answere was very relevant for the Kukkiwon Taekwondo side as well.

However there are almost no grappling Applications demonstrated within the Kukkiwon Textbook, so the ITF have done a better job of at least demonstrating the principles in their writings.

I really appreciated the post and liked Your thourough well thought out answer to a difficult question. Great question by the way:-)