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Thread: Why is Tae Kwon Do the most popular martial art in America?

  1. #1
    jojitsu27 Guest

    Why is Tae Kwon Do the most popular martial art in America?

    Why is it that Tae Kwon Do is the most popular martial art in America?
    Are Koreans just better at Marketing a martial art to the general public?
    TaeKwonDo McDojo's are everywhere, there are 20 TKD schools for every Kung Fu school in America.
    Why is this?
    Kung Fu had Bruce Lee and Kung Fu movies to boost it's popularity in the 70's. Judo and Karate were huge in the 60's, and ninjitsu boomed in the 80's. But through it all, TKD has always been the biggest martial art name in America.
    Why is this? Just because its an Olympic sport?

  2. #2
    lilt42 Guest


    generally its seen as easier, I havnt got any experiance with it myself but thats what I'm told.

  3. #3
    Red Adder Guest
    Good Marketing?

    my opponent may hit me many times; I only want to hit him once.

  4. #4
    mantis108 Guest


    I would think there are few reasons:

    1)Comprehensive curriculum. (easy to follow)

    2)Legions of black belts in relatively short time (Everybody wants to be a winner in America)

    3)No hard contact (less injury, less pain and people like)

    4)Olympic event (strong marketing strategy)

    5)Less infighting amount schools. (you can't clap with one hand)

    6)Well... This is my personal favorite reason - lots of hot chicks in TKD. =D (just kidding, love to mess around with the Ladies, LOL...) [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]

    I have visitors from TKD all the time. They are always polite and they listen quite attentively. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img] I think that shows their strength.

    Hope the TKD folks don't mind my saying so. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_razz.gif[/img]


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  5. #5
    jade_lotus Guest

    General Attitudes

    Wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that traditionally, the Chinese arts were pretty closed to outsiders, whereas tae kwon do was brought over as a sport and Korean teachers were much more open on who they taught. Obviously, that's changed a lot, but even my sifu admits that his masters treated some of the more advanced techniques secretively as late as the early 70's.

    Though I will back up the statement that tae kwon do is an easier art. Heck, even after training for several years in tang soo do which I found is a lot more difficult than TKD, I feel like a total inept with even the most basic kung fu sets.

    Besides, most of the Chinese styles I'm familiar with don't have a "blackbelt" or "black sash"... and a lot of Americans just want to brag that they have a blackbelt.

  6. #6
    Robinf Guest

    I love your reasons, particularly number 6 [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]

    TKD is a bit more simplistic than other systems, but I think it's simply gotten more press and has enjoyed a rather large marketing machine since Korea began demonstrating it and teaching it in other countries. It was part of the mission of TKD of Korea to spread it throughout the world and have it be a united international system stemming from and controlled by none other than Korea.


  7. #7
    Morpheus Guest
    Just speaking for myself I took up Tae Kwon Do initially because I was young and fit with no real training and TKD looked to me like it taught everything neccesary without all the BS. There were blocks, punches and kicks, and every move was clearly defined, it looked effective. The other styles all seemed to concentrate on stuff I never thought I'd need like weapons, grappling and groundfighting. Added to this the moves, particularly in Kung fu, were so fast when practiced properly that they looked messy and ineffective, and looked totally impractical when slowed down. I got out of TKD for a number of reasons. Partly it was because of the political in-fighting here in Australia at the time. Also with experience I came to see the obvious limitations in the system. I was pretty good by TKD standards, but it came as a surprise when I sparred peole from other styles that I was getting creamed in certain situations and had absolutely no response. Added to this age and experience made me think more about practical self defence of myself, freinds and family, and less about how effective a style might be or how good it looks in a brawl outside a pub.
    I think similar reasons probably explains TKD popularity for most people. At least here in Australia it tends to be a young persons sport, I know very few TKD practioners over 25 who stick with it. Most move on to other styles, whereas my Kung fu school has a juniors class and the entire seniors class is over 23, most over 30. Does the same apply in the US?

    Oh yes and one other thing, here in Australia most TKD schools have a lifetime membership. Once you join you're a member for life unless you make the effort to draft a resignation. This means a large discrepancy between membership numbers and actual practitioners. Hell I'm still a member of 3 different TKD clubs and I havan't trained for 3 years.

  8. #8
    handsome Guest

    Here comes a big boss...TKD fever !

    Tae Kwoon Do is very simple, its like A, B, C. No big deal at all, even a 10 months old baby can learn and become a Black Belt at age three. LOL [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img] [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_redface.gif[/img]

  9. #9
    rogue Guest
    The reason that TKD is the most popular is that it's open to everyone. Walk in, get a uniform and start learning. We've had people who just should never have walked into a martial arts school join. Sometimes a funny thing happens, they get better, they learn and they start to live the martial arts life and sometimes they excel.

    I've seen some very bad and medioce TKD schools but I've found several very good TKD teachers in my area that actually have very good fighting skills so I'm not buying the argument that all TKD people can't fight. Is the system simple? Yes, but I'd rather have 10 good simple tools that I can use than a hundred that I can't.

    I used to be daga

  10. #10
    obiwan Guest


    One thing i think people are forgetting, is the clean imagery.

    Aside from the fantastic kicks, if you ever watch a TKD demo, it's clean and fantastically offensive.

    That's what everyone wants, a clean easy fight that disables the enemy while you remain out of range.

    Kicks seem to be the best answer. It's a pyschological thing. You kick the crap out of the opponent while he can't come into your range.

    Too bad life dont workout so cleanly.

    Nuff said

    The Force will be with you...always

  11. #11
    YoungForest Guest
    you guys are all stupid.

  12. #12
    8stepsifu Guest

    10 technniques?

    What about the guy that knows 100 techniques and you have no clue. You can have 10 solid techniques, but if your in a more advanced system they don't have to be the same 10 cliche techniques that people expect you to know as a tkd guy. You may even know a joint lock or two. So what? I know joint lock and throwing counters and well over 100 techniques and I can use them. I can't use 100 percent of them on everybody, but most of them I can and the one's I can't do, maybe someone else can, but I can recognise when it's coming and because I know the finer points of the technique that I don't happen to be good at, I can tell when someone is trying to set me up with it.

    8Step Sifu

  13. #13
    HuangKaiVun Guest
    TKD has a very clear and graspable system.

    My Korean TKD instructor (a true master) told me that the guys at the Kukkiwon (almost like the Shaolin Temple, but actually for real combat) spent a lot of time/money/brainpower to clearly arrange the system for mass consumption.

    The way I was taught featured me getting a step-by-step breakdown of warmup, drills, sets, and sparring. Every time I went into a different TKD school (I've always gravitated toward TKD schools run by traditional fighters), the routine was pretty much the same.

    My instructor told me that at the Kukkiwon, they figured out that the body moves better in that bouncing motion as practiced by Western boxers. So they tailored their art toward the kickboxing arena but also realized the limitations of the rules.

    Japanese Shotokan karate has much of the same things to offer as TKD, though I notice that American karate schools have learned the efficacy of the kickboxing bounce as well. My Japanese sensei frowned on this (he was a brawler, not a point competitor), but the bounce worked well for me in the kickboxing ring.

    Kung fu is no more or less graspable than TKD is, but the level of instructors varies far more due to kung fu instruction not being standardized (something that Adam Hsu advocates).

    Personally, I prefer the nonstandardized approach. But the standardized approach has merit too.

  14. #14
    Black Jack Guest
    Rogue has the right answer 8 Step but I will take it one step further.

    To become proficient in self defense it is the simple techniques & the concepts surronding how these tools work that will get the job done.

    From a pragmatic viewpoint the best combat tools are those that can be learned easily by the average person and not by having to spend 10-20 years doing line drills and forms.

    These solid fighting tools have to be simple, direct, aggressive and practical enough to work on determined and better armed attackers.

    If you speak to people with first hand knowledge of street combat experiances, people like some cops, streetfighters or even veteran CQB soliders you will tend to notice most of there responses boiled down to basic gross motor movements and simple and direct tools backed by a serious fighting spirit.

    The best tools/concepts are the ones that can be applied to a vast variety of attacks, enviroments, situations and even more so under extreme stress.

    I call these the "bread & butter" techniques.

    It is better to learn concepts and simple tools than a 1,000 techniques that you will not be able to apply in ten or twenty years time or even now due to attribute limitations or complicated movements.

    Why try to learn a 100 blocks when you can learn the simple concept behind blocking and then be able to create your own blocks that can fit into the format of your given situation & angle without having to rack your brain for block 96 that might fit that attacks given angle, hardness, softness and speed.

    Simple attacks should be able to work for a 300lb fighter as well as a 120lb fighter. Barrages of elbows, headbutts and knees are great examples that can be applied by any weight range with brutal collateral damage to there attacker.

    The same can not be stated for a lot of other tools for both of the fighters due to physical attributes and size differences. Its important to have a solid repertoire of other tools to round out your fighting abilities but they should still all be easy to master for practical self defense.

    A major factor is the intensity of your training and your attitude when it comes down to push and shove.

    A street punk intent on murdering you and raping your girlfriend is not going to give a crap if you study a complete and total chinese system that has over 25 forms and has esotric healing arts and QiQong meditations.

    Simple is the way to go hands down.


  15. #15
    mantis108 Guest


    Hi Robin,

    LOL...Glad you approve of #6 [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]

    BTW, I thought you are a fellow Cannuck? [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_confused.gif[/img]


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