I start training in taekwondo at the age of 16. I had never done any sort of serious physical activity before beyond the P.E. lessons that we were subjected to at school. Playing cricket in hail stones and trying to kick a football through mud. I was less than fit and flexible but I knew it was something I desperately wanted to do, so week after week I would go and take part in the class my face would turn from red to blue to white and I invariable ended up sitting out of some of the class catching my breath. It was only due to some great instructors and seniors in that club that I managed to get myself together. Years later my experiences and the things learned (in between mad dashes to the bathroom to throw up) are still a source of learning and motivation for me.
I have since moved away from my hometown and ceased serious practice of TKD, although I still practice the patterns. I have studied in a number of different countries and under different masters of different styles but all the way through be it shaolin kung fu, aikido or stick fighting I have looked for ways to link all my knowledge back through to taekwondo
The way I do this is through the patterns of ITF taekwondo which I believe are a largely mis understood and under used part of the syllabus. The usual applications for the movements, such as an outer forearm block to stop a hook punch or a low block to stop a front kick, are presented all with the underlying feeling of “yeah well, this is how they used to fight in Asia” or even more oddly “this is the art side of TKD, of course it would never work, but I am telling you this anyway” and then classes get on with the ‘real’ stuff of sparring. This is not a problem only in TKD but in most martial art that include forms practice in the syllabus. Students of the martial art for the most part seem not to want to study the movements in-depth and are satisfied with agreeing with the first application that is presented no matter how workable or unworkable it seems
This is mainly because forms practice in many arts has been reduced to a demonstration art, people spend years training to hold kicks in position or get the placement of a punch millimetre perfect without spending one training session examining the application of the movement. This has been compounded by the grading syllabus of many schools also requiring a demonstration of a form rather than demonstration of the understanding of the form.
Slowly through practices like this and the introduction of sport style sparring with gloves and rules that make many of the movement from the forms redundant (i.e. it is difficult to perform a knife hand with a boxing glove on) the true applications and essence of traditional Taekwondo is being lost.
Tactical Taekwondo is my attempt to present the information I have learnt during my years in the martial arts and how it can all be found in TKD if we look at the patterns closely.