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Can Taekwondo Work In a Real Fight?

Can Taekwondo Work In a Real Fight?

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Martial arts practitioners, students and curious onlookers often ask the question "will my taekwondo skills be beneficial in a real-life combat situation, such as a street fight?"

Yes, taekwondo can be useful in a real fight. However, there are some things to consider.

As a Kukkiwon certified black belt in taekwondo, I can tell you that the answer to this question depends on various things, such as how skilled the martial artist is and how much they put into their physical and mental training.

The question shouldn't be 'Can taekwondo work in a real fight?', but rather, 'How can I make taekwondo work better for me in a real combat situation?'

Let's dive in.


How to Make Taekwondo More Useful in a Real Fight


We will delve into how to make your taekwondo journey more beneficial and, ultimately, more useful should you ever need to use it in a real combat situation.

Always remember, as martial artists, our goal is to avoid conflict and not get into fights on the street. However, sometimes it is necessary to use self-defense skills to thwart attackers and prevent violence from happening against us.

How useful taekwondo will be in a real fight depends on your skill level. Developing concrete martial arts skills and techniques starts with good training.

The first thing to consider is that there are no bad students (if they are serious and dedicated students), only bad teachers. So choose your dojang or martial arts school wisely.


Research Taekwondo Schools Before Signing Up


The sad reality plaguing the world of martial arts is that many martial arts schools and taekwondo dojangs in America and beyond have become too commercial.

There's nothing wrong with a school generating revenue to support their business and their families, but often this ambition will supersede and diminish the focus on the art itself.

In other words, many dojangs and martial arts schools care more about making money than how well you or your children learn taekwondo.

Some instructors, masters and even grandmasters will push students to be ready for belt testing so they can get their testing fees and generate profits, not especially concerned whether the student is actually ready to test.

If the student can pass the test with a "D-grade", many schools will push the student to test. They want those testing fees, which get more expensive with every belt, and thus more profitable.

What to do: if you're ever pressured into testing, even though you don't believe that you or your child is ready, simply tell the master or grandmaster of the school that you do not feel you are ready to test. They are, by creed, ethics and principles of taekwondo, forced to allow you to wait until the next testing cycle.

If you're not ready to test for your next belt, do not test!

Research taekwondo schools in your area and make sure they are WTF Kukkiwon certified or reputable ITF dojangs with real masters and grandmasters who follow the tenets and creed of taekwondo.

If you don't thoroughly research the martial arts school you're interested in, chances are you'll end up getting ripped off and gain zero skills and knowledge.

Pick a good school. Pay the extra money for certified and reputable training. Don't look for discounts and something "cheap."

Taekwondo is a priceless skill to have when developed correctly, and it's worth the investment.

Which leads us to our next point.

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Take Your Martial Arts Training Seriously


Once you have found a good taekwondo dojang with reputable masters, grandmasters and instructors, it's time to dive into the experience.

Understand that your training is a commitment and that there's no easy and fast way to learn taekwondo or any martial art.

Taekwondo training is grueling and difficult and will often make you feel like you want to cry in a corner and give up. At times, you will hate it. That's normal. You're developing what they call perseverance when you refuse to give up.

Taekwondo training is vigorous and requires pain and suffering to develop the skills efficiently. If you're not willing to be tortured with agonizing training drills and stretching rituals, then don't sign up for taekwondo. Save your time and money.

If you're reading this and scratching your head, thinking that your training has been easy, read the above portion about picking a good school. If your training is easy, you're not in a good dojang. Taekwondo training is vicious.

I repeat, taekwondo training is brutal. It will try to kill you. It will test you. It will strip the weakness from your body and mind.

That's what it's supposed to do.

That's what the training does.

Taekwondo training is meant to condition your body and your mind. It's preparing you for war, even though it also teaches the mental clarity and wisdom for you to understand why war is objectionable and why you should avoid fighting.

Taekwondo training will punish and destroy the voice in your head that says you are weak and pathetic and will replace it with the confidence and ability to believe that you are a warrior.

If you take your taekwondo training seriously, you WILL be a warrior.


If you don't take your taekwondo training seriously, you're wasting your time. It's not about rank and belts. A black belt means nothing in the grand scheme of things. You will not develop the physical and mental skills to become a true warrior if you don't apply yourself and commit to the art of taekwondo.


How Effective is Taekwondo in a Street Fight?


Taekwondo, which means the art of the hand (punch) and foot (kick), is a Korean martial art with roots dating back 2,000+ years ago. The origins of taekwondo were developed by farmers and villagers who often couldn't afford weapons, to protect themselves from thieves, intruders, assailants etc.

In modern times, taekwondo is a little different, even though the strong roots of the art remain.

The World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) was developed in 1973 in Seoul, South Korea, and became an Olympic sport in the year 2000.

As such, many taekwondo schools focus on the sport of sparring and forms (poomsae) rather than self-defense and real-life combat situations, even though these are usually incorporated to some degree.

Unfortunately, the Olympic sparring style of modern taekwondo does not resemble street fighting or real-life combat situations. Old-school taekwondo sparrers from the 70s and 80s will vehemently tell you that TKD Olympic sparring has become a joke.

But that's what the schools are teaching these days.

As such, the fighting style of modern taekwondo has limitations in a real fight situation.

Most street fights tend to involve close combat punching, and, 9 out of 10 times, end up with two people fighting and grappling on the ground.

But that doesn't mean your taekwondo skills won't help you in a real fight.

Taekwondo can be very beneficial in a real fight.

One thing you will learn if you're leveling up to competitive sparring in taekwondo (that is, you go to tournaments and fight for placement) is to always be in control of the fight.

Mastering the art of controlling the fight (getting your sparring opponent to respond and behave how you wish them to) will help you in a real fight.

Beyond the combat skill itself, the most essential ingredient of taekwondo or any martial arts training is physical endurance.

You will be able to win or last longer in a fight now that you've developed physical strength and endurance. Pain won't phase you as much. You will tolerate pain and attacks better. You will be aggressive and dominant, even if you're losing. You won't give up.

You might lose the fight, but you will make your opponent work extremely hard for their victory. They most likely will never bother you again.

While the sparring style of modern taekwondo may not be the most effective in a real street fight situation, that doesn't mean taekwondo should ever be underestimated.

Taekwondo kicks--like the roundhouse kick, back kick, side kick, spinning hook kick and tornado kick--are extremely powerful kicks. Landing any of these on your opponent in a fight can easily cause injury or knockout, and can even be fatal.

There is a reason that almost every MMA fighter who ever graced the mats has had some level of taekwondo training.

Taekwondo is a beast.

But any good martial artist will tell you, that knowledge is power.

Why stop at taekwondo?


Incorporate Taekwondo With Other Martial Arts


In the world of martial arts, many practitioners will show extreme favoritism to the martial art that they've been training in.

Whatever martial art they picked is clearly the best!


"My taekwondo can kick your karate's ass. Oh yeah? My Brazilian Jiu-jitsu can destroy your taekwondo! Wait a minute, dudes, you're all wrong. My Muay Thai can beat all your asses!"

Naturally, people want to know their decision was the best one. That's just how we all are as human beings. It's even fun sometimes to compare and contrast martial arts. Boys will be boys, after all.

However, the wise martial artist will understand that there is an extreme benefit to knowing multiple martial arts.

Do you think Chuck Norris only knew one style of martial arts? What about Bruce Lee? He founded Jeet Kune Do, a philosophy and discipline that was a hybrid of multiple forms of martial arts.

To make your taekwondo more effective in a real fight, learn other martial arts as well.

In my humble opinion, it's best to know at least two martial arts; one that involves kicking and punching (Taekwondo, Karate, Muay Thai etc.) and one that involves ground fighting (such as Wrestling or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu).

Knowing two distinctively different martial arts will give you a powerful edge in a real fight.

Use your taekwondo while you're both still on your feet, then utilize your Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu when the fight inevitably hits the floor, for example.

Side note:

Another great martial art that analyzed the potential ineffectiveness of many popular fighting styles (including boxing) and developed as a means of responding to real-life danger and attacks is Krav Maga.

Krav Maga, employed by the IDF, focuses on real-life threats such as muggers, terrorists, murderers, and drunken lunatics with a machete etc., and teaches a simultaneous defense-attack technique to protect against these threats.

Every martial art that has ever been developed can help you in a real fight situation. It's all a matter of how you apply it, and how seriously you take your training.

Knowledge is power. Learn as much as you can.

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The Bottom Line


Taekwondo is a powerful and effective martial art that is frequently utilized by MMA fighters and competitors around the globe.

In a bar fight or a street fight, the physical endurance training, combat skills and defense techniques that you've learned throughout your taekwondo journey can help save your life.

It is extremely important to remember, however, that violence and street fighting is not the way of the martial artist. There is no shame in avoiding fights or running away from danger if you're able to escape.

Martial arts is learned as a form of discipline and art, and must only be utilized when absolutely necessary, and only to the degree which is appropriate for the situation.

In other words, don't kill the drunk guy at the bar who started a fight with you. Stop his advances. Reprimand him. Control him. Calm the situation. Allow him to withdraw and leave.

Martial artists are known for being super cool, disciplined, chill and collected people. Don't tarnish our reputation.

Remember the Five Tenets of Taekwondo:





Indomitable Spirit

Thanks for reading! Stay safe and be well!

Peace, Love and Martial Arts.

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