I was searching your site, and as my current style is Chinese, I was interested on the Korean take of kung fu. This is what I found:
"Some Chinese styles try to imitate animals. We are human beings not animals, so we should not try to imitate animal movements. We are not constructed like animals, so trying to intimidate their movements is ineffective. Use human movements and techniques. We have our own instincts and attack techniques that are different from animals. Specific techniques used for animal imitation are usually not as effective as purely human techniques. Chinese styles use a lot of mumbo jumbo that makes simple things sound mystic and complicated."
First off, I would like to ask you how you know that Tae Kwon Do, or any martial art for that matter, uses "human" techniques? Are they human techniques because they have different names, like "back stance" instead of "cat stance"? You can call a wrist grab "monkey paw," or whatever you want, it’s still just a move formulated by humans, for humans. You don't see someone that does tiger style walking around on all fours and jumping on people to attack. Even the "tiger claw" which consists of a palm strike to the chin and a rake down through the eyes is recognized by self defense experts as an excellent technique, but they don't call it tiger claw, they just call it a combination palm strike/eye rake. Since you seem to have no background in the Chinese martial arts whatsoever, I can only assume that you have acquired your views from old kung fu movies and/or maybe some Wushu demonstrations (Wushu is not a martial art, by the way, it is like the rhythmic gymnastics of kung fu. They do not learn application, and they have many flowery pointless moves). There is much more I could dictate on this subject, including the fact that both TKD and Karate came from kung fu, but at the moment I have little time to spare.
You are correct that I have no experience in kung-fu, but, just as paleontologists, who have no experience with dinosaurs, make judgments about dinosaurs from the evidence they have left behind, when I research the different styles of kung-fu, I make logical and reasoned judgments from the evidence they leave behind.
For example, the Northern Praying Mantis system was founded by Wang Lang, who, after watching a praying mantis overcome a much larger cicada, studied the insect and incorporated its movements into the new system. Most northern mantis kung fu styles use the mantis hook, where the hand being held in a shape to resemble a mantis' talon and is used for striking, blocking, and parrying. The style stresses that its movements are made in imitation of the movements of the mantis
“Snake” kung-fu stylists are taught to spring from a resting posture to full attack, such as does the snake. They are taught to bob and weave similar to a snake and then attack quickly, in succession, hitting the same opening repeatedly. Should the attacker block one of these snake-strikes, the snake changes targets and continues its barrage. Kicks are low, snappy, and aimed at the shins, knee, or top of foot such as the way a snake attacks
White Crane kung-fu patterns itself after the white cranes of southern Asia. Cranes are tall, long-necked, long-legged birds that are quite frail in appearance. Although their beaks are long, pointed, and strong and may be used as a weapon and they have long talons, the birds are not physically built for a stand-and-fight strategy, so they use evasiveness, using their wings to parry attacks. White Crane stylists use two basic hand techniques, the crane's beak, formed by contacting the thumb with all four fingers to make pinpoint strikes, and the crane's wing, a finger rake. To imitate crane wing movements, they use the whole arm in graceful upward or downward sweeps.
Each of the “animal’ kung-fu styles is based on the movements of a chosen animal. During instruction, constant references are made to the animal itself and how each of the art’s techniques is related to the movements and tactics of the animal.
While is true that many martial art styles, including Taekwondo, use terms such as “cat stance”, after decades of training in Taekwondo and many karate styles, I have never have I heard or read of the stance being described as an imitation of a cat’s movement. The Panthers football team uses the panther’s name and logo but they do not train in, or even mention, panther movements. Of the hundreds of styles of martial arts, only a relatively few compare their movements to animals or other animate things, name all their techniques after the animal, and use the animal in all definitions of the arts and descriptions of the arts’ techniques.
In Taekwondo, we move, strike, and kick as using motions that are conducive to human movement. We do not claim to be associated with any animal nor do we try to imitate the movements of any animal as a way to differentiate ourselves from other similar styles. If your style of martial art does this and you find that it works for you, then that is okay. Just do not walk like a duck, quack like a duck, and swim like a duck, and then deny any association with the duck.
I have heard the “Taekwondo and karate came from kung-fu” story from kung-fu practitioners before. I have also heard the same claims from other martial arts such as Greek Pankration or Indian Vajramushti. Many arts even claim their ancestry goes back to the elusive, legendary figure, Bodhidharma. Many Taekwondo instructors claim Taekwondo to be ancient, even thought the first official mention of Taekwondo only appeared in 1955 when it was formed by a group of Korean masters whose first and only black belts were earned in Shotokan karate. The first Taekwondo patterns were replicas of Funakoski’s Shotokan patterns. Nowadays, many Taekwondo stylists disclaim any connection to Shotokan and claim Taekwondo is ancient uniquely Korean martial art.
Humans have been fighting and killing each other from the beginning of humankind; remember how Cain killed Able. Since ancient humans only had hands and feet, no claws, fangs, talons, or long tails, it may be assumed that that is what they used for fighting. Due to human body composition, when threatened with harm, people punch and kick. Make a baby mad and he or she will kick at you or ball up his or her fist and swing at you; the baby will not make movements like some other type of animal. Over the eons, in an effort to be different and to make themselves something special, people have changed some little way in which a fighting movement is performed, called it something different, and claimed it to be a “new” way to fight. Each successive style claimed to be the first, the best, and the badest. When it comes to hand-to-hand fighting, humans instinctively kick, punch, and, if that fails, they grapple, which has served them well since the Garden of Eden.
Since humans are born with instinctive, protective abilities, any martial art should build upon those instincts and train to make them faster, stronger, and more powerful. Martial arts that do this are simple to learn and perform. Martial arts that are counter to human instincts are difficult to learn and it takes many years of training before the movements become instinctive. My goal in a martial arts class is that each student should walk out of class being better at defending him or herself than he or she walked into the class. I do this by showing them how to do better at what they do naturally. If your goal in a martial art class is to become better at performing the martial art itself, that is okay; just do not confuse being good at a martial art with being good at defending yourself. A basic street brawler can beat most martial artists because they just do what come naturally to humans; they do not try to imitate some other animal.
Taekwondo is a martial art. If you read all the topics in TKDTutor.com, you will see that, as with all martial arts, Taekwondo has its share of “BS.” However, one reason for its worldwide growth and popularity is its basic, instinctive “human” movements that are natural and easy to learn, rather than being unnatural, contrived movements that have exotic names and are based on some ancient “mumbo jumbo” philosophy.
There are many styles of kung-fu. Your style may be one that teaches basic, instinctive human movements, but that does not negate the fact that the majority of kung-fu styles are based upon contrived animal movements.