Americans train in taekwondo for the usual reasons: for exercise, to lose weight, to get in shape, and because they think it may help them if they are attacked. These are good reasons for training in any martial art, but they are somewhat selfish reasons, since they only involve personal needs. These were the reasons most Americans trained in taekwondo prior to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and they are still the reasons most Americans train in taekwondo after 9/11.
Taekwondo practitioners still train for personal reasons; they do not train for or even consider the possibility that they may have to fight terrorists who want to kill hundreds of strangers, and that they may surely die in the fight. If their effort is not successful, then they will have died in vain, and hundreds of others will still die.
Before 9/11, taekwondo practitioners believed they were trained to handle any threat against them or their loved ones. However, 9/11 forced them to face the possibility that, at any moment, they may have to fight for the lives of fellow aircraft passengers, or for the lives of thousands of others on the ground. For the ones who have considered this possibility, most of them have ignored it and live under the delusion that the government will protect them.
Taekwondo practitioners primarily train to fight one-against-one, against attackers who, although not afraid of getting hurt, are not so intent on hurting you that they would be willing to die trying. Most martial artists train to defend against a mugger, a troublesome drunk in a bar, a purse snatcher, or an enraged motorist, not against a crazed terrorist. Some attackers may fight to the death, not because they planned to or want to, but because they are caught up in the excitement of the attack. Taekwondo practitioners have been trained to react to this type of escalating attack, but they have not been trained to defend against terrorist attackers who are highly intelligent, sane individuals who calmly and impartially, with no concern for their own lives, want to kill you simply because you do not believe in their religion. Terrorists are unafraid to die; in fact, they cherish the possibility they may die.
Taekwondo training, especially sport taekwondo, has been mostly concerned with free-sparring and tournament competition. Free-sparring is mostly an individual sport where you “fake” fight one opponent at a time for a trophy. Taekwondo students have traditionally mostly been taught one-on-one self-defense techniques; rarely have they been taught to defend against multiple attackers. Each type of martial art teaches its students to defend themselves primarily using the techniques of the specific art, such as throwing, grappling, or in the case of taekwondo, punching and kicking. Most martial arts, taekwondo included, teach the concept of “no first blood”; one must attack only after being attacked. Because of 9/11, all these teachings must be reconsidered.
- Next >>