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.
What if you were aboard one of the aircraft that were hijacked on 9/11, what would you have done? Each aircraft was commandeered by a group of hijackers, each supposedly only armed with a box cutter that has a small blade only capable of making shallow cuts, which, unless made directly over a major artery, are not immediately life threatening. What would you have done in this situation? What have you been trained to do? Attempting a throw would be useless, there is no room to kick or grapple, and you have no weapons. Your primary means of defense would have to be direct hand-to-hand combat. To stop a terrorist, you would have to kill him with your bare hands.