Having been involved in martial arts since the beginnings of its modern establishment, I was able to witness first hand both eras of international growth and decay. Of course it brought me great joy to see the popularity of martial arts grow with increasing acceptance. However as the problems of commercialisation began to set in, I could also see the tremendous expense at which this growth was to occur. All too quickly the field of martial arts began to lose its philosophical aspects.
The concept of “sports” martial arts began to take over and a strong emphasis on tournaments with the promise of glory and medals became the major draw card for practitioners. It was at this time that I began to lose faith in the martial arts field. What saddened me most was the declining level of respect for martial arts.
If you look at the field of martial arts today, you will see a number of reasons for its progressive decline in the essence and true values of martial arts.
Unfortunately, we have yet to realise that the needs and wants of today’s practitioners are changing and are dramatically different from those of the past. It is critical to point out that unless we take a step away from the out-dated systems and principles of the past. And actively seek to progress with the times, we will be left behind. Whether we realise it or not, the future survival of martial arts is at stake.
If we want to survive in the years ahead, then simply, we can no longer ignore the issues that are thwarting the field. The following is a brief analysis of each of theses problems so that you may better understand the motivations that prompted me to develop Yun Jung Do.
One of the most serious problems facing the marital arts today is the growing emphasis on quantity at the expense of quality. Nowhere is this more evident that in the growing number of poor-quality instructors and the decline of standards throughout the world.
What is even sadder to see is the growing acceptance of these low standards as high caliber instructors become increasingly rare. As a result, the few organisations and instructors that do uphold the integrity of the art are now finding themselves struggling to survive. Their reputations are becoming harder to preserve as more and more people lose respect for the field.
If you were to take a close look at the techniques and systems of training used by many martial arts styles of today, you would probably find little, if any, development compared to days of old. Unfortunately, many of these styles are based on techniques that are too rigid, stereotyped, and outdated. Not only do they restrict fluidity of movement but, in some cases, they have been proven to cause detrimental harm to the human body.
In most cases, an instructor may be well aware of these faults, but continue to teach students these same techniques for the sake of tradition. There is no denying that tradition has an important role in martial arts, but in matters of technique and teaching systems, it is more important to develop in accordance with physiological research. This should ensure the maximum safety and training effectiveness for students.
We are fortunate to be living in times of great knowledge expansion and physiological discovery. To blatantly ignore the advances of this era is to undermine the very intelligence of human beings. Unless we make a conscious effort to progress with the changing times, the field of martial arts simply will not survive.
One of the most significant trends of martial arts today is its increasing sports orientation and emphasis on tournaments. During the last fifteen to twenty years of this emergence, the field has not only embraced this concept, but also effectively transformed its public perception to capitalise on this image.
Unfortunately, this consuming trend has also been at the tremendous expense of declining values and poor respect for the field of martial arts. Today, martial arts are perceived not as an art form, but as a sports-orientated discipline with little regards, if any, for the philosophical aspects that were once fundamental to them.
As long as we continue to promote this “martial sports” image, the public will continue to perceive martial arts as a mere fighting tool based on physical aggression and competitiveness. Tournaments help to contribute directly to this image. Whether we realise it or not, “martial sports” are the main reason why people believe martial arts practitioners are “thugs”. Instead of promoting the spirit of love and care, they actively encourage the spirit of aggression and hate. In light of this demoralising plight, it is no wonder that the respect for each other has dropped over the past decade.
People are intimidated by the aggression of martial sports and, unless we make a conscious effort to steer them away from this perception, people will continue to be discouraged and dissuaded.
What we need to realise is that martial arts must now aspire to new levels of merit. It is essential that we not only restore the philosophical attributes of traditional martial arts but also, more importantly, take the progressive step forward to meet the greater needs of today’s society.
Such a step includes the development of a more holistic approach and direction in martial arts, one that encompasses not only the mental and physical, but also the spiritual, self-development and moral aspects of total well-being.
One of the most important concerns emerging in the martial arts field today is the issue of politics and its detrimental effects. Unfortunately, there are too many cases where political motivations have unprincipally ruled areas of the martial arts field for these concerns to be ignored.
In some organisations, the extent of these political games and power struggles is so far-reaching that they forcibly interfere with and hamper and art’s performance and direction.
One major area of political contention relates to promotions and grading results where disparities and questionable standards abound.
The situation is so bad within certain organisations that a practitioner can literally buy his or her own promotion or gain recognition by simply know which backs to scratch. Quite simply, they are bastardizing the field.
Adding to the discredit are the large-scale political issues that currently beset the field. These specifically revolve around certain so-called martial arts heads using entire organisations as tools for the pursuit of personal, egotistical interests of fame and power. You see that these cases of corruption occurring all the time and consequently you feel great concern for the future of martial arts.
It is only a matter of time before the political walls of corruption collapse onto the field of martial arts and its perpetrators leaving a trail of ruin behind. If we want to see martial arts survive into the next century, then a new direction free of political influence must be created.
It is my hope that you not only understand my reasoning, but you can fully agree with the issues I have brought to light. There will be some leaders, I expect, who will question my views and even ask what right I have to disparage that credibility of the field in this way. This is indeed a good question as I am only one man in a field of many practitioners.
I do believe, however, that I have strong justification for my viewpoints and good reason for you to believe in the conviction of my words. Also, based on this, I can claim to have the good sense to know what is wrong, what is right, and what has to be adjusted and improved in the field of martial arts.
What is important for you to know is that these opinions did not take form in an instant or in a moment of blinding insight. They evolved during a lifetime of martial arts dedication.
As you may know, a vast part of my life was dedicated to the discipline of Tae Kwon Do and its establishment throughout the world. For more than twenty-two years, I loyally served the International Tae Kwon Do Federation (I.T.F) in various high positions of the organisation.
At first, I held these positions with great honor and value. However, time and a growing awareness of the problems facing martial arts soon began to overshadow these roles. With increasing frustration, I began to recognise and resent the many restrictive policies of the organisation that prevented any real progress of the art.
Ultimately, I began to feel I was doing a great injustice to my students by continuing to teach techniques that I no longer believed in. Adding to this dilemma was that increasing sports orientation of martial arts, a concept I also did not agree with.
In re-examination, I discovered many of my beliefs were in direct conflict with my tasks at hand. Indeed, it would have been much easier simply to ignore these issues and carry on with what I was doing, but this has never been part of my character. I have always believed that a person should listen to his inner emotions and convictions.
Once I had made the decision to tread my own separate path, I knew I had made the right resolution. In aiming to address the many issues that confronted the field, I had set myself the formidable task of developing a completely new art.
Subsequently I have developed a First Diploma and an Advanced Diploma of Yun Jung Do that is accredited by Australian Government through the Vocational Education, Training and Employment Commission (VETEC) and nationally recognised in Australia.
Yun Jung Do will always continue to grow and forever play a significant role in the lives of thousands of practitioners throughout the world. My only wish, now, is to help those practitioners who are currently experiencing the same conflict and frustration that I once felt. Indeed, it is important that they realise that there are other alternatives open to them.
If you feel you are not receiving true fulfillment from the practice of your art, or recognise it does not meet your full expectations, then it is up to you, and you alone, to do something about it. I am here to say that there are other possibilities and new opportunities such as Yun Jung Do that do exist.