The Changing World of Martial Arts


From my father's book, The Complete Martial Artist - Volume 1, published in 1981.


In the past 10 years, major changes in martial arts have made a considerable impact on both students of the art as well as the general public. For good or bad, much of the mystique has been dispelled. These changes have taken root in America. Tremendous growth has resulted from expirimentation, trial and error to the point where it has reached exciting new heights of development. There are many new methods for training and teaching and while these new techniques have evolved, some of our traditions have been discarded or forgotten. When I started training in Korea, only a limited number of kicks were used such as the front snap, side thrust and roundhouse kicks. Sine then, the popular emergence of point system tournaments has contributed to the development of many new kicking techniques. As a result of this, a new set of techniques has emerged which include spinning kicks, jumping back turning kicks, new combinations and counterattacks. The physical scope of the practitioner also has widened considerably, with a new emphasis that includes accelerated power, speed and spin.

The time has arrived to replace insular, often staid attitudes with renewal of ideas rejuvenation and a porous acceptance of change within all aspect of the various systems of martial arts, especially in the relationship between one martial artist and another.

Now is the only reality. We may be the sum of our past, and the past of millions who lived before us, but life is what we are doing, thinking, feeling and creating now. This moment is reality. I therefore cannot live captured by the ideals of the past or in fear of my future. Neither am I afraid to admit change into my life, especially within my teaching of Taekwondo. If there is a superior way of teaching or developing techniques, I want to know about it; I will adapt that way into the methods I have established before. The future of all systems of martial arts depends on continual growth, as with any art form. While retaining our noble traditions, we can and should continue to explore new concepts and training methods.

In writing this book I have carefully examined and analyzed the most effective methods, scientifically and otherwise, for developing a technique. The great masters of the past were indeed excellent teachers but, surrounded as we are today by new technology and innovative research of training methods, there are superior methods available to us for developing certain techniques. I do not feel compelled within the traditions of my art to remain with one method formulated years ago as the only way.

In addition to the physical side of martial arts we also have studied the spiritual and mental aspects and in this book we hope to awaken you to some of the hidden depth and fulfillment that can be achieved by realization of the philosophy explored here.

Martial art is a physical and mental art form that permits its students to have a deeper understanding of themselves and, therefore, a greater capacity toward achieving self fulfillment. By working together we can contribute toward building a world with less violence and a deeper understanding of all peoples.


In my opinion, his thoughts are just as relevant today, and likely for generations to come. 

Jacob Cho