Choosing a martial art isn’t always the easiest option, but it sure is worth it. Once you find the martial arts style which suits you most, it can become a really fun and enjoyable journey to learn how to be a better and better fighter each day. However, not all martial arts were created equal, and there are styles that have outperformed other styles in countless championships or tournaments, so it isn’t unrealistic to try to gauge a martial art’s effectiveness and compare it to another. In today’s article, we will be looking at the effectiveness of Taekwondo, one of the most popular martial arts on the planet.
Taekwondo is a highly effective martial art in terms of self-defense, though it isn’t the most effective one due to the lack of sufficient grappling and realistic punching work.
Further in this article, we will talk about all the aspects of Taekwondo that make it effective, and we will also try to look at the aspects of it which hold it back from being even more effective than it is. Martial arts are a complicated business, and analyzing and comparing them might be even harder, but it is necessary in order to spread the highest quality information so that everyone can get to learn the style that suits them the best. Read on if you are interested!
Is Taekwondo Effective in a Real Fight?
The best place to review the effectiveness of martial art is probably the street. When you take a martial artist into an octagon or perhaps onto the tatami, the rules which are there do defend them usually end up being the exact rules that are broken on the street, thus causing their failure and defeat. This is why real pressure testing of martial arts is crucial for them to be properly evaluated. The best way to do this in a controlled environment is to do a lot of sparring training in classes, which is the closest you can get to a real-life fight.
Another way to realistically analyze the effectiveness of martial art and gain some real insight is by talking to people who have trained in the art and asking them about their experience with it. You can look up some great book of a given martial art, watch a movie about it, and you might think it is the best in the world. That is, all until a person who has been training it for a decade tells you that they have been outclassed and beaten by a high-school wrestler. The MMA-style mixing and matching of martial arts are truly what gives the most solid foundation for the true analysis of any martial art.
So in light of this, how does Taekwondo fare? Well, if there were a spectrum ranging from “Least Effective” to “Most Effective”, Taekwondo would be somewhere around ¾ of the way to Most Effective. Basically, what this would mean is that if you have an encounter with an average Joe who had one too much to drink, you would be able to defend yourself and win the fight 99% of the time, however, if you meet a person who has been training in kickboxing or Muay Thai for a couple of months even, you might be in trouble.
Why is that so? Well, MMA has taught us a lot in recent decades about what makes a good fighter. Even though the octagon is not the same as the street, it is probably the closest we can get in legal and (somewhat) cultured ways, so it isn’t too unrealistic to judge by performance in the octagon. Think of all the greatest fighters in recent times, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Conor McGregor, or Israel Adesanya. Though they all have styles of fighting specific to them, they all have something in common: they are all well-rounded martial artists. Khabib isn’t the best boxer in the UFC, not even close. However, when facing a prolific boxer, he goes in for a double-leg takedown and gets them to submit with wrestling and grappling.
This is true for the other names mentioned as well, they are all comfortable in many places, and they try to improve on all aspects of their game at all times, not only focusing on the aspect of fighting they are good at.
So how does that connect to Taekwondo? The reason we mention having a well-balanced self-defense system is important, is because it is the main reason Taekwondo is just not up there with the best styles. It is very kick-heavy, with little to no emphasis on grappling, wrestling, or joint-locks, and not nearly enough of fist fighting. We know that traditionally it has much of these as well, but in reality, your local Taekwondo dojo almost certainly won’t have them. And again, we are talking in terms of comparing it between other martial arts and combat systems, so if you train Taekwondo, you will know how to defend yourself, but it is worth knowing the weaker points of the art as well.
However, if you find a reputable dojo that is not obsessed with point-based fighting like most Taekwondo dojos are, and which has masters who have learned traditional ways and also endorse a lot of sparring, you can quite quickly become a force to be reckoned with. Now that we have discussed the issues we (and much of the martial arts community) see with Taekwondo, let’s talk about all the aspects of it that make it amazing!
First of all, your physical condition will be top-notch if you take it seriously. Just watch one Taekwondo video to see how insanely athletic most advanced practitioners are. Flexibility, strength, speed are all going to be areas you will excel in, and with the large emphasis on the legs, your leg muscles will be like that of a horse. The reason we are talking about this is that even if you don’t manage to land a Taekwondo kick or some technique, your physical strength will make you a lot more resilient to almost all types of harm. You might wrestle your way out, you might resist things like headlocks better, you will have a lower chance of being injured, and even a simple sidekick will deal a lot more damage from you than it would from a non-athletic person.
Also, the techniques and the style of conditioning will turn you into an absolute monster when it comes to kicking. Usually, when people watch UFC for example, they see people kicking each other’s legs like crazy, and they also see the fighters just fight on without a second thought or a flinch. Well, if an average person or even just a moderately-trained person would take a kick like that to the leg, they would probably fall to the ground immediately and not get up until the ambulance comes to take the person into the hospital for an examination of possible fractures. The kicking power and technique you can develop just by training Taekwondo can truly make you a force to fear.
In a real street fight, spinning hook kicks might not be your best option, however, Taekwondo has a lot of kicks and other techniques to choose from, and you can also neutralize your opponent with a front kick to the abdomen or perhaps a well-timed punch. All-in-all, Taekwondo is an effective martial art that gave many martial artists (for example Valentina Shevchenko) their foundation and starting push into the world of fighting.
Other Advantages of Taekwondo
Some good fighting skills aren’t the only thing you can achieve by training taekwondo, though. There are many benefits to training martial arts in general since they are a highly effective way to improve your health, longevity, and mental function as well.
Stretching, for example, a key part of Taekwondo has immensely positive effects on your cardiovascular health. It increases blood flow to muscles and organs, delivering more oxygen and improving their function, and also reducing stress and inflammation levels. The high-intensity training, on the other hand, can wreak havoc on your muscle fibers, which will heal and grow to be stronger than before, which will result in not only more physical power, but also an overall sense of general well-being, and an increase in endorphin, serotonin and dopamine levels as well.
Taekwondo practice isn’t easy. You need to concentrate a lot to be able to learn and then properly execute the techniques being taught, which, over time, increases your ability to focus on a single object or task at hand. Since this training tires you out mentally as well as physically, your sleep will start to be deeper and it will start to have more regenerative effects than for an average person, making you less anxious, more well-rested, happier, and healthier as well.