When we assumed the soldier, we did not lay aside the citizen.-George Washington 1775
Ever hear that "taekwondo" is only a sport, that it is useless in a real fight? Ever hear one martial artist or another claim that he or she teaches a "real" fighting style because he or she uses "realistic" training.
How realistic can the training be?
To have realistic training, you would have to include bare-knuckle, full-contact punches, full-power kicks, bites, spitting, head butts, eye gouges, cuts, slices, stabs, bludgeoning, firearms fired at you, etc. No martial arts schools train this way and most people would not want to train this way. Not even elite combat units, such as Navy Seals, Army Airborne, Marine Recon, etc., train this way, and they must be ready to fight to the death on a moment’s notice as a part of their duty.
Do you want to be a killing machine, walking the streets waiting for an opportunity to kill? Do you want killing machines walking around your community? I think not on both questions! Citizens want to feel they can protect themselves and loved ones when required, but otherwise, they want to lead productive, fulfilled, and peaceful lives.
Do the spouses and families of Seal team members live in daily fear that their loved ones will suddenly kill them in a moment of uncontrolled anger? No! They do not. Why not?
How are professional soldiers able to function as ordinary citizens when not fighting? How do you train for a real fight or a fight to the death in a way that will also permit you to be a loving spouse and parent and a productive citizen until the need arises?
It is accomplished by using the concept of binary training. The binary concept relates to two separate, relatively harmless entities that, when combined, create a third deadly entity.
Many military chemical weapons are binary. Each part of the two parts of the weapon is harmless, but, when the two parts combined, they form a deadly mixture. The atomic bomb is binary. A critical mass is halved, and the halves are kept separate. Other than their limited-range radiation, they are harmless. However, when the two parts are forced together by a powerful conventional explosion, they create one of the most destructive forces known to man.
A killer requires two things, the ability to kill, and the will to kill. Separately, neither will nor ability is illegal. It is not illegal to walk down the street carrying a baseball bat. It is not illegal to merely want to kill someone. However, it is illegal to walk down the street with a baseball bat with the will and intent to kill someone.
Special forces troops such as Navy Seals, Army Rangers, Air Force Pararescue, and Marine Force Recon are trained in physical techniques and weapons that could kill, but they do not go around killing people to practice. They are trained in physical techniques that could seriously injure a person, but they do not use the techniques on each other for practice. You cannot have a highly trained warrior taken out of action because of a training injury. What good is a highly trained warrior if he is not able to fight when the need arises?
Special forces troops are trained to prepare themselves physiologically to kill on demand. A sniper in a war zone must be able to kill a seemingly unarmed woman or child whose only offense is stepping into an exclusion area. Then, when this same sniper is home on leave, he must be able to argue with a neighbor without having the slightest desire to kill the neighbor. Elite combat troops are trained physiologically to kill and in methods to kill, but the two aspects are kept separate. As long as they are kept separate, the warrior may live as an ordinary citizen. However, when the two aspects of training are combined under the right circumstances, such as being on duty in a war zone, the warrior becomes fully capable of killing.
Martial artists train in techniques that may be used to seriously injure or even kill another person. However, if they do not have the physiological training that would allow them to form a mentality that would permit them to use the techniques in a deadly manner, they are merely practitioners of the sport of martial arts. Many, and probably most, taekwondo practitioners train in taekwondo as a sport. They hear the term “martial arts” but they have no concept of its meaning.
Train to be a warrior
Martial arts are fighting arts that are related to war or to being a warrior. In modern times, most so-called martial arts, including taekwondo, are merely sports played for enjoyment and competition with little or no thought given to the warrior aspect.
During times of occupation by invading armies, countries, such as Korea, preserved their martial arts heritage by disguising the arts as part of folk dances. The movements and techniques were preserved, but the warrior spirit was not preserved. The warrior spirit requires mental preparation and training.
Nowadays, people reject this type of training as being old-fashioned and useless, an attempt to circumvent Christianity, a waste of time, and not suitable to Western culture. Most modern martial arts involve playing a warrior and the students have no concept whatsoever of war or being a warrior.
Most modern sport martial artists have the false impression that their instep-round kick that scores well in a tournament will be useful in a fight. They think they will be able to defeat an attacker since they win trophies in a tournament. They can kick quickly (as in sparring) and have the ability to kick powerfully (as in breaking), but they cannot kick quickly and powerfully as would be required in a fight, and most importantly, they do not have the mental attitude of a warrior.
A person who will fight to the death has either nothing to lose or everything to lose. A street fighter with no family, job, or possessions does not fear injury, loss of pay, jail, or lawsuits, so he or she will seek fights and not fear death or killing. A person with a family, job, and possessions will try to avoid fights and will only fight to achieve an escape from the fighting situation unless there is a threat to their life or the lives of their family. Then, they will fight to the death because their death or the death of a family member would mean losing everything meaningful to them. However, to a warrior, there is a fate worse than death.
To a warrior, life without honor is worse than death. A warrior who acts with dishonor on the battlefield will be ostracized by fellow warriors and many times bring disgrace upon his family for generations. A warrior will fight to the death because it is an honorable thing to do.
Jeremy Borda joined the Navy as an underage seaman and, through hard work, dedication, and perseverance became an admiral and eventually the Chief of Naval Operations (the highest military position in the Navy) in the early 1990s. One of his accomplishments was when he started a service-wide program for suicide prevention.
Throughout his career, he earned a multitude of military decorations and medals. In 1995, after hearing that a reporter was to interview him in the afternoon about one ribbon he was wearing that his critics said he was not authorized to wear, Admiral Borda went home for lunch, went to his backyard, sat on a bench, and killed himself with a firearm. Later investigation showed that the error in wearing the medal was not his fault. Even though his death served no useful purpose, it did show the spirit of a true warrior who chose death over dishonor.
A true martial artist will have a warrior spirit. A warrior may live as a family man, be loved in his community, and be respected by all, but, when the need arises, a warrior will be able to fight to the death for his family, country, and honor.
For a taekwondo practitioner to be effective in a real-life fight, he or she needs to have the ability to fight (either a physical ability or a weapon) and be physiologically prepared to fight to the death. Martial arts techniques themselves are not dangerous if they are kept under control. Being physiologically prepared to fight to the death is not dangerous if it is controlled. However, when the two are combined under the right circumstances, taekwondo is a highly effective “realistic” martial art, as would be practically any other martial art.
Therefore, no martial art is “realistic” because of its techniques. A martial art becomes realistic when it trains its practitioners to possess a warrior spirit and shows them how to keep the warrior spirit separate from the techniques of war until the time for battle. Without the warrior spirit, a martial art is merely a sport.