Friday, October 18, 2013

What Muay Thai Fighters Think of Taekwondo

Muay Thai vs Taekwondo is often a heated debate, as Muay Thai has risen to become the top striking art in MMA. What do Muay Thai fighters think of Taekwondo athletes? Here's a random sample of their point of view, taken from the internet and emails as part of a survey.

Taekwondo sucks and is totally out classed by Muay Thai. I am just kidding.
I have trained for a long time and over the years have ended up training with lots of guys that either had a TKD background as a kid or even a few that were competitive as adults. One thing without a doubt about guys with TKD experience is that their kicks will be fast and powerful. Usually kick exchanges are tricky and they will throw some unorthodox (in terms of Muay Thai) strikes that catch people off guard. I know that I have taken some kicks from the TKD guys I have trained with and incorporated them into my game, spinning back and hook kicks as well as the axe kick in particular.
Guys that I have trained with that are fresh from TKD and don't have MT experience tended to get too hung up on winning the kicking aspect and end up being susceptible to being overrun by punches and clinching. I also found the up high bouncy stance leaves them open to sweeps and throws.
Overall I have had good experiences training with TKD guys. I have a lot of respect for the sport and feel there is much to learn in cross training.

Point sparring. Bleh.

I've had some mixed experiences with Tae Kwon Do fighters. For the most part I've noticed an issue with stance and adaptation. I used to spar with a 3rd or 4th dan (I forgot which) Taekwondo fighter and while his side kicks certainly hurt, close range there wasn't much going on (lacking boxing techniques or even close range kicks for when I cut him off by circling). The side facing stance also made him (and others I've sparred with), very very susceptible to leg kicks. He also got a little too comfortable just tapping me with strikes, he had the power, but didn't put it into action.
Now on the other hand one of the greatest, if not the greatest fighter I've worked, Cyrus Washington, with had an original background in Tae kwon Do. He focused on Muay Thai later on, but his tae kwon do strikes were very unpredictable and really messed me up. That coupled with his base Muay Thai stance, boxing/clinch techniques, and power made for a really difficult combination to deal with.
Overall, I think Tae Kwon Do fighters can be very good, if theres some mixture with other ideas. But most of the Tae Kwon Do fighters I have worked with have been very set in their ways (along with being incredibly cocky) and refused to believe that there was something they could change, even after sparring. This can be a result more so on the part of McDojos rather than Tae Kwon Do itself

Different weapons for a different rule set.Different weapons for a different rule set.

The general perception of tkd in the mt world is that a black belt in tkd is almost as useful in a fight as a PhD in basket weaving.
Wicked kicks yes, but most are impractical, flashy, and inaccurate. 

I did a good eight years of TKD. My instructor was previously a military boxer before he studied TKD for over a decade. This shown in his instruction. We learned the more practical kicks, and hand techniques were just as prevelant as kicking in my dojang. The flashiest that was ever taught was spinning wheel, axe, and leaping kicks (which were more lunging than jumping to cover distance). Boxing stances and techniques were also incorporated as well.
Sparring was a daily occurence in class. The level of contact was based on experience/individuals but usually it was medium to full contact with safety gear (consisting of headgear, gloves, mouthpiece, shinguards, and cup). It was during this time we were taught "The best way to help your partner keep his guard up is to punch him!" It was a cute but true joke as I would learn later: most TKD'ers really don't keep their guard up. We were allowed to utilize whatever we wished during sparring short of elbows, to include the few takedowns found in our style (mostly sweeps and hip throws). It was fun, exhilirating, but most importantly taught us what we would actually be using for self-defense or sport.
When I visited other TKD schools (in USA mind you), the quality of instruction was not so high. I saw black belt children giving orders to those much older. I saw most TKDer's utilize just nothing but kicks with no concept of range. Nothing they did really looked like it had "power" behind it. I saw black belts spar like green belts and the average instructor being horribly out of shape. It was around this time that I realized that this was the standard for TKD in the west. I always wondered growing up why one of my most favorite arts got so much shit, and I was witnessing it with each new school I went to. What seems to be the standard in Muay Thai, boxing, kickboxing, Judo, etc is apparently an exception in TKD. This would pretty much bum me out of martial arts until I found Muay Thai (and even more so, a gym with a similar mindset as my dojang).
Big long-winded story but my point is this: TKD is a valid enough of a striking art to warrant investment in. The problem is finding a decent school/gym. I'm sure with a little research you could find some full-contact TKD gyms that suit the needs of a combative person. As for the professional side, I believe TKD fighter Keiji Ozaki is doing an overall solid job of with proving TKD's worth (Career Record 26W-18L-1D, 9 KOs).

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