Choi Kwang Do - A review

Discussion in 'Other Styles' started by Aegis, Feb 21, 2010.

  1. Aegis

    Aegis River Guardian Admin Supporter

    This is actually part of my issue with CKD. You don't say "I will be testing for my black belt this summer"; instead you say "(I) will be getting my black belt this summer".

    Let's assume that you have been training for a total of 4 years at that time (i.e. 5 less the year out). You indicate that you're still catching back up with yourself due to the year out, so let's assume that has an effect of 6 months. That puts you down to 3.5 years of training. Later on you indicate that a large proportion of your initial training was from a poor instructor and you're having to relearn a lot of your basics as a consequence. With all this taken into account, your test for black belt should be far from a foregone conclusion, indeed in an art taking its standards seriously you probably wouldn't test for black belt anywhere near this soon, let alone be confident of passing.

    This is exactly the sort of problem that CKD is well-known for. There are high-graded senior instructors who don't actually teach very well, but the standards for passing gradings seem so low that these issues can't be identified by, say, the grading metrics for that instructor's students. In my own style, if one instructor has a much higher candidate failure rate for particular gradings, it's easy to figure out what isn't being taught well and to incorporate that into instructor training sessions at some point in future. Proper testing is very useful in this manner, as it makes it obvious when there are flaws in either the candidate's attitude to training or the instructor's ability to teach. The apparent desire not to fail anyone for a CKD grading is highly detrimental to the style's quality control.

    It's good that you found a good instructor, but in reality the association itself should be ensuring that poor instructors don't get to run large classes and represent the style .

    Not really. The best review might have been one where I went to several classes at random to see how things differed from instructor to instructor, but ultimately a style is only as good as the worst teacher representing that style, therefore it's still a very fair review to simply go to my closest class. That is, after all, what a typical starting student would do, and there's no way a starting student would be able to tell the difference between good and bad training.

    Yes. You shouldn't have to travel to several different teams as a beginner to learn the basic rules of football and how to kick a ball accurately to someone else, control, dribble, shoot, tackle, etc. You'll then learn how to play in cooperation with your team-mates to defend or attack. If your team doesn't practice those skills very well, it will become clear in the very first match against another team. This would be a good analogy for a well-structured grading - shortcomings should be easily highlighted where testing is actually a pressured event rather than a foregone conclusion.

    The problem is that those of us posting on this thread have never seen any good demonstrations of CKD. What we see are people who have learnt a specific set of movements and can perform them gracefully, then they can hit a shield quite hard (usually - some high grade CKD instructors should be embarrassed at how little power they can generate). Most cannot show decent realistic self defence skills in a pressure test and often show a dreadful lack of awareness when, for example, demonstrating defences against common weapon attacks (I did a review of a CKD 3rd dan grading a while back where the attacking and defending for both stick and knife attacks was so unrealistic that it would have been comical if this wasn't something being taught as part of the "ultimate self defence martial art").

    Top CKD instructors need to take a very long look at what they are doing and claiming, because these are worlds apart.

    Which is a problem when you have 18 before first dan, another test for black belt then another 9 before second dan, etc. All of which are essentially meaningless because of the incredibly low failure rate. An expensive grading isn't too bad if you're only testing once or twice a year, but when the expectation is for one grading every 2 months, the costs rack up enormously.

    The class costs are not unreasonable in comparison to many other arts, but the other costs add up quickly. Courses, gradings, uniform changes, etc.

    This is exactly my problem here. The gradings are more or less mandatory if you want to proceed with the art, but are utterly meaningless as a test of your skill. As a result, it's possible to obtain a high recognition of skill that isn't really there - this will inevitably lead to instructors who don't know what they're doing, which worsens the cycle of instruction further.

    The problem I have with this is that techniques learnt and practised under a form of stress or exhaustion are much more likely to be useful if ever needed. If you never stress during training, you are very unlikely to respond properly in a high-stress environment like actually defending yourself.

    This is not the standard definition of circular in martial arts. At its most basic, this is defined by whether you stay on the line the joins you and your opponent (i.e. stepping forwards and backwards predominantly) or whether you step off the line for most techniques (often using diagonal stepping to evade and close distance). CKD is predominently the former, not the latter, therefore it is a linear art.

    I won't argue that the movements themselves often make sense, but they're not taught in an optimal fashion for promote good self defence skills.

    I don't think anyone ever truly masters an art or the techniques within the art - there's always some way to get a bit more efficiency out of techniques. The best way to practice your blocking though is to get a training partner to actually try to hit you in the face and to work on how to deal with this threat in the most optimum manner. CKD seems to approach this with a different mentality for the most part because of their non-contact approach, therefore it's necessary to go "off-piste" to develop your techniques faster.

    I disagree. If might be useful for the first five minutes or so when white belts are first observing how someone moves when punching, but immediately after that they should be dealing with an element of contact. I don't mean that they should be spitting away teeth and blood if they mess up, but the blocks should be against slow moving attacks actually targeting their face, that way they can properly start to gain an appreciation for what the movements are supposed to achieve.

    I really dislike the shifting back of blocks as well. Putting your balance back when an opponent is punching gives them an opportunity to charge you down, which would be very difficult to avoid or counter if your weight is back. The footwork thing would be better taught by starting inside punching range and getting them to practice moving safely outside threat range. This is of course extremely difficult, as an opponent can always come forward faster than you can go backwards, therefore this might encourage more thoughts on how best to disengage with an aggressor.

    My white belts do drills at punching range where they are blocking properly from day one. To date I haven't have a single student actually get hit during their initial sessions - this changes as people go up the grades because being hit is the single best way to learn what's wrong with blocks.

    We've never had a really bad hit during a drill though - sparring is another matter entirely, but that's optional.

    Fair enough.

    Learning to block and counter is best done by learning to block and counter an attack. A pattern should be used (if at all) to teach more esoteric aspects of training, such as good posture, balance, transitional movements, awareness, etc. There's really no need for a pattern comprising two techniques (i.e. a single block and counter attack), this should just be a basic technique learned with a partner.

    I have one question for you - given what you have said about testings and training, etc, what do you think your black belt will actually mean when you receive it? This isn't intended to be a rude question, but I genuinely fail to see how a grading system where almost no-one fails can possibly have any meaning to anyone.
    GAIA likes this.
  2. santiyo2000nfo

    santiyo2000nfo New Member

    Hello! i didnt expect a reply from the original poster 5 years on. Thanks for taking the time.

    I can see that there are a lot of different views here but I guess I will try to reply without starting a drawn out debate. To be honest I am only seeking the truth and I will assist in finding it by providing information. I am open to all perspectives and appreciate what you've said as its made me open my mind a bit more.

    Firstly just to apologise for wording what I said in the way I said it, your completely correct. The truth is that I have confidence in my abilities and I am putting in a huge amount of effort. My work hours are very low and my schedule is flexible so I'm training 'overtime' so to speak to be able to grade this summer. I apologise for my use in wording, the truth is that I've chosen to delay my test until I feel fully prepared and feel that if I continue in this manor I WILL pass. Obviously there is also the whole issue with CKD grading etc, but I just wanted to clarify my personal situation first.

    In terms of how long I've been training for, the fact was that in the last poist I was just estimating when I started, to clarify I dug out my old certificates, I received my yellow belt grading in May 2011. So that means that I would have started around Jan/Feb 2011. Last year (2014) I went travelling for 6 months, in which time I still did some CKD/TKD classes in foreign schools but for the sake of argument we will cut that out. So yes your right, I've been training for around 3.5/4 Years.

    To clarify, regarding my old instructor, the issue is not really that he was a 'poor' instructor but in actuality he is no where near as 'good' as my current instructor in his level of commitment to individual students. I feel that my current instructor is so overwhelmingly good at his profession that its enough to put anyone to shame. My old instructor was not a bad teacher at all, he knew his stuff but my point was that I had to push for information, I had to dig and ask questions, So personally I got a lot out of it, though i cant say the same of other students, and would go as far to say that some students standards where a bit of a joke.

    In terms of re-learning old techniques, Yes there where a few key things in which I felt as if it would have been good to learn them properly at the beginning but truth be told they are minor things which, yes, I need to put in the effort to rectify but has not really been a major issue, in fact in a twisted way it has allowed to to truly perfect myself. Also, the issue I see is that its very hard to distinguish which techniques I am relearning due to a 'poor' teacher (in your words) or the fact that my current teacher just has a different way of teaching/viewing things. There is also the fact that CKD does constantly adapt/update some of its techniques so sometimes regardless of teacher or anything you need to relearn things.

    I do appreciate where your coming from, its a hard pill to swallow to think that I am not ready to grade as you've said or that if the standards where taken more seriously then I wouldn't test for a blackbelt, It is a thought that has crossed my mind, This is why I have been training so hard, taking private outdoor lessons with my teacher and generally trying to train a little everyday. I would like you to truly understand that I do agree with you, CKD has some major flaws in its system and the gradings are a bit of a farce, I am aware of this and because of this i have chosen sometimes to postpone gradings, and to only do it when I myself would pass myself, If that makes any sense? Obviously traditional martial arts DOES NOT work in this way, I shouldn't 'pass myself' so to speak but the fact is that I love the techniques of CKD and It feels right to me, so i really have no options, If i like the martial arts but have to deal with the bull, then so be it, ill do it. I am my own worst critic and maybe I am a niche market but for me, CKD is working. Its a shame that you have to have this cirtain mentality to (in most cases by the looks of it...) really get the most out of CKD. I hope that CKD will sort things out as time goes on, because so far I think most of the issues are to do with structure and management, I believe the techniques themselves are sound.

    Completely with you there, its a shame and its a problem. To be honest I dont go on the web a lot to do research on forums etc so now im becoming more aware of how widespread the issue seems to be.

    Thanks, yes i got very lucky in so many different ways that I cant be bothered to explain. Yes it seems to be an issue and for me the worst part is that I believe that CKD has so much potential. :(

    Yeah.... I get what your saying but i'm sure you also get where i'm coming from. My point was that your obviously an influential figure on this forum :)Aegis:) and you wrote a very informative detailed review which a lot of people read. What you did was great and I give you credit for it, I was only trying to remind people that this was one negative incident (maybe out of many, but one none the less). in my opinion its a fair review for that class, in your area, but it doesn't reflect all schools, this is why I made this post just to add a different perspective that's all.

    yes, unfortunately your links to YouTube where taken down (maybe because of this post? :rolleyes:) and i couldn't really see what you where referring to specifically. Also another thing to consider is that this was 5 years ago, and no joke but thats a pretty long time and things might have changed (*might*). The examples you describe sound ridiculous and embarrassing, what a joke, I hope that these issues where addressed and rectified. This is why its good to have these conversations and shed perspective.

    on a side note, I have a suspicion that CKD controls its youtube/media very closely, maybe especially after those videos. I am always a bit disappointed at the lack of content I can find online. The other day i talked to my teacher about making some basic videos, breaking down basic techniques because i could not believe that there where not existing videos. that's terrible if they are indeed censoring their media coverage.

    I understand, but if you take the martial arts seriously (I like to use myself as an example) then they are not meaningless. But yes, major flaw for some if not most students. (I talk about this later on)

    Completely agree, and if I hadn't struck gold with this current teacher then I would have left.

    Sorry, i didnt really elaborate properly. My point is that it depends entirely on you, there is the space to have the stress and exhaustion and every week I go through this. The bag drills are done in 60-30 second bursts which yes, if you want to take it easy you can, but if you want to go for it you'll end up staring at your lunch. The teachers and students should cheer and motivate the students partaking in the exercise (this is what we do). Another thing not really mentioned here is speed drills which is like a pattern but designed to be done as fast as possible in a straight line, These can be horrible and I've left a class after doing one of these when i didnt feel too well. We do a lot of different stuff, one example is when you are being pressed from 2 sides by shields, the point is to strike at each shield in succession to keep your personal space until your too tired to continue. Other things are things like bump drills where you are pushed from the back by a shield and must turn around, determine if its a foe or friend (done by hand gestures) and then strike or dont strike. I'm sure there are more hardcore martial arts out there but I would call these examples fairly stressfull/exhausting especially when repeated. If you want more examples i can provide.

    Fair enough, Ill take your word for it, im no expert. All i know is from doing TKD it feels a lot more 'Rounded'. If what you say is true they should not be advertising themselves as such.

    Sorry, are you saying that the techniques are good but the teaching methods are bad? Because if this is the case then this is exactly why I've stuck with it, because i love the techniques and ive made the best out of the situation.

    Im not sure what "off-piste" means. Also, Maybe this is an example of you not experiencing a very good class. In our classes sparring all depends on the partner. CKD says it is non contact but it is a twisted truth, in actuality they DO have sparring, but it seems that the difference is that the sparring is not so 'free'. They teach different templates to follow, its difficult to explain sorry. So for example, for one belt (i cant remember which one right now) the technique is to stand almost face to face with a partner,hands loose to your side, that partner will then suddenly and by surprise go to punch or kick you, you then have to step back, block and counter with 3 to 5 techniques. The techniques are completely up to you and in that moment (albeit short) you are sparring. It seems that you are suggesting that students do not punch eachother in the face, or dont try to, Im my experience this is incorrect as, trust me, you go for it. (again it depends on your partner obviously and the rapport you have). While I think officially free sparring is not condoned there seems to be different structures to replicate this. And sometimes we do it anyway in the classes (slyly).

    I see a benefit here that your learning to spar under guidelines and different scenarios, how to deal with an opponent running at you, how to deal with a hands down conflict etc. Look, im not saying that this replaces or is better then free sparring but my point is that they do have sparring and they do have contact, just not like most other martial arts that ive seen.

    again, an example of the class you went to 5 years ago, In our class we use padded sticks to strike at white belts for them to learn their punch and as soon as they grade we do contact. I disagree that after 5 minutes the exercises becomes useless, there is always room to improve in foot work, in mirroring the opponent. My teacher regularly asks if I pair up with a white belt and do this drill, he tells me that i can do any technique that i want, So the white belt has this distance to gauge what technique he/she would use to block these attacks, even if its techniques that he/she has not learnt yet.
    Agree to disagree?

    Yeah its a pickle.... but still a debatable, what your actually doing is very slight, the point is simply to get your head and body out of the way as an extra layer of defence when you block, i guess in case the block misses etc. I think you are also missing some information, the shift is designed to do exactly as you recommend, its so you can get out of the way and move around your opponent if you want to (usually facing his back). My teacher constantly hammers me to shift back and move around, now that i think about it its the subject in which he pushes the most aggressively (him being a very calm and patient teacher). Also, when your shifting back, your doing it to prepare for another technique, for example you are in an optimal position to kick or to side/back fist strikes also to dodge/weave etc. Im not saying that i dont like the shifting back only that its difficult. You make some fair points regardless and maybe this debate should be left alone unless we start comparing CKD techniques to other MA techniques, which is a different topic maybe.

    Makes sense, again this is just how CKD do it.

    Well, this is your opinion. The patterns ARE for the esoteric aspects too, but I think the mentality was that they wanted to give it more use, so alongside perfecting your balance posture etc you happen to be learning a some good block/counter combinations, and when you do it in 4 directions even better. I'm sure that you can appreciate that the white belt pattern is kept simple for obvious reasons. i think the reason its also taught is to give you the foundations for every other pattern. ready stance, step back with left leg while performing a block, Counter strike back to ready stance.

    Sorry if i sound hostile at all, i genuinely respect what your doing and think its important for you to stick with your own methods, with confidence as you are, you sound like a great teacher.

    You really got me by the b**ls on that one :evil:, this is it isnt it.... What do you do when your practising within an infrastructure which behaves like this? When you feel like you could get this black belt with less skill but more time and money. I think you do what I am doing, which is to take it damn serious and basically ignore the fact that you will probably pass anyway, put less meaning to the coloured fabric around your waist and concentrate solely on the art you are learning.

    Maybe this is the way CKD are doing things, maybe its their approach no not put so much importance to belt rank, belt rank not being a demonstration of skill but actually milestones of time. I don't know, maybe its offensive to other MA's and it certainly bugs the heck out me but this is how it is.

    so to answer your question:

    Not much. The belt is just a rank within a system. What will mean the most to me is how i view myself, Do i believe that I am a true martial artists fit for the rank of this belt? The answer should be yes. I also trust my current teacher, if he believes I am fit to be a black belt then I will do my damn hardest to prove him right.

    Even if the gradings are a farce, neither me or you can actually remove the fact that there *IS* a syllabus, a set of techniques and expectations which you MUST know in order to become a black belt. I guess the question is not, "Are you a black belt?" Rather in my case it is "Do you know your stuff?".

    Yes it is a shame that the system is in such a way that the grading does not give you the validity which it should give you (actually let me rephrase that, its really silly) but on the flip side if handled properly and if with good guidance you can attain your own validity without the need of a belt.

    I'm laughing out loud slightly re reading this. It does NOT represent other MAs. Its stupid just how different CKD is and is and reading all this makes me want to jump ship slightly, but I do believe in the techniques and I do believe in my teacher, If i was in my old school I may have moved on by now but i guess I'm lucky to be training under this teacher. I believe there is method to the madness of CKD practices and I want to stick it out.

    I would like to raise a fresh point and that is that we are not 100% sure the avarage competence of teachers after 5 years, a lot of things have changed, new age, new teachers. Yes there are some nagging issues with CKD that definitely remain: Easily passable gradings and Cost. However we cannot be sure of today's standards. Maybe you should review them again? :Aegis: ;) Only half joking haha.

    The debate splits into 2 segments I think, 1. Do you think the techniques themselves are bad 2. Do you think the structure/teachers etc are bad. Its important to put a distinction.

    Anyway! wow, what a challenging and satisfying conversation, I give you thanks for it. Could you let me know (PM if its not allowed here) what you train in? Where you are based?

    I hope you see that I'm not trying to justify CKD actions or trying to prove the worth of my belt, this conversation started to share views and opinions, thanks take care
    Last edited by a moderator: May 17, 2015
  3. Mitch

    Mitch Lord Mitch of MAP Admin

    Just a friendly reminder that MAP does not allow profanity in posts :)

  4. Sparkles

    Sparkles New Member

    Choi kwang Do.. Cult or just delusional?

    Just read all the articles on this martial art. I used to be a Chief/Regional Instructor in this art, and for a while 'Towed the party Line', then thankfully a friend of mine encouraged me to attend a seminar in 1994 by Geoff Thompson & Peter Consterdine of the British Combat Association...... I never looked back, resigned almost straight away from CKD, lost almost 90% of students as we began 'pressure testing' these techniques, and from my point of view CKD DOES NOT WORK in a pressure situation like Animal Day training etc, any one from CKD who reads this and thinks it's not true, well all I can say is best of luck to you, carry on training in CKD and I hope to god you never have to use it when it gets 'live' or like me you can tear off your blinkers and go and train in systems like Boxing, Muay Thai & Grappling arts where it is physically and mentally very demanding it tests and spotlights your weak points so you can iron them out in a controlled enviroment . Many years ago my son asked me what he should do training wise. First off he did KickBoxing for many years and for the last 4 years has been training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and just received his first belt. If this was CKD he would probably be a 2nd dan now. When I first left CKD and lost most of my students (at that time it was my living) Geoff Thompson sat me down and just said ' I know it is hard, but I bet you feel better about yourself as it is more honest in a brutal world to be realistic in your training'. How true because most of the time in CKD when students graded everyone passed, I failed a few of mine once,they phoned up HQ and they were straight on the phone asking why, well at the grading they were poor. Has it got worse in the CKD world in the last 20 years!
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 9, 2016
    GAIA likes this.
  5. Sparkles

    Sparkles New Member

    Choi kwang Do.. Cult or just delusional?

    This is the best summary of CKD I have ever read.
  6. Dan Bian

    Dan Bian Neither Dan, nor Brian

  7. raaeoh

    raaeoh never tell me the odds

    Thanks for the laugh.
  8. Knee Rider

    Knee Rider Valued Member Supporter

    Literally one of the worst martial arts organisations in the world.
  9. Hannibal

    Hannibal Cry HAVOC and let slip the Dogs of War!!! Supporter

    Still not quite as bad as WMAA....not quite
  10. Frodocious

    Frodocious She who MUST be obeyed! Moderator Supporter

    That was horrible! I sort of feel sorry for some of the students, because they have probably been conned into believing in the quality of what they have been taught! :bang:
  11. Knee Rider

    Knee Rider Valued Member Supporter

    Completely agree. I feel bad for them.
  12. Knee Rider

    Knee Rider Valued Member Supporter

    Not familiar with them...
  13. Hannibal

    Hannibal Cry HAVOC and let slip the Dogs of War!!! Supporter

    Oh I am pretty sure you have seen them.....

  14. Knee Rider

    Knee Rider Valued Member Supporter

  15. raaeoh

    raaeoh never tell me the odds

    I wonder if any students from these awesome orgs. Have ever stopped by here? I would love to talk with them.
  16. Hannibal

    Hannibal Cry HAVOC and let slip the Dogs of War!!! Supporter

    Kwajman was CKD as I recall

    No one from WMAA ever shows their presence on public boards for good reason
  17. Sparkles

    Sparkles New Member

    Talk to CKD students

    Well I used to be a chief Instructor, but left in 1996 because of the appalling standards which HAD to be accepted. Seen the link sent to me on you tube. All I can say it's getting worse, the whole thing is just a rip off and I feel so sorry for the students who are taken in. The sluggish, no intent movements are just mind boggling to watch. If you go into this 'Art' with the expectation of just getting a martial art workout or martial dance, go ahead, but and this is a big but, if they think this kind of training will stand them in good stead for a brutal street encounter well training like this will get them killed, oh and by the way I used to train in London many, many years ago with Grandmaster Choi's right hand man Mr Pereria in TKD. Also before I forget on that video on You Tube the ' Master' who walks in at the start I used to know him quite well. Lets hope they eventually see the light and train in a more realistic system.
  18. Sparkles

    Sparkles New Member

    Claims in Choi Kwang Do.
    I was talking to my son recently ( He has a bachelor of science degree in BioChemistry and has been studying BJJ for 5 years, just got his FIRST belt last year, now is at medical school ) about these claims regarding Choi Kwang Do, you know the ones. His simple answer is this. 'Back the claims up with research papers that have been published by a reputable and checkable source ie a university or specialist centre' Does anyone know if all the claims about health etc been proven in CKD
  19. Hannibal

    Hannibal Cry HAVOC and let slip the Dogs of War!!! Supporter

    Yes i do know


  20. Sparkles

    Sparkles New Member

    Hmm. I thought so. I feel a little conned even after all these years. Anyway 99% of the instructors I used to know left a long time ago and some have gone onto systems such as Krav Maga, Thai Boxing etc

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