Last time I talked about the cultural aspect of Taekyun.
This time, I'd like to explore Taekyun in terms of Martial arts.
Today's Taekyun match is the reproduction of the folk game during the Joseon Dynasty, where towns battled each other for their honor.
As it was in a danger to be forgotten after the Japanese colonial era, there has been a lot of effort for a long time in restoring the match.
The main point is this.
Today's Taekyun is "the reproduction of the match from the Joseon Dynasty."
Nowadays it is possible to employ equipment in training combat.
We can train more freely with the help of protective gears like
mouthpiece, bandage, gloves, jockstraps, pads for the top of the foot, shin, and so on.
Did such gears exist during the Joseon Dynasty?
Of course not.
So they had to adjust the rules of the game to the point the players did not get hurt but the game was still exciting and that is how today's Taekyun match looks like.
Because there were no gloves or mouthpiece, hitting the face with a fist was forbidden.
As such techniques could break teeth or nose, to prevent such incidents from happening, many great martial arts techniques were forbidden under the name of "Yetbeop".
Kicks were limited for the same reason as broken libs from targeting the torso could be hard to heal.
From the perspective of modern martial arts, Taekyun may look imperfect. It doesn't punch the face, nor kick the opponent's body and connect to any ground techniques after throwing the opponent down. So you may think it lacks toughness and ends without a sense of dominance.
But if you look a little more carefully into Taekyun match and understand the history behind it, you will find some outstanding points. Taekyun has "game rules" that maintain the excitement of martial arts but still protects the players.
The rule that allows short kicks and tripping made the kickings very swift and simple, players train to snatch the quick kicks and throw down the opponent. Another rule that counts standing grappling valid when only the opponent is on the ground made the attacker find its balance after standing grappling.
Like this Taekyun match is a martial art with great action - reaction.
It is quite astonishing that such a real 'game' was played with a martial art already in the Joseon dynasty instead of just passing down of it and its form not being so different from today's combat.
When 'Yetbeop' is added to it, Taekyun is nowhere near lacking technical competence compared to other martial arts. With the help of protective gear and through study, training, and propagation, Yetbeop Taekyun is shortening the distance between traditional and modern martial arts and shows distinctive characteristics of Taekyun from other modern martial arts. And Taekyn is getting acknowledged for its variation in distance and stance, a mix of kicking and standing grappling, combinations of hand and kicking techniques or strikes and standing grappling, and many other more.
Taekyun as a folk game has been together with Koreans as a means of national resistance during the times of national crisis.
It is never weak.
And it will get stronger through the interest of more people and the young people who train Taekyun.
I, myself will strive more for the development of Taekyun.