The "Brand" Problem: First Installment

As far as I am concerned the karate “brand” has jumped the shark. Naive, pedantic, and uncritical traditionalists;  street corner soke; watermelon smashing,  self-appointed, grandmasters; 10 year old black belts;  slick contract wielding salesmen; armies of entertainment producers;  and loads of “masters” who think more about protecting their own little empires than they do about about historical veracity, technical utility, the safety of their school’s  curriculum,  their student’s well being, or the effect they are having on the reputation of karate; have all created the perfect storm for the karate “brand”.

My karate may not be exemplary, but the people I train with train hard. They read, they practice on their own, they make sacrifices to improve and to help each other improve. They deserve better than to be lumped into the same category as some of these brainless twits. It makes me crazy, and sometimes I just need to vent. Once in a while I come across an article like this one and I think ‘there is someone who is working hard to make sure that the reputation of karate (taekwondo in this case although the public hardly seems to be able to make the distinction) is not further sullied’.

Linked Article: New Zealand Athlete Opens Brothel to Raise Money for Olympic Bid

Excerpt:

Campbell, 23, a New Zealand taekwondo champion who finished in the top 16 in the featherweight division at the Beijing Olympics, turned pimp after his funds dried up and he feared he was in danger of missing the Games in 2012.

Click here for the rest of the article.

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2 responses to “The "Brand" Problem: First Installment

  1. Gillian Russell

    Ah yes, the Olympian who takes time off from welching off his parents to welch off working women.

    I actually thought the story next to that one in the Times was more fun to read. The title is “The Best Sport for Getting Fit is…” and highlights include:

    Swimming:
    “As a spectator sport, swimming is basically splashing… I am sure it is demanding at the elite level, if only on your hair..”

    and the revelation that Ursain Bolt has never run further than 800 meters. And look at his body! Take that, Long, Slow Distance people.

    Here’s the link:

    http://timesonline.typepad.com/thefatchancer/2009/07/the-best-sport-for-getting-fit-is.html

  2. Your karate does set a good example for the rest of the “traditional” karate world, Bob. Indeed, TKRI does not need to be lumped with Olympic taekwondo (although there are practitioners who live the Tenets of Taekwondo and take them seriously).

    I think taekkyon, taekwondo’s grandpa, needs to grow so people can see what true Korean martial skill is. Taekwondo is basically taekkyon and shotokan’s son, with more influence from the shotokan side of the family.

    (and taekkyon is Korea’s 76th Important Intangible Cultural Asset- NO OTHER MARTIAL ART that is Korean has been so honored)

    After the leadership of the World Taekwondo Federation and behavior of some athletes caused the reputation of taekwondo to go down, taekkyon is a different animal- it is 100% Korean in uniform, movement, and practice methods (training is done to traditional Korean music), and has a uniquely Korean aesthetic to it that is evident in other Korean folk arts.

    Taekkyon competitions are friendly affairs, with competitors joking with each other in the ring, and it feels like an artsy folksy affair more than a serious tournament. Techniques are somewhat circular and dancelike but direct and effective, and can be practiced into old age (Song Duk Ki, the man who brought taekkyon from extinction, was born in 1893 and died in 1987)

    I see the taekkyon brand perhaps overtaking the taekwondo/karate brand in Korea, due to these reasons. Although like all modern martial arts, taekkyon will inevitably suffer due to commercialization.

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