Is Taekwondo Useless?

2 taekwondo players training

People often claim that taekwondo is an ineffective form of martial art with little or no practical real-life value. But, is taekwondo useless as claimed?

Generally, taekwondo is not useless and is a useful form of martial art for self-defense, street fighting, weight loss, and exercise.

You will often hear people say “All they do is teach kicking” or “Taekwondo is useless in mixed martial arts.”

Well, Taekwondo can be useful for several reasons.

First, it can be a beneficial form of exercise for those looking to stay fit, and lose weight.

Secondly, it can be a good form of self-defense for those looking to learn how to physically protect themselves.

While many might argue that taekwondo isn’t a good form of self-defense (especially in a street fight situation), this only shows their inability to look beyond taekwondo as just a sport (an Olympic sport).

Traditional taekwondo is just as effective as any other self-defense martial art out there.

However, as a self-defense mechanism, taekwondo has its pitfall. I believe most martial art does.

So, to better understand whether taekwondo is useful or not, you must first understand what your goal is.

Are you looking to learn taekwondo for self-defense, street fighting, or weight loss and exercise purposes?

Well, depending on what exactly you are looking to achieve, the answer can be slightly different.

So, to better prove that taekwondo is not useless (irrespective of your goal) let’s now examine some of these reasons in detail.

3 Main Reasons Why Taekwondo Is NOT Useless

It Is a Good Form of Self Defense

While many might disagree, Taekwondo remains one of the best martial arts for self-defense. It is even used in the military.

People labeling taekwondo as an ineffective form of self-defense are probably ignorant of the fact that Taekwondo was originally developed for self-defense.

Historically, Taekwondo was recognized as a system of self-defense in the 1950s when a leading group of Korean martial artists came together and unified their various art forms under a single style of hand and feet fighting.

Taekwondo uses the legs for kicks and the hands for punches and blocks. It however emphasizes kicks over all other techniques.

And since legs are usually longer than the arms, it helps keep potential attackers from getting close to you.

Some people also argue that taekwondo might not be the most effective since it only emphasizes the use of the legs.

Well, while the focus on the use of legs is true, other self-defense techniques such as punching and blocking are also taught in taekwondo.

Other real-life techniques are also taught in taekwondo self-defense classes, they are just not allowed in a taekwondo competition.

So expect a taekwondo player to unleash some of these prohibited techniques on an invader especially when it becomes a matter of life and death.

Do not expect him to use just his legs when faced with a life threat.

Trust me, there are so many deadly self-defense techniques in taekwondo that someone who only watches “Olympic taekwondo” might not be aware of.

The deadly nature of some of these traditional techniques is probably one of the reasons why many of these techniques are disallowed in the sport.

So, taekwondo as a traditional form of martial art has many tools in its arsenal to help anyone overcome a security situation requiring self-defense.

It Can Be Useful in a Street Fight

First, let me point out the fact that taekwondo was not traditionally made to aid anyone in a street fight. In fact, it was designed to help you avoid it.

However, even though taekwondo isn’t designed for street fighting purposes, its techniques can be applied effectively if you’re caught in the chaos of a street fight.

Remember, Taekwondo includes many techniques such as punching, kicking, blocking, dodging, and footwork, all of which are useful tools for street fights.

Note however that Taekwondo as a sport – that is, the skill of landing a high kick on the head or chest of an opponent probably has little value in a street fight.

Normally, a highly risky kick like that will likely hand your opponent a handle to wheelbarrow you around.

This is however different when you learn taekwondo as a martial art and not just a sport.

The training you will undergo will come with a whole lot of useful things such as strength building, endurance, speed, flexibility, and valuable self-defense techniques.

You will also likely develop an understanding of when to comply or run, and when to fight (only as a last resort).

Good taekwondo schools teach taekwondo sport in combination with different taekwondo techniques that have nothing or little to do with the sports side of the art but more to do with real-life fighting situations.

It Is Great for Fitness and Exercise

If you are signing up or already signed up for a taekwondo class, it might be a waste of money and time to sign up for another fitness class at the same time.

This is because Taekwondo is a beneficial form of exercise for people of all ages (including kids), which helps to repair vital parts of the body.

So, if you are aiming for a full-body workout but don’t want to spend hours in a gym, Taekwondo is easily the best martial art for you because it provides a full-body workout that helps to achieve both mental and physical fitness.

The kicks, punches, and strength exercises work up your core muscles like nothing else.

Taekwondo can be useful especially if you are just looking to lose weight, increase cardiovascular endurance, improve heart health, and lower blood pressure.

Interestingly, Taekwondo will not only get rid of that stubborn belly fat but will also work on improving your strength and stamina.

Note however that taekwondo can be a little useless if you are particularly looking at bodybuilding.

For example, taekwondo is not a very useful tool for building large arms muscles or making your legs bigger.

This is why most martial art schools including Taekwondo incorporate strength training and weight lifting to help their students build up a reasonable amount of muscle.

With this, you might be wondering if taekwondo players lift weights.

Yes, they sometimes lift weights to build a stronger physical and muscular base which helps them perform techniques more effectively and optimally.

See: Do Martial Artists Lift Weights?

So, if you are looking to become a bodybuilder, the gym would be the best place to be.

But, if you are bored with the same-old workout regime and have been itching to try something new, learning Taekwondo is the answer.

Is Taekwondo Useless for Self-Defense?

Taekwondo is not useless and can be an effective tool for self-defense.

When it comes to self-defense, Taekwondo is often criticized as not being the most effective martial art. 

There may be some merit to this critique since martial arts such as Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and Krav Maga intentionally incorporate new techniques from diverse martial arts to maximize their lethality.

Others, such as Ninjutsu and Kung Fu prefer to stick to their traditional roots.

Taekwondo tends to fall somewhere in between these two extremes.

However, taekwondo remains effective for self-defense. Here are my reasons.

First, traditional taekwondo was originally developed as combat (in fact, military combat) rather than sport, and pioneer practitioners such as Nam Tae Hi were famous for their lethality.

Even now, some taekwondo styles such as the ITF-style taekwondo strongly emphasize the self-defense aspect of the art.

Secondly, Taekwondo emphasizes kicking, especially high kicks more than some martial arts.

The idea is that legs are longer and stronger than your arms and should therefore be more effective in a fight if you can train your legs to become as fast as your arms since human reflexes in the arms are inherently, biologically faster than in the legs.

The ability to close fast and strike hard while still out of your opponent’s arms reach can be very effective especially if one wants the fight to be over quickly.

With this being said, you must note that in practice, most self-defense situations do not involve a “fair” fight as most real-world situations are not one-on-one fights between two unarmed people.

In practice, most self-defense situations often involve, rapists, muggers, gang members, etc. who come to the scene in a group and with arms.

So, the best self-defense is to be aware of your surroundings, avoid dangerous situations, and know how to de-escalate confrontations.

Is Taekwondo Useless in a Street Fight?

Taekwondo is not useless in a street fight. However, it is not the most useful martial art for street fighting since it is not designed for this purpose.

As stated earlier, taekwondo as a self-defense system is designed to help you evade and avoid confrontations.

This is why taekwondo practitioners are one of the most peaceful martial artists in the world.

Taekwondo has in fact become a soft vehicle of diplomacy for peace in the world today.

To me, Taekwondo and street fighting are like Light and Darkness, they do not go together.

However, even if these two are separate, some of these taekwondo skills can still be applied effectively in a street fight.

Some of these techniques include front kicks, punches, blocking, dodging, and footwork all of which are effective in a real-world application.

Is Taekwondo Useless in MMA?

Generally, Taekwondo is not useless and is an effective form of martial art for MMA, since it provides an amazing base for any MMA fighter to build on.

Taekwondo not being a complete martial art tool for mixed martial artists is probably the main reason why many consider it useless.

Well, taekwondo is a useful martial art for mixed martial artists as the art provides them with the foundation upon which to build their fighting style on.

This means that the sole reliance on taekwondo in itself in MMA competitions might not be very effective, but when combined with other forms of martial art, the result can be fatal to an opponent.

Remember that the competition is not designed to promote people who only know one single art.

I mean, it’s called Mixed Martial Arts for a reason, right?

So, anyone looking to excel in MMA must be willing to learn and combine different martial arts techniques in other to produce the best result.

This is why I consider the attack on taekwondo unfair because even a professional boxer cannot solely rely on his punching skills in an MMA fight.

So, if you can learn and combine your taekwondo skills with other styles such as boxing, kickboxing, or jiu-jitsu (which will teach you close-range combat) you should be able to do great in MMA.

Is Taekwondo Good for Weight Loss?

Taekwondo is great for weight loss as it is a physical activity that helps to burn calories fast. Expect a 200-pound person to burn around 937 calories per hour.

Taekwondo is one of the best forms of weight loss exercise, especially when compared to jogging on the treadmill or riding a bike at the gym.

For just an hour of taekwondo training, expect to burn somewhere around 937 calories for a 200-pound person.

Taekwondo is the third best way to burn the most calories behind Jump rope and Running.

So, if you are looking for the most competitive sport for weight loss, taekwondo remains the best.

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