It is more than two years since I wrote anything in my taekwondo blog – but not because there is nothing interesting to say. In the past two years I have learned so much more about technique and application and moral culture, and it has been an exciting and challenging time to be part of USMA. Apart from my own thoughts on taekwondo, I’ve been delighted to watch my daughter’s skills develop and was very proud that she represented Australia in Argentina in the World Championships. She just missed the medal round in patterns, and performed to the best of her ability in sparring – a great effort for her first international event.
The reason that my taekwondo blog has died is a sad reflection on taekwondo in Australia – too much politics, not enough technique / application, and a seeming abyss of moral culture. To write anything about taekwondo, to question any technique, to reflect on good and bad aspects of the art form, to consider the relationship between a Korean martial art developed in a military context and modern Australian cultural context – all these are political minefields with people searching for disrespect or subversion or technical error in every utterance, rather than looking for a way forward and an open exchange of ideas to build on the wonderful foundation created by General Choi and bring it to people of all walks of life, including women and children.
When the administration of taekwondo is more about building individual business interests than serving the students of taekwondo (giving back to taekwondo in the form of leadership and instruction), the moral culture at the core of the martial art is destroyed. There will always be a very difficult path to tread through the democratic legal framework for Not-for-profit Associations versus the Dan hierarchy of a martial art, and the only way to negotiate a path through this is through plenty of discussion around common goals. Of course this is almost impossible if there are no common goals, and most parties have the goal of exerting maximum power with minimum input.
So rather than writing a whole lot of stuff about the exciting things that I’ve learned through training taekwondo with Sabum Cariotis and sharing my passion for a martial art with other people who might have thought of starting but did not know whether it would be okay for them (e.g., too old, too unfit, too inflexible, wrong demographic etc), I don’t write anything at all. It is a real shame, because so much of the way I think in my own professional area of cognitive science and spatial coding has been heavily influenced by my martial arts training. My discussions with Sabum Cariotis on space, time, temporal sequencing of movements, trigger points, options and decision-making have triggered all sorts of ways of understanding spatial coding, and I have also learned so much about cognitive aspects of training for expert skilled performance through watching Sabum Cariotis instruct and learning how to instruct martial arts under his guidance.
I have to say also that my eLearning blog has also died somewhat because of similar issues – universities are also becoming more focused on their business interests than on their core mission of community service through generating and sharing knowledge and understanding. I work for a specific institution and my academic output belongs to this institution as part of their “intellectual property” … such a strange concept, that “intellectual property” has a life of its own outside of any individual’s own intellect. It would be an interesting exercise to force university managers (and taekwondo practitioners) to study enough philosophy of mind to have a view of what constitutes knowledge (or skilled performance) and whether or not it can exist independently of the mind (or body) which is using it …