Monday, January 20, 2014

Book Review: Taekwondo Black Belt Poomsae: Original Koryo and Koryo

Written by two Tae-Kwon-Do masters, this book contains some interesting information on the origins of the art as well as a detailed walk-through of the Koryo form (pattern) or poomsae. The beginning of the book traces the roots of several different martial arts throughout Asia. Tae-Kwon-Do, in its current form, is a fairly new martial art which has origins in Korea, Japan and China. Secretive hand to hand combat training grew out of these countries due the ban on weaponry at the time. Much like Capoeira, which was started by slaves in Brazil to give themselves a better chance at escaping, dance like forms helped to keep martial arts practitioners under the radar.

The authors of the book stress the importance of Tae-Kwon-Do students learning not only the movements of the art but also the history and philosophy. Understanding the art is not possible without understanding where it came from and on what principals it was based. 

The end of the book contains a walk through of both the Original Koryo and Koryo forms. Each step of the forms are accompanied by a photo and instructions on execution as well as a diagram showing foot placement. After the forms, there are a series of photographs depicting the martial applications of each movement. 

I studied Tae-Kwon-Do as a kid and ended up getting my 1st degree black belt. Although the school I was taught at used the ITF forms so I never learned Koryo. This book expanded on my knowledge of Tae-Kwon-Do's history a great deal. I knew about General Choi, the Hwarang and the Silla but not about how influential karatedo was in the creation of this unique Korean art form. Taekwondo Black Belt Poomsae also gave me the opportunity to learn a new form in an easy to follow format. 

I enjoyed this book, and as a historical reference I think most people will be able to get some use out of it. However, there is a lot of content that would be best understood by an experienced martial arts practitioner. So for anyone looking to delve deeper into their Tae-Kwon-Do practice this is a very informative read, but unless the reader has studied martial arts to some degree the technicality of this book will likely overwhelm them.

Regardless of the technical aspects and the large gap in my practice of Tae-Kwon-Do I got a lot out of this book. Thank you Doug Cook and Richard Chun for a fascinating history of the art and an explanation of a form I had never seen. 

I received a digital copy of this book from NetGalley and YMAA Publication Center Inc. in exchange for an honest review. 

To view this title on Amazon go to Taekwondo Black Belt Poomsae: Original Koryo and Koryo

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