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Taekwondo styles are interesting things, as they are each a slice of the complete discipline, and even resemble the ultimate sequencing of all arts. I say this as a fellow who studied at one of the original schools of the art, the Kang Duk Won. For the past four decades I’ve watched as each style of Korea’s most famous art has emerged, and there is an evolution of art occurring here that is worthy of note.
First, the original schools, the Song Moo Kwan, Yun Moo Kwan, Jidokwan, and all the others, were mostly Karate. The practitioners who put these arts together studied with Master Funakoshi around the time of the second world war. The rest studied with his students or other Okinawa Karate Senseis.
Thus, the first methods were karate, plain and simple and easy to see. Korea gaining independence, however, and nationalism rose throughout the country, and taekwondo was put forth by General Choi Hong Hi. Thus, much of Okinawan Karate was discarded, altered, and taekwondo began its various evolutions.
There are several taekwondo methods, and several sequences of patterns. Most of them are variations of simple karate basics, with a decided concentration on kicking. One should not hold one art as better than another, and saying such things as my Taekwondo is the Deadliest Martial Art, or my Taekwondo is the Best Martial Art should not be put forth. The individual arts are pieces of a larger body of knowledge, and the serious student will study all the styles, do all the patterns, and make his own silent decisions as to which art is best.
That said, one should definitely consider a study of Hapkido. Hapkido is a discipline formulated by a fellow who is supposed to have trained in Daito ryu Aiki jujitsu. There is some argument on his exact experiences, but the art is proving valuable. It is lasting and proving effective, and people are learning their lessons, but one does need to go into a study of this art with a degree of awareness.
Next are the classical Korean Martial Arts. These would be such disciplines as Taekkyeon and Subak. Taekkyeon, and there is some argument on this spelling, is the basis for the art of Hwarangdo. While the founder of Hwarangdo borrowed the name, many people hold to the efficiency of the art.
Subak is one of the original arts taught before the Japanese outlawed Korean martial arts. It is a delight of drilling and training and throwing an attacker effortlessly. Unfortunately, it may be difficult to find an instructor, but this is still an art worth looking into.
So, the advice here is that one begins with the simple styles of Choi Hong Hi, and travel through the various groups and methods to find what is best. After that, one should explore classical karate kata and bunkai, to better explore the origins of TKD, and then begin a journey through Hapkido, and Hwarangdo, and, if one is lucky, Subak. While this sequence of study may might take a while, it is the only way to get to the original secrets of Real Taekwondo Styles.
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