This past Spring, I was trying to organize locations and events at which Haidong Gumdo – Minnesota could do demonstrations. I didn’t find any new events but was able to get return engagements at previous events.

Now, I’ll agree that this isn’t very noteworthy but something I was told by a Parks & Recreation Director baffled me. I had called to check on possibilities of demonstrating at the (blank blank) Days (I won’t mention the city) but, when I talked to this director, she told me that we wouldn’t be able to participate because they already classes offered by a “corporation” (her word) and they would be the only martial arts group allowed to participate in the community event.

This completely baffles me. Here is a “corporation” contacting her to pay for space during their community event and, because they already have a Parks & Rec class, we can’t even PAY to be involved.

The second part that gets me is that they have a Taekwondo program. That’s great! I’m asking about Haidong Gumdo. Its nothing like Taekwondo. When I look at Community Education and Parks & Recreation class catalogs, I see a wide variety of classes offered…but very few martial arts.

Where this distresses me is in seing all the different yoga classes. One catalog had FIVE kinds of yoga but only Tai Chi and Taekwondo for martial arts. Are these yoga classes really that different? If so, great! People need all the opportunities and options they can find. Why is the attitude that they only need to offer one martial art? Afterall, yoga is yoga no matter how you change the temperature, intensity or whatever else. Taekwondo, Haidong Gumdo, Aikido, Jujitsu, Wushu/Kung Fu, Kobudo have very few similarities when compared to yoga varieties.

I’m at a loss as to how to better educate these community based organizations on how martial arts can better serve their needs and assist in reaching their goals. Maybe the real martial arts have been lumped into the sports perspective for so long that they can’t tell the difference any more. BTW, I have the same struggle with how the martial arts are discarded in terms of having educational value beyond the “activity” class in academia.

I hope we martial artists and teachers can find a way to change this. There are too many benefits from the martial arts that are being overlooked…lost…by the communities they could serve.

Author: Master Robert Frankovich

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One thought to “What does it take?”

  • Chris Redhead

    It will take someone with more persuasive power than I have, I can't even get the parents of my long term students to learn that we study Tae Kwon Do and we wear a dobak…not a "Karate outfit". I can only continue to try to teach, I can not force them to learn. We are, unfortunately, all lumped together as you said. But if I'm lumped in a group with people as high a caliber as you, I'm honored.

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