Journal of Martial Arts Anthropology

Abstract - From technique to way: an investigation into taekwondo's pedagogical process

Background. Martial arts in general provide character building traits, but how those qualities are acquired has not been elucidated fully for taekwondo (TKD) practitioners.
Problem and Aim. Despite TKD being one of the most widely taught martial arts in the world, its pedagogy remains undefined. Musul (무술, 武術, martial technique), muye (무예, 武藝, martial artistry), and mudo (무도, 武道, martial way), three terms used in Korean martial arts, were defined etymologically to determine their validity and to elucidate TKD’s pedagogy.
Methods. Musul, muye, and mudo were redefined according to their hanja (Chinese ideograms used in written Korean) definitions. Then, those definitions were compared and correlated to martial arts education and skill acquisition literature.
Results. Musul was defined as martial skill or martial technique, muye as martial artistry, and mudo as martial way. These terms correlate to Western and Eastern skill acquisition models, including shuhari, the established Japanese martial art pedagogy.
Conclusions. Musul, muye, and mudo are a stratified pedagogy. They express how TKD skills and knowledge are learned, adapted, and then adopted into daily life routines, respectfully. Determining exactly what and how TKD teaches provides new insights into the art and may permit improvements in its educational practices.