Joined: 31 Mar 2006
Location: Hays, KS
Styles: Taekwondo, Combat Hapkido, Aikido, GRACIE
|Posted: Wed Feb 18, 2015 3:10 pm Post subject: Taekwondo by Kevin Hornsey (Book Review)
|I received this book, Taekwondo: A Step-by-Step Guide to the Korean Art of Self-Defense by Master Kevin Hornsey, for free from Tuttle Publishing, who contacted Patrick with the offer.
Part One: Introducing Taekwondo
Part one of Master Hornsey's book begins with a very brief synopsis on Taekwondo history. He doesn't delve hardly at all into the actual history of Taekwondo, but states that the earliest martial art forms in Korea had different names, were passed down secretly and only after the Japanese occupation ended did these arts enjoy revival. This is about as in-depth as the history section gets, other than a set of bullet points listing dates of interest in regards to the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF). Master Hornsey doesn't mention anything in regards to General Choi, Hong Hi's influence of Taekwondo or its roots in karate experiences in Japan. In my opinion, the author probably shouldn't have bothered at all with this section, as it doesn't provide any helpful information, other than some highlights of the WTF's international influences.
Master Hornsey next goes into what Taekwondo is: the physical and spiritual benefits of its practice, like developing self-control, spirit, self-confidence, etc. Master Hornsey spends time in the book discussing the development of the spiritual aspects of Taekwondo and how learning traits such as courtesy, modesty, loyalty and humility help promote peace and happiness in the student. For those readers that enjoy some of the more intrinsic aspects of martial arts study, Master Hornsey does a nice job of elaborating on that aspect and tends to retain this theme throughout his book.
One of sections that I found very beneficial is the section Master Hornsey spends on finding a school and instructor. He discusses the importance of researching the schools available to a prospective student and details points such as finding governing bodies that can point a student towards a school or show a student what schools are in the student's area. Master Hornsey gives good advice on seeking out the head instructors of the area schools and provides a general idea of what to expect in the conversation. He also advises watching a class while making sure to note the size of the class and what the instructor emphasizes, in addition to speaking to other students about the class. Master Hornsey provides a bullet point section highlighting good questions to ask an instructor. He follows with a section discussing Taekwondo school etiquette, discipline and conduct and describes the grading system as it pertains to his school.
Part Two: Training
In part two of the book, Master Hornsey delves into the physical training aspect of Taekwondo and leads into this by discussing how factors such as age, natural ability, the student's ability to practice and the student's instructor all have an effect on advancement. Hornsey discusses a typical class format and what to expect in class. He touches on warm-ups and basics, partner work, advanced techniques and cool-down.
After the training section introduction, Master Hornsey has sections that detail warming-up exercises, stretching and drilling. In the drilling section, he covers aspects important to performing good Taekwondo techniques, such as hip action, moving and footwork. He follows with basic techniques, which include stances, target areas, blocks, strikes and kicks. Hornsey goes into detailed sections of each with photos and descriptions. The photos are large and clear (and in color) and use arrow graphics to show the direction of travel of the techniques, direction of hip rotation and striking/contact points. He covers a nice selection of blocking, striking and kicking techniques, as well as a nice variety of basic, intermediate and advanced techniques. This section of the book is very helpful in its descriptions, and the format of the photography is nicely laid out. The large color photos are great, and the arrow graphics provide good technical detail.
After the technique descriptions, Master Hornsey lays out three of the WTF forms in the book: Taegeuk 1, 4 and 8. The layout at this point in the book gets a bit choppy, in my opinion. Each form section begins with a description of the form in the header, but this description stays in the header, with the form photos and explanations laid out on the rest of the page. In order to read the entire form description, you have to flip over the other pages of the form descriptions to finish it and then go back and read over the form photos and descriptions.
Another issue I have with the form descriptions layout is that when the form turns, he shows one picture of the turn and then all the techniques are shown from a front view. This is nice for showing the technique, but can be confusing for someone who is not familiar with the forms themselves. However, I don't think Master Hornsey wanted this to be a book on forms, nor were these three forms the main focus of the book, so other works would be much better to cite for forms references. I will reiterate, though, that the descriptions are good and the pictures are clear and large enough to discern detail in the techniques. By choosing to demonstrate these three forms in the book, he shows a basic, intermediate and advanced form of Taekwondo to the reader, providing a look into what advancing in Taekwondo has to offer.
Part Three: Taking it Further
Master Hornsey finishes the book with part three, a section on sparring and self defense. This section is an overview of what a student can expect in Taekwondo sparring, and he lays out some partner drills showing some sparring concepts. Hornsey does the same with self defense scenarios, using the same picture and description format that is used throughout the book. The section is decent; not exhaustive, but giving some nice examples of what Taekwondo has to offer.
In conclusion, I think Master Hornsey's book is a nice choice for a student who is looking at beginning a journey in Taekwondo through a WTF affiliated school. Master Hornsey gives good, sound advice in regards to taking steps in locating a school and speaking with an instructor, detailing what to expect in a class and has a great section describing different techniques that can be found in Taekwondo. He spends a good amount of time discussing the intrinsic aspects of Taekwondo study, which appeals to many students more than just the physical aspects. The book is well written and, other than the few layout points I mentioned earlier, flows very well. I think it would be a good book to use as a beginner resource for a beginner student in WTF Taekwondo.
Buy the book: Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk (KarateForums.com receives a small commission on any sales generated through these links).