This is a incredible book. It is just what I was looking for. I had searched for a book on Tae Known Do history and philosophy for some time before finding this one. All I had found was stuff about competitions, the World Tae Known Do Association rather than the art itself, and even stuff about the business opportunity involved in opening a dojo. It was depressing. Then I found this book.
This book is about the art itself. It talks about the techniques, and the forms, and the other physical aspects, but only so far as they relate to the mental and spiritual aspects. That is where the art is. The physical nature of Tae Known Do is only a manifestation of the mental and spiritual aspects. It is thanks to this book that I can finally, sincerely, believe that.
I have a black belt in Tae Known Do, 1st degree, which is the lowest ranked black belt. After over a decade of attending classes from two dojos, I had little knowledge of the mental and spiritual aspects. Those aspects were not taught, referenced, or alluded to in the classes that I attended, neither the all-belts version nor the advance version. I did not seek them out, so I didn't notice at first. Over time, however, it began to distress me.
I started to think that the whole point of this practice was for tournaments. Not for belt promotion, self-defense, or personal growth, but for winning medals in tournaments. I was not a competitive guy; wining medals in tournaments was not my goal. I mean no disrespect to anyone who takes pride in tournament competition, or finds meaning and fulfillment in tournament preparation. For me, personally, it wasn't something that inspired me. I wanted to use the physical practice to develop as an individual; competing against oneself, so to speak.
This book helped me to do that. It contains all the stuff that I wished I was taught in the classes. I would have liked to have attended Master Cook's classes, because they sound like the full package of physical, mental and spiritual conditioning.
1. This book speaks of the history of Tae Known Do: where it came from, who started it, why they practiced it, and how the development of personal virtue merged with the development of fighting ability.
2. This book speaks of the distinction between "martial sport" and "martial art", and how a given dojo might give more weight to one or the other. It advises that a perspective student should examine a particular dojo and evaluate if it is the variety that they want to invest their time and energy (and, of course, their money). The book is respectful to both, though I feel Master Cook gives the impression that too much emphasis on "martial sport" can lead to students missing out on the majority of the art itself.
3. This book speaks of the value of Tae Known Do in every day life, and every day situations that do not include physical fighting. There is a chapter that is bookended with three such situations, where only one of them involves any physical fighting.
4. This book speaks of the role of a mentor in guiding students through their development as martial artists. In particular, it speaks of instructors who are worthy of being called a "mentor", and those who have no interest in truly teaching anyone, seeking only payment for classes.
5. This book goes into detail about the Tenants of Tae Known Do: Courtesy, Integrity, Preservice, Self-Control and Indomitable Spirit. I memorized these when I was a kid attending classes, but I didn't understand what they meant at the time (frankly speaking, neither in regards to the martial art or in general). This book explains what they mean in context of the martial art.
It is through Master Cook's book that I gained a deeper appreciation of my art. I was able to recognize, in hindsight, that the dojo I attended, particularly the second one, were more the "martial sport" sort of dojo. I was never going to find the "martial art" aspect that I was looking for at that second dojo because that was not its focus. That's fine.
Seriously, it's fine. It was a matter of contrasting expectations. I recall other black belts at the second dojo who excelled at "martial sport". At the time, they took practice and training more seriously than I did, so they were the better martial artists. I found what I was looking for in this book.
This is not a "how to punch/kick/block" sort of Tae Known Do book. This is book for those who want to know /more/ than how to do all of that. It can teach you the mental and spiritual aspects that underpin the kicking, punching and blocking.
Trickster Eric Novels gives Ancient Wisdom for the Modern Warrior A+
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Brian Wilkerson is a independent novelist, freelance book reviewer, and writing advice blogger. He studied at the University of Minnesota and came away with bachelor degrees in English Literature and History (Classical Mediterranean Period concentration).
His fantasy series, Journey to Chaos, is currently available on Amazon as an ebook or paperback.