One thing I’ve always wanted to write more about for this blog is all the ridiculous stuff I’ve seen in the world of martial arts over the years. Let’s start by taking a look at one of the people being put under the martial microscope in recent times. DK Yoo is a Korean martial arts instructor whose purported skills have been questioned for the last six years. With a boxing match against a famed martial arts debunker looming, let’s take a look at his work and the bizarre world of modern martial arts at large.
As far as the scientific method goes, martial arts doesn’t have enough of it due to experimentation usually resulting in bruised faces and wounded egos. But if a martial art is to be seen as effective and real, it must survive scrutiny under pressure testing. The only path to true enlightenment is through hard contact. However, not everyone believes this, and thus we have a problem of charlatans having ruled the space for decades, exploiting ordinary people’s ignorance when it comes to the intricacies of real life fighting.
DISCLAIMER: I’m not a martial arts expert. I’m a half-baked Jeet Kune Do practitioner who likes to talk shit about martial arts for leisure. I wouldn’t know for sure just by looking at them if any of these styles are legit or just the same snake oil I’d rather download from a Russian torrent tracker than actually pay for them.
EDIT(17SEP2021@3:30PM): Added this highlight of the writing stream I did on Sunday, 12 September 2021.
The Wacky World of Modern Hybrid Martial Arts
Amid the successful systems of consolidated martial arts like Judo and Sambo, there are those that have fallen by the wayside. The likes of Count Dante and other purported members of the Black Dragon Fighting Society graced the back pages of pulp magazines and comic books, selling their instructionals and paraphernalia.
Too bad ThePinkMan deleted his videos from YouTube. He had the best videos covering these ninja schmucks.
After 1993, the martial arts world had to adapt in order to keep up with the latest trends. For a while, the hottest stuff were techniques on how to neutralize grappling because for some strange reason, people didn’t want to learn how to wrestle or do jiu jitsu because they got it into their heads that learning how to grapple will result in their untimely deaths. Never mind context—you grapple, you die by getting kicked and stabbed by a gang of thugs.
It’s like how dweebs discourage you from weight training because it’ll supposedly slow you down and make you a less effective fighter. If you really believe that, you’re lazy and stupid.
Then we start seeing the really juicy stuff—military combatives. Do you remember Soap MacTavish judo-throwing a terrorist in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2? That made so many kids google about martial arts that real-life soldiers use, like the US Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP), until you find out that marines themselves shit on that program.
I don’t know enough about Krav Maga to pass judgment. My friend keeps trying to convince me that it’s indeed real, like he has a hard-on for this “Jew Jitsu” stuff. I can’t really say for sure until I’ve had enough first-hand experience with their training methods. What I do know is that there are a lot of super legit people in that space, especially from the warrior land of Israel. (Note: I personally support the safety of the Palestinian people.)
I’m familiar with what Krav Maga is about, yet whatever gets peddled to civilians only makes me raise my eyebrows. After all, like most martial artists, I want the stuff that helps me fight better. It seems like there are too many people selling it in too many different ways to determine which is truly the legit stuff, but I don’t know enough about it to know for sure.
Then, there’s Systema, or what I like to call “Russian Tai Chi” due to how it gives off the same vibe, except with camo instead of white flowing robes. All these “real life combatives” get peddled so much nowadays. They’re impressive at first, but that’s mostly due to most people having no way to relate with the military types who show that stuff.
You can only watch so many clips of Systema slow-motion drills and that fat guy Mikhail Ryabko taking punches to his big gut before you start questioning their authenticity.
Let’s even bring up 52 Blocks, a.k.a. Jailhouse Rock, the combat style supposedly created in prisons by African-American felons to deal with the well-known dangers of shivs and getting fucked in the ass. For me, it looks like a dance of waving your arms around in the hopes of blocking a few shots. If you type “52 blocks movie” on Google, a particular film pops up.
Keysi Fighting Method had its shine in Batman Begins and Jack Reacher. Black Wing Chun got its break in a TV movie that pops up on BET at 3AM.
To become a 52 Blocks master, it looks like you must commit a felony and go to jail, then seek out a master to learn the artform while doing your time. That’s right. Mastery of this unique martial art requires being convicted and sent to prison in order to access higher tiers of learning. It’s like getting arrested and sentenced is just the beginning of the training arc.
This is never going to end. With films like John Wick and The Raid, people are getting into more “real shit” nowadays. The only thing stopping them from diving into the deep end right now is the pandemic, and perhaps that has only given rise to online classes conducted by instructors who can’t even tie their own shoelaces without getting winded.
DK Yoo, the Korean Warfare Combat Master
Enter DK Yoo, a Korean who professes expertise in various martial arts. His demo reels project a certain air of advanced knowledge in the biomechanics of various arts. He seems to have juicy stuff from Jeet Kune Do, Systema, Tai Chi, Wing Chun, and so on. This demo reel has almost 8.5 million views as of this writing.
I’ve seen plenty of demo reels over the years. I remember watching Cung Le’s sanda demonstrations with all those sweet kicks, suplexes, and scissor leg takedowns. I must have watched that old Tommy Carruthers highlight reel almost a hundred times. I’ve looked at quite a few videos of Ehsan Shafiq (rest in peace) kicking people’s heads off.
Whenever I wasn’t watching a Suicidal Dragon top 10 pro wrestling moves video back then, I was watching some martial arts dude doing some martial arts things.
DK Yoo’s demo reel is pretty impressive. His mechanics seem advanced and his movements look sharp. He looks like he really knows what he’s doing, right down to the minutest detail. But other than his technical acumen, there isn’t much else known about him. Some say he was in the Korean Special Forces, while others say he was trained by Russian Spetsnaz.
He’s an enigma, and that’s a problem in the realm of martial arts.
We’ve seen plenty of charlatans like George Dillman, Ashida Kim, and the infamous Frank Dux over the decades. These guys supposedly fought deadly kumite tournaments and knew secret techniques that are banned from sports fighting. They would go into the jungles after a long training arc and come out drenched in blood while carrying a beat-up trophy after a month or so.
They’re frauds who got by because most people knew nothing about fighting. Frank Dux took that to the absolute limit by having Hollywood make a (fictional) biopic about him.
In the case of DK Yoo, he’s a practitioner with some good techniques, but has shown no fighting credentials thus far. Despite that, he sells his own martial arts system, the Warfare Combat System (WCS). Anyone who’s impressed by his demo reels can avail of this personalized training program through his website. This is where the rubber meets the road.
It’s one thing to be good at punching and kicking air and compliant targets, and it’s another to actually be good at fighting, especially if you’re selling a martial arts training program on the side. The way he presents himself as a knowledgeable martial arts master can be read between the lines, that he should know how to fight. People want to find out if he can actually fight and put his money where his mouth is.
He would go on to show up in demonstrations to show his wide breadth of martial arts knowledge and expertise, which then helps sell his training program. These demonstrations are not seen in as high an esteem as they used to be. Bruce Lee got his initial hype from showing up in a karate demonstration as well, but that was in the 1960s. In the 21st century, well after the advent of MMA, they’re seen at the same level as ballroom dancing.
With the smoothness of all his tai chi movements, it made me think that perhaps what he’s really good at is hypnotizing us with his martial arts.
Things have gotten to a point where his demo reel is now being parodied. Opinion likely turned when it became obvious that he always showed off his skills with compliant partners. Perhaps it’s unbecoming of otherwise reasonable people to call for the blood of this Korean martial arts marketer due to how he chooses to hawk his services, but that’s how the martial arts world has become once MMA showed that no holds should ever be barred.
On a tangent, the taekkyon portion of his old demo reel reminds me of English shin-kicking. Maybe DK Yoo should fly over there and challenge the best shin-kickers in all of the Cotswolds.
DK Yoo vs. Xu Xiaodong Boxing Match
He has a boxing match coming up with fake kung fu debunker Xu Xiaodong. I’ve made a video featuring the Mad Dog before, and I’m less critical of him since all he’s doing is beating up charlatans, a mission I agree with (and the Chinese government disagrees with).
This match has been pushed back a few times already, so we don’t know if this December 2021 date will actually push through. But he has been promoting the match on his Facebook page, so perhaps he’ll show up and give the Mad Dog a boxing lesson. As one of the comments there says, there’s no footage of DK Yoo hitting a heavy bag, much less sparring or a real fight.
This concern over DK Yoo being exposed as a fraud is of particular concern since Xu Xiaodong is known to at least have some fighting ability. However, most of his conquests have been out-of-shape middle-aged guys with little to no actual fighting ability. Perhaps the most amount of challenge he has ever faced was that one Muay Thai guy who actually whooped his ass.
Anyway, here’s hoping DK Yoo actually shows up and gives a good fight. Once we actually get to see him in action, then perhaps we’ll know that he’s not just a master of the martial art of hypnosis.
Have something to say? Do you agree or am I off-base? Did I miss a crucial detail or get something wrong? Please leave whatever reactions, questions, or suggestions you may have in the comment section below.
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