Founded in 1990, K-Tigers, a group of Taekwondo practitioners have put their own spin on the Korean martial art by blending the ferocious flare of Taekwondo with the artistic appeal of modern dance – specifically K-POP. From beautifully synced choreography to the powerful demonstrations of the well-known Korean martial art style, these group of performing artists have grown in popularity over the years. They are introducing the world to what may soon transform into a new mixing trend.
Beom Gi-Cheol created Taekwonmu. As the name implies, the combination of the Korean martial art and dance (the ‘mu’ in the name comes from ‘muyong,’ meaning dance). Taekwonmu aims to add a touch of grace to the more powerful force of Taekwondo. By doing so, it opens up to a wider audience.
However, Beom created this hybrid performing art to help revitalize the body and mind. Much like yoga or pilates, the moves involved were made to allow people of all ages to learn and participate. Also, in a society where majority of people sit idly at their desks, neck hunched over toward their screens, Taekwonmu aims at strengthening muscles and improving posture. Placing lots of pressure on the legs to help maintain balance, many motions help the blood flowing throughout the body. Additionally, it centers the core and stretches the spine, thereby relieving pressure on the lower back.
Due to their popularity in the performing arts, many have wondered whether the group have any Taekwondo expertise. However, shutting down all doubts, K-Tigers have participated in several championships in the past. From the World Taekwondo Championship to the U.S. Open Taekwondo Championship, these acrobatic individuals have proven to be real students of the Korean martial art. They have made their fair share of demonstrations in exemplifying skill.
The K-Tigers have cleverly ridden the Korean wave that begun to rise in the late 90’s. By doing so, the explosion of Korean pop culture, as well as the Internet, has helped propel them into a level of popularity that no other Taekwondo group may have experienced before.
With Korean companies becoming more aware of the power of the Korean wave, there is a lot of support for groups and channels such as K-Tigers on the rise. Like a cheerful virus, immersing yourself into the Korean experience means learning everything there is to know about the Korean culture. In that, K-Tigers combination of the traditional form of martial arts, Taekwondo, with something more modern has only led more people to become open to the world of martial arts – and in that act, has helped keep the community continuously thriving.
Having featured on many mainstream broadcasting networks in Korea, K-Tigers ensure they are more than just a performing arts team. Although their techniques and moves are made flashier for the sake of dazzling crowds, the heart of their choreography is centered around Taekwondo techniques – from chops, kicks, and flips.
There may be a lot of people who delight in the idea of fusing dance and martial arts together. On the flip side, there are those that find it diminishes the image of Taekwondo. For those involved in martial arts more seriously, there is a strong opinion that this sort of change only devalues the seriousness of the culture of the martial art itself.
On the other hand, some argue that such fusion helps keep the Korean martial art alive, or promotes it. Adding a modern, pleasant-to-watch twist to something that has been around for decades, brings it to a more mainstream light. And for some, that is better than letting it live in the shadows.
As one K-Tiger member states in their promotional teaser video, “We have decided to participate in this monumental task in transforming traditional Taekwondo. The task is to convert Taekwondo’s fundamental and technical form into innovative art. We attempt to raise the awareness of Taekwondo, not just as martial arts, but as art.”