From the opening sequences of this innovative new 4 CD set of the LEGACY CD-ROM it is obvious that it is a quality production. The welcoming oratory of General Choi Hong Hi encapsulates the objectives and philosophy of Taekwon-Do and he does this whilst directing some of the worlds best International Taekwon-Do Federation (I.T.F.) practitioners through a pattern. The grandeur of the setting at the base of the Canadian Mountains is spectacular in itself but it is enhanced by the skills of the practitioners performing their art.
All of this however could be just window dressing if the product were not put together in a user-friendly manner. Fortunately the installation which is designed for Microsoft windows 95 (but runs equally as well on Windows NT) is simple and quick and also contains “Quick time for video” to run the video sequences. Once installed and the opening sequences have been displayed it is simple to navigate by clicking on the stones in the rock pool which acts as the menu. There is also an online help button for each component of the CD.
The first CD gives the user some insight into the philosophy and history of Taekwon-Do. This is achieved by the user selecting questions to ask General Choi which he answers on video whilst relevant slides are shown from his personal collection. The answers may not be exactly what every martial artist expects to hear but they are his honest assessment of the facts.They are often very personal views and cover topics such as his early years in Korea, his imprisonment by the Japanese during world war 2, his reasons for devising the name Taekwon-Do and his goals for Taekwon-Do in the future. Also on this disc are 200 Taekwon-Do terms, which are translated into Korean and pronounced by General Choi’s son, Master Jung Hwa Choi. This alone will be a very useful tool for aspiring instructors since Master Jung Hwa Choi has indicated when he was here in January that he expects International Instructors to be able to give commands in both English and Korean.
The second CD is almost a bonus disc since it contains a digitised copy of the entire 15 volume Encyclopaedia of Taekwon-Do written by General Choi. If you wanted to purchase a hard copy of this set it can cost anywhere between AU$400 and AU$500. This is the latest edition and the digitised version has a limited word search ability.
The third and fourth CD’s however are what most practitioners are interested in because they contain the definitive way to perform the ITF patterns. The General chose the performers of these patterns because of their high levels of skill and commitment to the ITF. He directed all of the patterns to ensure that they were as he wished them to be performed by ITF students. It is clear from the outcome that he chose well. It is hard to find fault in the skillful precision, power and grace displayed by each of the practitioners when they perform these patterns. Some however deserve special mention. Zbigniew Kruk and Rua Kaiou are both practicing their art here in the Australasian region (Zbigniew in Adelaide and Rua in New Zealand) which demonstrates that although we have a relatively small population we do still have some excellent Instructors available to us. One other who deserves singling out is Noemi Parone whose display of Moon Moo is totally awesome. Anybody who believes that a female practitioner cannot have speed and power with control should look at this pattern. Her kicking skills display astonishing height and control as well as speed and power, I know that my own female students were inspired by her ability and have set themselves much higher goals as a result of seeing her in action. The section also allows you to view a brief resume of each performer before they perform a pattern.
It is however not only the physical skills of the practitioners that make these two CD’s so useful as a training aid. It is also the mechanics of the system which allow you to view the performer from either front or rear or either side as well as be able to go from continuous movement to step by step. It also allows you to look at the moves in slow motion either forwards or back as well as pause at any time. There is however a small fault on the system which puts the performers sound slightly out of synchronization with the movement which although slightly irritating is easily fixed by pausing the action briefly and restarting from that point. I understand that the manufacturers are considering putting out a disc at minimal cost to fix this problem.
Although small, another minor irritation is the constant mispronunciation by the American/Canadian ‘voice over’ of the word Taekwon-Do. Unfortunately the American language seems to pronounce the word Tae as Tie (which is something men hang around their necks in Australia) but it is clear from General Choi’s pronunciation and from the spelling that it should sound like Tay. Indeed if the person who did the voice over had bothered to use the Interpreter CD he would have noticed that Master Choi pronounces it as Tay and not Tie.
The only other minor criticism of the production is the size of the viewing screen to examine the performance of the patterns. This small screen is probably a result of having to provide a system that will be playable on even a 486 with 16 meg of Ram and a 4 x speed CD ROM drive. It would however have been much easier to see the action if the patterns took up the entire screen. The solution I found was to play it on a 17 inch monitor but such things are not yet commonplace.
Nonetheless the screen size is adequate for seeing the action and overall the production is well worth the US$150 which it costs. It is also a limited run of only 3999 copies and I understand they are selling quickly. Surprisingly the biggest orders to date are coming from the Australian/New Zealand market, which may reflect the heightened interest in ITF Taekwon-Do which has occurred as a result of General Choi and his Son visiting Australia early this year.
In conclusion one would have to say that this is a gold standard production which should assist not just instructors, but all ITF practitioners and show other martial artists that the ITF is still looking to the future in developing new ways to assist in teaching the art. Of course as General Choi says there is no substitute for a good instructor.
Steven Weston is a 7th degree Master Instructor who has been teaching ITF Taekwon-Do for over 24 years. He attended many International Instructor courses with General Choi and currently lives in South Korea and contributes to ITF HQ Korea in bringing the Art back to its homeland.