“Taekwondo a path to excellence” by Doug Cook is an exceptional book for martial artists, not just those who practice taekwondo. The subtitle of this book is “Achieving Physical and Spiritual Enrichment Through Disciplined Practice,” and while Cook’s specific practice is the art of taekwondo from Korea, I believe much of what he writes is applicable to any martial art, regardless of style or country of origin. This is not a technique book, but rather a text that shares the author’s journey and how taekwondo positively impacted his life.
Through Cook’s journey, this book explores taekwondo and can stimulate others to explore their own martial art path. Yes, I do believe those who practice the Korean arts will enjoy this book the most. I personally do not do taekwondo, but my experiences with my chosen art of hapkido are similar, and when Cook wrote about his trips to Korea, it reminded me of my time in the Land of the Morning Calm. (Not to mention, it made me a bit homesick to return)
The book is divided into seven parts. Part One focuses on what taekwondo is. The author explains it as more than just striking and kicking, and I found myself agreeing with much, especially the importance of “Do.” The second part explains a bit of history of taekwondo, including a bit of Korean history. Part Three addresses becoming a steadfast practitioner of the art. I really liked this part and think most practitioners can relate the author’s message to their own practice, regardless of art. The fourth section of the book has some very good advice aimed at beginners. Since we are all beginners at some part of our art, this chapter is good for everyone, but especially those starting their journey. Part Five is more personal to the author regarding his students, colleagues, and experiences. I found it an inspiring chapter. Part Six is fairly short, but provides some wisdom regarding the economics of the martial arts, something anyone who wants to make their living by teaching must deal with. Finally, Part Seven, relays some of the experiences of the author on his training trips to Korea. Those practicing Korean arts that have not yet traveled to Korea may be inspired by this chapter to journey themselves to their art’s country of origin. As I mentioned, it made me think of my time there and made me yearn for my next visit.
This was an enjoyable well written book that prompted me to ponder my own journey in the martial arts. I think it is a valuable book for martial artists, especially those that practice taekwondo or other Korean arts. Definitely recommended reading for all taekwondo stylists.