Weighing in at around 192 pages, this dense book is all about the first form for Tae Kwon Do black belts, the Koryo, which translate to “Korea”. This is the first of nine forms that black belts learn and is meant to reflect the spirit of the Korean people overcoming adversity throughout their history. The DVD clocks in at just under 90 minutes of footage and includes everything that the book has, except now you can see it performed in real time rather than with photos.
The form in the book and on the DVD is performed by Grandmaster Richard Chun, who is a 9th Dan in TKD with over 50 years practicing his style, and one of the highest ranked masters in the world. Trained under Chong Soo Hong and Ki Whang Kim, this New Jersey resident is also the president of the USTA, the United States Tae Kwon Do Association, and a senior referee among other things in the martial arts community. Assisting Master Chun is Doug Cook, a 6th dan and six-time gold medalist in the New York State Championships and the New York State Governor’s Cup.
The new version of Koryo was brought in around 1972, and is the first form that black belts must learn and perform successfully to achieve second dan black belt. The difference between the original Koryo and the modern version of the Koryo is mainly the evolution of techniques utilized in the current poomsae. The original Koryo is referred to by Master Cook as an “heirloom poomsae”, a form that uses many strategies and tactics that are not seen as frequently in modern TKD but should not be forgotten.
I am not a TKD black belt (my background is judo & BJJ, I have only been doing TKD for the past year) but I did confer with some TKD black belts to get their input on these two items, as well as giving my own opinions since I am still pretty darn qualified to write about the overall presentation of both. In terms of production quality, the DVD looks good and is your basic martial arts instructional (although the audio sounded crystal clear which was a big positive mark). The book contains tons of photos, as well as diagrams to show foot placements and positions, another good detail that makes this book even more informative.
Both the book and the DVD cover the same topics, just presented slightly differently. However, both are extremely thorough in terms of technique as well as information on the form and history of the poomsae and importance of it. Both products cover the fundamentals of each movement in great detail, taking the very basic stances and picking them apart to perfection, which was something I greatly enjoyed reading and watching.
The majority of the DVD is instructed by Master Cook, with Grandmaster Chun chiming in with some details here and there (English is not his first language, but his skills transcend spoken words). The majority of the book, however, is pictures of Chun demonstrating the form. There is also a section that shows how these moves work in real combat situations and what their applications can be. Obviously, this is not a book or DVD for beginners and is made for black belts, or soon-to-be black belts. If you are on that road in TKD, these are absolute must-have items! The information is invaluable, is presented in an easy to understand way with tons of details that will give you the perfect poomsae.
You can order the Taekwondo Black Belt Poomsae: Original Koryo and Koryo Book for around $13 and the Taekwondo Black Belt – Koryo and Original Koryo DVD for $20 on Amazon.com. If you are going to buy one, I suggest you get the other since they were made to go together and compliment each other very well. These products will take your TKD forms to the next level, as well as keeping the tradition alive of the original Koryo and making it part of modern TKD instead of a relic of the past.