Summary: Good for beginners; lacks detail
Comment: I bought this book as I started TKD--its inexpensive price corresponded with my level of commitment. The book does an okay job of covering a wide array of basic concepts. It is definitely a beginner's guide. I'm now looking to buy a better tkd book.
What I found lacking are detailed explanations of why the techniques are the way they are. I did not like how the "secrets" are all put into one section at the end of each chapter and are quite general--not really secrets at all, but common sense. It would be better instead to include specific hints, explanations, and insights after presenting each technique. The amount of detail presented for each technique is no match for an instructor's attention. Sometimes the photo captions offer a little more detail, but other times the photos are confusing.
Summary: Great supplement for the beginner Tae Kwon Do student
Comment: I bought this book when I first started Tae Kwon Do and found it to be helpful in breaking down techniques step by step along with pictures. I practice Tae Kwon Do regularly and still occasionally look back at this book to review some of the small things in kicking techniques. This book includes sections on the history of Tae Kwon Do, the meaning of Tae Kwon Do (along with the meanings of the principles of Tae Kwon Do), kicking techniques, self defense, stretching, board breaking and more. I reviewed many other books before buying this one. I highly recommend this book for anyone new to Tae Kwon Do.
Summary: Good for beginners/intermediates. . .
Comment: This is a great book if you're just getting started in TKD, and is probably better-suited to those not taking formal lessons. The sections on hand and foot techniques are clear and well-illustrated, but my major issue is with the extensive section on sparring and self-defense techniques. These may be good techniques but in your dojang you may well learn entirely different ones. In preparing for the red belt I have learned 30 one-steps, and I don't think a single one is in this book, although bits and pieces of them are. Obviously students will quickly learn more forms than Chon Ji, although it's nice for a review when you're just starting out.
This book is a great confidence-builder for the beginning student and is well-illustrated with useful photographs that clearly demonstrate techniques. At the same time, it is NOT just an album like so many martial arts books. Dr. Lawler has done a good job with this, and if you can only get one TKD book, this would be my suggestion.
Summary: THE OPERATIVE WORD IS "BEGINNERS"
Comment: I had been searching for a comprehensive easy to follow guide and I have found it in Jennifer Lawler's "The Secrets of Tae Kwon Do: Principles and Techniques for Beginners." The secret is that it is a quide for beginners. That's me!
As defined, Tae Kwon Do is a Korean martial arts of high kicks and spins. So it helps to have long legs. That's me! Already, that's two "that's me's" and I'm hooked.
I like the diciplines. Serve your lord with loyalty. Serve your parents with filial piety. Trust your friends. Never retreat from a battle. When taking life, be selective. I'm a lawyer. The last three diciplines apply in the courtroom just as easily as they do in martial arts.
I taught myself how to ski by reading a book. I never took a lesson in my life. I just read the book, went to the slopes, and skied.
With that new found confidence I thought the same of Tae Kwon Do. Get a book, practice, and then spin and kick. The book is great but you need coaching too. Because, as it turns out, Tae Kwon Do is much more difficult to learn than skiing is.
I think this is the best book of its kind on the market. For a beginner, like me, and for the intermediate that I hope to be some day. I recommend it.
Summary: A great reference for new students of Tae Kwon Do
Comment: This book is very useful for those who want to develop a better understanding of the basic Tae Kwon Do moves, and for those who want to practice their stances, kicks and punches between classes.
While there are other books, notably "Tae Kwon Do: The State of the Art," which provide more insight into the martial art's philosophies and have more comprehensive coverage of the Tae Kwon Do forms, I found Lawler's book to be near-perfect for a beginner like me. There are many pictures and a detailed explanation for each move, making them easy to follow (but not necessarily easy to do!) The book's large size is a plus, as the pictures don't have to compete with the text on each page. And while the use of the word "Secrets" in the title is a bit misleading, Lawler does stock each section with useful tips that help the reader better understand the moves.
I'd prefer if the book were organized differently - I'd find it more useful if the basic moves (stances/punches/kicks) were grouped together, with the intermediate moves in their own group. Instead, Lawler follows basic moves with intermediate ones of the same type, which forces a lot of unnecessary page turning for beginners who want to get a firm grasp of the basics before tackling more advanced moves. She also puts flexibility drills in a separate chapter at the end of the book, though they would make much more sense as part of the warm-up/stretching chapter. I'm tempted to unbind the book and reorganize the pages in a three-ring binder!
Finally, it should be pointed out that not all students will study the form that she presents (Chon-ji), even though Lawler asserts that it is the first form that a TKD student learns. The form you learn will depend upon your school's associated governing body (WTF or ITF), and may be somewhat different from that presented here. Still, that's a small part of the book, and most of it will prove to be incredibly useful to the TKD newcomer. I'm sure that the basics presented in this book will help any TKD student progress well beyond white-belt level.