Taekwondo styles are interesting things, as they are each a slice of the complete discipline, and even resemble the ultimate sequencing of all arts. I say this as a fellow who studied at one of the original schools of the art, the Kang Duk Won. For the past four decades I’ve watched as each style of Korea’s most famous art has emerged, and there is an evolution of art occurring here that is worthy of note.
First, the original kwans, the Song Moo Kwan, Moo Duk Kwan, Kwon Bop, and all the others, were predominately Karate. Most of the fellows who put these arts together studied with Gichin Funakoshi during the forties. The rest studied with his students or asssociates.
Thus, the first schools were karate, plain and simple and not negotiable. Korea gaining independence, however, and nationalism rising, taekwondo was invented by General Choi Hong Hi. Thus, much of Japanese Karate was tossed out, altered, and taekwondo began its various evolutions.
There are several taekwondo methods, and several sequences of patterns. Most of them are variations of simple karate basics, with a decided concentration on kicking. One should not hold one art as better than another, and saying such things as my Taekwondo is the Deadliest Martial Art, or my Taekwondo is the Best Martial Art should not be put forth. The individual arts are pieces of a larger body of knowledge, and the serious student will study all the styles, do all the patterns, and make his own silent decisions as to which art is best.
That said, one should move studying the art of Hapkido. Hapkido is a put together by a fellow who studied Daito ryu Aiki jujitsu. There is some confusion on the exact history of the founder, but the art is proving out. It is lasting, and people are learning, but one does need to go into a study of it with open eyes.
Next are the classical Korean Martial Arts. These would be such disciplines as Taekkyeon and Subak. Taekkyeon, and there is some argument on this spelling, is the basis for the art of Hwarangdo. While the founder of Hwarangdo borrowed the name, many people hold to the efficiency of the art.
Subak is one of the Korean arts taught before the Japanese outlawed martial arts in Korea. It is an excellent study of drilling and training and throwing an attacker without effort. Unfortunately, it may be difficult to find a teacher in this art, but it is still worth looking into.
So, the advice here is that one begins with the simple styles of Choi Hong Hi, and travel through the various groups and methods to find what is best. After that, one should explore classical karate kata and bunkai, to better explore the origins of TKD, and then begin a journey through Hapkido, and Hwarangdo, and, if one is lucky, Subak. While this sequence of study may might take a while, it is the only way to get to the original secrets of Real Taekwondo Styles.