Joong Do Kwan 중도관 [中道館] Tae Kwon Do or 'School of the Middle Way' is based in Perth, Western Australia. We are a small group of martial art practitioners and students who practice Traditional Taekwondo. Our lineage of Taekwondo was exported out of Korea in the mid 1950s and continues to enjoy its proximity to its Karate cousins. Joong Do Kwan uses the Chang Hon set of Taekwondo patterns as our main syllabus. Currently, Joong Do Kwan is headed by Colin Wee (6th Dan). The Traditional Taekwondo Techniques Blog has been a resource he started to help discuss techniques as they occurred in class.

30 May 2014

Yulgok Backfist Cross Stance



I guess I might be crazy enough to leap into the fray armed with a backfist. But no, it's not going to be my number one weapon, nor would it pop into my head as a weapon of last resort.

So here I am training with a student who's preparing for his blue belt grading and who's asking about this leap-into-the-fray backfist that you see off step 36 in Taekwondo Yul-gok. Beautiful and balledic. But the first impression of this technique seems to miss the mark as being something that you could use with any sort of seriousness. .

In my description provided for this video on Youtube I compare this jumping step to the leap you also see in Bassai. Bassai, as I understand it was a pattern favoured by none other than Bushi Matsumura - a giant in terms of the development of linear Karate. The opening sequence of Bassai features the exact jumping backfist except it's done on the right side rather than Yulgok on the left.

I reckon the most devastating application I can come up with for Bassai is a finger lock done on an opponent just in front of you, and a 'walk up' to control the opponent by the head (one palm on the chin, the other grabbing hair) before performing a literal head-smashing takedown and a footstomp. The back leg 'tucked' behind the front leg was a way in which I could pivot to deal with another opponent - as in the case of Bassai. However, discussions on the X-step talk often of how this be a leg attack and trap. The difference being that a leg attack or trap requires you to fold the back leg in front and then press downward using the front knee.

So the leap forward in Yulgok encouraged me to explore this leg attack perspective. The back leg fold seem to say the dynamic of a torquing body would require me to turn into the side of the opponent's leg. That more or less justified the cross stance. The back fist in that position was easy to use as a takedown either in the front of the opponent's body or from the back. Or if you want a less 'glamourous' end result, I suppose I could use the forearm of the striking arm to hyperextend the opponent's arm.

Why would I want to leap in in such a way? Again, it's definitely not just for a Kodak moment. I'm not here *just* to look good. In those instances where I've sparred and I've spun on the spot with both legs close together, I spin because it makes the target area much more difficult for the opponent, and I can use different weapons from 'the other side' of the opponent. In this application however, it prompts the practitioner to change angle of entry on the opponent rather than to just chase into him head first. Who's wants to play chicken if the opponent has a weapon? Or if you had a wall to your back, wouldn't you want the opponent to run into it? Or if you have more opponents to your back wouldn't you want to 'bypass' this one in front of you so you can then use him as a shield?

Lots to think about.

--
Colin Wee
Principal, Joong Do Kwan (Perth)
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12 May 2014

Happily Using Dosan's Spearhand

Taekwondo Dosan Spearhand right into the opponent's eyes. Or how about a finger jab right on the side of the neck. Yeah, let's see both of that on video!



No, no, no. Who conditions their fingers int he 21st century? Not me. So I'm not going to hit anyone with the tips of my fingers. I can't advocate that move anyway - who can justify the need to blind someone in any situation?

So here I am with the open palm trap and spearhand. I'm going to apply that to deflect any oncoming strike, wade in with a nice over-the-shoulder vertical heel palm and then rotate the opponent's head into a takedown. As you can see, protect yourself during the takedown and proceed with immobilisation.

Dosan would approve of my civic naturedness!

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--
Colin Wee
Principal, Joong Do Kwan (Perth)
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11 May 2014

Drive that Wedging Block into the Attacker

Have you've noticed there are some instructors on the internet nowadays that try to present almost any move you see in a pattern as some esoteric lock or take down. Look, it's the first pattern a beginner learns. Cool - I'll show you a gazillion locks you can do with this one block and turn. Ridiculous.



Here is an application that blocks a swinging type attack and counters at the same time! You can strike the attacking limb or you can elbow the head. Then you get to use your front kick not as some Muay Thai pushing kick, but as a devastating short range inside-the-thigh or worse yet, inside-the-knee kick. See that destructive power? You have that tool under your belt!

Once you're in, you happily apply two short range punches however you like. Higher levels get to strip one of the lead hands of the opponent away and then plough into the ribs with the second punch. Sorry, you don't get to see this on the video.

Train safely!

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--
Colin Wee
Principal, Joong Do Kwan (Perth)
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7 May 2014

Creating a New Upper Limit to Your Punching Power

I am 5'7" barely and about 72kgs. There is an upper limit to my ability to punch an opponent. If I wanted to compare using the same punching dynamics as I was taught as a young black belt, I would be outpunched by almost any MMA, gym, or wannabe streetfighter junkie.



The fact of the matter is that it's not that the roundhouse punch is 'bad' - it's a good punch. It's a popular punch. But as punches go, if I use shoulder rotation to swing, irrespective of how rooted I am into the ground, I will need loads more shoulder muscles, arm muscles, and upper body strength so that I can throw more mass into the swing, and land it.

Using traditional training equipment however I noticed that the punching dynamics were way different from modern type punching. The arm was closer to the body, and as I pulsed the movement from the legs up to the hips and through the arm, I noticed that I could bypass the weaker shoulder muscles. Essentially I was throwing more weight into it because I was tapping into the larger muscles of my beer gut and legs.

All that was needed was the coordination, and a way of holding my arm so that the transmission of power was much more effective. I practiced and practiced, and soon discovered that I could generate a lot of power. The best thing is that I barely felt like I was doing much - as I hit that post I could hear my entire garage vibrate with the force of the strike. In truth, I was scared that I was hitting the target so hard - one slip was all it would take to break my wrist. But more than that, I was hitting the target to the point where I felt like I was at risk of hurting the bones on my striking hand and certainly the surface of the knuckles.



The incident which I mention in the above video happened for real - I was intoxicated with the sheer amount of force I got levy on that post that I was again at it AND missed. And I only missed the centre by about an inch. Maybe less. The knuckle sheered on the surface and immediately I got a sharp stinging pain that went through the dull ache that was already there.

I stopped punching with the right hand and started with the left - being a little more judicious with the striking force ... mostly. I tried to nurse the right hand by rubbing voltaren and Chinese kung fu liniment to no avail. 3 months. 6 months. 9 months passed. The medication and the massage was not helping.

I eventually went to see an old Chinese acupuncturist who laughed at my folly and my misfortune. However, in his defence ... he was able to cure me miraculously. It's true, he cured my problem with his needles in under 5 sessions. Now - as you can see - I advocate more wisdom in the way practitioners should use the striking post.

I've taken the initiative to include a video of a wall mounted makiwara affixed to a tyre - and that tyre being held for training. I think that's a brilliant idea. My only suggestion there is to make sure the wood frame backing is robust enough. Most el cheapo of the striking posts you buy, made in china, have compressed wood backing - which would just disintegrate. What I didn't like was the example of how they hit the makiwara in the end. For some really sharp makiwara practice, see ...



If you are inspired to make your own equipment, see Traditional Taekwondo Ramblings How to Make Your Own Training Equipment; Tire Makiwara.

Lastly, I'll leave you with one of students Sandy learning how to hit the makiwara.



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--
Colin Wee
Principal, Joong Do Kwan (Perth)
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2 May 2014

The Reaction Hand with a Vengeance

This is a sequel to The Reaction Hand.

Coming this Summer .... Stop. Drawing. Your. Fist. To. Your. Hip.



I can punch really hard. I don't need to draw my other hand (The Reaction Hand) to my body for me to hit you. Do I have to explain it again? The reaction hand isn't the primary way for you to generate striking power.

Here's a video I uploaded on how to hit the makiwara or striking post. This is the way to learn how to strike with great power.



The only time you sincerely practice The Reaction Hand is when I insist that you do. During line drills. When you do your forms. When you do one step sparring. You do this so you follow the ritual of practice and help your opponents out. In your mind, your reaction hand should have grabbed hair or clothes or body part and drawn it toward you. The Reaction Hand is not used to generate power, it is used to stop the opponent from stepping away from you. But even if that doesn't occur in your mind, when I tell you to draw your hand back to your hip in practice you do so. Likewise when I don't tell you to do so, you don't. :-)

When you do practice The Reaction Hand, I'd like the reaction hand to be pulled smartly back, in balance with the strike, and held tightly next to the body. I don't want it inching past your ribs and I certainly don't want to see the elbow floating away from your body.

When you are not told to practice the reaction hand and you are engaged in combat or self defence moves ... if you pull your hand away from covering your face, your centre-line, or that part of your head or neck vulnerable to attack, you will get into trouble. If not from me, then from your opponent.

Next year, wait for it ... The Reaction Hand-er.

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--
Colin Wee
Principal, Joong Do Kwan (Perth)
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27 Apr 2014

I Haven't Worn Shin Guards Since I don't Know When, but I Still Have a Smile on My Face



I feel the tremble. I hear the intake of breath. Yet another person shrinks from my little love tap on their shin. The two photos I've included are of me using a knife hand on an unwitting practitioner's shin. These particular shots were taken just this April 5th 2014 - I had a 'Play in Perth' joint training between Joong Do Kwan and an fellow IAOMAS school 'Saseru Karate-do' from Dunsborough. It's all for a good cause of course. Bear with me folks, most of the people I'm hitting are way bigger than little ol' me ... I'm not bullying anyone. LOL. In all truthfulness, I'm striking them pretty hard. The strikes at the top of their shins are bearable. The strikes at the bottom of their shins however, are far from comfortable. A few discussion points arise from this demonstration - untrained legs are imperfect weapons. Calibrated wrongly, you can be in for intense pain if you collide a sensitive area with a corner of your opponent's body. On the receiving end, there's some opportunity to take advantage of this weakness to full effect. For me, there is one lesson I like to repeat, it is that if you need to block an oncoming leg strike with your leg, it is far better to cop it on the top part of your shin rather than lower down on the leg. This blocking should be incorporated for 'Muay Thai' or roundhouse kicks against your outer thigh or inside strikes against your groin. There is the case to also consider conditioning as part of your training. But ... conditioning is not a permanent thing - stop conditioning your shins AND they will revert back to normal eventually.

Keep training folks!

Colin

ps. Come check out my new blog Taekwondo Fighting Heaven and Earth.
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Colin Wee
Principal, Joong Do Kwan (Perth)
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23 Apr 2014

Personal Reflections on Taekwondo

I recently had an interesting conversation with a long-time associate of my school. The guy has been reflecting on his personal and social circumstances and was interested in finding out more about my practice of Taekwondo. It's his intention to continue his own training despite increasing social and personal time commitments, so wanted to know how I kept up with my own training.

Frankly, the several times a week I exercise, the twice formal trainings we do, and maybe one or two short private drilling sessions are a nominal effort on my part to keep my hand in the game. When I was in college, I was exercising 6 days a week and training officially 6 times a week - twice of those were pure 'fight' training.

What tips the scale in my favour as a taekwondo practitioner is the amount of visualisation training I do. I spend time visualising all aspects of our training. Some times to improve on the flow of techniques, but most often to understand the sequences within taekwondo patterns, and then to understand the physics behind the techniques.

This has been one of the main ways in which I have been able to improve as a practitioner and instructor, whilst leading a full and demanding social and private life. Without the sheer amount of mental discipline, I would not have been able to produce the quality of seminars or teaching material that I share freely with any other practitioner, regardless of style or school. Of course I am the first to admint not all of my material is original. Or at least it did not start off as original - I read extensively about martial history, research other authors, seek to understand the physics behind our techniques in order to build up insight and my own material pertinent to our style.

It is a running joke, but I often think of 'Traditional Taekwondo' as 'Progressive Taekwondo.' The patterns are the syllabus that need not change, it's just the material and the training methodology that needs to be addressed. Meaning if I wanted to train like the young black belt I was - happy only to spar hard and fast or throw some fancy kicks, sure ... there need not be any change. But if I was interested in surviving an attack that is more menacing, then perhaps I should make each technique manifest power in a more fearsome way. Or I should train myself to ensure I always fight tactically, as opposed to sportively.

Keep training, folks! But train ... inventively.

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Colin
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Colin Wee
Principal, Joong Do Kwan (Perth)
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15 Apr 2014

Datu Kelly Worden NSI


Just recently I saw this picture of Datu Kelly Worden on a FaceBook group I keep up with. The pose was reminiscent of a particular move in a kata wildly popular with traditionalists called - amongst other things - Naihanchi.

In the FaceBook group I wanted to make a point that Datu Worden often shares his approach to 'bridge the gap' - making sense of standalone techniques within the entire flow of his functional and effective combative system. This is in direct contrast to the struggle some hard stylists have in order to explain the vast collection of technique sequences in the numerous pattern sets we practice. Basically as hard stylists we often try to figure it out 'ass backward' - we look at a specific phenomenon, then gain the necessary experience, then try to reason out it's meaning, and then try to justify it within what we do.



What Datu Worden does well? Simply, he 'destroys,' 'traps,' and 'locks.' He's happy to mix and match and go back and forth, so you'd see him strike a pose like the above, yet, just a few seconds before he would have deflected the oncoming strike, kicked out at the attacker's knee, tapped his groin, bust him in the neck, hyperextended the arm, strike the eyes, then trap/capture the arm resulting in the above kodak moment.

This is going to be verbose, but aside from this shot, he'd probably swing the opponent into the ground where he'd footstomp his ankle OR if there were a video cam around he might pull on the head and send him into that wall behind him. No, I don't earn commission from Datu Worden ... but a single shot just doesn't sum up the guy, nor should it sum up a pattern or the collection of skills needed to make each technique work.

Here's another admission I'd like to share with you ... I have personally benefited from his resources and his approach to combative systems. Seeing that kind of flow shows you what you need to make your cover, blocks, interceptions, and strikes work in a dynamic and fast paced setting. He's also really good on camera and is one of the best teachers I know who can use the medium to convey skills and experience to other martial artists.

If you have the opportunity - you MUST visit http://www.kellyworden.com/ and check out his DVDs.

I don't benefit from this post - I share as my personal opinion. Meaning - it's a non-commercial plug for Datu Worden.

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Stay safe,

Colin
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Colin Wee
Principal, Joong Do Kwan (Perth)
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