Training Warriors for the 21st Century

Training Warriors for the 21st Century
Joong Do Kwan Traditional Taekwondo cross training with Kidokwan Perth

27 Apr 2007

Taekwondo Pattern Chon-ji: Down Block Drills

Taekwondo Chon-ji Down Block Drills

Down block. Gedan barai. Hardan marki.

Colin between steps 2 and 3 of Taewkondo's Chon-ji Hyung.

We did an incremental down block drill for new students and beginners last night.

1. The first was to look at the folding as a way to create a deflection for a strike coming to the face. Then using the down block to deflect a mid-section strike to the solar plexus.

2. Then we used the folding or reverse hand as a way to sandwich the opponent's striking arm whilst the 'fold' for the down block is used to send your elbow into the back of the opponent's hand. Then the down block is used as a strike to the forearm.

3. Progressing through this exercise, the more experienced students involved themselves in a free flow drill - opponent striking nose then solar plexus. The fold was used as a deflection for the face while the down block is used to strike away a solar plexus attack.

The down block was shown not to be used directly against leg attacks UNLESS the intention was to use a downward striking elbow instead of the forearm to strike an uncoming shin.

A more advanced approach was taken to look at angles of striking.

The down block performed on top of areas LI 7,8,9 toward an oncoming 'Karate' type punch with palm downward is a traditional type downblock performed chambered at the elbow and striking the forearm at an angle.

The down block down on HT 3 or HT 2 of an arm on the 'same side' punching you (like a Wing Chun punch - with thumb upward) is done with a straighter arm and requires the fist be held flexed toward the small finger side of the forearm. This wraps the fist so that your knuckle or knife hand part of the hand and strike inside the opponent's forearm.

The down block done on L13 is done if the arm is extended way and crossed in front of the opponent's body, and rotated with palm pointing more or less down. Meaning you are hammering the guy's tricep with a downblock done so that your fist is probably higher than your elbow. It still is considered a downblock because of the flight path you are using to strike the opponent's arm.

Like the lunge punch, the hikite or pull back or reaction hand needs to be pulled back hard. Both hands work in tandem to create a massive shearing force. Ideally, your back hand is anchoring or trapping the opponent's extended arm. Or stretching it out. Or as I said about, sandwiching it between your two arms.

>> If you liked this post, check out Chon-ji: Drills and Variations



24 Apr 2007

Chon-ji Combat-Ready Acid Test

Instructor: Sound off!
Student: Chon-Ji of TaeKwon-Do Hyung.
Instructor: How many movements?
Student: 19.
Instructor: How many different movements?
Student: 3.
Instructor: What does Chon-Ji mean?
Student: Heaven and Earth.

What does that actually communicate? What insight does that show for Chon-ji?

The primary technique of Chon-ji consists of ...

  • Low section outer forearm low block in front stance
  • Move forward in front stance and execute a middle section lunge punch

And that's it! The other move is a yop marki middle block. So if every kata guideline is correct, the person that you've struck with step 1 and 2 should be either TKO'd OR maimed and hurt badly OR dead.

This is one of the acid tests that shows you know your Chon-ji well enough. The lunge punch needs to be able to strike an opponent (holding a striking mitt or powerbag), and if that opponent is the same weight as you, you should be rocking him backwards with the force of your punch. If you can't do this - YOU DON'T PASS to yellow belt!

The trick is to understand that the striking power from Chon-ji comes predominantly from the legs and the acceleration you get when you're lunging at full speed. This is not a step, it requires a powerful accelerative force. The body and trunk remain fairly flexible until the point of impact - where the body then locks into place in order that the entire striking force of the punch is unleashed through the skeletal system into the target. What does that mean? It means that you are transmitting the mass of your moving body through the core muscles, up through the chest and into the tightly held arm. Strike only with your arm and the opponent is not going to budge much.

The technique is really important - the picture shown above is 'about there' - but I'd prefer that the stance be a little longer to show how you would generate the force from forward momentum. I would like the arm to be 'locked' closer to the chest wall using the pecs and lats.

I saw a beginner exhaling all his breath at the end of the extension. What we do is to start the exhalation at the start of the move in order to get off the starting line, increase core tension and exhale harder through the move - BUT continue exhaling after full extension. This is essential if you are going to tighten up all your muscles and send your force into your fist. The core trunk of your body supports this by tightening up your abs and pushing the entire upper body into the direction of the strike.

I have been struck by a 140lbs 15 yo boy and moved back at least 1.5 feet because of the blow. I myself have TKO'd an opponent (inadvertently .. I didn't really mean to) by striking him with cotton pads on using this lunging technique. This BASIC technique from Chon-ji.

This is an incredible technique and will hurt you as bad as any good kick.

Good practicing!


22 Apr 2007

Upper Block

The Taekwondo upper block is known as Chukyo Marki in our style and Age Uke in Karate.

We were practicing Chukyo marki today as a line drill.

Today in the line drill moving forward in a lunge stance, we incorporated a backward glance. This is done when your feet come together and when your arms fold - you glance either to your side or back before looking forward again and then performing the Upper Block.

The next stage, we practiced raising the shoulder of the blocking hand and covering up with the back hand as we move forward - so essentially covering up the side of the head (on the side of the block). During the fold, the body naturally compresses, decreasing target size. This is a good cover as your opponent will try to strike you from the front - raising your hands in front of you, then trying to come over your shoulder and knocking you out from the side of the temple. The fold for the rising block nicely protects the side of the head.

Many people mistake the Taekwondo upper block as a block purely against something coming straight ahead and from the top of your head. Many people fail to understand that you need to 'apply' the block based on the nature of the attack. Just attempting to do the upper block will result in you failing to adequately intercept a downward or sideward swinging motion to you.

Keys for success are to make sure the upper block can rotate horizontally and cover the side of your head equally as well as covering the front and top of your head. Also you need to study the flight path of the block and force yourself to use this upward motion plus a drop down of your head to quickly intercept whatever downward swing is coming your way.

Check out E-How: Doing an Upper Block



20 Apr 2007

Dan-gun, Hand Conditioning, and the Pseudo Soodo

A Taekwondo soodo marki (or shuto or knife hand) performed in back stance has the pull back hand palm-up in front of the solar plexus and the extended hand palm-forward.

In the Taekwondo form Dan-gun, the blade of the hand is the weapon that makes contact with the target. However, I have not seen students doing any hand conditioning to the point where that blade would be hard enough to cause damage to an opponent.

20 years ago, my first martial arts instructor started us on conditioning equipment and poultices which thickened our knife hand and shins. I don't train the edge of my hand that much anymore but I can probably see evidence of this training if I look close enough.

One of the equipment my instructor introduced to us were large white candles. We would roll our knife hand blades into the candles that were in turn placed flat on the surface of a table. Then we would roll the entire blade back and forth pressing downward. After a few weeks of this we would gently 'smash' the candle to bits whilst it lay flat on the table.

My students nowadays have the option to pursue this, so I do highlight it as an optional part of their training. However, considering that most don't actively condition their hands, I have promoted a different soodo to the one that is commonly practiced in Taekwondo and Karate halls. This is a variation where we use the corner of the heel palm rather than the blade of the hand.

All you've got to do is to flex the hand towards the thumb side of the forearm when the shuto is extended in front of your face. Then you make a very shallow hollow in your palm as you tense the muscles in the heel of your palm. The best thing about this type of fist is that you can create a fairly formidable self defence tool easily and immediately. Try smacking the ground with the front face of your knuckles held in a fist. Then with your shuto. Then with the heel palm. Then with the corner of the heel palm. It should be fairly easy to dinstinguish which out of that lineup hurts the least.


Taekwondo Dan-gun Block Strike

Taekwondo Dan-gun Block Strike Drill

We did a drill tonight from Dan-gun against an opposite hand cross punch.

The oncoming punch was deflected using a shuto from the outside (in back stance) - then the leading hand turned into a roundhouse punch that crested over the opponent's arm and shoulder into his face (or side of temple - dependent on position of defender).

The drill helps you think about the flight path, the angle of entry of the strike, and the targetting of where to strike. Is it a flailing blow that is scattered somewhere toward the opponent? No. It 'crests' the shoulder because you know that to just fling the strike will cause you to encounter an obstacle. It crests the shoulder because you know it's easy to target the head, even if you aren't looking directly at it.

I had an incident a few years ago where I was - after a period of injury - stressed by a fighter who was going 'hard at it'. Unfortunately, I sent an overhand punch without sighting it ... and this collided with the fighter's throat. It wasn't a good scene at all - but highlights what happens when you lift your striking arm over the obstacles he presents.


Keep Practicing!



19 Apr 2007

The Reaction Hand

The Reaction Hand 

The reaction hand. The pull back hand. The fist chambered at your side. (Japanese 'Hikite')

When performing a front lunge punch, the pull back hand, or reaction hand, or the opposite arm is drawn directly back towards the side of the body. It should not be snapped downward to the hip but should more so be pulled back towards the side of the ribs. If you perform a shuto, the reaction hand floats in front of your solar plexus when you present one side of your body forward. In a punching scenario, the pull back hand is at the level of the shuto pull back position.

The pull back motion is accredited with being able to perform an elbow 'backwards' to an opponent standing beside you. This is not the primary reason why the pull back motion exists in a hard style martial art. The reaction hand is a tactical move to hold an opponent still (to be struck with other hand), creates a great deal of shearing force (when trying to break opponent's joint or when performing a throw), and allows a practitioner to learn proper upper body tension in order to transmit the power of your legs and hips into strikes levelled on your opponent.

To create such a force, both hands must work in unison to create a balanced push-pull force in the upper body. The pull back hand or hikite tightens the shoulders and helps link the upper body to the torso.

Many beginners get confused with the pullback hand especially during self defence or sparring. One of the most important things in sparring is to provide defence and coverage to the body. Pulling the hand back to the hip creates a void between yourself and your opponent - allowing openings that your opponent can take advantage of.

The pull back motion should be used in such a scenario when you attempt to pull or hold onto your opponent whilst hitting him with the other hand. Or if you intend to break his arm - meaning you hold onto the limb while striking it perpendicularly. Otherwise, the hikite need not be positionally pulled back to the hip UNLESS your opponent is not going to hit you with either of his two weapons.

The other major mistake beginners do is that the pull back hand does not work in synchronicity with the striking (or blocking) hand. Without both hands working together - crossing over, spreading apart, forward-backward ... there cannot be dynamic fluid nor reiterative movement. Meaning your upper body techniques whether you do karate or traditional taekwondo or whatever will suck. Or at most you'll be able to get off one strike or block while the opponent peppers you with several strikes.

To end off, the hikite should be performed as hard as the striking or blocking technique going out, the elbow should be held tightly to your body, and the pull back hand should be at least on the floating ribs or a little higher. The application of the pull back hand should be a lesson in point for the beginner that the theory as taught in basics are not always a facsimile for 'real' combat - and that the beginner should look for the 'takeaway lesson' of the hikite, rather than focus on pulling one of your defences back onto your hip.

For a continuation of this post, please see the discussion I've had on Traditional Taekwondo Ramblings Taekwondo Punch v Boxing Punch. And for the follow up, see The Reaction Hand with a Vengeance.

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17 Apr 2007

Taekwondo Dan-gun Drills Against Strikes

Taekwondo Dan-gun Drills

Today we did some drills from Taekwondo pattern Dan-gun.

The first ran some defences from an overhead strike. The drill centred around two upper blocks (Chukyo Marki), the second being an elbow break or strike to the triceps. We modified the timing slightly so that the upper blocks are done close together - meaning the second strike is done very quickly after the first. Then leading hand is pulled back into a vertical shuto (Soodo) striking the neck or back of the next. The second shuto breaks the opponent's nose. This session we looked for accuracy in the upper block strike and a modicum of control over the opponent's arm and body.

The next drill we did was a shuto block to an oncoming punch followed by roundhouse punch over the shoulder to the temple using reverse hand. Then leading hand does a roundhouse punch into face. We looked at proper shifting of centre of gravity, landing strikes onto targets, breathing, and timing.

Many times in the martial arts we talk about 'natural movement.' Basic patterns contain movements that are far from natural. Swinging your arms for instance, is natural. Clapping is natural. Folding it right next to your ear and then accelerating it toward your knee is not natural. So there are a few things we do in our normal lives that are habitual and easy. We should capitalise on such movements when we identify them within the form, and if they are easy to learn and replicate, should be used to help the beginner form some solid workable skills.

This helps the beginner learn how to use both hands which in turn will help them improve on their learning of beginner forms like Dan-gun.