Training Warriors for the 21st Century

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

24 Dec 2008

Patrick McCarthy Interview on Kata, Bunkai and Martial Training

MAV Interviews Patrick McCarthy

Excellent interview featuring Patrick McCarthy's kata theories, approach to training, and ideas of bunkai. Great inspirational section right at the end talking about martial arts philosophy. It's about 30 minutes long but I highly recommend you watch the video.

Merry Christmas!


Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
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23 Dec 2008

Taekwondo v Raw Beginners

In front of me stood a beginner. She's not even wearing a martial arts uniform - coming instead in quite trendy good-looking exercise gear. She is shorter than I am, but quite coordinated, athletic, and strong.

My arms are smarting and I feel quite alert. The sparse instruction I have provided is for her to surge forward, pretend like she has a knife, and to stab me good and proper. Well at least that's the instruction I communicated when she was facing off my other Taekwondo student - a yellow belt.

The response was to stop the downward slash with a same-side upper block and to quickly follow-up with another upper block either to the arm, or to the elbow, or to the neck. My other beginner faced a huge level of difficulty - she was more than a foot shorter than he was and was managing very well to stab him "good and proper". Basically his technique was failing him.

So yes, that left me standing in front of the beginner and making me apply my basic technique to an untrained attacker. She was trying to stab me hard, and when other students would reduce their strength when I stopped the blow, she would add more body weight to see if I was adequately dealing with her stabbing motion.

I am of course confident with the technique and the application, but whilst it would be totally easy with the others who have trained in martial arts, there was a good and healthy level of challenge to apply the technique correctly, time it well, and to make sure proper body dynamics and muscle tension was present in order not to get overwhelmed by a changing and changeable strike.

Taekwondo tips for beginners in dealing with random attacks

1. Respond when you see the attacker moving - not when the strike is about to kill you.
2. Make your block or strike BLOCK the attack. Just performing the technique like I said may not be the best for you.
3. All basic skills like relaxedness first and then focused tension at the end works - tense up first and you slow yourself down.
4. Sometimes it is to your benefit to step off the line!
5. Meet the aggression with your own aggression.

This kind of randomness is highly valuable for Traditional Taekwondo training. If you haven't already had this opportunity I highly recommend you pass around raw beginners amongst your ranks in order for people to face off attackers who are determined to do 'you' rather than a specific 'something'! Both my other student and myself felt it was one of the best training sessions we had in a few weeks.

Beginning Taekwondo Links


Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
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16 Dec 2008

Ten Rules for Opening a Martial Arts School

This is a response to Dan's 10 Rules for Opening a Martial Arts School post.

10. When I started my school I had a framework for a traditional taekwondo system which I thought needed to be fleshed out. I wasn't trying to come up with my own system. I wanted a program that would help beginners through the training, and come up with some standard and consistency. I didn't want to have to think about the system again and again, so I made sure to write down everything and draw my sequences out. Now I've got a fantastic program that helps me teach others. My advice is to do your homework and prepare instructor notes or a program that will make your job easier in the long run.

9. In a previous life, I spent years and years as a national representative in another sport and years and years coaching other people from club level to national level. Any martial arts instructor should do some research into sports science or psychology or coaching in order to understand what makes an instructor and what makes a good coach. I would also seek to rope in at least two other senior students or assistant instructors at least - so you've got some backup in class or if you can't make it because of other commitments.

8. When I grade my adult students I am not obliged to pass any of them. Mostly white belts pass to yellow belts. But unless you do sufficiently well during the grade, the grading is only going to be a coaching and feedback session, and in the end .. you might receive a retained-in-current-grade result. I have never regretted this failing of people. I have however regretted passing people. This is something to ponder as a martial arts owner -- your students will reflect you. So teach them less techniques. Teach them better. Drill them more. And make sure your expectations are clear. Make your gradings fair to help promote quality, but don't compromise. Note - I don't teach children classes. This approach might not work for young children.

7. Make time for your own traditional taekwondo training. Get all consumed to provide good training and you might forget yourself. Make sure to work in with your students. They will benefit from your experience. This keeps you in shape and helps you learn how to deal with non-trained opponents and opponents who are taller or shorter. Make sure you warm up before you strain yourself - or you'll injure yourself easily. Keep mixing things up to keep classes fun.

6. Revenue - when I started a commercial operation I kept my martial arts group small and catered to organisational clients. Each half day or lunchtime gig I sold was fantastic revenue. If I had a regular martial arts class I would have had to work like a dog to get the same dollars. The lesson here is that there are different ways to earn money yet provide a high level of satisfaction for your students and yourself. Open yourself up to organisational courses, birthday parties, public speaking, motivational courses, etc. I saw myself as a broker for other martial arts instructors. Can you believe that? I would help other martial arts instructors earn money for commissions. Now who would think of such a cooperative? If you open up a school, this is what you've got to do, think as a business owner and expand your pie first.

5. I have derived great satisfaction from the number of martial arts friends I have. From previous experience, martial arts practitioners are difficult people and I tend to stay well away from them. But I have now changed my mind. There are those martial arts practitioners out there who are beyond self-indulgence, ego, and arrogance. I personally have met a good number of them and I am proud to call them my friends. You can too. Take the first step and be friendly. Network! It doesn't hurt to meet people who share the same interest as you. (Stay away from the a**holes.)

4. Martial arts training changes a person. Pushing students to the limit and giving them newfound skills strengthens them. These people draw inspiration from you beyond the physical lessons you provide. Recognize this and don't be afraid of pushing your students to reach out to their potential. Share your passion. Guide them correctly. Even knowing that you have made a difference to one student's life will be a profound revelation to the martial arts instructor.

3. The IAOMAS or International Alliance of Martial Arts Schools is a non-profit student support organisation that helps instructors and supports travelling students. Reach out to them and join in like-minded instructors who are confident in themselves to allow students who travel the ability to train at 600+ locations worldwide.

2. Quality, quality, quality. How do you provide maintain and improve a quality service? This question begs to be asked again and again. How do you maintain standards? Improve on service delivery? Evaluation methods? Consistency of results? Customer satisfaction? Knowledge retention? Grow human resources? You are a service provider ... time to act like one and manage indices that can be used to measure your worth!

1. Don't be afraid to grow with your students.

Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
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9 Dec 2008

Power Generation through Kime or Focus

This is a post I made on the Traditional Fighting Arts forum that I thought I should cross-post on this blog.


Kime. I've never seen the kanji nor have I read up on the meaning. I know the concept as being associated with the 'focus' for strikes typically like the one you see in an oizuke or reverse snap punch.

The concept that I communicate in my Taekwondo class is described by muscle lock down at the point of impact and just beyond in order to transmit greater force by increasing the mass associated with the weapon. It's the F=MA equation. For some strikes, like penetrative or thrusting motions, a systemic contraction of the entire body can link the striking tool to the greater mass of the human body, the body's inertia, or to the ground. It does not typically relate to swinging or whipping moves as those derive power mostly from the 'A' in F=MA.

Muscle lock down for a traditionally performed front lunge punch or oizuke is easy. Muscle lock down for a oizuke done with back foot off the ground is more difficult, but it is possible. This is so long as the arm is rotated in order for the lats to lock down the arm to the moving body, and for the muscle to allow the structure of the arm to be driven by the mass of the body core.

This is like jousting. The knight will grip the lance with his lats. He will grip the horse with his legs. Before the strike he will lean forward. Shoulder position could be slightly forward or it could be square - doesn't matter too much. Upon impact he will brace his body.

The lance, the knight, and the horse all become one unit.

This is kime.

It would not work if his arm is held loosely at his side or if he thinks the strength of his shoulder (from shoulder rotation) will knock the other knight off.


Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
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3 Dec 2008

Do-san: Step 6 & 7 as Hip Throw

Mokuren Dojo has a post to describe the hip throw we learn for Taekwondo's Do-san 7th Kyu 'Seoinage is Not Crack of Butt Throw.' We do this technique as a butt crack throw, but have the luxury of not thinking too much about it! :-)

As an overview, step 6 is a right spearhand or nukite with left guarding. Step 7 is a left 360 degree turn into a left backfist. This is interpreted in a number of ways, but the 'official' or most common interpretation is as a 'Judo' hip throw. I also teach it as a choke/takedown with the added movement of the turn introducing a strike the side of the neck with a ridge hand.

Oldman has a diagram depicting Step 6 & 7 in the 'official' interpretation - that of the turn as a release from a handlock. Oldman's Boobishi: Bunkai Pinan Sandan

Do-san Hip Throw
Taekwondo Do-san Pattern List of Posts


Colin Wee
Taekwondo Techniques, Patterns, and Applications at the Traditional Taekwondo Blog. [Subscribe using email or RSS feeds] [Tkd Sitemap]

2 Dec 2008

Dan-gun: Is a Block Just a Block?

I though to highlight a recent response from my friend Dan in my post Dan-gun: Applying the Up Block as a Taekwondo Technique. I think there is always the chance that a beginner or intermediate student might dismiss the first few lessons or techniques they learn because they think that a basic technique might not have the efficiacy or lethality necessary in the martial arts. This mindset is wrong. Every bit of your martial arts, karate or taekwondo program is useful dependant on how you apply those techniques to accomplish certain goals. I have personally seen basic techniques blossom after practicing them over 25 years. It's really a testimony to how much you can get from the martial arts irrespective of your age. (see Keeping on the Path of Traditional Taekwondo

Dan Djurdjevic said...
Funnily enough, just last night we were doing a lot of sparring and I wondered which block I used most frequently. I took careful note of what I was doing and found that the upper block was by far the most useful!!!

Colin Wee said...
I was in a tough dojo once upon a time and neck deep sparring this one training partner, a real battler. He was close to knocking me out with a spinning backfist - 'close' in that if I had left my guarding hand next to my head, the backfist would probably have penetrated through that meager defence. Luckily, I decided to put an up block there ... which stopped the backfist cold. It was then I realised that I had been using a variation of the up block to cover the front (similar to the basic technique) as well as the side of the head (a little like a vertical elbow). Previous to that I had always dismissed the technique as only the 'prescribed' method of blocking someone stabbing downwards with a knife -- which isn't a very good basic application at all. Nowadays the up block has taken on a whole different level of lethality for me. It's turned out to be a good little block after all. :-) Colin

Dan on Control v Missing - check out his amazing video on the upper block

Colin Wee
Taekwondo Techniques, Patterns, and Applications at the Traditional Taekwondo Blog. [Subscribe using email or RSS feeds] [Tkd Sitemap]

25 Nov 2008

There is no first attack in Karate ...

This is a response to Nat's post Impressions, impressions ... on the TDA Training Blog.

In a deadly environment where ruthlessness was the norm, it would be the wise instructor to promote peace and harmony whilst equipping the student with the tools to defend or de-escalate the situation if it got out of hand. Funakoshi, father of modern karate, called for 'no first attack' in Karate. Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido, focused on defensiveness and spiritual oneness, rather than on the lethality of his techniques.

In Nat's post, impressions are enough for you to judge the fighting prowess of the people around you. Yet there is still a lot of dumbness that get people into road rage, bar fights, and other brawls ... especially when the evening wears on. Dare I say these guys should be at the dojo practicing?

One of the core things in our system is that we shouldn't engage the opponent in any way. The posture we sometimes favour is called 'please don't hurt me' ... head hung a little lower, hands up with palms outward, and standing straight ahead. We take some of our drills in this manner, and we dish out some strikes from this starting point. This is in fact where Traditional Martial Arts excels beyond the MMA philosophy ... which is all about the bell and getting into the zone. Traditional martial arts contains a literal plethora of techniques fired from positions which make it difficult for the opponent to recognise what exactly you are doing. Meaning you are doing things very different from the haymaker punch -- which requires you to reach out with one hand, draw the other hand back and shoulder rotate this fist toward the opponent.

Strikes to the body are legit. Strikes to the nuts are legit. Hip rotation gives you a one up on the opponent. Small conservative moves makes it seem like you are using less power and can afford you more subversive advantage.

I'm rambling on, but the key Traditional Taekwondo lesson is that you should not give away what you are doing. Doesn't matter if you're in a fight or if it hasn't even started. You can misguide, deceive, and confuse. The martial art student needs to study the psyche of the opponent. Read the situation, read the opponent, then read his techniques.

Nat from TDA Training Asked if I am Causing Conflict


Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
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Get More Striking Power from Traditional Taekwondo

Traditional Taekwondo -- generate more striking power immediately!!!
I tell my beginners and intermediate students all the time that the number one mistakes beginners make when trying to put power in a strike - any strike, is that all of them focus on the end tool of the strike itself. Might I say, the weapon of choice is only the last manifestation of the entire move. Yet the beginner's focus on power is to clench the teeth harder, tense up the shoulder muscles, grip the forearm harder and try to power through using pure effort.

Striking the target more efficiently
While this tightening to generate striking power may seem more powerful to the beginner, the more experienced practitioner knows that to generate real power for basic techniques, the priority is to generate the move from a stable base. The breath out starts a pulse through the body that moves from the legs, up into the hips, and then triggers the core muscles. The power is transmitted through the body into the arm and strikes the target. This pulse of movement from the base up means you can get more body mass involved. It is a compound movement, and thus, with more muscle driving the strike, the more striking power you can generate.

Hip vibration and rotation 101
The hip should not need to move too much. Lots of drills are done with the hips moving way too much. If the strike is going to work it's going to be a fairly contained triggle through the entire body. This means if the legs are going to move maybe 2-3 cm, the hips shouldn't need to move more than that, otherwise the arm is going to be pushed closed to the target, negating the accelerative force sent into the target. The key here is to move the hips enough so that the body tenses right at the point of impact.

Links in Traditional Taekwondo

External Links
Marks Training: "One Punch One Kill", is it Practical?


Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
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23 Nov 2008

Dan-gun: Applying the Upper Block

I was training with Christian (8th Kyu) and working on deflecting his oncoming strike and then applying an upper block to the underside of his arm (see Dan-gun: Defence Against Front Kick and Punch Combo.) I would do it once or twice and I would let him strike me several times. As the drill progressed, I would increase striking force on the oncoming arm at various parts. Namely PC2, HT2, and TH12. I did several other techniques like elbowing him in GB23, and also grabbed the skinfold over his pectoral muscles for good effect.

Applying the Upper Block
There is a stipulated angle for the upper block and you see variants of this in all the nice karate or taekwondo pictures on the net. What is not discussed is how the upper block gets there. In our school, we practice two different ways of performing the upper block: you can do a vertical punch upwards and then rotate the elbow around into the upper block or you can swing it in one motion from it folder from the side into it straight ahead of you. Allowing the arm to freely swing without institutionalising movement allows me to 'apply' the block dependent on what I want to do with it.

To say that the upper block is one way and not the other is to reduce the value of it as a taekwondo technique. Today we saw how to apply this chukyo marki upper block to the arm at shoulder level or neck level. Where you apply the force - meaning, striking with the forearm, or elbow, or fist ... is up to you.

Dan-gun: Is a Block Just a Block?
Dan-gun: Defensive Drills Against Strikes
Dan-gun: Windshield Wiping Technique
Black Belt Coaching Course
Martial Arts Grading Oral Section
Do-san: Rising Block or Chukyo Marki or Age Uke
Upper Block, Chukyo Marki, or Age Uke

Colin Wee
Taekwondo Techniques, Patterns, and Applications at the Traditional Taekwondo Blog.

21 Nov 2008

Only True Taekwondo Practices the Sine Wave

I just posted the following in a friend's discussion forum in response to a question regarding Taekwondo's Sine Wave.

***begin edited version***

Taekwondo Sine Wave

The Sine Wave, in relation to the entire Encyclopedia of Taekwondo written by Gen Choi Hong Hi occupies maybe about a paragraph or so. The Sine Wave is about using the natural falling momentum of the body (with the effect of gravity) to generate force. The stepping up within forms allows the practitioner to reiterate this movement, and if you're tracking his profile from the side, it ultimately looks like the practitioner is moving in a sine wave. The usage of the Sine Wave as a way to differentiate TKD away from other hard style martial arts is the most significant development in recent years that Taekwondo has undergone.

The up and down motion you see is what the Sine Wave is about.

Sine Wave v Traditional Taekwondo

Most any traditional hard stylist would probably think the Sine Wave is complete bullocks; given that I am a traditional stylist, that indeed was my immediate and most outstanding opinion. HOWEVER, saying that, there are a number of ways to generate power and to effect natural movement. The Sine Wave will be and has to be included as a legitimate tactic to either generate power or to effect movement or directional change. It is just that few other martial arts would make one specific tactic a major strategic differentiator.

But it is not unheard of. Shotokan Karate for instance, practices drills that focus on ikken hisatsu/kime/hikite tactics with great abandon ... and such institutionalization of their practice in the early 20th century forever changed the nature of karate as we know it now.

Sine Wave for a Modern Taekwondo Practitioner

Returning to the Sine Wave ... while the effect of gravity on the 'natural' falling of the body is an extremely foreign concept to the traditional stylist, the TKD practitioner (who remains reliant on a high knee position, high Centre of Gravity, and head high kicks) requires the Sine Wave movement to drop the vertical rotation of the pelvis, the exposed gonads, and the raised hip.

As I see modern TKD, the Sine Wave does not play a major role in power generation. Most kicking techniques create power through a pendulum or circumfrential movement and lots of hip thrust and leg extensions. Most traditional methods of generating power in hand techniques like lunging type oizuke movements or hip rotation/vibration are not in evidence save for shoulder rotation or extension to drive most hand techniques.

See the above video from GM Park for more of an explanation about the power generation of the Sine Wave. Please note that this does not show an exhaustive or objective view of the legitimacy of Sine Wave as compared to other forms of power generation.

Opportunities for Modern Taekwondo that Need to be Explored

Where I am quite disappointed is that TKD as a modern-day and unique system has myopically focused on moves that ride high on the apex of the Sine Wave ... but has otherwise failed to explore techniques that might occur within the trough of the wave. Maybe there are open minded instructors out there who have been saddled with the Sine Wave but have identified possibilities beyond its association with high kicks. Who knows.


Check out Sine Wave? Here we go ...

For more information related to sine wave, look at Slow Motion Otoshi and Guruma from Mokuren Dojo and the corresponding thread Otoshi-guruma as a direct force.

External Links
Patterns: Telling it like it is (Sine Wave)
Drysdale Taekwondo Explaining the Sine Wave
Fight Authority Forum
Sine Wave in TKD, is there any real point?


Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
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17 Nov 2008

American Karate and Taekwondo Organization in Dallas, Texas has launched a new website

The A-KaTo has launched a new website.

I trained with A-KaTo, then called Southwest Taekwondo Association, from 1991 to 1996, and joined their ranks as a young black belt from another style. Up to then, I had 8 years of martial arts experience, but was never more warmly greeted by any other martial art school.

My teacher Sensei Bryan Robbins was a patient, nurturing, and wise instructor. My other senior instructors Mike Proctor and Paul Hinkley were extremely knowledgeable and I thrived in the 'tough love' environment they provided. My relationship with the A-KaTo has changed somewhat because of the distance, but I still keep in touch with a few of my old training partners ... and have immense respect for GM Keith Yates who has just been so generous with his time. I can't talk more highly of these people. Even after all this time I dearly miss my training there.

If you have the opportunity and find yourself in or near Dallas, you should go check out their karate seminars and maybe say hi.

Colin Wee
Taekwondo Techniques, Patterns, and Applications at the Traditional Taekwondo Blog. [Subscribe using email or RSS feeds] [Sitemap]

13 Nov 2008

Aikido Philosophy, Taekwondo Technique ... Is it possible???

In Pat's 'The Aiki Gift that Keeps Giving' post, he talks about the congruence of Aiki philosophy with Aiki training. It is the idea that Aikido advocates non-confrontation, evasion, and conflict reduction; and whether or not this is compossible at the technique level.

Well, come on, now, how many aikido practices are really congruent with that ideal?
  • When attacked, do you, “turn aside and lead uke into offbalance?” You've just attacked him!

  • Do you, "enter inside his force and strike him down?" Well, that's pretty blatant.

  • Do you, “get offline and set your strong stance line so you can do shomenate?” You just chose to participate in a fight with him.

  • Do you, “blend with his energy and lead him into an immobilization?” Again, you just chose to engage the enemy and do something to him.

  • And you think your art is all about not fighting? Knock it off!

    This is a very enlightening post as many arts and schools would benefit in addressing the alignment of their philosophical, strategic and technique perspectives.

    From my point of view, I think in a feudal culture and environment, it is a wise man that recognised that a reduction in conflict and a de-escalation process is of primary concern - regardless of culture or geography. So while everyone is wearing a mean looking sword at their sides and ready to strike you down, it is way better to not incite a fight which can then turn into a riot, which can then turn into a battle.

    In my own style however, I find it more important to look at the objectives of the fight or self defence scenario rather than to peg techniques against a set strategy.

    In Taekwondo, like Karate, our punch line is linear force. We specialise in generating a lot of power in a straight line toward the target. However, if this is the only recourse we have, then either you aim your accelerative force into the opponent or away from the opponent ... bugging the hell out of there first.

    This is a limited approach, and therefore we also train in evasion, coverage, lock ups, and strikes. This means we can engage multiple opponents and can use one opponent as a shield to make our escape. Or we can cover up and reduce risk to ourselves in order to escape. Or we can strike first, then escape.

    Certainly the block-strike karate/taekwondo approach presents a very limited range of options to the practitioner, and such a methodology should be re-assessed by any instructor thinking that this is 'the' traditional method of training.

    I think Pat has got the idea to review the intent behind the technique. I would suggest that this is a very valid point. You should always evaluate what you are doing with your martial arts. Are you trying to fight or are you trying to get away? You'd be the better man for following Savage Baptist's advice to look for the exit and make a break to that direction.

    Once you finished thinking about my response, and have visited Pat's blog, check out Nat's response at Escape as a Strategy in Self-Defense, which has some really good self defence and combative tips.

    Colin Wee
    Taekwondo Techniques, Patterns, and Applications at the Traditional Taekwondo Blog. [Subscribe using email or RSS feeds] [Sitemap]

    10 Nov 2008

    Punching with a Crooked Wrist

    I'm getting old. At least that's one explanation for my getting tendonitis. Or of course you could say my students have been bashing me up, and that's why my joints are inflamed. Nevertheless, this was what I got recently ... and which earned me two steroidal injections to resolve.

    In treating my wrist a little more delicately, I thought to share what I communicate with my students regarding the drawback or pullback hand as a taekwondo technique, and the manner in which we punch. On chambering at the side of our ribs, the hand is aligned with the hammer fist or blade of the hand straight with the outer blade of the arm. This is more like how a wing chun practitioner would hold their wrist and fist in their lead guard, and how they would fire off their punch.

    When we corkscrew our forearms forward, past halfway our fist -while rotating - flexes so that the front two knuckles are drilled into the opponent. The blade of the hand is no longer aligned with the outer blade of the forearm. The two knuckles face the opponent. The fist strikes differently to how it was thus chambered.

    At this point in my class, I typically would stop talking, stare at my students in turn and ask them ... what are the implications of this for our style, our art, and for all the other taekwondo techniques we do. I present some information but I want my students to think about this peculiarity and what it means to us.

    So I ask you, dear reader, ... what are your thoughts on this?

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    8 Nov 2008

    Protecting ourselves from our "selves" ( Part 1) by Mireille Clark

    We all have weaknesses, and trigger points within our psyche that bring forth a strong emotional reaction. This reaction changes our focus from the task at hand to our sensations. We feel our faces turn red, our body may start to shake, our breathing quickens, and each change makes us uncomfortable as it isn’t how we want to feel. These changes can happen with embarrassment, anger, or fear, but regardless as to what triggers it, our minds become preoccupied with the emotion, and we start making decisions to relieve ourselves of this state of being. We will yell, cringe, hold our breaths, remove ourselves from that situation, etc. Our blood pressure rises quickly at this point. We are told that expressing our emotions will help these reactions be relieved, but this isn’t necessarilly true. One’s distress can become worse especially if our own reaction is evoking more personal feelings of guilt and shame, or the response of others to our behaviour is critical of our actions, and/or feeds off of our negative emotions to escalate the situation even higher.

    Suppressing the emotions isn’t good either as it involves the energy of the mind to do so, and actually affects our physiological system. I have personally felt this more than once in my life where I suppressed emotion. The stress tightens the muscles around my eyes which reduces the automatic eye movements that allow my eyes to focus, and my vision blurs. How many people have felt dizziness, stomach aches, nausea, sharp cramps, etc from mentally forcing down intensely stressful emotions? This is the result of such activity.

    A Martial Artist needs to learn how to defend him/herself from that inner psychological stress that builds up when faced with confrontational situations. These negative emotions can occur at any time, any place, and with anybody including your close family and friends. In fact, one might find that their closest relationships can cause them the most daily stress in their lives as we have higher expectations from them.

    We are in more danger from daily stress, and stress related problems than from the random attack that we may meet walking down the street. In my next installment, I would like to address the psychology of our Martial Arts training, and how it provides opportunities to improve our mental stability/control, and gives us techniques to handling such problems with stress.

    Mireille Clark
    Check out Mir's blog at Going My Way, and
    Traditional Taekwondo Techniques and Patterns at Colin's Traditional Taekwondo Technique Workshop Blog. Sitemap

    6 Nov 2008

    Teaching Taekwondo to Children

    I've had a wonderful exchange (see Won Hyo: Side Kick with Jeremy, a 3rd dan instructor, who seems extremely cluey and resourceful when coming around the issue of teaching taekwondo techniques and self defence to children. Check out the following post from him.

    One advantage I have is our taekwondo basics program. It's a 12-class (once a week) program that all kids under 12 are required to take before they can sign up for traditional classes. It's a low cost way for kids to try out it before committing to joining the traditional class and getting a uniform.

    The basics class covers all the basic stances, punches, blocks and kicks that are learned at the white belt level. The learn front kick, side kick, axe kick, roundhouse and back kick. However, we do not teach the kids to pivot at this point. Side kicks and back kicks are done from chun-bi "ready stance" with hands up in the guard position. Side kicks are done side to side and back kicks are done looking over there shoulder kicking straight back.

    Roundhouse kicks are done from an L-Stance but with both feet pointed in the same direction (sideways). The kids kick with their front leg so that their leg and foot are already in the roundhouse position and they can just work on the chamber and slapping motion.

    While I currently do not deal with children, I am looking at all these wonderful approaches and am quietly growing a program for the little ones. Maybe sometime in the future I'll come around and get a children's class together.

    Related Links

    Thanks for the input, Jeremy.


    Colin Wee
    Taekwondo Techniques, Patterns, and Applications at the Traditional Taekwondo Blog. Sitemap

    2 Nov 2008

    How to do a High Roundhouse Kick to the Head

    How to do a High Roundhouse Kick to the Head

    How do I kick someone in the head? How do I do a flashy kick? How can I get more flexibility to kick high?

    A High Roundhouse

    High roundhouse kicks make for good kodak moments!

    For all the negative press that high kicks get, there is absolutely nothing wrong with doing a fabulous high roundhouse kick at head level!

    Still yearning to achieve that high kick so that you can take my advice on board in your next brawl? Consider this 80/20 rule of high kicks ... 80% of the kicks (meaning all those flashy spinning above-the-shoulder numbers) should be done only by 20% of all practitioners. Read on ...

    Origins of the high kick

    From my readings, high kicks started being in vogue after the 1960s with a changing of competition rules allowing kicks to the head and no contact to the groin. So it was easy to go for the head with a kick, if you can, and not get nailed in the nads whilst doing so. So kicks started getting higher flashier, and because there were no reproductive repercussions ... the offspring of those early (and brave) kickers also started promoting high kicks.

    Why shouldn't I do a high kick? They're great!

    Strategically high kicks are great for sparring. If you do a high kick well, they are fast, they get your head and body away from the opponent, and they can travel through some impossible angles to absolutely nail that target on the head. Get it? (see Hitting Opponents with Invisible Taekwondo Sparring Techniques).

    So why shouldn't everyone learn a couple of high kicks to add to their arsenal? In my opinion high kicks aren't for everyone - they're a high-risk high-yield move. Most average people don't have enough fast twitch reflexes, hip/leg flexibility, nor combat experience to pull off high kicks. The worst thing too is that it could be too easy to adapt a simple basic kick to aim higher even without the combative experience to deal with the consequences of missing the target.

    The high kick leaves you open, and it is harder to get other taekwondo techniques back around your center of gravity to defend or counter attack an opponent who chases the missed kick back in. You're left high and dry. (see High Roundhouse Kick Defence/Counters

    How to do a high kick

    The long range roundhouse done at head height requires you to torque around your hip as a fulcrum. Traditional stylists would prefer to keep their weight firmly under their hips and do short range kicks and retain their ability to counter strike. High kicks require you to raise your center of gravity somewhat, tilt the hip, lean back and swing the leg forward. Where traditional stylists doing short range roundhouse kicks have a support foot that's more or less perpendicular to the target, the long range or high roundhouse requires your support foot to turn away from the target in order for you to allow your hips to have freedom to rotate with the kick. The movement of the body backwards and in the opposite circumfrential direction helps bring the kicking leg forward in a fairly powerful motion.

    Power generation for the high kick

    Where traditional stylists would rely on kime or focus to generate power, this whole body muscle tension to send body weight bearing on the impact surface is absent from the high kick -- relaxation is much more important as the power is generated by the speed of the swing. But yes, if it sounds like some crazy balancing office toy, you're right! You are required to maintain balance on your support foot whilst you're accelerating both your leg and body around your hip. See video Power Generation in Roundhouse Kick.

    Raising the kick to head high

    I don't want to get your hopes up. But you don't have to do a full split to kick at head high. But of course, if you need to kick an experience opponent head high, you need to come close to full split in order to cover the right distance and raise the kick sufficiently to reach at least his jaw. At this outer limit of your range of motion however I can tell you right now ... this WILL WREAK HAVOC WITH YOUR JOINTS WHEN YOU GET OLDER. So train and use these types of kicks sparringly.

    Now to raise the kick all you have to do is to raise your knee! Relax your hips, and push them forward with your support leg. You have to lean backwards somewhat to accomodate the change in COG.

    For more exercises to strengthen the legs for a high kick, check out Superfoot Training for high kicks and the video he posted by Bill Superfoot Wallace.

    How not to do a high roundhouse kick

    I said raise your knee and lean only slightly. At no time should you ever drop your hands to balance off your legs. Nor should you jerk your body forward to use your oblique muscles to heft your leg upwards. The leg is raised PURELY USING HIP MUSCLE only. If you can't do this easily, don't do it at all. Otherwise raise your leg everyday to build your hip strength. Try using your toes to switch on and off light switches. :-)

    Targeting and your new high kick

    Lots of beginners don't understand the high kick and think it is a baseball bat swung at the opponent. This works well for pitting the kick against a power bag or striking mitt. But against a human opponent who is intent on blocking or deflecting your strikes, the kicker needs to have enough understanding of angles of entry and distances in order for him to unhinge the knee and the ankle so that the kick does not get stopped by his coverage. The foot is sent 'through' the arms and gets 'injected' into an appropriate strike zone for maximum impact. What this means is that the leg is not held fully extended or unchanging. The bend in the knee and the ankle allows the ball of the foot to strike the opponent. (see Training Aids that Wreck Combat Skills).

    Strategy for high kicks

    If you are blessed to have fast twitch muscles, speed, reflexes, flexibility, and some brains consider this -- a person who is going to high kick you in the head will also probably be expecting you to high kick him in the head. So don't. A person who won't high kick you in the head will probably not expect you to high kick him in the head so you could probably *try*. HOWEVER, that same person would be more willing to knock you out with a punch so if you miss that &%(#$@* kick, you're toast!

    The next idea is this - the front kick moves quite quickly. It's like a jab. If you can kick a high kick with the front leg, that's all you need, though mostly it'll probably be a tactical move and may not land with much power. The back leg however travels farther, takes a whole lot longer and therefore needs you to feint or distract the opponent before using the back leg to exploit loopholes in his defence.

    Who is the best person to kick in the head?

    The person most likely to not deal well with the high kick is that person who doesn't have much combat experience, who doesn't do high kicks, and who is a little more reactive and defensive ... basically unlikely to do a blitz attack on you at any opportunity. For all others, you might consider aiming a little lower - like in their groin! Have I mentioned that before?

    Protecting your nuts

    All you people out there who spar and fight with no consideration of your privates ... let me tell you right now there are a good deal of fighters who go for the groin often. Your nuts can be access with any kick irrespective of whether you have your leg up or if you are side-facing. THis is also irrespective of the height of your kick! So my advice to anyone is to learn how to drop your hand (palm heel, palm or blade of hand) in front of your nads to protect yourself from being shut closed like a book.

    High kicks for self defence

    You read over and over again how high kicks or worst still jumping kicks are basically a no-no for self defence. I won't say I will never ever do a high kick in such a situation. I will however say that I would be more happy to rely on traditional kicks in such situations, you have more control over balance, you've got your hands to back yourself up, you can generate a lot of power in a short distance ... and traditional kicks are by far more difficult to stop. So I won't rate high kicks at the top of my list of preferred techniques in a fight. (see TDA Training: What if you want to do a high kick on the street?)

    So back to my 80/20 rule. If you don't fall easily into that 20% range, you'd probably know it by now and this would indicate you should stay well clear of high kicks. If you however have some natural ability and can do a high kick nicely, you should also reconsider the amount of talent you really should have before using it often as a combative tool. Work on your basics first, won't you? Get some exposure then do some experimentation. Don't get too excited with it.

    Interested in Acquiring Roundhouse Kicking Power?

    Posts on Roundhouse Kicks on this Blog

    Good luck!

    Colin Wee
    Taekwondo Techniques, Taekwondo Patterns and Applications at the Traditional Taekwondo Blog

    Taekwondo Perth

    JDK has been established in Perth since 2000. While I started on this lineage in the early 90s, I don't have that many links with the Taekwondo schools here in Western Australia. Please let me know if you'd like any link included on this page. And lastly, while I list these links, I cannot vouch for the websites nor for the school - until of course we play together a little.

    For more on Taekwondo Perth, see the Reddit Article Best Place to Learn Taekwondo in Perth.

    The top sites that come up for 'Taekwondo Perth'

    First Taekwondo - Perth Western Australia

    ITF TAEKWON-DO PERTH | TaeKwon-Do Classes in Perth, Martial ...

    In addition

    Traditional Taekwondo Perth

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    1 Nov 2008

    Everybody wuz Kong Faux Fighting ...

    Dan Djurdjevic is one of the most intelligent martial artist that I've encountered and his recent post Faux Boxing on his The Way of Least Resistance blog is an excellent analysis of the disparity between areas of practice within hard style systems.

    This was one of my pet peeves with the training I had started with a long long time ago - the basics we were learning were not related to the 'self defence' techniques, which in turn were not related to kata, and certainly did not filter into the sparring sessions. This made me ponder the martial arts long and hard and frankly I nearly threw the towel in a couple of years ago when I got tired and bored of this empty training.

    I reiterated this point to Mir (from Going My Way) when she saw me sparring in the States end 2006 and thought it was a fantastic demo of skills -- she was extremely generous, but I told her that kind of sparring was really more prancing around throwing a few kicks and punches to some really nice opponents. Truly not a very serious demonstration of skill level.

    To be fair I certainly think there are clear and communicable skills that traditional kata theory does teach for sparring. There are also takeaways from sparring that can be in turn brought back into kata practice. This is what Dan indicates when he ask "... is whether kata alone is sufficient for realistic defence. The answer would be of course not." But I think that it is far from common to have modern sportive practitioners with an equal distribution of skill which goes from one area of their training to others.

    A lot of skills are honed by the overlap in training methods. So when I train my students kata, I'm also communicating to them essential skills needed for combat/sparring/self defence. A case in point - several years ago I remember asking two young students trained for about a year with us what is the most important thing they learned from my school. They replied the most important thing was they learned how to tuck their chin down, protect their noses, and lead with their foreheads. They said that they used that skill both in basketball and football in order not to catch balls with their faces!! :-) And yet these two young gentleman never started their sparring training with us - this was only from basics and kata!


    Colin Wee
    Traditional Taekwondo Technique Workshop

    29 Oct 2008

    Beginning Forms in Traditional Taekwondo

    Tom from the Tang Soo Do blog Sun In, Sun Ka talks about introducing forms to beginners and how patterns can be taught in a more natural way. He thinks his blog gets only 2 readers. Can we all visit his blog and participate in the thread to show him just HOW MUCH WE CARE??

    Colin Wee
    Traditional Taekwondo Technique Workshop

    28 Oct 2008

    This Day in History 1991 Welcomes the Token Asian Black Belt to SMU Martial Arts Club ... Come Get Some, Baby

    Freshman year in SMU, Dallas, Texas. I had been a black belt for the past four years, and had looked out for a martial arts school I could train at. It wasn't difficult making my way to the SMU Martial Arts Club under Sensei Bryan Robbins. Note: Back then the SMU Martial Arts Club was both American Karate and Aikido (see Australasian Taekwondo Magazine V17 N2 p76 July 2008).

    17 years ago today I would have already been equipped with new gi, new foam padded sparring equipment, and I would have been a new 'regular' black belt on the line up on the second floor of Dedman Center on Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings.

    The club welcomes black belts from a wide range of styles from associated schools around Dallas. Can you believe that? Back in Asia, you'd not just *not* train with another stylist, you'd not even talk to them. And yet these guys are cordial, friendly, hospitable ... even to me! Unbelievable, these Americans.

    At the start of class, all black belts line up in front of students for the bow in. During class, aside from the kata (they'd practice whatever style kata they were trained in while we do our own), all black belts work out together. On Wednesday nights, you'd probably expect about 3-4 black belts and about 10 students. On Saturday mornings, you'd probably expect about 7-10 black belts and about 15 students.

    Warm ups are taken by coach Robbins and last for about 15 minutes. Line drills almost always follow - fore balance lower blocks, fore balance upper blocks, back balance middle blocks, and outside inside blocks. Basic punches. Basic kicks. Some kick punch combinations.

    Most of the techniques are basic techniques. I would be wondering why they'd be choosing to practice basics when there are more exciting things to do. Kicks that are more long range. Strikes that are more fluid. But I tag along for the ride and follow as they go through the same routine (with some variation of course) again and again.

    Once done we'll then break for 'self defence' or technique application. These can be drawn from the Taekwondo syllabus or they could be influenced by the Aikido class that coach Robbins also takes. Or they could be from the bag of self defence apps that are practiced often. Typically we would practice with a partner of similar rank. Black belts would go at it a few times and then choose to work with lower belts so that there are always assistants to help the main instructor.

    One thing I'd notice with the self defence section is that the students are chatting about techniques in the class! Imagine that! In asia, there'd be no talking at all. But the more I listen, the more everyone seems to be making sense. Beginners would be talking about their difficulties learning or applying. Intermediate belts talk about different angles or dealing with taller or shorter opponents. Black belts talk about other combinations. All of this starts me off thinking that there is much more to learn from each other than just trying to hit a target with a kicking technique.

    After this there will be kata practice. Chonji, tangun, dosan, wonhyo, tigye. Wednesdays have about enough time for about three forms. Saturdays we could run through the entire program to cover black belt forms or above. Or we would practice less forms and then focus more on each. On Saturdays, senior black belts may take the group and focus on particular forms. I couldn't get it ... why waste time with kata? What's so good about it? Yet everyone seemed to practice it almost diligently. I don't understand.

    All classes have sparring. Gloves, foot protectors, groin protectors and mouthguard. No 'blind' techniques. No strikes through the knee. Senior students get to throw kicks to the groin and knee but control them to ensure there are no injuries in class. Groin strikes and head strikes and commonplace. Takedowns remain in the domain of upper belts for safety. Each round lasts about 2 minutes. We would spar for at least 15 minutes, averaging 30 minutes on good days.

    The intensity of sparring is the first thing that I notice. Coming straight out from asia as a young black belt I had very limited experience sparring, and then only with a very limited range of kicking techniques. The black belts are extremely experienced and sparring becomes a very intimidating part of the class. I cop multiple blows in the nose, head, groin and chest ...

    The truth is that while my techniques and general movements are there, there is almost zero effectiveness and I'm basically a mess. I wear the black belt, and it makes me a legitimate target. In that period and the few months following, I go through a grinder and have to honestly look at all my techniques to help me respond and deal with opponents at all distances. Even lower belts are frighteningly good - and strong. It's funny to me that for a class that practices basic beginner techniques all the time why is it that they are so effective at sparring or finding my weak spots.

    I remember coming back from class one Saturday morning and dropping to the floor of my dorm room - with a splitting headache, a sore nose, a sore eye socket, and totally exhausted/pummeled from the training. It is a challenge which prompts me to rack my brains in-class and out -- to basically figure out where I have to take my martial art to.

    See Old School Training from Ipponkumite


    Colin Wee
    Traditional Taekwondo Technique Workshop

    26 Oct 2008

    Kicks Boxes and No Touch Insight into Training Partners

    Rick's Side Notes for Black Belt's No Touch Article is quite a nice overview of his thoughts regarding "no touch" knockouts. But this is not why I have brought up this controversial skill - given that dim mak, chi gun, nei gung, no touch knockouts are way out of my domain of expertise ... and I've got little time to pursue it currently.

    What I thought was very insightful was Rick's discussion of the role of the uke or partner during martial arts training. To learn the skills that we need in Taekwondo, it is really important to work out with a partner who can help you learn. Meaning when you're busy trying to acquire new skills, the partner is helping you in terms of the speed of his approach and his willingness to go with the flow of your learning speed. However, the partner also has to recognise that to learn the technique correctly, he needs to introduce some resistance and some randomness when you're starting to get the technique. Meaning he should start to attack with differing speeds, sometimes changing angles of entry, height of the attack, levels of relaxedness ... but all appropriate to the stage of learning the student is at.

    One good uke is priceless. Better than a team of different opponents (though there is undeniable value in your practicing with opponents having various differing body habitus).

    It is the martial arts instructor to note that a cooperative uke, while essential, will also inculcate habits and assumptions in his partner. The student needs to be challenged from time to time and to understand the environment in which he is practicing in.

    Colin Wee
    Traditional Taekwondo Technique Workshop

    23 Oct 2008

    Dan-gun: Power Generation in Karate Styles

    According to my author friend Dr Bruce Clayton who wrote Shotokan's Secret, there are two major styles of karate - the hard style and the soft style. This has nothing to do with the intensity of training. His definition of the hard style is that system that uses linear acceleration as the predominant method to generate power. Hard stylists can be lithe, little, short, and yet can generate massive amounts of power from the acceleration of their bodies. Soft style karate practitioners on the other hand train their bodies up to withstand a lot of punishment. They strengthen muscular strength in order to apply loads of power from standing still. Their massive forearms attest to the power they can apply in their vice like grips.

    Today while teaching our white (almost yellow) belt the soodo or shuto knife hand strike, I offered him my arm to strike while I took turns striking his forearm. Obviously as the beginner and someone who is taller than me by at least 5-6 inches there were many times when he tried to use muscular force and strike my hand with his knife hand technique. It resulted in a slow strike with my arm being pushed away. My strike however struck fast, extremely hard, and was a bone jarring technique that need only be felt once or twice before you're obligated to change sides.

    The difference is that once the technique is learned, you need to give yourself the permission to relax more up front and accelerate much more throughout. The distance is not that great, so the differential in speed is key to making this a lethal technique. Obviously the kime or focus during the strike and the drop of centre of gravity is also required to add a lot of power to the strike. Once this was discussed, the power he created started to improve very very quickly to the point where I was unenthusiastic about using my arm as the target. :-)

    Comparing the different hard styles is by no means offering disrespect - it is just that we need to recognise what each system is about and maximising our actions within those techniques. If we were working on a lot of Sanchin or building up our power and endurance ... then we'd be focusing on way different techniques and results.

    Related Links
    Dan-gun: Knife Hand on Premium Unleaded even in Back Balance
    Dan-gun Soodo: Don't get Slowed by the Fold
    Pseudo Soodo


    Colin Wee
    Traditional Taekwondo Technique Workshop

    22 Oct 2008

    Training Safety

    This post on training safety is as much about etiquette as it is about managing the practise of techniques itself. The Gentleman's Rule is a post at Mokuren Dojo which talks about safety in practice and your duty of care when you apply dangerous techniques in a training environment.

    In our etiquette guidelines, we exhort people who spar to spar to your full potential but always have the utmost self-control. Self-control is so important that we also want practitioners to train with diligence but not to over-train - so that self-control can be maintained through whatever challenge you might face.

    Mokuren Dojo says you may throw the opponent with full force and speed onto the mat, but you need to help him land properly. What does this mean? This means that you are respectful of the fact that your opponent has loaned you his body to practice, and you must ensure that you guard his wellbeing and his training safety while you are in control of the situation.

    When we get to the dojang we're all here to learn. Getting hurt from strikes and bumps are alright - so long as we are not injured in the process. Let us all leave the dojang on our own two feet.

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    21 Oct 2008

    "You're expecting too much from them, Colin."

    I was chatting with a good friend who is an extremely experienced and highly regarded martial arts teacher - one who has many more years over me. I have shared a few things with him in the past and he has seen me often in seminar type settings. He has not however sat in on my week-to-week traditional taekwondo classes; though he is acquainted with my student body across the years through social gatherings.

    Tonight, amongst other things, he said to me that I may be expecting too much from my martial arts students, that I hold them up to too high a standard, and therefore they are not completing their program with me ... that they do not get to see the benefit of the entire course because they are not accomplishing enough before they get to where I want them to go.

    I was happy to tell him that while my group is small, most of my students stay with me on average 1.5 to 2 years. And he is familiar with the fact that those whom he has come across have been very enthusiastic and passionate about the group.

    In regards to my supposed unrealistic expectations -- all I can say is that while I myself have pushed ahead with my own research and development, training, documentation, and presentation, I coach each student only at their own pace and only within the rank framework that we have. This means that while they are not ranking upwards quickly, they do gain growth of skill, confidence, and knowledge -- these are very important to me.

    I post this info not asking to be defended - I take it as remark made between very good friends but based on incomplete information. However, I'd like to ask you for your opinion. Have you been asked to do something you've not been ready for? Have you been pushed to do better? Are you clear as to what has been asked of you in your own class? And instructors -- do you put your own expectations of yourself on your students??? Lastly, who would you go to to give you advice like this?

    My Traditional Taekwondo
    Expectations in Studio 5

    Colin Wee
    Traditional Taekwondo Technique Workshop

    Red Bull Air Race Perth

    Red Bull Air Race Returns to Perth

    The final stage of the Red Bull Air Race only in Perth for two days.

    Adrenaline packed. Death defying stunts. Hold your breath because the Red Bull Air Race is about to return to Perth from Saturday November 1, 2008 to Sunday November 2, 2008. The aerial displays will include a variety of fly-overs and aerobatic displays with qualifying rounds held in Perth on November 1 and the showdown to be held the following day.

    Flying low over the swan river, the Air Race will have picturesque views of Perth City, the South Perth Foreshore, Kings Park, and the Narrows Bridge. I caught the Air Race last year from the Perth Exhibition and Convention Centre, looking out from floor to ceiling glass block windows - it was spectacular.

    Red Bull Air Race Perth Links
    Tourism Western Australia covers Red Bull Air Race
    Red Bull Air Race Main Website
    Tickets to Red Bull Air Race
    Enjoy Perth with the Red Bull Air Race
    Sumo TV 2006 Red Bull Air Race Highlights
    Red Bull Air Race Perth on Citysearch on Matt Hall and Red Bull Air Race
    Gorgeous Photos of Red Bull Air Race Perth 2006 at Yellowfilter Photography

    Are you a Perth Red Bull Air Race junkie? Tell us what you like about it. I remember when I was at the PCEC, the VIP buffet was as spectacular as the show itself. Between that, the free beers, and looking after the children, the Air Race made for a fantastic backdrop. But it's not like I really got into it. Or perhaps you need to be outdoors and close to the screaming of those engines as they whiz overhead?

    The Thrill of the Perth Air Race belongs to the Pilot

    I've also never really been into spectator sports. I spent much of my youth practicing, then representing my country, and finally coaching Archery - a very solitary sport. The transition into martial arts was no different. People get excited about competitions or sparring or demonstrations, but it's not a show is it? The focus needed for martial arts is very much an internal one. I assume the biggest thrill at this Red Bull Air Race in Perth belongs to the pilots as they fly just 50 metres over the water, weaving around some pylons or flags. The excitement is not just some reckless feckless daredevil stunt, it is about the control the pilot needs to exert over his own natural instincts while mastering and controlling many complex calculations, and then attempting to out-perform his competitors. That's perfect from this martial artist's point of view.

    Pregnancy Babies and Children Expo Perth 2010
    Perth Royal Show
    Parent Calendar of Events Perth
    Colin Wee
    Traditional Taekwondo Technique Workshop

    19 Oct 2008

    Grading Results - Sample

    Pat at Mokuren Dojo describes what various belt ranks need to know during for their grading at What Should Yellow Belts at Mokuren Dojo Know. I thought I should include a sample Grading Results and feedback I give to my Taekwondo students.

    These Grading Results are typically presented to students a week or two after their grading. My aim is to make it as easy as possible to fail my students. I tell them before hand that the grading is not so much a grading but a coaching session, and if they exceed 80% in this session, they are promoted. If not, they're retained in rank. Yes, I have failed my students, and yes, some of them have quit perhaps due to receiving that not-so-pleasant result. But this is the path of the martial art student, pass or fail - I am keeping it real for them.

    The following is from a real grading I did a year and a half ago for a student who no longer trains with us.

    FirstName LastName
    White Belt Grading Results
    December 2 2006

    FirstName has demonstrated a good grasp of Taekwondo's ready stance, forebalance, breathing technique, kiai, lunge punch, palm heel strike, low block, mid block, breakfall, and the kata that we have taught at his level.

    FirstName needs to reaccess his knowledge of the background of the pattern, backbalance structure, and the power generation whilst performing Chungi. In particular:
    1. Ready stance – feet need to be turned in or at least pointing forward.
    2. Back balance – COG is too far forward. Stance is too long.
    3. Lunge punch – not enough power generated.
    4. Palm heel strike – too low, needs to be nose height.
    5. Turn into low block – need to stretch leg out first.
    6. Mid block in back balance – don’t step backward. Chunji is about stepping forward.

    FirstName has shown a lot of enthusiasm and good determination in his training with us over the last 5 months. He has thrived on the challenges of training and theory.

    I am happy to promote FirstName to 8th kyu (yellow belt) in Traditional Taekwondo.

    Colin Wee
    Chief Instructor


    Want to see advice on how to improve on your grading performance? See Dan-gun Grading: Zero to Hero in Two Hours

    Are you new to this blog? If so, check out New Here? for a quick intro. Otherwise, enjoy some of the other grading links we've got on this blog and some related ones from other blogs and websites.

    Martial Arts Grading Links on Traditional Taekwondo
    The Ranking System and Delusions of Grandeur
    Making kata work for you
    Traditional Taekwondo Goes Green
    My friend got her black belt revoked!
    Relying on what you've got in a Taekwondo grading
    Martial arts grading: Oral section
    Kata: falling for you
    Dan-gun: Grading - zero to here in two hours
    Taekwondo Grading - Adding Layers Upon Layers of Knowledge
    Taekwondo White Belt Grading Oral Section
    What is a Traditional Taekwondo Black Belt?
    Oral Grading Test

    Martial Arts Grading Links on Other Blogs and Sites
    Mark's Training: Dan Grade Preparation
    Martial Views: All in Good Time
    24FightingChickens: Recognition of Rank
    KarateTalk: First Kyu Syndrome
    Karate Thoughts: Black Belt in ____ Months
    Shoshinkan: Bloody Belt Up
    Okinawan Karate Blog: Testing and Grades
    Gone with the Toe: the Black Belt Spectacular
    TDA Training: Black Belt Currency Inflated
    Just a Thought: Expectations in Studio 5
    ITFNZ: Are you ready for Black?
    ITFNZ: Basic Hints for the White Belt
    ITFNZ: Fitness Test
    ITFNZ: How do gradings measure up?
    ITFNZ: Leaping the Hurdle - overcoming the transition from junior to senior
    ITFNZ: Preparation for Black Belt Grading
    TMAC: How important is rank and title to you?

    Colin Wee
    Principal, Joong Do Kwan (Perth)
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