Training Warriors for the 21st Century

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

25 Apr 2008

Dan-gun: Middle Block Drill

Middle Block Drill

I've been invited to do an interview for the Australasian Taekwondo Magazine, and have been trying to organise some photos of myself and my students. It's really difficult to capture good shots. This is one taken during a drill featuring a middle block done as a defence against a front lunge punch - a requirement for yellow belts in my system.

Jacqui's left hand in an open palm position was to show her that she could use her back hand to deflect other strikes, and is a transition before she traps the extended strike and 'blocks' her opponent's nose with her right fist.

22 Apr 2008

Power Generation in Roundhouse Kick Videos

Long range roundhouse kick

It was a little late at night to be doing this - so please excuse the tiredness that you can see as I introduce the technique. Essentially this is a long range roundhouse kick striking the target with speeed generated at full extension. Note that the hands are generally held high for coverage.

Short range roundhouse kick

You don't get to see my beer fridge in this shot. The short range roundhouse kick is done using body compression (not contraction), which allows the kick to generate a sufficient power in a short distance. But it is not a kick to be trifled with. THe short range kick is an example of a very effective traditional combative tool.

Please check out previous post on the topic. Hope you enjoy it.

Check out my post on How to do a High Roundhouse Kick to the Head

External Links

15 Apr 2008

Hwa-Rang: Roundhouse Kicks, the Long and Short of

Roundhouse Kick: Muay Thai and Taekwondo

I want to talk about power generation for the taekwondo roundhouse kick. Specifically the difference between long range and short range differences in the kicks used in 'traditional' taekwondo.

The short range, or what I'd refer to as a 'traditional' roundhouse kick (which is part of the basic kicking techniques in our style) is the kick probably sourced directly from Karate. This is the roundhouse kick that hits as close as you could grab the opponent. The roundhouse kick travels horizontal and hits perpendicular to the bearing of the opponent encouraging the stylist to strike with the ball of the foot rather than the instep. The body of the practitioner is tilted sideways and there is triangulation occuring between the body, kicking and support leg to strike at this distance.

The long range version of the roundhouse, which I've 'imported' in from another style, but is really an early version of the roundhouse kick ultimately used by TKD stylists today, requires a full extension of the body, encouraging the user to strike with the instep of the foot rather than the ball. It still hits perpendicular to the bearing of the opponent. (Variations of this roundhouse kick include hitting with the ball of the foot and can hit the opponent with the same angle of entry as a side kick.)

The short and long of power generation ...

The short range roundhouse kick strikes a target at short range. It requires the user to bring the knee up, and kick out whilst contracting the body (not expanding the body). This means that, for all things being equal, the contraction of the abdominal muscles (the obliques in particular), lats to some part and hip flexors are the engine of the kick. Stability for the kick is provided by the body tilt which creates inertia in order that the faster kick is balanced by the larger mass of the body.

The long range kick however is done with the body at full extension. There is no triangulation set up to provide for contraction of core muscles or contraction of the body. This kick is done using a swinging motion and a pivoting around the support leg. The engine driving this kick (assuming that this is from the back leg), are the calf muscles pushing off the ground, the back and core abdominal muscles torquing the body, gluts of the support leg, and then the hip as the leg is swung forward. Muscles of the body are tensed and locked at impact in order to support the kick when it strikes.

The reason why I made sure to distinguish between the two is the position of the trunk of the body affects the power of the kick and (for the long range version) the calibration to land the kick properly. It is not sufficient to power through and hope the kick lands or lands hard on a bag. You need to kick hard but you need to have sufficient control.

Experiment with variations in body position in relation to power generation and you might surprise yourself.


Check out the related posts on roundhouse kicks 'Power Generation in Roundhouse Kick Video' and 'How to do a high roundhouse kick to the head'

10 Apr 2008

Dan-gun: The Windshield Wiping Technique

Last thursday we were running the yellow belts through an application for the lower block and upper block combination in Dan-gun. I've posted on this before (Dan-gun: Defence against a kick punch combination).

The technique requires you to use the folding action for the lower block to deflect a mid level kicking technique. The lower block strikes the leg. The folding action for an upper block blocks a punch and the upper block strikes the attacking limb or neck.

Putting them through their paces, I then demonstrate what it is like doing it at full speed. Then I show it, repeeating the moves a few times without stopping. This folding and blocking then folding and blocking creates a 'windshield wiping' effect - it's a very natural circular movement that can be done iteratively and fast. In fact, there seems little difference in the macro movement between the lower block and the upper block.

So who says that a hard style has no circular movements?

The great thing is that this move can be done automatically; it can be applied with very little thinking and can be used against many different combinations - just make sure to look at what's coming and match it to the target area!

4 Apr 2008

My 100th Post! "Taekwondo v Aikido"

Many styles (as well as Taekwondo) include some basic handlocks, throws, and breakfalls. The initial style in which I started training (it wasn't in Taekwondo) included two handlocks (Kotegaeshi and nikyo), 4 throws (shoulder throws, a hip throw, and a fireman's lift throw), and some crazy breakfalls.

My time with the American Karate and Taekwondo Organisation saw me cross train in Aiki (mainly without being graded) for about 3-4 years. In that time I did take the 9th kyu grading and of course participated in many mixed sessions.

Having that 9th kyu list, a fertile mind, and the chance to expand my Taekwondo syllabus, I initially thought some 10+ years ago to add the requirements within the TKD 5th and 4th kyu syllabus. Breakfalls were included from white belt but the major Aiki techniques were arbitrarily thrown to the green and blue belts.

I hated that arrangement. It was non-harmonious with the way students learn -- it was Taekwondo until here and then these cool but bizarre techniques and then Taekwondo again. There was little to no synthesis of any of the soft style techniques; the addition to the syllabus just did not create much value to the system.

I then chose to break down this list much more and link individual techniques to the forms as required. Previously where I spread 10-12 9th kyu aiki techniques over the green and blue belt grading requirements, now I had about 6 techniques (plus variations) up to black. So basic techniques are introduced when they are presented during the forms. This approach was conceptually mirrored by Guru Kelly Worden when he used the phrase 'Destroy, Trap, Lock' to describe his approach.

I really liked that instructional approach for combat. It is modified somewhat for a self defence scenario where we 'Escape, Destroy' or just 'Lock, Destroy'. This simple approach allows us to integrate the various Aiki principles that make a lot of sense to our style.

Currently, we will teach handlocks or throws as they appear in the pattern, including the lead up sequence as a 'preamble' to the technique - making it a uniquely Taekwondo offering. Once done, I will include the aiki basic technique (as I learned it) as a 'variant' to the initial lesson. The techniques are also more frequently highlighted in class with self defence situations and scenario based training.

Our style is a hard style system. Traditional Taekwondo generates power on linear acceleration. This does not mean we can't 'flow', or be 'circular', or try to destabalize an opponent's COG as Aikidoists do. But that's not the way we majorly train, and therefore making any locks or throws work in our system mean working with fewer techniques but allowing more integration within a striking framework and combative fluency.

I like Pat's idea that Aiki is great for self defence. It certainly is a very good style for this and has a lot of plusses. The best is that Aiki students are not overly aggressive - this helps put any opponent at ease. The challenge is to make aiki relevant for beginners when that first punch is thrown. There's sometime to be said about pressure testing within a hard style framework - my students know how frightening it is when someone is coming at you and your whole body is screaming in pain.

Yes, I could have lost the plot with aiki. But I think I haven't. Aiki helps me outline what we do with our system - and shows the student what we don't do. Keeping the basics allows for us to add a dimension of effectiveness at close range, and allows the student to 1) control and throw the opponent, 2) understand center of gravity and differences between the styles, and 3) 'feel' the dynamics of the skeletal system as an interconnected system. All great for a hard stylist.

Posts with Handlocks

External Links
Mokuren Dojo: Pay Attention Aikido is Not Circular
Dojo Rat: Circular or Linear You Decide
Shoshinkan UK: Karate Grappling
The Way of Combining Forces


1 Apr 2008

Taekwondo Syllabus

Pat asked me to talk a little about Aikido influencing my practice and transmission of 'Traditional' Taekwondo.

I thought this was a fantastic question which touches on many issues that a martial arts instructor faces; but I had to establish the following background for that post.

On one hand, and I've used this analogy before, the martial arts instructor is a curator tasked to deliver a very standard 'official' transcript of traditional techniques and applications. Newer styles and more pragmatic instructors break from this to include innovation that brings quality to the syllabus they operate with.

In this light I have seen many instructors frustrated with their syllabus and constantly try to deconstruct, modify, and fine-tune what they have. In 2003, this was the major impetus for me to re-evaluate all of the things that I have been taught and that I have inherited as a martial artist.

The lead up to this recognition that something was not quite correct was me trying to make sense of this syllabus I was using to train students for their black belt. Nothing seemed to be 'objective based'. Meaning I could not look at the syllabus and figure out any reasoning for anything! Kata was unrelated to drills which were unrelated to technique, etc.

I also had decided to expand the range of aiki and locking techniques within the syllabus, and threw in a standard Aiki 9th kyu listing of techniques between 5th and 4th kyu requirements. I continued to look at this long and hard. It was arbitrary. It was promoting the messiness of the previous syllabus. All in all I hated it.

The short of it was that I revamped the entire thing. I used kata or taekwondo patterns as the 'backbone' of my training syllabus, I then added all the drills and experience I have gained, appropriate for student skill and associated them all with techniques within the patterns. I deconstructed the Aiki syllabus and chose pertinent techniques that would also fit the training program needed.

Some additional drills that I have observed from other martial arts and from video resources that bring good value and which are 'no-brainer' extensions for the patterns I use have also made their way into my syllabus.

The rules of thumb:
1. Objective-oriented means stuff only related to what the student needs to learn for that particular belt pattern are included.
2. Everything is related to the patterns.
3. Fewer techniques are taught to beginners, more to intermediates, and many more to senior students. This helps with student turnover and my investment of time, but also with the manner in which older students learn.
4. All my techniques are sketched out in my notebook - I have abandoned technique lists because when I teach it's hard to go reading - it's better to visually see the sequence and then go from there.

This is not how my parent organisation A-Kato (which I am a BB member) does this in the States. But the current syllabus makes logical sense in my mind and is a properly structured training program suited to the beginner.


My Traditional Taekwondo
... and that's found in Traditional Taekwondo?
Karate Grappling???