Training Warriors for the 21st Century

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

22 Sep 2008

Hikaru Dojo Hosts Its First and Last Martial Arts Birthday Party

My son requested a Kung Fu Panda Birthday party over the last weekend to celebrate his 7th birthday. Now does anyone hosts martial arts birthday parties in Perth? Let alone Kung Fu Panda Birthday parties? Nooooooo. Yours truly, my brothers, took the plunge and accepted the challenge!

Briefly, a run through of events:

Shifu Says: This is like Simon says. But in addition, "YOu are on fire" requires them to roll on the ground. "The house is on fire" requires them to crawl to the nearest exit. "SOmeone is dragging you off the field" requires them to wrap their body around an immovable object OR a leg.

Destruction: My students and I demonstrated how to break tiles. Taught the kids how to use a palm heel and then let all the children break thin Balsa wood boards. They absolutely loved that.

Cake Cutting: Not difficult to figure out that everyone was going to bypass the birthday cake for the gold covered chocolate coins!

Ping Pong Ball and Spoon Race: Relay event for teams seperated by coloured belts.

Limbo: Kung fu training requires not only speed but agility - go under the limbo stick and prove your worth!

Attack the Evil Princess: Two of my students put on wigs. I give cardboard ninja stars to all the children. Then I get my students to run into the middle of the field. 30 crazed thugs aged 6-8 years attack them with the stars. A group of them decide to grab onto jacob's pants and pull it off. THey are very effective. The evil princess is vanquished and intimidated.

Chopstick Race: Go pick up lollies as a team relay event.

Side Kick: I was happy to kick Jacob who was holding onto the kick shield with a sliding side kick. Got the children on the line to show them how the kick was done. Let them kick the air a couple of times and lined them up in front of the target to go for it.

Victory Dance: Get all the children and all the parents up to do a victory dance to dance music. Announce the outstanding MVPs through the event. Prize giving after.

I've got to say this was a great birthday party idea, and while the younger boys and girls absolutely loved it, I am sure slightly older children will get into it too. The karate or taekwondo birthday party idea can mix in a lot of ideas for games, competitions, and teaching/training events ... it had a good breadth of stuff for everyone there. Good control was in order though ... just because of the theme, children were rough-housing it a little before the events started. One girl didn't want to do the board breaking but everyone else had several goes. If you need to entire party plan, let me know. I can email it to you.


The children loved it! The adults thought I should quite my day job and do this professioanlly. Some of the children want to take up martial arts for real!

Anyone want a few more children in their class? :-)

Let me tell you I definitely had to reach for the beers when I got home that afternoon.

Please let me take the opportunity to thank Sunil from Ray Hanas for providing some templates for the ninja stars the children used to attack my students. Thanks for Jacob and Christian for being such great sports, wearing wigs and having their pants torn off by children - and for all their help. Last but not least my wife Ems for entirely organizing this fantastic event.

I have uploaded photos to facebook under my profile. There are some links to some photos above. To see the rest check out my photo album.


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Colin Wee
Traditional Taekwondo Technique Workshop

15 Sep 2008

Power Generation, Commonsense, and Strategy

Power Generation is a concept closely tied with strategy, prevailing common sense objectives and tactics.

This is a follow up to my post The Way of Least Resistance: "Hitting Harder: Physics Made Easy" by Dan Djurdjevic.

Check out this match gone absolutely wrong. Both fighters are ready to rumble, totally prepared to go head-to-head. The protection worn reduces much of the risk of broken fingers, teeth or groin injuries. Yet martial arts is inherently a dangerous activity - forget that, and pit bone against bone ... eventually something is going to break. This is the question 'when an unstoppable force meets an unmovable object, which is going to give'?

This gets me to my point - and my point is that power generation is closely tied with fighting strategy. And fighting strategy is as much about inflicting power onto the opponent as it is about reducing risk to oneself.

I remember contacting shin against shin in one of my early sparring sessions when I was a young green belt. Yep, we didn't wear any protection back then, sister. NO shin guard, no groin guard (ouch), no mouth guard (wooo), and certainly no gloves! Shin against shin was the worst feeling ever. I thought I had my leg bent into two. I was reduced to a hobble - totally useless for anything.

After a couple of these very painful incidents, you learn really quickly that no kick should go out without the ability to retract it. Even later on when we started shin conditioning as brown belts, we'd still be able to retract our kicks if a knee was put in the way of its flight path. This is wisdom. There are no points for hobbling yourself!

The main problem here? It is that the lower part of the shin is not as strong as the upper part of the shin. Send a lot of force that way and you are naturally hitting a target that can withstand much stronger impact with much less pain. The person who foolishly conditions his shin only deadens the nerves to pain receptors -- shin bones don't get much stronger from the coke bottles.

Being able to stop your kick on a dime, and just touching the opponent allows you control to redirect it up a different path midway. Or it gives you the ability to re-engage your COG and strike with your hands whilst in the previous instant your leg was up in the air - no doubt one of the training benefits from ITF's Taekwondo sine wave training or WTF's natural walking stance.

Colin Wee
Traditional Taekwondo Technique Workshop

The Way of Least Resistance: "Hitting Harder: Physics Made Easy" by Dan Djurdjevic

My friend Dan Djurdjevic from Wu Wei Dao is one of the smartest martial art instructors I know. He has a blog The Way of Least Resistance, and posted on power generation Hitting Harder: Physics Made Easy. It is a good article talking about the basics of power generation. My response (which was not written very clearly at all) touched on how many instructors normally focus on muscling more power into techniques, basically through physical effort, and may not explain much in the way of how force is created for various basic techniques. Power generation in a practical application is very closely matched with strategy and tactics - and not always about juicing someone up on a straight line. Check out his article.

Hwa-rang: Calibrating Taekwondo's Short Range Roundhouse Power Generation
Taekwondo: Beginners Striking a Target

Colin Wee
Traditional Taekwondo Technique Workshop

14 Sep 2008

Yul-guk: If you control the Head, you control the Body (Steps 15-17)

TMAC Forum: Taekwondo's Yul-guk Pattern & Diagram

Early in my martial arts career, I was fortunate to cross train in two disciplines: Taekwondo and Aikido. I'm glad I did, for if not, I'm sure prancing around trying to kick and strike someone all day long would have really gotten old fast. In fact, many times when I went to my regular 'official' class, and when there weren't enough 'hard core' black belts there, sparring would be altogether too easy. It's no fun when you don't feel danger, you know?

Aikido gave me a different perspective to my early hard style training. Whilst it's pretty intuitive to try and get away from a person who's kicking the stuffing out of you, Aiki requires you to get up close. You more or less get within kissing range of all of your training partners, grab various parts of their anatomy or uniform, and either drop them to the ground or let them get you horizontal. It's a real spin.

The one thing I noticed after this change of scene was that I stopped looking at my opponents as targets with little dots where I could score strikes on. I started seeing my opponents instead as walking skeletons covered with muscle and bone. The entire body was inter-connected! That's a revelation for a hard stylist, let me tell you.

Now. Taking this to Taekwondo pattern Yul-guk. Once you start looking at the opponent through 3-D glasses, the opportunity to grab and control is so exciting. Just as an aside through some of my marathon sparring sessions (averaging 1.5+ hours with multiple opponents), I started to figure out that kicks really burn a lot of energy, punches were much easier, and then takedowns are the easiest. So when you're really tired, it's way easier sticking to punches and takedowns - they expended less energy and still were quite effective.

Suddenly, there's a whole lot more fun to be had in taekwondo sparring -- if your rules allow it. So you get to spar, and you're now looking at your opponent ... the two main things that are literally sticking out at you? The HEAD and the ARMS.

That's where we come to Taekwondo's Yul-guk. Not my favourite form, but the tension presses you have in steps 15-17 give you something to chew on, especially as they give you both hands in front and moving towards then in opposite directions. Nothing fancy mate, one (a sayunage variant) is to stretch the guy's arm out diagonally to the front, and (without crossing your arms) with your other hand you ratchet his head backwards, over his shoulders, and toward the ground. The next move (a kaitenage) is again performed without crossing your arms mid-way ... you pull his arm backwards, put your other hand behind his neck, and continue pushing his arm back and up while you steering wheel him forward.

Essentially where the head goes, the whole entire body follows. It doesn't take very much to lead him where you want him to go. But you need to get really close up ... hugging range, and feel comfortable about it. There's no way can you do this at arm's length.

Food for thought on Yul-guk.

Also check out Charles Goodin's post Karate Thoughts Blog: Grab What? It's nice to see correlations between the arts!
Yul-guk: Jumping Backfist
Taekwondo Side-kick: Won-hyo v Yul-guk
Taekwondo Yul-guk: Neck Manipulation, Leg Defence, and Backfist

Colin Wee
Traditional Taekwondo Technique Workshop

11 Sep 2008

Answering the Question of How the Martial Arts Builds Confidence

IN answer to a question at The mentality behind martial arts

Firstly, you tear down all false sense of confidence. Then you push the poor bastard past all pre-conceived notions of his abilities. Then you throw hell at him, and then some. The bloke eats all of this up and starts to show gains in skill level. Teach him good principles. Show him wisdom. Teach him discipline. Show him how to survive, to thrive. Share with him your lineage. Entrust him to be the guardian of the syllabus. Teach him how to nurture beginners in the path. Then groom him as your successor.

Most people however, give up just at the time when they're starting to learn the basics ... that's not even anywhere near the starting line.

Can You Discipline Children Behaviour?

Colin Wee
Traditional Taekwondo Technique Workshop

10 Sep 2008

Hwa-rang: Calibrating Taekwondo's Short Range Roundhouse Kick

I saw Jacqui 7th kyu absolutely rocking Bob the hitman with a short range roundhouse kick last weekend. Woowee.

You should have seen the power she generated. Amazing.

Yes, I accelerated her repository of techniques and taught a 7th kyu what I would normally teach closer to Hwa-rang. But circumstances this time dictated that I should equip her with at least a functional bag of kicking skills given that she's going to leave Australia and move over to the States.

From my observation over these few weeks, I wanted to highlight the problem that is probably fairly common for hard style instructors yet few would probably verbalise it. The way we teach often creates problems for ourselves, and students sometimes have to unlearn basic techniques in order to make the techniques apply correctly against an opponent or target.

Take the Taekwondo's short range roundhouse kick for instance. At the beginner level, a method of teaching the roundhouse kick would be to get the leg horizontal, grab onto the ankle, pull it toward your backside and then fire the kick off horizontally to the target. Great simple approach.

But then I try to get Jacqui to apply some power to the hitman or striking mitt - and most of her energy is consumed by the lift and the distance her leg travels from around the butt area all the way to the target.

I had to explain that the quadrant of motion for the roundhouse (which is essentially a front kick done horizontally) is there to teach calibration and striking angle. The teaching technique to bring the ankle back to the butt and then fire it off is only to achieve that horizontality. It is not to be applied in that particular manner.

To correctly apply the roundhouse, the hip rotation to allow the leg to strike the target horizontally must occur in tighter columnation to the target. 'Columnation' was a term I learned as a medic in the army, and when I was working in the Xray department. This referred to the spread of the beam. Tighter columnation meant a smaller spread.

Anyway, the roundhouse kick must have a columnation that allows the kick to strike the target somewhere in the middle of that columnated beam. To lift the leg behind and close to your arse meant that you strike the target at the end of the columnation. All the energy is expended before the kick gets there.

You get a point but you don't ROCK THE HOUSE, brother.

Anyone like to share with me how awesome and frightening it feels when you generate the kind of power from a well executed basic kick?

Colin Wee
Traditional Taekwondo Technique Workshop

7 Sep 2008

Christmas Gift Ideas Perth Western Australia

Christmas Gift Ideas 

Christmas is just around the corner. I'm sure you're looking for an interesting idea to get the whole family connected this year!

Are you looking for Christmas gift ideas here in Perth, Western Australia?

What better way to celebrate the Christmas holidays than to get your teenager out of your hair and into hard grueling physical training! JDK follows a traditional taekwondo program that trains the mind through understanding and application, the body through physical techniques, and the spirit through the determination and the rigours of physical challenges.

Think martial arts training and you think of the confidence, discipline, and self-esteem you help build for your teenager. Goodness knows many of them need it! Stop them slouching. The whining. I'll-do-it-tomorrow attitude. There is no better Christmas gift (for you or your teenager)!!!

Are you ready to take the Traditional Taekwondo Perth Christmas challenge?

Perth Christmas Gift Idea Challenge - TRAIN FOR FREE FOR ONE YEAR!!!

The Traditional Taekwondo Perth Christmas Challenge is for you to bring yourself and your teenager (aged 13-19) down to JDK in Nedlands and train with us for a full year for FREE
You buy the uniform. You attend classes. We take care of the rest! 
How do you train for free? This is how it works - when you start, you put a deposit of $600 for the both of you for our regular training sessions. This does not include any grading or other event fees (but I promise that won't break the bank). If you both make it to the end of the year, we give it back to you in full - no questions asked. If either of you quit or don't participate for two consecutive weeks of classes without a medical waiver (omitting family holidays), we get to keep the cash. Up for the challenge?
This offer is valid ANY TIME during the year. The day after Christmas for instance, if you feel like you're stuffed or hungover - you know where to come to detox. A month after the new year, and when your new year resolution just didn't cut it ... you know I'll be waiting for you. 

So while you're rushing up to Christmas and preparing for that wonderful Christmas lunch, think about what you want to do with yourself and your child after the holidays. Isn't it time to treat yourself to something different?! :-)

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6 Sep 2008

Won Hyo: Defend Against Anything!!

Won Hyo: Steps 9 - 11

I've spent the last 25 years or so in the martial arts. You know what really makes me excited about martial arts? Simple techniques and principles that work! Sure I can pull out jumping spinning kicks ... or at least I used to. But what turns this martial arts on are techniques that can be done with little thought, little energy, and work a charm. Amen!

And so it was that when I started putting a lot of time into researching my own forms and some of the older forms that I've inherited, namely Basai and Tekki for instance ... something jumped out of those forms to grab my nads. I'm not sure if you can take this leap with me - these forms were talking to me, brothers. And you know what they were saying? Many times they were taking the same technique and applying it to all sorts of attacks! Not even needing to change hands ... meaning you perform the same side and this same side motion can be applied to hand attacks, leg attacks, rush in attacks, and generally just about anything that comes your way.

Some of this was featured in a Tekki video I shared with Pat from Mokuren Dojo and Nat from TDA.

With this in mind, I return to Taekwondo and I search with all my might for techniques from patterns that beg you to look at them real close. Some of these just spring out and tell you they're great drills to help with reiterative blitz attacks. This particular Won Hyo Defend Against Anything focuses on the three sequential knife hand attacks at steps 9-11. Why on earth would you do three sequential? Shouldn't you just leave it at two to symbolically show some reiteration? No. Three is just right to prompt you to think of blitz attacks and general pull-it-out-of-your-ass defence.

Let the punch come from the left. Let the punch come from the right. Let it come from the middle. Let it come hooking from the left or right, baby. Soodos, shutos, and knife hand movements from Taekwondo use both hands and can be used as attacks or defence. For the intermediate belt, I take this opportunity to include three joint locking techniques to pit against punches.

The first is a kokyunage and is done against same side strikes. The second irimi is done against opposite side strikes. The third - the arm bar is done against same side attacks. All three teach varying degrees of control - from the extremity (in the arm bar) and to the neck and body (kokyunage and irimi).

I've included some general video from youtube to show how we do it. Mind you these videos are off aiki and jujutsu techniques - so there are slight variations and of course we're applying it to strikes rather than as they show - against lapel grabs.

Kokyunage - Breadth or Timing Throw

Iriminage - Entering Throw

Arm Bar - Crank that Arm, Baby

Pat from Mokuren Dojo on Irimi
Pat from Mokuren Dojo on Kokyunage

Colin Wee
Traditional Taekwondo Technique Workshop

3 Sep 2008

Making Kata Work for You

How do we establish the legitimacy of kata and patterns as a combative exercise, a training syllabus, and grading system?

This is an old and oft repeated lesson returning yet again last night as we focused on our basic katas Chon-ji, Dan-gun, Do-san, and then Won-hyo.

There were the few and regular glaring performance errors - not looking before turning into the technique, dubious height of strikes, stances that weren't quite right, and irregular breath patterns. Here are tips to improve patterns as I'd like them performed by traditional taekwondo students.

1. If kata is to be used as combative training, then students need to a) get to the line prepared to perform each technique with close to maximal effort (kime or muscle focus at the end of each technique), b) use good regular breathing synched with techniques (more on this later), and c) relax down to a basal state of optimimum tension after each strike (not totally relaxed - but have the body ready to go).

2. While hard style systems seem to rigidly follow train tracks, transitions between techniques need the core trunk of the body to be relaxed in order to achieve natural movement. Natural movement optimises speed, helps maintain endurance, and increases spatial awareness. One great indicator that natural movement is not present is when there is a) no head turning before the body faces a different direction, b) the folding for blocks don't seem to provide as much coverage to the side of the body because the practitioner is not reaching over during the fold, and c) the body does not lean forward as the practitioner starts his lunge step forward.

3. Kata should be a complement to sparring by helping students practice good breathing habits. The breathing for martial artists regulates flight or fight responses, initiates any move - defensive or offensive, and helps gap close. Large muscles exhale breath forcefully. Most techniques have a fairly regular exhalation - moderate at first, lighter during, and significant in the end. Kiai techniques have a very light exhalation and then a very significant exhalation at the end with shout.

Check out Dan's The Way of Least Resistance: Main Purpose of Kata.

Colin Wee
Traditional Taekwondo Technique Workshop

2 Sep 2008


Anyone on facebook? Add me. It's Colin Wee from Australia and alumni of SMU and UNSW.
Colin Wee
Traditional Taekwondo Technique Workshop