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


Popular Posts