Training Warriors for the 21st Century

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

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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17 Oct 2008

Article Archive Highlight

The Reaction Hand discusses the reason why Taekwondo practitioners and other hard style martial artists pull the opposite hand back in practice - to generate power and to help drills. It also touches lightly on the difficulty beginning students have with the pulling back of the reaction hand whilst really needing *both* hands during sparring. The Hikite or Reaction hand is a training invention, while there is some strategic validity, it is applied only in a few circumstances. At no point should you defend yourself with one hand at your hip. Colin

Colin Wee
Traditional Taekwondo Technique Workshop

Taekwondo Won-hyo Pattern: The Three Knifehands


We were going through grading requirements last night and practising applications for the three knife hands in Won-hyo. Korean knife hands are performed with both hands chambering in tandem. This introduces a great many oppotunities to interpret these type of Taekwondo techniques with a 'soft style' lens. This time, we are looking at these three knife hands as kokyunage, an arm bar, and an iriminage.

The choice of these three aiki techniques mean that with the same motion and the same side, you are able to use the same initial folding motion either against the opponent coming with a right hand lead OR a left hand lead. The kokyunage against a right lead needs you to come at the opponent from the outside of his strike. The iriminage against his left hand lead needs you to come at the opponent from the inside. The arm bar is done from a right hand lead when you can't gap close enough and have to deal with the arm, rather than the neck or body of the opponent.

Kokyunage is done by controlling the opponent's head, weighting him down and forward, and then turning him upside down so that he falls on the ground. Sheesh - what a description. The Irimi entering throw grabs the opponent around the neck, rotates him slightly and causes him to fall down where he's standing by rotating his upper body backwards on itself. The arm bar is done by stretching the opponent out and rotating his outstretched arm.

Learning the combination of all three allows for the hard stylist more of a chance to pull off a control or takedown technique when required -- this is as opposed to trying to wrangle the guy's wrist when he's grabbing some part of your body.

To understand more of these throws and locks, check out Pat's Mokuren Dojo blog.

Yes, Taekwondo has Throws and Locks!

Taekwondo Won-hyo Posts

“A noted monk who spread Buddhism in Korea during the Silla Dynasty (686 A.D.)” (
Won-hyo was a Buddhist monk that propounded the Pure Land School of Buddhism ( This form of Buddhism centred around the faith practitioners had to have in the ‘Other Power’ of Amitabha Buddha. It spread quicky amongst the population and was said to have helped the “unification of the three kingdoms of Korea” (

The key ideas that can be linked with the Pure Lands School: simple, incisive, to the point, and unrestrained. I liken Pure Land Buddhism to what Bruce Lee said about cutting through the mess. If I had to translate this for fighters, I would focus on strikes and blocks that ‘cut through’ the opponent’s attacks or defences. The idea may be to understand speed, timing, distance, reach, and vectors in order for the clever fighter to take advantage of loopholes.

Overwhelm the Opponent
Won-hyo: Defending Against a Kick Punch Combination
Won Hyo: Defend Against Anything!!
Making Kata Work for You
Taekwondo Hyung: Won-Hyo Step 27 & 28 as Over the Shoulder Throw
Won-Hyo: Defensive Side Kick
Won Hyo: Scoop Block v Kick Punch Combo
Calibrating the Side Kick
Won Hyo Hyung Side Kick
Won-hyo: Where are your eyes on the back of your arse?
Won-hyo: The Kihon Kata Koma
Won-hyo: The Taekwondo Side Kick
I've Broken My Finger and Have Lost the Will to Fight
Taekwondo Won-hyo Scoop Blocks
Walking Up the Arm
Scoop Block from Won-hyo
Taekwondo Sidekick of Won-hyo

External Links on Wonhyo

Anupriyo on Wonhyo
Kata Bunkai with Vince Morris: Double block in Step 1-3
42 Bunkai to Monk's Salutation

Colin Wee
Traditional Taekwondo Technique Workshop

14 Oct 2008

Habits of Highly Effective Martial Artists

In the book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, one of the lessons is to start with the end goal in mind. Meaning, don't be driven to work for work's sake, but to make sure you are progressing towards a specific goal.

This is a fantastic lesson, and one that can be applied to many if not all areas of life.

I took this lesson down to the training hall to see how training itself can be improved with this new focus. Last week as I was holding the kick shield and working with my green belt, I was providing on-going commentary regarding body positioning, stepping, and the impact on the target for a standard stepping side kick. Once everything had more or less improved to my satisfaction, I noticed that there was a drop out of power at the point of impact. Follow through was not there! The kick seemed to be everything up to the point (it looked good or it looked okay), and then it just slipped.

The penetration power of the side kick was not there because the processes which were what I was focusing on is only part of the determinant of power. The next determinant is intent, own strength, and the follow through. Basically the person must *want* to kick the target. It is as simple as that. Not just bring up the foot and send it out 'correctly'. He or she must need and want and yearn to give it to the kick shield. Juice it up. Ramp it up. Fire it up. How many more ways can I say it?

To borrow a training idea from another sport where I worked as a coach, a side kick is NOT the way you step to the target, NOT the way you bring your knee up, NOT the way you extend your leg, NOT the way you hold your foot, and NOT the way you rotate the foot into the target.

What the Taekwondo side kick boils down to is the point at which you are hitting the opponent with the side of your foot and then the one or maybe two inches of penetrating power you apply beyond that.

So next time you're doing drills, think about what you are attempting to do. Make sure you've brought along your martial arts hat - not your dancing hat. It's not about looks, it's about what you want to achieve with all your techniques.



Related Topics
Won Hyo Side Kick
Hitting Harder Physics Made Easy
Breaking and Destruction for Beginners
Taekwondo Beginners Striking a Target

Colin Wee
Traditional Taekwondo Technique Workshop

12 Oct 2008

Other Blogs

Health and Fitness Resources
Beebleblog: A Fitness Diet and Health Blog
Blog By Travis: Exercise and Diet Tips

Colin Wee
Traditional Taekwondo Technique Workshop

Won-hyo: Defending Against a Kick Punch Combination

Most normal people, having access to most common weapons, will mostly attack you in predicatable ways.

One of those ways to gap close, is to kick (as a long or mid range weapon) and then punch (as a mid or short range weapon).

Today we did a taekwondo green belt drill from Won-hyo defending against standard martial arts kicks to centreline, and defence against either same side or opposite side punch. This was taken off step 19 of Taekwondo's Won-hyo tul: a step forward in forward balance and reverse scoop block with right hand.

The scoop block is modified from the kata by allowing the body to turn more freely - allowing the elbow to cross the centreline, and allowing the arm and forearm a better angle to deflect the kick. Without more torso freedom, the block does not travel enough and is not very effective. After performing the lower half of the scoop, the arm continues its circular path and is used to block the punch at face level.

Here the scoop block is performed like a mid block. The point of it is not to use 'arm only' power, but to strike the oncoming punch with the dropping weight of the body. Sideways and downward motion supported by the weight of the body makes the Yop marki 'middle' block an effective combat technique -- without which it remains a big question mark. In fact, just try it ... get a buddy to hold out his arm and perform the mid block on the inside of his forearm, dropping your entire body weight on the arm as you strike it with your forearm. Make sure to lock up your muscles upon impact. Now think of the strike on the shoulder or neck. This is not a light weight backfist to the nose kids - this is heavy!

Gap closing at the start of the technique, when you first see the opponent starting the kick allows you to block the kick and then perform this middle block against the opponent's upper body before he is allowed to regain centre of gravity. This application makes the move a very powerful traditional taekwondo technique.

Scoop block versus kick punch combo

If you check out my previous post on the topic, you can see I referred to 'natural motions' through Taekwondo patterns. I've been looking for natural and reiterative motions through patterns in order to increase the effectiveness of students performing the same technique against many different strikes. This helps reduce learning time and increase the ability of the student to do something that may reduce the consequences of getting it wrong. This scoop block drill is part of a bag of related 'tricks' that the student can rely on both in the martial arts dojo or on the street.

Colin Wee
Traditional Taekwondo Technique Workshop

7 Oct 2008

Traditional Taekwondo Kata Competition

In conjunction with the site, the Traditional Taekwondo Facebook group is planning to organise an online kata competition amongst members. Basic katas will be picked from several hard styles in order to give ease of access to participants irrespective of rank. While still on the drawing board, I would like as many of you to get on to Facebook and support it by showing your committment and participation -- currently slated for sometime end quarter one 2009. Regards, Colin

Traditional Taekwondo Now on Facebook

Colin Wee
Traditional Taekwondo Technique Workshop

2 Oct 2008

Yul-guk: Step 35-36 Jumping Backfist in X-stance - It Could be Taught as the Most Useless Technique Ever!!!

Yul-guk on TMAC

At the blue belt level, the student practitioner has gained a nice level of technical proficiency. Basic Taekwondo techniques are coming together, sparring skills are accelerating, and the practitioner has a good perspective of most of the curriculum of the system.

So why introduce a technique like a jumping backfist in X-stance, like you see in Steps 35-26 of Taekwondo pattern Yul-guk? Ever knocked a person out with a technique like this? It's perhaps used as a gap closing technique - like a jab. You backfist someone straight into the face region and then close in with some other striking technique with back hand or back foot. The alternative for the backfist is to distract and then perform a spinning backfist which gains much more power. But this is not a spinning sportive technique.

From Karate, we see a similar technique in the opening sequence of Basai. According to a karate researcher, Basai is used as a technique against multiple opponents in the extraction of a principal or to inflict maximum damage against a larger group. The opening sequence could be an escape from some wrist or clothing grab. The next move is a jump into X stance and backfist. My hypothesis for Basai is that the jump X-stance is a body slam combined with a footstomp, and later a knee strike. The result is that attention is drawn to the backfist, allowing the practitioner to destroy the opponent's foot with the break and perhaps knockdown with elbow or backfist. (If the practitioner is surrounded, it would be difficult to see what his legs are up to.) The net effect is shock and awe that a smallish technique (the light back fist) sends that opponent directly into the ground.

The next thing I'd extract from Basai are feints and finger/joint breaks to opponents on all sides - who have just witnessed the jump/backfist move. Extreme mind-rocking stuff.

So we return to the Taekwondo blue belt. We do not need to equip him with any more fluff. Light techniques to be used in sparring can be acquired at his level through further solo practice, observing other opponents, and experimentation. The skills are this stage should prompt him to think about the opponent as a person - with human fallacies, who will react to pain and mind games. Deception. Distraction. Destruction.

See Yul-gok Step 36 as Take down for an additional interpretation of this move.


Yul-guk: If you Control the Head, You Control Him
Do-san: Backfists of Fury
Taekwondo Side Kick: Won-hyo v Yul-guk
Taekwondo Yul-guk: Neck Manipulation, Leg Defence, and Backfist
Colin Wee
Traditional Taekwondo Technique Workshop