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?



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Mathieu said…
Transtitions are so important, yet are often overlooked.

I think that the "through" might be highlighted by partner work. Although I doubt that I'd find something to work on, coming from a keep low and down art, someone with more experience just might find something interesting.

Nevertheless, it is an interesting discussion.

be well
Dan Djurdjevic said…
I don't know how I missed this post... It's the one I've been waiting for from you Colin. At last, an intelligent look at the sine wave.

As you say, not to be dismissed - my first instinct.

At the same time, the sine wave is something (like hip use) that should not infiltrate every movement in kata.

Slavish adherence to any dogma will always bring poor results to any pedagogy.
Colin Wee said…
I'm not sure if it's one of my better posts - I just read through it. It's a bit of a mouthful, isn't it?

Falling downwards is a legitimate move. Pumping upwards from a lower position is also a legitimate move. We do that naturally ... just not all the time.

Thanks for the response, Dan.

Raul said…
Hello, I would like to add something to this discussion. As a practitioner of both Shotokan Karate and ITF Taekwon-do, I generally find more power in the Tul movements(empowered by the sine wave) in comparison to Kata movements(which use the hip). While it may be just a personal thing...feeling the usage of sine wave and body weight more natural than lower positions and hip rotation, I sincerely believe that the sine wave is stronger.
Colin Wee said…
As I typically say, the sine wave is a natural movement and a legitimate way of generating power. It's great for people who maintain a higher centre of gravity and allows them the ability to use some drop to empower their strikes. It however shouldn't be the only way.

Have you thought you might be enjoying the sine wave because of your karate training? Many tkd practitioners don't use enough leg dynamics coupled with hand strikes ... maybe this is happening for you?

For myself I find that when I use linear accelerative technique, I typically don't feel like I've generated much power - yet there's a whole lot of power there because it's generated by larger muscles in the legs, and transmitted through the skeleton. Arm strength is kept nominal because it's only the 'end manifestation' of an entire body movement.

Cheers. Thanks for the addition.

Anonymous said…
i think, as a shotokan wadokai practitioner/ata taekwondo also,
the sine wave has some merrit, used in combination with hip rotation
timed correctly. it does ad power only in certain applications, not
exagerated through out a whole form.
personaly i think it makes even gup forms look sloppy and unprofessional
the exagerated up down motion telegraphs intent! some positive aplications.... lots of negative ones.

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