Training Warriors for the 21st Century

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

30 Sep 2009

Taekwondo Sparring

Taekwondo Sparring

Taekwondo sparring is just one of the exercises to build an all-round martial artist. Sparring allows you to practice breathing, timing, tactics, and strategy against a non-compliant opponent. However, Taekwondo sparring should only be thought of as another exercise in your gym bag. You should feel relatively safe whilst sparring as both opponents learn how to improve on the various skills. Sparring should not be thought of as a real fight where an opponent will rarely if ever attack you with martial-arty combinations or timing. Rather it is more likely you will face a non-choreographed, messy, often blitz-type attack. Your opponent will probably try to grapple with you and fight you in a close range situation. In Taekwondo sparring, work on real skills that will help you in other encounters - 1) good coverage, 2) a willingness to work close range, 3) low kicks and hand combinations, 4) moving to a tactically advantageous position (towards the exit), and 5) good environmental awareness. Enjoy the links we're provided on this topic.

The JDK Sparring Program
Deliberately Losing Your Sparring Match
Taekwondo Fighting Stance
Taekwondo Non-contact Sparring Training
Taekwondo Chon-ji - No One Wants to Get Hit
Taekwondo Sparring Bingo
Taekwondo Sparring Parts 1 - 3
Taekwondo Sparring Broken Rhythm
Yul-guk: Grab Strike Control Strike
Hold a Kick Shield to Gain Experience
Aikido Philisophy, Taekwondo Technique ... is it possible?
Beginning Taekwondo Sparring Advice
Kung Faux Fighting
Won-hyo: Defending against a kick punch combination
Power Generation, Strategy and Commonsense
Fallen Angel
Keeping on the Path
Random Sparring and Competition Advice
Taekwondo v Kickboxing
Karate v WTF
Kung Fu v Taekwondo Sparring
Invisible Taekwondo Sparring Techniques
Traditional Taekwondo Goes Green in Sparring
Beginning Sparring in Taekwondo
Your Nuts with Taekwondo
Beginning Taekwondo Sparring Part Two
Multiple Person Drills
Warmup Drills to Increase Coverage for Sparring
Won-hyo: Where are your eyes on the back of your arse?
Beginning Sparring Part One
Do-san: Introduction to Sparring
Beginning Sparring Dialog
What role does body hardening exercises play in Taekwondo?
Taekwondo Sparring Past and Present by Craig Lightner
Being Good at Sparring Means You're Only Good at Sparring


Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
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28 Sep 2009

Taekwondo Roundhouse Kick

My Taekwondo 6th kyu green belt had some hip pain recently and felt discomfort raising his leg higher than groin height. His roundhouse kick training of course did not help his condition - and he asked for my opinion.

The roundhouse kicks he was performing were short range, horizontally fired, ball-of-foot roundhouse kicks. Power generation comes from the compression of the abdominal muscles, leg muscles and some pendulum momentum as the leg is brought around. These roundhouse kicks complement powerful hand strikes and are extremely effective close range.

I contemplated his problem and decided to fire off a roundhouse kick at his inner thigh. I then told him to choose a much lower but still legitimate target, and continue his training.

No point sweating over the height of a kick when it's how you use it that counts.

How to do a taekwondo roundhouse kick to the head
Basic Taekwondo Kick a Misnomer 

Colin Wee
Traditional Taekwondo Techniques, Patterns, and Applications at the Traditional Taekwondo Blog. [Subscribe using email or RSS feeds] [Tkd Sitemap]

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23 Sep 2009

Taekwondo Pattern Yul-guk: Grab Strike Control Strike

There are grab-strike combos in Taekwondo Pattern Yul-guk Step 7-10, 15-17 unlike what you see in Chon-ji, which like other basic taekwondo patterns teach you to grab and strike; and perhaps assume that you'll deal with the opponent with the first (or last, or only) strike.

Taekwondo pattern yul-guk seems to want you to grab-strike-control-strike. The forward tension presses (step 15-17) go for a neck or hair grab which and then pushes the opponent around like a rag doll. Then there's the side kick which is followed up by an elbow strike and pull-to-the-hip control (Step 22-24).

Punishing the opponent could be a part of the overall game plan, but I suggest that this is training for a multiple opponent scenario. Strike and control the first opponent, and move him around as your shield while you're looking for a defensible location.

While you are thinking of how to strike, control and strike again, you may benefit from thinking of how to strike with the same grabbing hand or perhaps strike with different parts of the same arm. You can also incorporate 'bumping' into your opponent with forehead, top of head, shoulder, knee, or foot. This approach maximises the applicability of techniques through any basic hard style pattern. Not to include this is to reduce the practicality of your combat applications.

Keep it safe! Can't practice on your opponents if you hurt them too much.

Colin Wee
Traditional Taekwondo Techniques, Patterns, and Applications at the Traditional Taekwondo Blog. [Subscribe using email or RSS feeds] [Tkd Sitemap]

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20 Sep 2009

Taekwondo Technique - Hold a Kick Shield to Gain Experience

I got an 8th kyu Taekwondo yellow belt to hold the kick shield for our 6th kyu green belt. Part of the discussion was how best to hold the kick shield (hold it like you're in a fighting stance), and why it helps you grow as a martial artist.

So my green belt kicks the target, steps aside ... and I have a go. I performed the kick with less power, but faster, crisper, and was purposely done not to telegraph as much. I did that a few times, then kicked it a little harder to show how it differs when you penetrate the target with more thrusting power.

Most people, and thus most practitioners have to content with the same implements - two hands, two legs, and core trunk. Moving the extremities and making them work against gravity and physical laws essentially create the same preparatory movements -- basically the moves that are 'telegraphed'. These telegraphed moves are read and taken in by the person holding the kick shield.

So the more time you spend holding the bag, and the more you grow as a practitioner, the more you can make sense of the telegraphed moves before the kick comes. This growing awareness, hopefully coupled with the faster physical response time (and better technical skill), allows you to read your opponent earlier and respond with better timeliness.

Higher belts will move like they're almost predicting the future. Obviously this can't happen, but so long as you have a gut feeling, you can act on an intelligent guess and surge ahead with your own taekwondo technique.

This is the way to go for action-response type situations.


Colin Wee
Traditional Taekwondo Techniques, Patterns, and Applications at the Traditional Taekwondo Blog. [Subscribe using email or RSS feeds] [Tkd Sitemap]

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16 Sep 2009

The Traditional Taekwondo Black Belt Journey

I watched a Masterchef episode a month or so ago and remember how each of the candidates were interrogated about their aims in the cooking industry. Those who had laser focus seemed to fare better overall, and even demonstrated more skills during the execution of cooking technique.

The panels I've sat on for Black belt gradings seem no different. Not a lot of the focus is on technique. Those grading sheets may contain perhaps one or two points per belt rank focusing on a particular aspect of some technique. But mostly I hear a lot of discussion based on a black belt's understanding of application, their personal motivation, and ... surprisingly, their continued commitment.

I remember a really interesting discussion once surrounding how a brown belt should be retained in grade because of the continued growth that retention would have created. This is the real black belt journey at a rarefied level, folks. Sometimes waiting a little while more for the belt is also important!


Colin Wee
Traditional Taekwondo Techniques, Patterns, and Applications at the Traditional Taekwondo Blog. [Subscribe using email or RSS feeds] [Tkd Sitemap]

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15 Sep 2009

Earning a Traditional Taekwondo Black Belt

A new black belt practitioner of traditional taekwondo is a person that ...

... has understood the teaching structure of the traditional taekwondo program - which houses martial art technique and strategy.

... has satisfactorily learned the range of basic technical skills covered by the program.

... has provided peer-level instruction as part of regular training.

... has completed an academic report as part of the black belt training process.

... has invested an amount of time training with another instructor.

... has taken a mental leap - internalising the confidence and mental commitment - which identifies their readiness and maturity for this level.

... has understood the strategic strengths and weaknesses of the teaching methodology, and has the courage to deviate from the curriculum with some wisdom where necessary.

My aims for the new black belt are modest, and a practitioner arriving at black belt should understand the magnitude of the journey still in front of the dan-level practitioner.

Colin Wee
Traditional Taekwondo Techniques, Patterns, and Applications at the Traditional Taekwondo Blog. [Subscribe using email or RSS feeds] [Tkd Sitemap]

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13 Sep 2009

Traditional Taekwondo Sparring

Sparring in Taekwondo

Sparring, for the mixed bag of criticism it faces, is just one of the components of training that help a martial art practitioner learn about how to deal with an opponent and the throws that come hard and fast.

In our traditional taekwondo syllabus, sparring training starts at 7th kyu Orange and starts only getting interesting when the student becomes 6th kyu or when they don their green belts.

I was sparring with my green belt today. Essentially I throw all manner of basic kicks and punches. He covers, blocks and can use only one weapon to counter - his lunge punch. This helps him focus on baby steps - dealing with the barage of things flying at him, moving around, and then returning fire. On my part I don't overly try to conceal my stuff nor have I applied any real force. Messing around with his mind will come later, and such pain or the memory of pain shouldn't be all-consuming that it spoils the myriad little 'games' that sparring requires of a student.

Beginning Sparring in Traditional Taekwondo
Beginning Sparring Part One - Problems Encountered
Beginning Sparring Part Two - Sparring Objectives


Colin Wee
Taekwondo Techniques, Patterns, and Applications at the Traditional Taekwondo Blog. [Subscribe using email or RSS feeds] [Tkd Sitemap]

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11 Sep 2009

Distance and Reach

I see issues of distance and reach featuring often for beginners in my Traditional Taekwondo class who are inexperienced with combat. You're practising a technique against an attack, and the demo requires you to shift a little to one side and counter attack. This allows you to draw in the attacker and use the attacker's own forward momentum to augment your counter attack. However, beginners responding to the attack most often take a step backward or a huge step to the side in order to get away from the attacker. The attacker is then able to easily repeat the attack with his own forward momentum, and the poor beginner is on the same disadvantage or even on a worse-off footing.

In basic training, we oftentimes train at a specific distance against an opponent. This is not just a way to inculcate muscle memory for the student. The distance is essential for proper counter attack to occur; and of course proper application of power generation. Too far away from the attacker and there will be no power and no penetrative force. This type of basic training, too often poo poo-d by intermediate and senior students helps you condition yourself to the critical success factors that will place you in an advantageous position and to succeed in your counter attack.

This is related to advice I give in self defence classes - you must replicate the exact conditions which are present in your training - especially considering distance and reach. This is why it is tough for women participants to go home and practise on their brother or their bf ... these guys are not going to be pressing the attack as hard as an opponent trying to intimidate you and who is intruding on your personal space. Your brother or boyfriend will not be replicating the same conditions for you to use the distance and reach we will be training you for self defence!

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8 Sep 2009

Dan-gun: Is there a better Chukyo Marki Up Block?

The basic acid test drilled into me during my early years of training is that up block (Taekwondo's CHukyo Marki or Karate's Age Uke) left in place will adequately deal with a downward stabbing attack from an opponent coming at you with a knife.

The up block in this case is assuming that the attack will be directly at your forehead or top of your head. It also assumes that the knife holder will be considerate and just lash out once. Perhaps he'll also not retract the knife and slash you on the way back.

I think this basic notion of the up block is a decent teaching method for Taekwondo beginners to learn angles and postures. Its effectiveness however leaves me less than excited.

When we perform the up block in my school, we complement the drill by applying it against a person trying to stab you. But not in the head. The knife is aimed and should land on the victim's face or chest or somewhere on the upper body. The knife hand in particular should be crooked at the elbow - as how any sane and untrained person using a knife would do when trying to stab some cretin. The trajectory is much flatter and does not come from above (as our basic training postulated).

The chukyo marki up block done against a stab like this is different. Firstly, if you think it's going to be held over your head, you're deeply mistaken. The up block is done with lots of 'proactivity.' The block is done before the stabbing motion has a lot of chance to come down. Meaning you start the block as soon as possible and try to catch the downward stab before it has a chance to gain acceleration.

The next thing is that the block is also positioned so that the fist effectively strikes the face or jawline of the attacker. Meaning that the block is not done vertically over your head but is extended 45 degrees from vertical. It is a mirror image of the lower block.

There are a few other target variations of this upper block:
1. CHukyo marki against the tricep.
2. Chukyo marki against the neck.
3. Chukyo marki against the forearm followed by another chukyo marki as a punch to the inside of the elbow.

Go try this out against a person coming at you fast. It works! Just try not to punch your training partner in the face. Or try not to punch them too hard.

Happy training!

Do-san Upward Rising Block
Striking THoughts: Two worst martial arts techniques of all time (Check out #2)

Colin Wee
Taekwondo Techniques, Patterns, and Applications at the Traditional Taekwondo Blog. [Subscribe using email or RSS feeds] [Tkd Sitemap]

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