Joong Do Kwan 2015

Joong Do Kwan 2015
Joong Do Kwan School of the Middle Way

12 Feb 2010

Taekwondo Yop Marki Middle Block with a Vengeance

This post discusses power generation for Taekwondo's middle block or yop marki.

Kyoshi Dr Bruce Clayton, author of Shotokan's Secret, has a parable posted on his forum about a self defence situation where defender is confronted with attackers and sees a baseball bat. If the immediate reaction is to reach for that bat as a weapon, what does this state about your karate?

The simple takeaway from that post is that karate or taekwondo techniques need to be able to generate significant amount of force when required. Furthermore, this power generation has to occur for even the most basic of techniques.

We were working on Taekwondo's yop marki or middle block last night. Without much thought to it, it is a technique which has questionable value. It is not a natural motion used for protection - the palm faces in rather than out which is typically how a person instinctively protects their upper body. However, like all basic techniques, this move does have its uses.

The stackup or the folding for Taekwondo's middle block creates a very complete cover of the upper body. The two elbows together form a very strong barrier against opponent's strikes. If need be, you can also reach down to cover lower abdomen or deflect groin strikes.

The middle block then allows for one of two very tactical responses to an aggressive force.
1. A well executed middle block allows you to continue the motion and capture the opponent's hand.
2. The end point of the middle block places your hand in a position to counter with a high level roundhouse punch or jab to the face.

My main point is that the middle block can generate a good amount of force. Not from the simple rotation of the shoulder cuff joint. The middle block applies force through the dropping of body weight. The circular upward movement draws the forearm into position. The proceeding locking of muscles of the upper body and core trunk, plus the dropping of centre of gravity then drops the entire body weight on the striking surface.

This generates a good amount of force which can be applied extended striking/grabbing arm or leg, shoulder or clavicle region, or back of neck.

Get it right and you will find that you don't need to overly use a lot of arm muscle to generate power. The entire body weight drops on the target allowing you to keep the arm more or less relaxed!

Cheers!

Colin

Why Go Headfirst into Attack?
Dan-gun: middle block drill
Chon-gi: Middle Block Drill with Partner
What Technique a Beginner Needs to Master

Cheers,

Colin
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Colin Wee
Traditional Taekwondo Techniques, Patterns, and Applications at the Traditional Taekwondo Blog. [Subscribe using email or RSS feeds] [Tkd Sitemap]. Colin is a martial art instructor with 25 years of experience across three continents. Colin leads a small Traditional Taekwondo group for adults in Perth, Western Australia.

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6 comments:

Stuart said...

"It makes your hands as deadly as swords."
That entire forum post is an exercise in fantasy and denial. It badly shows up the authors complete lack of any sense of reality in his martial training.
Fine for him but not ok if he is teaching this rubbish, we all get tarred with the same brush when his students see through it.
We live in the age of pressure testing, via ufc style competition or the influence in our clubs of reality-based defence systems.
People dont just believe because we say so anymore, they can read and watch and research and test.

And when you treat that forum post as a legitimate argument you call your own judgement into question.

I realise you are a fan of this guys work but if you want to teach valid self-defence to anybody, then this entire mode of thinking has to be abandoned.
Martial arts are not magic. Not even a little bit.

Colin Wee said...

I think that's harsh, and a too simplistic snapshot of his practice just from a blog of forum posts.

I've gone through 'modern' type training - speed, sparring, multiple person drills, physical fitness, etc. Since incorporating more traditional methods and an understanding of advantages/disadvatages of hard style systems which mirrors Dr Clayton's perspective, I am confident that my own abilities have improve tremendously. Power, strategy, knowledge, etc. all have benefited from the discourse I've had over the last 10 years, much of it has been with people like you.

I have been studying and researching women's self defence since the mid 1990s - off and on, but I've not found anything from Dr Clayton coming into conflict with solid self defence perspectives. Do you think I would stand in front of a group of civilians and tell them that I can make their hands as deadly as swords? Hmmm. I think I'm cleverer and wiser than that.

Dr Clayton remains an inspiration to me intellectually - as does many other sources. But I don't do Karate. I don't even do your Taekwondo. But I can confidently say that many many things I do reflect some of the best training I've seen worldwide.

Good response.

I've been waiting for someone to come through and check out stuff on this blog.

Cheers,

Colin

Stuart said...

I'm not doubting your own experience, research or ability.
However;
"Traditional karate ... makes your hands as deadly as swords" - No it does not, not even as deadly as knives. Maybe as deadly as a hammer. maybe.
"A person who has truly walked this path doesn't need the baseball bat" - a person facing four attackers needs any edge he can get his hands on, and the contention that you can be so good at fighting empty-handed that a bat would lessen your effectiveness is, if not ridiculous, then simply unbelievable.
On a side note, but relevant, a very good knife defence expert once said (I'm paraphrasing here) "everybody is a knife expert, every person on this planet has been using knives since the were children. They all know which part is sharp and how to cut and stab", the same can almost be said for belting things/people with sticks, amongst most men anyway.
"you don't believe that you can kill with your bare hands. If you don't believe it, then you probably haven't learned to do it" - how many men has Dr Clayton killed? this is fantasy stuff. I've seen destruction world champions bounce off boards they should have blown through, but they were off a bit in accuracy or concentration or whatever. And that was in a relaxed controlled club situation. Hitting hard is one thing, landing those shots on another living reacting person is another.

You may not claim to teach the hand to sword conversion but Dr Clayton does! he says it right there in the post, along with inferring that he can confidently take on and kill four men. He may have the confidence, but I am equally confident that his confidence is misplaced.

As for conflicting with solid self defence perspectives, its the thinking that is in conflict. There's no hint of survival thinking here, giving up advantages out of misplaced pride, no acknowledgement of the possibility that the bad guys might be armed, no acknowledgement of the fact that things go wrong ! anybody can miss, slip, get caught by a lucky punch. Just a load of macho bull about the possibility of being so good that you can take four men down at once.
Its not impossible, one of them could slip and pull his friend down while a third has a heart attack, leaving you with the skinny one who's only here as part of a pre-teen gang initiation. So not impossible, just things have to go your way, in a major way.

wow, got into that for a bit.
This is all purely a critique of the original forum post and not a shot at the good Doctor himself. But it really is a terrible post.

Stuart said...

As for conflicting with solid self defence perspectives, its the thinking that is in conflict. There's no hint of survival thinking here, giving up advantages out of misplaced pride, no acknowledgement of the possibility that the bad guys might be armed, no acknowledgement of the fact that things go wrong ! anybody can miss, slip, get caught by a lucky punch. Just a load of macho bull about the possibility of being so good that you can take four men down at once.
Its not impossible, one of them could slip and pull his friend down while a third has a heart attack, leaving you with the skinny one who's only here as part of a pre-teen gang initiation. So not impossible, just things have to go your way, in a major way.

wow, got into that for a bit.
This is all purely a critique of the original forum post and not a shot at the good Doctor himself. But it really is a terrible post.

Stuart said...

I'm not doubting your own experience, research or ability.
However;
"Traditional karate ... makes your hands as deadly as swords" - No it does not, not even as deadly as knives. Maybe as deadly as a hammer. maybe.
"A person who has truly walked this path doesn't need the baseball bat" - a person facing four attackers needs any edge he can get his hands on, and the contention that you can be so good at fighting empty-handed that a bat would lessen your effectiveness is, if not ridiculous, then simply unbelievable.
On a side note, but relevant, a very good knife defence expert once said (I'm paraphrasing here) "everybody is a knife expert, every person on this planet has been using knives since the were children. They all know which part is sharp and how to cut and stab", the same can almost be said for belting things/people with sticks, amongst most men anyway.
"you don't believe that you can kill with your bare hands. If you don't believe it, then you probably haven't learned to do it" - how many men has Dr Clayton killed? this is fantasy stuff. I've seen destruction world champions bounce off boards they should have blown through, but they were off a bit in accuracy or concentration or whatever. And that was in a relaxed controlled club situation. Hitting hard is one thing, landing those shots on another living reacting person is another.

You may not claim to teach the hand to sword conversion but Dr Clayton does! he says it right there in the post, along with inferring that he can confidently take on and kill four men. He may have the confidence, but I am equally confident that his confidence is misplaced.

Colin Wee said...

I don't know where to start as I agree with many of your points. But I still think you're only looking at the granular details of the forum and judging them for their self defense value - whereas I see the forum in supplement to the original book, and which together provide insights to historical background. Does this change anything I practise or my own ability? No, it doesn't. But the insight I've gain from both the book and the forum have made me a better instructor. I don't want to get caught up in your argument about the deadliness of hands being compared to swords or hammer, or the usefulness of such when you can't land them. All this is conjecture that has accompanied me and of course other instructors such as yourself for years. The book isn't a how-to manual, and the direction you've taken with your criticism may not be the best way to measure it.

Colin