Joong Do Kwan 중도관 [中道館] Tae Kwon Do or 'School of the Middle Way' is based in Perth, Western Australia. We are a small group of martial art practitioners and students who practice Traditional Taekwondo. Our lineage of Taekwondo was exported out of Korea in the mid 1950s and continues to enjoy its proximity to its Karate cousins. Joong Do Kwan uses the Chang Hon set of Taekwondo patterns as our main syllabus. Currently, Joong Do Kwan is headed by Colin Wee (6th Dan). The Traditional Taekwondo Techniques Blog has been a resource he started to help discuss techniques as they occurred in class.

2 Jun 2010

Look at Me, I'm Doing Taekwondo and That's Why I Look as Stiff as a Board

I'm looking at some of the popular articles on my blog like Taekwondo One Step Sparring, Taekwondo Chon-ji Grading Oral Test, Taekwondo Pattern Chon-ji Down Block Drills, and Won-hyo: Kihon Kata Koma, and I'm reflecting on the class I had last weekend. I was doing line drills with two beginners, starting off with lunging backfists, and mixing it up with jabs and loose roundhouse punches on a half step/slide.

One of my students, in trying to emulate all the lessons over the last year (basically white belt to orange), had shoulders straight, back upright and a very mechanical gait. And you know what? It's all due to the system in which we teach. Basically what Bruce Lee termed the 'Classical Mess.' We drill students day in and day out in their first few belt ranks to ensure proper 'focus' - what karate would term 'kime'. That's when you get the body decelerating hard and you've got muscle lock down so that the entire momentum of your body is transmitted into the target.

But is this how you should be fighting all the time? Not on your life. Being able to deal with attacks and to counter requires you to be fluid, and to be responsive. You cannot hope to be responsive if you're stiff as a board, trying to replicate a fore balance whilst going for increased reach, or for body deflection. It's just impossible! Taekwondo and karate is really NOT like this. You only go for muscle lockdown at the point of impact. Before then you should be able to perform your taekwondo and karate as naturally and with a good amount of fluid grace.

Cheers,

Colin

-- 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. Connect with Colin on FaceBook and Traditional Taekwondo Group on FB.

9 comments:

Patrick Parker said...

ooh. that's something i've been thinking a bit about lately re: aikido. We beat to death the idea of shizentai- natural upright posture. but then our beginners and internediates look and move sorta like zombies. I've been trying to figurre out how to put some life back into the thing by injecting some flex or some forgiveness back into shizentai...

Michael Ball said...

My instructor is constantly reminding me of four things during class.

1. Breathe. This is probably a symptom of being rigid.

2. Knee, kick, knee. Proper kicking mechanics.

3. Slow down. Don't rush it. Learn to do it right first.

4. Relax.

I don't know why I tense up but I do. My best class results come when I'm relaxed and breathe deeply and steadily.

One thing I've noticed during my training is that my board breaks go so much better when I'm relaxed. My forms are more fluid when I'm relaxed. My kicks are more accurate and more powerful when I'm relaxed.

Now, if I can just get my mind to relax... :-)

Colin Wee said...

Good hearing from you on this topic, Michael. Yes, relaxedness is really important. I talk about relaxedness, I talk about optimal tension and I talk about the rapid increase of muscle tension and muscle lockdown. We need to be able to understand what works and for why. It helps to overcome the intuitive tension that happens in the face of exertion or stress. Cheers, Colin

Colin Wee said...

Hey Patrick - thought you've given up on me!!! :-)

Yeah, I love your zombie analogy.

For me, I tell my beginners not to try and look too 'martial-arty'. Once they try to emulate what hollywood has ingrained into them, it just comes out ALL WRONG.

Some people however hang on to certain aspects of the lesson or what you say, and create this mental picture that is slightly different from what you want. It's always good to turn your coaches eye on, get under their skin and see it from their point of view.

:-)

Good hearing from you, Pat.

Colin

Emmz said...

I try to get my students to focus on relaxing specific parts of their body during their patterns and drills in order to achieve optimal power only at the point of impact. For example, they've gotten used to me yelling to relax their faces or shoulders during patterns, because the rest of the body follows. I also like to emphasize the difference between power all the way and power only at the last moment by getting them to do a few kicks as hard as they can at the very beginning of their training, and then telling them to shake out their foot and focus only on keeping it loose while they kick. They usually see the difference right away.

I don't think this is necessarily a fault of the system, just something that needs to be addressed early on. Also, I've always found that drilling concepts like, relax while you breathe in, power when you breath out works.

Colin Wee said...

Emmz, firstly, may I say what a pleasure it is to have a female instructor on my blog? I see you're in Texas.

I went to SMU for college, and studied at the SMU Martial Arts Club under one of GM Keith Yates' students.

I try to get my students to focus on relaxing specific parts of their body during their patterns and drills in order to achieve optimal power only at the point of impact.

Why can't students learn to relax??? When I started learning the martial arts I didn't have a problem with tension. Or is it maybe because I was so unfit and all I could think of was to just get through the session? :-)

I talk about optimal tension a lot in my class because while power needs relaxedness, you need to first have enough tension to hold your body together whilst moving, and then ramp up the tension a lot at the endpoint.

For example, they've gotten used to me yelling to relax their faces or shoulders during patterns, because the rest of the body follows.

I mostly have a problem with tension during kihon or basics or line drills. Patterns I find are performed in an overly relaxed manner - which I don't think is very valuable to getting good combat skills.

I also like to emphasize the difference between power all the way and power only at the last moment by getting them to do a few kicks as hard as they can at the very beginning of their training, and then telling them to shake out their foot and focus only on keeping it loose while they kick. They usually see the difference right away.

I'm not sure the style of TKD that you practice - our system is very karate-like, and basics are done with a lot of kime. Basic kicks are also done short range. Longer range kicks which help the body stretch out come later - maybe that's why the intermediate belts have no problem figuring out that they need to relax their body to do well.

I don't think this is necessarily a fault of the system, just something that needs to be addressed early on.

Again, we do lots of end point techniques for the beginning ranks. This colours the way they look at everything else. You can appreciate my job at Green belt is more like a yoga instructor - getting them to relax and move fluidly ... rather than the Mr Roboto moves they learned when they started.

Also, I've always found that drilling concepts like, relax while you breathe in, power when you breath out works.

BReathing is a huge part of what we do - and helps them through sparring. So endurance and stamina through exertion havn't been a problem. :-)

Good hearing from you.

Cheers,

Colin

Ninja Techniques said...

I see this sometimes with the martial arts students that train at the To Shin Do martial arts school that I work for.

Colin Wee said...

I'm surprised, Ninja Techniques. You'd expect ninjutsu/taijutsu to be fairly fluid and graceful, and beginners would be indoctrinated as such early on. Colin

keith said...

Michael, good advice from your instructor, and very true too.