Joong Do Kwan's Taekwondo Applications

Joong Do Kwan's Taekwondo Applications
JDK Instructors share the passion with ITF friends in Perth

21 Nov 2011

Our Super Power

My Super Power - ability to destress through weekly training!

There are way too many instructors, schools, and clubs in this industry who brag about how good they are, oftentimes with very little to back them up. How many times have I heard: "Our style is the best." "Our black belt gradings are so tough." "Our syllabus is so complete." "Our instructor is so awesome." Yawn.

Several years ago, against this grain, a very accomplished martial artist friend of mine posted that he has even more of a reason not to say he is any good - he simply said he is now dedicated to pursuing and preserving a Koryu tradition. Tongue-in-cheek but solid wisdom from a humble master. Someone I could never beat in the sparring ring.

So ... what would you gain from joining our school?

My aims are simple. To share a small range of hard style techniques from an interesting period in history. Our story is compelling, you should listen to it if you have time. But the reality is that hard styles like ours are a 'meat and potatoes' system. Simple. Unfussed. Otherwise boring to those who would pepper their sentences with terms like MMA, BJJ, CQC, etc.

Our 'program' to black belt whilst challenging should be doable by almost everyone, and can be completed in about 4+ years if you train moderately and consistently. No special physical talent is needed though good coordination is always a plus from the instruction point of view. Come to Joong Do Kwan and gain some good all round skills - some defence capability, some technique delivery, some multiple person tactics, and sparring experience. Just so you know, sparring is not full contact - it's semi contact.

It's the even progress that I think is more important than super dooper sparring skills or having an extensive but superficial collection of techniques. This ability to deal with some conflict scenarios plus the ability to 'power up' a few basic techniques may give you an edge in a confrontation. Come to think of it, just our overall approach increases your preparedness - not just for physical conflict, but mental and emotional ones too. From what I've seen, there's also a major upshot to regular training - the sessions help you to destress from the day, and generally allow you to manage life better on a day-to-day basis.

Now ... what is it that I wanted to brag about?

Colin

Related Pages

--
Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
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25 Oct 2011

Allowing Rank to Simplify Our World


Nice belt, Dude.

  • A beginner feels anxiety going for a grading to win his next rank.
  • A senior student feels like he needs to put the brakes on because he's 'ranking' too fast. 
  • A shodan feels unworthy of his rank. 
  • A black belt young in the arts feel the weight of expectations to get his next rank. 
  • Qualifying instructors compare the 'quality' of their rank against their peers and others in the arts. 
  • Teachers suddenly become aware that they're climbing the rank structure and start to look around for peer support from people who might understand their stage of development
  • There is huge dissonance between your expectations of rank and titles you might start to receive. This gets more acute when you receive titles that are 'honorary.' Are you really worthy? Or are these awards actually worthwhile?

In my opinion, there are many martial artists out there that have a set view of rank. Many understand rank only through the lens of a beginning practitioner. Rank is something to struggle with for a number of months, and then there is the need to 'work on' the next rank. The world is simple, uncomplicated, and directed; it is a world where rank is associated with incremental physical challenges.

Pretty soon, the notions of rank and the idea of how it works collides with other expectations and assumptions, and the world becomes less simple. The most major event that arrives is the stereotype of a black belt that everyone has. Yet people in the know understand that a first dan or shodan has really only started the journey. Truthfully, I knew jack when I got my first black belt. Not to belabour a point, the  shodan needs to leap over this mountain of expectations built up within himself. It is far from the small incremental challenges previously faced.

I think the internet has been both a boon and bane to rank, the value of your own effort, the quality of your skill, credibility of your lineage, and the validity of your claims. Everyone makes comparisons and seeks to benchmark themselves. But in a world in which there is no standard, you will eventually find yourself on a slippery slope trying to ascertain who is making more progress. But the internet will not tell you who is traveling upwards or downwards on that slope. Eventually you will only see what you were expecting to see.

This was never how rank was supposed to work. It was supposed to be a simple method to structure a 'coloured belt' class, and motivate people to work harder. All black belts were given deferential treatment and duly respected, both for their unrelenting focus on progress and then on their deepening skills and knowledge. No need to jostle for a bounty of rank or title, but if it came, they would graciously accept and take it in their stride. The fuss does not detract from quality or purpose. And the world becomes once again simple and clear.

Links


--
Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
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12 Oct 2011

Taekwondo One Step Sparring

Taekwondo One Step Sparring


Taekwondo one step sparring is the 'defacto' application of techniques found in patterns and drills of most hard style Taekwondo or Karate schools. For one steps, you have two practitioners facing off, the opponent or 'attacker' steps back into a down block, lunges forward in a forward lunge punch and leaves his striking arm in place. The defender's task is to respond to this attack by using some manner of block and strike, and an appropriate sidestep. You could get very inventive and in fact most Taekwondo schools not only do one steps, they expand this exercise to include three step sparring for good measure.



The one step sparring exercise is - or at least, it could be - the most contrived of all drills. See my other post on the new blog - with video - regarding Taekwondo One Steps

Using it as the sole drill to practice a wide variety of techniques is a sure way to achieve diminishing returns from your 'traditional' type practice. In my opinion, the one step is partly an exercise in learning distancing and timing. But the main goal is in the application of basic blocks as effective self defence tools for all students - especially beginners.

In the video, you see an application of a lower block to the inside of a strike. The previous week we looked at a lower block done on the outside of the strike. In this week's lesson, the reverse or pull back hand deflects the main strike and the block destroys the striking arm. In actuality, if both hands come together quickly as an entire blocking tool, the blocking hand can still block the oncoming strike, and then be used against opponent's body.

Beyond this particular segment of the class, we did the unthinkable - we fold for the lower block, but recognise that the opponent is moving too fast - and from having the right blocking arm next to the left ear, we perform a middle block to the opponent's secondary weapon. It is forcing yourself to use the opening and closing of the arms as an effective windshield wiper to strikes coming one at a time or too fast.

One good suggestion for the one step sparring exercise (for the attacker) is to perform the punch as fast as humanly possible whilst maintaining a facsimile of the form. I say facsimile of the form because I'd like to see you use explosive leg movement to accelerate forward. This is unfortunately not how most 'walking' stances are performed, and if you keep working at it ... come back here and share what you've discovered. And then you'd see why I stick to what I do.

Right at the end you see me deflect the strike with my pull back hand, perform an eye strike with the blocking hand - before destroying the oncoming strike. This was not rehearsed! But because we perform basic blocks all day every day, we can ad lib like this very easily and still access the basic movements in a self defence situation.




Also see Why Taekwondo is Not Good for Self Defence by Soo Shim Kwan
--
Colin Wee
Chung Sah Nim Joong Do Kwan Tae Kwon Do
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11 Oct 2011

Basic Taekwondo Kick a Misnomer

The term 'basic' when used to describe a 'Basic Taekwondo kick' or one of the few simple kicking techniques is a misnomer. Basic kicks are typically undervalued short range powerful techniques. Let's talk about the basic kick in terms of the front kick and the roundhouse kick.

The Short Range Kick

A front kick is done on a vertical plane where the roundhouse kick is done on a horizontal plane. The short range kick done either on the horizon or the vertical line 'compresses' the body, generating power because the upper body and the lower body crunch closer together - using many more muscles to generate power for the kick and using the body as a relatively stable counterweight.

When I think of short range kicks, I think of the kicking tool in complement to my hands. I am grabbing on to the attacker AND kicking him. I am trapping his hand AND breaking his knee. I am in a clinch and attacking his shin without letting go. In this way, the full power of the kick goes into the attacker's body ... rather than be deflected by a body that is freely moving in space.

The long range version of these kicks seem to be valued more because they are flashier techniques taught at more senior levels. Beginners might use them to keep a non-compliant attacker at bay. More advanced students use long range kicks to 'score' points on opponents.

Long Range Techniques

Long range techniques require an expansion of the body - meaning both the upper body and lower body travel further away from each other in contrast to short range kicks. In the case of the long range roundhouse kick, the body generates power in a pendulum swing - using the upper body as a counter weight that swings away from the leg, and the hip as a fulcrum. Power is generated by the acceleration of the leg. In my mind therefore, there is an upper limit of power that is more easily reached by long range technique - where short range techniques may have better upper limits because they use the body as a closed system to translate more muscle strength into kicking strength.

Further Improving Your Understanding of Kicks

The vertical and horizontal plane establish the outer parameters for these two kicks. Each slice between zero and ninety degrees are legitimate kicks.

Two exercises that allow a practitioner to explore the versatility of kicks are 1) exercises to challenge the practitioner to land the technique on a small target and 2) exercises the challenge the practitioner to be aware of the flight path of the technique whilst landing the strike on target

Landing the technique through obstacles and weaseling the foot through three dimensional space forces the practitioner to rotate the hip on the vertical and horizontal and extend it sufficiently for it to land on small targets on the opponent's body. Understanding the flight path of a kick allows you to take advantage of blind spots from the opponent's point of view (e.g. under arms, behind shoulders, or under outstretched legs.)

Last Words

I urge all practitioners not to devalue the short range kick - it is a devastating part of your arsenal and has to be the cornerstone on which all kicks are based. 

If any of you would like to discuss this post, please head to the IAOMAS Forum. I've set up a thread Basic Kick is a Misnomer to discuss this subject further.

Colin


Links
--
Colin Wee
Chung Sah Nim (Principal)
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8 Oct 2011

I see Hwa-rang on the Lawn

A couple of senior belts and I met to go over requirements and specifically trained in Hwa-rang on the lawn at College Park today.

I wasn't dressed like anything resembling the flower warrior youth group- with a baseball cap and my 'competition' gi from century ma. But we sure looked at techniques that were hard hitting indeed.

The few that I'd like to mention quickly are - a counter against a front lunging technique using a deflect then choke associated with a cross body punch; an attack to the neck as a counter against a lapel grab; a response against a punch and cross using the double blocks to parry and attack; and a ruthless joint attack or arm destruction off steps 4-6.

The Hwa-rang were known for their kicks, or their reputation was built off formidable kicking techniques. We looked at the low x block, crescent kick, and the low block/elbow strike as a response against a lunge strike. The x block is a deflect and arm capture - the crescent kick is an attack to either the hand (if the opponent is carrying a long range weapon) or if not, is aimed at the elbow or bicep. Once done, the practitioner can access Toi-gye level apps and when bringing down the leg - could expand the body and send the leg strike into the oppnent's knee or thigh on the way down.

Surely, something a Hwa-rang would appreciate.

Links


--
Colin Wee
Chung Sah Nim (Principal)
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3 Oct 2011

The JDK Sparring Program

One of the few things I wanted to accomplish for the Joong Do Kwan was to introduce a sparring 'program' in which students, especially beginners, would learn sparring skills and would steadily improve in their abilities. Last week, we had a few friends visit our kwan, and we took the opportunity to look at the beginner to intermediate stages of our program.

The main problem when it comes to sparring? Sparring should only be part of your entire bag of exercises. Everyone however equates great sparring skills with great martial art ability - and this is a mindset that many instructors try to dispel.

Basic Skills Start Way Before You Spar
Lots of good sparring skills can be introduced way before opponents go head to head. During warmups, students can be prompted to raise their hands above their jawline, and to tuck their chins down into their shoulders. If you get your students to do side skips you can also make sure they're moving on the balls of their feet rather than on their heels. See Warmup Drills to Increase Coverage for Sparring

Non-Contact Drills
We have this multiple person non contact sparring drill where we get one person against two opponents. The 'defender' in the middle has to try and align both of his opponents and use one of them as a shield. After some time he drops the shield and goes to the other person. The rules of the game doesn't allow opponents to grab, so this allows the 'game' to proceed fairly fluidly. This exercise helps students increase awareness, increases cardiovascular fitness, and helps introduce some really good tactics to use in a multiple person scenario. See Taekwondo Non-contact Sparring Training, Multiple Person Drills

Moving Around
Beginners start their sparring training just moving around each other in a circular fashion. They back themselves into a circumference of the circle around each other. Every four seconds they are told to switch and change direction. Hands are held up defensively, breath is managed, and footwork needs to be light.

Calibrating Power
Beginners not only land kicks or strikes on to kick shields and striking mitts - they MUST land and practice strikes on an opponent's body. This is the way in which they are taught to moderate their strikes and control how hard to launch a kick and how to appropriately target an opponent's body. Their opponent should accept strikes comfortably and should communicate whether they need to be struck harder or softer.

Basic Coverage
I think that going up and down the line doing kicks and blocks is great to make sure everyone is getting basic movements correct. But trying to resolve 'the block' as a technique and the speed at which an opponent comes at you is very difficult. So what we do is to repeatedly fold for blocks, swinging the arms together and using that fold as a basic skill for providing coverage.We then use this move - bringing the elbows together against strikes and covering the body to ensure that there is enough speed to deal with an attack. Beginners are paired up with intermediate or above students. They are instructed to only block, and opponents are told to attack with large looping techniques that are easily seen. Students need to continue Moving Around properly. 

Basic Coverage is tested using attacks that are less telegraphed. Once the student can continue Moving Around smoothly, breathing naturally, and able to recognise attacks, it is time to up the ante.

Distancing and Attacking
Beginners are now allowed to use one or two techniques (typically a lunge punch and a front kick) to attack their opponent. The opponent should be an intermediate belt and above and is told to cover and block only. Beginners learn to move around, target, and place strikes on opponent's body in a dynamic environment.

Applying New Techniques
The beginner and intermediate practitioner has a lot to learn and needs to improve the speed at which he is processing things around himself. One tool in which can be used to help the beginner is the use of the 'Sparring Bingo' game. The student is presented with 9 techniques and whilst sparring needs to cross out techniques used. This lightens the mental burden the student has, and yet allows them to try different techniques against an non-compliant opponent.

Links
--
Colin Wee
Chung Sah Nim (Principal)
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Taekwondo History




GM Choi Hong Hi was requested in 1952 to train the entire army in the martial arts. In 1955, 'Taekwondo' was accepted as the name to unify the kwans in Korea.



How well do you know Taekwondo?
Come take my Taekwondo Quiz and find out!
Then join us on FaceBook to discuss your answers.


--
Colin Wee
Chung Sah Nim (Principal), Joong Do Kwan Tae Kwon Do
School of the Middle Way - the point between old Okinawan predecessors and modern Korean innovations. Started as HRGB April 2000, reborn as JDK Sept 2011.
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 28 years of experience across three continents. Colin leads a small Traditional Taekwondo group for adults in Perth, Western Australia. Connect with Colin on Traditional Taekwondo FB page. And help us rank on Google by clicking the '+1' icon, why don't you?
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28 Sep 2011

How to Improve Reaction Time

I assume because of the V neck uniform these guys are doing WTF Taekwondo - specialists in kicks (that's why they're not using their hands). The How to Improve Reaction Time video discusses a few solid ideas that can be applied even by traditional practitioners.



Improving Taekwondo Reaction Time
I really don't like the use of this term. Many people have a set reaction speed, and no matter how much training will not really significantly improve their ability to react to a specific external stimuli. Most often it's about just reducing the additional spare tyre you have around your gut, but that's something else altogether. Let's talk about what other things can work for you:

Slow Down the Opponent
Yes, forget trying to get fitter and faster. First do something that can immediately take effect. You can slow down the opponent by hitting him hard in places where he doesn't enjoy. Getting tagged in one spot creates pain. Having your opponent keep going for that spot creates uncertainty. Uncertainty can be used to open up other holes in his defences. And you don't necessarily have to kick him in the groin to make this happen - but that *is* one way to do it.

Distract Your Opponent
Have you ever talked to your opponent while sparring? It's an interesting experiencing - communicating to your opponent while they're trying to launch something at you. It's tough focusing on higher order thinking whilst trying to dish out attacks. Hint.

Reducing Combination Lag Time
I am a big proponent of training for competition. If you want to hit a person, you may need to launch more than one technique. So put a few sequences together involving gap closing tactics or feints, and make them work for you by drilling them over and over again. Choose different sequences for both left and right side to keep your opponent guessing.

Mirror Opposite Training
Do you think only the biggest losers will telegraph? No ... EVERYONE should telegraph. Many people telegraph by swinging the arms in a certain way for kicks. Or shifting their body. You do it all the time. My challenge to you is to get yourself in the mirror and either 1) reduce the amount of telegraphed movement, or 2) do the exact opposite of that move. Yes, if you tend to move your arms in a certain way, move them the other way and confuse the crap out of your opponent. It's game on!

Pretend to be Hurt
Oh you po' thing. Sun Tzu says All War is Deception. Or do you think you're not man enough to act? Start limping after your first encounter. Hold on to your cup. Nurse your hand. Sparring is all about getting into your opponent's head and messing around with it.

Train the Opponent
Bill Wallace says the way to 'train' your opponent is to just throw the technique. You don't have to do it with force. You just have to throw it out. Do that once. Do that twice. The third time however switch it in mid air to a new technique. Or start it, wait for the reaction, and follow through with another technique.

Use Invisible Techniques (see How to Hit Opponents with Invisible Techniques)
They're not so much invisible but harder to see from the opponent's point of view. The techniques hide behind cover for longer, they enter from the opponent's blind spot, under their extended limbs, or are done much closer to the opponent, so he only really recognises it just before he gets hit. Again work in front of the mirror or experiment at slower speeds with a training buddy. For examples of what you can do, check out the above link. Have fun!

Links



--
Colin Wee
Chung Sah Nim (Principal), Joong Do Kwan Tae Kwon Do
School of the Middle Way - the point between older Okinawan predecessors and modern Korean innovations. Started as HRGB April 2000, reborn as JDK Sept 2011.
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 28 years of experience across three continents. Colin leads a small Traditional Taekwondo group for adults in Perth, Western Australia. Connect with Colin on Traditional Taekwondo FB page. And help us rank on Google by clicking the '+1' icon, why don't you?
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27 Sep 2011

Toi-gye Jams the Leg and Throws the Opponent

Taekwondo Toi-gye Step 29 and 30 - jump into a low X-block in cross stance and then execute a high double augmented forearm block. We do this predominantly as a side drop ala Aikido's Sokomen Uchi. The following video will show you what I mean.

Taekwondo practitioners however don't move like Aiki practitioners and thus the tenkan or the turn may not be accessible from our kit bag. What we do have however is this 'jump into X stance' - which means rather than slipping past and turning the opponent around us, we plough more or less straight into the opponent and apply forward pressure to oncoming strike.

From a front on lunging type attack, you slip to the back of the opponent and may apply the cross block as block to oncoming punch, or as a strike to extended knee or groin. This disrupts the initial forward momentum of opponent allowing you to apply the double augmented block as a nice takedown.

In a close range situation you  might choose to use the X block as a defence against an oncoming knee strike, perform a headbutt strike coming up, shift hips aside and then apply the throw similar to above.

I don't really like lunging into the opponent and ducking so low unless I make the strike really worth while. I personally would tend to use an upset punch against groin when a person raises his leg - but that requires you to really surge in deep and compact your body. To make this technique much more pragmatic, I would choose to attack the front leg with the X block in a lunging stance, then step closer with the X stance to throw the opponent.

In this way you get the forward momentum supported by back leg and lunge stance to do some real damage.  If it fails, you can rise into either a headbutt or bring your hands up into a protected upper block ala Po-eun step 2 to strike against neck region. Irrespective, if you strike either with the initial move or the secondary rising move, the throw using double augmented block is still a viable follow through.

An alternative interpretation of the Jump into X Stance as follows:



Links



--
Colin Wee
Principal, Hikaru Dojo Traditional Taekwondo School
Coordinator, IAOMAS
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 28 years of experience across three continents. Colin leads a small Traditional Taekwondo group for adults in Perth, Western Australia. Connect with Colin on Traditional Taekwondo FB page. And help us rank on Google by clicking the '+1' icon, why don't you?
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17 Aug 2011

Hwarang: X Block Drill

Just found a list of beautiful pattern diagrams at Taekwondo Club of University of Virginia - though I wished they could have included a list of numbers along with techniques. And to include the front face of techniques during a turn. This post is about step 24, a downward X block - though all you see from the diagram above is the back of the guy. Anyway, we use the x block - possibly one of the most ill taught of traditional techniques - very much as a 'sequence' of related block-deflections, starting from the open hand/elbow strike in Yul-gok to the swipe down next grab in Toi-gye, and the upward x block-stripping away striking arm in Choong Moo. Hwa-rang's x block is done against a mid section strike, either directly to your gut or upwards. It strikes down hard on the arm, and rotates the opponent's arm inwards toward his body, ending up in a 'mountain block' as you would see in Toi-gye, hyperflexing the arm at the elbow. If the opponent is doing this drill with standard basic punches, your lead arm will be ready to come down hard on the next strike, and you can continue doing the rotation and applying pressure to the next elbow. Tips for success are to strike the oncoming arm hard and early, and to apply lots of forward pressure on the arm and opponent. Not to do so will have the opponent pulling the arm back quickly and will result in you getting yourself stabbed or punched multiple times. There is an absolute winner post 72 Bunkai to Juji-uke at KaratebyJesse covering multiple applications of the x block. 


Just found this cute video of this kid performing Hwa-rang ...

Enjoy!

List of Posts on Taekwondo Hwarang


Colin
--
Colin Wee
Principal, Hikaru Dojo Traditional Taekwondo School
Coordinator, IAOMAS
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 28 years of experience across three continents. Colin leads a small Traditional Taekwondo group for adults in Perth, Western Australia. Connect with Colin on Traditional Taekwondo FB page. And help us rank on Google by clicking the '+1' icon, why don't you?
Have you checked out the Shop we've just set up?

12 Aug 2011

Deliberately Losing Your Sparring Match ...

... But Not Your Game.

You need to get used to having strikes thrown at you. You need to be able to defend and cover. You need to be able to control your breathing to increase your endurance. You need to be able to exhale sharply to be able to absorb the hit if have to. Then you have to learn distancing and timing. You should know how to land just one technique consistently. Not a whole bag of different strikes. Just land one upper body strike. Once you get confident, this distance calibration helps you land other strikes far easier.



The person you are working with should not be thought of as your opponent. He is your training partner, and it is his job to make it appropriately simple or difficult for you so you need to work towards improving your own game. But his role is to help you, and therefore when beginners partner off each other, an environment of mutual cooperation and respect is needed. Such collaboration requires you to exchange strikes, not engage in mortal combat. One-upmanship will result in slower progression ...

Your mindset should therefore not be on winning, nor about deliberately losing. You should be using such an opportunity to learn about body movement, distancing, dealing with a dynamic situation, and applying the techniques you've learned. Respect your partner for offering you his or her body as a target by applying good control and keeping each other safe!

The real fight? It's both out there and in your mind. It is never on the mat.

Enjoy the weekend.

Links



Colin
--
Colin Wee
Coordinator, IAOMAS
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 28 years of experience across three continents. Colin leads a small Traditional Taekwondo group for adults in Perth, Western Australia. Connect with Colin on Traditional Taekwondo FB page. And help us rank on Google by clicking the '+1' icon, why don't you? Have you checked out the Shop we've just set up?

7 Aug 2011

The 3rd Precept of Sensei Gichin Funakoshi by Mireille Clark

Karate is a great assistance (an aid) to justice.

Justice has always been a severe concept. Justice has no mercy, and no compassion. Justice is about setting things right. As in, someone breaks your window, therefore it needs to be replaced by the one who broke it. Justice embodies "An eye for an eye. A tooth for a tooth." and one can assert that this can be a difficult balance to achieve. Usually when one seeks justice, they can easily go too far into revenge. How many times has one been in the place of "you struck me hard, therefore I will strike you harder"?

The mental state and training achievable in Martial Arts aids the practitioner to find balance, and to seek appropriate levels of justice. We train to anticipate the strike, avoid it, deflect it, or even to use it to our advantage. Justice becomes a creative expression of power, and balance which puts us in a position of control of the situation. We learn how to "stop the battle". The literal translation of the Japanese Kanji of the word "Budo" is "to stop the spear" or in other words to protect/ stop combat. Martial Artists seek "power" over justice. The character Schindler from the movie "Schindler's list" explains it extremely well in this clip:

http://www.wingclips.com/movie-clips/schindlers-list/that-is-power

Each movement of our Kata is meant to take control of the situation, and stop that confrontation from continuing. Within less than 30 seconds we seek to either put them in a locked position, break a limb, throw the opponent, blind them, etc. Take for example this random bunkai video that I found on youtube showing some various applications for the very first movement sequence of the Kata Seienchin (Goju Ryu Karate)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0TXEi80xRFM


In that short video we see demonstrated by Sensei Tom Hills approximately 5 different locks, and 4 throws which are based on one simple set of movements. Each one of these applications allows Sensei Hills to take the position of advantage over the attacker, and changes the outcome of that moment. The attacker now becomes the victim, and probably only would wish an end to the shock, pain, and embarrassment. He/she may even think twice about attacking again, and walk away from the fight.

Our training allows us to blend justice with power and affect our world in a positive way.

Links



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

30 Jul 2011

Black Belts Start Young and Dumb

This was in the early 90s, a period when I was officially training at least 5 times a week. Getting rather good at what I was doing, submerged, wrapped up in the microcosm of the dojo.



Exposing yourself to as much training as I had, or 'the school of hard knocks' as some of the black belts would call it, gets you inured to the pain that's part of the intimidation students feel when they start sparring. Putting on my uniform, I felt like I was donning body armour ala Batman. Yeah, as you can see, I was feeling pretty good about myself, lucky to be in a semi-contact environment, and getting quietly cocky about the skills I was acquiring.

I was at the stage where sparring against opponents was less about stringing together strikes and blocks than about mental strategy. Part psychologist, part accountant, I was playing a mental game against my opponents. It was a kind of interactive 'Art of War' where time seemed to slow down and when you easily slipped into 'the zone' because you were able to slough away all extraneous thoughts.

What I loved were explosive attacks that were able to beat an opponent's coverage or defenses. I'd also love feinting and landing unbelievable strikes - those coming from impossible unexpected angles. Of course, I took great pride in my improving coverage - just because I started out with little skills in that department.

What gave me a real buzz however, were that the rules of engagement allowed many things other schools at that time wouldn't promote. Controlled strikes to the knee and groin for instance were staples in our arsenal. Hair grabs, throws, and take downs were commonplace. The only rule? You can hurt, but you can't injure. Opponents were expected to walk out of our dojo on their own two feet - adjusting their groin protectors on the way out.

It was all  great fun ...

... and while such rules allowed our black belts to gain an impressive array of skills beyond the usual kick-punch combinations other schools might gravitate towards, it also meant that visiting opponents from other systems had to play catch up with our more bawdy tactics.

What I couldn't understand, and what nagged at me time and time again was something my instructor, a man that I highly respected, commented on what we were doing. He said, "sparring only makes you good at sparring." Additionally, in formal classes we'd spend an inordinate amount of time practicing kata. What would then really confound me was the fact that other black belts who got it, who knew what he was saying and were spending time working out at kata, were good all round martial artists - technically proficient with their kata and great at fighting. I just couldn't understand that.

But of course my instructor was right, and my obsession with my growing skills, of what I thought was one of the most important things I had to develop at that point in time, was only a small part of the large bag of skills every martial artist should be working on all the time. Many years later, I decided that growing such meagre abilities in that arena was somewhat of a distraction, and I actually benefited from returning 'back-to-basics' (another unfortunate concept my instructor kept nagging about which I then blatantly ignored), and think about things such as strategy, the place basic techniques had in my arsenal of weapons, power generation methods, and also perhaps exactly why I was practicing a martial art at all.

Links



--
Colin Wee
Coordinator, IAOMAS
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 28 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 on FB.

29 Jul 2011

The Ranking System and Delusions of Grandeur

I approach the Kyu-Dan ranking system cautiously. For kyu or coloured belt ranks in my school, students in a specific rank learn specific skills and applications for that rank, and the line up of colours helps me organise myself and the lesson plan I have for each class.

But who cares really cares about what I think. Martial art students get off on the colour of their belts. The belt you wear shows off effort invested and it identifies progress, seniority, and growing experience. Being proud of what you've achieved is not all that bad. You should be proud of what you achieve. In fact, even a white belt should be proud to wear the white belt!

In my opinion, the slippery road begins when a person becomes prideful - overly valuing rank over its usefulness to progress you through a system, exacerbated by the very environment many martial arts schools seek to develop. The Kyu-Dan system is a Japanese system, and exists surrounded by people who are naturally conservative and ultimately very humble, who understand their place in the grand scheme of things. Out of Japan however, I have seen martial arts clubs and organisations place so much emphasis on the ranking aspect of the system that everyone becomes really concerned with their grade, an instructor's particular title, or when the next award is coming.

I myself hold ranks in the Kyu-Dan system as well as a title in the Shogo licensing system. Yeah, yeah, yeah ... I can hear all those purist nerds out there say Colin is full of it because Taekwondo is a Korean art. But that is another story ...

What I'm saying is that I'd like my students to keep a balanced approach to their training and not have to deal with an instructor who's trying to be larger-than-life, signing cheques their bodies can't cash. Remember that movie?

Colin

Related Links

--
Colin Wee
Coordinator, IAOMAS
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 28 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 on FB.

13 Jun 2011

Lower Block Beginner Drill


I thought I should use a photo which doesn't look like those pretty kata photos you see in many martial arts books. Here you see me doing a down block on top of my attacker's arm. Of course if I was doing it in the air and keeping still, I might still hold out for a picture perfect Kodak moment. The down block is one of the first few things I teach beginners. Often I teach it ahead of the punch! It's tough making a punch work right: you need proper angle, skeletal support, muscle tension, speed and distancing. But taking an attacker's limb and shearing it between two arms ... now that's much easier.

Chon-ji teaches you one clear combat strategy - if something comes close to you, you break it, you strike it, you take it down, and stomp on it. It's a great form for beginners to understand that you need to make up for your lack of experience with commitment and a clear plan of action!

In the above photo, the attacker has moved in with a grab, and it shows me applying a down block hard on his grabbing arm. If I was not fast enough, then I would have to deal with his secondary weapon. Yes - my blocking arm will need to become a windshield wiper, before it is used as a hammer on the grabbing hand. To make this a little more fun, I could have chosen to grab his fingers rather than his sleeve, and I could have applied the blocking strike on to the back of his hand or wrist instead of on top of his forearm. Similarly, something in which a lot of hard stylists don't think of ... when I strike the extremity, I can move backward, or diagonally sideways in order to stretch out the limb.

For a cool beginner's exercise ... and without needing much tutoring, get your beginners to first swing their arms back and forth. Then clap. Then clap their palms on their elbows. Make sure the arm which is 'folded' is held like they're 'answering the phone'. This exposes the 'corners' of their bodies (essentially allowing their elbow to connect with the oncoming limb). Get their opponents to make a grab for their t-shirt or uniform. And get your 'defenders' to 'clap' their palms and their elbows together - sandwiching the oncoming limb.

Aim for sensitive areas, and play around with timing and distancing.

Links



--
Colin Wee
Coordinator, IAOMAS
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 28 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 on FB.

21 May 2011

Anti-Bullying Blogging Carnival Proposal

To Martial Arts Bloggers and FB Page Owners

Dear Respected Martial Arts Instructors, Sensei, Sabumnim, Blog Owners, and Authors:

There are blogging circles on the net who use 'carnivals' to help increase interest and traffic to their sites. These carnivals focus on a particular theme, get bloggers to collaborate with each other, and the link swaps make for some interesting reading.

I would like to propose an Anti-bullying Carnival to be launched amongst our network of martial arts blogs.

How it works
1. Write an anti-bullying article by the submission date OR repurpose an existing article and re-publish it by the submission date. Publish this submission to your blog OR create a FaceBook note. Make sure to add a comment at the foot of this post to include where your submission is.
2. I will then send you a preamble, a button and a link to the carnival page on this blog on April 14 2012, which you should stick at the footer of your post. If I do not have your email address, I will add a 'comment' at the foot of your post with the instructions.
3. Once you're set and if your post hasn't been published yet, you email me the location of your post, and I'll create a list of links on the carnival page.
4. To make it interesting, I will create a few 'Best of Carnival' awards which you can then stick on your post.
5. On the day of launch, all of us tweet and FaceBook the presence of the carnival to our adoring fans. :-)

The Button
Here's the button which will adorn the Anti-bully page. Please stick it on your website to help support this carnival.








Background
I didn't think too hard about this. I just came up with a post yesterday called Martial Arts Parables talking about how it might be good to use story telling to help children understand high level concepts. Just thought it might be interesting to help develop this issue in respect of the training most of us provide, or the self defence advice we usually dish out in the course of our activities. For a sample post, see Vaughan Jackson takes Martial Arts to Avoid an Abusive Parent.

Submission Date: April 12 2012
Final Edits (Recognitions on Your Post): April 14 2012
Carnival Launch: April 15 2012

Your Article
Like other blog articles, or most blog articles, you can keep it informal. But the best posts should be thoughtful, presenting good information, and should relate back to what we know of the martial arts. You might like to think about what other people are doing in regards to anti-bullying. It's up to you. The article you submit should be not less than 250 words. Pictures would be great.

Collaborating with Other Articles
If you'd like, use the comments section below to highlight your thoughts so that other people can collaborate with you or create an article that is related to yours but done from a different perspective.

Submissions so far


Future Direction
If it goes well, we can use this blogging carnival idea, and this little mailing list I've compiled to develop other topics that might be interesting to the community. I'm happy to take turns with other blog owners to host such a carnival run.

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 on FB.

17 May 2011

Ten Ways to Improve Your Front Kick

Ten Way to Improve Your Front Kick


The front kick we learn is introduced in the third Taekwondo pattern Do San.

These are ten ways to make your front kick more effective:

10. Strike with your hands! Learning to land a strike with your hands teaches principles of timing, distancing, and application of power - all great skills to have whilst trying to launch a heavier, less responsive striking tool (i.e. your leg).

9. Train to improve your own innate abilities - increase your flexibility, spatial awareness, strength, and endurance. Always apply your strengths, not your limitations!

8. Use a variety of training methods. If you just stick with one type of equipment, you are not doing yourself any favours. See the above picture where we've ditched the kick shields and are landing controlled kicks on the body. Kick under water. Kick the air. Kick different types of targets. Kick the base of a heavy bag. Kick whilst in the shower. 

7. The striking 'tool' as you see it is a leg extended out to the opponent, so when you try to increase power, you 'juice' up the leg muscles - your quads. The way I increase kicking power is to connect my support foot solidly to the ground, to shift my hips forward providing structural support, then tightening my abs to transmit this mass shifting, and then lastly to accelerate my foot towards the opponent. The secret to good kicks? Good kicks start from the ground up! Great kicks use the entire body connected with the ground!. 

6. To gain more control over your front kick, try to understand the flight path of the foot as it shoots toward the opponent. This flight path has to bypass obstacles through 3D space to land solidly on the opponent. Lots to think about, so when you start sparring, make sure you spend time observing how your opponent moves to block your kicks.

5. The end bit of your kicking tool (your foot) is not very large - you can make the weapon fit into a very small area. When you train, ask your partner to cover his core as well as he can with both forearms leaving a small gap between then. Then fire your foot right between that gap and land it on the body. This drill helps you calibrate your front kick for angle of entry.

4. Start with less power and aim to get more control over the flight path of your front kicks. 

3. No front kick is going to work if you're firing it from a huge distance. You need to step up to the opponent and then fire the kick! Do it quickly and smoothly. 

2. People don't like to get punched - so make like you're going to punch your opponent and then launch your front kick. 

1. Most beginners move or shift their upper body up and back to haul up their kicking leg. Worse still their arms open up and or shift downwards. This telegraphs any kick! So don't do that. Kick lower if you have to. but the top way to improve your front kick is to get it so that the opponent doesn't see it coming.

What other tips can you add which have helped your front kick?

Links



--
Colin Wee
Principal, Joong Do Kwan (Perth)
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11 May 2011

Why Yet Another Set of Side Kicks?

In Taekwondo Pattern Won-hyo, you have the first introduction of a defensive (stepping backwards) and offensive (stepping forward) side kick.

There is the inclusion of the side kick yet again in the following Taekwondo patterns:

  • Yul-guk can be to highlight the difference between lead leg and rear leg side kicks.
  • Choong-gun can be to highlight 'hooking' side kicks to exploit gaps in opponent's guard.
  • Hwa-rang can be to highlight short range side kicks for close range combat: using chambering as a knee strike and kicking towards the lower extremities, or performing a side thrust kick to kick 'upwards' into an opponent. 
  • Choong-moo can be to highlight strategic use of jumping side kicks on mid to low range targets, and combinations of kicks to increase chances of landing your strike.

While it looks like the same kick, you should be schooled in various tactics in which to make sure your kick lands on a non-compliant opponent. It's also an exercise in mental gymnastics; to look at one technique and to see it applied in various ways allows you to break free from basics and to respond to the risk at hand, not the situations you were taught to deal with.

What have you found works for you when using the side kick?

External Links for Choong Gun


-- 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 on FB.

6 May 2011

Traditional Taekwondo Perspective on The Chambered Fist

We chamber the fist on the ribs.

You find this level at a tug of war - pulling that rope back, you don't hold it above your shoulder or at your hip. You hold it somewhere at your ribs so that your lats can apply as much pull on the rope as possible.

But the level isn't the only thing we look out for. The forearm of the chambered fist points forward. In a lunge punch for instance, the chambered arm is readied for the next iteration of the punch. In the case of the back balance and soodo marki (knife hand block), the back hand (all the way to the elbow) is pressed against the body again pointing forward to strike the target in front of the practitioner.

From the soodo marki knife hand block in back stance, slide into a forebalance and pull your chambered fist from where it is at solar plexus to the side of the ribs. Do it at the same time, and repeat back and forth. You should see that the arm should stay more or less pointing forward.

From the front stance and with the chambered arm held tightly against the ribs, now pull the back leg slightly forward into a loose fighting stance. Bring the chambered arm up with fist at shoulder height. The fist is now right in front of the shoulder joint, and ready for a straight jab or roundhouse punch.

What I find important to communicate is that there is an optimal tension for the chambered hand. While relaxedness is important, 'linking' your arm to your main body mass is important -- and thus your reverse hand should be stabilised to your side using your lats and your pecs. This is more so for when you're chambering on your body, rather than holding your fist up for a jab or roundhouse punch.

Links



-- 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 on FB.

30 Apr 2011

My Perspective on 'Taekwondo Sucks?'

I typed in 'Problems with Taekwondo' and the first post I see is 'Taekwondo Sucks?' by an online friend Bob Paterson from Striking Thoughts. His post presents a fairly even debate, so I don't think I've got to rehash the dialog much. What I'd like to do is bring out issues with highlight how we do things.

Is Taekwondo primarily a kicking art? You may be surprised to learn but there are actually more hand techniques in Taekwondo than leg strikes.

I've heard this logic and reasoning before. If you look at Traditional Taekwondo forms, kicks not only make a very late entry, they are outnumbered by hand techniques all the way to black belt! But look at the video posted on Striking Thoughts and you see two hard style fighters who are predominantly kickers who do not cover for hand strikes to the head - and from this I presume have not yet spent enough time on hand strikes, proper coverage or defences against a person who is going to come out from their corner punching.

The issue is not whether or not there are more hand techniques, it is that these hand techniques are not being applied in training so that the practitioner can rely on them for strikes, coverage, or defences. Having them in the form is not sufficient for them to be assimilated by the student practitioner. What students need is for techniques to be pulled out of the form and to be used in a reiterative sequence, offering practise for one or both hands.

The problem is that somewhere in history taekwondo proper decided to emphasize kicks over hand strikes. 
That would have to be after the mid 1950s, after early Taekwondo was brought to the US by GM Jhoon Rhee, the father of my lineage. This is evidenced by my system treating both hand techniques and leg techniques rather equally. This however doesn't mean that hand techniques are optimised from what is available from the syllabus. Techniques MUST still be synthesized from the forms, as I mentioned above, so students are able to have the right upper body skills. The analogy that I use in my class is that of a 'windshield wiper.' All you do is turn on the windshield wiper and it works, without you having to think too hard about it. Of course this is not the be all and end all, but where would you find techniques within the forms to create this 'windshield wiper'? Yep, start thinking. When you have some answers, perhaps we should reconvene and share notes?

Even now I realize that with taekwondo’s popularity there are some pretty watered down schools out there.   
While I don't think I run a watered down school, I've thought about this long and hard. I think some of it is because of the myth that 'masters of old' would pass down only an incomplete portion of their knowledge. You would think after several generations of this, most arts (not just Taekwondo) would have been eroded, and would have significantly have diminished their worth.

I don't think this is the entire story. I think lots of the degeneration which afflicts any art or seen through  McDojos is created through apathy. A combative art can't promote the institutionalisation of thought. There is a huge need for independent thinking which leads to the questioning of assumptions, and the identification of the objectives of practice. Think that all you need is kicking speed, fitness, and flexibility? Then join an aerobics class for crying out loud.

For another external article on the issue, see Why are Korean Martial Arts held in such Low Esteem?

I'd like to hear from anyone interested in keeping things fresh. Instructor or student alike. What has inspired you to look at things differently? How have you improved lately?

Links


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14 Apr 2011

Common Strategy

I don't see fight strategy being discussed in books or magazines much. With martial arts, discussions always seem to dwell on the most powerful kick or how good Bruce Lee was. So I decided to highlight long standing fight strategy, and state them in plain English. 

Respond to Attack
You avoid the attack by blocking or moving out of the way and then countering by launching an attack.
(You kick me, I deflect and knock you out with a punch to the face.)

Simultaneous Counter
You see the attack being initiated and you launch your attack to land at the same time. 
(You kick my face, I lean back slightly and kick you in the groin. Ouchy.)

Pre-emptive Attack
You launch an attack on the opponent to block any future attacks or ability to defend.
(I know you're going to kick me. So I gap close, trap your lead hand and punch you in the face.)

Links



-- 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.

11 Apr 2011

Taekwondo Pattern Yul-guk Close Quarter Drill

This is a video of a drill we use for intermediate belts based on Taekwondo Pattern Yul-guk steps 15-20. These steps describe an outer open palm pressing 'block,' done using one hand after the other and a mid level punch at the end of the sequence.

The primary application that I teach using these techniques are two takedowns similar to an Aiki Takiotoshi and a Sayunage. One throws the opponent forward and the other, backward.



[Note: the previous video is unavailable, so I'm uploading a new video which may not be entirely similar to what I've previously commented on when I wrote this post. But I'm trying to look for the video. Bear with me.]

I associate the above close quarter drill for this sequence to help develop good hand skills for the intermediate belts. Intermediate belts need to start using both hands fluently to get out of the habit of having their reverse 'pullback' fist at hip or ribs. Aside from this particular drill seen above, we have 4 other drills that have hopefully developed patterns of hand movements allowing students to have both hands in front of their faces - covering, blocking and returning fire to opponents.

Jacob is speeding through this drill, but there are two blocks/deflections occurring. The first parries a punch from the outside with back hand and raises what looks like a knife hand but using the forearm to contact the oncoming punch. The second parries a punch from the outside with open backhand and drops what looks like a hybrid knife hand/lower block to the outside of the oncoming punch. Both 'knife hands are held vertical, similar to the onset of the fold for the pressing block.

The use of both hands for the oncoming strike allows the practitioner student to gain the ability to use both hands in an effective practical manner. The final 'block' with the mid or upper end of the forearm allows the practitioner to use the hand as a striking tool. So the point of this coverage is not to just tie up the hands waving off the strike, it is to free the hand in order that it can be used as a striking tool. Essentially you are 'endowing' the tip of elbow to tip of hand with two main tools - one is the elbow end of the forearm, the other is the hand/wrist bit of the forearm.

Success with this drill is improved with generous hip rotation, chin held down, and both hands held tight to centre line. Intermediate belts getting used to the drill can play around with gap closing, stepping into the opponent just after parrying/blocking.
1. With hand held up, you may try an open palm strike to face.
2. With hand pushed downward, you may try an open palm groin strike and grab.

With both hands deployed, a number of close quarter strikes and takedowns are easily added on to expand on the above sequence.

Good luck.

For more information on this technique, please see Soo Shim Kwan's The Hooking Block.

Here's another application from the same sequence ...



Links



-- 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.