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 the most contrived of all drills.

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.

The Problem with Hard Style Systems like Karate and Taekwondo
Taekwondo Pattern Chon-ji Hyung List of Posts
Chon-ji Down Block Drills
Taekwondo One Step Sparring (Keith Yates Video)
Taekwondo Sparring Bingo

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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SooShimKwan said…
I really like how you are actively using the reaction hand here as an auxiliary blocking tool. I have employed the reaction hand for grabbing and pulling, but not explored the possibility of it as an auxiliary block. Looking forward to try it out!
Colin Wee said…
Glad that you like it. Would you video what you do? I'd be very happy to link to it from here.
Jeremy said…
I came from a style where 1-step sparring was a major part of each rank and testing. The defense of a walking stance, right hand high punch. 3 new one-steps each rank.

When I started teaching at the university level, students kept asking me why were defending against such an attack. Obviously, no one could envision a scenario where an attacker would step at the in a walking stance. I could never come up with a very good answer other than, "that's how it's always been done."

Eventually, I modified the one-steps when I started my own school after college.

The attacker took right leg back fighting stance. The defender took a basic defensive position.

Attack #1 was a jab
Attack #2 was a rear hand cross
Attack #3 was a jab cross

I kept all the defense moves the same from our traditional one-step but modified them for the new attack system.

It was a great experiment and our students adapted quickly to the new attack system.

I loved how the attacks felt more natural yet we maintained the same traditional defense for the attacks.

Definitely a fun exercise!

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