Joong Do Kwan's Taekwondo Applications

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

24 Nov 2012

Chinese New Year 2013

I'm planning a trip to Singapore, Chinese New Year 2013. Looking forward to meeting any fellow practitioners there, if anyone is interested.
--
Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
Hikaru Dojo Shihan
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31 Oct 2012

Taekwondo - Where is the Lock from?

Taekwondo has striking techniques, gap closing tactics, close quarter techniques, traps, locks and takedowns.

It is easy to say, hey, where did that wristlock come from; and similarly as easy to respond, it is a kotegaeshi wrist turn out from Aikido, or some leg reaping throw from Judo.



The fact however is that we don't train in aikido. Taekwondo's methodology is predominantly a linear-based style, a 'hard' style. We strike with hands and feet. But eventually any practitioner will have to forego the contraints of the methodology or style, look at objectives and do what is most appropriate at the time. Sometimes strikes and kicks flow into traps and locks. Eventually, some technique will be used that may not look entirely like kickboxing.



Kickboxing ... just to point out for arugment's sake ... is something which we do not do!

Aiki is something in which I enjoy greatly. But when it comes to our stylistic approach, whatever wrist lock or throw we use, is used and taught in the world view of a Taekwondo practitioner. It finds its place within the hyung we use, integrated with our self defence approach, and fits into our exercises hopefully in a useful and value-enhancing manner.

There is an idea that martial artists 'soften' with old age. For me, soften is not an accurate term, especially when looking at our stylistic approach. I am still a hard style, hip rotating, kicking and striking artist. 'Softening' is more accurately termed 'maturing' where I look at physical efficiencies and power generation tactics. But no, you don't see me turning into a predominantly throws and locks guy ... it's not going to happen.

Colin

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22 Oct 2012

Walking Up the Arm



Taekwondo Pattern Won-hyo opens like Heian Nidan - with a double outside forearm block called Haiwan Uke in Japanese. And what follows is as I've just described - a "very strange but captivating" sequence of movements. In Karate, it's performed as an inside hammerfist strike, and then an outside horizontal hammerfist strike. In Taekwondo, it's been modified to a inside shuto, then a pull back of the punching hand and foot, and then a sideways 'mid punch.'

Let's take a look at where the Taekwondo student is while learning won-hyo. Up to this pattern, the practitioner should have learned enough basic techniques to be an effective striker and should be able to hurt an opponent's extremities (if not to break bones and joints), shut them down with blunt force trauma to head or core, and take down the opponent using simple throws and takedowns.

The way I see this sequence is as a gap closing tactic to 'walk up the opponent's arm.'

I've seen a number of applications to show how to apply this as a group of random blocks or strikes to an opponent - all of which become redundant considering you were already trained to hurt your opponent's joints and knock his lights out with more direct basic strikes.

It can be seen as the next progression of skills from those derived from the pull back or hikite movement from basic techniques. With the pull back hand, the student knows that you can use the non-striking hand to apply a pull back force while striking. Great when you've got that one shot opportunity - if the opponent is slowed down dealing with other things like working with a weapon, or dealing with multiple opponents, or if you are fast and accelerate enough so the opponent is left flinching in response to your attack. The pull back hand holds the opponent at bay and drags him to you while you strike him with your free hand.

This sequence from Won-hyo gets you to 'walk up the opponent's arm' so you can respond to the opponent grabbing you, or if your arms become entwined in his arms, or if you grab your opponent's arms.

The upper 'block' drags the opponent's arm toward you similar to what you'd do for an over the shoulder throw. The mid level block becomes a limb or joint destruction. Then the folding/chambering sequence allows you to grab or immobilise the arm and the final move is a lethal strike to opponent's neck or body.

Such skills to reduce the gap and drag the opponent also require you to think about the opponent's secondary weapon, the usage of your body to level the opponent's joints, and how best would you effect 'insertion' whilst the opponent is trying to counter strike at your body or head (see Overwhelm the Opponent). Many of these issues are resolved with this tactical sequence.

Keep practicing my brothers!

Colin

I'd like to give a special thanks to Traditional Taekwondo Techniques blog reader Attila Endre Kovacs from Hungary who contacted me and alerted me to the fact my domain was down. Attila has been practicing for almost as long as I have, and has great passion for what he does. I wish him all the best for his martial art and his continuing search for solutions and ideas to help him stay on the path.
--
Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
Hikaru Dojo Shihan
Founder The SuperParents A Team
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30 Sep 2012

Taekwondo Won-Hyo Scoop Block


It's there in step 19 and 22 of Taekwondo Pattern Won-hyo, the arms move like you're gracefully turning a large steering wheel. In the pattern diagram above, it's called a 'Circular block,' but I normally call it a scoop block. You could use it as a block, no doubt. In fact almost any movement can offer an obstacle to an opponent trying to hit you or hurt you.



But this is more than just a simple parry. The circular motion for instance is something that I want to apply to an extended 'something,' a limb, a neck, etc. It's easy to think of it against a kick. The arms encircle the extended leg, and the front kick in step 20 is fired at the support leg, groin or lower abdominal region.

It can also be used to capture the arm and/or wrap around the neck. If you wrap your arm around the neck, the front leg kick will surely hit something that can't move back. The 'pumping' action of the arms can also indicate that your body can rotate left or right, thus wrenching the neck and the upper body left or right with you. It's a devastating hold.

In practice, I use the scooping motion as a deflection for a kick, the front hand against a jab, and then the continuing circular motion as a block to a cross. It's a nice drill against a combination attack which may come very naturally. The scoop of course can be alternated with a leg block, and the arms can continue the circular 'windshield' wiping motion to stop oncoming attacks. The scooping and circular motion is a great way to get your arms moving in front of your face to stop things from landing. Sometimes it's just useful to be able to block something you know is coming but you can't see it yet.

Why I like to envision this as a control over an arm, is that I see other techniques focusing on the elbow in Won-hyo (see Overwhelm the Opponent, Over-the-shoulder Throw, and Chulgi: Punching Across the Body). Yes, I cite a technique taken from Chulgi - which refers to the 'koshi gamae' or hip preparatory stance or the ol' tea cup saucer. The hands pull to the hip, and what do you think they drag? One of the things they get to hold on to is the opponent's elbow. It makes a lot of sense to grab onto the elbow and either hyperextend the shoulder (if the elbow is bent) or just hyperextend the elbow, if the arm is straight. Both are equally good.

Keep practicing!

Links
Taekwondo Pattern Won-hyo list of posts

--
Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
Hikaru Dojo Shihan
Founder The SuperParents A Team
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28 Sep 2012

Getting the Most from Traditional Taekwondo Techniques Blog

I never thought I needed to play tour guide on this blog. But hey, we've got more than 450 posts here! Of course many were written and fired from the hip - but that's what you get from going non-commercial (and beside the point)!!! I joke, of course.

However, if you want more from this blog, we'll need your participation and most importantly, feedback. For instance, look through the image below. 1 post for Choong-moo and 5 for Choong-gun. Now, who's fault is that? (A. Yours) If you want me to keep working at it, let's talk some more. Let's present ideas, chat about what works, and what doesn't work for you. Visit our school on FaceBook and send me your video links! I'm up to discuss anything, but would probably benefit from a little prodding.

Now, the main thing here is you can surf through this site several ways. You should check out the links on the Sitemap, and then scroll through the categories list to focus in on the particular Hyungs that you are working on right now. Of course you can read the latest article, but *anyone* can do that.



Certainly I was hoping to see more people come to our Traditional Taekwondo page on FaceBook. Please come say hi and, again, tell us what you're interested in reading. This resource was built as an opportunity to look at what Traditional Taekwondo is, for both my students and for everyone else.

Looking forward to seeing readers become more proactive.

Related Pages
--
Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
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26 Sep 2012

Simultaneous Attacks

The one steps I talked about in Had Enough of that Traditional One Step Nonsense typically refers to counters or go no sen type tactics. Meaning you see an opponent's move, you block/cover/parry and return the strike. That's how many of the one steps I learned early on were taught; they were a way to introduce basic techniques and to build skills to help distancing and timing.

I wanted to take the opportunity to discuss simultaneous attacks or sen no sen tactics. What I mean by this is you see the opponent about to move, you read approximately what he's going to do, and you fire off a tactic that lands at about the same time. The opponent's strike never lands because your's lands either first or because you've successfully moved away or curved out the body part your opponent was targeting.

Here are a few 'staple' simultaneous tactics:

Side thrust kick to groin or like above to ribs
The opponent is in the process of throwing a side kick (that's easy to read) or a long range roundhouse kick. You go close, lean backwards, and fire off a rising side thrust kick that aims the opponent's groin. It's a devastating kick when it hits you in the ribs, and much more so when it strikes an opponent who has a leg lifted to kick you.

Front kick to abdominals
The front kick is a no nonsense kick that's hard to read even if the opponent is facing directly at you. This can be done against many mid height or higher kicks, but is beautifully done against an opponent who likes to do that loping muay thai roundhouse kick. The front kick fired from the front leg needs to travel much less than other kicks, and will always get there first.

Low side kick to support leg
This is one of my favourites, but I'd really caution you whilst using this in training - most people (like about 90% of practitioners) don't have much control over their kicks. So if you use the low side kick to the knee to reach out to the support leg, you're going to be losing quite a few of your training buddies and popularity points. Low side kicks to support legs are great to use against almost all kicks. The opponent lifts their leg off the ground and whilst their kick is in the air, you can use your leg to block and then attack the support leg - which can't move from the ground.

Leg sweep. Or at least, trying to sweep the leg.
Leg sweeps are great to use against sliding side kicks or tornado type kicks. The opponent is not able to 'see' you dropping out of his radar too clearly, and the sweep takes out the support leg. Please try not to use this against people who have no clue about breakfalling.

High roundhouse against a punch or attack to upper gate.
I love using the high roundhouse closer than most - you can use the leg to reach up between the opponent's arms - and especially insinuate it through the arms when he's reaching out for you.

Hook kick to the head
One of my favourite taekwondo techniques when I was a younger black belt was a hook kick to the head. The opponent can be coming in for a jab or lunge punch or backfist. It doesn't matter - the hook kick crests the shoulder and the opponent sees the foot about 10 centimeters away from their head before it hits.

Turning back kick
The turning back kick can be used as a simultaneous attack or while retreating. The turning distracts the opponent and you are able to use your back leg to find that hole between his guard, and perhaps distance yourself away from your opponent. It's one of the more valuable 'gimmicky' kicks in your arsenal.

Short S Kick to the Knee
I've got some beef with Wing Chun instructors who talk smack about their art and put down everyone else's - of course that's only the opinion I've got from meeting the few wing chun practitioners I have come across. But one thing I really like about Wing Chun is the short range kicks they use. Their kicks counter kicks, support legs, and can be used to deal with strikes to the upper gate quite well - as can be seen above. The best is that the kick can be done without offsetting your centre of gravity too much, which means you can effectively use both your hands and legs in combination against your opponent.

Knowing the sens helps improve the way you train and how you drill techniques. As you can see, I've chosen kick heavy tactics, though when you start looking at reactive counters, simultaneous counters and then premptive attacks as a continuum, you get the idea that all your techniques are there to help you flow from one state to another.

Enjoy!
--
Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
Hikaru Dojo Shihan
Founder The SuperParents A Team
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24 Sep 2012

Perspective on Punching with Vertical Fist v Horizontal Fist

This is a rehash of an old post on here titled Vertical and Horizontal Fist, which referred to Pat's Hook Punch, Vertical or Horizontal, that featured a video from Nat. I remember once in a martial arts forum, one of the older and fairly respected members inadvertently started a flame war because he began a post saying the basic punch starts like so on the ribs, gets rotated and hits when it's horizontal. That's not my aim, instead of a flame war, let's look at the horizontal fist and vertical fist from my perspective as an instructor.

In the video, Nat talked about using a vertical hook punch because of power, and varying it to a horizontal fist to gain reach in striking a taller opponent. In my original post, I talk about the 'lifecycle' of the punch where - at the halfway mark, you see the first rotating into the vertical fist, and then at full extension it corkscrews into the horizontal fist.

In our style, the staple punch impacts as a Karate punch does. At full extension we strike with the front face of the first two knuckles. We make impact using this weapon, because that's what we do - we train for it. So it is a preference, and it starts making sense trying to hit people with this part of the fist first.

Front face of the first two knuckles is our staple impact area

Generally, this contact area is used at full extension or when we're putting a lot of force behind the strike.

However, this is not the only punch we use. As I discussed, the 'lifecycle' of the punch means that we can make contact at any point before full extension, and that will be considered a 'punch' as good as anything else we got.

The vertical fist is also a legitimate tool, hitting with a different part of the fist

Yes, that's another image I ripped off the net showing a vertical fist. This is what we use typically when we make contact before the punch is fully extended. If you think of wing chun's straight blast, or any upset punch, hook punch, and uppercut - that sums it up. The contact point is no longer the front face of the first two knuckles but the lower three knuckles.

Mostly the difference between the horizontal or vertical fist is in the rotation of the arm and the closeness of the elbow to vertical axis. Meaning if I were to corkscrew and hit with a roundhouse punch/horizontal fist, this punch would be driven by shoulder rotation, my elbow is pointing out, and I would be striking with rotational momentum driven by arm and shoulder muscles. If I were to hit with a 'wing chun' type vertical fist, the elbow is dropped to six o'clock and I am hoping to lock the punch and deliver body mass through the legs at maximum impact.

The roundhouse gets the elbow lifted up, traveling parallel to the ground, and is driven with shoulder rotation


There are variations of course. I don't have to do a shoulder rotation roundhouse. I can power an 'oi zuke' lunge punch with a fist held more or less horizontal, with elbow rotated downwards to maybe 8 o'clock or 4 o'clock which allows me to use linear acceleration into my opponent. That's a great long distance tactic that few Taekwondo practitioners do nowadays.

This lunge punch is not entirely locked or connected to the body - look at the raised shoulder 


This horizontal fist is not nearly fully extended, but you can see it's held closer to the body with elbow pointing maybe at around 4 o'clock
Loads of people talk about striking power of the strike in comparison to other strikes. For instance, many would say the boxer's punch is the most powerful strike. It's the most powerful strike because that's what they train in day-in-day-out, for sure. Aren't we all trying to make each strike as powerful as we can?

I think more importantly, it is important to communicate that different strikes and angles of entry help us achieve tactical advantage.

o Roundhouse punches for instance, allow me to crest the lead arm or shoulder and strike to the head.
o Lunge punches allow me to reach an opponent and strike through raised arms.
o Vertical punches allow me to flow between blocking and trapping, striking and locking very quickly.
o Short range reverse punches allow me to generate a lot of power in the short range while not looking like I'm doing so.

Punching over barriers is no problem


The most common mistake I see nowadays occurs because many beginners train with bag and gloves outside class. Many practitioners who use a bag tend to prefer lifting the elbow for a roundhouse punch, and to impact with the bottom three knuckles. That is a fine punch for when you're using a bag and gloves. However if you use those mechanics for all your strikes, it starts to reduce the versatility of punching angles and may in fact result in injuries if you impact really hard areas of the head with the smaller bones in your hand.

Punching with gloves is great, but you don't wear your bag gloves anywhere else


To gain the tactical advantages mentioned above, beginners should be allowed to make impact with targets at various ranges. Specifically using a dropped elbow and vertical fist in the short range, a horizontal fist with dropped elbow at full extension, and a relaxed shoulder rotated horizontal fist at medium range. Of key importance is to develop the front face of the knuckles as a viable striking tool first - given that the bottom three knuckles are used intuitively by most untrained students.

We also make it very apparent when beginners start, the difference between a lunge type strike and one that is driven by shoulder rotation. This distinction (fingers crossed) helps the beginner understand different punches generate power differently. Of course you can move from one method of generating power to another, stepping and rotate at the same time. But if you've just got the stand-there-hit-the-bag mindset, that fluidity may not be as intuitive as you think.

Keep training tiger ...


Links
Making the Taekwondo Punch less Upsetting
Traditional Taekwondo Perspective on the Chambered Fist
Taekwondo's Close Quarter Punches ... say again?
Reverse Snap Punch on a Makiwara


Cheers,

Colin
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20 Sep 2012

Had Enough of That Traditional One Step Nonsense

... so said the MMA Warrior to all who cared.

Last night, we visited a cornerstone of that 'traditional' nonsense - the one step sparring exercise.

I'm sure you're familiar with this worn routine. It was performed with a side step to the outside and a knife hand parry to the oncoming extremity, countering with a roundhouse kick to the midsection, and then control/trap reverse punch to the floating ribs.

Photo One: Colin wearing standard battle order
What we wanted to do with this exercise was discuss what happens if the opponent varies the level of the strike, and the underlying assumption is that we don't want to leave any part of our body near the oncoming weapon. This could be because it's a knife or a broken bottle, or because you haven't really seen what he's actually packing and you certainly don't want to leave your body in the way to find out. 

Photo Two: Side-step-drag into a back stance variant to displace upper body

I side-step-drag into a back stance. As you can see my body has shifted off my previous centre-line. What is the first thing you might pick out is that instead of the normal upright back stance, Colin is in this wierd crouching-tiger-hidden-dragon position. That's because the opponent has come at me with a high section attack; I want to get my head away from it, cover nicely, and then use my front leg as the first choice to counter the opponent. Of course the choice of counter is entirely dependent on you and the situation. 

Photo Three: Emptying the body and pulling that leg back
The opponent is now taking a slash to my mid section. I've chosen to pull the front leg back and empty or curve out my body. Hey, it's a neko ashi dachi cat stance! And here you thought you'd would never see that outside a competition arena. Now instead of the high section knife hand block, I've performed a low knife hand defence which parries or deflects the slashing motion. As you can see the upper body and head has not been displaced as much as in Photo Two, and the hips are pulled as far back as possible in the same side-step-drag motion we used in Photo Two.  

Photo Four: Pulling that leg away.
In this last photo, I've side-step-rotated into a 'horse stance' or straddle stance or whatever 'nonsense' traditional label that's been applied to it. This is in response to not wanting your leg anywhere near a downward slashing motion or a strike aimed at the leg itself. As you can see, the leg has moved much more than in the first two photos, and the blocking hand is now an open hand, downward parry. The back hand has moved to cover the upper right quadrant - a position which could be used in the other two photos with good effect too.

There are many positives about 'situational combat' training that traditionalists should take heed of. It is important to cover, be aware of primary and secondary weapons, getting the body out of the way, cover/parry/block/trap tactics, etc. And doing all of that in a fluid dynamic exercise.

There is nothing wrong with tradition if tradition was the opportunity to discuss valuable 'street worthy' options. Are you progressively being stressed? Is your body moving enough to make your heart pound in your chest? Do you feel like your opponent is attacking you for real? Or are you just going through the same routine without thinking?

Don't knock it, folks. Traditional training is good training - it always has been. Being locked in the past however ... that was never what it was designed to be.

Keep practicing.

Colin

Links



--
Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
Hikaru Dojo Shihan
Founder The SuperParents A Team
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8 Aug 2012

Colin's Taekwondo v Taekwondo's Colin

I had an enjoyable chat with a high dan ranked instructor recently. Invariably, we talked about our varied experiences, and how to deliver those influences through our system. It surprised me to hear him say when he leaves his current system, he wants to approach his system like how I do. That piqued my interest, and made me think of another recent meeting I had a few months ago with a senior ITF instructor. That instructor also surprised me by asking me if I had created my own forms - as he had done so for his own school. My response was that I was still working on my black belt level patterns - both Taekwondo and Okinawan that continue to shape my philosophy. Eventually, all of it flows through the structure of Taekwondo. Even if I spent a day with some space traveler who taught me alien kung fu, and I found some new technique which I just had to 'borrow', and then replicated it in class - that ceases it being extra terrestrial, and it starts it's new life within the kwan. But just to be sure you understand, it doesn't boil down to a free-for-all grab fest of techniques. The 100 ways of explaining the same motion? That doesn't float my boat. Traditional Taekwondo's patterns have a personality, they speak to you of tactics and strategy. And in turn that makes you filter the world for Taekwondo as a living entity. I could not possibly add something that is alien to Taekwondo if it doesn't fit. My job is to look for that fit, and to let that natural assimilation occur. This is the extent of my ego on the art - and that is how my kwan works. Keep it real, my brothers.

Links


--
Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
Hikaru Dojo Shihan
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30 Jul 2012

Browned Out

We were working on an arm throw last Sunday inspired by Chulgi hyung.

The throw is done after bypassing opponent's attack, gap closing and controlling the neck from the outside. Several variations were shown. Of note the variations either trapped same side arm or opposite side.

I partnered up with a recently promoted 3rd gup student - and found myself in the rather unsettling position of having both arms trapped, having my neck controlled, leg jammed, and thrown by a very large and enthusiastic brown belter who outweighs me by about 20 kilos and towers over me. I am thrown and forced to breakfall with my feet, and then find my arm controlled and hyperextended. One knee crashes into my chest and the other hovers expectantly over my face.

Is it supposed to be anything other than devastatingly brutal?

Colin
--
Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
Hikaru Dojo Shihan
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17 Jul 2012

Locks and Throws Workshop July 2012




Over the weekend we had the Locks and Throws Workshop as part of our continuing series to welcome  practitioners from other schools to visit with us. The idea was to use this series as an opportunity to network with other instructors and their students, share openly what we do, and to grow through such encounters.

Traditional Taekwondo is not well known for its locks and throws. From my observation, locks and throws for hard stylists appear as either a 'module' within one or two mid-level belt ranks, or are introduced one at a time within the patterns up until black belt. This session sought to take that basic framework and try to apply it as part of the participant's combative skill - thus much of what we did started off from a trap/strike scenario, rather than from a wrist grab as most beginning locks are taught.

A good few of the participants we had had very little exposure to hand locks or throws or immobilisation techniques. However, because we were using rather simple motions to flow around the upper extremities, the rate of progression was surprisingly high. In fact, most kept up with our approach to short range combat, as well as orientating themselves with the prescribed locks.

It was good to introduce other concepts: our use of locks and throws within multi-opponent scenarios, issues of dealing with secondary weapons, and introducing leg throws using the same principles that were used during handlocks.

At the end of the session, I had a nice opportunity to chat with one of the participants who complimented me on my form, and who said it was clear how much time I have spent practicing what I do. The conversation quickly steered to how much we all liked training and learning about our various systems - and this is why I do what I do. I could easily hold off and continue doing only weekly classes. But bringing people together for intra-school workshops helps me present the material from a rarefied perspective and this helps consolidate the subject matter for my students. If other practitioners benefit from it at the same time, why not? We can all grow together!

Appreciation goes to Kidokwan Taekwondo, Vincent's Chinese Martial Arts and Wu Wei Dao for supporting this event. Gratitude to our group of uke Christian, Daniel San, and Joshua.

Photos from the workshop are available at JDK's FaceBook page.

Links
Smash with Your Foot Workshop Feb 2012

--
Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
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14 Jul 2012

Women Self Defence - Developing a World Class Offering

I started researching material for women self defence classes from 1991 as part of my black belt program whilst training in the US. The following year I was invited by a friend in Asia to provide a 2 day training course through Association for Women for Action and Research. The course I delivered however only started on its quantum leap when I embarked on a rigorous commercialisation process from 2001 onwards. Below I will present some of my insights on how I developed a world class offering which has been used as the framework for some martial arts instructors and law enforcement officers internationally.

Why Have you Chosen to Deliver a One Off Course?
How do you teach a person to be effective in under 6 lessons? This is a challenge for any thinking martial art instructor and proves to be a challenge for all self defence courses. Basically it's difficult to squeeze in enough material and practical training in a few hours for a women to be effective in physical self defence. My thinking however is that fewer participants want to start off with a longer course, and I needed to get women through the door to listen to the material. So I developed a course that was heavier on theory and awareness, that provided thinking and tactical skills, that overviewed the opponents they may face, and that had a plan of action for such a situation.

You Have a Theme to Your Course?
The theme of my course is 'Not All Bad Things Are Done by Bad People.' Women Self Defence is rarely about being jumped in a dark alleyway. From FBI statistics I researched, though this might be a few years old, 83% of women are victimised by someone they know. This means that more often than not this is an opportunistic crime which is perpetrated by a colleague, or friend, or acquaintance, or relative that the victim has previously trusted. With this in mind, my course had to prepare the victim for such a betrayal, to reduce the fight/flight response, to engage them in physical self defence with less of a delay, and to empower them to understand that using aggressive physical self defence tactics is appropriate in this situation. These are all difficult themes that I thought most other instructors would not be able to cover as well as I could, and therefore my course would be like the 'intro' for other longer courses which may help participants gain the physical skills they need to survive such an attack.

What is the Most Surprising Thing You've Discovered While Giving this Class?
The most surprising thing that I have discovered is that most participants are unwilling to use physical force against an attacker. This discovery was one of the impetus for me to create my Fight or Flight Visualisation Tool which allowed participants to create a situational analysis for themselves and to give themselves permission to engage in physical self defence. Creating this tool was the first step in elevating the quality of my offering, as it further spurred me to centre the course around the needs of the participant - rather than just to dwell on the 'how to' of delivering them a few easy 'deadly techniques'.

Have Classes been Easy to Deliver?
Most classes are. There have been one or two that have met difficulties. One was when I was engaged by a women's refuge to come talk with the ladies about the threats they are facing. For many of those participants however, the emotional rawness of their ordeal was still fresh - and the content of what we were discussing was uncomfortable to them. The second, and far more trivial, difficulty was when I was providing women self defence training to a privatised high school and for some reason my training partner couldn't come on the day we were practicing ground fighting techniques. I had to literally raise my voice - and not smile - to force those young girls on each other so we could continue the lesson.

What Professional Insight would You Share with Other Instructors?
Be precise with your words. This is a sensitive topic, and a simplistic approach to it is inappropriate. No one wants to be victimized. No one wants to be raped. But these participants are not trained fighters; they are unused to violence. So giving them a particular technique and presenting it as their sole survival tool puts the onus on them. This means that if they fail to initiate that technique or perform it correctly, and then if they get raped, the emotional burden will land on themselves. All because some instructor believed that encouragement may help increase their effectiveness. You must temper your words and chose them with care. Give the participants options, but remember that even a passive defence is part of their available options, and survival and recovery are their key objectives.

Any Further Insight?
The self defence instructor needs to ponder this. It doesn't matter if the sex started as consensual or even if both partners had a long history of consensual intercourse; even if in the midst of sex IF a woman decides that it's got to stop, from that point it ceases to be consensual and becomes a sexual assault. Problem is the women might be on a soft-ish surface, pressed down by an opponent who might otherwise be a nice person but who still outweighs them by about 20-40 kilos. They've got their legs splayed and they've got something thrusting into a bodily orifice. The woman might be experiencing the effects of some alcohol-induced haze but is otherwise calling for the person to stop. Now, over to you.

This post is part of a Women Self Defence blogging carnival organised 
by myself but hosted by Charlie Wildish at his blog.  Please visit his blog
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--
Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
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27 Jun 2012

Axe Kick - A Risky Taekwondo Sparring Technique

I don't like the use of the axe kick in sportive Taekwondo sparring.





Videos referenced from Taekwondo Animals

The problem with the axe kick is that it has to be brought all the way up, and then dropped a little way in order to hit the opponent somewhere in the head/neck or shoulder region. Wouldn't it be easier kicking the opponent somewhere lower down on the body? It would certainly expend less energy. And look at how much of your body is exposed. This seems to be an overly a risky technique with a poor return on invested effort.

I once had a visiting black belt who used this particular axe kick frequently in sparring. None of our students could understand why - since it wasn't really hitting them. When I pulled her aside she said the kick was to knock someone out. So I told her to perform the kick, and I lunged in and took the downward falling axe kick right on my forehead - full force. Then looked her in the eye and said there's a problem with this kick. The problem is that there are only certain situations where it'll work really well - and most times an opponent who is positioned to strike you will not be in those 'certain situations.' 

The counter proposed in the above video is to create distance and then return fire with a roundhouse kick. Wouldn't it be more logical to jam the rising axe kick? To block it in mid air? Then sweep the leg or perform a high level punch? The person has his leg all the way up and is perched on his support leg. He's not going anywhere!?

The way we practice the axe kick is if the opponent and defender are both grabbing onto a weapon - the kick is aimed at the hand or forearm or elbow or bicep. The impact is intended for mid level, and allows the defender to bring in an alternate weapon when both of his primary weapons are occupied. This strike is leveled at an opponent trying to wrestle a weapon away from defender, and the hope is to crush the bones in his hands or loosen his grip or hyperextend an elbow joint - all extremely 'lucrative' pursuits if you're trying to free a weapon to use against him or other opponents.

Look at the below diagram step 25b to 26 of Bassai, and then step 28a.

Bassai has moves that correlate to Taekwondo Pattern Hwa-rang

Both steps incorporate some leg lift and then a corresponding hand strike. The first move is a leg lift ala Toi Gye's mountain block, and is how we perform Hwa-rang step 24-25. The knee can be leveled against an attackers grab or wrist control or between a tug-of-war with a weapon. The knee strike hits hand or elbow region, loosening the grip, and the lower block comes dome on top of forearm or bicep to destroy the opponent's extremity. Same thing with step 28a - the axe kick makes impact with the opponent's extremity, then you sandwich a part of the opponent between left hand and right elbow. Nowhere do you see the axe kick performed as the finishing blow (ala the sparring video above).

Where I think this sportive axe kick might work would be for an opponent losing his balance or backpedaling. Or if he's performing a spinning technique and you are sure that spinning technique is going to go awry. Having that head and neck exposed means you can deliver the downward falling payload full force with less chance of retaliation.

The following video shows how an Axe kick can be applied at short range to compliment solid self defence skills requiring coverage, counters, or takedowns. Hope you enjoy.



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--
Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
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20 Jun 2012

Choi: The Beginning

I read Yoshikawa's Musashi a number of years ago, and have pondered the ever-shrinking lines of distinction between the real 16th Century polymath Miyamoto Musashi and Yoshikawa's fictionalised account of the sword saint.

One of my favourite martial arts books, Musashi is an important novel in the present-day cult worship of the 16th Century swordsman


Musashi is a long epic, detailing the journey of the Miyamoto Musashi beginning just after the Battle of Sekigahara, the insight he gained leading to his revolutionary and previously unheard of two sword style, and the climactic battle with Sasaki Kojiro on Ganryu Island. Written as an 'serial' for the Asahi Shimbun starting in 1935, Yoshikawa's Musashi, whilst based on fact, is popularly received as a true account of the man himself.

Yoshikawa's work was part of my inspiration for starting research on Choi: The Beginning, which is really a historical fiction series surrounding the Founder of Taekwondo General Choi Hong Hi. I have always felt  there is too little literature in the world of Taekwondo world and I wanted to do something about it. So I set about researching events important to General Choi, from about when he was born in 1918 to 1960. I needed to see the world in which these Taekwondo pioneers lived in and when important personal events occurred. To gain further clarity I even juxtaposed these events with what was going on in the world of Karate.

Never ever forget how tough they had it. While there are the corollaries of the human condition, our world affords us luxuries that pioneers of Taekwondo never had. We must respect them for what they accomplished with what little they had.


My idea was to immerse myself in those years so I could recreate the sights and sounds of a Korea at war and in civil unrest. Then I busied myself extrapolating from what I found, filling in the gaps with my own perspective as a Traditional Taekwondo instructor.

While writing the series, a student of mine coincidentally loaned me a copy of Alex Gillis's A Killing Art. Already having the general historical background allowed me to really appreciate the work Alex Gillis did on the book. But it made me even more aware of Yoshikawa's lesson - and that was I shouldn't let facts get in the way of a good story.

Alex Gillis' book is an interesting read for any serious student of the art. 


My series Choi: The Beginning started taking a life of its own very quickly. It started off with the mundane smells of cheap KT&G cigarettes and the constant resentment Koreans felt to the years of having the Japanese hell bent on erasing their cultural heritage. But where it really developed a 'hyper reality' for me was when I started 'repurposing' classical literature related to Taekwondo forms. For instance, Yulgok's Four Seven Debate on Myohap or 'Wondrous Fusion' helped describe Chonji's inseparable Heaven and Earth. Wonhyo's Geumgang Sammaegyeongnon or 'Exposition of the Adamantine Absorption Scripture' allowed me to look into Choi's mind and explain how he could extrapolate from his previous training to understand that "all positions have at least some validity" with the new Taekwondo system he was creating.

Yulgok's Four Seven debate on Myohap or wondrous fusion - 'repurposed' to reflect Choi's thinking.


These gems of course all made their way into the young General's personal journal, of which then landed in my hot little hands. What blew me away was being able to travel to Korea and seeing Yulgok's Myohap scratched as graffiti into the cell wall. Graffiti etched by no other than a young Choi who was imprisoned as a rebel by the Japanese army for his involvement in the Pyongyang Hak-byung incident. It's incredible how far a directed imagination can take you.

Of course, none of these things really happened, and in fact Alex Gillis, the authority on Taekwondo's early history would proffer a reality that is sinister, more political and much harder-to-swallow. But I fear there is little wisdom to be gained from that version of events.

Where am I at with this series? Like Musashi when he enters a township and is overwhelmed by the heat, the press of the people, and the powerful rhythm of a Taiko drummer using two batons, my next article is about how our young Choi is walking past the parade square on the way to a meeting and gets jolted by the movement and shouting coming from recruits practicing bayonet fighting drills. In that instant, he has the realisation of the timing that is necessary between footwork, hand strikes and long range attacks.

This is a Korean saying used to describe how a young Choi guided his group of students, and reflects the common thinking of traditional martial art instructors. 


Certainly any serious practitioner has their perspective of what works, but is there a difference on how the  Founder of a martial art gets to that point and beyond? What can you accomplish with an hour of your time? What did Choi Hong Hi accomplish with an hour of his time? What obstacles do you face? Do you know the enormity of the obstacles he faced? This series is as much a mirror for our own development as it is about Choi's.

Come discover what you can take away from this story at Totally Taekwondo Magazine.

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In the arts,

Colin
--
Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
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3 Jun 2012

Choong-gun: Double Punch

Yama Tsuki - Twin Fist Punch ... would you really ever do something like this?

A status update on FaceBook just recently had me writing that someone should put the above technique interpretation out of its misery. If ever there was an advantage for throwing multiple strikes at the same time, we'd be punching with both hands and throwing in a kick for good measure.

No, I don't like the idea of throwing two simultaneous strikes, unless somehow it was sandwiching something of the opponent between your two hands. And, no, I don't really care much for the yama tsuki bunkai as you see it above.

Choong-gun - Step 31 shows off Taekwondo's 'U-shaped' block in a back stance.
Today we practiced the twin fist or U-shaped block/punch as an actual strike against an opponent. We used the lead hand to grab onto the opponent's lead hand, strip it down and we launched a high level strike that crested over the opponent's shoulder to strike at the temple or behind the ear. The move works well even if the opponent is grabbing you (as opposed to you grabbing your opponent).

Most of the punches from our hyungs up to this level have been fired from the chambered position at the hip, through centreline to either middle, low, or high sections on the opponent. Such a strike is typically looked upon unfavourably by modern day practitioners who think boxing type punches are far superior than traditional martial style strikes. Choong-gun's twin fist punch however is the first strike that gets the elbow parallel to the ground - just like you were hitting a punching bag whilst bobbing or weaving under an opponent's strike.

Can you see the bottom hand applying some form of control to the opponent and the top striking
hand just tagging him in the head?  

The lift of the elbow gets your arm over the opponent's shoulder and it allows you to 'expose' the front face of your knuckles. Without the lift of the elbow, striking a target which is much higher than your own face height means you are exposing more of your fingers to hard corners of the opponent's face. This means you are increasing the probability that your fingers might break if your punch doesn't land just right.

Apologies for the artwork - that's about the best I can do on  MS Paint (actually it's the best I can do on any medium), but at least it shows one pragmatic solution for both arms being out at the same time. The base hand is pulling down on the opponent's lead arm, and the striking arm rises over opponent's shoulder. 
The aspect of the head being lowered and the arm raising above it poses two scenarios. One is when your opponent is towering above you, and you are raising your entire arm to strike over his lead hand or shoulder. The next is if there is some tactical advantage to dropping your head whilst performing the strike.

The net effect of landing your fist in your opponent's face is that the opponent's head is rocked backwards and is stunned for a moment. Whilst you already have your centre of gravity forward, then there is an opportunity for you to do a takedown either wedging your body against his and disrupting his centre of gravity OR if you go for a leg grab takedown.

As Sanko from Soo Shim Kwan says, the move that I am referring to in Choong-gun is indeed depicted as a block in my style with hands held in a 'tiger-mouth' position. In my own syllabus I interpret this as a defence against a head grab either from front or back. However, given that there is tactical advantage of punching higher than head height, this is a good add on lesson for an intermediate belt at this stage of his training.

Keep training.

Taekwondo Choong-gun Links

Pragmatic Self Defence Images
Taekwondo Upset Punch
Choong-gun Mid Reverse Knife Hand Block
Why Yet Another Set of Side Kicks?

Question: Any readers from New Zealand, Singapore, or Italy here? I've got some travel planned and am wondering if anyone would like to train whilst I am visiting this year.
--
Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
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31 May 2012

A Story about Saving a Little Girl


Maritime Museum at Fremantle Black Belt Obstacle Course
This is a story about how I saved a little girl.

I refrain from using the word 'heroically' in the title just because there was no time to think about heroics, nor about ability, nor about the consequences of failure. As I often think about my role as an instructor, I was but the 'lens'.

A beautiful sunny day in Fremantle several years ago found my children and several friends at the Maritime Museum. It's got amazing architecture and beautiful sweeping views of the ocean. Go visit if you have the chance.

When we were finished, the other parents and their children exited the building through the big revolving glass door. It was a huge feature, and it was moving quite fast. I decided to take up the rear so everyone, including my children could go through safely.

As the last person through, I slowed to a walking pace when I entered and looked backward. To my dismay a little girl was walking toward me, and seemed intent on entering the revolving door. She was perhaps only 4 years old. So I put up my hand to indicate she should stop. But while she looked at me, she didn't comply (tsk tsk tsk), and continued walking towards the door.

The revolving door caught her at just the right time, and her body was sandwiched within the circumference between one of the revolving blades and the metal frame. As I looked at her, her face was getting squashed by one of the large glass panels, and time started to travel slower.

All I knew was that there was this large rotating door that needed to be stopped and reversed, and there was no time to be fluffing around trying to push it the other way. So I drove a forebalance chongul seogi stance into it with as much power as I could - intent on stopping that vast structure on a dime. When my knee hit the glass, there was huge scary resonation and the entire moving structure started reverberating all around me.

The same Taekwondo 'door stopper' skill but this time used against an opponent.

It was a kodak moment. The girl was sandwiched in place - held safe only by my knee wedging it still. Her eyes were wide with shock but the door had only begun squashing her cheeks, so there was no pain involved.

You know, I've never practiced self defence against a revolving door before. But there you have it, when required, the skills and the mindset we use in practice can affect the course of events around you. Of course I could have walked up ahead accompanying my children through. What was it that affected my intuition and which made me bring up the rear like that? And how did I choose what could otherwise be described as a 'non-technique' to stop that door, saving the girl from requiring the services of a cosmetic surgeon?

Eventually when I ensured the door was stopped in place, I looked down and notice picture perfect form. It's of course somewhat strange to see this done so out-of-context, but it was a simple move which was required by the circumstance - nothing more nothing less.

And this is a lesson for what good martial arts should be. While many a teenage pimply adolescent (including myself once a long time ago) yearns for victory and glory against some ugly aggressor, martial art training should be for the greater good. The best of us is keeping it understated, and your role is but that 'lens' through which the essence of training flows.

Be safe.

Colin

Related Pages

--
Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
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29 May 2012

Blogging Carnival at Bunkai Jutsu

Following the recent Anti-Bully Blogging Carnival hosted here, I am pleased to announce that Charlie Wildish from Bunkai Jutsu is hosting the next carnival on Women's Self Defence on July 14th 2012. The blogging carnival is a way to get martial art bloggers to work together on specific themes, and for such themes to bring value to both the martial arts world and the local community. If you have a martial art blog, a website, or even a similarly themed FaceBook page, and if you'd like to get involved or if you'd like to get yourself on our mailing list go to Colin's Blogging Carnivals.

Please participate and support the next carnival by clicking:


See you there!

Colin
--
Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
[Traditional Taekwondo Techniques | Subscribe | FAQs | Sitemap | FB]
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