Joong Do Kwan's Taekwondo Applications

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

30 Mar 2012

Choong-gun Mid-reverse Knife Hand Block

During the Smash with Your Foot Workshop Feb 2012, I wanted to show what we would do if and when our leg gets caught by an opponent. The move requires you to drop to the ground and take out the front leg of the person who's 'caught' your leg. After my turn, I then had one of my students kick me so I could talk about what each partner had to do.

As the roundhouse kick speeds toward me, I push my cover slightly away from my body and meet the oncoming kick with exposed elbows. My back hand is covering my face, and my front hand reaches downward to cover my gut. If I've read the move wrongly at all, at least there will be one hand between any strike to my head, and I could drop the front hand to cover my groin.

I'm keeping my stance more or less light and mobile. As soon as I feel the impact of his shins on my elbows, I allow my front arm to 'pop up' under the opponent's leg. I basically give my arm 'permission' to move this way so that any pressure at all allows for a very fast counter capture of the leg. Voila. There you have a beautiful application of Choong-gun's mid-reverse knife hand block. That plus the follow up quick front snap kick.

I don't particularly think that the elbows out will hurt the shin as much because most of the force of the roundhouse is taken by the front elbow - which will strike higher up the opponent's leg and thus contact a much harder part of his shin. The contact with my back elbow is minimal because I'm also pulling that part of my body away so that if I misjudge the kick, I don't get utterly wasted.

To really capture the leg, both hands have got to work together. It's not good enough to just present the 'reverse knife hand' - you've got to use the back hand and front hand to capture the leg. You don't have to specifically use your hand, of course. You can apply enough pressure using your forearms, and you can use your hands to hook around the limb.

I teach the move subsequent to the mid-reverse knife hand block (as it turns down and before the opposite hand delivers that upset palm strike) as a grabbing or clawing motion like Karate's Kakete. Before you laugh me off, look closely at the historic video and you'll see the knife hand turn downwards before the rising heel palm strike. IF you subscribe to this for Choong-gun, then using such a clawing motion to augment the capture of the leg makes quite a bit of sense - not to mention adding the ability to grab a chunk of the opponent's inner thigh just for laughs. If you don't subscribe to it, sure ... let the opponent pull his leg out of your grasp.

Once you have your prized leg in your grasp, you could of course fire off that front kick just like Choong-gun says. Or perhaps wrap your leg behind opponent's support leg and perform a takedown. Or even funkier, use the leg just like you would an arm, drop to one knee and perform an over-the-shoulder throw. I've even seen someone do a tsubame gaeshi with an outstretched leg - pulling it down to the ground and diagonally up laterally to take a person down on his behind.

If you don't hold on to the kick, retract your hands back into original cover position, compress your body and be prepared for a hand strike or retaliation to your mid or upper level. In turn you might want to lean back and attack the base while the opponent's footing is still finding itself.

One of the participants (from a Chinese martial arts background) said that he thought the move which he also learns from his traditional training was one of the worse blocks he knows ... until he saw me use it to capture that kicking leg. Do we have a convert??? Don't hold your breath! :-)

Have a great weekend, folks.

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Taekwondo Pattern Choong-gun Links



--
Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
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27 Mar 2012

Never Let an Analogy Get the Better of You

Water is fluid, soft, and yielding.
But water will wear away rock
which is rigid and cannot yield.
As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding
will overcome whatever is rigid and hard.
This is the paradox: what is soft is strong.
Let us take advantage of that paradox.


The above was inspired by Lao Tsu’s Tao Te Ching – Classic of the Way and the Power - I merely rewrote the end to reflect the opportunities Taekwondo has as a 'hard' style. This work is part of a historical fiction series I'm writing on Taekwondo circa 1940s to1960s.

What I wanted was to 'fill-in-the-blanks' on day-to-day living and events as they influenced Taekwondo's founder Choi Hong Hi as he developed his new art. This specific entry was to be titled 'Choi on June 29 1949' when the US withdraws troops from Korea - a year after the Republic of Korea was established, and a year before North Korea crossed the 38th Parallel, marched onto Seoul and started a three year civil war.

At the time Choi was attending training at Fort Riley General School in Kansas.

Asian philosophy seems to always be repurposed for the martial arts, but that's because they fit well with the 'path' that martial artists feel they are on as they work on their respective styles. The analogy of water and rock in the above writing for instance appears in many martial arty sayings but is such a good metaphor. Many martial artists can identify immediately with the redirection and formlessness of water, or with the solidity and hardness of the rock.

However the use of analogy is only as good as if you are clear with the strengths of your art.

If you focus on the analogy to dictate all high level thinking you might end up putting yourself on shaky ground. Never be misled to think just by pure mental effort your hard style Taekwondo training will give you much advantage in areas like grappling - unless you've spent a huge time training in such activities and can integrate those skills back to your core style. Worse is just accepting everything handed to you by people who've analysed patterns for the sake of coming up with 'something' that fits those technique sequences - hard style systems can't have that many handlocks or controls in all their patterns! A word to the wise: work within your strengths and understand your weaknesses, and never let that analogy get the better of you.

I'd like to talk about the terms 'hard' and 'soft' in the repurposed Lao Tzu's passage above. In recent years, I've come to think 'soft,' referring to those 'soft arts,' are those systems in which practitioners disrupt or redirect the opponent's centre of gravity. This is not the sole domain of the aikidoka, there are older karate styles that also focus on grappling, side-stepping and body conditioning in order to wear their opponents down. On the other hand being 'hard' like a rock refers to those styles that overcome the opponent's centre of gravity by either dislocation (moving the person forcibly from where he is) or destruction. Notice I don't talk about circular arm motions - both hard and soft styles can wave their hands however they want - it's the end result that determines whether a style is 'soft' or 'hard.'

In Taekwondo's perspective, we are a hard style system that benefits from both relaxedness to achieve long range strikes, as well as the muscle lock down that comes with transmitting a force into a target in short range encounters. The relaxedness that a Taekwondo practitioner uses to move, to gap close and to achieve long range strikes certainly has a 'soft' quality to it, but this isn't going to cause any disruption to an opponent's centre of gravity. The 'softness' however can be internalised, and the Taekwondo practitioner can benefit from the juxtoposition of that 'softness' of his long range arsenal, to the undeniable 'hardness' of his short range tools.

What this means is that the mind is not always obsessed on using the hard style methodology of dislocation or disruption. Such softening can help the practitioner formulate strategy, innovate tactics, search for openings or opportunities, or as a judoka would say, look for the 'void'. I also reckon a more relaxed body is a body (and a mind) more ready to spring into action and less likely to get injured in a collision.

Certainly a good quality to have when faced with threats in a dynamic situation.

Colin

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--
Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
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21 Mar 2012

Karate v Taekwondo

I practice Traditional Taekwondo. And it looks like Karate.

Over in this corner, it's Taekwondo
taken from http://www.visiontkd.co.uk/patterns.htm

So when my online buddy Charlie from Bunkai Jutsu came up with a post What's the Difference Between Karate & Tae Kwon Do? (Part 1), I was happy to review it and give him my two cents worth.

I'd agree that Karate and Tae Kwon Do are "related styles". The founder of Taekwondo Gen Choi Hong Hi plus a number of other pioneers were all Korean Karate trained. What I like to think however is that the Karate they practiced in Japan in the 1920s and 1930s was a fairly rigid system focusing on kihon and kata. Early Taekwondo loosened this rigidity up, improving mobility, and introducing the kick as a long range weapon.

Over in that corner, it's Karate
taken from http://www.dynamic-karate.com/karate-kata.html

What I like about Karate is not so much that it "primarily focuses on hand techniques with the legs as backup," I like it because the legs are an alternate weapon to hands. I reckon that a decent Karate practitioner would be devastating when you (or your girlfriends) step within reach or if you lay your hands on any part of his body. The whole body is the weapon!

I think the lesson to learn from both is that there is that need for mobility, and then there's the need for being grounded. If you think of it this way, having a higher stance may be more appropriate if you're further from the target, and it's better to drop your COG when you're closer to your opponent. I would also add that having a high COG allows you to use weapons more in line with modern sparring contests - jabs, crosses, and quick uppercuts. Nothing wrong with those tools! Being grounded however allows you to access more traditional striking techniques. And I would never say that Karate-ka have less efficient kicks - I value the range of powerful short-range basic kicks in combat over any 360 jumping combo.

Please visit his article and then the follow up What's the Difference Between Karate and Taekwondo Part 2 and tell me what you think. And you might want to check out another of my articles The Problem with Hard Styles Systems like Taekwondo and Karate.

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--
Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
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19 Mar 2012

Vaughan Jackson takes Martial Arts to Avoid an Abusive Parent


Vaughan is a recent internet martial arts acquaintance of mine, referred by Charlie from Bunkai Jutsu because of my interest in starting up an anti-bullying carnival amongst martial arts bloggers. Vaughan tells me of his early experiences and how that has pushed him into martial arts - to become a stonger person and to become a positive role model. Very admirable traits. Please help me welcome Vaughan to Joong Do Kwan.

Starting on the Path by Vaughan Jackson, Jujutsu, Shodan

What would it take for you to make the world a better place?

I had an abusive father, who was himself bullied as a kid. Yip Man told Bruce Lee that " you must dissolve all your demons of fear, or else you will pass them onto your children. " Well, my father was a coward, who "stood over" a passive wife( my mother) and my brother and I, as well as my sister.

For years, we were just petrified of the guy, but we could not report it to the local policeman ( we lived just outside a small town where there was just one policeman who played tennis and squah rackets with my father).

He was a farmer, whose treatment of cattle was nothing short of abuse, and still makes me sick when I think about it.

They say " just forgive and forget...live and let live. " Which is sound advice I guess. But how are you supposed to forget 18 years of your life, when you wake up in the middle of the night screaming, when you speak to your sister over the phone who sounds distant because she is doped up on so much medication to drown out her voices?

Easier said than done.

I initially began Martial Arts to learn to defend myself, and to have something to believe in; a warrior's path, where men were fair in dealing with each other and administering justice; a Code of Honour; where there were people just like me, who had suffered from fear for a large part of their lives, and now were pro-actively seeking a solution.

A Positive role model for a change!


Born in 1971, Vaughan Jackson (Shodan) is a graduate of Law and History (LLB, BA) from a New Zealand University, has studied Tae Kwon Do, Wing Chun Kung Fu, and now Judo and  traditional Japanese Jujitsu. He lives in Auckland, New Zealand. 



Martial Arts Perth

This post has been written for our 
Anti-bully Blogging Carnival set to launch 
April 15 2012. Join us.

Colin
--
Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
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13 Mar 2012

Taekwondo Spear Hand

Do-san Step 6 is an open palm block and spearhand - which we talked about previously vis a vis opponent height. I'd like to take a step back and talk about the weapon itself.


Just the other day I was showing a bunch of 7th kyu students how to form the hand. In order to demonstrate exactly what I could do with it, I proceeded to use the spearhand to strike their chest region. They were shoved backwards, some grunting was in evidence, and they started covering and guarding against further strikes. My fingers remained unbroken.

To be clear, I don't condition my hands very much at all, and I certainly don't condition the spearhand. I've got no time nor inclination to do so. Therefore, all the mythical and purported things you can do with the spearhand like separate the ribs, rip out the heart, or stick the weapon into the stomach ... well, I won't even contemplate the stupidity of my attempting it. I'd even avoid breaking boards or applying it on a watermelon - both of which I've seen done in demonstrations.

But the fact remains I can strike really hard with my spearhand, and I should be pleased I've received compliments on how I teach the spearhand (see CastleInTheMist Taekwondo's comment that former student Sonia's spearhand is a "proper spear-hand.")

To show the formation of the spearhand, I hold my hand upwards and pretend to "scoop rice floating off the top of the water." It's a very shallow 'shovel' with the middle three fingers squeezed together. I don't particularly like to get students to look down at their upheld hand and then force the fingers into position because invariably some hyperflexing occurs and that just ruins it. I also don't like thinking about bending the middle finger - bending it purposefully reduces it's ability to apply supporting strength to the other two fingers.

I prefer allowing the fingers to come together from a more-or-less relaxed but almost straightened position. The focus is on bunching the fingers together to form the spearhand, not straightening the fingers in a particular way. Also the impact has to be taken by the whole hand, and not just the fingers or the last one or two joints of the fingers. If you think of it that way the hand is gently curved and that prevents damage to your fingers.

For tactical advantage, I wouldn't really fire the spearhand from the hip. I know Do-san gets you to do this, but this part of form isn't telling you how to be tactically sound. From the hip, I would bring the spearhand as close to centreline as possible and then fire it from there. This means that you could potentially fire the spearhand from 'the fence' or if your hands are blocking or trapping. OR if you are being trapped. The spearhand can fire 'up and over' the obstacle and still hit the opponent's neck or eye region relatively easy. It can be held vertically or horizontally. No need to pierce watermelons on the way in.

Holding the hand vertical or horizontal depends on the guard you have and how you've got to snake around the opponent's arms. The vertical spearhand would however best be landed on the carotid artery, and the horizontal one can hit the opponent in the hollow of the neck above the sternal notch. Both of course can hit the opponent in the eye.

I have unfortunately used the spearhand unthinkingly before. As a youth I would take apart a form and practice it over-and-over again. While sparring with a school friend, the spearhand shot out, without my ability to hold it back. The only way it didn't blind my opponent was because at the last second I relaxed my fingers and allowed them to retract. I can't tell you how close I was to blinding my friend. So I'd offer you all a word of warning - apply such techniques with caution and always include more care when teaching young children.

Stay safe!

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Karate and Elvis
Taekwondo Dosan List of Posts
--
Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
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12 Mar 2012

Martial Arts Parables

Story-telling is a powerful skill and has been used by many cultures to share knowledge and culture with both young and old. Stories allow us to reflect on difficult issues, help us draw our own conclusions, and give us a sense of comfort knowing that others before us have used those same stories.

The Tea Master and The Ronin
http://danjutsu.hubpages.com/hub/The-Tea-Master-and-The-Ronin

 Some advantages of including the use of the parable in martial arts training:

  • The parable allows us to transmit knowledge without the listener needing to have endured the same hardships as the protagonist.
  • The parable can always have minor details modified to suit the listener without having the takeaway lesson altered too greatly.  
  • The 'realness' of the characters, their struggles, and their growth increases through introspection and reflection.  
  • Even the most non verbal closed-mouth instructor can rely on the parable to speak for him. 

The effectiveness of the parable is much more pronounced with younger students of the martial arts than other media available. Other books or treatises on martial art knowledge might not be entirely accessible or appropriate for children. Which young child would have the tenacity to read the Art of War, or Go Rin No Sho? Even the very readable Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa is literally a tome. Then there is the questionable presence of violence which may be inappropriate for the younger audience.

In one of my favourite parables 'The Tea Master and the Ronin', a version available at http://www.aikidoofashland.net/stories/tea.htm, A Tea Master finds himself at the wrong end of a challenge. The Team Master seeks the help of another swordsman to help him perhaps survive the upcoming encounter. In the version I read a few years ago, there was a beautiful embellishment about how difficult it was for the Tea Master to try and train in the way of the sword. Finally, taking a break, he was able to use his tea ceremony to calm and center himself. In a stroke of genius his teacher requested for him to abandon all other thought when facing off the ronin; to focus himself like he was in the tea ceremony, raise his sword and prepare for his end.

Such a parable when told well gets the listener on the edge of his seat. Who cares if the parable has nothing to do with Aikido or even Tea Ceremonies. You can feel the injustice, and you can feel the desperation of the Tea Master. And miraculously, you can understand the need to establish simple solutions to address what seems like a monumental problem.

The Tea Master lesson can be applied to areas where conflict resolution or problem solving is necessary, and can help establish with your students that such conflict is more common than your average ronin. Having simple tools and innovative thinking helps people establish self esteem, confidence, and is the cornerstone of any self-defence and anti-bully program.

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Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
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8 Mar 2012

1967 Choi Hong Hi meets up with Mas Oyama

In 1967 Choi Hong Hi meets up with fellow Korean and Karate Master Mas Oyama. By this time, Master Oyama had already opened his own Karate dojo in Tokyo and was already working on expansion plans for what is now known as one of the toughest karate systems ever. The story from what I have read online is that Choi had requested for Master Oyama to return to Korea to help his fellow Koreans, and to invite him to support Taekwondo's establishment as a new martial art. Master Oyama declined politely, and they left on amicable terms - vowing to remain as 'brothers' in the arts. 

http://www.lacancha.com/oyama.html
From the subtext, it seems that Master Oyama was not interested in the political machinations occurring with Korea and Taekwondo at the time. Here is a man who goes into the mountain with one eyebrow shaved so he wouldn't be tempted to come down until a good deal of training had occurred. And what he saw was a country plagued with politicking, struggling to establish its own identity. As a simple martial artist, as many of us were at some point in our lives, such was an environment that was the antithesis of what he'd prefer.

http://www.lacancha.com/oyama.html
But given that this event occurred, what I'd like to ask is ... if we have the luxury of an alternate timeline, and if an alternate 49yo Choi were to look at Master Oyama and ask 'what lessons can I take away from this man'? Then what if that Choi proceeded to endow the evolution of his art with Kyokushinkai's focus on striking power and body conditioning.





When you're Mas Oyama. And when you're wearing a cool Republic of Korea Army tracksuit ...
It's not prancing. It's graceful tactical body movement.  

Then in the intervening years, if that new Taekwondo would flourish developing its combative style separate to its sports department (read WTF), and co-mingling more with its Karate cousins on a regular basis. What would that Taekwondo look like?

What do you value in your martial art? What does your Taekwondo look like?

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

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--
Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
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7 Mar 2012

Biting the Hand that Feeds You


If you've got a dog you might know how unpleasant it is. You are offering some food and snap - it all happened so quick - you get a nip on your fingers. Of course the mutt didn't 'mean it.' It's just your fingers got in the way and I suppose teeth can be pretty sharp. You nurse your hand for the rest of the day cursing under your breath.

As beginners to Taekwondo we are typically challenged with landing strikes - both punches and kicks - on the opponent's body or head. The targets are large, standing right in front of you, and make for good convenient places to aim. The more time you spend at your art however the more you might notice *anything* connected to your opponent makes for a good target. And the closest thing that is sometimes always on offer is your opponent's extended hand.

The back of the hand and fingers unprotected by the glove make for excellent gap-closing fast and whipping strikes. The pain your opponent feels plus the sound of bone hitting bone is also immediate and sort of distracting. The hand retracted towards the body (see the above picture), still makes for a good target for Taekwondo's penetrative kicks. Get that hand sandwiched between a hip or leg and a side kick and you're going to start losing training partners fast. Can't get the position right? Hone in on that elbow then. If it's amateur hour your partner may have his lead hand relaxed and straightened by his side.

I have tried various different strikes with varied results on an opponent's arm. You'd be surprised how well a shuto knife hand or even a punch works on a person's arm. On someone who was expecting a strike to land on their body, the new and exciting pain shooting up their arm throws them off-balance. I remember with much fondness of a time I literally stopped a session between a huge brown belt I was dreading to spar with. I didn't want to get hurt of course. So I hit him in his forearm as hard as I could with a knife hand. His eyes went wide. And he said his arm went numb; tingling at the same time; and he couldn't control his hand. It's lovely what happens when the gloves come off.

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Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
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6 Mar 2012

Striking with the Top of Foot and the Ball of Foot

The Smash with Your Foot Workshop (I come up with the best names) was a smashing success, and it was fun to host other practitioners at our school. One question that was posed early on was from my Goju Ryu instructor friend - who was very interested that I was kicking my target with the ball of the foot during a short range roundhouse exercise. He might have seen more top of foot strikes if this was any other Taekwondo school.
Kicking with the top of the foot applies impact stress perpendicularly on those long thin bones. Kicking with the ball of the foot allows you to channel more stress along the length of the foot - reducing the risk of a painful injury.

My quick response was that that are instances where the top of the foot gives you advantage: the two main ones that came to mind are when you're kicking the groin and going for the outside of the thigh. The top of the foot of course gives you additional reach - so when you're sparring in a relatively controlled situation, you may use that weapon safely with the appropriate protection. By and large however, the ball of the foot allows you to get good striking power without increasing your chances of breaking the thin bones on the top of your foot. The ball of the foot also allows you to use your weapon against hard to reach targets on the body, or land those strikes behind obstacles like an arm held out for coverage. I would advice all practitioners to try and maintain the integrity of this weapon even for long range strikes - and learn how it can work for you.

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Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
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