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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