Training Warriors for the 21st Century

Training Warriors for the 21st Century
Joong Do Kwan Traditional Taekwondo cross training with Kidokwan Perth

27 Apr 2012

Pragmatic Self Defence Images


Yul-gok Step 24
Toi-gye Step 20-21
Yul-gok Step 31
Yul-guk Step 16
Choong-gun Step 21-22
Dan-gun Step1-2
Dan-gun Step 9

What I wanted to do was to just search for self defence images on the internet and pair them up to tactics or sequences within Taekwondo patterns - as I teach them. The process of searching for practical value isn't difficult - this is what we've been busy doing in Joong Do Kwan Tae Kwon Do over the last dozen years. What I found during this trawl through Google images however were a lot of silly photos - self defence scenarios that show women holding on to their handbags and trying to fight off a snatch theft. Or 'cool' looking shots where women in skimpy gear show how to punch (poorly) and do funky kickboxing type combinations in a self defence scenario (also poorly). Hey, if someone is going to victimise you, chances are they're likely to have loads more adrenaline, experience, and meanness than you do. Don't risk a brain hemmorhage for your wallet. It's not worth it! When you fight, fight for the right reasons. Fight to protect yourself and your loved ones. Live to fight another day! Keep safe folks!

Links
Self-Defence: Trained v Untrained Updated

--
Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
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24 Apr 2012

Double Augmented Forearm Blocks

There's little on the Morote Chudan Uchi Uke or Taekwondo's Double Augmented Forearm Blocks on the internet. Most of what I've seen - even from sources I usually respect, show ludicrous explanations of this technique.


Mostly I think it's related to the key terms 'augmented' and 'block'. Once you think of it this way and try to search for a meaning or application for a very strong blocking technique, which is how this technique was taught to me, you start grasping for straws and are forced down a garden path to some very poor kata or hyung interpretation.

So if we stop looking at those main terms, try not to follow the trend of seeing everything like a handlock, and ask ourselves how to really hurt a person with this technique - this leads you to different options for holding your two hands out like that. Yeah sure I guess you could apply a nikkyo or 'Z' lock and put pressure on the elbow using your forearm (I've seen some high level hard stylists come up with this). But come on ... that's stretching it, don't you think?

What I came to the conclusion of early on is that the back hand plays a big role in this technique. Not really to augment the front hand as a block. Why would I really want to put my arms into an oncoming strike which might require me to crush my lead arm? Forget it.

What I want to do is to have both hands out so that my front hand can grab hair, wrench the opponent's neck sideways, and punch upwards with the back hand. I could cause some lethal and permanent damage if I hit a person in the chin whilst his head was wrenched sideways. Or if I aim lower, then I can strike without the lethality but still apply some sickening force whilst controlling his head.

The move in the Bubishi


Keep it safe, folks.

Links
Taekwondo's Applied or Augmented Double Blocks
--
Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
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20 Apr 2012

Grabbing the Opponent and using him as a Shield

In Do-san we apply the open palm block / spearhand, and turn as a neck grab from behind and a choke over the hip. The opponent is lying on your hip, facing upward. Yeah, really contrived, but patience ... I've not got to the punch line yet. In Won-hyo, we use Step 7 'Teacup Saucer' to grab the opponent's neck from the front, and then continue to crank their neck, rotate them around, and perform a sidekick as takedown to the opponent's knee. The 'Teacup Saucer' can be seen in Step 7a and 7b of Heian Shodan - the back hand is chambered and the front fist is stacked vertically on top of the chambered fist. Aside from Won-hyo, we go into 'Teacup Saucer'  in Yul-gok Step 22 before the sidekick.

Heian Shodan - 'Teacup Saucer' and side kick

Won-hyo - bypassing the transition  'teacup saucer' and showing chambering of sidekick in step 7
 In Won-hyo we also use one of the knifehands to perform an 'irimi' or entering takedown. It's basically a neck grab where the opponent's body is behind you followed by yet another neck crank and the eventual takedown.

http://www.securityguide.us/2012/01/17/judo-self-defense-techniques-o-goshi-judo-flip-tips/  shows your standard O-goshi hip or neck throw. You don't have to throw the opponent. If you grab the opponent's nose, you can crank their head all the way around and reposition them using an Aiki 'irimi' - creating a very compliant shield.

Lastly, in Yul-gok and Chulgi ... the open hand extension and elbow strike can be leveraged to block two sequential punches, pulling the opponent into a neck embrace and a landing an elbow or heel palm to the side of the head or neck. Whilst here, the opponent is pulled closer, has his head pushed down, and then lands up in the ol' 'Teacup Saucer' grip, and where you use the 'Teacup' to smack him on the back or side of the neck.

http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/best_neck_workouts.htm shows a position you might easily find yourself in - you should be able to counterstrike with the other hand, knee strike, pull the opponent closer to you and push his head down so you'll end up in a teacup saucer position. Irrespective of the final position, you can use this position as a shield against your opponent's other home boys coming after you. 

This type of control allows you to progress strikes or close quarter combat to apply control over the opponent. In the dojo setting, you might see this as a nice takedown exercise and it might look 'cool' to drop  your opponent with minimal effort - in comparison to effort it takes to perform a shoulder throw or even a leg reaping throw.

But seeing this as just another funky way of taking down the opponent is to ignore the exercise as a way of improving your multiple person skills. Yes, please let's all go beyond thinking that you can stand right between two opponents and block simultaneous attacks that are launched equi-distance and timed just nice for that kodak opportunity.
http://www.galwaytkd.com/aboutTKD.html shows off a REALLY nice photo.  But that's all it is. 

The multiple person drill (see Multiple Opponent Sparring Drill too) we use requires the defender to try and move and line up attackers so we only have to deal with the one person at one time. In order to reduce the speed of movement, sooner or later you'll need to start control that one attacker close to you and to use that person as a shield - keeping this person between you and his other homies.



I have seen my students all too often use both hands to grab onto their 'shield' and try to run left and right to position themselves nicely. There's no overhand neck grab, under the arm grab, no neck control, no striking with the elbow whilst grabbing, making for head butts and basically there's no reality involved. Now that's fine in the dojo setting when we're having some fun and learning environmental awareness. But the situation begs you to consider using one arm more effectively as a control mechanism and the other as a striking tool AND then to be able to manipulate the opponent. Of course all the while preventing his girlfriends trying to jump on your back.

This post has mostly focused on the Step 7 'Teacup Saucer' technique in Won-hyo, but check out Yul-guk: If you control the Head, you control the Body. In the Yul-gok post, the aim is to get to the head to perform a throw or takedown. Of course, it's not too difficult in that throwing position to shoot in closer and then control the neck - so I'd say it's part of the same bag of skills you'd need when up close.

Enjoy!

Colin
--
Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
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15 Apr 2012

Anti-Bully Blogging Carnival

Anti-Bully Blogging Carnival

Welcome to the first-ever Anti-Bullying Blogging Carnival hosted by Colin's Traditional Taekwondo Techniques Blog.

Blogging Carnivals have been popular in many blogging circles and are a great way to get blog owners working together to develop topics and draw interest to each other's blogs. It was my hope to use this blogging carnival to create some solidarity amongst martial arts bloggers, and to help promote awareness of this important ancillary message that many martial arts instructors already do in tandem with their martial arts and self defence practices.

Before I proceed, please let me thank Dr Bruce Clayton of Shotokan's Secret, Vaughan Jackson, Theodore Kruczek of Okinawan Karate-do InstituteCharlie Wildish from Bunkai JutsuSanko Lewis of Soo Shim Kwan, Michele Apsokardu of Just a Thought, Lori O'Connell of Pacific Wave Jiu Jitsu, Scott Phillips from Weakness with a Twist, Neil Hall from London Chinatown TKD Wellbeing and Rick Matz of Cook Ding's Kitchen for their submissions and their support of this blogging carnival.

The Anti-Bully Message

Back in my day, bullying was considered a dreaded and unavoidable part of schoolyard antics. No one talked about it because no one knew that the situation could be improved. So I was surprised and delighted that my 10yo son could tell me that there is physical, verbal/emotional, and cyber bullying. He could also recount how his school dealt with two children who were antagonising each other: with teachers constantly supervising play times, having weekly class 'meetings,' bringing the parents into class, and ensuring that sufficient 'feel good' messages were channeled to the class in question. 

Just like how his school dealt with that bullying episode, I typically share with people that the martial arts also doesn't have one 'magic bullet.' There is no one secret that is kept, passed on from teacher to disciple that guarantees victory - well, not in my system anyway. And this is true for what martial artists can do to help prevent and reduce bullying - the point is that martial arts training has much to offer the child practitioner: confidence, physical defence tactics and mental tenacity - just to name the main positives.  

Make no mistake, martial art instructors don't just spout one liners taken from books - each instructor have had his or her fair share of dealing with confrontations, physical aggression, politics, self defence tactics and the varied aptitude of students walking through their doors. So while there may be disagreement amongst them, don't discount their experiential knowledge on this topic. These individuals live by their systems, and their knowledge has been earned not by abstract concept - but by blood, sweat and tears. It is no wonder that many commercial anti-bullying courses borrow martial arts training concepts to help participants learn certain key themes.

Anti-bully Carnival

Please go to each post and comment under their individual articles. Additionally, look out for those three blog posts that have been awarded badges for Outstanding Submissions. It was not an easy task, and all who participated should know that they have done extremely well. Please congratulate all of them while you're reading their submissions. 

Outstanding Submissions

Best Technical Discussion goes to Charlie Wildish from Bunkai Jutsu

Most Eye-Opening Discussion goes to Sanko Lewis from Soo Shim Kwan

Best New Material goes to Scott Phillips from Weakness with a Twist

Promote the Carnival

It would be great if you could promote the carnival and all of the blogs you've read here. The more traffic we get, the more we can justify increasing involvement and getting more people involved in our efforts. Push this URL http://www.joongdokwan.com/2012/04/anti-bullying-blogging-carnival.html through FaceBook or through Twitter, and get people to come support our cause. Or take the code from the widget below to display the Anti-Bully Blogging Carnival on your website or blog to show your support! And let us know about it by adding your comment below.








To Participate in Future Carnivals

Please subscribe using our Blogging Carnival Form if you are an owner or author of a martial arts website or blog and are interested in participating in a future carnival. Or click on the Blogging Carnivals Button below.



Links
Anti-Bully Issues - What Martial Arts Can Teach Parents of Young Children

Keep safe, folks!

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

The 18th Precept of Sensei Gichin Funakoshi by Mireille Clark

Sensei Gichin Funakoshi said:

18. Practicing karate correctly is one thing; engaging in a real fight is another.

For many years now, I have been thinking about the concept of "truth".

What is truth?

Sensei Funakoshi's 18th precept brings a straightforward answer: Karate practice in the dojo, even when done well, is not the same as fighting. I will attempt to expand this explanation by offering what I see, and I would ask for some flexibility on you, the reader's part, when it comes to interpretation.

Truth relies on expectations. If I tell you that I'm going to give you an apple. Your mind will bring forth certain expectations of what that word means.

If I hand you a piece of paper instead of a fruit, (or a Macintosh computer :-) ), you will compare my action to your expectations and you will say "This isn't an apple."

If I point out the sketch of an apple that is on the paper.. you might accept it as a "truth" but just minimally. Your brain would assert that I gave a picture, not an item.. but that this is passable.

Real Karate relies on truth. If a person says that they are doing a middle punch, then there has to be some effectiveness to their action. Not only should their technique be correct, but there has to be a reality to the effort.

"You may train for a long time, but if you merely move your hands and feet and jump up and down like a puppet, learning karate is not very different from learning a dance. You will never have reached the heart of the matter; you will have failed to grasp the quintessence of karate-do."
Quote of Sensei Gichin Funakoshi

There HAS to be the essence of making the technique "work" for you in order to call the effort that we put forth in the dojo as being a Martial Art. The whole body, mind, and spirit needs to send forth that middle punch for it to "be" a middle punch. Otherwise, if ever you need to send a punch in a real fight, your body/mind/spirit will not know what to do because you have never trained for it.

Reality is that there are no rules in a real fight, and everything happens quickly. Technique can only happen if it's already ingrained in you... and that happens when you put your heart into every exercise, every stance, every strike, every block.

Have you ever listened to a concert and heard a technically correct piece of music, but felt within that there was something missing? Something essential to make that piece come alive? This is the same thing with Martial Arts.. There has to be a "focus", or "energy" that happens when the person is executing a technique that makes it come alive. One should work towards keeping this focus or "Kime" for each time they move.

Also, your expectations of what is happening, or of what should happen, depends on what occurs. You might believe that you are training with focus, but all along you've just been flailing your arms. How can you know? An experienced Instructor can guide you. He/she can see that your punch is still in the formation stage, and hasn't yet reached effectiveness. This is not a bad thing.. it is good to know the truth because now you can work towards improvement instead of being stuck in mediocrity. It's up to you to put your whole self into each movement without holding back so that you can last for the whole class, or so that you don't get tired. You will develop stamina, and learn how to breath/move properly by investing yourself in this way.

Yet, even so, we cannot delude ourselves that what we do in a dojo will be the same as engaging in the chaos of a random fight. In real life, we will be wearing normal clothes, and standing on uneven surfaces, and there will be many obstacles, and variables around us.

I wish you good training
Mireille

Related Links



--
Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
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There was this bully ...

I remember I was in grade 4, and this monster of a boy was in grade 6. Everything about him made him stick out, he was large - at least a head taller than I was, in the 'normal' stream (read 'slow'), always had a grubby uniform, and was always pushing and shoving everyone. Literally, all of us were terrified of him. Him and that permanent scowl he had on his face.

I nicked this image off the net, and this
guy's a little fatter than I remember 'my'
bully, but the look is about there. :-) 

It was not something I was premeditating, but on the way up the stairs one day, I couldn't help it - I just decided to push back. No one should be shoving people around and threatening them with physical violence. It was crowded, we were walking towards each other and I shoved back hard.

Of course the shove didn't really hurt him, but the intended insult found it's target. He was taken aback but was almost always looking for a fight, and I just gave him the opportunity. I didn't try to escalate it, but neither was I backing down. I bet he noticed how much smaller I was. A perfect target. Students all around us were looking and I could see the fear in their faces.

He challenged me to a fight: "You want to fight?" Now it was my turn to be taken aback. I hadn't thought this through and this was more than what I was bargaining for. I could take the 'F' words being thrown my way but this guy was huge and I didn't know a thing about defending myself. I literally couldn't fight my way out of a wet paper bag. UNFORTUNATELY, I wasn't in any mood to back off, and I accepted his damn challenge. It was to happen after school and we were to meet at the Assembly Hall.

My friends were truly worried for me. But I told them not to think about it. Hell, I didn't want to think too much about it.

The time came and I remember dreading the walk to the Assembly Hall. I remember quaking in my boots as I faced off with him and dropped my bag on the ground. The sound echoed around us. There was no one around. The other children were going home, and whilst it wasn't really an enclosed place ... no one was looking at us.

He looked incredibly menacing one-to-one, but he wasn't making any moves to come at me. There were still fighting words, and he kept taunting me. But since I knew shit about these things, I just stood where I was. Time seemed to drag on until a prefect came walking by, saw what was happening ... and stopped us. I breathed a sigh of relief - and my heart was tripping as I made my escape.

I thought I was still in for trouble after that event, but you know what? Somehow he and I avoided each other from that day on. He got out of that school about a year after, and I had another two years. But I didn't face any more taunts nor was I threatened by him. Was it just because I stood my ground and showed him I wasn't backing down? Whatever it was, I was fortunate for not getting my face bashed in, and it worked out for the best.

Some issues for discussion
1. Why on earth did teachers not recognise the problem this bully represented? He was definitely a problem but it seemed it was not their job, not their department to look out for the smaller students.
2. Children should not be able to be isolated in areas of the school away from other children.
3. Fights should be reported in by friends. Why didn't the school ensure that friends dob this fight in? (Actually, why didn't they just hide in the bushes and jump the bastard?)
4. Why did I get myself into that situation? It could have ended badly, and I could have not showed up. But I felt compelled ... and we need to question the wisdom of this.
5. If a prefect saw us about to pound on each other, shouldn't he have reported in and escalate it?




Martial Arts Perth


There are many ways to look at this story. I don't advise you to take it as an example of what to do. But you should use it as a learning opportunity to highlight how stupid situations like this can happen in schools.

Colin
--
Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
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12 Apr 2012

Tae Kwon Do Techniques: Tae Kwon Do Forearm Block

I decided to go to youtube to see what a search for Taekwondo Techniques would yield. One of the first things that popped up was a video of a  young instructor talking about a lower block technique.



Eric, the ITF guy above seems to be a fairly good instructor. He speaks clearly and builds up sequential information nicely. In fact, he's performing better for the camera than Master Instructor Syd in the next video below.



Both instructors are really performing the same hardan marki low block. Syd looks like he's doing it straight out of GM Jhoon Rhee's 1970s textbook, Eric on the other hand looks he's performing the block with a modified fold so that arms are crossed in front of the practitioner before the blocking arm is sent out.

When we work on the lower block or any block for that matter, the folding of the block around the body is tactically important to us. Syd for this particular block, folds the arm high - with palm facing the ear. It is this raising of the arm and swinging it across the body that helps provide cover and allows us to deal with strikes to the face or centreline. Look at this picture I nicked off Google.


Nice relaxed deflection and parry of the oncoming strike. That's how that folding works when we practice this block on a line drill. Notice too how this guy above has his head dropped. We don't want to have our chin jutting out and getting one on the kisser (see How Not to Get Punched in the Nose). The head position helps reduce the size of the target and allows you to take some force and dissipate it into your skeleton if absolutely necessary - rather than having it end up in your neck.

The following is an image that's from my buddy Soo Shim Kwan's blog. While this is his prelude to an arm bar, this is what you're missing from a low block if you fold your arms too low. Now I'm not saying that the ITF version is wrong - it's just different.



As for the formation of the fist - while Eric is correct in that we strike with the first two knuckles, that's not how the fist is chambered or how it is held when folded together for the block. When the fist is close to your body, it looks more like a hammerfist.

In fact, the wrist is more or less relaxed when held this way, and only should start to tense up fully during the act of striking a target. This allows the wrist to flex and 'present' the front face of the first two knuckles that you punch with. If you're punching of course. If you're hammering someone's groin like in the photo below it's still done as a hammerfist strike. As with all other strikes - the weapon you choose is only the 'end manifestation' of everything that started from the feet, knees, hips, trunk, shoulders and arms. I.e. there is tactical sense to choose a different weapon to match an opening, then your fist should be relaxed until it presents the right tool to do the job.



Once I had a boxer come visit my dojo, and he had a heap of exposure to the martial arts and expressed his dismay that many of the schools he went to weren't teaching any practical skill to the beginner. He also said that he just couldn't understand any of the blocks. We go into a discussion and I asked him how long it would take for a beginner to learn how to punch more or less correctly, and his reply was anywhere between several weeks to several months. Then we go into a discussion of a low block and a hammerfist strike - the ease of doing this was compared with the punch and we both agreed that it was far simpler for a beginner to learn and do a low block motion. That's when I asked him to grab me with his arm and I literally hammered his forearm. 


Yep, I used a low block and I hammered his arm - not full force mind you - and you should have seen his eyes wide with the realisation. It's the wakeup call of someone holding your arm still and slamming the edge of their forearm against the top of your forearm. Or of course it could be your bicep, or inside of the elbow. Or your groin, neck, solar plexus, back of the hand, etc.

This is not something you 'exchange' and isn't something you can 'take' and keep standing. The shearing force between both the arms is powerful and makes for a potent strike. As you can see, I'm not using it against a front kick in a kodak moment ... and with a simple example, I've made an expert boxer aware of the fact that a beginner can do something like this safely and powerfully ... and very soon after they start training.

Keep at it folks!

Links
Low Block Beginner Drill
Taekwondo One Step Sparring Video
--
Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
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11 Apr 2012

Anyone in Singapore Interested in Workshops or Seminars end April?

I'm headed to Singapore end of this month - let me know if you're interested in coordinating a seminar/workshop so I can defray travel expenses. I can cover a wide range of discussions, and can weave in my information with your own curriculum or training objectives. Cheers, Colin
--
Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
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7 Apr 2012

Making the Taekwondo Upset Punch less Upsetting

Why would an upset punch would be called 'upset' and when calling it an uppercut seems so much more natural? Maybe because it's upsetting when someone does something like this in a less than desirable manner?

Alright, I'll go on record to say there's no one 'right' way to throw a punch. If you see an opening, swing your hand, manage to hit the opponent where you wanted to hit him and not break your hand in the process, hey ... congratulations.

But I do reckon that there are ways to do a punch better. Last night we did some close quarter drills which included the 'upset' punch. In our system, we have the first upset punch in Step 15 of Choong-gun. Yeah, yeah, yeah ... that's not how you do your form. Well that's how we do our form - we do a mid yop marki in Step 14, a circular grab and upset punch punch in Step 15 and then a punch in Step 16. While we don't apply it as such, that's the way we perform it in the pattern.

So anyway, back to our session - here we are with the drill and we're getting students to control their opponent's elbows, drag the cover out of the way, and then punch generously into their opponent's lats. This way you don't have to hold back too much and people don't get too bruised. Except what I'm seeing from my vantage point is people standing stock still, and moving their arms back and forth like Popeye. Actually even Popeye supports the strike with good body movement.


What I don't want to see is an arm disconnected from the body. The arm is disconnected from the body when it is held so loosely that there's minimal shoulder involvement, the movement is driven mostly by arm power and there's little body rotation supporting the strike.


Look at the above boxing picture, the uppercut has the body rotating upwards into the opponents face. The strike comes upward through an opponent, and the elbow is held low so that the mass of the upper body can be sent through the arm into the striking weapon. We mostly achieve a facsimile of this in the form whilst our bodies are upright by bringing the elbow close to the body and tightening our lats. This means that the forward motion of the body can 'connect' with the arm and you are hitting with more than the 5 or so kilos that the arm weighs.

Hmm... I'm not too sure about this guy's upset punch.

I don't really like to overly criticize other practitioners, but the picture above shows an example of a twin fist upset punch performed done not too differently from how my students were faring last night. The guy's lats don't seem to offer enough stability to the arm, the strike seems a little over extended, and the strike also seems to be traveling in a trajectory outside the body's shoulder frame. I would also recommend angling the strike upwards, if indeed this was performed as a strike. Of course if you were saying it's really supposed to be a takedown, hey, just ignore what I'm saying. Or better yet, associate it with some secret pressure point skill that I'm not privvy to.

My top tips to make the punch work for you is to support the strike with your body, to keep the elbow close to your lats, and to angle the strike upwards. If the arms leaves the body and is swung using some shoulder muscle, that does not help optimise the drive your body can create. And if you don't tighten the arm to your frame using your lats/pecs, then you are not maximising the power you can apply into the target. The interesting thing is that the arm doesn't move all that much in relation to the body - meaning if you get the body to move with the arm and decelerate the arm upon impact, that can make for a really solid strike. Check out this kyokushin video.

While the arm is not yet extended and when you strike something at such a range, the impact area is the 'box' of the hand, i.e. the lower three knuckles as opposed to the two knuckles used in lunging strikes (with the hand rotated and palm facing downward). If you apply the 'hard weapon to soft target and soft weapon to hard target' rule of thumb, sending this typically untrained part of the hand into the opponent should not reduce it's ability to apply a good amount of power.

Links
Getting punched in the gut
Punch as hard as a black belt
Choong-gun list of posts
Chon-ji and Dan-gun: The Vertical Fist

Colin
--
Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
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5 Apr 2012

You're Invited to Participate in the Anti-Bully Blogging Carnival

Martial Art Bloggers and Website Owners are invited to participate in the Anti-Bullying Blogging Carnival scheduled to go live on this blog April 15 2012. More information is at Anti-Bullying Blogging Carnival Proposal.


The idea is to get bloggers together to develop and promote anti-bullying articles through our respective blogs and social network pages. Where I know some bloggers draw thousands of views a month, together, I am confident that we can pull ten times that amount in a relatively short amount of time.

All articles will featured the above button at the base of their articles and those buttons (with the correct link communicated closer to the date) will highlight the list of all entries submitted on this blog. Submissions should be April 12 2012 - in one week from now (you can indicate where your submission is by adding your URL in the comment section either below this post or the original 'proposal' post)... so don't delay.

Looking forward to your participation.

Cheers,

Colin
--
Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
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Historical Lessons Beyond Historical Facts

Totally Taekwondo Issue 38
I fabricated the truth. Cooked up details. Repurposed Yul-gok's philosophical debate, attributing it to someone else. And then I even used an aged photo of myself for an article I submitted to Stuart Anslow's highly respected Totally Taekwondo. I did!

There were many ideas that were floating in my mind when I thought about what I needed to write. But the main issue that kept popping up for me was, and has always been - as it is for even a majority of practitioners, to look at the identity of Taekwondo. Is Taekwondo really a martial art? Is Taekwondo really unique? Does Taekwondo really have links to a 2000 year old heritage? Does Taekwondo have anything other than fancy kicks? Is Taekwondo anything more than a joke?

Who really is that man? Or does it matter at all?

Even when I was young practitioner, before I started learning Traditional Taekwondo, we would hear  derogatory remarks about Taekwondo. Criticism was leveled on the art from everything about their sole focus on kicks and the lack of hand techniques all the way down to the zips used in their uniforms. It's even worse nowadays - with any quick search showing generous taekwondo vitriol on many online forums.

My purpose was not to defend sport taekwondo, in fact I will champion any activity that helps develop confidence and proves to be a healthy and safe pursuit for children and young adults. My purpose is not to question the variable quality of taekwondo training - I am sure there are innumerable outfits where you will find a limited range of techniques, payment plans controlled by long contracts, concentration on point sparring, and marketing slogans touting their bona fide martial art certifications.

My purpose is to bring us back to the beginning, to understand the circumstance that gave birth to this new martial art, the problems those pioneers faced, and to develop an insight to the people who were themselves struggling to find their own cultural identity. I took it upon myself to research historical details so I could recreate the sight and sounds of Korea framed by WWII and their Civil War. Where 'real' data ends however, is where my historical fiction takes over.

This is my tribute to legends.

But this is not some pointless fantasy. This is a search for truth. And since truth is subjective, it was my hope that readers could take my story and reflect on the lessons such issues presented.

I posed a question in my article, which I'd like to ask of you. As a martial artist, "... if you had a few months left to live, what would you be thinking of?" And if you had an idea, a "wondrous fusion" which may help improve the destitute circumstance of those around you of your country in fact, what would you do if you were given a second chance?

Let us pay respect to these brave pioneering individuals who deserve more recognition than they have received, who have faced life and death situations in both WWII and the Korean War, and let us try to look beyond the details and understand the lessons they were desperate and more than worthy to teach.

Please click on the above photo to download the issue of Totally Taekwondo and support Stuart by visiting his website. And come back tomorrow - I'm announcing an Anti-bully Blogging Carnival hosted on this site in the next week or so.

Links



Colin
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Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
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4 Apr 2012

Fearing for my students keeps my martial arts alive

It started many years ago when I was developing my women self defence program. The realisation hit me all at once - that after a short course I was sending these participants back into the world armed with what? A few techniques, new awareness of the risks they faced, and some words of wisdom.

What are you waiting for?

It's more intimate for my martial arts program. I see their strengths, but I also see many of their weaknesses. No, I'm not talking about the crap internet warriors spew about taekwondo and its sport-oriented nature. That's not even something that bothers me much anymore. I'm talking about knowing what each individual is capable of - what they can use to 'win' an encounter, and how they might set themselves up to fail miserably.

There are many many times when I plan for a class, where I would run through the syllabus in my head, figure out what I want to teach, and then ask myself what the students actually need to make them tougher, a more difficult target. My hope is that I am using each class session to make them a better fighter - a better survivor.

When I was growing up, I used to put at least an hour's worth of my time every day training. This was in addition to the two classes a week, and the stuff I was doing with my friends in school. This increased when I was in college where I would put in regularly 2-3 hours of training six days a week.

The point I'm making is not so much how I got to where I got. The point I'm making, and this is something which compounds my fear and my responsibility, is that I don't see the majority of students putting in the same effort. And yet I think that the time I spent is the bare minimum someone needs to put in to learn some good martial arts. To make their traditional taekwondo more than just what it is.

At some point in time, this martial art and self defence instructor has to realise that the burden of responsibility will ultimately fall onto the individual. A martial art has never been a silver bullet. It is simply training which helps you become stronger, more effective, and more resilient - when you decide to use it. But it doesn't make you bulletproof. So being realistic about what you know of yourself and what you should know of the environment you face, what would you do in your situation?

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Colin

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--
Colin Wee
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
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1 Apr 2012

Yul-gok Taekwondo Pattern Step 36 as Take Down



This is one of our resident 5th gups practising Step 36 of Taekwondo Pattern Yul-gok which is a High Side Back Fist in X-stance from Jump.

The Yul-gok technique as it features in the Karate form Bassai


What you are seeing is a left hand (the backfist) grabbing the lapel of green belt Daniel San and lifting it up, and the right hand is used to apply pressure from the outside of Daniel San's left elbow. This video was taken just while he was acquiring this technique, so you can see him processing the move in his head.

A really strong lift is important - as is the push of the left leg between the opponent's legs.

What I would have loved to see is more 'torque' in the video, using the left arm to lift the lapel higher, and the bottom hand to push harder on the elbow. The analogy we use for most throws is a steering wheel - and I don't see enough of that steering wheel happening here.

The opponent starts to topple sidewards
The still I took of the hold (done with opposite hand) seems to have a much better grip. You can't see Jacob's hand but Daniel San's right arm seems to be pushed in quite hard - and he's starting to lean outwards to Daniel San's right.

I'd also like to see evidence of that forward thrust, where that jump into x-stance translates to a forward push into the opponent, and really, the 'x-stance' creates a small 'inner circle' so that the opponent's centre of gravity is pushed out of his base - and thrown in this case to the left. Look at the still - once Jacob swings his back leg around and looks out to his left, you can imagine what impact that will have on Daniel San, who is even now struggling to keep his upright posture.

Turning the back foot around
What Jacob is doing quite well, despite slipping past a tight 'X-stance' in Step 36 of Yul-gok is he goes into a new stance whilst doing the turn, and starts moving in the direction of  Yul-gok Step 37, which is a forward balance and twin augmented fist block.

To make more sense of this technique, the practitioner can grab on to lapel or t-shirt (or even ear) and can apply a thumb jab into the bracchial nerve or under the ear. The outside pressure can be applied grabbing on to the opponent's tricep, or simply pushing on his elbow. A head butt, knee strike and the pushing forward motion plus spinning should do the job very nicely.

You don't have to hold the X-stance per se. It is merely a transitory stance in which you are changing the direction of the opponent's centre of gravity. In essence you don't hold the opponent in the X-stance, you use it to spin him around, and therefore where you really want to be is in the front lunge stance just like the next step of Yul-gok.

The net effect is you exchange places with your opponent, and let him fall where you were, creating a barrier between you and whoever was standing behind you when you began the move. OR if there's no one behind you, perhaps you might decide to accelerate him into those chairs, or better still put him into the 'Lost Property Box'.

See more posts on Taekwondo Pattern Yul-gok, then come take my Taekwondo Quiz to see how much you know about Taekwondo, and then come tell us how you did on our FaceBook page.

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