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!
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.
Joong Do Kwan Chung Sah Nim
Hikaru Dojo Shihan
Founder The SuperParents A Team
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