One Step(s) ... Oh Joy

One step sparring - the most contrived of all exercises.

Having someone come at you, like the way they do, might make you think you're actually doing something - so it gets you focusing on ripping through the technique sequences as fast as possible.

I use a series of one steps from white to black in training. Each taken from or inspired by a Taekwondo pattern. The first from Chon-ji is a step to the outside of the attacking arm, performing a middle block to hyperextend or control the arm, a lower block to strike the arm, and a punch to the ribs.

Do I wait for him to complete his punch before I take a step? Oh no. I move when I see him move. I don't want the oncoming strike to accelerate and for me to cop it while it's at it's fastest. I want to deal with it before it reaches full speed. So I fire my legs when I see his body twitch.

Stepping 'outside' of the attacking arm, I want the step to be just skimming to the outside. I don't want to take a huge step too far away from the opponent's body. If I do, it'll put me again at a mid range distance for both his hands and feet. Keeping close jams his attacking side and puts me further away from his secondary weapon.

I also don't want to just stroll into his strike. While gap closing I want to raise my arms and push my elbows forward. I want something to occupy my centreline, I want my head tucked down, my body curved, and I want to exhale - in case I don't judge the entire thing properly. Counterintuitively, I don't want to turn my body away while going in. I want to head in like I'm going to headbutt the opponent. If you turn away it exposes the body and the side of the face more than is necessary.

When performing the middle block on his extended arm, the middle block is done close to his elbow and the back hand is used to control and pull on his forearm. As I don't really need to focus a strike at this moment, the body is more or less relaxed. This allows me to torque my body and apply some hyperextension to the arm - I am not trying to wrench his arm using my arm strength. I'm using the middle block as level and the body turn to hyperextend his arm.

The lower block is dropped onto the arm to show how devastating a lower block can be on an extended arm! It's not to say I need to do three or more techniques in that single one step. But as you can see, this is turning out to be a longer lesson that simply showing two blocks and a punch. So the lower block is done on top of the forearm, OR the tricep, OR the bicep, OR inside the elbow. The targetting and angle of the strike is as important as the nature of the strike - which is done 'endowing' the striking block with body mass. And just fyi - no need to know 75 ways of doing a down block ... just make sure you target the arm correctly. If you choose to do this at a seminar, partner someone with facial expressivity - and get the photographer to be ready. It's a good shot.

Anyway, after I deal with the arm, and clearing it out of the way with that lower block, I then punch to the ribs using your good ol' regular reverse snap punch to the lower ribs. I want the targetting to be at or just under solar plexus height, and vertically located from over the illiac on the hip to under the lats around the back of the body. For this one step, the point would be more over the hip at solar plexus height. I provide the range because many people don't appreciate how a powerful strike can be done to the back of the body and disable an opponent - most people just think of the head as the ultimate striking zone. They're limiting themselves.

The punch itself is done with hip vibration and focus. Focus meaning at the point of impact the body locks up so that I can transmit body mass through my skeletal frame into the point of impact. When this happens, the legs, which have previously been relaxed, support the strike and drive it home. I've written a lot about this but it takes months of coordination exercises to get this right.

Does this make sense? What I've described is still a flurry of motion, but it takes a good 5 to 10 minutes of practice and discussion to get the point across. Just as a side note - this is a strike and counter ... or 'go no sen.' Meaning the opponent launches an attack, you perceive it and you retaliate with a counter of your own. 'Sen no sen' or simultaneous counter can be highlighted from a Chon-ji inspired one step by performing a lower block on the punching arm whilst it's still right next to the opponent's ribs. It's a really good technique.

Where the first is us dealing with an arm that's closer to us, the second attempts to gap close earlier and to stop the oncoming hand closer to the opponent. It's a good principle that is used by many combative instructors to stop oncoming strikes before attempting to capture the arm - typically to control a knife wielding opponent, and then to take him down.

Both of these moves if done well apply a certain 'frontal pressure' onto the opponent. I am not simply going through some techniques against an opponent to then go through a dozen more. I am doing this technique to stop the opponent and thus my centre of gravity should be felt encroaching on his centre of gravity. If my arms fail at any time might I then knock him out with a headbutt or halitosis.

All this for a one step. Who'd have thought!

Other one steps posts:

Colin Wee
Chung Sah Nim Joong Do Kwan (Perth)
Shihan, Hikaru Dojo
Founder The SuperParents A Team
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Ah, one-step training.

We used to do a lot of this back in my Combat Hapkido days. It is good for building synaptic responses, though I think many people rely on it too heavily as all they need.

I've always seen it as "theory" that has to be applied in "practical" sense. It is good to study theory, of course, but it is only half of what you need.
Jake said…
This was a really good post and I think it highlights a key training point. You want to be reacting to your opponent in real time. You don't want to wait for them to punch or kick and then lodge a counterstrike. Rather, you want to react the instant they do something and formulate your counteract in that moment. This is really hard to do at first, but with practice most martial arts practitioners can develop the mental and reactionary skills to act without needing to think.
Colin Wee said…
Wow ... I apologise for missing these comments entirely! Guys, thanks for enjoying that post. It's taken some time, but I've added some video that may support what you've read at Taekwondo One Step. Hope you enjoy. Cheers, Colin

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