Training Warriors for the 21st Century

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

6 Nov 2014

Force = [ (Mass x Acceleration) - Fallacies ]

I tire of hearing this equation bandied about by people using it to talk about power.

It's not that the equation is irrelevant to the generation of power. The problem is that the equation is regularly abused by people using it to promote their own pet concepts, or to seem more clever than they are.

Whatever you think of power, the true worth of a practitioner is measured by his understanding of risk and reward. Meaning all the skills that help him cover against strikes or block them coming his way need to always be present. Next is the tactical understanding that the closest distance between your tool and the intended target is a straight line. Pull your tool back and chamber for more power, and you might find yourself on the ground nursing a black eye.

The two factors that help you generate Force - which is what martial artists are interested in are the interplay of mass and acceleration. In a discussion recently I stated that a practitioner will find his upper limit of speed and acceleration rather quickly. What I mean by that is that with a little training and maintenance, most people will achieve the maximum they can ever achieve in a short amount of time. How much fast twitch muscle fibre you have is how much you'll have. If you're genetically gifted, that's great ... but it'll take a huge amount of additional effort to eke out very marginal gains after you first get it.

Mass however is a very different part of the equation, and this is where I find myself having the most contention with some colleagues. Jesse Enkempe in How to Get Massive Power in Your Karate Punches hit the nail on the head when he said "If you are a beginner ... the only mass you'll be able to move into the target is basically your hand. If you train a little longer, you might finally get the whole arm behind the punch. That's a few more pounds! And if you train even more ... you might finally get your whole body's mass behind the punch."

The trick is not attempting to put on mass by waiting for the effects of resistance training or by going to Macca's. And the fallacy of thinking is that everyone's mass is the same. Your mass might be the same if you're standing still, but I can assure you that an untrained person cannot shift his mass as effectively as I can. Simply put, I can accelerate and decelerate more of my mass to support a wide range of striking tools.

In the post Creating a New Upper Limit to Your Punching Power, I talk about creating more mass using compound muscles to drive the strike. The body structure supports both the initial acceleration, and the final deceleration. This closed system type of process helps transmit mass into the point of impact. This is the secret to striking with the body as one.

This contrasts heavily with people trying to throw their strike as a flail into the target. This is a haphazard motion - which while capable of generating force is not generating force effectively. Meaning you will need a strong person to strike the target strongly. With the traditional punch as I described above, a smaller person will have a new found upper limit to punching power that will simply be astounding.

I urge you to re-examine these concepts. After thirty years in the martial arts, this insight gives me cause to return to much of my previous assumptions, and in discussions with other people who have experienced similar gains, we agree that everything is 'the same, yet different' - just through this new insight.

And this new insight directly affects my ability to generate a huge amount of power. Against other respected and experienced instructors, I have used simple strikes whilst they hold strike mitts, and the bruising which occurs as the power blitzes through the target is serious. I have literally had instructors complain about their bruises without mentioning that there was a target that existed between their body and my fist.

I'm not saying this to boast. I am saying that with what feels like minimal effort on my part, the power generated is so frightening that all martial artists should explore this training in order to fully appreciate the value of traditional training.

Keep safe.

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Colin Wee
Principal, Joong Do Kwan (Perth)
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5 Nov 2014

Dan-gun: Twin Outer Forearm Block as Uppercut (Step 9 & 11)


Uppercut with back hand held up for cover

Uppercut to body with back hand held high

Twin Outer Forearm Block - a dead ringer

An uppercut is an excellent versatile strike that comes from underneath, between arms and can find a target in tight situations where a straight punch might not land. It's a fairly easy strike - so there is absolutely no logical reason why I should wait until Kwang-gae Step 2 & 3 to learn an 'upset' punch which is more or less related to the uppercut, but which strikes towards the body not upwards toward the head.

Kwang-gae's Upset Punch - a Little Too Late?
Uppercuts are done close range, with body torque allowing you to find holes through the opponent's defences in order for the punch to land. Entering close range means to put frontal pressure on the opponent using gap closing tactics.

Most cross-training nowadays will help you achieve a decent punch. Hand mitts are held facing downward and toward you and you strike upward. To improve on the strike you should try not to let the arm move freely from the shoulder, but to support the striking motion with body torque and leg expansion.

The Twin Outer Forearm block done as strike is not a boxing tactic. The raised arm is there as a cover and as a grab-control. If the person punches you and you attempt to do this, your opponent will retract his arm and you will be dragged forward AND your strike will be unsuccessful. If you however attempt to strike the opponent with your back hand, the opponent will seek to block or jam your strike. When he does this then you punch under his arm toward his head.

The back hand indicates that you should explore ways to control an extended arm - this does not mean the opponent will give you his arm willingly.

The turn of pattern Dan-gun indicates that you are best using this tactic when you approach the opponent from the side - rather than front on.

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Colin Wee
Principal, Joong Do Kwan (Perth)
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13 Aug 2014

IAOMAS Conference 2014 Pre-Conference Report

Working Title: Making Sure the Gathering Down Under is Up There

Description: International Alliance of Martial Arts Schools pulled off tremendously successful martial art conference in Western Australia on Sept 13 2014 - and these are the pre-confernece events we ran in order to do so.



IAOMAS had a fantastic year in the lead up to the National Australian conference held September 13th 2014 in Perth, Western Australia. The organising committee in their aim to pull off a tremendously successful conference and to ensure word of the event would spread, planned to coordinate a series of mini-events all the way up to the conference date.

This extremely ambitious plan started off right in the heart of IAOMAS - squeezing almost 16 people into IAOMAS Coordinator Colin Wee's garage-dojang. This by invite only event in April of 2014 was coordinated so that new member but-fast-becoming-an-IAOMAS-stalwart Sensei Phil McCormack could bring his students up to Colin's place to mix it up. IAOMAS in the previous year had travelled down to Dunsborough (that's three hours south by car) for a cross training session focusing on the fundamentals of hard style training. Continuing from that first training session, this event focused on advanced (read 'painful') kicks and applications.

Taekwondo and Karate mixing it up in a very intimate setting: Joong Do Kwan and Saseryu get together at The Garage.


Sensei Phil McCormack would of course again lead many of his flock back up to Perth to support the conference later in the year, so it was a good opportunity for him to catch up with IAOMAS Treasurer Dragan Malesic, and another of our Conference Instructors Sensei Nigel Farrier.

In May of 2014, Colin and Dragan attended a Health and Wellness seminar to look at material Dragan would present as one of our Conference Presenter. The conference itself would have a mix of five instructional workshops, two presentations during lunch, a sword demo, and displays. For Dragan's session, he wanted to focus on nutritional supplementation and health programs that might benefit high level athletes and martial artists.

2 Conference organisers Colin Wee and Dragan Malesic previewing material for conference presentation.


In June, it was an honour for Colin to facilitate the presentation of Official Karate Magazine's Golden Shuto Award to Shihan Dan Djurdjevic, well known martial art blogger and long time IAOMAS member. Nominated for outstanding scholarship for an online resource, Dan is well known to martial artists the world over for authoring his extensive blog The Way of Least Resistance.

Long time member and Conference Instructor Dan Djurdjevic received Official Karate Magazine's Golden Shuto Award presented by Colin


Dan has had a rough year battling a host of health issues, but as always generous and supportive, he was happy to agree to be a Conference Instructor and led an interesting session focusing on fundamental movements found in Karate and internal martial arts. The pictures above were taken at his dojo before one of his regular Internal Chinese Martial Arts classes.

At the end of June 2014, Colin made a special pilgrimage all the way to IAOMAS Founder Stuart Anslow's dojang at Raynerslane Taekwondo. Colin participated in Stuart's entire class, and share some elbow strike applications from Taekwondo pattern Yul-gok in tandem with Stuart's approach.

You can say there's a certain hand-holding that occurs in IAOMAS! Colin playing around at IAOMAS Founder Stuart Anslow's dojang at Raynerslane in the UK. 


Just so you know, in spite of their longstanding friendship from the very start of IAOMAS, Colin and Stuart don't normally hold hands. What you see from that black and white photo is a parody of historic photo between Gen Choi Hong Hi and North Korea's Kim Jung Il.

While Colin didn't make the trip only to get grilled by Stuart, this is the very essence of what IAOMAS is all about. Such an opportunity to cross train or network would never have been possible without the vision that was put forth by Stuart as Founder of IAOMAS.

In August, Colin and his sole black belt student Niaal Holder (who did a great job as Conference Food and Beverage Manager) took the spirit of IAOMAS and conference promo messages down to Senior Master Peter Wong's Taekwondo Kidokwan located in Riverton, Perth.

Colin shares the passion and pain at Kidokwan Perth


Master Wong runs a respectable, sizeable and family-oriented Taekwondo dojang, and is passionate about Traditional Taekwondo. He has previously mentioned interest in Stuart's Chang Hon Taekwondo Hae Sul book, is welcoming to other practitioners, and is one of the most open-minded high dan Taekwondo black belts we have met. At the Kidokwan dojang, Colin shared the same material on gap closing elbow applications from Yul-gok as he did at Stuart's dojang in the UK.

One last event to mention before we start on the conference - and that is the pre-conference social at Colin's house! This was to cater to instructors and out-of-town guests. That a very different mix of people finally showed is of no concern when there's good food, good company, and where we can freely loop martial arts video clips without being criticised for being a martial arts geek.

The Pre-conference Party for out-of-state visitors. Not having any present didn't dampen our mood.


On grill is conference instructor Ashley Johnson, who would eventually bring the conference to a close with an incredible sword demo, Dragan can be seen posing with an anonymous sponsor and everyone who attended sitting around getting to know each other. On the menu is a mix of hors d'oeuvres, satay sticks and prawns wrapped in prosciutto.

This article was written to highlight pre-conference events leading up to the IAOMAS Conference in Perth held on September 13th 2014, but make no mistake ... these aren't just marketing plugs for the sake of selling some tickets. These smaller events are an important part of the IAOMAS network, and the relationships we build are important to us.

If you can understand the value of the IAOMAS network, and seek to create the same opportunities for yourself and your students, perhaps you might like to think about participating as an IAOMAS member school? With that one little step maybe one day you might be able to take a picture of yourself holding hands with Stuart Anslow!

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Note: This article was originally published in Totally Taekwondo Issue 71

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30 May 2014

Yulgok Backfist Cross Stance



I guess I might be crazy enough to leap into the fray armed with a backfist. But no, it's not going to be my number one weapon, nor would it pop into my head as a weapon of last resort.

So here I am training with a student who's preparing for his blue belt grading and who's asking about this leap-into-the-fray backfist that you see off step 36 in Taekwondo Yul-gok. Beautiful and balledic. But the first impression of this technique seems to miss the mark as being something that you could use with any sort of seriousness. .

In my description provided for this video on Youtube I compare this jumping step to the leap you also see in Bassai. Bassai, as I understand it was a pattern favoured by none other than Bushi Matsumura - a giant in terms of the development of linear Karate. The opening sequence of Bassai features the exact jumping backfist except it's done on the right side rather than Yulgok on the left.

I reckon the most devastating application I can come up with for Bassai is a finger lock done on an opponent just in front of you, and a 'walk up' to control the opponent by the head (one palm on the chin, the other grabbing hair) before performing a literal head-smashing takedown and a footstomp. The back leg 'tucked' behind the front leg was a way in which I could pivot to deal with another opponent - as in the case of Bassai. However, discussions on the X-step talk often of how this be a leg attack and trap. The difference being that a leg attack or trap requires you to fold the back leg in front and then press downward using the front knee.

So the leap forward in Yulgok encouraged me to explore this leg attack perspective. The back leg fold seem to say the dynamic of a torquing body would require me to turn into the side of the opponent's leg. That more or less justified the cross stance. The back fist in that position was easy to use as a takedown either in the front of the opponent's body or from the back. Or if you want a less 'glamourous' end result, I suppose I could use the forearm of the striking arm to hyperextend the opponent's arm.

Why would I want to leap in in such a way? Again, it's definitely not just for a Kodak moment. I'm not here *just* to look good. In those instances where I've sparred and I've spun on the spot with both legs close together, I spin because it makes the target area much more difficult for the opponent, and I can use different weapons from 'the other side' of the opponent. In this application however, it prompts the practitioner to change angle of entry on the opponent rather than to just chase into him head first. Who's wants to play chicken if the opponent has a weapon? Or if you had a wall to your back, wouldn't you want the opponent to run into it? Or if you have more opponents to your back wouldn't you want to 'bypass' this one in front of you so you can then use him as a shield?

Lots to think about.

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Colin Wee
Principal, Joong Do Kwan (Perth)
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12 May 2014

Happily Using Dosan's Spearhand

Taekwondo Dosan Spearhand right into the opponent's eyes. Or how about a finger jab right on the side of the neck. Yeah, let's see both of that on video!



No, no, no. Who conditions their fingers int he 21st century? Not me. So I'm not going to hit anyone with the tips of my fingers. I can't advocate that move anyway - who can justify the need to blind someone in any situation?

So here I am with the open palm trap and spearhand. I'm going to apply that to deflect any oncoming strike, wade in with a nice over-the-shoulder vertical heel palm and then rotate the opponent's head into a takedown. As you can see, protect yourself during the takedown and proceed with immobilisation.

Dosan would approve of my civic naturedness!

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Principal, Joong Do Kwan (Perth)
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11 May 2014

Drive that Wedging Block into the Attacker

Have you've noticed there are some instructors on the internet nowadays that try to present almost any move you see in a pattern as some esoteric lock or take down. Look, it's the first pattern a beginner learns. Cool - I'll show you a gazillion locks you can do with this one block and turn. Ridiculous.



Here is an application that blocks a swinging type attack and counters at the same time! You can strike the attacking limb or you can elbow the head. Then you get to use your front kick not as some Muay Thai pushing kick, but as a devastating short range inside-the-thigh or worse yet, inside-the-knee kick. See that destructive power? You have that tool under your belt!

Once you're in, you happily apply two short range punches however you like. Higher levels get to strip one of the lead hands of the opponent away and then plough into the ribs with the second punch. Sorry, you don't get to see this on the video.

Train safely!

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Colin Wee
Principal, Joong Do Kwan (Perth)
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7 May 2014

Creating a New Upper Limit to Your Punching Power

I am 5'7" barely and about 72kgs. There is an upper limit to my ability to punch an opponent. If I wanted to compare using the same punching dynamics as I was taught as a young black belt, I would be outpunched by almost any MMA, gym, or wannabe streetfighter junkie.



The fact of the matter is that it's not that the roundhouse punch is 'bad' - it's a good punch. It's a popular punch. But as punches go, if I use shoulder rotation to swing, irrespective of how rooted I am into the ground, I will need loads more shoulder muscles, arm muscles, and upper body strength so that I can throw more mass into the swing, and land it.

Using traditional training equipment however I noticed that the punching dynamics were way different from modern type punching. The arm was closer to the body, and as I pulsed the movement from the legs up to the hips and through the arm, I noticed that I could bypass the weaker shoulder muscles. Essentially I was throwing more weight into it because I was tapping into the larger muscles of my beer gut and legs.

All that was needed was the coordination, and a way of holding my arm so that the transmission of power was much more effective. I practiced and practiced, and soon discovered that I could generate a lot of power. The best thing is that I barely felt like I was doing much - as I hit that post I could hear my entire garage vibrate with the force of the strike. In truth, I was scared that I was hitting the target so hard - one slip was all it would take to break my wrist. But more than that, I was hitting the target to the point where I felt like I was at risk of hurting the bones on my striking hand and certainly the surface of the knuckles.



The incident which I mention in the above video happened for real - I was intoxicated with the sheer amount of force I got levy on that post that I was again at it AND missed. And I only missed the centre by about an inch. Maybe less. The knuckle sheered on the surface and immediately I got a sharp stinging pain that went through the dull ache that was already there.

I stopped punching with the right hand and started with the left - being a little more judicious with the striking force ... mostly. I tried to nurse the right hand by rubbing voltaren and Chinese kung fu liniment to no avail. 3 months. 6 months. 9 months passed. The medication and the massage was not helping.

I eventually went to see an old Chinese acupuncturist who laughed at my folly and my misfortune. However, in his defence ... he was able to cure me miraculously. It's true, he cured my problem with his needles in under 5 sessions. Now - as you can see - I advocate more wisdom in the way practitioners should use the striking post.

I've taken the initiative to include a video of a wall mounted makiwara affixed to a tyre - and that tyre being held for training. I think that's a brilliant idea. My only suggestion there is to make sure the wood frame backing is robust enough. Most el cheapo of the striking posts you buy, made in china, have compressed wood backing - which would just disintegrate. What I didn't like was the example of how they hit the makiwara in the end. For some really sharp makiwara practice, see ...



If you are inspired to make your own equipment, see Traditional Taekwondo Ramblings How to Make Your Own Training Equipment; Tire Makiwara.

Lastly, I'll leave you with one of students Sandy learning how to hit the makiwara.


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Colin Wee
Principal, Joong Do Kwan (Perth)
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2 May 2014

The Reaction Hand with a Vengeance

This is a sequel to The Reaction Hand.

Coming this Summer .... Stop. Drawing. Your. Fist. To. Your. Hip.



I can punch really hard. I don't need to draw my other hand (The Reaction Hand) to my body for me to hit you. Do I have to explain it again? The reaction hand isn't the primary way for you to generate striking power.

Here's a video I uploaded on how to hit the makiwara or striking post. This is the way to learn how to strike with great power.



The only time you sincerely practice The Reaction Hand is when I insist that you do. During line drills. When you do your forms. When you do one step sparring. You do this so you follow the ritual of practice and help your opponents out. In your mind, your reaction hand should have grabbed hair or clothes or body part and drawn it toward you. The Reaction Hand is not used to generate power, it is used to stop the opponent from stepping away from you. But even if that doesn't occur in your mind, when I tell you to draw your hand back to your hip in practice you do so. Likewise when I don't tell you to do so, you don't. :-)

When you do practice The Reaction Hand, I'd like the reaction hand to be pulled smartly back, in balance with the strike, and held tightly next to the body. I don't want it inching past your ribs and I certainly don't want to see the elbow floating away from your body.

When you are not told to practice the reaction hand and you are engaged in combat or self defence moves ... if you pull your hand away from covering your face, your centre-line, or that part of your head or neck vulnerable to attack, you will get into trouble. If not from me, then from your opponent.

Next year, wait for it ... The Reaction Hand-er.

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Colin Wee
Principal, Joong Do Kwan (Perth)
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27 Apr 2014

I Haven't Worn Shin Guards Since I don't Know When, but I Still Have a Smile on My Face



I feel the tremble. I hear the intake of breath. Yet another person shrinks from my little love tap on their shin. The two photos I've included are of me using a knife hand on an unwitting practitioner's shin. These particular shots were taken just this April 5th 2014 - I had a 'Play in Perth' joint training between Joong Do Kwan and an fellow IAOMAS school 'Saseru Karate-do' from Dunsborough. It's all for a good cause of course. Bear with me folks, most of the people I'm hitting are way bigger than little ol' me ... I'm not bullying anyone. LOL. In all truthfulness, I'm striking them pretty hard. The strikes at the top of their shins are bearable. The strikes at the bottom of their shins however, are far from comfortable. A few discussion points arise from this demonstration - untrained legs are imperfect weapons. Calibrated wrongly, you can be in for intense pain if you collide a sensitive area with a corner of your opponent's body. On the receiving end, there's some opportunity to take advantage of this weakness to full effect. For me, there is one lesson I like to repeat, it is that if you need to block an oncoming leg strike with your leg, it is far better to cop it on the top part of your shin rather than lower down on the leg. This blocking should be incorporated for 'Muay Thai' or roundhouse kicks against your outer thigh or inside strikes against your groin. There is the case to also consider conditioning as part of your training. But ... conditioning is not a permanent thing - stop conditioning your shins AND they will revert back to normal eventually.

Keep training folks!

Colin

ps. Come check out my new blog Taekwondo Fighting Heaven and Earth.
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Colin Wee
Principal, Joong Do Kwan (Perth)
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23 Apr 2014

Personal Reflections on Taekwondo

I recently had an interesting conversation with a long-time associate of my school. The guy has been reflecting on his personal and social circumstances and was interested in finding out more about my practice of Taekwondo. It's his intention to continue his own training despite increasing social and personal time commitments, so wanted to know how I kept up with my own training.

Frankly, the several times a week I exercise, the twice formal trainings we do, and maybe one or two short private drilling sessions are a nominal effort on my part to keep my hand in the game. When I was in college, I was exercising 6 days a week and training officially 6 times a week - twice of those were pure 'fight' training.

What tips the scale in my favour as a taekwondo practitioner is the amount of visualisation training I do. I spend time visualising all aspects of our training. Some times to improve on the flow of techniques, but most often to understand the sequences within taekwondo patterns, and then to understand the physics behind the techniques.

This has been one of the main ways in which I have been able to improve as a practitioner and instructor, whilst leading a full and demanding social and private life. Without the sheer amount of mental discipline, I would not have been able to produce the quality of seminars or teaching material that I share freely with any other practitioner, regardless of style or school. Of course I am the first to admint not all of my material is original. Or at least it did not start off as original - I read extensively about martial history, research other authors, seek to understand the physics behind our techniques in order to build up insight and my own material pertinent to our style.

It is a running joke, but I often think of 'Traditional Taekwondo' as 'Progressive Taekwondo.' The patterns are the syllabus that need not change, it's just the material and the training methodology that needs to be addressed. Meaning if I wanted to train like the young black belt I was - happy only to spar hard and fast or throw some fancy kicks, sure ... there need not be any change. But if I was interested in surviving an attack that is more menacing, then perhaps I should make each technique manifest power in a more fearsome way. Or I should train myself to ensure I always fight tactically, as opposed to sportively.

Keep training, folks! But train ... inventively.

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Colin
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Colin Wee
Principal, Joong Do Kwan (Perth)
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15 Apr 2014

Datu Kelly Worden NSI


Just recently I saw this picture of Datu Kelly Worden on a FaceBook group I keep up with. The pose was reminiscent of a particular move in a kata wildly popular with traditionalists called - amongst other things - Naihanchi.

In the FaceBook group I wanted to make a point that Datu Worden often shares his approach to 'bridge the gap' - making sense of standalone techniques within the entire flow of his functional and effective combative system. This is in direct contrast to the struggle some hard stylists have in order to explain the vast collection of technique sequences in the numerous pattern sets we practice. Basically as hard stylists we often try to figure it out 'ass backward' - we look at a specific phenomenon, then gain the necessary experience, then try to reason out it's meaning, and then try to justify it within what we do.



What Datu Worden does well? Simply, he 'destroys,' 'traps,' and 'locks.' He's happy to mix and match and go back and forth, so you'd see him strike a pose like the above, yet, just a few seconds before he would have deflected the oncoming strike, kicked out at the attacker's knee, tapped his groin, bust him in the neck, hyperextended the arm, strike the eyes, then trap/capture the arm resulting in the above kodak moment.

This is going to be verbose, but aside from this shot, he'd probably swing the opponent into the ground where he'd footstomp his ankle OR if there were a video cam around he might pull on the head and send him into that wall behind him. No, I don't earn commission from Datu Worden ... but a single shot just doesn't sum up the guy, nor should it sum up a pattern or the collection of skills needed to make each technique work.

Here's another admission I'd like to share with you ... I have personally benefited from his resources and his approach to combative systems. Seeing that kind of flow shows you what you need to make your cover, blocks, interceptions, and strikes work in a dynamic and fast paced setting. He's also really good on camera and is one of the best teachers I know who can use the medium to convey skills and experience to other martial artists.

If you have the opportunity - you MUST visit http://www.kellyworden.com/ and check out his DVDs.

I don't benefit from this post - I share as my personal opinion. Meaning - it's a non-commercial plug for Datu Worden.

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Stay safe,

Colin
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Colin Wee
Principal, Joong Do Kwan (Perth)
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3 Apr 2014

Traditional Taekwondo in Perth, Western Australia Sitemap

Traditional Taekwondo Perth, Western Australia Sitemap

This Taekwondo blog was started in April 2007. The original aim of this blog, then called 'Traditional Taekwondo Techniques,' was to document one or two techniques practised within our weekly classes held in Perth, Western Australia. At present, we've taken a new direction with this blog - in line with the launching of our new YouTube Channel. The Traditional Taekwondo Perth blog focuses on Philosophy, Coaching, Taekwondo Applications, and Personal Growth. If you'd like, catch new articles on Monday and Tuesday of each week.

Taekwondo Pattern and Taekwondo Applications

Traditional Taekwondo Techniques Workshop blog focuses on the techniques and tactics found in Taekwondo's Chang Hon pattern set. The following are posts which contain general links to all related posts pertaining to the individual Taekwondo patterns.
Colin talks about the Taekwondo Syllabus
Taekwondo Pattern Chon-ji Hyung List of Posts
Taekwondo Pattern Dan-gun Hyung List of Posts
Taekwondo Pattern Do-san List of Posts
Taekwondo Pattern Won-hyo List of Posts
Taekwondo Pattern Yul-guk List of Posts
Taekwondo Pattern Toi-gye List of Posts
Taekwondo Pattern Choong-gun List of Posts
Taekwondo Pattern Hwa-rang List of Posts
Kata Tekki/Chulgi List of Posts and Getting Punched in the Nose

Important Stuff

Interesting Stuff

Children and Teens in the Martial Arts
Toi-gye Mountain or 'W' Blocks
The First Part of the Word Bunkai is 'Bunk'

Selection of Videos

JDK's Favourite Traditional and Obsolete Kick
Avoiding a Kick to the Gut Using Tactical Body Movement from Hwarang
Why Karate Training is Not Good
Dosan Spearhand Counter Against Counter

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Kick the Habit before it Starts

This Saturday is my pleasure to welcome Saseru Karate Do from Dunsborough to our humble little training area here in Perth. This is part of a series of Pre-Sept 13th IAOMAS Conference events that I'm scheduling to promote our IAOMAS event at the end of this year.

Don't Knock Short Range Kicks

When our gang journeyed from Perth down to Dunsborough last year, we looked at traditional stances, movement, blocking and striking. This time, I'd like our focus to be on Taekwondo's kicks.

And while we talk about kicks, I'm not talking about the strikes we do with our legs ... but rather the strikes we do with our bodies that end up with our leg or foot then hitting the target. This is the problem that I most often observe while working with beginners or intermediate students - the tactic in question is boiled down to a technique, which is further reduced to the last part of the striking limb. (You must read Slagging MMA Kicks.)

A popular 'Sport-based Kick Everyone is Doing' - and not doing as well as they could be, I may add.

It is a luxury to be able to have a person in front of you teach you martial arts. What you can't get from a book or a video is the general movement or dynamic of the rest of the human body. Let us do a technique, and I'll show you how my body moves first before that kick is ever raised off the floor. Let me convince you how important it is for you to use your core muscles - aside from your want to look good. We need to take your body mass, set it in motion, accelerate it, and transmit this power through the end limb and inject it into the opponent. Once I break it down, then let us do it smoothly and transition smoothly to deliver your payload into the opponent.

There will always be discussion as to what is the most powerful kick. But certainly we can improve the effectiveness of each tool we have in our arsenal in order to get the best of that technique when you require it as a tactical option. To do so, we must understand the kinematics of our body - how we compress, how we expand, how we swing, and how we whip (see Power Generation in Roundhouse Kick Videos). Without such mental or physical insight, you'd have to develop a far stronger limb with greater muscle mass to create the same amount of power. This goes for both hand strikes and leg strikes.

To train the end technique and to coax some effectiveness out of it, we should look at varying the type of drills or training tools that we use. Vary the power, so that you may gain accuracy by targeting it carefully. Use power shields interchangeably with the human body so that you may accurately gauge targets while referencing the silhouette of the body (see Training Aids that Wreck Combat Technique). Vary the angle of entries in order to navigate three dimensional space and bypass obstacles in your way.

I look forward to talking more about this.

Colin
--
Colin Wee
Principal, Joong Do Kwan (Perth)
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23 Mar 2014

Yul-gok Step 7 & 8 - The Korean Occupation

Niaal Holder from Joong Do Kwan talks about Taekwondo Pattern Yul-gok Step 7 and 8. This refers to the Taekwondo Technique 'Yop Marki' or middle block done in a front stance, and a front kick performed using the back leg.

While Niaal has been training with me for over 10 years, I like it that he teaches and explains the techniques and concepts differently from me. In fact, he often varies the manner in which he performs drills just because he is different to me. This is our gain.

My take on the middle block and the front kick is this - why do a middle block in the first place? Why can't we do an upper block or heel palm. Why can't we knock him out with a punch to the neck? We perform the yop marki because unlike the forearm strike or knife hand strike the turn of the forearm outwards and then downwards is advantageous to us. Meaning, I can hit him hard going forward, and then I can also rotate him around to his back foot, swinging his centre of gravity around and out of his base. When that happens I can control his body, and then choose to destroy his support leg or send a devastating strike to the head.

video

When I was practicing the drill I dealt with the oncoming strike with my forward hand, then controlled it with my back hand. I think this is a far superior way of dealing with a lunging type attack. Of course all Taekwondo techniques are more or less modular ... and you can mix and match. So once you gap close, you can then do the neck strike as per this video and follow through with the kick.

Niaal performs the mid block and turns it into a open hand grab to the neck. You may choose to try and stick with the close fist first, attempting to affect the body and opponent's centre of gravity with your forearm contact. Try working the steps of Yul-gok first, and then test out the variations. You'll be surprised what works for you.

In this next video, I set up the Step 7 and 8 technique using the opponent's reaction against a previous attack and control against his front raised guard.



Last bit of advice, don't be afraid to push and pull on the opponent's body. Don't be afraid to use *NATURAL* motion to shove your opponent. You've pushed a car? You've done tug of war? Did anyone teach you a stance? But you still were able to do it right? Well same thing. Keep playing!

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Cheers,

Colin
--
Colin Wee
Principal, Joong Do Kwan (Perth)
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17 Mar 2014

TakeONEdo STEPS

I feel my opponent tightening up to surge forward. He's going to use a lunge punch, that's for sure, as we're practicing one steps against each other. But I;m opening up my awareness to his body language and the movements of his other limbs just as a precaution.

His legs bunch up under him as he shifts his body forward. If I was doing another tactic, I'd be exhaling forcefully and powering my own legs at this time. But I'm keeping still and waiting for him to explode out of his static stance. I now register his body coming forward and his attacking arm pistoning forward. I'm not looking at it directly but I can feel the explosive ballistic intent.

Just before it hits full speed and before it reaches me, I swivel my body to close down the target area. I'm also sending my centre of gravity into my left foot. I want to go outside his strike. At the last possible moment, I fire a single yop marki middle block to the outside of the arm. Just at this angle, the block applies pressure to the outside of the elbow, and the back hand sandwiches my opponent's wrist. With his forward motion, and my swiveling around my left foot, had this connected his elbow would have at minimum been hyperextended and at best broken. If he had not rotated his punch totally out and have gone with a grab to my lapel, I would have continued the move into a bent arm and would have wrenched his shoulder instead.

Fortunately for my opponent I'm doing this in a controlled class environment. But unfortunately for him, I'm still in motion. My centre of gravity is still turning but riding high - so I decide to drop it all on his extended arm. I drop my weight into a deep stance and with that drop I cut his arm with a harden marki, a lower block. My opponent tenses as it hits the top of his forearm. Even controlled, it hurts. I could have easily struck his bicep or the inside of the elbow. All would result in his losing control over that arm for the next few moments.

I'm now almost side straddling my opponent's right hip. In a 'real' situation, I could stand up again and head butt him in the face. But we're onto our one steps, so instead I fire off a reverse snap punch into his ribs. My elbow is held close to my ribs - so I'm pulsing a hip rotation using my legs, glutes, hips and core muscles. The punch fires short range but carries all this power and unleashes it short range. Most people have no idea how much power can be created in close - but if that punch landed, the opponent would have doubled over with his mouth open and head forward, breath knocked out of him, with his ribs moving unnaturally on their own. His exposed neck - and its brachial nerve - floating somewhere at chest high for me would then have been the target of a second snap punch which would have ended that encounter.

Basic techniques. Make them work for you.

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--
Colin Wee
Principal, Joong Do Kwan (Perth)
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11 Mar 2014

How Traditional is Your Tradition?

I have been asked how traditional is my Traditional Taekwondo.

I would answer with a question - how traditional can you be if you were focusing on being progressive?



When my lineage of Taekwondo was exported out of Korea, Taekwondo was in its infancy. The instructor who brought it over to the United States was a Chung Do Kwan practitioner. Since then, however, Taekwondo worldwide continued evolving due to its political and social climate.

Would a school that claimed to do 'Traditional Taekwondo' still look like it was practicing like how the practitioners do in the above video?



My school performs patterns fairly similarly to those practitioners. However, I believe we have finessed the hyungs a little more from that era. I would like to think that we're trying to achieve more deceleration of each technique, punches which are tighter, and keeping centre of gravity steady for most of the steps. Note that none of that includes any mention of the Sine Wave - which is not part a methodology I use in my school.

Application is where our practice differs significantly. In my school, one steps are only a small part of the overall training; our attacks a little less scripted. Such 'traditional' scripted training scenarios are still included, but are just a small part of the overall 'gym bag' of exercises.

I believe the cornerstone of good traditional training is always to move onwards and upwards.

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Cheers,

Colin
--
Colin Wee
Principal, Joong Do Kwan (Perth)
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4 Mar 2014

Toi-gye Step 28: Manji-uke 'When you fight you need to get it almost right'

Who thinks that just with a little training, they're going to do all the right things when confronted with a charged up, smack talking, on-the-juice home boy?

There's no way all your techniques are going to do exactly what you want them to do. You may have guessed wrong. Your timing may have been off. The angle was just screwed up. The guy didn't telegraphed exactly like how all the other sheep in your dojo do. And yeah, sorry that you're bleeding out while he sticks that knife into you as you reflect on your usual flawless technical delivery.

This video on baton defence was not put together specifically for this post - as you can see the dialog doesn't exactly convey the flow of thought. So before you play the video and say ... hey, Colin doesn't make sense here, read on and let me clarify.

video


Many of you should be familiar or should have seen a technique where the attacker is swinging a pool cue, or a chair, or a baton ... you capture both of the attacker's arms with yours, and you apply an over the shoulder throw. This is a good simple defence that works nicely - many practitioners learn over-the-shoulder throws, and used against an attacker that giving it a good swing, the technique makes it really easy.

When you compare a two handed swing with a one handed swing - a one handed swing comes much faster. You need to be able to block, and strike, and then capture the arm - in that order. The attacking limb requires you to work harder to get control. In the video, I demonstrate two techniques that allow you to get this control whilst gap closing. The techniques can be seen associated with Taekwondo patterns you are familiar with.

However, if you're fried by battle stress AND you attempt to do the technique you were using for the two-handed attack, your distancing and timing will be challenged. If you are off, and you are not able to wrap your opposite arm under the attacking limb - you are still able to apply control by pulling the attacking limb down with the closest hand and wrapping your opposite hand around attacker's neck.

The techniques I show apply a manji-uke from Toi-gye step 28 (high back fist with low outer forearm block) while defender is in front of the attacker. Mark Cook from Oldman's Bubishi just showed me the same manjiuke technique where you are behind the attacker, grabbing the attacking limb and flexing attacker's head back by his hair - with very similar end results.

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Colin Wee
Principal, Joong Do Kwan (Perth)
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26 Feb 2014

Toi-gye Mountain or 'W' Blocks

I'm part of a closed group on FaceBook just recently created called 'The Study of Taekwondo/ 태권도의 연구'. It's like a book club, except of course the book we're discussing relates to all things Taekwondo. Who's in it? There are some really cluey people there - while I don't want to specifically name names, I do say 'hello' to some of them using their first names on the video. Most of them enjoy some popularity on the internet - you might be able to guess who they are.

Anyway, one of the first things that was identified for discussion was Taekwondo pattern Toi-gye's 'W' block. It's called yama uke in karate; yama is 'mountain' and uke is 'block'. The video I took last night was really meant to go on that discussion group, so if the labels seem a little strange, you now know why. Also I've got to apologise - I used my digital camera and not the video cam, and the audio mysteriously stopped working halfway. So instead of having me yakking throughout, I had to put stock music halfway through.

What I want to emphasize with my hyung interpretation is for things 1) to work well for left and right attacks, and 2) must protect the user quickly - meaning it works to stop the most logical attack with a natural or simple response. I don't want a series of techniques that require too much time to learn.

video


Check out Mark Cook's view on the 'W' block and rjan Nielson's post on the Mountain Block.

Enjoy.

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--
Colin Wee
Principal, Joong Do Kwan (Perth)
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22 Feb 2014

The first part of the word Bunkai is 'bunk'

bunk 

noun 
humbug; nonsense

Over the last decade or so, I can claim some experience as a practitioner who studies systems for their bunkai or boonhae. Literally, this is the identification of the combative application of movements within each system. bunkai for Karate kata, and boonhae for Korean hyung.

Taekwondo 'W' Blocks or Mountain Blocks. The sketch you see comes from my notebook on Toi-gye pattern applications and is one of the possible application of the 'block' as a defence against a kick - and can be applied from the front or from the back of the opponent. You may also use the leg raise as a strike against the support leg, or to sweep it. The photo in the foreground is of me learning Karate kata Jitte or 'Ten Hands' from Kyoshi Gary Simpson - which has the very same block done through it. In Taekwondo, we call this kata Sip Soo hyung. 

The journey has been tedious, but I don't lack diligence. I've done funky things such as looking at the personification of hyung names for their strategic approaches to combat, ala the Art of War. I've dissected movements to append throws, locks, and takedowns to various techniques. I've studied similar techniques from a variety of systems to 'fill in the blanks,' to decode patterns.

The irony is that I bring experience from my exposure to other arts (read non hard-style arts) to resolve what I see as holes in the Taekwondo syllabus. In the last 10 years of doing this, the trend to unearth bunkai and boonhae has gained momentum, fueled by excellent instructors and information dissemination that can only have happened because of the Internet.

But you can have too much of a good thing. There is 'bunk' in bunkai when the process to identify a new tactic or a new throw or lock takes over the more imminent need to get a student drilled in a particular style. From where I come, the most experienced bunkai proponents are excellent fighters. They have great combative skills. They are also excellent technicians. And then they continually work on expanding their outlook and abilities. In fact, I have observed the very same mirrored in authors whom I know lead the push to explain tactical applications - they are fighters first. The intellectual work came after their hard won skills.

The point I'm making is that they didn't do it the other way around.

While I am not against accumulating knowledge, I don't think it's wise to say here is a particular move, and here are one hundred different ways I can show you how it is applied. Maybe it's me but I think that's an awful way to teach something. Put it this way, when I was training aiki, we learned 10 basic techniques for our 9th kyu grading. I aced that grading, fyi. Now do you know what is taught at 8th kyu? Well, most of those same techniques, with variation. Similarly at 7th, it's the same-old, with progression.

My current thinking is that I want my students to be able to have a staple of tactics to help them blitz through an attacker's strikes WHILE stressed and WHILE trying to guage what the attacker is doing. This means they need a tightly focused range of simple techniques. These drills need to be top-of-mind and they need to be able to done indiscriminately against a variety of attacks - so they can work if attack or control comes from the left or right side of the opponent.

These drills are then varied by adding a layer of skills on top of it - just like the aiki grading example.

The following videos are drills in which I have been using to help my students gain the effectiveness I think is needed to engage in close range hand-to-hand combat. They have been highly influenced by my work analyzing the Traditional Taekwondo system over the last 10 years. I hope you appreciate I've taken pains to achieve this level of simplicity.

video

It's not to say that these drills can be magically used in isolation - the student needs a heap of essential skills allowing them to strike or cover or move or time their tactics. Such can be learned in tandem with these drills. And then, as I've said, the student adds additional skills which plug into this starting point.

video

I have been asked before if this is Taekwondo, and I have had to point out locations in patterns which identify where these tactics come from. The short answer is that I have come to this conclusion whilst relying on this system to do its job - for the last 20+ years. But focusing on such details misses the point - don't just look at the finger, look at the moon ... the bunkai has been chosen to help the practitioner. It's not there as just another technique.

video

Thank you indulging me in my little rant, and I hope you've enjoyed it in the spirit it was intended. If you have, please help support a little project of mine by 'liking' the FaceBook page of International Alliance of Martial Arts Schools. IAOMAS is a free member support system, and I'm organising a conference to promote it here in Western Australia at the end of this year. And of course, I'd like for it to be well supported. Perhaps you can come join me in the event? Or tell your friends about it?

video


Until next, stay safe.

Links



  • Personal Reflections on Taekwondo
  • Front Kick Counter, and Lessons on Applications


  • Colin
    --
    Colin Wee
    Joong Do Kwan Tae Kwon Do (Perth, Western Australia)
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