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.
Principal, Joong Do Kwan (Perth)
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