Taekwondo One Step Sparring

Taekwondo one step sparring is the 'defacto' application of techniques found in patterns and drills of most hard style Taekwondo or Karate schools.

For Taekwondo One Steps, you have two practitioners facing off, the opponent or 'attacker' steps back into a down block, lunges forward in a forward lunge punch and leaves his striking arm in place. The defender's task is to respond to this attack by using some manner of block and strike, and an appropriate sidestep.

The one step sparring exercise is the most contrived of all drills. It is often criticize by other schools for its contrived set up, and the low net worth in developing tactical skills.

Of course using it as the sole drill to practice a wide variety of techniques is a sure way to achieve diminishing returns from your 'traditional' type practice. In my opinion, the one step is partly an exercise in learning distancing and timing. But the main goal is in the application of basic blocks as effective self defence tools for all students - especially beginners.

In the video, filmed when we were practising at Subiaco PCYC, you see an application of a lower block to the inside of a strike. The previous week we looked at a lower block done on the outside of the strike. In this week's lesson, the reverse or pull back hand deflects the main strike and the block destroys the striking arm. In actuality, if both hands come together quickly as an entire blocking tool, the blocking hand can still block the oncoming strike, and then be used against opponent's body.

Beyond this particular segment of the class, we did the unthinkable - we fold for the lower block, but recognise that the opponent is moving too fast - and from having the right blocking arm next to the left ear, we perform a middle block to the opponent's secondary weapon. It is forcing yourself to use the opening and closing of the arms as an effective windshield wiper to strikes coming one at a time or too fast.

One good suggestion for the one step sparring exercise (for the attacker) is to perform the punch as fast as humanly possible whilst maintaining a facsimile of the form. I say facsimile of the form because we'd like to see explosive leg movement to accelerate forward. This is unfortunately not how most 'walking' stances are performed.

Right at the end you see a deflect of the strike with my pull back hand, perform an eye strike with the blocking hand - before destroying the oncoming strike. This was not rehearsed! But because we perform basic blocks all day every day, we can ad lib like this easily and still access the basic movements under duress.

Sensitivity and Hard Style Training: a level up from One Steps

Sensitivity and Hard Style Training? Is there such a thing?

Typically not.

Or is it?

Hard style in my estimation is about linear acceleration, displacement of the opponent's centre of gravity, and blitz responses. It shouldn't be about belligerent use of techniques. Each move should win you the most advantage per move - thus the need for tactical IQ.

In this video I filmed while in isolation somewhere in Nedlands, I recount a story where I visited another school of martial art, and where this one guy was just denigrating karate over and over again. What he said was that karate taught situational based techniques. What he actually was saying that 'my style' didn't look at situational based training and that's why MINE is better than yours.

Yes, I was pissed off. But he had a point. And that is that we often approach training with a formulaic technique-oriented approach. We set up the one step sparring attack to practice a 'perfect' looking technique; that's a one step practice for beginners. The arm held out? It's a contrivance ... it didn't even need to have been there. A beginner could have practiced the technique in the air, which is also often done.

In this video, I propose a way in which allows for an intermediate or senior student to choose a direction for gap closing on oncoming strike. The striking tool in a dynamic situation doesn't come in a set or scripted flight path ... there is a randomness that needs to be catered for. This exercise uses an extended proactive arm to gauge the relative position you have taken against the opponent.

Eventually, the idea is that the sensitivity within a three dimensional space will obviate the need to use your arm to feel. The decision to where you should guide your footwork to find the greatest tactical advantage would have already been innately honed. This is the next progression up in an intermediate's evolution on the martial art skills leaderboard. You would have gained the ability to work the footwork and the floor. This is necessary not just to deal with one person, but to then engage with a multiple opponent scenario.


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    Come play with us ...

  • Make basic blocks part of an indispensable close quarter toolkit!
  • Breathe life into your line drill.
  • Integrate easy throws into a hard style syllabus.
  • Endow simple kicks with (more) stopping power.
  • Tap into martial philosophy & etiquette to get you into the zone.
  • Taekwondo pattern applications show the form is not there to limit you!
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