Traditional Taekwondo Ramblings | Resarching the history, traditions and..
Traditional Taekwondo Ramblings is about my own experience and training comes from Kukki Taekwondo (often called WTF). My focus on the blog is to research the history, traditions and practical applications of Taekwondo, and I try to give the readers an indepth look at how "deep" Taekwondo can be when compared to what you often see in modern Dojang today.
I’ve been very quiet on YouTube in 2019, but now I just published a talk on Taekwondo History. I kept it as brief as I could but I ended up with 18 minutes all the same. I talk about the fact that Taekwondo is fairly modern, the founding of the different Kwan and where they came from, the founding of the organisations in Korea, and end with the founding of ITF and WT(F).
I hope you enjoy, and any Like, share or subscribe is greatly appreciated 👍🏻
It’s been very quiet on YouTube from me in 2019. That is hopefully about to change. I’ve been writing an outline for a series on Taekwondo history and I’m also thinking of making a series that mirrors the blogs ABC’s of Poomsae applications, focusing on the same material but in a video format. In the meantime here is a whopping 22 seconds of applications that demonstrates quite a few of our latest blogposts.
Practical Applications to Poomsae (Quick Look) - YouTube
We are back again with Part 7 of the ABC's of Practical Poomsae Applications, this time we are going to take a long good look at the Bakkat Makki or Outward defensive technique. We are looking at the knife hand version and the closed fist version under one as the movement is the same throughout the technique. The difference is superficial as the template is the same. Before you jump in you might want to check out my thoughts on the translation on the word "makki" as I think "block" is a very limited translation of the Korean term, and especially if you look at the root word "Makda". You can click here to read an indepth article on that here, or you can get the extremly brief version that I think Makki is anything you do to stop or prevent an attack, including but not limiting to block, parry, push, lock, limb control etc.
The outward knife hand and closed fist block both have the same template which you can see below, the only difference between the two being that the end position has the front hand (blocking hand) either in a fist or in a knife hand configuration.
bakkat makki - YouTube
I have previously said that for the most part Taekwondo hand techniques follow the Karate techniques in an identical way. Not so for the outward blocks however. In Karate they chamber in a different way, and the "blocking hand" moves on the inside of the pulling hand (the one going back to the hip). This makes any Karate application for this technique a variation application for Taekwondo at best. There is nothing wrong with this, as Poomsae can still be a mnemonic devise and you can link the movement to many different applications including Karate applications, but Taekwondo has a very different chamber so a primary application in my mind should strive to follow the template (basic technique) as closely as possible. In Taekwondo you will note that the blocking hand goes on the outside of the pulling hand and that the initial movement has the hands reaching toward the opposite sides of the body. The pulling hand is roughly on the opposite shoulder, while the blocking hand starts at the opposite hip. In the video he then moves the blocking hand in a circular movement a little upwards before it comes forward, but you'll see what I mean. Below is a picture of the chamber for the block in its "extreme chamber".
A Karate Chamber would have had the hand that I have on my hip by my ear on the inside of the pulling hand which would be roughly the same position. The change in chamber makes the overall trajectory much more circular and flowing in my opinion, but more importantly it changes the application a great deal. While the Karate movement is used one way often ending up with a knife hand strike to the opponents neck, the Taekwondo movement is more defensive in nature, dealing with the opponents limb(s) instead, or used to recover if your initial attack was blocked instead.
Through my research I have found out that most Kwan (schools) that later would form Taekwondo used the Karate chamber but in the early 70s it seems that Kukkiwon standardized the technique into our modern Bakkat Makki with the hand going on the outside of the pulling hand. Most people believe that any changes done from Karate techniques to "unique" Taekwondo techniques were done with a political motivation by people who had no idea what they had. This might be true, but we should not overlook the possibility that this change is a remnant of a Chinese or Native Korean Martial Arts legacy that has found its way into modern Taekwondo. In Tai Chi there is a very similar technique which is for all intents and purposes the same as the Taekwondo bakkat makki. It is done slowly in their form and it is more circular and exaggerated, but it is the same. It could be that the pioneers of Taekwondo knew how to make use of this Tai Chi or other Chinese Martial Arts technique and preferred it over the Karate technique and therefore chose to use one over the other. We do not know, so I do not think we should presume. Anyway I digress, let us look at how the technique can be used to recover if your initial attack is blocked by the opponent.
Last Post in Part 6 I talked a little bit about the Dangkinun Son or the pulling hand, both hands working together. You might have noticed that one hand is often holding the opponents arm, pulling and twisting it, but you should not be too hung up on holding the opponents arm. Anything is better than nothing and sometimes you might be pulling him off balance with a lapel grab. Below I am grabbing the opponents lapel, pulling while doing an inward knife hand strike (the same technique I explained in Post 6).
Now by not grabbing his arm in this particular case with this particular attack he manages to block my knife hand strike (gasp!). This training if your attacks fails is very little seen in modern Taekwondo with the formal sparring all being countered with a "dead partner" (one who let you counter).
With the opponent blocking me I want to move to his outside to attack him again from another angle. Right now we are both in position to attack each other, I want to be the only one with all my weapons trailed at my opponent while being offline from his. I therefore push his block inward, sidestepping and sweep his block/limb away with my other hand following the bakkat makki movement exactly.
Above you see the transition (and I am exagerating for the sake of clarity in the photo), below is the completed transition with the pass to the other hand completed.
You should note that here I am pushing on his arm above the elbow joint. This turns him away from me slightly. There are any number of follow ups you can do from here but for the sake of keeping this basic we follow up by grabbing his arm, twisting and pulling it back toward our hip and punching him in the opening we just made.
Before moving on I want to take the oppertunity to highlight that we have done an application that flows within a sequence in Poomsae, explaining how the Poomsae are built up in a systematic manner and not just basic techniques thrown in at random. In Taegeuk Sam Jang you deliver two inward knife hand strikes to the neck. Let us say that the first in the form demonstrates how to follow up from the previous sequence and so we ignore it here, the second demonstrates how you deal with the opponent blocking it, so you deliver one knife hand strike to the neck of the opponent but he blocks it (the second knife hand strike in Taegeuk Sam Jang). This is followed in the form by turning 90 degrees and doing an outward block. The turn is there because there is no other way of telling you that you need to angle yourself in relation to the opponent because there is no opponent in the solo performance in Poomsae. The outward block, pushes the opponents block inwards, the turn tells you to sidestep while doing this, and the block itself is the pass to the other hand turning the opponent slightly away from you. This is followed with a weight shift in the form (the change from Dwit Koobi/ Back stance, into Ap Koobi/ Long front walking stance) along with an attack.
Poomsae gives you many basic techniques which you can intepret in many different ways, but once you start looking at the sequence(s) and try to fit everything together your options are limited. If you are finding that you have 200 applications for an outward block, that might be a little too many, looking back at the dynamic context might get you from 200 to just 1-3. Note that there is a difference between what the Poomsae demonstrates and what you can learn and apply from it. The beauty of Poomsae is that is shows just a handful of applications, but you can find the underlying principles and apply them in an almost infinite number of ways. THIS IS WHY THE MASTERS OF OLD PRACTISED ONLY 1-3 Forms. We learn a lot of forms which spoon feeds us the principles, but we do not need to know 20 forms to be good, we just need to REALLY understand a few.
Below you can see a video that around half way demonstrates the same principle using the outward block to recover from a block, but this time it is an outward knife hand strike to the neck that has been blocked instead of an inward knife hand strike.
Poomsae applications, partner drills - YouTube
Another way I often make use of this technique is a "Parry-Pass" where you parry something and pass to the other hand. It can also be used to shut down a 1-2 combo, or if the opponent fakes the first attack you will block his second with the primary movement. I have pulled off all of these in free sparring thanks to the parry pass method, and the ones that has trained enough to internalize it they say it works well for them too.
The movement is the same, but in the chamber the hand that is in front with the shoulder works as an inward parry, much the same way a momtong an makki or inward middle block would be used in a shortened form.
Here I parry inwards, while sidestepping. In the picture I do a wide transition with the other arm to clearly link it to the basic technique, but if you read the opponent you can make the transition smaller as need be in application.
You then pass to the other arm, grab and pull and strike as before (or you can do any other number of things). The parry pass method is great if you are caught a little surprised as the chamber covers your body (but the more you cover the bigger the movement and the slower you get). Once you either read the opponent, or your initial parry connects you will feel and or know where the opponents arm is and then cut the movement as small as possible to be economic and fast.
There is a lot of redundancy built into the technique. One redundancy is that you react to an attack but you missjudged it, the opponent goes low. Since the chamber has you moving one hand to your opposite hip there is a chance that the hand blocks low attacks.
Since this post has been a lengthy one I will try to keep the next one briefer and a little simpler. I do hope you are enjoying the series and that you also enjoyed this post. Next post I think I will look at the Oe Santeul Makki so stay tuned :-)
Hi there :-) I am continuing with the ABC's of Practical Poomsae Applications, this time focusing on the Han Sonnal An (Mok) Chigi or Inward Knife hand strike (to the neck). We first encounter this technique in Taegeuk Sam (3) Jang and it is the second technique that we encounter in Poomsae that is illegal in modern Olympic sparring (the first technique being the face punch in Taegeuk i (2) Jang). Some make the case that the "new" Poomsae were made strictly to drill techniques that were used in sparring, and the inward knife hand strike might indeed have been used in "dojang sparring" which did not necesarily follow the competition rules, but knife hand strikes to the neck has been "illegal" in sport competitions as far back as I can find documentation on sparring rules (the early 60s and quite possibly even earlier than that too but I lack documentation). If you are joining us "mid-series", I would advice you to read the whole thing in order if you want to learn more than this single applicaiton, the goal of this series being to provide students with a starting point in finding their own poomsae applications, by looking at individual techniques.
So why are we looking at the inward knife hand strike as this is obviously an inward knife hand strike you ask? I am glad you asked me that question dear ficticous student, because most people encountering this learns that the application is an inward knife hand strike to the neck of the opponent, but the way it is done in poomsae is too slow, making it easy to block and the hand is on the hip for no reason whatsoever. Today we are going to fix this, by utilizeng the whole movement. If you remember way back in the series I have stripped down my approach into three points, the three laws of poomsae application the Nilsen way :-P
We use the whole movement
We only have one opponent
It must work in self-defense or close quarter combat
The caveat in todays post is that I am writing this for new beginners in finding practical poomsae applications. I have therefore removed a few elements from the application I usually teach one on one so that people now can get a simple, yet practical application that follows the movement of the technique.
First let us look at how it is done:
Chamber of the solo performance of the technique. Note the extended arm.
The end position of the solo performance of the technique. The extended arm has been pulled back to the hip.
Now the trajectory of the strike is wide and circular, so it is rather easy to block. All you need to do to block it is to raise one arm. The way you work around this however is to remove the opponents ability to block. Use the extended arm in the chamber to grab his arm and pull it back toward you hips while striking the opponent. In an earlier post I said that many overthing applications, but you can sum them up, or simplify the process by understanding that most are simply grab-pull-smash. Below you can see the chamber position but this time with a partner which provides context to the application. I grabbed his arm on the side I am going to strike. This can be pro-active, as in removing one of his hands that is in "guard", it can be done if the opponent has blocked my initial strike, I grab his blocking arm, it can be a reverse-grip if he has grabbed my wrist, understand the underlying principles of the applications and you get a lot more than simply one defense againts 1 X attack.
Chamber position for the knife hand strike, the extended arm has grabbed the opponents arm and is twisting and pulling it back toward my hip.
From this grab you pull and twist at the same time sharply back toward your hip, while you deliver the strike to the opponents neck. The end position of the movement can be seen below:
Here the arm has been pulled back to my hip, which opens up the target for the strike, unbalances the opponent and removes a lot of his oppertunities to block the strike.
Pulling the opponents arm does a lot of things at the same time, all are good for the one doing the pulling and bad for the one being pulled. A few (but in no way all) benifits are:
Opens up the target area
Removes the primary blocking oppertunity for the opponent (it can still be blocked by the other hand but it is much more difficult now)
Unbalances the opponent which makes it difficult to counter
Increases the force delivered into the target (depending on the attack)
Gives you a tactile feel of the opponents intentions
Greatly increases the accuracy of your strikes
Now some who read this post might only take away a nifty way of applying the inward knife hand strike in Taegeuk Sam Jang, but I hope you rather take away how the "non striking hand" is helping the strike itself, and how both hands are working together. If you look at most offensive techniques in poomsae you will find that they more often than not have the non striking hand on the hip. Do'nt overlook this hand, because if you include it in the application you will get a lot more out of your applications :-)
Next time I will look at another common technique that often comes up in Poomsae, the Momtong Bakkat Makki or outward middle section block.
This has proven to be a fairly popular series judging on the traffic it garners and I am very happy Part 1 which you can find here, which focuses on Arae Makki, Part 2 which you can find here which focuses on Momtong An Makki, Part 3 which you can find here focusing on Eulgeul Makki, and Part 4 which you can find here that focuses on the spear hand strike. With that out of the way let us turn to this weeks focus which is on the Sonnal Geudeuro Makki or knife hand guarding block. about that. If you are reading through this series and you are enjoying it or finding it interesting please remember that sharing is caring ;-) If you are new to this series it would perhaps be helpful to read through the series in order if for nothing else you will get through a logical series that build upon each other in turn.
The series is an attempt to giving regular students a starting point when it comes to Poomsae applications by giving one or two practical applications to basic techniques. We have covered several techniques allready but one that keeps turning up in Poomsae that we have not yet looked at is the knife hand guarding block. Now when people start out looking at resources of finding practical applications to their forms they often end up looking at Karate applications since the basic techniques are often identical when you compare Karate techniques and Taekwondo techniques. Sure there are some differences, like modern Taekwondo roundhouse/Dollyo Chagi is no longer the same as the Karate Roundhouse/Mawashi-geri, but if you look at Shotokan Karate low block, high block, inward block you will see they are identical to the Kukkiwon way of doing them. The emphasis on power might be a little different, but the overal movement is the same. The reason why I mention all this is that when they come to the knife hand guarding block the way Karate chamber the technique is very different to the way a Taekwondo student chamber the technique. This changes the application somewhat if you study with an open mind, but others quickly conclude that the Taekwondo version is useless because in many peoples eyes the Korean founders of what was to become Taekwondo did not understand what they had and changed stuff just to change them. Below you can see the Karate chamber for the knife hand guarding block. You will notice that one hand goes to the ear while the other hand is extended. This is very different than the Taekwondo version.
Below is the version that you will see in modern Taekwondo:
As you can see here both arms are moved back instead of one back and one in front as in the Karate chamber. The way that Karate students will apply their movement is therefore different and not applicable to our movement. Personally I use the Karate application as a variation application for our movement so I get the best of both worlds. I do however have an application for the Taekwondo version, but first a 7 min clip by Iain Abernethy demonstrating his take on the movement:
Practical Kata Bunkai: Kata and the lesson plan for knife-hand - YouTube
In Iain Abernethy's take it is very much a way to deal with the opponents limbs. In my personal take I have one that works in the "sameish" way as one of Iain's to recover from being blocked by the opponent, but in this post I will only give one application that fits very close with how we do the technique. Below you will see the chamber and the finished technique done solo:
The end position is the same as in Karate, one hand in front of the chest and one hand in front of the body. Instead of dealing with the opponents limbs I use the chamber as a way to block a haymaker punch (or an inward knife hand strike which follows the same trajectory as a haymaker). As you see it you move forwards into the opponent while your hands come up like a flinch. The moving forward bit might take some training, but the arm movements is the most natural way to receive something coming fast toward your head. It is simply a flinch. In the form this is formalized and stylized a little so the hands continue longer back than necesary. Another way of viewing this is that you flinch as before but you guide the opponent off balance (represented by the hand going behind you), before you change direction with your hands and deliver the same ending as before. Slightly different take on the same movement.
From this "flinch" one hand grabs and pulls the arm down toward the chest, and the other hand goes straight into a knife hand strike toward the neck of the opponent as can be seen in the picture below.
It is easy to overthink many applications, but many of them can be sumarized into "grab, pull, smash". This one is no exception. Once people understand that the formalized stylistic technique is actually a flinch which is the most natural instinctive way of dealing with something comming toward your head, followed by a grab, pull and smash it is easy to make the link between the template (gibon dongjak/ basic technique) and the application (eungyoung).
I am hoping you are enjoying this series, and I will be back soon with another post dealing with the inward knife hand strike as seen in Taegeuk Sam Jang among other techniques.
We have covered multiple techniques, and talked a little about principles so far in this series. This Part 1 which you can find here, which focuses on Arae Makki, Part 2 which you can find here which focuses on Momtong An Makki, Part 3 which you can find here focusing on Eulgeul Makki in order. The reason for this is that you will learn more than "just" the applications themselves, you might be able to see the underlying principles at work. This series is written so that students relativly new to practical applications in Taekwondo can get an introduction that is technique-based rather than forms-based since we are most often learning Taekwondo as a technique-based system. We have forms, but we most often learn the individual techniques and applactions. Often the usual applications taught fails to explain the complete movement, and that is also one thing that this series is trying to give the readers; an explanation for each techniques complete movement. In this Part 4 we will be looking very narrowly at movement #2 in Taegeuk Sa (4) Jang, the spear hand thrust. That movement is unusual in the sense that you have one hand under the elbow while doing the spear hand thrust. time we will look at a variation that builds upon the previous "lesson". If you have not done so allready I urge you to read through
Story-time (skippable) Before we begin I want to share a story which I believe I shared a few years back, but I will tell it again. Let us go back about 15 years, and a younger (thinner and more hairy) version of myself attended a Poomsae seminar. The focus on this seminar was as is usual in taekwondo, focused on competition poomsae, how to get the movements just right for the solo performance of the form. I do not remember the exact belt rank I had but I believe I was around 4th-1st geup (red belt). Now during a water break in between the training sessions I could not help but overhear two blue belts asking a 1st geup (just before the black belt) what the purpose of the spearhand thrust was. More specifically they were wondering why the other hand was placed under the elbow instead of pulled back to the hip which is the norm in basic techniques. I was intrigued as I was wondering the same thing myself. Later in my own Dojang I would learn the application for move #1&2 in Taegeuk Sa Jang to shut down a two punch combo where you block twice with the hand in the front and countered with a spear hand thrust, but at the time I was blank. The student who received the question was almost a black belt so she had to know, or so I thought. The Dojang where she came from was pretty sports oriented so I am not sure why I believed that she would know but the answer she gave was "just because..." and then following this up with: "it is much prettier that way". Given that the Dojang she belonged to was sports focused the focus when learning Poomsae would be to nail down the performance part, not considering the combative purposes of the movements as they would not be related to how they approach sparring.
Now this series will hopefully help people who has not learned a lot of poomsae applications to have a rudimentary understanding to build upon, but this episode is one that I think back on often when teaching and when writing this blog (and other kinds of content). We should strive to understand the "why" of everything. That being said let us return to the technique itself.
Back to the application (Story-time over). The technique in question can be seen below:
Again you will note how the other non striking hand is below the elbow joint instead of back on the hip.
The application that I will be giving at this time is a very basic one that uses the same principle as back in part 3 on the high section block. From a lapel grab one hand smashes down on the opponents arm while the other hand drives into the pit of the throat of the opponent.
It is very basic, perhaps even "crude" but it is a great example of both hands working together in unison, that the whole movement is doing something, the target is suitible for the weapon of choice (soft target for your fingers) and it gives you an imidiate advantage. I hope you read part three allready, if you have not you should click here as I describe the multitude of advantages slamming your arm down upon the opponents grabbing arm gives you. In this case I am exploiting the lifting up of his chin and that he comes downwards and forwards at the same time. Below you can see the same slamming down from part 3:
The applications for different techniques is clearly built upon the same underlying principles. In the old days you would practise few forms, but you would extrapolate from those few examples many applications. Today we have a multitude of forms practised, this gives us many examples of the underlying principles, but we should not forget that the underlying principles are few while the ways in wich they can be applied is almost limitless.
I hope you enjoyed that analysis of Move #2&4 from Taegeuk Sa Jang. There are many different applications for this (and all the other) technique(s). I have on this blog demonstrated a very different take on one of my posts on Taegeuk Sa Jang, but in this series I am trying to give one or a few basic applications to the basic techniques.
Next part we will look at another very common technique that appears in Taekwondo Poomsae, the Sonnal Geuderuo Makki (Knife hand guarding block).
In Part 1 we looked at how Arae Makki (often called Low Block) can be used as a wrist grab release technique, and as a straight armbar. In Part 2 we looked at Momtong An Makki (often called inward middle section block) as a hyper extension of the elbow joint technique. In this part we will be focusing on another common basic technique or gibon donjak; Eulgeul Makki or high section defensive technique and how to use it in a situation where the opponent is grabbing our lapel and against another kind of wrist grab.
1 basic template can have many different practical applications. A few years ago Rick Clark wrote a book with the title: 75 Down Blocks; Refining Karate Technique. In the book Rick Clark did a great job of taking the basic template apart and then applying it against a lot of different attacks and in subtle different ways. His book came up with 75 different applications to one single basic template; Arae Makki. The reason why he could get away with so many different ones is because he was looking only at the basic template or gibon dongjak. If he were to look at the dynamic context the technique in question is presented (the Poomsae, Kata, Hyung, Tul etc) he would be hard pressed to find more than a couple. The reason is that he would have had to look at the technique(s) before, the technique(s) after, the overall composition of the form etc. Looking at the movement in isolation however is easier, you get a lot more different applications which you then can go back and see where if any places in Poomsae can you see this example manifest itself. But enough talk for now it is more than enough to understand that a single technique can have many different applications, and that is something we have looked at all the way back to Part 1 of this series. Let us look at Eulgeul Makki as a wrist grab defense. Below you can see the solo template, divided into two parts, the prepetory and the execution. As a deflection you would minimize the movement as much as possible, take away the whole chamber and use body evasion along with the deflection, the other hand protecting the centerline or head. It fails to explain the whole movement.
In Part 1 we looked at a wrist grab on the same side where the opponent grabbed your wrist when the hand was low. This time we will be looking at the wrist being grabbed while the hand is high(ish). The low wrist grab manifests itself during grappling to remove gips, especially if you grab the groin of the opponent. The higher wrist grab also manifests itself in close quarters, especially if you grab the throat, stick (a) finger(s) in the eye(s) of the opponent, grab an ear etc. If your hand is grabbed you need to free it to get that weapon of yours back online. This is one reason why we see the technique in Poomsae.
Below you can see the wrist has been grabbed. The context can be like I said above, but for the ABC's of Practical Poomsae Application, a simple wrist grab is a great starting point. Putting it all together and contextualize it comes later in my opinion, along with learning the Poomsae indepth. The prepetory movement of the Eulgeul Makki can be seen already.
Below you can see that the hand that is grabbed is twisted and pulled sharply back to the hip while the other arms comes upward striking the opponents arm and stripping the grip. The whole application is fully dependant on solid traditional basic technique, any part of the basic technique is not done, then it will not work optimally.
In the next part we will be looking at the technique from a lapel grab, but we will be covering two different variations. This demonstrates hopefully that one technique can have different applications, against different attacks or problem solving abilities, and within that, that there is also variations within the same application. Again looking at the technique in isolation will give you great variation, while looking within the framework of Poomsae forces you to make a decision as to what fits that special unique context and framework.
Below you will see that the opponent has grabbed my lapel. I slam my forearm down on his arm while securing that arm with my other hand. This is the prepetary movement of the solo template.
Slamming my forearm down into his arm does several things at once:
Makes him bend over and come closer
Disrupts his mental attitude
Turns his dangerous arm away from you
Exposes his neck (his head moves up while he comes closer)
This is something that the Poomsae exploits in a lot of different ways, and we will actually revisit this using a very different technique later in this series, but for now look below to see how you can follow up from the above picture.
From the previous position we imidiatly strike upwards with our forearm into the side of his neck or jaw. This can be followed up agian in a number of different ways and I encourage you to play around with this and to look at how this relates bac to Poomsae.
Below you can see a higher rate of fire variation on this same theme:
Here instead of securing his arm while striking down on his forearm you instead use that arm to deliver an upwards punch. Once you have punched it is pulled back to your hip while securing his arm on the way back, getting us a clear shot with our forearm for another strike.
So in a split second you can deliver more strikes. Some people like the top one better because it is a little more simpler and you can focus more power into the finishing forearm strike, but it is a little slower. The second variation lets you go on the offensive from the get go, but it is a little weaker in terms of pure power (my opinion). Play with both variations and see what you like best yourself.
Below you can see a real life example of a forearm strike to the side of the jaw/neck area. In this specific case you will only see the forearm strike in itself, it would have been more potent if he were to pull the opponent into the strike like we have done here, but the situation it is used in is different, he uses the strike as a preemptive strike, while in this article we have been using it as a defense against a lapel grab. I share the clip here so you can see (and appreciate) that this stuff works, and that you can see the effects without actually using it.
PIMP VS KARATE MASTER Knock Out! - YouTube
In the next part we will be looking at the spear hand thrust :-) Stay tuned.
In Part 1 which focused on Arae Makki (Low defensive technique) which you can click here to read we looked at a few principles and two applications for Arae Makki sometimes called Naryo Makki these days, and usually translated as Low Block. The applications we looked at was using the Arae Makki movement for a wrist grab release technique, and as a straight armbar. In this part we will be looking at Momtong An Makki or middle section inward moving defensive technique.
My approach to forms can be simplified and sumarized into three points:
Use the whole movement
There is only 1 opponent
Must work in a realistic combative setting (i.e. an emergency)
This approach is a stark contrast to how Taekwondo traditional techniques and especially Poomsae is viewed in the mainstream of Taekwondo. We often learn applications that use some parts of the traditional basic technique, the Gibon Donjak, or basic template as I like to call them. In techniques that are labelled as Makki for instance we usually see that the chamber is not used, the hand on the hip makes no sense etc. This does not mean that a Makki technique can not be used as a deflection, because I feel that many old applications such as using basic Makki for deflections are OK if you in application adjust the basic template to that use (no chamber, short movement, non blocking hand protects the centerline, use body evasion along with deflection etc), but in 99% of the cases the "official" applications do not really explain the traditional template. This series goes into explaining the basic templates whole movement, but it does so in a basic but practical way. In a technique based manner, instead of looking into the Dynamic Context that they are originated in (The Poomsae) we isolate techniques and look at how to use them. I call this the ABC's of Practical Poomsae Applications. It is a great starting point, but it is just that; a starting point. So without further adu let us continue with an often seen technique in Taekwondo Poomsae, the Momtong An Makki, or middle section, inward defensive technique.
The most basic way of incorporating the whole movement is as a forearm slam onto the elbow joint of the opponent, while pulling his hand toward your hip. It works pretty much as a straight armbar such as the one we saw in Part 1, but instead of locking it and gaining control we either fail to make the lock and continue from there, or we only want to unbalance and change the mentality of the opponent so we can get a split seconds opening to deliver a couple of free shots.
This is the chamber part of the "block", the preporation of the solo template
This is the execution of the solo template, the "block" itself. The hand that was extended in the preperation part is pulled sharply back to the hip.
From a cross grabbed wrist grab, I. e. you grab his right arm with your right arm or vice versa you pull it back to your hip and slam your forearm into a point just above his elbow joint. From that position the "blocking hand" can move forward into a short range head shot and the back hand can follow up with a power shot. Alternatively you can skip straight to the back hands power shot. You see variations of this in Taegeuk Sa Jang towards the end, first in a short stance and later on a more higher rate of fire version in a long stance.
I am hoping that this series will be a starting point, or a set of "keys" that will allow you to look at Poomsae and see how you can find these applications and how to follow up from the advantageus position or what to do if the applications fail. Poomsae does both, basic applications of a basic technique will be more surface level.
Next part will be focused on a few different variations on Eulgeul Makki (high section defensive technique) so stay tuned :-)
When first diving into practical poomsae applications it is easy to get lost deep in the different rabbit holes out there. Modern Taekwondo is often taught as a technique based system in stead of a forms based system, and so we are used to looking at the application of a single technique at a time. What happens when the application you are taught fails to explain the whole movement or worse yet, it is un-useable in real combat, sports or otherwise? What this series will hopefully do is to give a few applications or just one application to each of the common basic techniques (gibon dongjak) that you encounter in Poomsae, which will again hopefully make the transition from a technique based to a forms based system easier to digest for taekwondo students. The applications will focus on the movement of the technique, and allthough they are lifted from different Poomsae, you will note that they are presented pretty open ended in this series. This mimics how we learn a basic technique like for instance a low block, learn that it "blocks" a front kick to your stomach for instance and then go on to learn a different technique and application. Or continuing on from the previous example, learn to follow up with your own attack using different techniques you might have learned. In this first part we will indeed be looking at the low block or arae makki, and we will look at two different applications for it. Readers that have followed me for some time will recognize these applications from Taegeuk Il (1) Jang, and if you want to see these applications within a more dynamic context, feel free to click here. If you just want a few options/ or quick applications continue reading on :-)
Before we begin you might also want to check out my thoughts on what "Makki" actually means in English, as I think "Block" is a very crude and simplified translation.
First we have an Arae Makki (Low section defensive technique) in an Ap Seogi (Short front walking stance) used as a wrist grab defense. I usually teach this as the first "alternative application" because the application depends on a good solid traditional basic technique, chamber, pulling hand back to the hip and all. While a deflection is a valid application, it fails to explain the whole movement, and so students fail to practise the basic template (basic technique) as it is supposed to be done. They tend to over-emphasise the "blocking" arm, and de-emphasise the chamber, pulling hand back to the hip and so on. This is not strange as the deflection that is often taught makes no use of anything other than the "blocking arm" coupled with evasion. The following wrist grab release would be a great replacement, simply because it makes use of the whole movement and it can be used in a less rules restricted environment. What do you do if someone grabs your wrist? Do an Arae Makki :-) Problem solved. What do you do if you get a wrist grab defense as part of your grading but you get log jam in your brain and you do not remember how to free yourself? Do an Arae Makki, problem solved. What if you are grappling and you do a groin grab, but the opponent grabs your wrist so you have to free yourself so you can continue striking? Do an Arae Makki and problem solved. Contextualise it later, the basic template and the basic practical application is as follows:
Solo basic template, "chamber"
Solo basic template, arae makki "block"
Wrist is grabbed, do the chamber (this also positions your arm to protect your head.
If coast is clear (no punch is comming or if theres a window of oppertunity between punches, do the full blocking movement and it will free your wrist. The twist and pulling back to the hip is just as important as the forearmstrike or "blocking motion" itself. They work in tandem to achieve a result.
Another application that I teach for the Arae Makki is as an elbow joint lock. I emphasise then that the stance is a short stance in the first application so you can keep moving into the opponent to continue striking, while here the stance is a low front stance to get the weight into the lock. So even though the basic template of the Arae Makki is the same, the application is different because of the stance. If you have been working on applications yourself you might note that doing the above application as a wrist grab release can just as easily be done dropping into the long front walking stance as well, the follow up options are a little more limited because the stance makes you a lot closer. Again, different Poomsae combinations will demontrate different follow ups and variations, so feel free to explore this in the future, but for the ABC's just making the students aware that the stance is itself a vital part of the application is more than enought as a solid starting point.
Solo template, "Chamber"
Solo Template; "Block"
Application of "Chamber", you cross grab his wrist (your left hand grabs his left hand for instance), and place the other forearm just above his elbow joint as you straighten his arm by pulling the grabbing arm back toward your hip.
From the previous position, drop into a front stance while applying pressure against his elbow joint, straightening his arm by pulling it back to your hip. This is the application of the "block" itself.
I hope you found this interesting, and I will follow this post up in the upcomming weeks so you can build upon the lessons learned in this post :-) Stay tuned.
Every January I write a post looking back at the year that was, and sharing a few thoughts on the year that is yet to come. 2018 was a hard year for me, perhaps not taekwondo wise, but it did affect both my studies, training and blogging (and blog related activities). I was going to take the 3rd dan test in the end of January, but a training misshap involving a low kick put me out of training for almost a month so I will have to try again next year (in theory I can try out this summer but I know already that it will not be feasible due to other engagements at that time). I did pass my theory test required for 3rd dan, so the only thing that is left is the physical test that has to be done and passed within 3 months before grading and the actual test itself.
As for my plans for 2019:
I want to finish a book project I started in 2018 where a lot of the theory section is already written, but as I am writing "norwenglish" I am also getting a friend to look it over and correcting it to English :-) If I can get the theory done it is only a matter of taking the pictures, but Ivar who is my regular victim poser on photographs has already agreed to be as kind as to participate there as well. The book is application based.
I want to hold a seminar on applications from poomsae which will be my second seminar. The first one was great fun, and I learned a lot by holding it. Hopefully I will get the chance to hold another one this year.
Finish the Pyungahn series. This one has been very difficult to continue due to other engangements. I am prioritising this after I have done my readers question post which will be due early february.
Youtube lectures on Taekwondo history. In 2018 I held a 1,5 hour lecture on Taekwondo history. It was held in Norwegian and not filmed. I still have the presentation and notes, so I am working on making a series focusing on Taekwondo history.
Develop more legs to stand on: I believe in my view of Taekwondo as a holisitic martial art, and I think that to share it, it would be better to develop more methods of sharing than only blogging. This blog will be the central hub, but I will also develop more youtube videos, instagram posts, faceboook posts and blog posts. In addition the aforementioned book, and continued support of totally taekwondo magazine will provide with a more robust platform to share from, than laying all eggs in one basket.
If there is one wish for 2019, it is that the readers engage more on the blog itself. The number of comments has dwindled a lot, probably as the attention has changed to Facebook, where people happily read the post on the blog, then discuss it on Facebook. That is great, but if you comment here you will get my thoughts and answers as well ;-) I sometimes see posts regarding my work on facebook, but I can not comment on them there eventhough I could have brought more to the table. It is funny but also a little sad when I come across people who missunderstands my "message", interpret it differently and I can not do anything to correct their view on my work. Anyway here is the list:
Do not hessitate to ask questions, or to give feedback if there is anything you want to see me write about. I am easily contacted by the blogs facebook page www.facebook.com/traditionaltaekwondoramblings or you can simply drop a comment on any post and I`ll answer as soon as I can. Messages from facebook comes straight to my phone so they will get answer quicker, but I do rutinely look through blogger.com`s page to see if there are any new (and unanswered) comments. I might be busy, but I do not want to be the guy you ask a question and then never get back to you :-) Thank you to all the readers and supporters of the blog :-)