|The famous "Crane Technique".|
"When done right no can defend"
(Quote from the film)
Over my years of training I have uncovered some hinders that have made me blind as for the possibilities of Poomsae movements and their usage in combat. I have 4 stages to this experience and possibly other will follow but here are the ones I have gone through and one that I am seeing in the distance but I am far from there yet:
- Clueless stage of Poomsae training. Here you practise Taekwondo Dance rutine not Poomsae. There are suprisingly many people who find themselves here their entire Taekwondo career:-O We all start here of course. People can be expert in how to do the movements but ask them to rely on these movements in real combat and they will not be able too. Loads of books have been written about Poomsae that only focuses on this stage.
- Old hard style Taekwondo. This is the hard style that was taught in the old Kwan. Here all blocks are blocks, punches are punches and kicks are kicks. This is the simplest intrepretation on Poomsae there is but it can be effective as self defense and coupled with Ho sin sul training (release techniques and anti grappling techniques as well as BASIC throws and takedowns) it has proven its effectiveness in war time both in Korea and in the Vietnam war. It looks simple enough and the practisioners of this style of Taekwondo has been ridiculed for its unrealistic stances, hand on their hip and label disiase but do not underestimate them. The practisioner makes the style work, not the style.
- The Taekwondo nerd stage of poomsae training. I call it the Taekwondo nerd stage because you need to do a lot of research to get here on your own, and many people in the Taekwondo world seems happy with their sport taekwondo and most others feel fine with their hard style Taekwondo. Nothing wrong with that at all. But on this stage you have questioned everything in your training, you have seen how other styles does things, you have researched your taekwondo history and the styles that spawned modern taekwondo, you are doing everything you can to research more realistic intrepretation of the poomsae moves. More on how to do this later as this is the main point of todays post.
- The Poomsaenator stage. I have not reached this yet as I am still dabbling in the Taekwondo nerd stage mentioned above, but I can see where this is going. Maybe there are other stages that follows this one but on this stage you have realistic intrepretations on every poomsae you want to study and you know they work because they are all drilled and tested against live resisting oponents under the most realistic scenarios available (while not sacrificing safety and health).
|Old style Taekwondo in a |
Now for the next stage you need to look deeper at the movements. Here are a few things that I think will help any student of Taekwondo that wants to look deeper in their forms be it the old imported forms from the old Kwan, chang hon ryu (ITF sanctioned Hyung) or WTF/Kukki Taekwondos Palgwae, Taegeuk or black belt forms:
- The attacks that the forms are defending against should be considered to be "street attacks". Wild haymakers, soccer kicks, wild tackles etc etc. Do not assume the defenses are for flying kicks, or head height kicks, or lunge punches from 7 feet away:)
- The distanse of the oponent and you should be very very close. All street encounters are up close or end up close. Think that he is already within your arms reach or even closer. DO NOT BE FOOLED BY SPARRING RANGE.
- The whole motion of the technique(s) has to be used. There is never any "extra" motions or the "one hand does this while the other casually guards the solar plexus" techniques. I have found that more often than not the non striking/ blocking hand is controlling your oponent or creating openings while the other is striking the oponent. Even the hand that goes to the hip while punching/"blocking" has an important role to play. You can read more about the hand on your hip here.
- Do not be afraid to steal!! Believe it or not, there are people who are researching better applications to their patterns all the time. Look at videos on youtube, go to seminars, read books etc. I have found that while there are limited resources for Taekwondoin there are a lot of research and interest in the Karate comunity. The patterns might be different but the basic techniques are essentually the same thus any good Karate application will be helpfull to your own research.
- Do not base your applications on your oponents actions. With this I mean any application relying on your oponent to first hit you here, then step back, then kick, step forward and kick and punch you at the same time is not going to happen. Involuntary actions such as bending at the waist after being kicked to the groin, grabing your wrist to remove a your strangling hand from his neck etc should however be considered.
- Do not fall into the trap of making your applications to defensive. All actions in Poomsae are designed to either regain initiative in the fastest way possible, or it is an offensive application. Purely defensive applications do not exist, hence the block one oponents middle level punch then turn 180 degrees to block a new oponent, then turn 90 degrees to block and counterattack a third oponent like in Taegeuk i (2) Jang is seriously flawed. If you take these defensive applications seriously you will now have two oponents that are taking turns bashing your head from behind you while you are struggling with a third attacker.
- There are no moves for multiple attackers at once. Yes I said it. The most typical explanation for the double block in Taegeuk Pal (8) Jang is that you are blocking a kick to your front while blocking a face punch from an oponent behind you. This oponent you do not even see!. Better explanation is a takedown defense against a kick, a simultanious arm lock and choke to one oponent, using your face punching blocking hand to open your oponent up for a hammerfist strike to the groin etc. There is always one oponent at the time.
- Keep It Simple Stupid! or KISS is something you should apply to all applications. There is BASIC grappling in our Poomsae, and the martial arts that spawned modern Taekwondo also contained BASIC grappling. You will not find complicated Brazilian Jujutsu ground fighting techniques etc in our Poomsae but you will find that there are basic arm locks, throws and takedowns in them.
|Choki Motobu was|
famous for his
fighting ability. This is
a technique from Chulgi hyung
Research on your own, steal from others, practise, drill them with a partner and make any application your own:) Use your Poomsae as a device to remember all your self defense knowledge and you will be using Poomsae in a way that is more inline with the original intent of Poomsae.