Monday, 13 February 2012

The key to Poomsae Competition Success: Less is more

Todays post is about Competition Poomsae performance. Todays tip wich you can see in the headline is really the key to success in Poomsae Competition. Many people do not really understand this but here it is: The key to Poomsae Competition success: Less is more.





This is something that I realised watching some of the top contenders in Poomsae Competition in Korea. Their Poomsae seemed so "pure" and spot on; on each technique, it was just breathtaking. Then we saw a few foreign students perform their Poomsae and it hit me. They too had power, and speed (they did their Poomsae way faster than their Korean counterparts), and they too were flexible like ballarinas and kicked almost straight up. They too had a seemingly good flow, but it was something that set the Korean performers apart from the foreign ones: The Korean did EXCACTLY what was needed for each technique and nothing more!

The foreign students did a great Poomsae performance but they had theese tiny extra motions that they did throughtout the performance. For instance when one of them kicked his arms was flapping around, another one took a mini extra step with his front foot each time he kicked with his back leg, another one would not withdraw his pulling hand straight toward his hip, but rather do a semi circular motion so he could pound his hip bone with a hammerfist making some extra noise in the proccess, etc. The Koreans on the other hand did excactly each motion, completed it and then continued doing excactly what was needed for the next motion. The extra motions in the foreigners performance were really tiny, but all of them put together was a lot and easy to see.

The way to get from a good Poomsae performance to a great Poomsae performance level is through elimination of uneccasary motions. And come to think of it, it is also important to rid oneself of uneccesary motions for more practical reasons than Poomsae competition too. Chipping away unneccesary motions will increase your speed, conserve your energy and increase your effectiviness. Depending on the motion in question you will also decrease your telegraphing your techniques to the oponent, as well as increase your power generation. All this sounds great does it not? And the way to rid oneself of all theese motions? Practise practise practise, rest a little and then some more practise. Get a videocamera or use your phones camera and tape yourself doing a Poomsae. I recomend beginning from the bottom (Taegeuk Il Jang and work yourself up from there). Watch out for:

  • Anything that looks out of place.
  • The Placement of your arms during the excecution of each technique.
  • How the head moves throughout the Poomsae.
  • The height of your head throughout the Poomsae (it should be at the same level throughout, unless the Poomsae contains short walking stance wich is performed with straight legs. All other stances have the same head height be it long walking stance or horse stance.)
  • Any extra steps taken before kicking or during the performance.
  • Are you turning on the balls of your feet or on your heel?
  • Are your hands opening when not in use?
I have tried and I have used camera, high speed photocamera and mirrors while training. I recomend you use some sort of training aid like the ones I have used. An instructor might tell you that you are doing something wrong, but your body lies to the brain so you do not really feel it. A taped performance will never lie, and it will not sugarcoat anything either. It tells it like it is. The high speed photo camera`s results was really hard to cope with. I had won a lot of regional championships but when looking at pictures throughout my motions I saw a lot of things that speed had hidden from me and my eyes. This is not for the faint of heart:-p

Start by finding your flaws in performance and then use a mirror or something in your training so you can work on eliminating them. This is a never ending proccess I am afraid, but the results will come a lot faster than you think. Even if you have no interest in Poomsae Competition you will have more practical benifits by working this way than the traditional way of doing it 1000000s of times over and over again. With no or limited feedback (the instructor can not concentrate 110% on you anyway) there is a danger that you will perfect your flaws instead of eliminating them.

And with that in mind: Good luck on your Competitions:-)

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