Monday, 19 March 2012

Practical application for Keumgang Poomsae Part Two

In todays post I want to continue where I left off on my previous post. In Part One I started sharing some applications to Keumgang Poomsae that are a lot more combative valuable than the standard kick, block punch intrepretations are. Click here to read Part One. In the first part we looked at the opening moves (first wedge block, and then three openhanded strikes to the chin in a row, all performed in long front stance (apkoobi seogi). This time I wanted to continue by looking at the next three techniques.

Click here to watch the form I am writing about:
I want to look closer at the three inward knife hand blocks performed in back stance while moving backwards (watch 0:13 until 0:16 in the video).

The most common way of interpreting these moves are as three blocks aginst lunge punches (think 3 step sparring). The problem with this interpretation is that you might be able to block an attack like this but there is absolutly nothing done to your attacker in this interpretation. You defensivly block his attack three times before turning to your side and face a new oponent. As the next move is a double block you could argue that you are blocking the first oponents high section attack while simultainiously blocking your new oponents low section attack from the side. But after all of these "blocks" and no follow up you completly ignore your first oponent while turning all your focus into your new oponent. This is not realistic on any planet and so this aplication must be flawed (most standard applications to our patterns are of the simplified block kick punch variety and so they are flawed as they do not take into account the whole movement but only parts of them. For instance in a punch the punch is done but the hand on the hip is completly ignored and forgotten). I also think that if the movement has not put you into a position of advantage or finished your oponent (or both) you should look for different applications (unless the next move is the finishing move).

So the movements that are usually labeled inward knife hand blocks can not be used to hinder an attack like a punch at all? Well they certainly can if you look at the whole of the movement and not just the "blocking" part of it. Look closely at the video and the three inward knife hand blocks again. Just focus on the movement, what is the "Non blocking hand" doing? How do we move our body? Where is our body weight centered? These are key questions to understand the form. 

If we divide up the movement you will see that the non blocking hand is placed forward (at this point of time the "correct and official" way is to extend your arm fully to the front, in this video which was made several years ago he extends the arm forward but not completly forward), and simultaniously the "blocking" hand is lifted to your shoulder. When your back leg is firmly planted the blocking hand is moved in a circular motion inwards to your center line while the non blocking hand is pulled hard toward your hip. What can we use this movement for? If you have read the first part (previous post) you will know that if one movement is repeated in the form it does not have to have the same function, eventhough it looks the same without an opponent.

Application for the first inward knife hand block: Defense against a lapel grab: Grab his wrist with wich he has grabbed your lapel, step back into back stance while pulling his arm toward your hip straightening it. Strike down hard on his elbow joint to break it with your knife hand.

Application for the second inward knife hand block: Defense against a straight punch to the body. Shift outside of the line of attack by moving your body to a sideways position while simultaniously grabbing his arm, wrist, clothing and striking down on this elbow joint to break it (same principle as the first application but different attack). This might sound difficult but I have made a great deal of succes with this move (I obviously do not break my training partners arm, but the moving slightly to the outside of the punch and trap it part is something you can pull off).

Application for the third inward knife hand block: Defense against a single handed wrist hold. The oponent stands in front of you holding your right wrist with his right hand (cross grip). You step back into back stance, reverse the grip, pulling your hand toward your hip straightening his arm and yes you guessed it: Strike hard on his elbow joint with your knife hand "block".

You can use two inward knife hand blocks in a row stepping back into back stance to defend against a same side wrist hold. This time the first inward knife hand is delivered to the inside of his elbow joint, creating pain and more importantly unbalancing him, free your hand that was being held, grab his arm and pull him backwards once more this time chosing to either strike the outside of his elbow joint (hold on to the arm that was grabbing you) or the side of his neck. You holding his arm on the side you are going to strike will mean that he is going to have a tough time defending against what ever you want to launch as a counter attack from that side.

These applications are really just the tip of the iceberg. I strongly suggest that you try to work out some for yourselves, try mine with a partner and remember if you cant pull the applications of in a training envirement you can forget about pulling them off in a self defense situation.

Click here to go to part 3. Here I will look at one of Keumgang Poomsae most signature move: Keumgang Makki (performed in Hakdari Seogi). Click here to read


  1. hello
    one of my favorite forms as well. i like the elbow break. on the first movement try inserting your arm under and behind opponents shoulder, step into back stance maintaining the arm position (i.e.. as if you were doing a knife hand. the complete movement will execute the throw.
    for palm heel (prior post) i use ST5 as main target as that is position of hand. can also be used as a nasty cervical attack.

    1. Thanks Richard for your kind comment on the elbow break.

      Great applications for Keumgang Poomsae Richard. I will play around with the throw you describe next time when I have the chance. Thanks for sharing:-)