Saturday, 7 April 2012

Practical application for Keumgang Poomsae Part Five

This is the fifth part of my Keumgang study. We have seen different usages for almost all the movements of the form, sometimes presenting as many as three possibilities of usage on one move. In the first part I looked closer on the opening move (wedge block/heocho makki) followed  by the openhanded strikes, in the second part I looked at the three following movements (inward knife hand performed in back stance), in the third part I looked at the most signature move of all in this poomsae namely keumgang makki performed in hakdari seogi (simultanious high, and low section block performed on one foot) and in the fourth post I looked at the "large hinge" also seen as a "hook punch". This time it is time for one of the most ridiculed movements of all, a great mystery to many and one of the movements that has puzzled me for ages as well. Namely the infamous Santeul Makki or mountain block.

Look at the opening picture. There is a man there performing the "mountain block". Have you ever wondered just why this move is called "mountain block"? I know I did and while this is nothing to do with practical application I still think it might be of interest to know the reason. The Hanja character (old chinese characters used in Korea) for mountain is potrayed in the picture below:

If you look at the character you will notice that the head is the middle line and the two outer lines are the arms. It looks a little like the end position of the movement does it not?:-) This Chinese Character (Hanja) is also the performance line of the form. And now to the "practical" applications:

The Kukkiwon explanation of this movement is a defense against two opponents each holding one of your shoulders, each in a position at you side. I guess the only time you will find yourself in this situation is if the police or bouncers are quietly escorting you out of the premesis for unwanted behaviour not fit for a true Taekwondoin. I guess Kukkiwon needed a way out for its "naughty" students as well. When finding yourself in this situation the application provided in the kukkiwon textbook tells you to solve it by doing an upper outward block and an upper inward block at the same time, striking the arms that were holding your shoulders on each side. This is followed with... nothing.. There is no follow up so I guess this is Kukkiwon`s way of saying that now you have done enough and that you should go quietly. Joking aside this is what I first thought when looking at the application.

I found two videos on youtube that are about this part of the form so I have included them here:
First of all I totally respect anyone for moving to the level above the normal block kick punch applications. This requires that you move outside of your comfort zone, you need to overcome label disease, you need to think for yourself etc. The problem with this presentation however is that the attack is pretty stylised and I am wondering how these techniques could be used against "real" or "live" attacks instead of the mainstream one step formal sparring format that is presented here. Other than that this is a very good attempt at explaining a move that many either believes are against two opponents kicking/punching you at the same time from your sides or the kukkiwon textbook example that I have allready explained above. This is a whole new level of understanding and while I do not agree with the presentation against stylised attacks I again have to say that I really appreciate his attempt at unlocking the combative usages of these two moves. My advise? look at the video, play around with these applications and see if you can make them work (espesially against "live" attacks).

The first application he shows is wonderfull and I really like it. The application in itself can be used against any number of "live" (straight) attacks and you can also attack with a hammer fist strike to the head of the opponent if you want to do that. This is about 40-44 seconds into the video.

My application for the movement is essentually the same as his second application but against a wristgrab or I grab his wrist, pluss I use the "horsestance" to chrash into his leg with my knee as well. It is a lot more logical than most other applications I have seen around. This is about 45-52 seconds into the video.

At around 1 minute something he is playing around using the next move in the form as a follow up from his previous application. Personally I can not see how the outward double block can be intrepreted as the armlock he is demonstrating, but who am I to judge. I am just happy that he even thinks out these applications and shares them as well:-) If you ever read this: Thank you:-)

The second video I found is from Richard:

First of all: This is an unique way of looking at the movement as far as I know. I have never seen any "karate bunkai" or another Taekwondoin propose this meaning to this movement. I really like it and I will try this out my next training session and if it works for me I will surely include this in my repotoaire (is that spelled correctly?). I think Richard should be applauded for this and I hope he posts more videos like this on youtube:-) The fact that he teaches grown up students really says it all. When others are struggeling to keep their students and 90 % of the Dojangs members are kids, Richard seems to have succeded with a "grown up syllabus".


Here we have yet another video explaining the movement. As a bonus you also get a little "vital point(s)" explanation. These two points are extremly usefull points on the oponents extremities. If you can not get to that "centerline" or a headshot, softening the oponent by going for these two are a good way to open him up. In a sporting enviroment the one on the thigh is very usefull (if low kicks are allowed) to destroy his mobility and his chance to throw kicks at you. I once saw a fight stopped by three lightning quick kicks to the thigh point before the actual fight started (pre-emptive kicking). The agressor fell to the floor and could not do anything. He was allready on the way down after kick number two but he got a third as a "bonus".

I hope that you have enjoyed this jurney through Keumgang Poomsae and that this series has opened a few eyes to the possibilities that lay dorment in the Taekwondo forms. The spring is approaching fast and the weather is getting warmer. Why not invite a few fellow students and play around with the forms like this on a soft surface (e.g a park or something)?


  1. Hello
    thanks for the compliment. it is interesting to see what applications individuals take as meaningful to them. of the two that i wrote for Totally TKD i regarded this one as secondary in importance. the first one : (secretly titled #2 as it was the second one i uploaded) contains the arm break as mentioned but includes the accupoint and movement that activates it. it also shows the attack to the leg points (GB 31-32) that are very useful in live confrontations. we teach it to police, and you see it in MMA all the time.
    give it a try! i really liked it.
    thanks for my 6.5 seconds of fame.

    1. Thanks for the link Richard. I will edit the post so you get a few more seconds of fame:p (Allthough I doubt that I have enough readers yet to get someone famous:p )

      Looks like you and your students had a lot of fun with this:) Like I said in the end of the post to everyone out there reading this: the weather is getting warmer so now is a great time to go out there (parks, gardens, etc) and play around with the forms. Maybe you even get a few new applications you had not thought about before.

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