Thursday, 28 June 2012

Practical application from Taegeuk Il (1) Jang

Image source
This drawing stuff is just plain old fun. It has been years and years since I bothered drawing stuff, but now I have been drawing like a true artist should:p

Taegeuk Il (1) Jang or the whole Taegeuk series of forms for that matter is  often viewed as void of practical applications. In this post I have provided one of my applications for the very first move of Taegeuk Il Jang; The low block in the short walking stance (look at opening picture). I see this move as a versitale movement that can be used for a great number of things but I have only provided one of those applications in this post.

In the drawings below you will first see the prepetory motion for the low block. One hand is stretched out to the front, while the other hand is lifted accross your body to your opposite ear. In the application I have provided this is an elbow joint lock. In "Chin Na" (Chinese for seizing and grappling and yes that was a very simplified translation) it is known as "Lifting the elbow".

You grab the opponents lower arm, or if your wrist is grabbed you can reverse the grip. You then put forward and downward pressure with the grabbing arm (this is the arm that is stretched out in front in the prepetary motion for low block), you feed your other arm under the opponents elbow and apply upward pressure (just lift it up toward your opposite ear like in the form). Done violently enough this can fracture your opponents elbow. Done a little less violent you now have an elbow lock and the opponent will be standing on his toes.

Believe it or not but that is actually the best I can draw:p Lets just say that I am not going to receive any awards due to my artistic works in the near future. I will not quit my dayjob:p

What next you ask? You have either broken your opponents joint, or you have him in an elbow lock and the opponent is standing on his toes. You need to do something more to him if the latter scenario happens and you need to do it fast. Luckily Taegeuk Il (1) Jang shows us a very simple, cruel and effective follow up. Look at the drawing below:
You did a lot of damage with the prepetory motion of the low block, or you at least have the opponent in a painful jointlock. Just finnish the movement of the low block and voila: a hammerfist to the groin! Note that "the pulling hand" in the low block motion is pulling the opponents arm toward your hip to keep him off balance to minimize the chances of a counter from the opponent.

The "normal" or should I say ingrained response in all men to a hammer fist to the groin is either to flinch away from the strike or threat bending forwards, or to bend over in pain from receiving the blow on target. Either way you now have an opponent bending forwards wich means that his head is now lower than usual, lets say in the middle section. He would be turned a little away from you because of the preceding elbow break or lock and so you just follow up with the very next move in the form; a middle section punch with a short step. This punch can be targeting a lot of vital points on the opponent. The previous elbow break/joint lock would have turned him a little so you should have a clear shot to his temple, side of the jaw, ear, etc.

Il Kyuk Pilsung! One Movement Victory! was a term often used in Taekwondo Dojang around the world. If you started Taekwondo the last 20 years or so you might not even have heard it but the above application is surely a good example of that term. One move and you break your opponents elbow and strike his groin for good measure.. Or in modern times just settle with a joint lock and maybe a strike to the groin if the situation warrants it:-) Never use more force than neccesary, or you might have legal difficulties in the aftermath. Taegeuk Il (1) Jang is a newer creation (early 70s) but the techniques contained in the form is from an older time. This shows when you start analysing the forms in search of combativly sound techniques and not going in only to look for block, kick punch stuff. The application flows well, and it follows the form EXACTLY. Nothing is alltered or added to make this work.


  1. Hello again, my friend.
    It's a shame I don't see many other people commenting in your blog. To be honest, I even find it a little pleasant as well: it feels like some kind of special exclusive content that only few can access. But seriously, the things are very well shown here, and the content is top notch. The lurkers that come around should show themselves, too. :)
    About this article, it was particularly useful to me (and I didn't believe it would until I read it): I've heard of this application a thousand times, but always something felt inadequate to me... again. And again, it had to do with the crossing of arms. The way the "blocking" arm crossed over the "pulling" hand always seemed wrong to me when when the intention would a groin strike (the blocking hand should better cross under the pulling hand in this sole case, maybe). The point is I had not heard of the first part of the application, the elbow lock! Once we know forms provide templates for applications and not the application themselves, the regular motion of the "blocking" hand to the side of the opposite ear fits perfectly with the elbow lock idea. Furthermore, it's a deadly and fast motion. Again, the use of both arms in a high crossing fashion also provides a great setup for pure defending the head, and it is a natural instinctive response -- in other words, pure sweet effectiveness in form of self-defense.
    Finally, I'd like to add that I used to think of our "down block" as a strike to the groin, really (and anything else, but didn't noticed the key elbow lock), but also I thought of it as a kind of arm lock like the aikido ikkyo, but maybe with a more agressive option (striking to the elbow instead of pure lock), but the application the way you showed here just struck me harder! :D
    This is one of the greatest recent additions to my repertoire. Thank you.

    1. "It's a shame I don't see many other people commenting in your blog."

      I really like and welcome comments as questions often makes you see things in different perspectives, and other comments mights give different insights of the readers that add much to the blog posts themselves. Richard who is a very active commenter on this blog often writes such indepth comments that they are just as good reading material as the blog post that spawned them:-) (Thank you Richard). He often gives different perspectives on the subjects as well as he is much more experienced and well verced than me.

      On the other hand "few" comments also means I have more time to answer them all;)

      " I've heard of this application a thousand times, but always something felt inadequate to me... again. And again, it had to do with the crossing of arms."

      I used to think of the low block simply as a hammer fist strike without the elbow lock, untill I played around on one of my "Taekwondo play dates" and used a Hapkido lock that I learned a few years back and followed it with a hammer fist strike as it was a natural follow up. The hammerfist strike to the groin without the lock is still a viable application in my eyes though, eventhough it does not fit within the basic movement 100%. The Poomsae are a way of moving, and the techniques are "set" but the applications can be simular but not the same as the movement and you still get the mnemonic effect of the form. Obviously it is up to us as practisioners just how long from the basic movment we can stray, but for me the Poomsae is an mnemonic devise for my Ho Sin Sul, not the training of them:-)That being said though the closer you are to the basic techniques the more transferable skills are trained during poomsae performance;)

  2. Hey, I just remembered!
    I know your drawings are already full of style, hahaha, but have you ever tried using skeleton sketches to draw the bodies? It's easy, fast and very effective!
    Take the example in the link below:
    Now see you!

    1. Great link. Doubt I will get to this stage of drawing but I will definitly give it a go next time I will be drawing;) Thanks Samir:-)

      Hap Jang

  3. I cant believe... i learnt one of the deadliest techniques of taekwondo in my white belt days (i am currently a blue belt)

    thank you sir for shedding light on the 'wild' side of arae makki :)

  4. The techniques of Taekwondo have many uses depending on Your training, studies, current Level of knowledge and intent. The root arts of Taekwondo where so well rounded in their knowledge of how to apply their movements that most masters knew one to maybe 5 forms at the most. They studied them indepth for a long period of time to apply the movements in self defense. If you read through the blog you will find several other uses for "Arae Makki":-) Glad you liked it.