Monday, 2 July 2012

Practical application for Taegeuk I (2) Jang

Todays post is about another practical usage from a seemingly obvious technique; The high block. This is featured twice in Taegeuk I (2) Jang in short walking stance. I have as with many other techniques several applications to the technique in question other than the standard to block a high section punch or a hammer fist strike to the head. Those two applications are the one featured about 99% of all explonations on this technique and as beginners we take our teachers words without quetions and we never revisit the technique to see if there is other and perhaps more combativly sound usages for the movement.

I have obviously gone back to the drawing board on this one (literally:-p) and if you look at the drawing below you can see the movement high section block explained as a forearm strike to the side of the neck and the pulling hand is controlling and unbalancing the opponent as well as hindering his chances of defence. In this application the end movement is not as high as the end movement in high section block but this is to drill the student in followthrough in technique. In Taegeuk I (2) Jang you see this move done twice.

The opponent grabs your lapel, you grab his arm and pull it toward your hip and strike his holding arm just below the elbow joint (prepetory motion for high section block), then pull the opponent and strike him with your forearm to the side of his neck. The form also tells us that if he grabs your arm or otherwise hinder you with his remaining free arm you can grab it, and then do the same technique again on the other side.

The forearm strike is great in a self defense situation as it is very gross motor skill, and that there is large redundancy in the technique as you have your whole forearm to hit with. Miss to one side and he gets an elbow, miss to the other side and he gets a hammerfist or somewhere in between those two.

I can also be used as a deflection of course, but we have to look at the whole movement too and not just one part of it. The masters of old settled with one to three forms in their training. The reason for that was likely that they extracted all they needed to know about self defense and fighting from those one to three forms. One movement capable of multiple applications is brilliant because then when you practise your form(s) you also practise the movement for many applications. Allthough you can only truly practise one application at a time both mentally and practically the transferable skill level is high if the same movement or very close to it are being used in different applications.


  1. Hello
    I have bee demonstrating a similar app for this that I came to assume that this was common knowledge, hmm.
    Anyway, some things to make it more fun:
    1. The initial (chamber) motion strikes lung5 (below elbow, as mentioned). This will cause the opponents front knee to buckle, his other arm ( the one you were worried about!) to fly backward, and cause him to present the side of his forward, all at once!

  2. Wow part 2
    After the above has occurred, the forearm performs the "high block" motion striking stomach 5 on the side of opponents jaw, or the point cluster on the side of his neck ( middle of scm muscle)
    This will produce an instant knockout with minimal effort. It is a fundamental technique to a common attack.
    Remember, this must be done with intent.
    Ps. If you really want sparks to fly, step on his foot as you do the above!!

  3. Thanks Richard. You are describing the applicaiton I wrote in even more detail than I did:D Except for you stepping on the foot your comments are the excact thing I was trying to explain:)Stepping on the foot would make the application even more effective so thank you for your addition. If you look at the drawing you can even see the opponents arm that you are not controlling fly back:p

  4. Dear Ørjan,
    First of all, thanks a lot for bringing us the great source of info that your blog is.
    It's been a while since I started understanding forms applications and since then I've started appreciating traditional martial arts much more than I already used to.
    But in the application mentioned here (that already used to be in my own syllabus -- as you said, it's not exactly that unknown), something always felt inadequate to me, which is the initial position of the chambering hand. Once the technique traditionally begins with forearms somewhat crossed, and with the chambering hand in the inside (I mean, closer to you than the "blocking"/punching hand, "over" the "blocking hand"), it felt always a little unatural to me the idea of grabbing an arm just like the way you showed in your explanation/drawing.
    Instead, if the initial position of the chambering hand were already in the outside ("under" the "blocking hand"), it would be much easier to grab an opponent's arm (as the "blocking"/punching arm would be over the chambering hand, instead of being on its way). In this case, the technique would look very similar to the shotokan karate shuto uke (knife hand block), and so would be the various applications as well (despite having a different attacking motion, off course).
    To find a way to suit the application to the way the chambering hand is initially positioned, I usually imagine that the "attacking/blocking hand" passes slightly under the opponent's armpit (from the grabbed arm). When applying this to your drawing, off course that would mean the grabbed hand/arm would be the other one, instead. I believe the effectiveness of the attack would remain the same, and also the backwards motion of the other opponent's arm would remain as well. This application, in my view, could be even enhanced if we apply a "reversed" hip rotation while performing the block (I mean, block with left arm, rotate hips to the right/clockwise), once this would both reinforce the chambering and also protect the defender's body (turning away defender's centerline). Also this kind of hip rotation works better when using the "blocking/attacking arm" with "punch" motion, adding power to it like it would to a "usual" straight punch.

  5. [Continuing...]
    Finally, I can also see a lock here: if you grab firmly the attacker's hand, pass your "blocking" arm under his arm pit (or around that point) you can easily apply pressure to the attacker's elbow as well with your "blocking arm" or even with your chest (in this last case, even simultaneously while you attack the attacker with the "blocking hand"). You can also grab the back of the attacker's neck (maybe pulling his hair, too) with your "blocking hand", what would also reinforce the lock and put you in a highly advantageous position.
    I hope I've been able to make myself understood here and haven't made any mistake here. I'd be my pleasure to know your oppinion on my guesses for those other possible applications for our highly regarded high block. :)
    Still I have a lot of questions in this subject, for example: why have we learned in taekwondo to use the "direct" hip rotation (counter-clockwise if blocking with left arm) in this movement while in shotokan karate (I haven't had enough contact with other styles to mention them) the hips usually go the opposite direction?
    Well, there are many more questions but they will show up in time. :D
    Anyway, thank you again for sharing your knowledge. After having graduated in taekwondo, I felt a little uncomfortable with seeing I was becoming more and more a karate guy (to the point I went back to karate classes after some years of leaving it behind to taekwondo). I don't care much about style, to be honest, but it just feels much better when I see "taekwondo sources" as well (what becomes critical now I'll soon have my own classes and students -- I mean taekwondo classes and taekwondo students!).
    Send you my best regards,


    P.S.: do you attend to Dan Djurdjevic's TFA Forum? The guy is a monster and I higly respect him. Maybe a forum would be a particularly great place to discuss those things and I'd be great to see you there.

    1. Hi Samir and thanks for letting your thoughts be known. Your opening sentence really made my day:-) I agree with you that the common chamber motion of this technique does not lend itself well into the application in my post. I do have several application to the move and the reason I chose to illustrate the one I did was simply that it was the easiest to draw (Look at my drawing skills and you know what I mean).

      I like your applications and the ones I have not trained allready will surely be tried out on my next "Taekwondo playdate". The one where you apply pressure to your elbow I believe I saw in one of the earliest Funakoshi books so that is actually an historical accurate application (if there is such a thing as "historicly accurate application" that is).

      I have not become a member of Dan Djurdjevic`s forum yet, but I am one of the lurkes there;) I love his blog and he is one of my inspirations when writing this blog.

    2. PS Samir: What kind of "Taekwondo style" did you do? I read the part where you write about different use of hips and I believe I do it the way you write is the "Shotokan way". I know Moo Duk Kwan lineage have some "unique" ways of using their hips as one of Hwang Kee`s inovations was a different hip twist in the defensive movements (I have never seen it but I have seen references to it). Just curious:-)

    3. Hey, Ørjan.
      I'm glad you appreciated my two cents on applications for high block. You said you had more applications for it, and I'd be glad to hear of them (not necessarily here or now, anyway). I give you my word I haven't read of Funakoshi's writing about any application I mentioned, but anyway I'm glad to know there's such a noble background. Honestly, in the point I'm in, I usually spend more time trying to find interpretations than practicing them (it's usually a lonely task in my case), so sometimes I just can't feel sure if my "ideas" do work.
      Well, anyway, thank you so much for your feedback, and don't forget to tell me your opinion on any new applications I could've suggested to you was after you tried them out in your "playtime". :D
      By the way, I practice Kukkiwon taekwondo, and shotokan karate, and I feel puzzled about that difference in hip rotation I mentioned, once "traditional" (not sport) KKW TKD looks overall so similar to Shotokan.
      Best regards.