Saturday, 28 July 2012

Practical Application from Taegeuk Youk (6) Jang

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The Taegeuk series of Poomsae have been subject of countless debates as to how valid they are as forms in a martial art. They are very new in a forms paradigm setting. Naihanchi from Karate is many houndreds years old, the newer Karate forms (e.g Pinan) are over 100 years old but the Taegeuk form set was introduced in 1972 making it very young indeed when compared to other forms. Even so most building blocks of the Taegeuk series (basic techniques) are taken from older forms. Some are rearranged in such a matter that there is no direct counterpart in other forms making Taegeuk series unique. There are even a few techniques/sequences that ONLY show up in the Taegeuk series.

These days I have seen many propose that the sequences that directly corresponds to Karate Kata are the only ones that you might find viable applications from. The unique ones are just there as "filling". I disagree to this point and I do believe that all Taekwondo forms can be found to have viable applications it is just up to us to find them. Yes I see the point that these applications might not have been inserted in the forms originally as the knowledge of the originators of Taegeuk series is greatly debated, but that does not change the fact that the forms are based on movements found throughout other older/traditional forms. Many pioneers of reverse engineering of Karate forms (E.g. Iain Abernethy) explains that each movement in Kata (form) has multiple  applications. Therefore chances are that eventhough we have new and unique sequences in our forms the "bits" fits together like a puzzle if we try hard enough. It is just a matter of chosing the right application for each of the techniques so that it all makes sense together.

Simon John O`Neill has allready done this and published a book on the Taegeuk series called "The Taegeuk Cipher". Here I presents the Taegeuk series as a self defense syllabus on its own. Progressing from Taegeuk 1 Jang to 8 Jang, from early stages of a fight to later stages, from basic applications to advanced applications. He did it so why should not we do it? Or if we are stuck why should we not study his findings?

In this post I have chosen deliberatly a sequence not found in older forms that I am aware of so we can see how new sequences/techniques can be used in practical applications. The sequence consists of two movements: Bitteuro Bakkat Sonnal Makki (twisting outwars knife hand block) followed by the roundhouse kick (not found in older Karate forms). This will be step number 5/6 in the form.

In more "conservative" styles of Kukki Taekwondo the roundhouse in Taegeuk Yuk (6) Jang is delivered in "a bigger circular movement" than what is done today. Also the impact point is the ball of the foot (Ap Chuk) not the instep (Baldeung). In competition both are allowed BUT the competition rules clearly states that the instep is preferred by judges (so in reality if you compete you use the more modern competition style roundhouse and not the traditional one). My teacher tries to hold on to the traditional style roundhouse kick in the form as we practise the competition format outside of the form to a great degree anyway. In todays application I have taken the "traditional" delivery of the roundhouse into consideration.

So after the initial stages of the "fight" is over there is usually some sort of grappling involved. Lets presume that the preemptive strike has failed, the initial striking has failed and the opponent has secured a grip on you to try to hinder your ability to strike (see below)
Picture to people grappling standing up if you do not get the illustration:-) From here the defender on the left secures and controls the opponents arm and pull it down toward his hip while twisting it, and at the same time strikes the opponents neck with a knife hand strike (this is the twisting outward knife hand block) see below:

I think that the illustration does convey what I am trying to describe, if not leave a comment at the end of this post and I will try to make it clearer. This fits the form and technique nicely so you do not need to alter your application techniques from the techniques from the form. The roundhouse kick follows the knife hand strike to the neck, see below:
"What, where is the kick?" I hear you say. Well the traditional method of delivering the roundhouse is identical to the roundhouse knee strike. This was a well known strike and it is documented in Henry Cho`s 1968 book on Taekwondo (Secrets of Korean Karate). Did I cheat here? No not really, the distance between you and the opponent decides wether what is performed as a roundhouse kick in the form actually becomes a roundhouse kick or a roundhouse knee strike. Also the height of the technqiue in question will decide and what you want to acchieve. You could just as good use the traditional roundhouse kick to the opponents leg to sweep him down to the ground wich also fits the form really well (today we perform the kick at head height but we do that with all kicks anyway. In application we need to deliver them low). The target for the kick or knee strike is also up to the defender. The knee strike can be delivered to the floating rib, to the head of the opponent if you drag his head down first etc. The kick can land anywhere on the opponent depending on skill level of the defender and the distance between them (but I do not reccomend any target above the hip for kicks), or it can be used to sweep the opponent.

As we do the technique twice in the form we can attribute the knee strike application to one of them and the roundhouse kick to the other so we have the form serve as a mnemonic devise for our applications wich is one of the original intents of martial forms anyway.

The sequence is simple, effective and works well within Taekwondo`s preferred strategy. More importantly it shows that eventhough the Taegeuk series contain sequences that are not found in older form sets the sequences can still be found to have viable combative interpretations.

With that I wish you all happy training:-)


  1. Sir,

    in diagram no. 3, which leg is used to deliver kick/knee ? left one or right one?

    1. The Application follows the form:-)

      In case of a right knife hand strike to the neck you should strike the opponent With a right knee (and the right knee should be the back one). Look closely on Taegeuk Yuk (6) Jang video or someone else perform it. Note the knife hand Block (Count number 5)in high section. It is done With an opposite twist than usual and is followed by a roundhouse kick.

      Now this is only one Application though.. There are several others. What form are you studying right now for Your NeXT grading?:-)

    2. Ok, i got it now. Actually i had misinterpreted diagram no. 2 and thought the left hand is delivering a neck strike, that led to confusion.

      Although I am required to learn Taeguk Oh Jang for my next grading, i can perform all 8 colour belt poomsaes.

    3. My drawing skills sucks, so I really understand that you might misunderstand the drawings. Guess I need to work on my perspective in drawings:p

      Since you study Taegeuk Oh Jang I will see if I can get a post on an Application or two from that form:-)

    4. That would be great.... eagerly waiting :)

  2. Actually, that sequence looks a lot like the basic Hapkido approach to linear attacks, if one thinks of the movement as stepping 45 degrees to the side of the attacker (instead of forward) and deflecting his strike with a soft block to the side before counterattacking. As we know that many of the founders of Taekwondo also had experience with Hapkido, I think it is plausible that what is illustrated here is actually basic Hapkido-inspired movement. :)

    Look at the example here (third technique) as an example:

    1. Hi there. In the example you give if you change the kick counter to a traditional roundhouse kick you are essentially doing the textbook application of the sequence in question:-) it's not what I'm trying to describe though. I'll see if I can post a new post with better illustrations so it becomes more clear.

  3. This was a really great contest and hopefully I can attend the next one. It was alot of fun and I really enjoyed myself..