Saturday, 3 November 2012

Chung Do Kwan Poomsae Training Tips

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Those of you who has read my blog for some time know that I love Taekwondo, to practise it, to teach it and to study it. Yes I do make a distinction of simply "Training" Taekwondo and to actually "Study" Taekwondo. This Blog is largely the result of me trying to put what I learn through my studdies into perspective and making sense of it all. After all Taekwondo is a far reaching term with very different meaning from student to student, instructor to instructor and from the lay persons out there. But all that is for another post in the future as this is a post on something entirely else.


Last Christmas I got a lot of books. Among them there was a real gem; "Korean Karate, The Art Of Tae Kwon Do" by Duk Sung Son and Robert J. Clark (Actually there was a whole bunch of "gems":-) . This book was published at a time when Martial Arts was relatively new to the West in 1968. This was before MCDojangs and black belt factories had come into place. Before the comercialism ruled the day and at a time when Taekwondo was seen as an effective Martial Art and not as a Martial Sport for kids (or was it? Feeling another post comming up).

First a short biography of the main author so you know a little more about the man behind the words:

Duk Sung Son or Son Duk Sung (first is the western way and the second is the traditional eastern way of putting the family name first and then the first name second) was the second headmaster of the very first Kwan (school or style) that opened up in Korea after World War 2. As such he was one of the founder of that Kwan highest students and he trained alongside a bunch of Taekwondo Pioneers that would make a name for themselves both in the Kukkiwon style, the Chang Hon style and several independent masters. Nam Tae Hi, famous in Chang Hon circles was originally trained in the Chung Do Kwan alongside Duk Sung Son. On the back of the book it is written that Duk Sung Son started training in Taekwondo in 1942 and that he was twenty years of age at that time as well as an amateur Boxer. As Chung Do Kwan was opened in 1944 I must question if that is a mistake or if he had private training even bofore Taekwondo was publicly taught in Korea.

In 1951 Duk Sung Son became the headmaster of Chung Do Kwan after the original headmaster moved to Japan because of political intrigues and in 1963 he moved to the Unitied States and started teaching his brand of Chung Do Kwan Tae Kwon Do there.

In the book there are a lot of valuable information but for this time I would like to share a few things he writes about forms.

First a definition of forms:
"Tae Kwon Do forms are stylized sequences of attacks and blocks of varying degrees of difficulty. Forms contain from twenty to nearly fifty positions, each of which involves either an attack or a block, or a combination of attacks and blocks. Each position is specific: there is only one right way to do it." - Duk Son Sung
This definition is hardly groundbreaking and it certainly seems that most mainstream definition of forms are a variation of this one. I do like the end part of the definition though: Each position is specific and that there is only one right way to do it. I agree to this very much as Poomsae is often looked at as a mold through wich we make ourselves into the Poomsae image. An advanced student however should play around with his forms though to learn even more but only AFTER the basic or "official" form is mastered to a high degree. As this book was written for an audience of white to 1st degree black belt that would be a step after the contents of this book was mastered (or maybe not). The thing I found interesting though was the 5 things  the students of his had to watch out for in their forms training:

  • Accuracy of movements (correct performance of the techniques)
  • Speed of movements (correct speed and rythm of form)
  • Strength of movements (correct use of the mucles)
  • Each movement must be correctly "Focused"*
  • Correct balanced througout the performance.
 * This is actually the only reference I have seen so far by a Korean Taekwondo practisioner. Obviously the meaning of focus he is speaking of here is maybe better known by its Japanese term: "Kime". Feel free to google it but short explonation is that the core mucles are contracted on impact in application and that the joints are protected by breaking the speed at the end of movement in "air practise".

Thats it for today. I hope you found this as interesting as I did.

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