Wednesday, 6 February 2013

"Basic Applications" to Taekwondo Forms

I rutinely search google and youtube for "Taekwondo Poomsae Application", "Taekwondo Forms Application" etc to see if I can get some new ideas. Well more often than not the only thing I get from Google is my own stuff on this blog (so please if you are into researching your Taekwondo forms dont be shy, share with the world:-) ) and there is little activity on youtube as well. The little Taekwondo applications you will find there is most often of ITF/Chang Hon Ryu Taekwondo and not the Kukkiwon Taekwondo that I am researching. I was therefore pleasently suprised when I came over a new clip (one day old at the time of writing) that promised practical applications to Taekwondo forms (Kukkiwon forms).

Now after seing through the clip I quickly realised that these are the basic applications that the label of the techniques give away (e.g "low block = block a low attack, face block = blocking a punch at your face etc). The thing is that these applications while not very "practical" in their own sense does provide a starting point that sadly many Taekwondoin misses in their training. I used to be suprised that many did not even learn applications at the most basic level in their training asking questions like the second move in Taegeuk Sa (4) Jang where we put our left hand under the right elbow while doing a vertical spear hand thrust to get some really ridiqulous nonsense answers (because it looks cooler than pulling it to our hip was one answer I overheard a practisioner answer her junior belts and she was the rank right below black belt). I mean there are really 4 ways to tackle this:
  1. Give a practical application (some refer to alternative or advanced)
  2. Give a basic application and tell them that there are other more practical ways of doing it
  3. Give a basic application and do not do anything more
  4. Admit you do not have all answers but say you will try to find one
Now I might not be a fan of "basic applications" but I do see them as valuable starting points. The clip itself is very well made with first the solo performance of the form and then the applications shown two times at different angles. Now a word of caution though: the way the solo performance is done is radically different than the way the Kukkiwon teaches the same forms so do not try to learn the forms from this video. The differences are sometimes "minor" in that the chambering of certain techniques are altered, to "huge" as in the form actually lacking whole techniques! Poomsae Koryo in this clip have a lot of front kicks in the beginning removed wich makes this version of Koryo something completly else than the Kukkiwon version. That being said it was refreshing to find an altered Taekwondo form where kicks were removed instead of blindly inserted at random. All in all I think this is a great contribution to Taekwondo and I thank the ones involved for making it, giving their time and most of all sharing it with everyone.


  1. Hello
    glad to see your writers block is coming to an end. keep putting material out there!
    with respect to the video; i too appreciate the act of putting yourself out there, and they are certainly technically very good, far more athletic than i think i ever was(sigh). i just think that the very common concept of the applications that they are describing is fundamentally flawed.

    first off, i have never subscribed to the idea of the multiple opponent approach to form had any kind of validity, especially when they all have the decency to attack one at a time. in addition i never had the "spider sense" to know what kind of attack was coming behind me, e.g. the "manji uke" (don't know the Korean).

    secondly, all of the fighting takes place at a "free sparring" distance so common in form interpretation. to me the reality of form takes place at arms length at the very least--some being closer. fights almost always take place at this distance.

    hopefully, i will soon get off my lazy rear end, and spit out some more apps the way i see them. Not that i know better than anyone else.

    1. Thanks for sharing your views richard:) i do not agree with the applications here either, but i do see them as a place to start. The KMA scene has so long been without a starting point that most people just look at their forms as martial dances. There is not even korean terminology for forms applications in the mainstream at this time. A place to start is better than non at all in my book, plus they had the airwolf theme in the clip wich automaticly enhances all their applications to a whole new level:-D looking forward to your new material. I relly enjoyed your last two clips.

  2. Hello! I wasnt sure where to put this, so ill just put it in here.

    I was wondering if you have any idea what the practical application of movements 7-9, 10-12, and 17-19 in the Taegeuk I Jang (Taegeuk 2)? I.e., the low block followed by high front kick, then step down into a punch?
    A similar combination is found in Il Jang, only starting with a rising block.

    Any ideas?

    1. Hi tarcek and thanks for that question (I love questions).

      One tip that I have learned when analysing forms is that sometimes a sequence is not what you normally think. When you look at move 7 and 9 ( low block, kick and high punch) it might help to look at the move before or after what you are looking for. Move 6 is a momtong an makki in short stance. It is done with your left hand.

      The attack could be a shove, push, punch or grab with the opponents right arm, you grab it with your right arm and pull it toward your right hip (dangki son = pulling hand or hikite in japanese). This will unbalance the opponent andstraighten his elbow. In the same movement you use the blocking arm to slam on his elbow hyperextending it. In one move you have the opponent cooming straight at you and then he is moving toward your right keeping him off balanced and you have hurt his arm.

      Keeping the hold of his arm at your hip use your left (blocking) hand to grab the opponents hair or ear (either at the same side or reach around the headand grab the opposite side). Turn 90 degrees as the form instructs and complete the arae makki movement with your left arm.

  3. Part two)
    Your opponent has been unbalanced by pulling straight at you, forced to your right side and then to your left side (see how this flows from one move to the next keeping the form). Depending on the distance and how you succeded in unbalincing your opponent and if you hurt his arm you can go wit the front kick (but low section not high section). Or you can use the first part of the front kick the knee lift or if you really want to go to town do both (in one move)! Use yor body momentum to finish wit a raising punch ( high section punch) to a suitable vital point as a follw up if need be.

    I hope this answers your question?:-)

  4. It does - Thankyou!
    I didnt think to look back before the sequence. This explains alot.

    And if i have any further questions, ill be sure to direct them your way :)

  5. Hello
    not really for Mr. Silan, who appears to just be starting at looking at applications, and to whom you have outlined a good approach, but for those further along the road, i have found it helpful to try other ways.

    one that has worked well for me is to remember that any part of any form can be taken out of sequence and applied to another part. instead of going abcd, go acbd, or any other combination. it can be quite confusing at first but does open you up to thinking differently about what you are doing.

    another helpful hint i may have mentioned before: very often the Kihap indicates a throw.

  6. Close - Im not new to interpreting applications, but i am new to interpreting applications from forms. Up until recently ive only taken it as far as individual formal movements, since an individual formal movement can set up multiple successive movements, either of your choosing, or just the same thing over and over, or in some cases the one movement is enough. But that stops being productive after you have an answer for everything, so now im delving into the rather more complicated work of trying to decipher forms :)

    1. Hi Tarcek. If I understand your comment correctly that means you have (at least) one practical application for each basic technique (for instance low block, high block, inward block etc) but you are now looking at the forms and try to find applications in a "dynamic context" (applications that flow with the form so to speak)?

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