Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Application to Taegeuk Oh (5) Jang 2

This time I would like to take a closer look on one of the most distinguishing features of Taegeuk Oh Jang. Except for the opening movements (low Block, hammer fist strike) which to me always symbolised the Taegeuk symbol of the form which is Wind (I always thought about a hurricane or a tornado when I first learned the form) is the infamous high Block, side kick/ hammer fist strike followed by an elbow strike into Your palm.

The basic Application is that an attacker attacks from a distance With a high section lunge punch.
The defender (depending on the text you read or instructor) moves forward to meet the attack or backward (the most popular interpretation) and deflects the punch With a high section Block. He then kick the attacker in the solar plexus With a side kick and strike the head With a hammer fist strike (or a punch if the text or teacher is not completly in line With the kukkiwon standard). He then grabs the opponent With the hand he did the hammer fist strike With and elbows the opponent in the solar plexus or the ribs.

The basic Application does have many flaws but it can be tweaked by the students so it is usable, but there has to be some tweaks to make it work. One thing that Works against it is that the hammerfist strike and kick is done at the same time and that the height of the kick is solar plexus height. Since the arm is Shorter than the legs the hammer fist strike is way out of range when the kick Connects. To make it worse it is very Natural to bend a little back away from the direction of the kick which also serves to increase the distance between the kick and the strike even more. To top it all off several great athletes are currently teaching and doing this side kick in the face height making the hammer fist strike totally useless and redundant.

The supporters of the basic Application however are quick to point out that the kick will make the opponent bend forwards if kicked in the gut, and this will bring the head in range for the strike. That is ok I Guess, but in the form we do the two techniques (side kick and hammer fist strike) at the same time, not first side kick and then the hammer fist strike. The result is that there are quite a few instructors out there who have changed the timing to be first side kick and then a split second later the hammer fist is done. Those who do this has changed the form to suit one particular Application instead of keeping the form as it is taught at the "Source" (Kukkiwon) and loose out all the other Applications that can be derived from it.

Another thing about the basic Application is that the elbow strike is targeting the solar plexus or the ribs. Both will shake and hurt the attacker, but neither is as effective a fight stopper than an elbow strike to the head. And just as the case is that People change the form to suit one particular Application instead of preserving the form as it is taught by the "Source" (Kukkiwon) this is also changed to be delivered at head height by many instructors and practisioners alike.

The distance between the attacker and defender is another "flaw" to consider here as the lunge punch is a medium range technique, the side kick is a long range technique followed by the elbow strike which is a short range technique. If there is room for a side kick in the mid section (which is the longest weapon you have range wise) landing in apkoobi (long front stance) will make the short range technique difficult to effectivly apply due to the range. Likely the original attacker will have moved backwards (if just a little) by the kick making it even harder to apply.

So how is my take on it? There are a Whole bunch of small differences that can be done that will make this string of techniques usefull against a Whole bunch of attacks. I will try to keep it most familiar to those who can perform the Poomsae though and who most likely have come into contact With the basic Application that I described above. So the defense is still against a straight punch With the movement labeled high section Block, but there is a twist there:p

Eoulgul Makki or face Block (high section Block) consists of movements from both arms. The hand labeled the pulling hand or non blocking hand seems to be doing a very short inward middle section Block.

  • The attacker attacks With a straight punch toward Your middle section With his right arm (to keep most true to the form).
  • You move outside his punch to Your left and do a shortened inward middle Block With Your left arm (the non blocking hand Chamber in the form) and then move forward and do the upper Block movement With Your right arm deeper on the opponents arm than what is mainstreams norm. This uproots the opponent and the stance you end up With is the long front stance.
  • As a bonus and because you will come in at an angle you can use the forward knee in the ap koobi (long front stance) to knee Your opponents outside leg (but this is only a bonus and not really needed). You will stand in a long front stance and high Block if you freeze frame at the end of Your weight transfer.
  • You then grab the opponent With both arms and knee him in the thigh, groin either outside thigh or inside thigh depending on the situation. This is the first part of the side kick where you lift Your leg to kick in the form.
  • You then do the hammer fist strike to the opponents head and a low side kick to the opponents leg without putting Your foot Down from the kneeing you just did. All this is in one fluid movement. The target can be a great number of Things and both the front foot and back leg of the opponent is viable again according to distance and situation. To stay the closest to the form though I believe it is the inside, outside or back of the knee joint. Inside and outside to break the knee and backside of the knee to put him Down on his knee. In all cases he will go Down somewhat.
  • In the form the following elbow strike is done at solar plexus height. If Your opponent is on one or both of his knees and aproximatly the same height as you his head will be roughly at this height so it makes Perfect sense to finnish With an elbow strike to the head.  
I hope this is Clear enough so People Reading it understands what I am getting at. A variation of this appears in Taebaek Poomsae which I might detail in another future post.

Poomsae Boonseok (forms analysis) principles used here:
  1. The label of the techniques in the form does not always reveal the practical Application, and can actually disguise the Applications all together sometimes. Do not be to hung up on names.
  2. Our forms defends against "street" attacks or HAOV (Habitual Acts Of Violence), consider this when analysing Your forms.
  3. According to several Okinawan Teachers (I can name two) the turns or angles in the forms show us how to Place ourselves in relation to the attack. A 90 degree turn can in some cases be a way of showing us to move to the side from an attack from the front. In Taegeuk Oh (5) Jang this sequence happens after a 90 degree turn.
  4. The Whole movement is used when applying it. Do not forget the chambering movement, the non blocking/ striking arm etc.
  5. The stance are there for a reason. It helps the Application either in weight transfer or as part of the Application (strike or to trip/take down the opponent).
  6. Kicks are delivered low in Application for practicality but high in forms for training purposes.
  7. Consider the Keup So (vital Points) as a strike toward a vital point will provide a greater effect than one who does not target a vital point.
  8. Do not rely on the opponent doing anything more than the initial attack. The Law of probability makes it incredibly harder to predict what the opponent will do the more actions you give him. Realistic reactions to Your attacks however should be considered. In this partiqular instance a side kick to the knee joint will make the opponent bend his knee so he ends up in a lower position than before. If he goes all the way Down, great for you, as you can now flee. If he ends up on one or both knees you can either follow up With the elbow strike and flee if you deem it necesarry or flee right away.
  9. Never use more force than you have to. That is Your obligation as a martial artist.
I hope this helps those who are interested in Applications to the forms we practise. If you have any questions, feedback or other comments please do not hessitate to use the comment section below.

Happy training:.-)


  1. Sir,

    in eolgul makki, which part of opponent's hand is targetted, elbow area, tricep or armpit??

    and also which part of hand is used to deliver the strike, forearm or hammer fist??

    1. The Chamber or non blocking hand serves as a normal allthough shortened Block as in the mainstream. The blocking hand targets the armpit or as Close to the armpit as you can if you want to uproot him. The apkoobi stance will be important in an attempt to uproot Your opponent because if Your stance is not rooted enough the effect will be much smaller. If you miss the armpit and hit the arm further out you will still lift his arm higher making it harder for him to see Your knee strike that will follow.

      The hammerfist strike is best done using Your hammerfist as that part of the arm has reached the greatest speed and it is a more concentrated area to transmit Power into the target area. That being said the distance between you and Your opponent might make a forearm strike more desireable. The situation will dictate wether it will be a hammer fist strike or a forearm strike. For Maximum damage a hammerfist strike is prefered.

  2. Hello nice description of options.
    come considerations i would like you to consider:
    we tend to look at the maximum extension of the kick as the end point and targeting surface, we do not have to. i used to have my students practice retracting the "kicking" leg in different directions and ways. this leads to a whole different concept. for example you "kick" past the opponent and in the retraction, you hook the back of his knee to buckle it. the elbow "strike" can be used at that range, but it also makes a dandy carotid choke from the side. last one is a little too difficult to envision by just writing but does exist.
    this combo solves your range problem and is effective at the same time.
    Hope that helps.

    1. That is an innovative and closer range Application worthy of further study. Thank you Richard:-) I gave this partiqular Application because the range is closer than the mainstream and more realistic, but also not so far removed from the Kukkiwon syllabus that it would be "alien" to a Taekwondoin.

      I have not consider using the retracting of the side kick as you describe here, but I do have a similar point of view on a combination in Jitae Poomsae where you kick Ap Chagi With Your right leg and then Place it back where it came from while punching middle section punch With Your right arm. As a basic kick punch combo it is woefully inaduqate as the weight transfer is backwards (you put Your right foot back) while striking With the same side meaning the Power generation for the punch is minimal at best. Here my Application is that the kick goes past the opponents leg, the putting the kick back where it came from is a sweep which the middle section "punch" amplify by pushing the opponent backwards (hope that makes sense). Same idea as you describe but different kick and Poomsae:-)