Friday, 5 September 2014

Part One: Taegeuk Pal Jang

I must admit that while I study applications from all the forms I practise I center my studdies around very few forms and "casually" interpret the rest of my forms. This way I can get a deep understanding of my "core forms" while still getting additional input from other sources. For this post however I
We Santeul Makki
wanted a challenge. I decided that I wanted to try to completly read a random form between Taegeuk Il (1) Jang and Hansoo Poomsae. So I searched out a random number generator and made it chose a number between 1 and 16 and got 8. So Taegeuk Pal Jang it is:p Unlucky for me this is not one of my "core forms" when it comes to applications study so this is going to be fun:-) I plan to do the same for Taegeuk Pal Jang as I did for Keumgang Poomsae; Make a series of post and give applications and thoughts for each movement in the form from start to finish.

How "deep" the applications are going to be will depend on the Outlook the reader has on forms applications. Some sequences in Taegeuk Pal Jang just lends themselves so well into a Kick Block Punch paradigm that making it more "advanced" might actually just make the sequences harder to apply in combat. I have no interest in making "advanced" applications for the sake of making them "advanced". I make "alternative" applications wherever the official or Kick Block Punch line of thought make no sense. So if you want to learn more about Taegeuk Pal Jang click the read more:-)

Taegeuk Pal Jang is made to represent the Kwae/ Gwae "Gon" or a concentration of pure Um  (Yin) energy as described in the Book of Changes. This Kwae is symbolized with thre broken lines on top of each other. This affects our performance of Poomsae in that there is only one step out to each side instead of two steps which is the symbol of a "Yang line". "Gon" is also symbolized by "mother" or "earth" and I like how it is described in older Taekwondo books as Taegeuk Pal Jang tests and nourish the trainee like a mother would test and nourish their child before the more challenging black belt Poomsae are attempted. Technically it is a huge departure from the rest of the series and it contains more elaborate sequences and for the first time the trainee has to perform jumping kicks in their forms.

Below you can see the whole form in great detail curtesy of Kukkiwon:
I would like to share the version of the opening of Pal Jang that I originally learned from my teacher. The first Guodero Momtong Makki (middle guarding block) was done as in the clip, but the second technique of the form (Momtong Jireugi) middle punch did not start from the hip as it does today. It started from its previous position and went straight out. This version of the form gave an incredibly valuable lesson to the soon to be black belt. How to generate power from wherever your hands are positioned. Short range punching Power is almost non existant in modern Taekwondo Schools but this was learned in the older versions of the forms.
I can not know if this was intended from the Kukkiwon or if this is my teachers Kwan influence but I am glad I first learned it my teachers way no matter which version is considered "correct". This concept would be revisited in Keumgang on its second technique where the openhanded punch would come straight out from the hecho makki (spreading middle block) making the distanse the punch traveled even shorter. Also in Taebaek the sideways middle punch from back stance (after the keumgang momtong makki and dangkyo teok chigi) was also done straight from where the punching hand was without it being drawn back to the hip as it is today.
I will look at the first two techniques of the form (allthough they can be followed up with the next technique also):
There is a wide variety of situations you can use the opening movement for. It can be used as in the mainstream applications as a block if you shorten the chamber. This can be against any straight middle section attack (or if you deviate from the form and do the ending position higher you can most certainly use it against high section attacks too). These attacks can be straight punches, shoves, grab attempts etc. You can go to the inside of the attack as per standard applications or you can go to the safer place to be; the outside of the attack. The punch can target any suitable vital point that is open to you high, middle and low section but since the form does it in the middle I would say solar plexus if you are on the inside or the floating ribs if you go to the outside. In both examples (wether you go inside or outside of the straight attack) you deflect using the block, grab his attacking arm with your blocking hand and punch while pulling him into your attack. This way the whole movement is used. If a grab can not be secured you can withdraw it to your center line instead of your hip.
The kicks that follow can be used as a follow up. Low kick to make him bend over and a high kick to finish him allthough I much rather prefer the 2nd jump kick combo in the form for this application.
As for an even more alternative application (only difference in the first application I gave and the official one is that I can also go on the outside of the attack and that I make use of the pulling hand (Dangki Son) on both) you can also apply it against a circular attack. 
Use the chamber for the first technique as a panic flinch block against a circular attack against your head. Essentually you move offline to the inside of the attack and raise both arms to interecept the attacking limb. Then you secure the attacking limb with your "non blocking hand" and deliver an outward forearm smash to the side of the neck of the attacker while securing his attacking arm. You reach out and jam the second arm before he can hit you with his free arm if your forearm smash did not knock him out (this is you chambering for your punch in the form), pull his free arm toward your hip while releasing his other arm and punch him with your right hand.
First two techniques in Taegeuk Pal Jang can therefore deal with both circular and straight attacks.
The third technique of the form (double jump front kick) can be applied like this:
Allthough it is done faster without the aditional steps. Instead of like in the clip you kick and then kick again with the other foot straight away not pausing and using the same leg twice.
And with that ends part one:-) Stay tuned for part two.

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