Monday, 28 December 2015

What was in Hwang Kee`s 1958 book; A Commentary

In my previous post about the content of Hwang Kee`s 1958 Tang Su Do textbook I said I did not
want to shape the readers mind about the content as any commentary I would give would probably do just that. I did write that I would revisit it and that is what I am doing today. Hopefully if you read it you will allready have developed your own opinion and the translation can stand on its own. If you want some of my thoughts on the matter you can feel free to click the read more button and read what I think about the book.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

What was in Hwang Kee`s 1958 Tang Su Do Textbook?

A long time ago I was surfing the net when I stumbled upon a "web library" of rare Karate books that
was scanned as PDFs. Among the more "common" works of Funakoshi, Mabuni (in Japanese) and many others I found to my suprise a book by Hwang Kee from 1958 in Korean! I have known for a long time that Hwang Kee was among the first to publish works on the Korean Martial Arts and this book was certainly one of the older ones dating back to 1958. The book title is Tang Su Do Textbook, but judging on the table of content he likened Tang Su Do, Hwa Su Do and Taek Kyon to be very much the same martial arts with different labels. I knew he had first referred to his martial art as Hwa Su Do (Way of flowering hand) but I thought he had long since abandoned that label by 1958 and replaced it with Tang Su Do (Way of China Hand).

I was curious to know what was in the book and my basic Korean skills made me understand a few of the headlines and instructions along with the illustrations he gave but there was also a lot that I did not understand. Therefore with the help of "Løbak Consulting inc" I translated the table of content and had him check that my translation was within reason "correct". Jon Lennart`s Korean skills are second to none, and he is truly an inspiration for a "Taekwondo nerd" like myself. I have set this post to become published on december 24th marking the Norwegian day for Christmas celebration. Think of this post as Traditional Taekwondo Ramblings`s Christmas gift to all the Taekwondo nerds out there :-D

Friday, 18 December 2015

Drilling application from Taegeuk Chil Jang

Image Source Choi Hong Hi 1965
Taegeuk Chil Jang is for some reason one of the Poomsae I have written very little about when it
comes to practical application. In the clip a little later in this post I demonstrate a short drill on the "makki tul" or 막기틀 that explores the back fist strike, inward crescent kick, and target elbow. I believe I am using the back fist strike from the form in a little before seen way in Taekwondo circles.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Micro Post: The use of "Taekwondoin"

In Karate and other Japanese styles you often see the term "ka" at the end of a martial art to signify a
student, practisioner og just some person doing the aforementioned martial art. Karate-ka, Judo-ka, kendo-ka etc. This is OK for Japanese styles as they are essentually using Japanese to Japanese terms.

The problem that I have is when I see Hapkido-ka, Taekwondo-ka etc as here they are mixing terminology from the Japanese Martial Arts with terminology from Korean Martial Arts. If you are going to use foreign terms in your martial arts study you should stick with established terms from your martial art. The correct term for Taekwondo student, practisioner or person in Korean is not "-ka" it is "-in". Taekwondo-in, hapkido-in, gumdo-in, etc. Sometimes I see this ridiculed in online forums but it is correct usage of Korean language and I find it very odd that the Japanese ending -ka is tolerated but the Korean ending -in is not.

Actually I will ramp this upa notch: If you are going to use foreign terms for your "foreign martial arts" study or instruction, strive to keep the terminology the same Language as the native land of the martial arts you are studying and or teaching. If you study or teach Taekowondo use Korean terms. Insted of Bunkai, use Boonhae. Instead of Hikite use Dangkinun son. Instead of using Oyo use Eungyoung. Instead of using Hojo Undo, use Buchu Undong. The list goes on. If you have any troubles just swollow your pride and ask. It is really that simple, and especially today when you have twitter, facebook and other social media where there are so many people to ask.

Friday, 11 December 2015

Micro post: Drilling "Makki-concepts"

I`m not sure what to call this clip. I am simply drilling and freestyling bakkat makki while sticking to the simulated limb. It is a great way to drill what to do if your punch is blocked and how to work your way from the inside to the outside and vice versa. I can start pretty simple and stationary (not shown in the clip) then with footwork included, and then with strikes included, and then with multiple strikes included. The last part is me including move 2 from Taegeuk Sa Jang and it was totally improvised. It is a multipurpose drill making use of the "traditional" basic techniques of Taekwondo.

Hope you enjoy :-)

Monday, 7 December 2015

8 traditional techniques that are generally missunderstood

Again and again I see people lamenting the use of traditional techniques because they are simply to
longwinded or outdated etc. I do believe that as Taekwondo is different things to different people, one movement can have different applications. In this post I will not go into detail on applications but I will demonstrate a lot of common techniques as presented in Poomsae first in solo form and then in application form. Depending on your skill and experience you might see this as advanced applications but for me they are pretty basic. What I have done here is to use the whole movement of traditional technique (not just the end part but the complete movement) and applied it against a single opponent. The pictures was taken "on the fly" after a recent training session so they are "staged". You will note that the attacker does not present a "guard" or anything like that, but the pictures should still get the message across.

Traditional techniques have been passed on to us from the past for a reason. That reason being that they are combat proven techniques, and they have been deemed effective enough that they have been refined and passed down to us. It saddens me when I see that so many people dont believe in the traditional techniques just because they are not seen in Olympic sparring or MMA.

Friday, 4 December 2015

Drilling application from Taegeuk il Jang

Again I post a clip of me playing around with the blocking apparatus or Makki Tul. This one is lifted
directly from my series on Taegeuk Il jang part three. I will include the pictures of that application below before the video so you can clearly see the link from application with a humanbeing and this short drill. As the blocking apparatus does have its limitations in that it is static I do not follow through completly with the application I got this from. I am here focusing on the high block, kick, punch, turn and do a low block (which in the form is followed by a step forward and punch but here it is omitted because of the static nature of the blocking apparatus.)

Thursday, 26 November 2015

10 Steps to bring back Taekwondo as a MARTIAL art!

The development of Taekwondo the last 20 years or so has been going steadily toward more or less
Image Source:
Son Duk Sung
complete sportification of a once feared martial art. Today the dominant view of the public, and other martial artists from outside is that Taekwondo is not an effective art for self defense, nor is it particular effective in combat outside the very specific Olympic sparring paradigm on one hand and the ITF point sparring on the other. The question then is: "Is it possible for the current generation of Taekwondo students who only learned the sportive version of Taekwondo to redefine itself as a martial art once again? I believe the answer to that question is "Yes" and I will try to tell you how one approach can do this. The approach I am thinking about does not align with what I call "My Taekwondo" but I think it is a great leap in the right direction and especially for "normal" Taekwondo students.

Friday, 20 November 2015

Drilling striking application from Taegeuk Sa Jang

Here is one of my takes on the opening movements of Taegeuk Sa Jang. This can be considered
"byonhwa eungyoung" or 변화응용 which means a variation/change in application or usage. The reason for this is that the striking surface of the spear hand has changed to palm heel strike as well as the fact that I do not move forwards in the second move as in the form. It is still something I consider an application of Taegeuk Sa Jang as the gust of the movement or the underlying principles remain the same. I have changed the striking surface but I am still striking. I do change the stance I am in but I dont step forward. The step forward in the form could be argued to be follow-through. I do have other applications of these movements, but not that would be trained and drilled so easily on the "makki tul" or 막기틀.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

News report from Denmark, Girl (15 years old) holds her own against 3 assailants!

I have talked a little about self defense before on this blog, and in the future I will talk a lot more about the issue as I see that many things related to self defense (not fighting) has been forgotten in the Taekwondo comunity in later years. Once we start exclusively focusing on the sport of taekwondo we loose the knowledge gained regarding self defense. Well this time I have translated a news story from VG: .

I might use this article later on to explain some self defense concepts but I think the story itself is good enough to be a blog post on its own as we so often read about when things go wrong. The article speaks about the girl having experience with martial arts but it does not specify which one(s) but I will bet Taekwondo is at least one of them ;-)

Friday, 13 November 2015

Training Video: Working on Taekwondo Makki techniques

It is not often that I post videoclips on the blog and especially not with myself in them. In the martial arts if you stick your head out it gets quickly hammered down by the "keyboard warriors". Also I thought I needed someone to actually film me, but I see that with my new phone I can do it myself when the conditions are right. This time I spendt a couple of minutes after work to show off a few drills you can use with a partner or if you are in lack of a partner like I was, against a stick.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Examining Poomsae Structure

Giles Hopkins might be vaguely familiar for my most hardcore readers out there. He has an excellent
blog og Goju Ryu Karate which despite not being one of the direct roots of Taekwondo is nevertheless an exciting and interesting style to look at as they have preserved a lot more of the holistic approach to their martial art, unlike how Taekwondo has in many places forsaken theirs in favour of sport. Unlike Taekwondo they have a very nice approach to "extra training" like the use of weights, and striking implements, and they often use their forms as the basis of everything they do, which is what I am trying to do with "my" Taekwondo too:-) Anyway, Giles has written a lot on applications and while I sometimes disagree or rather his approach to Goju Ryu does not fit in with my approach to Taekwondo (which is to be expected in some degree) his latest article on Kata (form) structure really made an impression on me. He said it casually in there somewhere but some forms where the same techniques are shown in mirror images the follow on technique is only shown once.
Here is a link to the article if you want to read it yourself:

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Traditional Taekwondo Union, Black belt seminar.

I just completed a weekend Judanja seminar (black belt seminar or training weekend) arranged by the
organisation I belong to (TTU or Traditional Taekwondo Union).

(Today/day of writing is the 27th of October)

The point of this seminar is to go through the whole syllabus for your Dan grading (from 1st gup and upwards), training with new people and to arrange the physical tests and theoretical tests required for grading. I often write about how diverse the training in a traditional Taekwondo Dojang can be but after completing the weekend seminar I thought it might interest some readers to know what we did so they can compare with their own experiences how their own syllabuses compare to ours. The founder of the organisation is one of my two primary teachers and he has used Matchoe Kyorugi (formal step sparring drills) to preserve many of the aspects that are now lost in mainstream Taekwondo. I will not go into detail of every drill here, but I might do so in later blog posts if there is any interest in them. If you do step sparring in your Dojang you might get new ideas from watching others step sparring so I might include more in future blog posts. Anyhow lets look at how my weekend was:

Friday, 30 October 2015

Searching out practical applications to Poomsae Part 2

Last time I presented the search and destroy  incorporate what fits into the Poomsae. I adviced that
you look into books, articles, seminars, videos etc from both your own style and others and take whatever you find that seems like Poomsae movements or sequences and see if they can really fit into the Poomsae as an application of the form. I used the first part of the sequence in Taebaek and demonstrated where I found them to underline that part of my method. Another aspect of this is researching history of Taekwondo and Poomsae to find both specific applications and more importantly identify application principles. This is where the application jurney can end even before it begins in Taekwondo, because doing it this way you have to acknowledge a lot of facts that have been supressed for decades by the leading organisations. One of the most important ones is Taekwondo`s "close" kinship with Karate.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Guest Post: The Secret to Winning All Your Fights...with Taegeuk Il Jang!

Intro by Traditional Taekwondo Ramblings:

Josh has a great blog at which I full heartidly support and

recommend that you check out. Especially if you like my blog because me and Josh have many similar thoughts yet different enough that we also disagree on stuff. He has a bunch of interesting articles on his blog and is one of the few people on the world wide web that actually writes indepth articles on Kukki Taekwondo! Among all the blogs that pay lip service to Taekwondo being a martial art and not just a sport Josh`s blog is an oasis in the desert. That he now has written a guest post exclusively for Traditional Taekwondo Ramblings is a great honor for me and it is like all his usual blog articles a thought provocing read that I am sure many will apreciate. The post below is not going to be posted anywhere else so this is truly a special post to have here:-) Below is how Josh view his relationship with Taegeuk Il Jang :-)

Monday, 12 October 2015

Searching out practical applications to Poomsae? Part 1

Image Source: Karate Do Kyohan 1935
by Gichin Funakoshi
The last few weeks I have presented many practical applications to Poomsae. I have covered all of Taegeuk Il (1) Jang from start to finish, as well as a sequence in Taegeuk Oh (5) Jang and a sequence
containing similar techniques in Taebaek Poomsae. Some have asked me how I come up with these and I plan to share some of my methods of finding them in Totally TKD Magazine when I`m finished with rewriting the Taegeuk il Jang series there but as readers of this blog often the first rough draft of these articles for the magazine end up here. In truth I have some difficulty answering the question because despite what people believe I dont have a "fixed" process like others do. My process if I can call it that is very intuitive and sometimes messy. I hope that I can streamline it for better results in the future and putting my thoughts down on paper (digitally at least) will be a very helpfull first step in doing that for me.

So how do I find the applications? Sometimes I can read a book and see something that I recognize and then read another book that gives another piece of the puzzle and so on until I have a functional application. The start of the sequence I demonstrated in Taebaek is a very fine example of that so I will show you just where I found it :-)

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Practical application from Taebaek Poomsae

I am hoping (but never sure) that I might try to get my 3rd Dan within the next 12 months or so.
Because of that I am turning some of my attention in privat training toward Taebaek as that is the Poomsae I need to demonstrate for that rank. One of its key sequences occurs in the middle of the Poomsae with a double block, (Keumgang momtong makki), reach, grab and pull in punch (dangkyo teok chigi), middle section punch (momtong jireugi), side kick and hammer fist strike into an elbow strike.

Many strugle to make combative sense of this sequence, and for those few who dont they divide it up so that only the first half of the sequence is one application and the second half (starting with the sidekick is an unrelated application to the first half). The reason why they believe that is that the first half occurs in many Karate Kata while the rest of the sequence is a Korean "add on" to that sequence. As many believe that the Koreans knew nothing about the art they were making they dont stop to consider that perhaps this add on is just fine as is? I will share one of my takes on this sequence in this post and hopefully if it does not sit well with you at least you can stop and think that perhaps while my take on it is not your cup of tea, you can consider the posibility that there might be an application out there that fits :-)

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Taegeuk Oh Jang Application for Taekwondo fighter

In his post: "Taekwondo is a long range martial art. Right?" Josh or "Taekwondo fighter" makes an
interesting case on how he views kicks and their function in Taekwondo Poomsae. The blog post is well worth a read and the blog in general is great (I see it as a "sister blog" to my own as me and Josh share many similar thoughts while also disagreeing enough to keep the fun of reading ) so what I am trying to say is that I recommend the blog, the post and all its content :-) Anyway, in the comments to that post I said something along the lines that simply by lowering the height of the kicks most KTA Poomsae kicks will fit in with the medium to short range and I gave a well known sequence to Taegeuk Oh Jang as an example. Josh countered and told me that for it to work you needed to kick with the front leg to make it work, or to evade too much with the parry pass method. Now a form demonstrating what to do if you position yourself too far away is a good thing, but then he would be right and not me:-P So what did I do? I tweaked my original application so it still works as in the form :-P For my unaltered application and his comment that spurred this whole post read his post and then the comment section below it.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Moo Duk Kwan; Taekwondo`s forgotten Kwan?

In my recent post "Taekwondo is not and has never been a "kick block punch" system!" I referenced
a lot of Taekwondo books to demonstrate how Taekwondo has emplyed more tactics than just blocks, punches and kicks since the Kwan era. The oldest book was written by Hwang Kee in 1958 with the title "Tangsoodo textbook". In one of the comments I was asked why this book was referenced in Taekwondo history when Hwang Kee never truly joined the Taekwondo movement and developed his art into Soo Bahk Do. This post is not only a result of that comment though. This and similar questions on why I choose to count Moo Duk Kwan and Hwang Kee into Taekwondo history has been asked many times in discussions both in person, on online forums, e-mail and on this blog. I am sure I am going to need to explain this again in the future, but I hope this post will contribute a good answer to those who have wondered but yet to do the asking:-)

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Taekwondo is not and has never been a "kick block punch" system!

Recently (at the time of writing anyway) a guy posted the following paraphrased question in a study
group I belong to. "If Taekwondo was taught as a pure kick block punch system would it still be effective?" A little later it was pointed out "effective? Effective in what?" and the clarification was effective in self defense (other forums would have gone into the trap of discussing it without this clarification but not this one :-D Anyway; I quickly answered the question that Taekwondo has proven itself effective in the Korean war, in Korea after the Korean war and in the Vietnamese war. Sure Taekwondo the name was not in use until 1955 (two years after the Korean war ended) but most of the Kwan that served as the foundation of Taekwondo was in place before the Korean war. I did add if Taekwondo was taught with the Ho Sin Sul aspect intact.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Part 3: Self defense application of Taegeuk Il (1) Jang + Bonus!!!

I have really enjoyed this months unrelenting focus on Taegeuk il Jang. If you have not read the last few posts on this blog I recommend that you start with my "love letter to taegeuk il jang", and then read practical applications part one and practical applications part two before reading this one. That way you will see why I love this form so much, and learn practical applications from start to finish.

This post of this (dare I say) groundbreaking article series will focus on the "eulgeul makki, ap chagi, momtong jireugi" combination (high block, front kick, middle section punch).

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Part 2: Self defense application of Taegeuk Il (1) Jang

I my last post I shared applications for the first 6 movements (move 3-4 were omitted as they were a mirror image of move 1-2). I have laid out some of the reason for why I love Taegeuk Il Jang in a previous post so I thought that I should dive right in on apps. I mentioned and tried to describe how move 5-6 can be used as a counter armbar for cross side wrist grab (he grabs your right wrist with his right hand for instance). I am not sure if I made it completly clear so I will start by revisiting move 5-6 and present that app again but this time I hope to be a little clearer:-)

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Part 1: Self defense application of Taegeuk Il (1) Jang

As promised in my recent "love letter" to Taegeuk Il Jang where I laid out some of the reasons why I love that form I promised applications to the form. I have many apps to every movement within it and they fit the form to various degrees (i.e. some stray somewhat from the basic techniques but they are
still close enough in my own opinion). The challenge for me is which to include and which not to include. I decided that I will share applications for each and every movement from beginning to finish so that anyone wanting to teach apps for Taegeuk Il Jang will have a (hopefully) good starting point to use or at least be inspired from, and then I can revisit the form from time to time in the future to share alternative or other apps that I will not share in this run through. This way we get through the form from start to finish in one series of blog posts instead of working on it for 3 years running ;-) So where do we start and what level will we be aspriring to? I hope this post will benifit as many people as possible so I will include the more common apps along with the more "including" ones. Including as in using more of the basic movement than just the "obvious" movement.

Monday, 31 August 2015

Taegeuk Il Jang - A love letter.

This will be a busy few months for me. I have taken upon myself to start teaching in the Dojang I study in every Friday evening for the grown ups. I will be teaching the syllabus of the organisation I
belong to (Traditional Taekwondo Union) with (hopefully) my own thoughts and spin on things. I hope to be able to use a couple of minutes after the training session is over to either film or take pictures of some of the apps I use for the forms as practical applications for Poomsae beyond the normal kick block punch ones. I am not sure as of which media I will end up with but currently I lean towards pictures as that would allow me to make the posts into articles for this blog as well as Totally Taekwondo Magazine (and others like Moosin).

But before I start diving into Applications of Taegeuk Il Jang I thought it would be fun to write a little about the form and why exactly Taegeuk Il Jang as opposed to any of the other forms.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Thank you :-D

This blog got its facebook fan page years after it only consisted of this blog. Samir my "mentor" when it comes to spreading the blog further to a wider audience was completly right when he told me that the interest for traditional Taekwondo material is higher than you would believe when looking at the sportive focus that seemingly dominates Taekwondo today. I am astonished that we in a very short time have gotten over 500 likes! I want to thank all the supporters of the blog and of traditional Taekwondo :-) It is a pure joy for me to keep writing when I get so much support. Just the other day I woke up to this message:

"Hello, I am currently reading all your posts on (Some 30 or so of my posts has been published there). I am loving them all, Thank you very much for so many good ideas that I wanted to implement but did not dare because I wasn't taught like that (especially in self defense and not close yourself just to the sport)"

So in short what I am trying to say is
(And special thanks to Samir for making me establish the fan pange, teaching me how to run it and for making this photo/banner)  

Friday, 21 August 2015

Il kyok pilsal (일격필살)

Im pretty sure that the headline will make just about zero sense for most Taekwondoin beyond it being "something" Korean. I do hope I will make the term very clear through this blog post though.
The term is often translated into English as "one strike one kill" or  "1 deadly strike" and it used to be a pretty common term in traditional taekwondo dojang during the Kwan era (1940s-70s); but these days it is not used much, and if it is used it is often changed into il kyok pilseung (일격필승) meaning roughly tranlsated one strike one win, victory in one move etc. It is more political correct than the original using pilsal (필살) but both do contain the essense of this post which by the way will go into a few different aspects of Taekwondo training while having the term Il kyok pilsal (일격필살) in our minds.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Micro Post: "Look Eye, Always look eye Daniel San"

Simon Scher has made another tutorial that I whish to share with the readers. It focuses on where to look at your opponent. It does not matter what lineage you hail from or what style of Taekwondo you do, the principles on where to look at your opponent is pretty universal;-)

Friday, 3 July 2015

How many forms can you have before it is too much?

Author performing
Taegeuk Oh Jang
The other day I was thinking about this. Ron (an American Martial Artist who I deeply respect) asked a question on a forum about how a martial arts school would fare if they only taught 3 forms (I am widely parahprasing here because his question is not the point of the post only the train of thought it
resulted in). I answered as I believed: That it would fare great if it taught those three forms in sufficient depth, but only with a relative small but very stable number of adult practisioners. I highly doubt it would become a great comercial succsess because as far as the general public is concerned more forms = more knowledge. I also had a short discussion online with a Master who has his own Dojang about how many forms you can teach which again ties into the question: How many forms can you have before they are too much.

Monday, 29 June 2015

Applying Taekwondo the old way?

Having spendt the last few weeks fighting a vicous cold that has effectivly prevented me from training I have spendt a lot of my training time devouring martial arts books instead. One of these
books was "The Essence of Okinawan Karate-Do" by Soshin Nagamine. It is a great read and I love almost everything he says in the book. I am not star struck by him though. His thoughts on philosophy and what he writes theoretically of applying martial arts is great stuff, but frankly I find that the set "Kumite" that he developed for his style contradicts a lot of what he laid out as his reasonings behind developing the Kumite drills in the first place. The book is a well worth read though and it touches on several things, that we as Taekwondoin will find very interesting.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Korean language in Taekwondo

Hanja for "Mountain"
This is not a post on different Korean Words and their meaning in English (or vice versa). This post
is about my thoughts on the usage of Korean in or during Taekwondo training and study. I recently had a lengthy discussion with a high ranking American Master who did not use any Korean language during his training and teaching at all and this post is the recults of my "afterthoughts" on that discussion, so it is a post about my thoughts on the why is Korean used in Taekwondo.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Thoughts from "Advancing in Taekwondo"

Image Soruce: Amazon kindle
I recently read one of Richard Chun`s books since they were recommended by a few of this blogs readers. The only book that was available from him on Kindle was "Advancing in Taekwondo" and is aimed for black belt students (my Guess those who are nearing the jump from 1st gup to 1st dan or those who have recently gotten 1st dan). It is a generic Taekwondo textbook which covers a multitude of different aspects of Taekwondo and I found it to be a great read. It is one of those few Taekwondo textbooks that actually treat Taekwondo as something more than a combative sport. Something that grown ups can practise and something serious. In fact the way Richard Chun presents Taekwondo is extremly (not quite but) close to the Taekwondo I practise with the Dojang I belong to. If his other books becomes available on Kindle I will not hessitate to buy them as well (I will probably have to order the "analoge" books on Amazon though). I will share a little more from his books in the future but for now here are a few interesting quotes from "Advancing in Taekwondo"`s self defense section

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Micro Post; Side Kick Toturial

I was sendt a link to a Side Kick Toturial some time ago (time passes sooo fast) and I really really liked it. It is made by a Chang Hon Ryu student called Simon and he is quite good. He has some other Toturials that I will share in the future but I will start with this one. The side kick is one of the most challenging kicks we have. It is so many ways to do it and while the Kukkiwon has their Version (which actually has a few small differences from Simon`s Version) I think that it should really be up to the students to find one that will be safe for them to do and which is effective for them in terms of ease of movement and how much power and speed they can generate. It does not matter which version of the side kick you choose in terms of the excersises Simon presents in his video. I use many of them my self and I will try out a few of his tips that I do not currently follow. I enjoy his presenting style which is so full of energy that you just want to get off your behind and train once you see it. Simon is open for comments and wishes feedback so if you have anything you would like to share do not hessitate on commenting on youtube. And if you really enjoy the video do not hessitate to share:-)

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Basic Taekwondo Theory for Gup Graders (coloured belts) Part 2

Image Source
In the last post I wrote about basic Taekwondo theory aimed at coloured belts and people doing the jump from 1st gup to 1st dan. In that post we covered what does Taekwondo mean, how to write Taekwondo in Korean Hangul, the different heights of the body in Korean as well as counting to 100 and some body parts. This time I wanted to provide a quick reference to the 8 "Gwe" and a chart of Vital points as well as a few examples of techniques to use to attack a few of those points. I will keep this relatively basic but it is always good to review this material as this is what people usually get on a theory test and knowing this stuff will make you able to answer many lower graders questions if you are a senior student or an instructor. Again a short caveat: I practise Kukki Taekwondo, I follow the Kukkiwon standard and I practise the KTA Poomsae (Taegeuk and Black Belt Poomsae). If you are ITF or belong to an independant Dojang some of this theory might deviate from what you are using.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Basic Taekwondo Theory for Gup Graders (coloured belts) Part 1

Usually I write about stuff that are aimed for black belts or people nearing black belt ranks. I write for people like me who have practised for many years and who wants a little more than what you usually find in textbooks. This post is NOT one of the usual ones. This time of year many people are preparing to grade for a new belt and a part of that grading should in my opinion be a theory test. If not between the coloured belts than at least it should be a part for the grading from 1st gup to 1st dan
. With that in mind I thought many would benifit from a post that shares basic Taekwondo theory (body parts, the different heights, vital points, examples of techniques to attack those points, the tenets and laws of Taekwondo, what Taekwondo means, how to write Taekwondo in Korean plus the different "Gwe", their Korean name and a shorthand answer of their symbolic nature. If you are reading this keep in mind that I am a Kukki Taekwondo practisioner, I follow the Kukkiwon standard and I practise the KTA forms (Taegeuk and Black belt forms). So if you are ITF or belong to a different independent Dojang your words and theory might differ from mine.

I can not promise that I will get all that down in this one post but I will start writing and see how much time I get, and if I cant finish I will write (a) follow up post(s). So with that lengthy introduction out of the way lets just dive straight in:

Friday, 8 May 2015

Keys to understanding Poomsae

This post is a result of my thoughts and notes after hearing a podcast by Iain Abernethy on called "Keys to understanding Kata". I will not remind the readers too much about Taekwondo`s relationship and close kinship with Karate, but suffice to say no matter which Kwan (School) your Taekwondo comes from that Kwan will have a strong Karate link. Likewise no matter if you practise and study Hyung (Pyung ahn, Kongsookoon, Pal Saek, Chulgi etc), the KTA forms (Taegeuk, Palgwe and Black Belt forms) or the Chang Hon Tul (Chon Ji, Hwarang, etc) the tradition with solo forms was imported through Karate. Therefore it makes sense to read and listen to Karate masters and from that gain additional insights into our own current system of Taekwondo. I am not saying that we should just incorporate blindly everything the karate people are saying, but I think it is foolish not to even consider their point of view.

Friday, 1 May 2015

The Past often holds the answer to todays problems

In my last blogpost "Principles of defending with "Makki" techniques" I shared some (in my opinion) great insights into the principles of defence as taught in the older Kwan (forerunners of modern Taekwondo) and Karate. Those principles were gathered from the book: "Karate; The art of Empty-Hand" by Hidetaka Nishiyama and Richard Brown" and as I said in that post if you enjoyed the writings in Choi Hong Hi`s 1965 book or any of the more classice Taekwondo books out there this book is also for you:-)

Friday, 24 April 2015

Principles of defending with "Makki" techniques

I recently got myself a copy of "Karate; The art of Empty-Hand" by Hidetaka Nishiyama and Richard Brown after there was some speculation about it being related to my study of Choi Hong Hi`s 1965 book (the Karate book was published in 1960). While the two works do share a few editorial tricks to save printing space, a similar layout and cover many of the same techniques (well Taekwondo in 1965 would be very very close to Karate so no suprise there) the information in both books and examples of application of the art is so different that I do not think that there is a closer relation between the two books other than the shared lineage and timeframe. The books cover many of the same techniques but each one contributes something the other does not so if you enjoy Choi Hong Hi`s 1965 book and want something similar but not the same I recommend "Karate; The art of Empty-Hand".

Friday, 17 April 2015

Karate and Taekwondo; A strained love affair

The headline might seem a little strange but an online discussion I read the other day made me think a little about the relationship between Taekwondo and Karate. The discussion was about Chang Hon Ryu forms (or ITF forms) and one commenter commented a new and for me interesting fact on the relationship between Chon Ji Tul and a form practised in Shotokan in the 1930s called Junji No Kata which shared the same floor pattern as Chon Ji. This quickly degraded into a Karate vs Taekwondo argument that luckily got resolved so there could be a productive discussion. But the heated words from both sides made me think about the issue. Why are we really arguing about the Karate vs Taekwondo in the first place?

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Martial Principles as they relate to our forms

I read a very interesting article written by a Goju Ryu Master last night. I am not sure if it is available online but it was entitled: "The Lost Secrets of Okinawan Goju Ryu" and it was written by Giles Hopkins. He proposed a very simplified way of looking at the Goju Ryu forms when compared to the multitude of application each technique seems to get. Simpliefied in the sense that instead of a multitude of Applications for each technique there should be one definitive one for each technique that fit within a sequence. I have myself written on this blog before in passing that there is a difference between looking at the application of a "technique" (Dongjak Eungyoung) and the application of the technique as presented in the dynamic context of a form.

When you simply look at "technique" you get so many different applications to it because you look at a general movement and you can put it into any context you want. That is not the case when you look at application of Poomsae, because in Poomsae the "technique" is demonstrated in a dynamic context. There is a technique before the technique in question and there is a technique after the technique in question (or if it is the very first or last technique in the form you are looking for you can scratch which does not apply). So when you look at Poomsae you need to see the application in the context it is presented within the form. Looking at the application of technique in isolation is very very simple when compared to looking at it in context of its form. It is way easier to find 10 different applications to the first move of Taegeuk Il (1) Jang when compared to looking at the application of the first two moves or three moves or four moves (depending on how you do your "Boonhae" or dividing up the form) in the same form. Once you look at the form and not only on technique you have not only to find an application, you need to find an application that fits the form itself.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Taekwondo celebrates its 60h birthday on April 11th

As you probably know allready GM Choi Hong Hi who came up with the name "Taekwondo" declared April 11th 1955 for Taekwondo`s birthday. The readers of this blog no doubt allready know that Taekwondo has roots that reaches far beyond that in both time and space (outside Korea`s borders) but devoting one day of the year to celebrate it and to give thoughts to those who came before you on Taekwondo`s path is a good idea that I have taken to heart. Some say that the date 11th of April 1955 as Taekwondo`s birthday is only relevant to ITF Taekwon-Do but the history buffs out there will instantly see that the date predates the founding of the ITF With several years. It does not really matter if you practise Kukki Taekwondo, ITF Taekwon-Do or any other type of Taekwondo. As long as you are using the term "Taekwondo" to refer to your martial art you can safely celebrate it on April 11th:-)

Why GM Choi Hong Hi choose April 11th is often said to be because it was approved by the naming comitee that day. That is actually not the case. In an interesting exchange with Master George Vitale I learned that the name was approved later that year. So why April 11th? I dont know but I like to BELIEVE that GM Choi Hong Hi came up with the name that day. I just like to believe it I dont know if its true or not.

So what are you going to do on April 11th? Personally I am going to write (on paper) a letter to my teachers to thank them, then I am going into the woods in a hidden clearing and chose 1 poomsae and do it 100 times as a Poomsae marathon. I invite you to do the sameor do your own thing if you too want to mark the 60th anniversery.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Makki - It is more than you think! Part 2

Image Soruce: Sihak Henry Cho`s 1968 book
Last time we looked closer on "Makki" (often translated as "blocking") techniques and how they can be more neuanced than what many people usually think about them. Often they are portrayed as
"hard blocks". In mainstream Taekwondo today this is often the be all and end all of "Makki training". You do the Makki techniques in a hard way. Just like you would do any punch or kick. In the Kukkiwon Textbook these blocks (which constitutes most blocks for mainstream Taekwondo) is called Chyomakki. They are described as hard blocks where the ultimate goal is to block as hard as to hurt the attackers attacking limb. There are also other examples of this in older incarnation of Taekwondo where you would punch the instep of a front snap kick aimed at your groin. There is no real "defense", you go straight to offense. It is just that instead of attacking the center (the body or head) you start with the attacking limb and work your way inward towards the body and head. This strategy also entails deflecting an attack and counter attacking with your defending arm in the same movement.

Monday, 30 March 2015

First ever book on Taekwondo (1959) will be available for download!!!!!

I have written numerous times that the first book on Taekwondo ever written was published in 1959 and written by Choi Hong Hi. The closest thing I (and 99% of the people I know) have come to it is the 1965 English book (first ever English Language book on Taekwondo also by Choi Hong Hi). After discussing the 1959 book with George Vitale he said the content and layout of the 1959 book and 1965 book was very different. He shared a very interesting post on facebook revealing that the first ever book on Taekwondo will be available for download on Taekwondos Birthday 11th of April :-) Read below for George facebook post and details:
On April 11, 2015 we will make available the first ever book on Taekwon-Do. Of course this book was written by General Choi Hong Hi - Tae Kwon Do Father who can rightfully be known as the principle founder of the original Taekwon-Do. This book is further undeniable evidence of that statement. It will be another step in proving General Choi Hong Hi's invaluable contributions, as without,there would simply be no Taekwon-Do.
The book will be available as a free download at:
For that that are interested visit that website now and you can download for free the program from the 1959 historic first ever Taekwon-Do demonstration team to travel outside of Korea to perform Taekwon-Do. That team was of course led by you guessed it, General Choi! The team included among others, Master-Sergeant Bok Man Kim. The sharing of the program was made possible by the generosity of GM C.K. Choi. The book was made possible by the generosity of Master Nathan Doggett (WTF).

Friday, 27 March 2015

Interview with Jeff Rosser; Author of "Combative Elbow Strikes"

Interview with Jeff Rosser;  
Author of “Combative Elbow Strikes” 
By Ørjan Nilsen 
Originally published in the December issue
of Totally Taekwondo Magazine
A while back I got the pleasure of reading an article series on combative elbow strikes done by a man I had yet to hear about; Jeff Rosser. I was and still am very impressed with his writings, practical applications and learned a whole lot about elbow strikes and how to apply them after reading the series. Doing some light reading online I learned that he was on his way on publishing a whole book on the subject and I got curious to learn more about him, what he had studied to get to where he was and to learn a little more about the book project. Living in the informational age I contacted him on facebook and asked if he would grant me an interview which he did grant me. The product of our e-mail exchange can be read below. Q is me and A is Jeff. 

Monday, 23 March 2015

Review of "Combative Elbow Strikes" by Jeff Rosser

Combative Elbow Strikes;

A Guide to Strikes, Blocks, Locks and Take Downs

Review By Ørjan Nilsen
Originally published in the January issue of Totally Taekwondo Magazine

Friday, 27 February 2015

Makki - It is more than you think! Part 1

Image Source:
Kukkiwon Textbook 2006 edition
In Taekwondo there is a few things that is very well understood these days. Two of those things are Taekwondo defense and combat distance. Taekwondo defense these days amount to either hard blocking (smashing the attacking limbs away from you) or dodging the attacks (sometimes there is also a focus on dodging and countering in the same movement). I am
not saying that hard blocking does not have their place (I think they do), but to exclude all neuances in "Makki" and dogmatically apply everything as hard blocks each and every time is something I think is wrong. Likewise with the focus on sport sparring the distance techniques are applied in is just plain wrong. Taekwondo as a martial art is relativly "new" when compared to other Martial Arts out there, but the techniques it contains are a lot older than the art itself. This is important to understand.
Some techniques are meant and developed for sport, other for combativly "duelling" (fighting) and yet others are old school self defense techniques. The forms we have and practise today largely consists of techniques and sequences of the latter which is why so many fail to see the link between application of forms and the performance of forms.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Back to the Source(s) Part 5; Grappling in Contemporary Sources?

In part 4 we started to look at contemporary sources because eventhough the sources are clear on wether grappling is a genuine part of Taekwondo or not and that the series has largely seen positive feedback, one negative one centered around the fact that the sources I used to draw my conclusions from were too old. We are talking about sources specific to the KMA from 1958-1968 here, allthough
I also referenced earlier ones from the root martial arts of Taekwondo to illustrate that there were much more in the original martial arts as well and not just in Taekwondo. In part 4 we looked closely on the Kukkiwon Textbook and how trips, take downs, joint locks and throws are as much part of Taekwondo as any "Taekwondo kick" out there. It is not the "kukki Taekwondo system" that is lacking, rather it is the knowledge about the system that is sorely lacking, something that even very high ranking masters is clearly displaying when they say stuff like: "In pure Kukki Taekwondo there is no grappling". In this post I will focus on the 15 Volume Encyclopedia written by Choi Hong Hi or more specifically Volume 5 in that series. Many practisioners today learn Taekwondo (wether WTF/Kukki/ITF/Chang Hon) as a pure kick block punch art with little to no grappling at all.

I can understand that "Kukki Taekwondo" People believe that there is no grappling because of the sport focus that has been relentless since the 1970s, and the fact that the Kukkiwon Textbook was hard to come by until recent years (just order a copy on Amazon). The thing I do not understand is how ITF or Chang Hon Ryu groups of Taekwon-Do claiming to follow the teachings of Choi Hong Hi can claim that there is no grappling in the art. The man himself documented his art in the most comprehensive way that has ever been done in any martial art (that I have come accross). A book series of 15 Volumes each book being houndreds of pages thick, everything illustrated in 1000s and 1000s of photographs and the 1986 version is available online for free! Sadly this unrivaled incredible resource is not often used in a pragmatic way, most of them that do use them usually look at how forms should be performed and thats it.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Micro Post; This Months Quote

Here is the latest quote. The original quote is a little longer and explains more about the role throws have in Taekwondo (they should only be used when the oppertunity presents themselves and the opponent can not counter) but the thing I wanted to get across was that Choi Hong Hi himself said in writing that a Taekwondo man should know how to throw an opponent and gave examples of how to do just that. Unfortunatly few people practise this skill set today be it in Kukki, Chang Hon Ryu or independent Dojang (plural). Therefore I think this "Picture-Quote" (new word for the new format) is very important to share. Not just with those claiming to follow the system that Choi Hong Hi designed but all of Taekwondo. Oh Do Kwan representatives were a part of the formation of Kukki Taekwondo so this applies to us as well:-)

"Though the throwing techniques are not
so important as the falling techniques,
situation may sometimes dictate their use;
furthermore, a Taekwon-Do man should
also know how to throw the opponent."
-Choi Hong Hi
Founder of Oh Do Kwan

Monday, 9 February 2015

Practical Application for Gawi Makki/Scissors Block

Image Source
Gawi Makki
Many come to this blog in search for combative meaning to puzzling movements that seems to make no sense. I like to believe that sometimes the blog helps them find that meaning and I also hope it
helps them see things in a different light. One technique that I found very strange (to the point I felt it was useless) was the Gawi Makki (scissors block) that you see in Taegeuk 7 Jang and Taebaek Poomsae. The official applications to the block did nothing to alter my view for it being useless but I stumbled upon a few different ideas that changed my view completly.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Back to the Source(s) Part 4; Grappling in Contemporary Sources?

So we have looked at throws, joint locks, and the usage of the the non striking/blocking hand and seen that the sources depict Taekwondo as a very holistic martial art with a diverse selection of tactics. The feedback on this series has largely been positive and this is by far the best work I have ever done in this blog (my personal humble opinion) to demonstrate what I have been trying to get accross for so long now: The founders and pioneers of Taekwondo knew far more about their martial art than what people are giving them credit for today. Also another thing I have been trying to say for years is that Taekwondo contains so much more than high kicks and sparring in an Olympic format. There has also been a great deal of negative feedback which started back at part 1 in this series and that is that the sources I use(d) in this series were too old. Taekwondo has evolved so there are no grappling techniques in "pure" Kukki Taekwondo. Perhaps there were grappling in the old days (1950s-70s) but there is no grappling what so ever in Taekwondo today. Well this post is purely for those "nay-sayers" and while I know what I should tell them (I know you are going to read this and smile knowingly) I will instead write a rather lengthy post using contemporary sources so that we can once and for all put the belief that there is no grappling in Taekwondo firmly to rest beyond any doubt!

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Back to the Source(s) Part 3: What is the other hand doing?

One feature that I have tackled before on this blog (a very very long time ago in fact) is the seemingly unpractical "pulling hand" or "Dangki Son". This refers to the iconic feature in our basics and forms where one hand is pulled back to the hip or seemingly placed in "guard positions" like in front of the Solar Plexus. I have lost Count on how many times I have heard phrases such as "That wont work on the street", "Chambering on your hip leaves you wide open", "If you are going to put your other hand
on your hip you better be ready to block with your face" etc. It does not help when we do the same chambering and pulling back to our hips when doing formal sparring either. I think that the hand on the hip coupled with the huge focus on "stances" are the two primary reasons why Traditional Martial Arts such as Taekwondo and Karate have lost their place as self defense arts in the publics mind. The complete lack of grappling in modern Taekwondo does not help either, but when we look at the source(s) of Taekwondo we saw that there was quite a lot of grappling in the traditional martial art of Taekwondo (an extreme amount compared to the popular belief that it is "non existant"). So if we do look back at the sources what do we find?

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Back to the Source(s) Part 2; Joint locks in Taekwondo?

Again we look back at the Source(s) of Taekwondo to bust another "myth" that has been told so many times it is considered as fact: "There are no joint locks in Taekwondo". Last time we saw how throws were a part of Taekwondo as far back as 1958 and I got quite a few comments on how wrong I was that they still are a part of Taekwondo. I will revisit throws in another post but suffice to say: Yes the
sources in part 1 were old and that was the point. How can we call ourselves "traditional" if we can not even look back to 1958 or 1965? I have no problem looking back at the sources and draw from them whatever I can that I believe will strengthen "my" Taekwondo, but the thing is throws, joint locks, and basic grappling skills have allways been a part of my studdies. My teacher did not loose this part of Taekwondo but I understand that many were never taught this side of Taekwondo and they are now teaching this limited Taekwondo on to newer students. That is OK for me and their Choice, but dont come to me and tell me that there is no grappling in Taekwondo. Maybe not in "Your" Taekwondo but in "My Taekwondo" it is still a part of the overall system and the sources are on my side.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Back to the Source(s) Part 1; Throws in Taekwondo?

One purpose of this blog was and still is to bust "myths" about Taekwondo that has been propogated as fact for so long that they have become "common knowledge" and indeed are accepted as "fact". Quick tell me: How many times have you read or heard or even said it yourself perhaps that
"Taekwondo does not have any grappling", "Taekwondo does not have throws/trips/take downs" etc? If you are not one of those who say and write it I can guarantee that you have been reading all about it for several years. Not to mention the "fact" that "those who practise grappling/throws/trips etc in Taekwondo these days only do so as a direct influence of the UFC and MMA". I have repeatedly stated that Taekwondo can be (and still is some places) practised as a martial art first and a sport second (while the general mainstream seems to be all about sport). For those who do practise Taekwondo as an holistic martial art throws, trips, pressure against joints etc have allways been part of the studdies. Its not Hapkido/Judo/Aikido in Taekwondo it is simply "Taekwondo Taekwondo":-)

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Micro Post: This Months Quote

This months quote is one of my favorites from the book "What Is Taekwondo Poomsae" By Lee Kyu Hyung 9th Dan. He is awsome. In the TKD study group I belong to there was a lot of discussion in December on TKD forms (primarily Chang Hon Ryu) and wether they were fit to teach self defense since in the Chang Hon Ryu self defense is drilled in the Ho Sin Sul (self defense) section. While I agree that you do not drill self defense when you are merely performing the forms I do believe that they can be relevant for Your self defense study if you chose to find the Applications to the forms and drill those in the self defense training you do. This can be done no matter if you practise the old Kwan forms of Karate origin (just look at Iain Abernethy`s books and DVDs), Chang Hon Ryu forms (look at Stuart Anslow`s books) or KTA forms (look at Simon O`Neill`s book and DVD series and or my blog). There are more resources than that but those I mentioned should give you a good place to start.

Monday, 5 January 2015

2014 in retrospect and where do we go from here? :-)

Another year has passed, and 2015 is going to be a great year. In October the blog got its Facebook page which has an ever increasing content to show for. Both the posts of the blog that are published on this blog from now on and unique content for Facebook will be on there, so please click into the
facebook page once in a while to see if there is anything interesting for you there:-) The blog also got a neat front curtesy of Samir who I now call my PR-Master :-) The blogs number of daily hits has also grown steadily and as of the time of writing is around 200 hits every day (which I think is about 200 more than would be interested in Reading when I started the blog). Starting from December the long standing series: "Quote of the Month" got a make over and the New format is proving to be very popular. This New format is also the result of the advice and help I have gotten (and stil I keep getting) from Samir. Thank you:-)