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.