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.

Move 1 and 2

Move 1 and 2 of the form is turn 90 degrees and perform Arae Makki (low block) in Ap Seogi (Short walking stance). Then step forward with your right foot into another Ap Seogi (Short front walking stance) and perform a right momtong jireugi (middle punch).

Chamber for move 1

Low Block or Arae Makki (Move 1)

Step forward and midle punch or Momtong Jireugi

Traditional app: Low Block against kick and middle punch. Alternative low Block against low punch and middle punch.

If you are going to use the low block as a block or parry you need to remember three things:
  1. As short movement as possible (no chamber, go directly into the block)
  2. Evade from the attack as you parry (dont retreat in a straight line as is usually seen)
  3. Block on the same side as the attack is comming from (for a right kick/punch you block with your left arm. His right = Your left).
Normal app for move 1 in Taegeuk Il Jang

Normal app for move 2 in Taegeuk Il Jang

Alternative app : Against a same side wrist hold:

I like to teach this one as one of the first ones because it is dependant on the complete movement. After thinking about Arae Makki solely as a low block, many emphasise the blocking arm and forget about the rest of the movement (i.e the chamber, and the pulling hand back to the hip.) In this app ALL of the movement must be done correctly in a traditional basic movement manner for it to work. Forgetting to twist the pulling hand back to the hip? Forget to chamber properly? Forget to put power into the blocking arm? Any of these common mistakes will deprive this app of the efficiancy of the technique and so I hope that the app will drive the point home that eventhough they are taught basic applications to the basic movements (all makki as blocks for instance) that does not mean that the basic movement itself is not practical just as is, it only means that you have not been taught everything there is to know about how to apply it in combat. I think that for most makki techniques a "block" or "parry" is a worthwile thing to learn for fighting purposes (you do need defensive techniques in a fight) but the block/parry apps emphasis just the "block" aspect of the movement while overlooking the rest of the complete basic movement. So the app itself:

The enemy grabs your right wrist with his left arm as in the picture below.

The grab

Move to the outside of his grabbing arm. This puts you in a safer distance longer from the dangerous hand and buys you time. At the same time you chamber your hand as you would normally for an arae makki (low block). (If you are too slow, the chamber can be used as a block itself against an incomming punch)

The Chamber for low block (I should have moved more to the outside)

Perform the block as you normally do, twist and pull the grabbed arm toward your hip while striking it with your left forearm to facilitate the release from the grab. Note do not smack the arm away but "stick" with it.

The low block itself. Note that I am sticking with his arm, not smacking it
away as you usually see in Taekwondo blocks.

Grab his arm now, and step in and punch.

I stick with his arm so just slide the hand a little up to grab

I twist and pull his arm and step forward to punch.
Note how this turns his "free arm" away from me.
Below is a series of photographs on the same app but shown from a different angle

The grab

Chamber for low block

Low block and "stick" to his arm

Grab his arm

Twist and pull his arm and punch.

Variation/What if: The chamber as a block of the incomming punch if you are too slow:

The grab again. The opponent starts a punch imidiatly

Low block chamber. The block is in the chamber itself!
Note again that I am not smacking his arm away, I am "sticking" to it.

As I am sticking to his arm I do the "low block" which frees me from his grab

I grab him instead and do as before. Twist and pull toward my hip

The twisting and pull moves his dangerous hand (his free one)
far away from me.

Move 3 and 4 will for the sake of keeping this series at a managable length and for sake of argument be a mirror image of the application I provided for move 1 and 2.

Move 5 and 6

Move 5 chamber for low block

Move 5 the low block

Move 6 the middle section punch

You move 90 degrees from your previous position and perform an Arae Makki in Ap Koobi (low block in long front stance). This can also be used against a wristhold, or as a natural follow up from the previous app. Against a cross sided wrist grab (he grab your right wrist with his right arm), you move to his outside so that you get as much space as possible between you and his "dangerous" hand. Perform the chamber of the block as you move.
You then perform the low block ending up in a straight armbar.

Which you gain a strong position to finish the fight with a punch to the opponents head. Note that the punch is done in middle section but it is toward the opponents height. The preciding technique brought his head down.

Move 5 and 6 as a logical follow up from move 1 and 2

The same armbar can be done by just grabbing the opponents wrist in the first app I shared in the beginning as you punch him in the ribs. Just keep holding his arm and apply pressure against the opponents elbow. This also teaches us important principles of distracting strike before locking, and not to seek the lock but to take advantage of it when the oppertunity presents itself.

Below is an image series demonstrating a nice logical progression from app 1 to app 2

The grab and prep for punch (but this works if he does not punch too)

Defends against punch and "stick" to his arm
(this is chamber for low block or first move in the form)

strike down and free myself from his grip while sticking to his arm
(this is the first low block in the form)

I grab him

I step forward and punch while pulling and twisting his arm towar
my hip. This is move 2 in the form.

From the previous position I put pressure just above his elbow joint.
This is the chamber for low block in move 5 in the form

Moving 90 degrees to the side by pivoting on my front foot I keep pressuring
his arm downward as in the low block in the form (move 5 in the form)

From the previous position I grab his shoulder and punch in middle section.
Note his head has been brought down by the preceeding technique in the form.
(move 6 in the form)

I hope this makes any kind of sense to you and I hope it is something that if you can not use then perhaps you can be inspired by it to make your own application. If you liked the application and want to see more of this in more Dojang around the world please share this post so as many people as possible can get the chance to see it ;-)

Click here to go to part 2

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  1. I let my son to train taekwondo as a form of self defense.
    Tae Kwon Do Franklin Square

  2. Yippppeee...I found what I was looking to understand the usage of learning taeguks!

    1. I'm glad you liked the post Tua Pui Poh. Be sure to read all the parts as they together cover the entire form from beginning to end.

      Ps do not hesitate to ask if there is something you are wondering about or if you want me to expand on something.

  3. The shotokan people might say (the ones that I trained with in the past), that if your front stance was good in the first move/kick defense, you'd be better situated to block higher up his leg and higher up your arm, which you can trap his leg in the elbow as you step through and punch, which also screws up his balance.