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 :-)

Before I start I have to say that I did not find these in order, I found them in a random order but each time I remembered what I had found before until I had the sequence covered. To keep this post "neat" I will present them in the order the techniques appear in the sequence instead of the order I found them in.

So first part of my method which is a good place to start out if you are new is to search out in many sources and "borrow" what you like. This means reading a lot of books (not just your own martial art or style but others too), seeing documentaries and instructional videos of your own and other peoples styles, going to seminars etc.

The first part of the Taebaek sequence I demonstrated was the Keumgang momtong makki. I have many different applications for this movement and I believe that it is a very versatile movement that can be used against many different attacks,which would explain why it shows up seemingly "everywhere". If you look below you will see a picture of Funakoshi from his 1935 Karate Do Kyohan where he demonstrates what is in the book an entry to a throw but which you might recognize all the same.

Image Source: Karate Do Kyohan by Funakoshi Gichin 1935

You can compare that entry with that picture from my Taebaek blog post:

Image Source: Traditional Taekwondo Ramblings

As you can see they are pretty much the same. Gichin Funakoshi has the front hand doing a back fist strike while I do an upward punch, but I doubt anyone will not see where this is comming from. What is funny is that some say that the applications I present are a fiction of my own imagination and that it has nothing to do with "true" martial arts (whatever that is), but here we see that the application follows the principles handed down from the past. Only difference really is that I link this directly to a form while in the book in this specific case Gichin Funakoshi does not link this back to a form. He does link a lot of other stuff back to forms though.

As for the second part of the application in the taebaek post we can go forward to 1968 and move from Japan to Korea (well it was actually written in USA but by a Korean). We are talking about one of my favorite Taekwondo books; Tae Kwon Do; Secrets of Korean Karate by Shihak Henry Cho. Look below and see one of the Pictures from that book:

Image Source: Tae Kwon Do; Secrets of Korean Karate
By Sihak Henry Cho 1968

This one fits Taegeuk Pal Jang and Taebaek`s Dankyo Teok Chigi or pull inward punch the chin technique even better than the official application does it not? Compare that picture to the one from Taebaek Poomsae post below

Image Source: Traditional Taekwondo Ramblings
As you can see once again it is an application that has been handed down over many years and not something that I simply have "conjured up" in my fantasies. This is how Taekwondo used to be: Close in and dirty. Practical and no nonsense. No wasted motion and a martial art meant to save Your life.

 The third movement in the sequence proves another important point. Up to now we have looked at sources that are old and not directly the present system we practise today. It is easy to throw the baby out with the bathwater and dismiss the modern texts simply because the modern textbooks are filled with applications to Poomsae that leaves much to be desired in terms of practicality, but it is also contains usable applications or applications that will be very usable with only small tweaks. Look below for the third source which might suprise some:

Image Source: Kukkiwon Textbook 2006 edition
From the applications of Taebaek Poomsae
 This is very much a usable application from the official current textbook of the style I practise and for the very move in the sequence. Take what is usefull I say:-) Looking at the current sources should provide you with a starting point. Somethings you will like and accept as is, some are useable with small tweaks and some are just awfull, but the applications in the two first categories are well worth the study. Compare this with the picture below:

Image Source: Traditional Taekwondo Ramblings
Again you see that the application is not so much a product of my fantasy and infinate intellect (me being humble :-P ) but more a result of me actually taking the time to study the system I practise and taking it back to the root arts as well as my current system. Why would you strike the mid section and not the head? In this position you have stunned him with a punch and with only a small "jerk"of your upper body you can take out his elbow joint (or you can continue with the sequence as is and still take out his elbow joint).

Another critizism I often get when implementing the Dangkinun Son (pulling hand back to the hip) as actually pulling something is that the grab does not openly occur in the Poomsae. Some critics therefore think that because there is no emphasised grab in the Poomsae that means I am inserting these "grabs" and therefore stray from the form. Well here there is no emphasised grab in the Poomsae and I do implement the pulling hand, but guess what? So does the Kukkiwon Textbook! Implementing the pulling hand is something that the Kukkiwon Textbook does too. Why is it Ok for them and not for me? My guess? Those who critique me on this has not done the study of the system they practise themselves and are ignorant of that "small" fact.

Does this mean that all my applications are "borrowed" ones like these were? No, this method provided me with the first part of the sequence. The last part of it was a direct result of analysis of the movements and the possibilities created by the first part of the sequence, but that is for another post another day :-)

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