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longwinded or outdated etc.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.

Below is a list of techniques that are usually critizised in modern Taekwondo Dojang around the world. I have pictured them first in solo form and then in application form. In my applications I strive to make sense of the traditional technique largely "as is" as opposed to redefine it into another technique.

1: Traditional punch with hand on the hip.

 As you can see in the picture above this is the traditional punch you see in forms. Many completly disregard the chambering hand or the pulling hand (Dangkinun Son) which you would see applied as a grab and pull in older texts. Below you will see two applications for the traditional punch. One is high section and the other is middle section. You might note that in the first application you are on the inside of the opponent and on the second you are on the outside. This is not by accident. I like punching high if Im on the inside and not when Im on the outside when using this particular application for traditional punch. The reason being that when you twist and pull the opponents arm the upper body of the opponent will bend over and sideways if you manage to twist and pull hard enough. When you are on the outside I have noticed that the head bends slightly away from the punch, while when you are on the inside the head goes straight into the punch. It`s not much of a difference but it is big enough for me to prefer the two variation as seen in these illustrations below. Feel free to explore and comment :-)

2: Arae Makki (now known as naryo makki) traditional low Block

The low block is often misunderstood as a technique. For defensive purposes it works great as a block if you remove the chamber and leave the other hand in a guard. Also you need to block from where ever the hand is currently and you need to incorporate evasion into the mix. The failure to teach this in most modern Dojang makes the low block into a ridiculed technique that you nearly never see in use. As for the complete movement it can be applied in a great number of ways. Below is a common application and one that Funakoshi himself suggested for a low block in Naihanchi Kata or Chulgi Chudan Hyung. Note how the stance is helping in bringing body weight into the lock so it is not only the arm muscles that is doing the work.

3: Traditional inward Middle section block (Momtong an makki)

 The inward middle section block is often like the low block missunderstood as a block itself, but it does work perfectly against straight attack as a deflection just like the low block works great as a defletion when done right. Look at my comment on the low block as those observations relate to this technique also. As for the whole traditional movement there can be a great many ways to apply it. I have shown some before in my "taegeuk il jang series" so below is simply another simple way to apply the traditional movement from say a push or attempted grab. Grasp his wrist, pull to hip and slam the forearm on his elbow joint. If done hard you hyperextend his elbow joint. If done "soft" it is a great way to unbalance him and or redirect him.

4: Traditional inward knife hand strike (as presented in Taegeuk Sam Jang)

 The main problem this technique seems to have as an offensive weapon is how long it takes to apply it given the wide circular trajectory it follows before smashing into the opponents neck. It is very easy to "block" by just lifting an arm and a normal "guard" often makes the application of this technique such a hassle that many Taekwondo students have stopped using it almost entirely if not engaging in formal sparring where the opponents hand is on his hip. The solution is deceptivly simple however as all you need to do to make this official application work is incorporate the dangkinun son (pulling hand) which will offbalance the opponent and make it very difficult to block the attack as you are pulling the hand he would use to defend himself with to your hip. The head will as mentioned before turn sideways slightly and while this is "bad" for the punch it really opens up the neck for a strike so strive to understand how the techniques work before dismissing them entirely. Sure there are many other ways to tweak this application (as all the others in this post) but this will give you a solid starting point.

5: Thumb side knife hand guarding block (as seen in Sipjin Poomsae)

Depending on what form set(s) you practise this is a common or a rare technique but I present it here none the less. It looks like the common knife hand guarding block but it has the contact sides of the hand reversed so the thumb side makes contact (Sonnal deung) and the hand at the solar plexus has its palm down. This is a usefull close range striking technique and while the picture below demonstrates the target to be the side of the neck the striking surface lends itself very nicely into "injung" or the striking point just below the nose. The other hand removes the obstacle for the striking hand. In Sipjin you continue with an outer wrist lock (chamber for next move) and then a forearm strike to the head (next move is Chetdari jireugi).

Move 6: Traditional outward knife hand strike in horse stance

 The critizism of this technique is usually along the unrealistic delivery of the strike and the unrealistic stance. If you look at my take on it below however you will see how the whole movement and stance function together as a whole. The pulling hand is unbalancing and removing the opponents defense, the stance is also used to disrupt his balance and structural aligment (look at his free arm how it is in no way a threat to me). The strike itself is the icing on the cake so to say. In one movement I have taken the opponent out of the fight. Il kyuk pilsung ;-) If nothing else this post should make it clear that the whole movement including the stance is important when you are trying to apply traditional movements "as is".

Move 7: We Santeul Makki (half mountain block as seen in Taegeuk Pal Jang)

Need I say more? Look at the picture. It is obviously a double block against two opponents or a low block against one opponent while the other hand is "ready". Those are the two most widespread beliefs about the technique and indeed the Kukkiwon Textbook does demonstrate this as a double block against two opponents at the same time. Mine is slightly more probable and is something you might use one day if the circumstances are right. I have many takes on it and one of them I have shared before as a takedown. This time I demonstrate it as setting the opponent up for a groin strike. I usually dont pull the arm as far up as I do here though. If you keep the arm slightly lower you can follow with an elbow wrench by using your own shoulder as a fulcrum. I simply pulled the arm this high to show that the movement is related back to the Poomsae :-)

8: High section block

As we have 8 Gwe around the Taegeuk I found it suitable to stop this post at 8 techniques. This is the high section block which is very common in Poomsae. As with all the other techniques presented here there are many ways to apply it. As with the low block, and middle section block the high section block works great as a block/deflection but again the observasions shared in the low block in this post applies here as well. Below is a "common" way to apply the high section bloc as a forearm strike against a lapel grab.

So do you know anyone who has lost "faith" in the old traditional techniques? Did you enjoy the post? Please share it around if you found it of interest, and let me knwo if you want more "quick" application posts like this :-)


  1. Hello, fun to see a note on stuff i have been trying to get across for years! amazing to me that so few are interested in even looking. here are a couple of suggestions for you to have even more fun.
    diagram 2: common mistake in this era of MMA. leaving your leg in that position opens you to your opponents diving into and taking you down by grabbing it. position your leg behind his leg and he is stuck (well, not really but he has to work much harder and know what to do)
    diagram 5: actually side of neck is better with this movement but it has to be done in a forward/upward/inward motion (as if you were "sawing" his neck)
    diagram 6: try using the Goju "Shiko-dachi" foot position when using this as a throw-its a little bit easier/stable. use the standard (chulgi type) when hooking the foot.
    experiment with the supinated/pronated hand position relative to your arms height at or above shoulder level. you will find the differences in your strength is dramatic. (little known as everybody does it in the air)

    little short of time right know will bet back to you with other apps for your last one.

    have fun!

    1. Thanks for your thoughts Richard:-) I really appreciate you giving me genuine feedback on this. As for number 2 I should have spotted it and rest assured I'll replace that photo.

      On number 5 I could have worded it differently. I usually strike the neck (which is why I did it in the picture ) but I meant to say that the striking surface ALSO lends itself well to the vital spot under the nose. I'll see if I can demonstrate the sipJin app I alluded to as it makes more sense as part of the whole.

      6: I use the siko dachi in some apps so it is incorporated into "my taekwondo". I do prefer to use the stance as in the pictures as I really drive the knee into his leg. I'm not using the stance as a static fulcrum I'm using it as part of the attack itself. I do see your point and rest assured I'll play around with your suggestions :-)

  2. I'm actually curious as to when the name for Are Makki changed? I've only been "inactive" for a year so I assume its been within that time?

    That and a Google search didn't really yielded only one probably result combined with chigi. Can you site your source Ørjan? Thanks.

    1. The instructors course arranged with the Kukkiwon changed arae makki into naryo makkI, and eulgeul makki into ollyo makki this year. It's not in many if any written sources yet

  3. I'm actually curious as to when the name for Are Makki changed? I've only been "inactive" for a year so I assume its been within that time?

    That and a Google search didn't really yielded only one probably result combined with chigi. Can you site your source Ørjan? Thanks.