Sunday, 24 April 2016

Teaching applications from Poomsae to a new audience

The last three Fridays I have had the pleasure of teaching the grown up class. I always start with Taekwondo done. Dont get me wrong though we kick during class as well. We do have multiple partner drills (Matchoe kyourigi) which are set, so we do kick a lot no matter what I do. Of course Poomsae and free sparring gives us ample time to kick as well. Since we started up the class after the Christmas holliday I have spendt a lot of time doing pad work drills focusing on punching and the last three Fridays I have also spendt some time covering applications from Poomsae movements in general with a focus on Taegeuk Il (1) Jang.
some stretching, and then focus mostly on "dynamic stretching" (i.e. "leg swings") so that I have gotten the "kicking part" of

Angles in Poomsae

The first Friday we did this it was actually pretty much on the fly. We had a few visitors from other Dojang in the city so I felt compelled to make all of the students think a little for themselves. After warm up, and some partner drills we did a lot of punching on the pads before I started Poomsae Taegeuk il jang. I then asked the students to go into pairs and find and practise their applications to the movements. After a few minutes we all got together and demonstrated what they had found. It was of course the old low Block against a kick and counter punch. I talked about the meaning of the angles of Poomsae (the turn is not to face an attacker, but to demonstrate that you are moving offline an attacker. We then tweaked the application with this in mind an practised it for a while.

Hand on the hip, Distance, Opponents attack

Next I talked at length about the reason for the hand on the hip and how to use it actively, as well as why we sometimes (during sparring and such) leave it guarding our head instead. Sometimes we pull the opponents limb to clear the way for a strike, as a way to generate more power (still pulling the opponents limb), or this is where the hand ends up from the previous technique. This naturally made me talk about the distance between the attaacker and defender when we are thinking about Poomsae (close quarters), as well as the fact that the opponent is likely to throw swings, straight punches, various grabs etc than a formal lunging punch and or a head high kick.  I demonstrated the first two movments of Taegeuk Il Jang here as it perfectly demonstrates all of these things.

Opponent grabs your wrist

And punches your head (I should have angled toward the outside)
this is the Chamber for the "low Block"

I free my hand by twisting my grabbed arm, while slamming
my forearm downwards. This also checks and redirect the punch.
Note how the grabbed arm ends up on my hip. I grab his wrist

After grabbing his wrist I step in and punch while pulling
him into the punch. This time my hand ends up on the hip
because Im pulling his arm.
After demonstrating this I made them partner up and drill this application for a while. I then taught them the follow up I teach from Taegeuk Il Jang (this being the arm bar and punch toward the head). I then made them do the inward middle Block and mid section punch a couple of times before asking them to keep everything I had just talked about in mind (hand on hip, angles, distance, likely attack etc) and find an application for these two movements.

What happened was unexpected but amusing. Now that I had opened Pandoras Box of poomsae Applications all the partners were trying to apply the middle section inward Block against a wrist grab. It was a little funny, and some were quite outside the Box so to say and very clever too. Especially considering that most People attending that class had never been thinking about applying Poomsae at all outside of the lunge punch or kick attacks.

Variations of the same "technique"

I demonstrated the same Application as the one I describe in this post, as a bonus I got to talk about the reasons for different ways of doing a movement and that doing it differently is not automaticly "wrong", but just another way of applying the movement.  As you can see in the post if you clicked the link or if you remember my Applications you will see that I demonstrate the Block as a defense against a haymaker. One with a parry and punch (Kukkiwon standard) and another with a parry and elbow strike (Ji Do Kwan standard). No one is wrong here, but the Application is a little different.

We trained this for some time and then the class was over :-( The next two classes I have revisited and drilled these apps a lot more. Last Friday I demonstrated but we did not have time to drill the last part of the form. Im hoping that everyone can have an understanding of Taegeuk il jang that surpasses the normal understanding of Application of Poomsae. After all the things I have discussed in the training sessions and which I have mentioned here are the basic building Blocks to unlock just about any Poomsae you can think of.

So to recap the "basic building blocks of Poomsae applications" as I see it are:
  • Angles
  • Hand on hip
  • Combative distance
  • Likely attack
If you get this right, you are well on your way of figuring stuff out on your own if you so wish :-)

I hope to provide much more video content to this blog in the future. I have therefore set up a GoFundMe page on which I hope I can crowdfund a video editing software so I can make good quality videos for the blogs readers. If you want to contribute please visit the link to my GoFundMe page. Every donation helps :-)


  1. have you considered giving online lessons? I've got a lot of new students by posting videos on

  2. I will look into it Anton :-) I doubt it will give me any additional students here in Norway though, but it never hurts to try new things. Thanks for commenting.