Thursday, 7 December 2017

Micro Post; Chulgi Chudan Hyung applications

Samir Berardo has been a long time friend to this blog (and me) going back a few years now. How time flies.... Well anyway, I have been trading mails and facebook messages with him for several years now and I have been lucky enough to get to see his work. You see, Samir is very passionate about applications of Karate forms and since Taekwondo is Karate based (yup I am not sugarcoating it) I have taken great interest in his work. He has a very indepth and unique approach to forms applications which has influenced me and given me a whole new benchmark to measure up against. He has waited to make his work public for various reasons, but lately after a seminar with Jesse Enkamp (Yeah, THE Jesse) he was encouraged by Jesse to make it public. The result (well the first public glimpse) of his work is just scratching the surface of his method, but loads and loads can be learned from the clip I am about to share. He is demonstrating the Naihanchi Kata, which to us KMA practisioners would be Naebojin/ Kima/ Chulgi Chudan Hyung. Po Eun Tul practised in ITF or Chang Hon based Taekwondo styles is partly based on this form (along with the two other Karate forms), and you can see all the techniques scattered around the various Kukki Taekwondo Poomsae. The good news is that now that he is making his work public, I can stop holding back on the applications (Yup, I have sooooo much more in store) which has been directly influenced by his approach. I will wait to he shares more material though :-) My stuff is childs play when compared to his work though so I am sure you will enjoy the clip:-) So without further adu I give you: Samir Berardo:

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

You are most likely using "boonhae" wrong...

(This is a short rant, and not exactly a serious article)

In Taekwondo we use Korean terminology eventhough the art is practised world wide. Some terminology is very well known, other terminology is rather obscure. Poomsae, Chagi, Jireugi, Makki etc are very well known, as well as Mudo, Do, Ho Sin Sul, Taegeuk etc. The above examples ranges from technical to theoretical terminology. When it comes to forms interpretation and especially application of forms many default to the use of Boonhae, or sometimes Hae Sul. I have even seen Boonhae Hae Sul as a term used for application. This usage which is often wrongly used can be traced back to one single person and that person is none other than my friend Stuart Anslow.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Micro post: What's the point of stances

Again, not an in-depth post or anything, I just found a few photos on my phone the other day stemming from an article that was never written (that happens), and thought I could use them to provide hopefully good content for you :-) Stances are often viewed to be unrealistic and many never give them much thought when looking at the postures within Poomsae. They could however, have an important part of your application if you chose to look closer. I've picked this up from both Mu Duk Kwan practisioner, a Keysi seminar, but the man who has opened up my eyes for their true potential is Samir, an incredibly knowledgeable guy who specializes in Okinawan Karate. The examples in this photo are simply a taste, but they are functional and can open up a wide range of possibilities. That being said there are countless other ways to use stances than the ones here. On the left you'll see apkoobi being used to crash into the opponent and take out his structure. On the right you'll see a stance being used to trip the opponent. Both are amplifying the hand techniques being used.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Micro Post; Application from Hansu Poomsae

Hi there:-) I'll try to publish a little more often than I have lately, but some posts will be labelled micro posts. These will be quick and to the point. This time I'd like to share an application (응용) to Hansu Poomsae pyojeok arae makki  (target low block) where you block into your hand so it clamps around your wrist. It's an unusual technique and many never learn it but it's often puzzling for those who do learn it.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Taekwondo and jointlocks; a historical journey 1920-2006

Image Source: Self Defense Karate
Henry Cho, 1969
One thing that should not come as a suprise if you follow this blog is that 1: Taekwondo contains joint locks and has had them since long before modern Taekwondo got its name. 2: I prefer to keep my terminology Korean for consistancy. I recently read an excellent post on applications for a single technique in an ITF or Chang Hon Ryu form where one of his applications was named a "kotegaeshi"  (Outward wrist throw/lock). I advice you to follow that blog even if you do not train Chang Hon Ryu because the writer does a great job and there is a lot of overlap between the "different" Taekwondo/Taekwon-Do.

I have been working really hard lately so I have experienced something of a writers block, but the issue gave me an idea for a post, namely; Looking into some of the basic Taekwondo locks and their terminology, their place within Taekwondo etc. This derailed quickly into a historical jurney to demonstrate the fact that Taekwondo has always included joint locks and grappling from its root arts to present day. If you have heard that Taekwondo contains no grappling of any kind and that all grappling taught in Taekwondo today is a direct influence from say Hapkido then I strongly suggest that you take my hand and go on a little journey with me :-D

Monday, 15 May 2017

Is Keumgang a basic form?

Reading through an online discussion on an old forum the other day I came across question regarding
Palgwae Poomsae or rather who still teaches them. It was an old thread, but one of the first replies came from a 6th Dan school owner who said and I am slightly paraphrasing here:

"We teach Taegeuk and Koryo to black belt level, and then have everyone learn Palgwe 1-8 along with Keumgang for their 2nd Dan. Keumgang is such a basic form to study at that level so they need the additional material".

I am all for perserving history, and allthough I have never formally studdied the Palgwae set, I do see their appeal, and they also represent the first form set made by most of the all Kwan. I used to want to study them, but the more I studied the Taegeuk and all the Judanja (Black belt forms) I was given in Korea, plus now my teachers own creation (Soak Am Ryu Poomsae) and some of the old Kwan forms (most noteably Chulgi Chudan Hyung, Won (Original) Koryo Hyung and Ban Wol Hyung) I have more than enough for a lifetime study. I still might do it one day, but I do not yearn it like I used to do, back when I was a real and truly a forms collector. But how someone can say that Keumgang Poomsae is so basic that it is taught almost as an afterthought is beyond me.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Taekwondo "Blocks"

This will be a post that focuses on the application(s) of Taekwondo "Makki-techniques". Makki is a
Korean word that is usually translated into "block" in English. Makki being "block" is a valid translation so I will not say that it is a mistaken translation, but it is a simplified one. If you look closer on the Korean word you will get more translations, and you can look at an older blog post of mine where I did examine the word Makki and its root word Makda. In my view Makki should be translated into "defensive technique" instead of simply "block". Being defensive does not mean that you are simply lifting your arm into position to create an obstacle between you and the attacking limb (this is what you might picture in your head when reading the word "block"). Neither does "defensive technique" stop at merely swapping the attacking limb away as in a "parry". Defensive technique in this case relates to something you do to your opponent so that you receive, redirect or in any other way hinder an attack while gaining an advantageous position. This can be, but is not limited to: parries, blocks, checks, locks, pre-emptive strikes, various limb control techniques etc. This view is supported by the applications to "makki-techniques" in the Kukkiwon textbook where on at least two different occasions "blocks" are applied as joint locks!

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Basic Taekwondo limb-control drill

I "borrowed" this drill after viewing another instructor performing it. It is short, relatively simple and drills the usage of the "non striking hand", angles and several traditional techniques all in one compact drill. The traditional techniques are "round strike" (in the specific example I share it is a bear hand strike), a knife hand strike, a low block in long front stance and a middle level punch. One of the perhaps most important aspects though is the clearing of limbs and basic limb control. Many Taekwondo students are never introduced to this combative range at all, and if you only study your defenses against strikes in the ritualistic formal sparring you will never really learn how to deal with the opponents defenses. In this drill the opponent reacts to your strikes by parrying and covering, which again is something most Taekwondo students never really learn how to deal with.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Let us make Gibon Dongjak great again!

Sorry for making that terrible pun at president Trump's expense, but come on, give me this one. At
the time of writing this I have been discussing the realism and usefullness of Gibon Dongjak training. Gibon means fundamental, and dongjak can be translated as movement. In English we often hear the term "basics" which I really do not like because that sounds like something you learn, and then move on to "advancics" instead. Fundamental movements gives at least me better mental connotation as we are talking about functional movements that need to be adapted slightly for applications. It is like Iain Abernethy talks a little about in his podcast "The Case for Kihon" where he likens Kihon (Gibon Dongjak) to the foundations to a building. The foundation is vital to the health and stability of the building but it is not the directly usable bit. Again to paraphrase that podcast, as I write this I am not using the foundations of my house, but I am in a room built on top of it. There are a few issues with typical gibon dongjak training though so let us look a little on that first.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Questions and Answers Challenge Part 2:

Here is part two of the questions and answers challenge:

6: Erich: What are your thoughts on the new poomsae by the kukkiwon? Do you believe they bring back some important traditional techniques ( i.e. twist kick, hook block, etc.) to kukki taekwondo? Do they have practical applications in your opinion?

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Two basic dangkinun son drills (incorporating the pulling arm into training)

I have gradually introduced practical applications to our Poomsae during the last two years of training. There has been a lot of pitfalls by starting to teach them to people who do not "get it" and who have trained for years pulling their hands on their hips "because it is tradition" etc. One of my greatest pains was to get people to use both hands instead of one. You see we use both hands in our forms, and in our basic techniques, but once we start applying the moves in formal 1, 2, and three step sparring we usually use the one "active" hand and the other hand is just pulled back to the hip because it is tradition. So eventhough our forms and basics ingrain a functional movement, I struggled to get people to use it in a functional way. The simple punch is a great example. I realized only later what I was doing wrong. I was teaching the Poomsae applications just as they appear in Poomsae. This can surely be done, but if we are doing it that way we need to devote much training time so people understand it. Breaking the Poomsae down into single techniques and drilling the core concepts instead proved to be much faster and easier so I made two drills using the focus mitts to introduce impact too, and I did not mention Poomsae or basic techniques when I introduced them. I made it very simple.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Questions and Answers challenge Part 1:

Image source:
Chang Hon TKD Hae Sul
By Stuart Anslow
A while back I asked for questions to do my very first questions and answers post after a challenge I got:-) I got 10 questions via Facebook and while I have nearly completed all 10 (Just one that is lacking) I decided to split it into two posts since it became a little long:-P I guess I had a lot to say.. Part 2 will come in a few days, or at the most one week. I just need time to answer one of the questions on there (Thanks Jan Ivar). But part 1 should give more than enough reading material for a little while. These are merely my opinions on these questions, so if you want to contribute yourself do not hessitate to comment below :-)

1: David: In Chang Hon TKD how much are the combinations from the karate katas mixed up? I know Won Hyo closely resembles Pinan Shodan, but other seem very mixed. 

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Taegeuk Chil Jang revisited (Follow up from outward backfist strike)

After posting the article on facebook Martin asked me what happen after the outward backfist strike. He had a different application, so he was wondering what to do from the position you end up in in my application. Some say that the Taegeuk forms lack applications, others say that they are there but they are there by accident. Yet others believe that the originators knew nothing at all of note so searching for applications is a pointless endevour. Personally I think that the KTA forms might be more "basic" than in some of the Karate forms, yet I think it is quite possible that the originators of the KTA forms knew more than enough to make their forms functional. The reason I say this is that when I fist figured out the reason for the transition between the low X-Block and the first outward backfist strike I was wondering the very same thing. What happens next? The Poomsae itself gave me a perfect answer, and this is not the fist time I`ve been stuck and I have gotten the answer straight from the Poomsae itself. This is the reason why I think that there is far more material in the KTA forms than what people give them credit for. It is also the reason why I have not simply switched to the Pinan/Heian/Pyungahn forms a long time ago (allthough I have been giving it some serious thought sometimes).

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Are you making this common mistake in Taegeuk 7 Jang????

Teaching yesterday (at the time of writing) was a blast! In the bulk of the session I focused on the
performance of Poomsae and drilled some applications from the Poomsae we were working on. This "jumping" from Poomsae to Poomsae let me introduce the possibilities within Poomsae and its relation to combat, combative principles, as well as some of my ideas on how to find applications for the students themselves. Among the things we drilled were the first 2 movements of Taegeuk 1 Jang against a wristhold, the end part of Taegeuk 2 Jang as a continuation on the same application, the parry-pass method from Taegeuk Sam Jang, the defensive entry into knife hand strike from Taegeuk Sa Jang as well as a variation striking drill from the first two moves, and variation demonstrating the "C-stepping" that some had learned many years ago, Taegeuk 5 Jang made us drill an armlock, hammerfist strike, sweep and hammerfist strike combo from the first two counts, 6 Jang had us drill how to recover if the drill from Taegeuk 5 Jang went wrong, and then we came to Taegeuk Chil Jang and one of the things I usually have to correct (unless the student in question learned it from me directly). This is what the post is about, and I think it will interest people who compete in Poomsae, and people who are interested in practical Applications alike.

Sunday, 22 January 2017


Apparently my writing style and a certain Mary Fraser is "somewhat similar:-P Check out her blog: How to play Taekwondo which I came across searching the Web for practical application of Poomsae. enjoy :-)

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

2016 in retrospect and where do we go from here?

Its been a busy few days in the new year, and suddenly we are way past the halfway mark of January.
Each year in January I sit down, look through the stats and look back at what I`ve done the last 12 months on my blog. The whole year has been a very busy one, much more so than earlier, so I have to admit that the blog has not been the priority in 2016, nor will it be a priority in 2017. That does not mean that I am stopping or that I do not have more to share, but I will probably not be able to provide 1 post pr week as I have done in the past. While 2016 has been the year with the smallest number of posts, it has also been a year with some of the more deeper articles I have published. Both the philosophical article where I look at ethics and student creeds, and the one on the relationship between sparring and forms have been some of the most well cited articles that I have posted (the finished Totally TKD Magazine articles based on these posts are even better). Likewise I have posted some video on training, and shared a lot of historical posts and applications. I will still try to provide some content every month and some months I may even be able to provide a post pr week, but I cant see myself having the time to produce 50+ posts in the foreseeable future. I do however have A LOT more to share and write, and I have several posts ready on applications from poomsae just missing the pictures, as well as a chronological jurney proving once and for all that Taekwondo has always had grappling techniques within it and everyone who disputes that will have to prove the opposite, for I have proof stating otherwise (and I am sharing it openly). That was a boring and lengthy introduction, so lets jump to the fun part :-) Looking through 2016 and tell you a little about my plans for 2017:

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Application GIF's from earlier articles

My phone apparently made a lot of gif like files from related photographs I've taken to illustrate earlier articles. Some feedback implies that people prefer video to photographs, but the reason I like to take photos instead of video is that I can use the pictures over and over again with little work to cover many different points and issues. It also makes it a whole lot easier to publish rewritten posts as articles for totally tkd magazine :-) these GIF's are by no means as good or clear as a video, but they might be easier for some to catch the main points of what I'm saying by watching instead of reading.