Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Questions and Answers challenge Part 1:

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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. 





Hi there David. I practise and study "Kukki-Taekwondo" which means my primary study is focused around the KTA (Korean Taekwondo Association) forms (Taegeuk + Black belt series of forms). Therefore I can not give you the answer you deserve on this question, but I have looked it up for you online and I remember reading a few things over the years. There are many who say the Chang Hon forms are just mish mash of Karate forms, but overall I think this is a truth with some modifications. 


Yes some forms borrow heavily from the Karate Kata, Won Hyo as you say is just a remix of one Kata in a new order, others borrow heavily form one or more forms to make a new one, but overall the cases where this is true is just a drop in the proverbial ocean. There are 24 forms (25-26 if you count Ko-Dang and the recently resurfaced U-Nam Hyung) and while a few of these are restructured Karate Kata (as in there is no denying it) the truth for the rest is that they are "Karate based", but not "Kata based". What I mean by that is that the overall movements or individual techniques are based on Karate (and depending on the organisation using the Chang Hon forms they are closer or farther removed from the Karate foundation but it is still there in all organisations/styles if you look), but they are not "Kata based" in that the sequencing is new and not seen as is in the Karate Kata. One caveat here is that I do not know all Kata in existance but I base this on the major styles (Shotokan, Goju Ryu and Shito Ryu).


Won Hyo is definitly a good example of a form made directly from one Kata but restructured. Po-Eun is a good example of a Chang Hon form that draws from several Kata to make a new one. Here you need to look at all three Tekki Kata to see the resemblance. There is also some unique stuff in there. For the most part you will need to look at the Heian/Pinan series + Jitte + Bassai and I think you will see what comes from where. The uniqueness in the Chang Hon forms is greater than the "direct lifting" though, at least as I see it, but again I do not really study the Chang Hon forms. Perhaps someone who reads this but has greater knowledge than me can give us a helpful comment below?


Here is a slightly shortened quote from Taegeuk Cipher by Simon O`Neill: "Although the Chang Hon forms owe a great deal to the Karate katas, particularly the Pinan/Heian series, they contain many elements which differentiate them substantially... there are a large number of original sequences which seem to develop and go beyond the methods displayed by the Okinawan katas. The sheer volume of material provided by Choi's hyungs suggest a more exhaustive and detailed analysis of self-defense practices than those showed by the highly condensed Okinawan forms. (pg 24)" Another caveat is that like me Simon`s primary focus is on the Taegeuk and Black belt Taekwondo forms sets. A link you might check out with some aditional thoughts on this very subject can be read here: http://footfist-way.blogspot.no/2017/01/why-itf-patterns-are-not-just-remixes.html. Even if you do not agree with the author his blog is very good and well worth a read.


2: David (same as before) How closely related are the Kukki TKD forms related to the karate forms?


The fact that the Poomsae of the KTA/Kukkiwon is Karate based is beyond any doubt, but unlike the Chang Hon forms there are no "direct" lifted and restructured Poomsae out of any single or more Kata to make a new Poomsae. The techniques and basic movements a very much Karate based, and there is a sequence here and there that you can also find in a Kata, but directly similar sequences are rare. In Shotokan Kata we have some sequences where we have a low block, into a simultanious back fist strike and side kick into a target elbow strike (where you  hit your palm with your elbow). This happens in Taegeuk Oh Jang but now with a high section block, and a hammer fist strike instead of a back fist strike. In Taebaek Poomsae we have a similar sequence that we share with many Kata and even Chang Hon forms, but it is added too to make it longer. If you look up Taebaek Poomsae on youtube you will recognize the high block middle block at the same time into an uppercut punch and a side punch combination. In Taebaek the sequence does not stop there however. 


I would say that the Poomsae of Kukki Taekwondo is Karate based but not Kata based, simply because of this lack of direct lifting of sequences (allthough they happen, they are also very rare). You might noticed (or not) that I have not touched on the Palgwae forms. They were discontinued before I got the chance to learn them, but they are still practised in many places. I have never bothered to do any deep study of them since I have my forms, and I can go straight to the Karate forms if I want to study the roots, but you might want to take a quick look on youtube. I know they have some more direct lifting of sequences and that they look more "Karate like" than the Taegeuk forms that replaced them. This "Karateness" of the Palgwae is one of the most frequent sited reason for the making and development of the Taegeuk series. 


3: Johny:  Nice challenge. We know that Dr. Un Yong Kim initiated the work to develop new poomsae in the early 70s. He did not made them himself, but got Korean masters to develop the series ... but who were these masters? What were the names of these masters? (He later adds:  I only know of one...GM Chong Soo Hong. The Master of my Master Ko Tai Jeong. Master Hong developed Sipjin, according to what my Master has told us.)


Hi Johny. I can not be better than the current sources I have at my disposal. As of this day my notes based on Taegeuk Cipher by Simon O`Neill, A Modern History of Taekwondo by Kang and Lee, and The Original Koryo Hyung by Cook and Chun seems to agree on the following:





  • Kwak Kun Sik (Chung Do Kwan/ Captain of millitary academy and therefore also Oh Do Kwan)
  • Park Hae Man (Chung Do Kwan)
  • Hyun Jong Myun (Chung Do Kwan/ Oh Do Kwan)
  • Lee Yong Sup (Song Moo Kwan)
  • Lee Kyo Yun (Yoon Moo Kwan/ and founder of Han Moo Kwan)
  • Kim Son Bae (Chang Moo Kwan)

The above made the Palgwae and the Judanja (Black belt) series of forms including original Koryo. Later they gathered again with the addition of three aditional people to make the Taegeuk and new Koryo:



  • Bae Yong Ki (Ji Do Kwan)
  • Lee Chong Woo (Ji Do Kwan)
  • Han Young Tae (Moo Duk Kwan) 

Your teacher is not necesarily mistaken, it could be that he transcribes the name differently into our alphabet, or he could have been an assistant to one (even done the heavy work) of the people on the ("official" if we can call it that) list. As I said in the opening remarks of this answer; I can not be better than my sources allow me to be, and I have cited three. That being said, if someone have better or other sources on this, it is an area of great interest for me and I am always keen to learn so do not hessitate to comment if you got something you want to share.


4: Bradley John: In TKD self defence is there something similar to trapping that you find in JKD and Wing Chun ?


Bradley that is one cool question:-) I have to say both yes and no :-) In mainstream Taekwondo Ho Sin Sul (Self defense techniques) you usually see joint locks, releases from grabs, sweeps and throws, but limb control and trapping is virtually unheard of. Thats the "no part" of my answer but at the same time I want to say yes because if you look at applications to the forms you will find a lot of basic limb control and trapping. This will look very much like "Wing Chun" when drilled to people not knowing exactly what they are looking at. Often the "trapping" in Taekwondo techniques happens in the chamber of techniques. One bad example you can look here:



What I am forcing you to witness is me playing with a sonnal bakkat makki and on the end I trap and open hand strike from Taegeuk Sa Jang (downward openhanded block and openhanded strike at the same time). It is not elaborate trapping, but it is there in a basic form. Another example of limb control is the basic "Parry-Pass" which you can eventually see in this clip:



Again I am sorry for sharing these bad examples but it is what I have today and its free :-P First I show a regular inward block (An makki) I then "dress up" the technique to include the bakkat makki (outward block). It is a lot more basic than Wing Chun but I have been told when done fast that it looks like I am doing Wing Chun so theres that :-P Another (poor) example can be seen below and it is the last one I promise :-P In the clip below you can see something that might or might not look much like Wing Chun where I trap with my front arm, pass to my back hand and grab and strike again with my front hand. It is the outward back fist strike in Taegeuk Chil Jang. Again when done fast it kinda looks like Wing Chun. 




In the end I guess that I mean that yes trapping and limb control can be found in the techniques if you study application, but what you will find is only the meat and potatoes if you know what I mean. It will be basic and crude, yet effective and gets the job done. Like the grappling that Taekwondo has does not let you outgrapple a dedicated grappler, the trapping and limbcontrol aspects does not let you "out-trap" a Wing chun practisioner. And if you truly want to develop a high proficiency in this aspect you might want to cross train a little. If you can make do with "meat and potatoes" however and you are lucky to have an instructor who knows this stuff then cross training is not necessary.


5: Gokul:  From which belt takedowns and locks focusses on...in ITF taekwondo


Hi Gokul :-) I know you been eagerly awaiting the answer since you asked me twice about it. As I told David earlier my study is on Kukki-Taekwondo so I am not really knowledgeable enough to give you an answer, but I have asked some friends :-) Before they give their answers I can tell you my personal thoughts on this subject. 


Locks is something I personally teach from white belt onward. One of my applications to Taegeuk il Jang which is our first form contains two variations on a straight armbar and so I teach it along with the Poomsae. This applies to adult students. To children I do not start with joint locks under compliant drills until green belt. Sweeps, take downs and throws come later since they require more skill both on the "applyer" and the "applyee". You need to know them and you need to know how to fall before learning them. I usually introduce them around blue to red belt. If you are an adult student and study primarily with me you will know several wrist, elbow, shoulder, knee, and finger locks as well as backward and forward takedown before reaching black belt. This is true even if you are a child as we usually introduce these skills through Matchoe Kyorugi (formal sparring, ritualistic sparring drills). The difference is that the children will know how to make it in the ritualistic setting of formal sparring, while the adults will have studdied it not only there, but also in relation to forms and to apply it at will as the situation arises. When I started 17 years ago I was introduced to locks, throws and sweeps at yellow belt onward. First basic and then gradually more complex. This is from a traditional Kukki-Taekwondo perspective though, other Taekwondo Dojang might not follow this path at all or introduce them later. As one of the symbols of red belt is danger I would suggest that red belt should be the latest if they are not introduced before. And if they never introduce this kind of stuff they are teaching a simplified, defanged version or a simplified martial sport and not a martial art, and if that is the case you will need to look at what you want (I am not saying one is better than the other, that depends on what you yourself want out of the training). 


Now based on my friends answers (I asked in a closed study group where many "ITF" and Chang Hon TKD people are contributing members to get a real answer for you), they say the same as me. Formally there seems to be a requirement at 2nd geup (to ranks below black belt level) but while the requirement is this grade, the training of them itself usually start before so people are proficient in them. Release techniques appear in the forms so they are introduced earlier along with the forms. This aspect of the syllabus varies greatly according to my friends and I must say that this is the case for Kukki-TKD too, but like us in Kukki-TKD they are practised :-) So the "real answer" to your question would be around 2nd Geup to 1st Dan. 

Thats it for today, I am nearly finished with the other five questions so part two will come soon :-) Thank you for contributing, it has been a very interesting challenge :-)

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