Saturday, 11 August 2018

MA-Nerd alert! Deep dive into the Horse Stance terminology

Most of what I write is from a purely Kukki-Taekwondo perspective as that is what I practise (a

traditional version of it, coloured by my teachers experiences). This post however will perhaps be an interesting read for any Korean Martial Arts practisioner as we all use horse stance no matter if you practise Taekwondo, Taekwon-Do, Tae Kwon Do (WTF/Kukki, Chang Hon/ITF or independent), Tang Su Do, Su Bahk Do, Gumdo, Gyungdang etc. It is one of those universal stances that seemingly every martial art makes heavy use of. In Norway we have a saying that goes "A loved child has many names" (Kjært barn har mange navn), and while the translation of the various Korean name for this stance is remarkably consistent as "Horse Stance" there are a number of different Korean terms used to refer to this stance. One exception that has a unique English name for the stance is ITF Taekwon-Do which translate their Korean term into "Sitting Stance". In this post I will look into several different Korean terms for the stance, re-translate them into English and give a little background. Some people complain that Korean masters all seem to have their own Korean term for this stance but I think that within the different organisations in the main we see that the Korean terms are used consistent. It is when we look at different martial arts or organisations we see different Korean terms being used for what is essentually the same stance.

In the introduction I wrote that what you usually call the stance in English is fairly consistent "Horse Stance" or "Horse Riding Stance". The reason behind this consistency I believe is that most Korean Martial Arts we have today came about between 1940s-1970s and most were heavily influenced by Japanese Martial Arts styles, if not a direct copy of them. I will not go into the history behind this but Gumdo, Yudo, Yusul, Tang Su Do, Kong Su Do and early Taekwondo were all essentually copies of Kendo, Judo, Jujitsu, Tode (old word for Karate), and Karate respectively. Some have since evolved, or imported native Korean preferences to make something new, but that does not change where they originate. In 1940s Karate and other Martial Arts the name of the stance I write about is "Kiba Dachi". So most Korean Martial Arts that originate or was heavily influenced by Japanese Martial Arts translated the name into Korean and got Kima (기마) Jasae/Seogi. Gima or Kima (기마) translates into either "Horseback Riding" or simply "Horse". Jasae and Seogi (서기) both translates roughly into "Stance". So the most normal and universal term for the stance was originally Horse Stance when translated into English, and this translation has been kept even when the Korean terms has changed and evolved into terms not referencing horseback riding or any horse at all. This is the reason why you can practise say Tang Su Do and practise Kima Seogi which is translated into Horse Stance and then go cross train in another Korean Martial Art which uses a different Korean term but still translate it into Horse Stance. 

So what other terms do we have for the same stance? As far as I can tell we usually see three different or perhaps 4 different Korean terms all refering to the same stance:

Kima Seogi which we just looked at, Annun Seogi, Jochum Seogi and Nachuwo Seogi. Different Korean Terms but all usually translated into Horse Stance, but only Kima Seogi is referring to Horse and riding. So what is the deal with these other terms?

ITF uses "Sitting Stance" for their "Horse Stance" in their translations, allthough I have seen this translated into Horse Stance as well. The Korean term they use is 앉는서기 Annun Seogi where the root word Anda 앉다 means "to sit" while Annun 앉는 is "Sitting" and Seogi is stance. So 앉는서기 Annun Seogi = Sitting Stance. It is a pretty accurate translation of the Korean Term. 

The Kukkiwon uses a different term however and that is Jochum Seogi 주춤서기. This is translated in the Kukkiwon Textbook 2006 edition on page 177 as "Riding Stance". The truth is that Jochum Seogi has nothing at all to do with riding, horses or anything like that, but it is a real pain to translate into English so I understand why they clinged to riding stance instead of translating their new term Jochum Seogi into English. If I were to try to make a short easy translation it would probably be Flinching Stance or something along those lines. Let us look a little at the word Jochum 주춤 in detail. As a verb Jochumhada 주춤하다 = Hesitate; Stall. The example given by Naver Dictionary is: "To suddenly stop or shrink because one hesitates or is slightly surprised." The root of the term is Jochum 주춤 which is an adverb meaning: "Suddenly" according to Naver dictionary. The example given for this word is: "In such a manner that one suddenly stops or shrinks because he/she hesitates or is slightly surprised." Another example I came across while researching this term is in the sentence: "She flinched away from the dog". All this together seems to me to suggest that "Flinching Stance" is perhaps more accurate than Riding Stance. I will try to film a youtube video where I demonstrate this live so that it might be easier to understand, but imagine that your outside walking and a car suddenly comes at you from the side. One way to react migh be to slide/jump back where you'd land in what is essentually a Jochum Seogi. 

The last term is Nachuwo Seogi 낮추어서기. When "traditionalists" claim that the modern Kukki-Taekwondo Riding stance is too high, and then demonstrate a riding stance of their own which is wider and lower what they are demonstrating is a Kukki-Taekwondo stance which Kukkiwon calls Nachuwo Seogi. Nachuda 낮추다 means to lower, or to bring down, So Nachuwo Seogi means lower stance, or simply Low Stance. Kukkiwon translates the term into "Lowered Riding Stance", but as I have written Jochum and Nachuda/Nachuwo has nothing at all to do with riding or horses. 

I hope you enjoyed me "nerding out" on horse stance terminology, and that you might understand why different Korean terms all are translated into Horse Stance (or a variation on it). Question: Is there anything else you would like to see me nerding out on? :-P 

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