Sunday, 2 June 2019

The ABC's Of Practical Poomsae Applications, Part 9: Explaining "Chambers"; Deung Joomeok Ap and Bakkat Chigi

Last time I said I would share how to explain "chambers" to students in a combative way, and in this
post we will be looking at that. In our previous posts I have given practical applications to a multitude of basic techniques, and if you have not already read these posts I would recommend that you read them in the order they came out. Below is direct links to the other posts in this series as well as a short comment on what technique we looked closer on.

Part 1 which you can find here, which focuses on Arae Makki, Part 2 which you can find here which focuses on Momtong An Makki, Part 3 which you can find here focusing on Eulgeul Makki, and Part 4 which you can find here that focuses on the spear hand strike, Part 5, which focuses on the knife hand guarding block and Part 6 focusing on the inward knife hand strikePart 7 that lookesd at the outward block can be found here. Part 8 which you can find here, it focuses on the Oe Santeul Makki (one high and low block at same time from Taegeuk Pal Jang) Since I have already given applications to those techniques, I thought I should explain chambers for a couple of techniques that we have not looked at yet. This time we are looking at the chamber for Deung Jomeok Ap Chigi (back fist strike to the front) and Deung Jomeok Bakkat Chigi (Back first outward strike). The reason why I share these two is that if you explain these two chambers it "unlocks" a whole host of techniques using the same chamber but using a different striking surface. The outward knife hand strike that you will see in Horse Stance in Hansu Poomsae looks very different from the Outward Back Fist Strike in Taegeuk Chil Jang. The usage of stances is different so they are variations on a common theme, but the chamber for both technique is identical and esures more than a little overlap in my own opinion. This is one example of how teaching someone one application can open up doors to other applications in other Poomsae if the underlying principles are understood.

Deung Jomeok Ap Chigi
Below you can see the chamber for Deung Jomeok Ap Chigi (Backfist forward strike). I might revisit this technique in the future because how the textbooks usually apply these techniques they are fairly weak. That doesn't mean that they are useless, only that we need to understand that we need to apply them in the right context or perhaps vary them a little if we want to change the technique into a powershot. As a quick distracting strike with a sting it is ok to use them as a textbook back fist strike, but it is not a finishing technique like the last forward walking back first forward strike you see in Taegeuk Oh Jang for instance (after using it in 2 combos the third one is presented single in front walking stance. I have chosen to keep the first application very basic and simple and I have also opted to use it as what the name implies; a back fist strike to not confuse students.

Below it the chamber:

I'm not sure to how clear this is, but one hand is extended to the front, while the other is near the armpit. As you do the strike you shoot the hand at the armpit forwards while retracting the other hand to the hip. The striking hand is on the inside of the pulling hand. That is very important. The end position can be seen below:

The most common way to break this technique and to it "incorrectly" while ending up in the same ending position is to make the striking arm go on the outside of the pulling hand. This does almost nothing to change the "appearance" or "look" of the bacic technique, and I have seen some do this mistake over time because they are never corrected in this.

In "The Explanation Of Official Taekwondo Poomsae" by Kang Ikpil and Song Namjang first edition published in 2007 they write about this technique on page 27:

"Ap Chigi (Back Fist Strike) Movement

a) The parts of the pointing finger and middle finger and the middle finger on the fist back are employed.
b) The west [SIC] on the side of the hitting fist should not be bent.
c) There are an erected fist-back fist and a bent-backward fist-back fist
(Point of attention) The hitting fist-back fist with its fist-back facing upward is lifted up brushing past the arm-pit over the waist on the opposite to make a hitting by bending the fist-back fist at the height of the philtrum.

Deduction factors

a) Attacking arm is performed from the outside of the pulling arm (empasis by me)
b) Any other movements other than shown above will be factors of deduction.

In point b) where they say west they mean wrist. The Korean language part of the book dealing with this technique (it is in both Korean and English) makes that clear :-)

While we're at it we might as well look at another source; "The Textbook of Taekwondo Poomsae" which was a collaborate effort by the Kukkiwon (listing everone involved would take forever so I'll just put "kukkiwon" as author for this one. First edition of this book is from 2009. On page 24 they explain the Deung Jomeok Ap Chigi:

a) The parts of the pointing finger and middle finger on the back of the fist are used.
b) The wrist on the side of the hitting fist should not be bent.
c) The fist-back fist is used.
(Point of attention) The hitting fist-back fist with its fist-back facing upward is lifted up brushing past arm-pit over the waist on the opposite to make a hitting by bending the fist-bac fist at the height of the groove of the upper lip.

Deduction factors
a) Attacking arm is performed from the outside of the pulling arm (emphasis by me)
b) Any other movements other than shown above will be factors of deduction.

Now these two books are both all about explaining the poomsae but it becomes fairly obvious that the books are meant for Poomsae athletes, not students of taekwondo as a martial art. While the movement is explained very well, and the photographs are great, you get the correct movement, but you do not get anything in the way of application of movement. Indeed the whole point of the movement is that you are supposed to do it THIS way, or you will get deducted points. If you are only interested in the solo performance of Poomsae for Sport this is OK, and it simplifies things for athletes, but it comes up well short of the target for those studying Taekwondo as a martial art with poomsae being an intergral part of the overall whole. There is no application, nor any real reason as to why the movement is the way it is. In the books the movements is like this because the book says so period! Students in western countries are used to ask questions so many if they are doing the movement wrong as in deduction factors point b) in both books having the arm on the outside if corrected they might want to know why they should keep it on the inside. After all the strike can travel farther if done on the outside resulting in more power right? It feels better beacuse most Makki-Techniques also go on the outside so it conforms to prior training if this movement has the striking arm on the outside of the pulling hand. So what gives? What do you say to the students who do not compete, nor have any interest in competing? The answer is pretty simple, give them an application that makes use of the correct chamber in a combative setting. Doing it wrong will make the application fail so it HAVE to be THAT way.

The simplest way to give them a practical application is simply to include the pulling hand. Once you do that you have something you can use, and better yet the whole movement makes sense. In the book the way it is described gives the "How", but what people in my experience truly want to learn and are interested in is the "Why". Including the pulling hand gives them the "Why" in a clear manner.

Below you can see what happens if you do the technique with a partner but you chamber incorrectly.

You grab your opponents arm. How you get to this position is up to the instructor but for the sake of ease you can simply grab the arm (removing the opponents guard for instance). The arm is chambered and as it is thrust forward it goes on the outside of the pulling hand which we know is wrong as defined in the books but we do not know why. If you look at the illustration below however I am sure you can see why at a glance.

As the hand moves forward on the OUTSIDE of the pulling hand you are in fact making it impossible for yourself to strike the opponents face with the backfist. You are negating the application making the technique useless simply because you are doing the movement wrong. What happens if you do the movement correctly?

The arm is grabbed as before, the chamber is done, and now we move the striking arm on the inside of the pulling hand which the book says is correct, but it does not tell us why. Below you can easily see why the attacking hand being on the inside is preferable.

We can talk about targets as well. When you pull hard on one of the opponents arms you will probably twist him increasing the distance between you and his dangerous free hand. His head might twist and go a little down in height as well. Ivar is much taller than me but here he is just a little bit  taller. I therefore target the temple in this case instead of the philtrum, but that is personal adaptation. The movement in solo performance and the application of said movement is identical. It is still a strike with the back fist as well. The only thing I have done is to include the pulling hand and all makes sense. Now you have the "How" and the "Why". I have spent a lot of time going into detail here, but in a Dojang setting it is often enough to just demonstrate this once or twice and the students get it. 20 seconds of demo and exlaining and you have given them the "Why" along with the "How" and you did not even have to threaten them with deduction points :-P

Deung Jomeok Bakkat Chigi
Now here I want to eliminate a mistake I often see done in Taegeuk Chil Jang and it happens most often on the first but often enough on both of the outward backfist strikes in the form. To understand why people often make this mistake we need to go back one "count" to the previous techniques ending position which is a low cross block or an eutgeuro arae makki as seen below.

Here the left foot is forward, and the right fist is above the left fist. On the next count you turn 90 degrees and do an outward back fist strike. Many students keeps this low cross block as the start position for the outward strike which gives us a familiar "problem". Look below for the mistaken chamber.
This student has extended one arm forward which is correct but he has kept the other arm lower. What happens when he proceeds with the outward strike from here? Or if he kept the previous technique as a starting point for the outward strike? The striking hand will essentually be on the outside of the pulling hand once again. If you are looking for an alternative application that can be used to attack the opponents joints etc, but if you want to use this movement as a strike you have to change this around. If we look back to Kang Ikpil and Son Namjung "The Explanation of Taekwondo Poomsae" on page 28 the outward strike is described. In the Korean section it is described correctly but the first edition has a mistake in the english description of the movement. Here it is said that the attacking arm comes from the outside of the elbow of pulling hand. In the deduction points however it is stated as before a) Attacking arm is performed from the outside of the pulling arm (emphasis by me). In the pictures on Taegeuk Chil Jang they make a number out of it that the striking arm is lifted higher than the pulling hand in the chamber so as to keep it on the inside of the pulling hand.

The exact same mistake is in "The Textbook of Taekwondo Poomsae", or perhaps I am not understanding English. The description clearly states that the striking hand is to be chambered around the eye height and then it goes on to say we should make a circle from the outside of the pulling hands elbow. Again in the deduction factors it is statet the same as in the other book word for word, so keeping it on the inside is correct. It is also stated clearly in Korean. The illustrations however does not show this clearly as it lacks the transition picture for the outward strike in the Poomsae section. This is one of the reasons why I actually prefer "The explanation of official taekwondo poomsae" over "The Textbook of Taekwondo Poomsae".

Below you can see the correct chamber as described (in Korean at least) and illustrated by Song Namjung on page 104 in their book (but the picture is obviously me and not from that book)

Here one hand is extended and the other is up with the ear on the opposite side. If you look careful from the previous position of the lower cross block to this chamber you will realise you need to change the hands in the transition from one ending position to the chamber of the next one. In the low x block you had your right fist above your left fist. Now you have the left fist above your right first. This "extra" transition has a way of dissapearing in practise if not pointed out. The ending position is the same, and with just focusing on the "How" is it easy to miss out the "Why". To explain this clearly to my students I just do the same as with the other back fist application. I show them an application and I include the pulling hand.

Here I am grabbing the opponents arm and the striking arm is underneath the pulling arm (which will in effect have it on the outside of the pulling hand). This will give me deduction in points in solo performance competition but in reality if applied against another human you will again give yourself an obstacle so that you can not strike the opponents head.

Pulling the opponents arm and striking at the same time as the solo performance movement want you to do will make it impossible to strike the head of the opponent. The arm of the opponent is in the way so by doing the movement incorrectly you yourself is blocking your own attack with the opponents arm :-P Way to make things hard on yourself. Now if you chamber correctly however:

Above you can see the correct chamber of the technique. One arm  is grabbing the opponents arm the other is above the pulling hand (ensuring that it will be on the inside of the pulling hand).

Pulling the opponents arm to my hip I strike him with an outward back fist strike. In reality the striking surface will vary with the distance between us, it might be the back fist or it might be the forearm, the elbow etc.

In the next post of this series I will be looking at the height of the kicks in the practical application of poomsae so stay tuned :-)

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