The Tao of Taekwondo

Notes and reflections from a deeper practice of traditional taekwondo

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Stepping drills

When I'm in Victoria, I take time to train with two people, Michelle Carpenter who is a TKD instructor with Woo Kim Victoria and Doug Gauld, who is a bagua practitioner. Michelle is a fierce competitor as well and puts a heavy emphasis on training for sparring. Last night we worked footwork for almost a full hour, beginning with some calf-killing drills and then step sparring for quickness, timing and integration. The stepping drills included:

  • Bouncing forward and back, and side to side, 30 reps
  • One leg bouncing forward and back and side to side, 15 reps each leg.
  • Split leg bouncing, forward and back and side to side, 30 reps
  • Bouncing in a diamond pattern, both directions, 15 reps of each.
  • Bouncing in a W pattern, 15 reps.
Brutal, but good exercises for strength and endurance. From there we moved to some shadow sparring set moves, stepping forward, shifting and practicing switches. After 10 minutes of that, we moved on to non-contact sparring focused simply on footwork.

I am focussed on the double sensation of being both light and heavy at the same time. Lightness for quick reaction, to take advantage of openings and heavy in terms of having a solid rot from which to deliver power. In the sparring, I was focusing also on distance and targets, which was very much in my mind after reading this post from Colin Wee about elementary mistakes made by black belts.

Tonight I will train a little with my friend Doug Gauld and I'm keen to work on the mechanics of standing, rooting and moving from there to a technique while focusing on not "moving uphill" still a bit of a struggle for me.

Standing and moving feet is a great way to understand the principles of um and yang at play in taekwondo.

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Thursday, September 6, 2007

Leverage in wrist grabs

We worked the 1st Dan wrist grabs yesterday as well. Here are notes:

In grab number one, the covering hand actually has the power. You grab the back of your opponent's outside hand, twist it out and lever the wrist down by forcing the hand up. Then your captured hand comes in to apply downward pressure to finish the move. The wrist lock itself is powerful enough to gain control, done properly, and the finishing technique actually leads to a break.

In grab five, there are actually four steps. The first steps is towards the attacker with the right foot as you "draw your sword" (retunr you captured hand through your tanjun). The second step is a backward step with the left leg that brings your opponent spinning around to your left. Then you step forward with the right leg to redirect, while at the same time grabbing the opponent's elbow with your left hand. The final step is a backward step with the left leg to complete the redirection.


Working on Koryo

Koryo is a great poomsae. It marks a real break from the taegeuk series, adopts a new shape and introduces a whole bunch of new moves including the double back leg side kick, crescent hand strikes to the throat, knee breaks, twin outer blocks, and a spearhand groin strike, grab and tear that is devastating to look at. There is much more self-defense in Koryo than in the taegeuk patterns, reflecting its older lineage and pre-WTF origins.

Yesterday we worked on the opening moves of Koryo, breaking down the first sequence of a double knife hand lock, a double side kick followed by a knife hand strike and a punch. The tricky part of this sequence is keeping balanced during the transition between stances. You move from a back stance to a rear leg side kick, which necessitates the rear leg coming across the centre line and then returning it to the other side of the centre line to rest in a front stance. To execute it well, you need to keep a straight vertical line even as you show the rear leg side kick coming all the way around. Picture spinning on your support leg, stay upright and practice the sequence slowly. Control is the essence. If you were delivering these techniques in combat, a loss of balance would be devastating.

I am working with one application for these techniques that has the opponent grabbing my blocking hand in the double knife hand strike. I go with that energy, turn to deliver a side kick to his shin and then to his ribs under his arm. Then, as he is reeling, drop into the solid front stance and deliver a knife hand strike to his face and a finishing punch to his solar plexus, now that the original hand is free. Then, you cover up with a back stance and an inner block to protect yourself from any follow up.