The Tao of Taekwondo

Notes and reflections from a deeper practice of traditional taekwondo

Friday, August 8, 2008


In Kumgang, the diamond block is executed in a one legged crane stance. In this stance, you experience presence or you fall.

Balance is simply having all of your thoughts and every atom of your body aligned in this present moment. If you are anticipating with your mind, or leaning with your body, you will topple over.

Often in the dojang I see people going through patterns without thinking. When Master Kook is calling out the moves we often fall into a rhythm and fail to respond to his calls for the next move. If you are unconscious in practice you will sometimes fall forward or move to the next move without waiting for the call.

A good practice is to simply practice being still in your form. When you have completed the move, rest completely, quietly and ready for what happens next. Don't assume the rhythm will continue.

This is good training for keeping balance and keeping one's wits. Practice consciously.


Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Two serious goals

What I have discovered since receiving my 1st Dan is that I have been able to find a boatload of intrinsic motivation for my practice, but I have alos noticed that I have been missing external targets. It feels right now like an external focus will help to give me deeper motivation to focus my training.

So after thinking about it, there are two specific goals I want to train for. The first is to practice the core curriculum required for promotion to second Dan. I want to have this under my belt so to speak by June which is when one of my training partners will be standing for promotion.
I have not been invited to test then, but I want to use his test as a benchmark to look at my own progress. This will require focusing on conditioning, curriculum, theory and practice. My goal is to be ready to test for second Dan in June, regardless of whether or not I am invited to do so.

The second goal, and one which I have been invited to work towards, is achieving a refereeing certification for poomsae competition. This is a rather more modest goal, but it requires taking a course and refining my eye and practice of the Tae Geuk series. Last night I began this process in teaching orange belts Tae Geuk Sam Jang by practicing just the upper body portions of the poomsae and just the lower portions, seperately.

So two goals to track here and to plan around.

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Thursday, September 6, 2007

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.


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Form falls apart

On the subject of for some reason, my form was falling apart. Left leg roundhouse kicks were weak, and my self-defense sparring was also not too strong. I need to work on this stuff, throw more kicks at the bag and find a way to train one steps without a partner.

I'm working on a creative poomsae, or a revision of my creative poosmsae that I designed for my black belt test for a demonstration on Saturday. More soft forms in it, to contrast with some hard strikes.

Perhaps more um. More um.

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Elements of Taegeuk poomsae

All of the eight Taegeuk poomsae contain the following techniques:

  • Ready stance
  • Traditional fighting stance
  • Front stance
  • Walking stance
  • Back stance
  • Horse riding stance
  • Cross stance
  • Tiger stance

  • Down block
  • Inner block
  • High block
  • Outer block
  • Single knife hand block
  • Double knife hand block (low and middle)
  • High knife hand bock
  • High ridge hand block
  • Palm block
  • Double outer block
  • Scissors block
  • Cross down block
  • Half mountain block

Hand strikes
  • Reverse punch
  • Double punch
  • Knife hand strike
  • Supported spearhand strike
  • Backfist
  • Supported back fist
  • Hammer fist
  • Elbow strike
  • Double upper cut
  • Side punch
  • Upper cut
  • Front kick
  • Side kick
  • Roundhouse kick
  • Knee strike
  • Outside in crescent kick
  • Jumping front kick
These techniques are basic and encoded in the Taegeuk poomsae to train them in combination. Breaking them down this way helps to isolate them so that they can be practiced alone or in combination. This list might also be used to create new forms or to create sequences of techniques for self-defense.