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DWx
KF Sensei
KF Sensei

Joined: 17 Jan 2007
Posts: 6148
Location: UK
Styles: Tae Kwon Do & Yang family Tai Chi

PostPosted: Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:30 am    Post subject: The Secrets to Good Taekwon-Do! Reply with quote

In ITF Taekwon-Do, Gen. Choi set out 9 training secrets which students should bear in mind in order to practice good Taekwon-Do. I never had the opportunity to train with the general myself but am told by my instructor and others who did have the fortune to train with him, that at each seminar he would ask students what the training secrets were because he believed them to be so important. If students train with these principles in mind, they will develop good Taekwon-Do through understanding the techniques and being able to utilize them effectively.

The 9 Training Secrets:

1. To study the theory of power thoroughly.

In order to generate powerful techniques, it is necessary to first know how power is generated. Every Taekwon-Do student learns a basic scientific rational of how power is generated, including Newton's laws of motion, and it is essential to have at least a basic grasp on what these fundamental laws are and what they mean in order to produce a powerful technique.

In particular it is Newton's 2nd law which gives us the equation "force = mass x acceleration" and all martial artists should be familiar with it as it tells us that to generate force you have to have both mass and acceleration. So for good technique, and good Taekwon-Do, you have to accelerate your strike as fast as possible whilst being able to drive as much mass as you can behind it. Utilizing your mass effectively comes through good technique. With that in mind, given that with proper technique the amount of mass is constant, it is speed which becomes the dependant variable. For more force, you need more speed. Thus training speed is not only important for being faster than your opponent, it is also necessary to produce a powerful strike.

Taekwon-Do also considers a number of other components to be part of the theory of power. Although I'm not going to mention them all here, one certainly worth talking about is the concept of reaction force. Derived from Newton's 3rd law, reaction force tells us how two bodies exert force on one another. Since, when one body acts on another (such as a fist hitting a target), the force that is exerted has an equal and opposite reaction, any force you send into a target will be returned through your fist and up your arm. You have to condition yourself well to be able to withstand the force of the strike and ensure that you can take as much as you are dealing out. Reaction force also applies to your opponent too. If your opponent steps into your fist as you punch them, their own force is returned, plus the force of your punch. By understanding these principles your Taekwon-Do will only be stronger.

This really is the most important secret to bear in mind because the other eight are really just ways of employing principles of mechanics to ensure that each and every blow is as powerful as possible.

2. To understand the purpose and method of each movement clearly.

Without understanding what the movement is, or how to do the movement, you've wasted your time even attempting it. To really learn a technique you need to know what it is used for and how you go about executing it. The method of the movement really goes back to fundamental techniques and the first secret; have you understood the principles of the style and do you know how to generate power? If you've been taught correctly, the method of doing the technique should be the easy bit: You just have to practice it until the method becomes ingrained. The purpose part is harder. Do you understand the application of the movement? When would you use it and where? Once you understand both of those components, then you have fully learnt the technique.

3. To bring the action of eyes, hands, feet and breath into one single coordinated action.

Coordination plays a large part in any physical endeavor. In Taekwon-Do (and all other martial arts), you have to be able to coordinate your arms and legs so that you can make your body do as you intended. For example, to kick where you wanted to and to block in the right place. This secret also refers to how we actually do the techniques in Taekwon-Do. Everything - the stance, the attack/defense and the breath must start and finish together. From the moment you start moving to the moment where you make contact, everything must be coordinated and under control.

4. To choose the appropriate attacking tool for each vital spot.

For effective Taekwon-Do you need to be able to pick the right tool for the right job. Knowledge of applications and about which tools go with targets is essential. Attacking someone's abdomen with a finger is clearly not going to work well but for an eye gouge it would be perfect. Learn this through studying the forms and through sparring and application work. In reality, this is just an extension of the second secret because if you understand both the method and purpose of each movement you learn, then it will be easy to select the appropriate tool for the target you want to attack.

5. To become familiar with the correct angle and distance for attack and defense.

Being able to execute the techniques and knowing the applications is only part of it, knowing the correct angle and distance for each is necessary otherwise the technique will be wasted. To develop this you need to do drill work and spar! A good Taekwon-Do fighter will not waste a single technique when attacking and will know exactly what and how he needs to block. Familiarity with ranges and angles will also mean that you know which of your opponents attacks will reach and which won't so it will mean it may not be necessary for you to block every single incoming attack. Knowing that an opponent couldn't possibly reach with a side kick from where he is or that from that range she can only realistically use close range attacks will only booster your defense.

6. Keep both the arms and legs bent slightly while movement is in motion.

What this secret means is that whilst moving between stances and between each movement, the arms and legs, and indeed your whole body, should be relaxed. To accelerate each technique you need to be relaxed otherwise you will just work against yourself. Tense on impact but otherwise relax your whole body so those muscles that extend your kicking leg aren't fighting those that pull it in the opposite direction. By relaxing you also conserve strength as one of the fastest ways to fatigue yourself is to constantly be tense.

7. All movements must begin with a backward motion with very few exceptions. However, once the movement is in motion it should not be stopped before reaching the target.

Not many of us can successfully deliver a one inch punch. In fact, with many close range attacks it is hard to develop power. Again this relates back to the first secret and having an understanding of mechanics. Power is generated through both mass and acceleration and acceleration is the rate of change of velocity (or speed) over time. With techniques like the one inch punch there isn't enough distance to accelerate sufficiently before making impact. A backwards motion isn't necessarily a big movement, in most cases you only have to pull back slightly before throwing the technique but it is necessary. Backwards motion also serves to wind up the hips so that a hip twist can be utilized.

Once in motion, the technique cannot be stopped until it makes impact and the second part of this secret refers to this. If it is stopped and then started again, the first part of the movement was wasted as the acceleration and force will be lost and will not contribute to the strike and you now have even less distance to accelerate unless you pull back again.

8. To create a sine wave during the movement by utilizing the knee spring properly.

This one is hard to explain without having already explained what sine wave is. Basically, in Taekwon-Do we want to use a knee spring to aid in shifting in and between stances and to help facilitate hip snap. Too much knee spring is bad, as is too little knee spring. It also has to be used in the right way and timed correctly with the strike or block.

9. To exhale briefly at the moment of each blow excepting a connecting motion.

Breathing is an integral part of the techniques in Taekwon-Do. Not only does proper breathing ensure that your body gets enough oxygen and that you don't fatigue prematurely, it also helps to develop a more powerful technique. On impact (whether block or attack), the student should sharply exhale and tense their core. A sort of kiai but with no sound. This primarily ensures two things. Firstly, by tensing the core and by expelling all the air, the body can brace itself for impact. The tensed core muscles are better prepared to absorb shock and through expelling the air from the lungs you protect against having "the wind knocked out" of you. Secondly, by tensing and gripping the core muscles you lock your torso at the end of the hip snap motion and transfer the rotation into linear motion and into your punch.

It is worth noting that the "connecting motion" is one of the five types of motion in Taekwon-Do, the others being: normal, fast, slow and continuous motion. Again, without fully explaining sine wave, it is difficult to explain the types of motion. Essentially though, connecting motion is where one movement leads directly into the next and only one sine wave and one breath occurs for the sequence hence it being the only exception to this secret. Connecting motion is usually done on a block-attack combination such as the hooking block-punch combination in pattern Yul Gok.

These "secrets" aren't really all that secret at all. Every student will be aware of them and in many schools it is a grading requirement to be able to recite them and explain what they mean. However learning them and demonstrating them through each and every technique is the secret to good Taekwon-Do!
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Patrick
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PostPosted: Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for the submission, Danielle.

Patrick
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sensei8
KF Sensei
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Joined: 23 Feb 2008
Posts: 14405
Location: Houston, TX
Styles: Shindokan Saitou-ryu [Shuri-te/Okinawa-te based]

PostPosted: Wed Mar 27, 2013 5:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Danielle,

WOW...WOW...WOW...and right on the money. Well written, well thought out, and very through across the board. You hit each point on all cylinders. And in that, these points are pretty close to karate. Shows just how much the MA is related to one another in methodologies as well as ideologies.

Thank you for it...I enjoyed it a lot!!


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Harkon72
Black Belt
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Joined: 27 Aug 2012
Posts: 1875
Location: Wales
Styles: Okinawan Karate, Aikido, Ninpo.

PostPosted: Wed Mar 27, 2013 5:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for the Article, very interesting. The movement being a continuous focused wave of motion is common with many styles; I think too that Korean Karate and Okinawan Karatedo have a great deal in common. A lot does differ, but that is to be expected. My Karate is different from my peers the same as a different petal on the same flower.
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bushido_man96
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Joined: 31 Mar 2006
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Location: Hays, KS
Styles: Taekwondo, Combat Hapkido, Aikido, GRACIE

PostPosted: Thu Mar 28, 2013 10:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for sharing this article, Danielle. I really enjoy reading up on the General's teaching points, and the overall history of the development of TKD, whether they are points I agree with or not. The more I read about sine wave at times, the more confused I become, as we don't really do it. But, there are some similarities I see in breathing and motion, even without the sine wave to separate the movements in our TKD.

Sometimes, I feel like a kind of TKD outsider, because our organization doesn't use any kind of sine wave, and our forms also have some minor differences from what I see in books or on videos. Articles like yours really help to link it back to where it came from. Thanks again! Very well written.
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xo-karate
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Joined: 14 Oct 2010
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 28, 2013 11:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, have to read it second time - and again...
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Wastelander
KF Sensei
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Joined: 18 Oct 2010
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Location: Phoenix, AZ
Styles: Shorin-Ryu, Shuri-Ryu, Judo, KishimotoDi

PostPosted: Fri Mar 29, 2013 6:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nicely done--thank you for sharing!
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DWx
KF Sensei
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Joined: 17 Jan 2007
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Styles: Tae Kwon Do & Yang family Tai Chi

PostPosted: Sun Apr 07, 2013 1:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you guys I do think there is a lot of crossover between TKD and Karate. After all, TKD is descended from Karate.

bushido_man96 wrote:
Thanks for sharing this article, Danielle. I really enjoy reading up on the General's teaching points, and the overall history of the development of TKD, whether they are points I agree with or not. The more I read about sine wave at times, the more confused I become, as we don't really do it. But, there are some similarities I see in breathing and motion, even without the sine wave to separate the movements in our TKD.

Sometimes, I feel like a kind of TKD outsider, because our organization doesn't use any kind of sine wave, and our forms also have some minor differences from what I see in books or on videos. Articles like yours really help to link it back to where it came from. Thanks again! Very well written.

I wouldn't call you a TKD outsider Brian. You know a lot about TKD and martial arts in general and discussions with you have definitely helped broaden my knowledge and views. TBH even within the style I do often people don't understand stuff anyway.
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JusticeZero
Black Belt
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Joined: 02 Apr 2005
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Styles: Capoeira Angola

PostPosted: Sun Apr 07, 2013 9:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Is it intended that kicks should connect with the hips forward of the base foot, and the base leg straight? This would create a straight and rigid structure that is closer to a triangle entering into the target. However, a straight base leg isn't much use for standard mobility; all you really can do with is is fall, which is fine but will have properties of a circle, with the force of the attack extending outward tangentially from the base foot. Retracting the leg is probably going to want the base leg to be retracted, in order not to force the pullback of the weight of the trunk to climb back up the slope. As these are all trigonometric sort've things with circles, the term "sine wave" might come into play there somewhere or other.
Of course, not being a TKD person I could be misunderstanding.
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bushido_man96
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Styles: Taekwondo, Combat Hapkido, Aikido, GRACIE

PostPosted: Mon Apr 08, 2013 8:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

DWx wrote:
Thank you guys I do think there is a lot of crossover between TKD and Karate. After all, TKD is descended from Karate.

bushido_man96 wrote:
Thanks for sharing this article, Danielle. I really enjoy reading up on the General's teaching points, and the overall history of the development of TKD, whether they are points I agree with or not. The more I read about sine wave at times, the more confused I become, as we don't really do it. But, there are some similarities I see in breathing and motion, even without the sine wave to separate the movements in our TKD.

Sometimes, I feel like a kind of TKD outsider, because our organization doesn't use any kind of sine wave, and our forms also have some minor differences from what I see in books or on videos. Articles like yours really help to link it back to where it came from. Thanks again! Very well written.

I wouldn't call you a TKD outsider Brian. You know a lot about TKD and martial arts in general and discussions with you have definitely helped broaden my knowledge and views. TBH even within the style I do often people don't understand stuff anyway.


Thanks, Danielle.

JusticeZero: usually, the base leg is supposed to be slightly bent. Also, usually, the base leg is directly under the hips for balance, except on some kicks where the stylist is trying to achieve a lunge to close some distance. I hope that helps.
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