Another kick question

terryl965

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On one side we all know TKD is mainly based on some of the best kicks in the world with that in mind how many kicks does one truely need? I mean seriously we have so many, so much more than alot of arts. Why is that?
 

CDKJudoka

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To give that distinction of it being a separate art from which it was spawned. That and so there is the connection to Taekyon that they founders may or may not have wanted.
 

exile

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On one side we all know TKD is mainly based on some of the best kicks in the world with that in mind how many kicks does one truely need? I mean seriously we have so many, so much more than alot of arts. Why is that?

So far as I can see, for the SD purposes that the MAs seem to have been all about originally, you need relatively few kicks. My own reading of TKD history is that the super-high ones, largely absent during the Kwan era (though some particularly athletic, flexible individuals may have favored them), became the 'signature dish' of TKD as more and more emphasis was put on flashy competitive contests. The same thing has happened in sport karate, btw, so there seems to be some correlation between the increasing visibility of a MA as an athletic performance, on the one hand, and the flashiness of its techniques, on the other, with high, spinning, acrobatic kicks (flying kicks, especially) being about as flashy as you can get. And since that's where the $$ is in TKD... it's pretty inevitable that that's what's going to happen. In Okinawan karate, from what I've seen of it, kicks are much more restricted in number, are lower, and involve much less power and balance skills. Knee strikes are used much more as basic technical elements, rather than kicks proper&#8212;reflecting, I think, the much more close-quarters SD orientation of Okinawan techs. Again, though, everything changes as soon as you get to sport karate, which converges with TKD into a kind of kickboxing. So you have a spectrum of arena-competitive orientation, on the one hand, that seems to match up the spectrum of higher, more complex kicks on the other, fairly well.

Simon O'Neil (SJON)writes in one of his articles that used to be available on his Combat-TKD website that Koreans (and this is also true, I've read elsewhere, for much of aboriginal Siberia and the North American and Greenlandic Arctic) are particularly fond of kicking and leg-wrestling games, and using the leg as a weapon generally. But it's not just Korea: Long Fist Chu'an Fa also seems to have a very, very full repertoire of fancy, full-extension kicks, and this might also hold for other northern CMA styles&#8212;I don't know, but it wouldn't surprise me.
 

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When I was in Okinawa, I got to visit several dojos and instructors. I never saw any high kicks - mostly front kick, roundhouse (turning) kick and a sort-of stomping side kick. The only time I saw any high kicking was after class when some of the high-school age students would seperately practice some jumping and spinning kicks on a floor wave bag. Looked like they were more experimenting with them than actually practicing something from formal class.

Please bear in mind, that I only visited a few of the over 100 dojos in Okinawa. So, there could be high kicks taught somewhere.

I did see on Goju-Ryu instructor in Kin-cho that had the most powerful roundhouse (turning) kick I've seen anywhere. Very much resembled the Thai boxing version of the kick.

R. McLain


So far as I can see, for the SD purposes that the MAs seem to have been all about originally, you need relatively few kicks. My own reading of TKD history is that the super-high ones, largely absent during the Kwan era (though some particularly athletic, flexible individuals may have favored them), became the 'signature dish' of TKD as more and more emphasis was put on flashy competitive contests. The same thing has happened in sport karate, btw, so there seems to be some correlation between the increasing visibility of a MA as an athletic performance, on the one hand, and the flashiness of its techniques, on the other, with high, spinning, acrobatic kicks (flying kicks, especially) being about as flashy as you can get. And since that's where the $$ is in TKD... it's pretty inevitable that that's what's going to happen. In Okinawan karate, from what I've seen of it, kicks are much more restricted in number, are lower, and involve much less power and balance skills. Knee strikes are used much more as basic technical elements, rather than kicks proper&#8212;reflecting, I think, the much more close-quarters SD orientation of Okinawan techs. Again, though, everything changes as soon as you get to sport karate, which converges with TKD into a kind of kickboxing. So you have a spectrum of arena-competitive orientation, on the one hand, that seems to match up the spectrum of higher, more complex kicks on the other, fairly well.

Simon O'Neil (SJON)writes in one of his articles that used to be available on his Combat-TKD website that Koreans (and this is also true, I've read elsewhere, for much of aboriginal Siberia and the North American and Greenlandic Arctic) are particularly fond of kicking and leg-wrestling games, and using the leg as a weapon generally. But it's not just Korea: Long Fist Chu'an Fa also seems to have a very, very full repertoire of fancy, full-extension kicks, and this might also hold for other northern CMA styles&#8212;I don't know, but it wouldn't surprise me.
 

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On one side we all know TKD is mainly based on some of the best kicks in the world with that in mind how many kicks does one truely need? I mean seriously we have so many, so much more than alot of arts. Why is that?
I believe that it is because there was/is a top down driven goal of making taekwondo primarily a kicking art. Look at WTF sparring. One type of punch is allowed and it is rarely scored and only allowed to target the torso. On the other hand, kicks can go to the torso and head and you aren't limited regarding the type of kick. When you are limited on hand techniques but you need to get around an opponent's guard and defensive measures, a good arsenal of kicks is a must have.

Daniel
 
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dancingalone

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In Okinawan karate, from what I've seen of it, kicks are much more restricted in number, are lower, and involve much less power and balance skills. Knee strikes are used much more as basic technical elements, rather than kicks properreflecting, I think, the much more close-quarters SD orientation of Okinawan techs. Again, though, everything changes as soon as you get to sport karate, which converges with TKD into a kind of kickboxing. So you have a spectrum of arena-competitive orientation, on the one hand, that seems to match up the spectrum of higher, more complex kicks on the other, fairly well.

Simon O'Neil (SJON)writes in one of his articles that used to be available on his Combat-TKD website that Koreans (and this is also true, I've read elsewhere, for much of aboriginal Siberia and the North American and Greenlandic Arctic) are particularly fond of kicking and leg-wrestling games, and using the leg as a weapon generally. But it's not just Korea: Long Fist Chu'an Fa also seems to have a very, very full repertoire of fancy, full-extension kicks, and this might also hold for other northern CMA stylesI don't know, but it wouldn't surprise me.


Very true. The front kick is the preferred kick in Okinawan karate. You can see this by the relative absence of any another kick in the forms and formal pairs bunkai practice. That said, a lot of people don't know Okinawan karate has plenty of leg techniques itself. The more understated leg movements like checking, scraping, sweeping, and stomping should be practiced once you reach at least intermediate level. None of these are really taught as a standalone technique as is so often in a line based school like a typical TKD or Shotokan class is. They're regarded as organic movements implied within kata and are practiced in that context.

And yes, 'Northern' CMA styles have a lot of kicking techniques. I studied Fanzi Quan for a number of years, and while Fanzi sacrifices power in the interest of flow compared to Korean kicking styles, it has plenty of obscure kicks in it.
 

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i think that in regards to the question "how many kicks do you need" the answer is "not that many". the problem is, you don't know which ones you will need.

in judo there are far more throws than any individual will ever need. most competitors use about 5 or so. but they use a different five. so i teach my students all the throws that i know & assume they can figure out which ones they are actually going to use. i imagine it's the same thing with kicks. while i seldom use anything other than front, roundhouse, & side kicks, i have seen some people spar & fight very well with cresent kicks, hook kicks, & spinning side kicks.

jf
 

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Very true. The front kick is the preferred kick in Okinawan karate. You can see this by the relative absence of any another kick in the forms and formal pairs bunkai practice. That said, a lot of people don't know Okinawan karate has plenty of leg techniques itself. The more understated leg movements like checking, scraping, sweeping, and stomping should be practiced once you reach at least intermediate level.

That makes a lot of sense. Those kind of techs are perfect for the kind of very CQ applications that I always think of Okinawan styles, with their strong tuite foundation (especial the Naha style, is my impression), as going for in a big way. The grappling component of Okinawan has been stressed in a lot of the work on bunkai and kata-based techs, and those leg techs are right in line with that whole conception of combat.

None of these are really taught as a standalone technique as is so often in a line based school like a typical TKD or Shotokan class is. They're regarded as organic movements implied within kata and are practiced in that context.

Yes, that has the very loud ring of truth. They're components of movement sequences that embody the kind of strategic/tactical mix which kind of sets Okinawan styles off from all the others. My sense is this: in sport karate and Olympic-style TKD, kicks are reified into a whol separate category of actions. And a lot of TKD teaching does that even if we're not talking a huge sport commitment in the particular school. In the Okinawan dojos, on the other hand, kicks would just be a subvariety of leg technique, along with knee strikes and the others you mentioned above. You use them as opportunity permits; you don't set them up as a favored breed apart. They don't anything like the same kind mystique as in the KMAs, particularly TKD.

And yes, 'Northern' CMA styles have a lot of kicking techniques. I studied Fanzi Quan for a number of years, and while Fanzi sacrifices power in the interest of flow compared to Korean kicking styles, it has plenty of obscure kicks in it.

There's a nice thread topic here for someone like XS to start about kicking in the CMAsit's kind of neglected. But something that a lot of people have stressed is that historically, Chinese MAs dominated Korean military thinking going way back (a lot of 'basic' KMA terminology, like subak, are simply transliterations/pronunciations of Chinese MA names), and it would be very unsurprising if northern Chinese styles had some influence on the nearby peninsula we now call Korea.
 

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i think that in regards to the question "how many kicks do you need" the answer is "not that many". the problem is, you don't know which ones you will need.

Exactly right.

Techniques are like weapons in the military. Each one does a different job (or a few different jobs). The problem is that the individual Taekwon-Doin doesn't know what he will be confronted with if he ever needs to defend himself. Sometimes the scenario you find yourself in will be a familiar one from class, sometimes it won't be.

in judo there are far more throws than any individual will ever need. most competitors use about 5 or so. but they use a different five. so i teach my students all the throws that i know & assume they can figure out which ones they are actually going to use. i imagine it's the same thing with kicks. while i seldom use anything other than front, roundhouse, & side kicks, i have seen some people spar & fight very well with cresent kicks, hook kicks, & spinning side kicks.

jf

General Choi said that people will usually fall back on the half dozen or so techniques they favor when sparring. This might be OK for competition, but if you're trying to build an arsenal of techniques that you can use effectively under streeful conditions it would behove you to purposefully try out techniques you don't do particularly well, or that you don't see very often, in free sparring.

I'll never forget the day another black belt was scoring on me repeatedly with a bituro chagi (twisting kick), which "everyone knows" isn't effective for sparring (let alone self defense). He hit me with it three times or so and then I watched him spar his next opponent and do the same thing to them. I decided that was a kick that was going to make an appearance in my sparring repetoire.

You just have to train for contingencies. I'm not saying that a few basic kicks can't cover most jobs; they can. But more techniques that you are able to perform skillfully under stressful conditions the better chance you have to defend yourself if needed.

Pax,

Chris
 

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How many Kicks does TKD need?

Honestly, I dont believe TKD has that many kicks...Front Kick, Side Kick, Round Kick, Back Kick, Axe Kick...they are simply utilized from more angles and in tied combinations of one another, or in altered forms of delivery.

Many forms of Karate (Yoshukai-Kan, Kyokushin Kai, etc.) utilize multiple variations of the above listed kicks as well. They also use plenty of spinning and jumping kicks as well.

Kung Fu is well know to have demographics which incorporate many of the same style "High Flying" and "Acrobatic" maneuvers as Taekwondo.

Feet are simply a wonderful long range tool, that can be altered for close fighing. Like the bodies natural "long gun"
 

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Why so many kicks? Because traditionally kicking has been the favored weapon of Korean fighters, especially as Koreans rediscovered their identity. A glance of different YouTube clips will show that Taekkyon fighters use many of the same kicks as Taekwondo (roundhouse, side kick, jumping, jump spinning etc.). However, I never saw Taekkyon fighters use front kicks. Must be a karate-oriented kick. If you master kicking, you can really use it from just about any angle and distance. I was shown years ago how to use kicking when someone is inches away from you.
Practice many but master one. That one is one you might use one time when your life is on the line.
 

dancingalone

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A glance of different YouTube clips will show that Taekkyon fighters use many of the same kicks as Taekwondo (roundhouse, side kick, jumping, jump spinning etc.). However, I never saw Taekkyon fighters use front kicks. Must be a karate-oriented kick.

You know this already, but I'm mentioning it for the sake of any lurkers...There's plenty of evidence to suggest that tae kyon as seen today is actually a modern invention that actually has taekwondo as an antecedent and not the other way around. Some like to use tae kyon to try to make TKD seem older than it really is. That's both unfortunate and historically inaccurate.

Anyone interested in this old discussion just do a search. It's been discussed at least a few times in the last couple of years.
 

exile

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You know this already, but I'm mentioning it for the sake of any lurkers...There's plenty of evidence to suggest that tae kyon as seen today is actually a modern invention that actually has taekwondo as an antecedent and not the other way around. Some like to use tae kyon to try to make TKD seem older than it really is. That's both unfortunate and historically inaccurate.

Anyone interested in this old discussion just do a search. It's been discussed at least a few times in the last couple of years.

Indeed, YM does know this already, d.a.; he's aware, or should be, since the documentation has been pointed out to him here, here, and about a dozen other times, in excruciating detail, and laid out in concise, comprehensive form in Michael Pederson's brilliant review paper, 'Taekyon', 2001, in Martial Arts of the World: an Encyclop疆dia, ed. by Thomas Greene. As d.a. says, the evidence and documentation has been laid out repeatedly there, going back to the work of Stuart Culin, by an American scholar named Stuart Culin who describes t'aekkyon as a game in which the object is to kick the opponent's leg out from under him or catch the opponent's kick and thrown him to the ground. He goes on to say that the game was also played in Japan' (my emphasis; ethnographies of Siberian and Inuit aboriginal groups report similar kinds of leg-wrestling/kicking/unbalancing games). And that point is underscored by the comment of Lee Yong-bok, who studied Taekyon with SDK and is regarded as his senior student, and who is the Chairman of the Tae Kyon Research Association, in a 1992 interview with Robert Young (cited in Young, Robert W. 1993. The history and development of Tae Kyon. Journal of Asian Martial Arts 2.2, pp. 45-69), that 'Tae kyon has traditionally emphasized stepping and stamping techniques directed at the opponent's lower legs and feet'. The reality then is that by the accounts of the people who actually practiced taekkyon and maintained it in a kind of 'museum' of folk practice through the 20th century, there was essentially no taekkyon activity going on, or being taught, at the time when the Kwan founders came home and started teaching the Japanese karate they had learned in Tokyo and elsewhere and that the leg tactics of that game had nothing at all to do with the combat use of the feet in TKD (a point often echoed by those who have actually seen taekkyon demonstrated, e.g., Dave Beck, who notes here that 'from the examples I've seen most of the techniques are sweeps, reaps, kicks to unbalance, and throat strikes. The techniques differ from those in TKD.' But don't take his word for it; apart from Lee Yong-bok, another Taekyon Research Association member, Chung Kyeong-hwa, informed Robert Young, in a recorded interview in 1990, that he and other `experts deny that taekwondo has incorporated any taekyon techniques but are reluctant to publically say so in Korea because of the negative repurcussion of mud-slinging.' (Young, 1993))

The fact is, of course, that he hasn't paid the least attention to any of the detailed historical evidence and documentationbut then, YM has also expressed the opinion that the derivation of TKD kicking techniques from Taekyon, as an opinion based entirely on contemporary videos of post-revival taekyon practitioners who learned a virtually completely novel kicking-contest activity, is an insight comparable to the discoveries of 'Copernicus, Galileo [and] Einstein'. Reallygo look at the post I've linked to in the context of the thread in which it occurs and you'll see, I am not making this up!! :lfao: :lfao:

And now, getting back to planet Earth, I think that the answer to Terry's question has several different components, which have been alluded to by different posters in this thread already. In other words, it's not a single-factor story. We have the following elements:

  • the affection that Koreans, along with many other northern Asian societies, manifest for footwork/leg athleticism in their sports and games;
  • the increasingly heavy emphasis in TKD, probably more than any other TMA, on the competitive sport development of the art, under considerable pressure and sponsorship from the ROK government; and
  • the ideological nationalism that has led Korean TKDeucrats to deny the richly documented origins of TKD in Japanese martial arts that were commonly trained in by Koreans during the half century plus of the Occupation and studied to Black Belt level and beyond by the Kwan founders under Toyama Kanken, Gichin Funakoshi and others, where the elaboration of kicking techs, in marked contrast as these are to the primarily upper-body strikes and controlling moves of Japanese karate, served to support the historically false claim of a separate origin for TKD.

All of these have been contributory. There are situations in which a single factor may be responsible for a particular outcome, but in this case, I think it was much more a confluence of these three at least, and maybe others that haven't been suggested so far.
 
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rmclain

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I refer to this web link since I can't find a more direct source of this information: http://www.kimsookarate.com/gallery-old-days/song-duk-ki.html

Grandmaster Kim told me that nobody that he saw or heard of in the 50's, 60's, or 70's was practicing Tae Kyun. Grandmaster Kim knew Song Duk-Ki since the late 1950's and would trainwith him occasionally. Song Duk-ki personally told him that he didn't remember much and Tae Kyun was a game or contest. After the early 1980's, there was a spark of interest in reviving Tae Kyun, but very few sources of technique information. So, people started making up or re-inventing techniques for Tae Kyun.

R. McLain
 

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Song Duk Ki had a student, Shin Han Seung, that he taught for many years. I would love to see, if any exist, video clips of Shin Han Seung from years back doing whatever kicking he learned from Song Duk Ki. Remember, by the time the rest of the world caught up with him, Song was an old man, most likely incapable of really showing true Taekkyon kicking at this point. It is not unusual at all for traditional Koeans to downplay how much technique they really know.
Actually, I did see a clip of Shin demonstrating a form he created. I don't know when it was made, although Shin died in the 80's I believe. This form contained front kicks, high kicks, and jumping kicks. I doubt Shin studied Taekwondo, and Koreans of their era were notorious for not sharing their knowlege with just anybody. Korea was not called the Hermit Kingdom for nothing. Bottom line: I have a feeling the Taekkyon of Son and Shin contained more of these techniques than people realize.
 

exile

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I refer to this web link since I can't find a more direct source of this information: http://www.kimsookarate.com/gallery-old-days/song-duk-ki.html

Grandmaster Kim told me that nobody that he saw or heard of in the 50's, 60's, or 70's was practicing Tae Kyun. Grandmaster Kim knew Song Duk-Ki since the late 1950's and would trainwith him occasionally. Song Duk-ki personally told him that he didn't remember much and Tae Kyun was a game or contest. After the early 1980's, there was a spark of interest in reviving Tae Kyun, but very few sources of technique information. So, people started making up or re-inventing techniques for Tae Kyun.

R. McLain

Outstanding info, RM&#8212;you've posted on this before and I meant to credit your earlier posts&#8212;sorry about that, but thanks for bringing this important bit of testimony, from one who (as a personal friend and supporter of Song Duk-ki) really knows, back into the discussion.

I suspect that most of us are inherently skeptical about multi-factor explanations for things in general&#8212;imagine going to your doctor about a weird rash on your arm and being told that, first of all, it turns out you have an allergy to certain medication you've been on that produces that kind of rash sometimes, but also you have a mild skin infection in just that same part of the arm where the allergy is producing the rash. Wouldn't that seem way too strange? We seek economy in our explanations: too many cooinciding factors seems to imply a conspiricacy or massive coincidence that we (mostly correctly) feel uncomfortable with.

But this is one of those times when I really do believe we have to accept that there were several strands that fed the single phenomenon that Terry is asking about in his OP. (And I'm not saying that Taekyon is irrelevant to the story; on the contrary, I think it's very important&#8212;as a symptom, though, not as a causal factor. I think it's a brilliant example of the more general point, that SJON pointed out in that article I mentioned, and in his recent book, that kicking, and leg techniques, are something the Koreans value highly. You might be able to make a case that in the West, we tend to value upper body and especially arm techniques much more (ask a guy which muscles he's like to have hyperdeveloped if he could, and you're much more likely to hear about his biceps rather than calf or thigh muscles, is my guess). It's a cultural thing, and Taekyon is one expression of it&#8212;as is the emphasis on show-off kicking in TKD. In other words, Taekyon and TKD are, historically, two different manifestations of a common factor, more basic than either). In a sense, the prevalence of kicking in TKD reflects a kind of 'perfect storm' of historical and cultural factors that make kicking, and flamboyant kicking at that, the signature dish of the most highly publicized and widely practices Korean martial art/sport.

What does that say to us in the West who do it? It seems to me that if you think of kicks as practical tools in the repertoire, rather than part of the inherent 'identity' of TKD, then the message is, you the individual practitioner are, in the end, the one who gets to decide how much and what kind of kicking to incorporate in your own form of TKD. The 'palette' of TKD is historically rich; it's been fed by many different sources. Our own cultural emphases are not the same as the Koreans', and our own version of TKD, even built on the same technical platform, needn't be the same as theirs. It all depends what you want. If you want to do KKW/WTF TKD and focus on Olympic style sparring, then absolutely, your kicking practice needs to follow the Korean model because that's how that activity is structured. If it's focused on fitness, or SD, or anything else... then maybe you want to use a different mix of the elements. In the end, I'm convinced, style considerations are less important than individual ones: personal preferences, interests, even body mechanics. We all wind up in the end creating our own one-person style of TKD, based on its technical fundamentals, the things that really set it apart from other MAs (to the extent that any two MAs are really that far apart)and that holds for any other martial art and martial artist, I believe.

Which is one of the nice things about the MAs, eh?
 
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Tez3

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This is not a well thought out, deep theory just that as I'm short (5' 4'') who constantly spars with people taller I find kicking is better than punching so as Asian people generally shared my build they too would prefer kicking? It tends to work better whatever the height of your opponent. Just a thought.
 

bluekey88

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This is not a well thought out, deep theory just that as I'm short (5' 4'') who constantly spars with people taller I find kicking is better than punching so as Asian people generally shared my build they too would prefer kicking? It tends to work better whatever the height of your opponent. Just a thought.

That's an interestign point Tez. Can you elaborate a bit on your experience punching vs kicking?

Peace,
Erik
 

Tez3

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That's an interestign point Tez. Can you elaborate a bit on your experience punching vs kicking?

Peace,
Erik


Well, I was told when I first started martial arts that my legs were always going to be longer than my opponents arms so to use my kicks to keep them from punching me, if they couldn't get near they couldn't connect. My legs, probably as many womens are, tend also to be stronger than my arms. I certainly can kick harder than I can straight punch though backfists are pretty good.
It's not a scientific thing of course I just find it better to keep kicking people away from me until I want to take them down.
 

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Having a wide variety of kicks allows for everyone to develop a handful of kicks based on their needs, ability, and capability.

A kick that works for me may work for a few, but not for many others. One that works for you may not work for me. And then the situation can vary the response that we need.
 
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