Comparing GM SON and GM HWANG's books

Miles

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In another thread, there was a discussion of GM SON Duk Sung's book "Korean Karate The Art of Tae Kwon Do." I mentioned that I purchased this to compare how he performed the Pyung Ahn hyung compared to GM HWANG Kee. The following is my comparison.

Comparisons between GM SON, Duk Sung's Korean Karate-The Art of Tae Kwon Do and GM HWANG, Kee's Soo Bahk Do Tang Soo Do


I have a decent-sized martial art library and these two volumes are fairly easy to obtain. I bought them primarily to compare the hyung/poomsae as both of these GrandMasters teach the Shotokan/Shorin-Ryu series. My edition of GM SON's book is dated 1968, that of GM HWANG is 1995.


My premise was that GM SON's rendition of these poomsae must be closer to the source as he learned them directly from GM LEE, Won Kuk who brought them from Japan. My understanding is that GM HWANG learned them from a 1st generation Chung Do Kwan black belt, GM HYUN, Jong Myun.


GM SON is the principal model for all of the techniques in his book. Conversely, GM HWANG, H.C. is the one of several models for the techniques in his father's book.


GM SON's hyung section of his book starts off with two Kuk Mu hyungs. He states that these are the first two forms taught to white belts and says that each has 20 motions. He says Kuk Mu I and II should take 20 seconds to perform. I've never been taught these forms but GM SON's book is fairly easy to follow and the photos show his transition orset up and final positions of the various blocks and strikes. I did find it hard to distinguish between GM SON's back and horse stances (compare figures 25.09 and 25.36).


The basic hyungs taught in GM HWANG's book are the three Kee Cho hyungs which are identical to the Shotokan Taikyoku series. GM HWANG does not show transition movements in his book, just the final position. GM HWANG's presentation is even easier to follow than is GM SON's as the former uses a columnar flow rather than GM SON's transitional format which alternates from viewing the motions from left to right then from right to left.


Pyung Ahn Cho Dan
GM SON's version of this hyung counts 22 motions and he states that all of the Pyung Ahn hyung begin and end at the same spot. On the fourth motion, he uses a walking stance which he terms a modified front stance. This differs from GM HWANG's rendition as he calls for drawing back the front (i.e. right) foot into what is a right stance in Kukkiwon terminology (compare to Taeguek 5 4th motion).


GM SON's final position when he has performed a block is to have his shoulders squared. This is different from what is demonstrated in GM HWANG's book (compare SON figure 27.18 and HWANG figure 4-789). The seventh motion in the hyung differs substantially-in GM SON's version, he is performing an overhead block with a knifehand (figure 27.20) whereas GM HWANG's model is performing a knifehand block where the knifehand is eye-level and blocking an attack coming from the outside to the inside rather than downward as is the case for GM SON's block.


Another difference is that when GM SON performs a straight punch in front stance, his body is inflected forward whereas GM HWANG's model has pulled his body back (compare figures 27.29 in GM SON's book to figure 4-797 in GM HWANG's book).


The final series of motions are also different. GM SON performs consecutive middle section knifehand blocks in a back stance. The text of the book says these are perfomed along the same line but the drawing shows that the second block is actually on a 45 degree angle off of the original line. GM HWANG's model performs a much shorter back stance and the front leg's heel is not touching the ground (see figure 4-806 and compare to GM SON's figure 27.39). GM HWANG calls for these final blocks to be lower section knife hand blocks.


Pyung Ahn Ed Dan
GM SON's performance starts off with simultaneous high and middle section blocks but his right high section block ends below his head and his arm is horizontal (figure 28.05). His left middle section block faces forward slightly. In GM HWANG's son's performance, his high section block is clearly over his head and his left middle section block has his fist fully facing forward. GM SON's back stance is much wider than that of GM HWANG, H.C. (whose heel is elevated). GM SON's non-punching hand position in the final movement of that first combination is on his hip whereas GM HWANG, H.C's hand is at his floating ribs. Also, the final foot position for GM SON in that horse stance is with his feet facing outward on 45 degree angles versus GM HWANG, H.C's feet which are horizontal to each other (see SON's figure 28.12 and compare to HWANG figure 4-819.)


GM SON's set up for the first side kick has him bringing both fists to his opposite (i.e. left) hip (figure 28.22) but GM HWANG's right fist is in front of his dan jun area (figure 4-824). When GM SON performs his side kick, it is middle-level and is with his foot blade horizontal (figure 28.23. GM HWANG's side kick is clearly upper-level (though the photo depicting the application is middle-level) (figures 4-826 and 4-827). When GM SON follows his kick with a middle-level knife hand strike, his support hand is at solar plexus level (figure 28.27) whereas GM HWANG, H.C.'s support hand is just below his solar plexus (figure 4-828).


Both author's final motions are consistent with how they performed the high level knifehand block in the first hyung with GM SON's blocking an overhead attack and GM HWANG blocking an outside-to-inside attack.


Pyung Ahn Sam Dan
Both authors are consistent in their respective performances of the techniques demonstrated in previous hyung and repeated in this hyung. The first technique in which they diverge is the pulling motion after the spear hand strike. GM SON demonstrates this with his left hand well outside of his body (figures 29.27 and 29.28). GM HWANG's book (figure 4-875) shows the model pulling the left hand and placing it on his own lower back. The foot position is also different at GM HWANG says one must lift the left foot, and pass it through to the right of and behind the right foot.(page 389). GM SON explains that the defender has grabbed the hand of the opponent and pulled him into the side hammer fist strike. (page 138).


GM SON's performance of the inside crescent is much lower than that of GM HWANG's model and is explained that this is a foot stamp to the instep of the opponent (page 138). GM HWANG's model is kicking head level (though the accompanying photo for the application indicates it is blocking a middle section punch (figures 4-889 and 4-890, respectively). Several motions later, there is a hammer fist strike which GM SON demonstrates as striking downward vertically (figure 29.41) but GM HWANG's book show it as a horizontal strike (figure 4-894).


Pyung Ahn Sa Dan
The authors' respective performances of this hyung are very similar.


Pyung Ahn Oh Dan
In GM SON's performance of this hyung, he does the side punch in the second motion to the edge of his body (figure 31.08) but GM HWANG's model shows the punch is well past the body (4-958).
The final forward motion differs in these author's respective renditions. In GM SON's version, he performs the upper section knifehand x-block and then rotates his hands. After that, he does a simple right middle-level punch. GM HWANG's rendition calls for the knife hands block to be lowered to the right hip (figure 4-968) and then the left hand comes out and stays in front of the shoulder while the right leg is lifted in an exaggerated motion before the right middle-level punch (figures 4-970 and 4-972).


The next divergence comes after the jump in which GM SON performs his x-block in an x-stance (figure 31.49) but GM HWANG's model shows him to be in a nearly seated position (4-988).


I got the distinct impression that GM SON's hyungs in his book were photographed while he was performing them. I felt that GM HWANG's book was more staged or edited.


I'd be interested in folks having a stronger background in the performance of these hyungs and their impressions.
 

terryl965

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Miles nice review, what I have notice is the GM's from the earlier days are more true to the original version as to the youngers GM point of views. Poomsae, Tuls, Forms, Kata's are all up to one person interpetation of what they thought they saw. Then add in the fact that people make little changes to fit there style and why of doing certain techs. I personally believe to try and keep it the way you was tought does not mean you cannot make changes but try and remember to honor those that tought you and pass that knowledge along the path of training.
 

dancingalone

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I'd be interested in folks having a stronger background in the performance of these hyungs and their impressions.

To what are you interested in comparing Hwang's and Son's versions to? To one of the many Shorin-ryu versions? To a Shotokan rendition?

Also to what end? Is there a specific qualitative or quantitative evaluation to be reached?

I am merely curious so as to understand the direction of discussion. For what it is worth, I have practiced one or two Okinawan karate versions of the Pinan kata and could discuss them from that perspective.
 
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Miles

Miles

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I was just interested in comparing them to each other. But, you have brought up a fascinating point-perhaps a comparison to Shotokan's versions and then to Shorin-Ryu's versions would bear some fruit.

My reason was just intellectual curiosity. I have done the pyung-ahns which I learned when I taught TKD at a TSDojang. I had learned several of these as heian kata in a Shotokan school but that was many years before and I didn't stay at that dojo too long.
 

dancingalone

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GM SON's hyung section of his book starts off with two Kuk Mu hyungs. He states that these are the first two forms taught to white belts and says that each has 20 motions. He says Kuk Mu I and II should take 20 seconds to perform. I've never been taught these forms but GM SON's book is fairly easy to follow and the photos show his transition orset up and final positions of the various blocks and strikes. I did find it hard to distinguish between GM SON's back and horse stances (compare figures 25.09 and 25.36).


The basic hyungs taught in GM HWANG's book are the three Kee Cho hyungs which are identical to the Shotokan Taikyoku series. GM HWANG does not show transition movements in his book, just the final position. GM HWANG's presentation is even easier to follow than is GM SON's as the former uses a columnar flow rather than GM SON's transitional format which alternates from viewing the motions from left to right then from right to left.

Various Shorin-ryu systems do different things for the introductory kata. Some still teach the Naihanchi forms at white belt level. Most of us know this, but if not, the Naihanchi forms are essentially the same kata as the Tekki series in Shotokan which became known as Chul Gi in some Korean styles. Also, in an interesting case of reverse inheritance, I've seen some less traditional Shorin-ryu dojo adopt the Shotokan Taikyoku kata created by Funakoshi, "Gigo" and call them "kihon" or basic kata. And of course in my Matsubayashi Shorin-ryu days, I studied the Fukyugata series created by Nagamine Sensei in collaboration with Miyagi Sensei from Goju-ryu.

There are two Shorin-ryu kata books readily available in the United States. One is authored by Nagamine himself and the other is written by a student of Ota, Eihachi. Both suffer from the usual problems in describing how to perform patterns through the written word with still pictures, but they are worth a look if anyone is interested in Shorin-ryu, specifically that of the Matsubayashi branch.


Pyung Ahn Cho Dan
GM SON's version of this hyung counts 22 motions and he states that all of the Pyung Ahn hyung begin and end at the same spot. On the fourth motion, he uses a walking stance which he terms a modified front stance. This differs from GM HWANG's rendition as he calls for drawing back the front (i.e. right) foot into what is a right stance in Kukkiwon terminology (compare to Taeguek 5 4th motion).

I only have time at the moment to discuss Pinan Nidan which is the Okinawan karate equivalent of Pyung Ahn Chodan. Funakoshi, Gichin reversed the order of the first two Pinan kata in Shotokan karate and this idiosyncrasy passed along to the Korean systems. Despite the naming difference, in actual practice I also learned Pinan Nidan first when I studied Matsubayashi-ryu Shorin-ryu as it is conceded that Pinan Nidan is easier to learn for the beginner than Pinan Shodan.

At the basic level, Pinan Nidan is meant to teach the beginning student

  • how to change direction
  • how to drive off the rear foot for speed and power
  • how to concentrate available force into one direction and one blow/block at a time
There are key ideas of motion as well.

  • changes along the vertical axis (height) as one shifts from a natural stance into a forward stance into a short forward stance. You KKW guys will recognize that last one as a 'walking stance'. This variation in height demonstrates the idea of using 'settling' or 'expanding' to increase power, something that General Choi took to the extreme with his sine wave motion.
  • hips should be dropped prior to every turn to allow springing into the initial step after the turn
GM SON's final position when he has performed a block is to have his shoulders squared. This is different from what is demonstrated in GM HWANG's book (compare SON figure 27.18 and HWANG figure 4-789).

Matsubayashi blocks are mostly squared up with the hips and the shoulders at the beginner level. This is generally how white belts are taught. The frontal positioning of the torso is not totally so however as the violent snapping action characteristic of Shorin-ryu is considered more important than any final aesthetic ending point. 'Prettier' styles like Shotokan or Shito-ryu karate frequently draw back in hamni (side-facing) position on their blocks to set up the rotation on the follow up strike. In practice, I understand more experienced Matsubayashi people will also lean more towards hamni.

The seventh motion in the hyung differs substantially-in GM SON's version, he is performing an overhead block with a knifehand (figure 27.20) whereas GM HWANG's model is performing a knifehand block where the knifehand is eye-level and blocking an attack coming from the outside to the inside rather than downward as is the case for GM SON's block.

I am not at home to consult my copy of Son's book, and I don't own the Hwang book, so forgive me if I am misunderstanding you. You are referring to the series of three upper blocks in the northern direction? If so, the Matsubayashi version just has three consecutive upper blocks. There is no knife hand block included in this sequence of movement.

Another difference is that when GM SON performs a straight punch in front stance, his body is inflected forward whereas GM HWANG's model has pulled his body back (compare figures 27.29 in GM SON's book to figure 4-797 in GM HWANG's book).

This is another one of those beginner/expert distinctions. Generally, beginners are taught to keep their torso straight and upright with the shoulders over the hips. This helps them isolate each muscle group so they can learn hip rotation, shoulder rotation, and muscular relaxation and tension individually. As a Matsubayashi karate-ka progresses however, you'll probably notice some leaning of the upper torso into the punches, however, especially on the lunge punch or the reverse punch.

The final series of motions are also different. GM SON performs consecutive middle section knifehand blocks in a back stance. The text of the book says these are perfomed along the same line but the drawing shows that the second block is actually on a 45 degree angle off of the original line. GM HWANG's model performs a much shorter back stance and the front leg's heel is not touching the ground (see figure 4-806 and compare to GM SON's figure 27.39). GM HWANG calls for these final blocks to be lower section knife hand blocks.

In Matsubayashi, the ending knife hand 'blocks' at the end of Pinan Nidan are performed in a cat stance to the lower section.
 
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