Limited Emphasis on Forms/Poomse

stoneheart

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I am not trying to be stubborn here, but why not just practice the techniques that are supposedly "hidden" within the forms. The basic argument I have heard for a long time supporting forms as integral to being proficient in TKD is that somehow hidden within them are practical techniques/sparring techniques/vital techniques.

There are a number of answers for your question. All of them can be true or none of them or some of them. Take your pick because ultimately your TKD is exactly that: your own.

1) You practice forms because many teachers only know the form. They do not know the applications and therefore they can't teach them. Nonetheless, the knowledge exists there in the form and can be extracted when the student is ready to start looking for them. Bunkai analysis is a learning tool in of itself as you learn to look for principles of execution rather than just memorizing rote techniques.

2) You practice forms because you are studying a martial ART. If your only concern is fighting prowess, I daresay there are shorter steps to that than TKD or karate. Forms are among the biggest artistic elements in martial arts. As evidence, Shosin Nagamine regularly taught and practiced Okinawan folk dance in addition to karate, since he felt the two had synergy to each other. It's been said that if you're not doing kata, you're not doing karate. I agree with that statement.

3) You practice forms because they are an awesome tool for training by yourself with no equipment. What if Tom Hanks from "Castaway" had been a martial artist? You can bet he'd be working his patterns from beginning to end over and over again.

4) You practice forms for the self-improvement aspects. Kata has been described as moving meditation by many in a variety of books and articles, some of which you can even read via Google. I buy it. I don't practice kata and karate just for self-defense reasons.
 

exile

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There are a number of answers for your question. All of them can be true or none of them or some of them. Take your pick because ultimately your TKD is exactly that: your own.

1) You practice forms because many teachers only know the form. They do not know the applications and therefore they can't teach them. Nonetheless, the knowledge exists there in the form and can be extracted when the student is ready to start looking for them. Bunkai analysis is a learning tool in of itself as you learn to look for principles of execution rather than just memorizing rote techniques.

Well said, stoneheartvery nice point!
 
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I

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There are a number of answers for your question. All of them can be true or none of them or some of them. Take your pick because ultimately your TKD is exactly that: your own....

I have to say this is a very good way of seeing things. I have read many good perspectives on poomse/forms during this tread. I think I will re-examine the usefulness of forms practice. While not immediately functional as a sparring tool, there is a good deal that can be learned from them.

Particularly, I like Stoneheart's comment: "You practice forms for the self-improvement aspects. [Not] just for self-defense reasons." Good point.
 

foot2face

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It might be different in your school, but we practice various techniques that involve poking out eyes and ripping groins, throats, and faces with claw strikes. Vital points and soft tissue targets are taught from day one. Many throws and takedowns are practiced also. For obvious safety reasons none of those techniques can be performed when sparring at full speed.

I suppose you probably just mean the usual list of kicks and punches and evading movements when you talk about sparring = fighting. If that's the case, I agree that you want to train your sparring as intensely as possible.

But I don't equate sparring with fighting. For me, they're not the same at all. For me sparring is more about practicing distance (Maai) and tai sabaki and countering.

It was not different in my school. You described precisely the type of techniques I was speaking of in my earlier replies. Techniques that are contained in the forms and not hidden. However, non of these techniques are fight enders. You may poke a man in the eye or rip at his groin but as long as he maintains consciousness he maintains the ability to cause you harm. The only way to decisively end the altercation is to strike him in the head with a powerful blow, hence the high kicks in TKD. For example, someone can grab me wrapping his arms around my body. In this position I can not strike with enough force to knock him unconscious but I can push him a way with an eye gouge, like the one contained in Koryo form. This accomplishes two things; first, it creates space by combining his recoil reflex from being poked in the eye with my push, now I have enough room to launch a powerful strike; second, it buys me time to land a powerful strike by reducing his reaction time due to impaired vision.

As far as sparring goes, the ultimate goal in my school was to simulate a real fight. This ment anything goes, within reason, basically a fight between freinds.
 

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There are a number of answers for your question. All of them can be true or none of them or some of them. Take your pick because ultimately your TKD is exactly that: your own.

1) You practice forms because many teachers only know the form. They do not know the applications and therefore they can't teach them. Nonetheless, the knowledge exists there in the form and can be extracted when the student is ready to start looking for them. Bunkai analysis is a learning tool in of itself as you learn to look for principles of execution rather than just memorizing rote techniques.

2) You practice forms because you are studying a martial ART. If your only concern is fighting prowess, I daresay there are shorter steps to that than TKD or karate. Forms are among the biggest artistic elements in martial arts. As evidence, Shosin Nagamine regularly taught and practiced Okinawan folk dance in addition to karate, since he felt the two had synergy to each other. It's been said that if you're not doing kata, you're not doing karate. I agree with that statement.

3) You practice forms because they are an awesome tool for training by yourself with no equipment. What if Tom Hanks from "Castaway" had been a martial artist? You can bet he'd be working his patterns from beginning to end over and over again.

4) You practice forms for the self-improvement aspects. Kata has been described as moving meditation by many in a variety of books and articles, some of which you can even read via Google. I buy it. I don't practice kata and karate just for self-defense reasons.

Great post - thanks for sharing your viewpoint. Number 3 is, IMHO, the most valid reason; unlike many other physical activities, forms can be practiced at any time, in nearly any location (modification can be made for smaller spaces), with no special equipment or clothing needed.
 

stoneheart

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It was not different in my school. You described precisely the type of techniques I was speaking of in my earlier replies. Techniques that are contained in the forms and not hidden. However, non of these techniques are fight enders. You may poke a man in the eye or rip at his groin but as long as he maintains consciousness he maintains the ability to cause you harm. The only way to decisively end the altercation is to strike him in the head with a powerful blow, hence the high kicks in TKD. For example, someone can grab me wrapping his arms around my body. In this position I can not strike with enough force to knock him unconscious but I can push him a way with an eye gouge, like the one contained in Koryo form. This accomplishes two things; first, it creates space by combining his recoil reflex from being poked in the eye with my push, now I have enough room to launch a powerful strike; second, it buys me time to land a powerful strike by reducing his reaction time due to impaired vision.

As far as sparring goes, the ultimate goal in my school was to simulate a real fight. This ment anything goes, within reason, basically a fight between freinds.

Kick2face, thank you for clarifying your viewpoint. In my studies, we do lots of hand conditioning work through makiwara, rice/bean/rubber tube buckets, as well as old-fashioned tiger pushups. For us, these strikes combined with tuite ARE the fight-enders rather than the high kick you favor in your example. I can see why we have differing interpretations on sparring.

Good luck to you!
 

exile

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The only way to decisively end the altercation is to strike him in the head with a powerful blow, hence the high kicks in TKD. For example, someone can grab me wrapping his arms around my body.

This I don't see. High kicks were never part of the Okinawan karate that the Kwan founders brought home in diluted form from Japan and seem to have diluted still further (apart from the military form that Gen. Choi had taught to the Korean troops in the Korean and Vietnam wars, although there are many who claim that the source of that combat system was really Tai Hi Nam... but that's a different topic altogether!) The traditional Okinawan kata, in its Shotokan variants, contain virtually no high kicks at all. And this was also true for the kicks in Kwan-era TKD and TSD. The `cranking up' of lower or mid-body kicks (the latter typically administered to an already controlled assailant) was strictly the result of tournament scoring systems which rewarded high kicks precisely because these are the most difficult to land and the riskiest to attempt. Almost every document the British Combat Association group has put out on kickingand this is advice from `celebrated' bouncers, club doormen and crowd control/security types who have often been involved in hundreds of the nastiest altercations possibleis, forget the high kicks if you want to be able to go on eating solid food. Just a single example from one of the great masters of modern combat-realistic karate, Iain Abernethy:

In the modern dojo, practically every technique has a kick within it somewhere. If you compare these with the kata you will note that kicks are nowhere nearly as widely used. The simple reason for this is that the techniques of the kata are designed for real combat and so the use and emphasis on kicking is based upon those strategies.

Another thing to be aware of with regards to kicking is that it is always best to kick low, ideally lower than the level of the fingertips when the arms are down by the side. Low kicks arer harder to counter, they are quicker and the chances of you being unbalanced are greatly reduced. In recent times, may of the kicks within the katas have been elevated, presumably for visual effect. However, it is vital to understand that originally all the kicks throughout the kata were low.... certainly there are not head height kicks within the katas, as to execute such a kick in a real situation is suicidal! There are kicks directed to the head, but in these instances the opponent has been positioned so that they are on the ground or on their knees, hence the kick is still low.

(Bunkai-Jutsu: the Practical Applications of Karate Kata, p. 86; my emphasis). This is a man you need to listen to; he's one of the main `rediscoverers' of the combat use of kata movements, and his group on realistic combat applications of karateprobably the largest and most advanced such group in the worldtrain live, and realistically, to a degree that most of us would just as soon stay away from. To finish off a controlled attacker, a hard hammer-fist or knife-hand to the throat or carotid sinus or temple is way more practical and effective than attempting a kick that requires distances from the attacker you're never going to be allowed in a real streetfight.

As far as sparring goes, the ultimate goal in my school was to simulate a real fight. This ment anything goes, within reason, basically a fight between freinds.

This is I think 100% correct. But that's how Abernethy's group's combat-based sparring method worksand as he's written, he's had bones broken in the course of this kind of ultra-realistic sparring, even though protective gear was usedand the watchworkd from people like him is, do not, at any time, attempt a high kick against an untrained, violent assailant. You'll live to regret it... on the best outcome.
 

DArnold

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This I don't see. High kicks were never part of the Okinawan karate that the Kwan founders brought home in diluted form from Japan and seem to have diluted still further (apart from the military form that Gen. Choi had taught to the Korean troops in the Korean and Vietnam wars, although there are many who claim that the source of that combat system was really Tai Hi Nam... but that's a different topic altogether!) The traditional Okinawan kata, in its Shotokan variants, contain virtually no high kicks at all. And this was also true for the kicks in Kwan-era TKD and TSD. The `cranking up' of lower or mid-body kicks (the latter typically administered to an already controlled assailant) was strictly the result of tournament scoring systems which rewarded high kicks precisely because these are the most difficult to land and the riskiest to attempt. Almost every document the British Combat Association group has put out on kickingand this is advice from `celebrated' bouncers, club doormen and crowd control/security types who have often been involved in hundreds of the nastiest altercations possibleis, forget the high kicks if you want to be able to go on eating solid food. Just a single example from one of the great masters of modern combat-realistic karate, Iain Abernethy:In the modern dojo, practically every technique has a kick within it somewhere. If you compare these with the kata you will note that kicks are nowhere nearly as widely used. The simple reason for this is that the techniques of the kata are designed for real combat and so the use and emphasis on kicking is based upon those strategies.

Another thing to be aware of with regards to kicking is that it is always best to kick low, ideally lower than the level of the fingertips when the arms are down by the side. Low kicks arer harder to counter, they are quicker and the chances of you being unbalanced are greatly reduced. In recent times, may of the kicks within the katas have been elevated, presumably for visual effect. However, it is vital to understand that originally all the kicks throughout the kata were low.... certainly there are not head height kicks within the katas, as to execute such a kick in a real situation is suicidal! There are kicks directed to the head, but in these instances the opponent has been positioned so that they are on the ground or on their knees, hence the kick is still low.

(Bunkai-Jutsu: the Practical Applications of Karate Kata, p. 86; my emphasis). This is a man you need to listen to; he's one of the main `rediscoverers' of the combat use of kata movements, and his group on realistic combat applications of karateprobably the largest and most advanced such group in the worldtrain live, and realistically, to a degree that most of us would just as soon stay away from. To finish off a controlled attacker, a hard hammer-fist or knife-hand to the throat or carotid sinus or temple is way more practical and effective than attempting a kick that requires distances from the attacker you're never going to be allowed in a real streetfight.



This is I think 100% correct. But that's how Abernethy's group's combat-based sparring method worksand as he's written, he's had bones broken in the course of this kind of ultra-realistic sparring, even though protective gear was usedand the watchworkd from people like him is, do not, at any time, attempt a high kick against an untrained, violent assailant. You'll live to regret it... on the best outcome.

These statements are roughly 25% correct.
A) For those wishing to practice old style Kata's this is correct as they do not understand or know how to train high kicks.
B) Do you wish to be a bouncer or a Martial Artist?

Your theory leaves out one minor part...

It's called focus.

As far as your techniques above, there is no silver bullet. These are just sales attempts. If you want to claime research then you could say P.P.C.T. as these are based on affectiveness, medical, and legal research. Every salesperson in every style has them.

I don't need to fold a heavey bag if I kick you in the proper spot: temple, sternum, point of chin... you'll go down.

And, before you say well, it's harder to kick a spot, that is because these styles that you mentiion do not train, or know how to train high kicks. Also, If you miss your focal point against a violent assailant with a hand technique, the results would be the same...
You'll live to regret it.

It seems like the negatives are from those who wish to be fighters and not martial artists.

If you dont teach patterns how do you teach such things as: trajectory, reactionary force, theory of power, stances, balence, technique, timeing...

And for those of you who say patterns don't look like fighting. Well, neither does line drills, heavy bag training, breaking, shadow boxing, conditioning?
Is it supposed to?

Be vary careful when you start discarding things based on your own limited perception. You may be cutting off your nose to spite your face!


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foot2face

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I disagree with many of your comments above, Exile, but of course I do, because the conversation has become one of style rather than the usefulness of forms; and in a discussion about style, no one agrees! Remember what you consider diluting others call refining, just ask BJJ practitioners.

I will say this however, my master was a military combat instructor between the Korean and Vietnam wars and he taught me to kick to the head. You can take the advise of bouncers and doormen who believe head kicks are "suicidal," but I prefer to listen to the soldiers and LEOs who were senior BBs at my dojang. I can also speak to my own experiences were head kick have served me very well.
 

exile

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These statements are roughly 25% correct.
A) For those wishing to practice old style Kata's this is correct as they do not understand or know how to train high kicks.

They don't understand or know how to train high kicks?

High kicks are intrinsically unstable and difficult or impossible to get in at close fighting ranges. That is a fact about high kicks themselves. Somehow you deduce that people who want to base their training on the standard karate kata or their recombinations in KMA forms and recognize the combat impracticality of high kicks don't understand or know how to train high kicks. Would you care to fill in the missing reasoning steps, DA? There are going to have to be an awful lot of them, I'd guess!


B) Do you wish to be a bouncer or a Martial Artist?

This question is a bit of a non sequitur. The issue is whether high kicks are practical for self-defense in real CQ combat. How is my occupational preference relevant to that issue? You question doesn't make much sense to me, I'm afraid. I've no idea what you're getting at here... so let me just observe that (i)Bushi Matsumura and Anko Itosu were two of the greatest MAs of all time, the creators of modern linear karate; (ii) they were not bouncers; (ii) they had, between them, scores of fights; and (iv) they did not include high kicks in their system. I conclude from their example—and from that of Chotoku Kyan, Choki Motobu, Mas Oyama, and several dozen names of eminent karateka I can think of for whom (i)–(iv) apply equally truly—that not using high kicks in your fighting system, and using your art for self-defense in violent encounters, is compatible with being a martial artist and does not entail that one is a bouncer. So I have to say, again, that your question seems unconnected to anything relevant to the discussion.

Your theory leaves out one minor part...

It's called focus.

As far as your techniques above, there is no silver bullet. These are just sales attempts. If you want to claime research then you could say P.P.C.T. as these are based on affectiveness, medical, and legal research. Every salesperson in every style has them.

Sorry, but this again makes no sense to me. It has the feel of words thrown on the screen. What are `[my] techniques above' that you're referring to? Who talked about a silver bullet (I take it you mean something like `magic solution', but for the life of me I can't figure out what you're getting at! :) )

I don't need to fold a heavey bag if I kick you in the proper spot: temple, sternum, point of chin... you'll go down.

Um... yes.... what is supposed to follow from that?

IAnd, before you say well, it's harder to kick a spot, that is because these styles that you mentiion do not train, or know how to train high kicks.

Which styles, DA? Okinawan karateka don't know how to train high kicks? They don't know how to carry out basic balance, accuracy and power exercises that every color belt in any of the karate-based arts learns to do in a proper school? Iain Abernethy doesn't know how to train high kicks?

If these guys don't train high kicks, DA, it doesn't seem likely that the reason is because it's such a secret, is it, now? Those styles don't train people to do back flips either, but it's not because it's a great mystery how to do back flips. It's more likely that they don't train back flips because they're not a particularly practical combat move, wouldn't you say? Well, based on the writings of people like Abernethy, Loren Christensen, Kane & Wilder and many others, it's quite clear that their advice about high kicks is based on the same reasoning that holds in the case of back flips. I myself train high kicks, but I would never dream of trying to use them in a street fight at close quarter range, for exactly the reasons that Abernethy gives. I train high kicks because if I can deliver a high kick with power, balance, and accuracy, then any low kicks I deliver to an attacker will be very effective indeed. It's no different from a runner training by wearing a 20 lb. pack on his or her back. S/he certainly isn't going use it in the actual race itself, right?

Also, If you miss your focal point against a violent assailant with a hand technique, the results would be the same...
You'll live to regret it.

Yes. And this has to do with what, exactly?


It seems like the negatives are from those who wish to be fighters and not martial artists.

Someone who trains Goju-ryu, TKD or any other karate-based art is a martial artist to the extent that s/he is a practitioner of a martial art (Gojo-ryu, TKD, etc.) Last time I checked, that was the dictionary definition of a martial artist. A karateka or TKDist is a MAist by virtue of practicing a martial art. If you practice a martial art in such a way that what you learn is less effective in combat than some other way of practicing that art, then I'd have to say that you're a less accomplished MAist than somone who practices the more effective version. One useful thing about looking at the history of the MAs is that it's full of examples of great martial artists who were also great fighters; that is, they excelled in fights. Not tournament competitions, but fights. They were fighters and martial artists. You're not, by any chance, suggesting that the two are mutually incompatible, are you? Because, as I say, the history of the MAs is full of people who were both.



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I'm sorry, DA... I haven't a clue at what these disconnected phrases are supposed to add up to. I have the impression that you may have overlooked much of this thread before posting this reply, so I'll just say that I am a big fan of kata, for reasons I've given here and in Kidswarrior's poll/thread on kata as complete fighting systems. I have the sense that you are talking to several different people here about somewhat different things... but I have to say, it's really hard to tell from your prose just what you're trying to get across.
 

exile

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I disagree with many of your comments above, Exile, but of course I do, because the conversation has become one of style rather than the usefulness of forms; and in a discussion about style, no one agrees! Remember what you consider diluting others call refining, just ask BJJ practitioners.

I'm not talking about style. I'm talking about the difference between the combat-effective interpretation of forms—what is called realistic bunkai in connection with karat—vs. the simple block-kick-punch interpretation of these forms that Anko Itosu consciously adopted when he was trying to get Okinawan karate incorporated into the local schools, and deliberately, and explicitly, provided relatively harmless interpretations for what had been throat strikes, breaking neck-twists, and groin strikes. When you describe a throat strike as a middle knife-hand block, or a neck twist as a lunge punch with retraction, or a groin strike as a blow to the lowered collarbone or temple, and train these movements as the first kind of move rather than the second, then you aren't `refining' anything, you're blunting highly effective combat moves for one reason or another. The history of karate makes it very clear that this process, which began with Itosu's `domestication' of karate for school consumption, continued when Funakoshi took karate to Japan and taught it to mass classes using kihon drills as the primary teaching tool, with little coverage of the locks, pins, sweeps and other components that were (and are) still components of the original Okinawan te system devised by Matsumura and Itosu. And the process of removing the hard combat content of the forms and, e.g., teaching what Itosu deceptively called blocks as though they actually were blocks, has pretty much continued unabated. In exactly what sense is this defanging of the most effective interpretations of the kata a `refinement'? You mention BJJ here, but for the life of me I can't see the relevance.

I will say this however, my master was a military combat instructor between the Korean and Vietnam wars and he taught me to kick to the head. You can take the advise of bouncers and doormen who believe head kicks are "suicidal," but I prefer to listen to the soldiers and LEOs who were senior BBs at my dojang. I can also speak to my own experiences were head kick have served me very well.

Then perhaps you can explain just why it was that the military TKD that Gm. Choi and Tae Hi Nam devised and taught to the ROK troops for use in the Korean and Vietnam Wars —where it was applied with such lethal success that the VC field command directed their fighters to avoid contact with Korean troops specifically because of their skill in Taekwondo—contained no high kicks whatever. There's an excellent description of this version of TKD in Simon O'Neil's ninth Combat_TKD newsletter, and the killing techniques he identifies are virtually all hand techniques, with knee strikes and kicks to the lower body. The point of this system, he emphasizes, was literally to kill enemy soldiers when weapons weren't available, and at the battle of Tra Binh Dong the 11th ROK Marines, in close quarters fighting, often empty-handed, left on the order of 250 NV dead and routed a much large force of NV regulars with VC support. And they didn't use high kicks for any of that, because it wasn't part of the ROK military TKD training program.

BTW, it's not me, but Iain Abernethy, a sixth dan Isshin-ryu karateka who also has had plenty of street experience, who uses the terms `suicidal' in the passage I explicitly quoted him as saying. Geoff Thompson, one of the `bouncer and doorman' who you're referring to in what I've quoted above, also happens to be a 6th Dan in Shotokan karate and a 1st Dan in judo. Loren Christensen, who also cautions against high kicks in fights, hold BBs in several styles of karate as well as a BB in Arnis, and served as a member of, and combat trainer for, the Portland Oregon police department for decades; prior to that he was a member of the military police in Saigon during the Vietnam War. Their work is widely published and highly respected by martial artists interested in realistic scenario-based martial arts training. I can think of a half-dozen more guys just like them, in some cases like Lawrence Kane, and Okinawan Gojo-ryu BB who specializes in stadium security and was involved in more than 300 violent encounters in that work, who have warned, in books and articles, against using high kicks in close-quarters combat.

But if you want to plan on using high kicks under those kinds of conditions, fine. I'm not really concerned with your choices; I'm more interested in making clear to others who are reading this thread why, whatever their value as training exercises—and they are the skill component of TKD that I train most intensely—high kicks are a big, big mistake to think of using in that bar, or parking lot, or wherever people find themselves in a dangerous situation that they wind up not being able to talk their way out of.
 

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Exile:The statements are accompanied by the line :_____________ that gets shorter with each statement (generation) to represent knowledge being lost.
Foot2Face: I liked your first post about the striking techniques and the anti-smothering techniques. Well put!
As far as the general usefulness of forms/patterns training, I feel that they are invaluable and should be kept in the training of TKD. While often the applications are not taught due to an instructor's lack of knowledge, that does not mean that students cannot learn applications from continued practice and contemplation/meditation on it. Besides, there ARE instructors and masters out there who DO know good application (Hae Sul) for the forms if one knows where to look, so having a working knowledge of the forms then becomes of paramount importance.
At some point in time it was pointed out that in a real fight one would not hold the hands a certain way before performing a downward/low block, but remember, that in many cases, the chamber is as much a part of the application as the move itself. Often, the action of chambering is a grab or hold to aid in a strike, throw, or escape, or sometimes serves to guard/cover for the body before a counter-attack. As a former wrestler, I often see more in the forms than some of my same ranked peers and even some who outrank me solely on the basis of my grappling experience and understanding throws, holds, escapes, etc. (PLEASE NOTE: I am in no way claiming to be great or a master or anything of the like). Armed with an understanding of how grabs can change a fight between strikers, a plethora of applications can be discovered for those who know how to look. (I would reccommend books by Anslow, Kane, Wilder, & Abernathy for a good start if you do not know where else to look).
 

exile

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Exile:The statements are accompanied by the line :_____________ that gets shorter with each statement (generation) to represent knowledge being lost.

Ah... gotcha! Thanks WMKS_S! I'm tempted to appeal to posting long after midnight after waking up before 7am that morning for missing that. It just made no sense when I was looking at it. Thanks for the clarification.


While often the applications are not taught due to an instructor's lack of knowledge, that does not mean that students cannot learn applications from continued practice and contemplation/meditation on it. Besides, there ARE instructors and masters out there who DO know good application (Hae Sul) for the forms if one knows where to look, so having a working knowledge of the forms then becomes of paramount importance.

Hear, hear!

At some point in time it was pointed out that in a real fight one would not hold the hands a certain way before performing a downward/low block, but remember, that in many cases, the chamber is as much a part of the application as the move itself. Often, the action of chambering is a grab or hold to aid in a strike, throw, or escape, or sometimes serves to guard/cover for the body before a counter-attack.

Yes, or the chamber itself is the block, with the so-called block actally constituting part of the strike (the chambering for a `double middle knife hand block' itself correspnds to a deflection to the outside, with the apparent block corresponding perfectly to a knifehand strike to the neck). And in a down block, the chambering corresponds to either an arm pin or an elbow strike to the head (the attacker's grabbing arm being trapped and anchored by the `retraction').


As a former wrestler, I often see more in the forms than some of my same ranked peers and even some who outrank me solely on the basis of my grappling experience and understanding throws, holds, escapes, etc. (PLEASE NOTE: I am in no way claiming to be great or a master or anything of the like).

Great point. As Abernethy has shown in his books on Karate's Grappling Methods and Throws for Strikers, there are all kinds of grappling techs built into the katas, hyungs and hsings of the MAs. We've just gotten so used to Itosu's deliberate obscuring of the actual combat motivation for most of the moves in the forms...


Armed with an understanding of how grabs can change a fight between strikers, a plethora of applications can be discovered for those who know how to look. (I would reccommend books by Anslow, Kane, Wilder, & Abernathy for a good start if you do not know where else to look).

All excellent choices. A very good place to start rethinking the application of even semingly simple basic kihon-type movements is Rick Clark's 75 Down Blocks. And Bill Burgar's Five Years, One Kata is a terrific demonstration of this way of decoding forms using a single Shotokan kata, Gojushiho, which Burgar studied in depth for a five year period.

Very nice post!
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foot2face

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A mistake you keep making, Exile, is that you continue to reference Japanese experts and Okinawan MAs. This is the TKD board. TKD is a Korean MA developed by Korean MAists, it may have roots in Japanese karate but has become its own distinct fighting system with different philosophies and methods. Once the conversation turns to the merits of various methodologies, it has in fact become a discussion of style.

Although the experts you mentioned have impressive credentials, it doses not impress me that none of them advocate the use of head kicks, because non of them come from systems that teach them.

In regards to the killing techniques you spoke of. I am not familiar with Mr. O'Niel or his article but perhaps he censored himself which MAist often do when dealing with the more gruesome aspects of their system just as the ones you mentioned earlier. It can also be that you simply misunderstood him, but I met men who were there and they spoke of these techniques. They were done on an already beaten and unconscious opponent, usually one who went down by a kick to the head. This is a morbid detail often omitted due to its unsporting appearance. In a previous post I discussed the merits of eye gouges and groin rips. Though effective their not decisive, as long as a man maintains consciousness he maintains the ability to harm you. In war the terms are far more severe, if a man is still alive he can kill you. You may beat him and knock him unconscious but if you don't finish him, in a few minutes he'll recover, grab a rifle and plug you and your buddy in the chest from 200 meters off. So killing techniques were added to a system that was already adept at knocking opponents unconscious. You would simply role the limp body of your opponent over on its back and deliver a hard knife hand strike to the throat or use various other finishing technique including the neck twist you mentioned.

Please stop speaking down to me as if I were a 12 year old tournament bunny who has no experience beyond what I have seen on the Power Rangers. You can not convince me that head kick do not work. I and others I have trained with have used them in very dangerous situations and I have full faith in their effectiveness. You must understand, just because you can't do it dose not mean it can not be done!
 

exile

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A mistake you keep making, Exile, is that you continue to reference Japanese experts and Okinawan MAs. This is the TKD board. TKD is a Korean MA developed by Korean MAists, it may have roots in Japanese karate but has become its own distinct fighting system with different philosophies and methods. Once the conversation turns to the merits of various methodologies, it has in fact become a discussion of style.

A killing or incapacitating strike is what it is because of biomechanics, not 疆sthetics or signature idiosyncrasies or anything else. A backflip doesn't become an effective fighting technique simply because it becomes part of some MA's `style'.

Although the experts you mentioned have impressive credentials, it doses not impress me that none of them advocate the use of head kicks, because non of them come from systems that teach them.

And the systems that do not teach them do not teach them because they are risky and their effect is far better implemented with elbow strikes to the face, forearm strikes to the throat and so on. The logic you're using here, so far as I can tell, is the same as someone who says that automobile engineers who do not advocate use of rubberband powered engines do not impress you, because they do not work for automobile companies which have utilized rubberband driven engines. Well, of course, if they had good reason to think that such engines were inferior to internal combustion engines, then they wouldn't advocate the former, right? What you should be asking is, why do they exclude high kicks from their system?

In regards to the killing techniques you spoke of. I am not familiar with Mr. O'Niel or his article

Yes. I gathered this.

but perhaps he censored himself which MAist often do when dealing with the more gruesome aspects of their system just as the ones you mentioned earlier. It can also be that you simply misunderstood him,

Well, foot2face, you read the following and you tell me if Mr. O'Neil is censoring himself because of squeamishness about the `gruesome' aspects of their system:

Open-hand throat attacks are also extremely common in the [Chang Hon] patterns, generally taking the form of knifehand strikes. A well delivered blow to the fron to the front of the throat will crush the trachea, killing the recipient... a blow to the side of the neck using the edge of the hand can be a knockout technique due to its effect on the vagus nerve and the carotid sinus. A descending attack to the collarbone can easily snap it, leaving the victim in considerable pain and lacking the use of his arms....One of the most effective ways to kill a human being, well used in combat grappling systems all over the world, is to break the neck. This is usually done by twisting it beyond its natural range around the vertical axis, although a sharp rotation around the horizontal axis can also be successful, also leaving the throat open for a strike. There are several techniques in the Chang Hon hyungs in which both hands are raised to head height before sharply changing position. These movements often indicate neck breaks....

A number of secondary techniques are used to support the main methods. These include groin maimers, guaranteed to leave a man incapacitated; eye jabs, at least disconcerting, at best highly traumatics; foot and knee stamps—again either painful or crippling, depending on the contact made; and basic throws, particularly those that dump the recipient on his head.

Self-censoring? :wink1:

BTW, throughout his whole series of essays in the Combat TKD newletter, and in the article that Mr. O'Neil wrote for a 2005 issue of Taekwondo Times, he discusses the role of what he calls `simple kicks': front and side kicks aimed at the midbody or lower. In connection with General Choi's curriculum for the ROK infantry and special commando units (the Black Tiger and White Tiger squadrons formed for advanced field operations, aka silent killing and sabotage, in the Korean and Vietnam wars respectively), he comments that

Simple kicks, particularly the front and side kicks, are devastating weapons, particularly with the added weight and hardness of military boots.​

In connection with high, tournament-format kicking techniques such as the high kicks you seem to be seriously advocating as tools in the chaotic close-range conditions of a streetfight, O'Neil observes in one of his essays, `Taekwondo as a kicking art', that

One of the ways in which Taekwondo was made to look less like Japanese karate was to take advantage of the wealth of native Korean kicking technique, and to emphasize this aspect within the existing framework. With time, kicking grew in importance in competition Taekwondo and featured more heavily heavily in the hyungs and poomses than in the older patterns. As a result of the growing popularity of the tournament sport in particular, a large part of regular training is taken up by kicking drills and physical conditioning to enhance kicking ability. This tendency has continued in the last 20 year or to to such an extent that Taekwondo—particularly the WTF variety, but also the ITF—could be said to have moved way from its origins as a self-defense system to become closer to Taekyon, the tournament activity in which contestants attempted to knock each other down with kicks. Taekwondo's undeniable progress as an international sporting and artistic phenomenon has meant the inevitable loss of a significant part of its original practical self-defense content. One of COMBAT-TKD's principal goals is the recovery of this lost tradition....

I'm not sure how much plainer this could be stated. But if you like, you're free of course to assume that I've been misinterpeting Mr. O'Neil's fairly constant reminders to avoid any but the most simple low-target kicking techs. :)

but I met men who were there and they spoke of these techniques. They were done on an already beaten and unconscious opponent, usually one who went down by a kick to the head. This is a morbid detail often omitted due to its unsporting appearance. In a previous post I discussed the merits of eye gouges and groin rips. Though effective their not decisive, as long as a man maintains consciousness he maintains the ability to harm you. In war the terms are far more severe, if a man is still alive he can kill you. You may beat him and knock him unconscious but if you don't finish him, in a few minutes he'll recover, grab a rifle and plug you and your buddy in the chest from 200 meters off. So killing techniques were added to a system that was already adept at knocking opponents unconscious. You would simply role the limp body of your opponent over on its back and deliver a hard knife hand strike to the throat or use various other finishing technique including the neck twist you mentioned.

Please stop speaking down to me as if I were a 12 year old tournament bunny who has no experience beyond what I have seen on the Power Rangers. You can not convince me that head kick do not work.

I think you misunderstand me, foot2face. I am not really interested in convincing you of anything; I'm concerned with the logic and practical content of your arguments, in terms of what people who read this thread will conclude. If in the course of a street assault by somone who's done that sort of thing for a long time on dozens of victims you decide to defend yourself with a high kick to the head, that's your choice entirely, and I really wouldn't attempt to dissuade you—what happens to you doesn't affect me, after all.

I and others I have trained with have used them in very dangerous situations and I have full faith in their effectiveness. You must understand, just because you can't do it dose not mean it can not be done!

As I say, if you want to go ahead and try to use kicks to the head in a bar fight, or a similar altercation, I wouldn't dream of trying to stop you—just as I wouldn't try to dissuade someone who was convinced that backflips, or a 720繙 flying back kick, or a triple toe loop sans ice skates, was the right thing to do in a CQ encounter with a skinhead brawler. :)
 

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Foot2Face,
I think part of the reason that Exile cites karate people in his posts for the applications of and effectiveness of both head level kicks and forms is because it is what he knows best. Personally, while I teach/train in Tae Kwon Do, in an altercation, I would likely resort to low and mid-level kicks and high and mid-level strikes UNTIL I had them dazed enough to possibly finish with a head kick or similar technique, though in my case, since I am short and have short legs, it only makes since. I must be practically in punching range to get my leg close enough to perform a head level kick, so it does me little good to head kick from the beginning.
Also, many of the authors cited are karate people, but only because there have not been many instructors in Tae Kwon Do who have written about the applications of forms to the depth of their karate counterparts. Staurt Anslow has written a book on the ITF's Chang Hon forms (chon-ji forms), and I know of a few books about the Taeguk forms (though the authors' names leave me at the moment) but compared to the number of books covering kata applications Tae Kwon Do is somewhat lacking.
Foot2Face says head kicks are effective in street encounters, Exile says they are not. Remember though, it is the artist, not the art. There are some who can probably make head kicks work in the street, and there surely are those who would get themselves into trouble trying that tactic. Can we leave it at that?
 

stoneheart

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Also, many of the authors cited are karate people, but only because there have not been many instructors in Tae Kwon Do who have written about the applications of forms to the depth of their karate counterparts. Staurt Anslow has written a book on the ITF's Chang Hon forms (chon-ji forms), and I know of a few books about the Taeguk forms (though the authors' names leave me at the moment) but compared to the number of books covering kata applications Tae Kwon Do is somewhat lacking.

To be honest though, anyone who has studied both the Chang Hon forms and the Shotokan Heian forms knows where General Choi got most of his inspiration from. The good general lifted many moves verbatim from the Heians. It's not unreasonable to use the karate bunkai to interpret the Chang Hon forms, the desire for TKD to come out of karate's shadow notwithstanding.

I realize kick2face's teacher and seniors have said high kicks were part of the ROK soldiers' repetoire in the Vietnam war. I, like Exile, have a different understanding, but it's not like I was there myself, so I ultimately am relying on what I have read and heard from others. There's a Black Belt magazine article within the last year where Hee Il Cho himself states the jumping and spinning kicks were added recently (certainly post-fifties) to TKD. I don't have the magazine anymore else I would quote it directly.
 

exile

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To be honest though, anyone who has studied both the Chang Hon forms and the Shotokan Heian forms knows where General Choi got most of his inspiration from. The good general lifted many moves verbatim from the Heians. It's not unreasonable to use the karate bunkai to interpret the Chang Hon forms, the desire for TKD to come out of karate's shadow notwithstanding.

I realize kick2face's teacher and seniors have said high kicks were part of the ROK soldiers' repetoire in the Vietnam war. I, like Exile, have a different understanding, but it's not like I was there myself, so I ultimately am relying on what I have read and heard from others. There's a Black Belt magazine article within the last year where Hee Il Cho himself states the jumping and spinning kicks were added recently (certainly post-fifties) to TKD. I don't have the magazine anymore else I would quote it directly.

I saw that same article too, stoneheart, and many others have noted the same thing. What's interesting is that, as Abernethy observes, high head kicks have made their way into the karate curriculum as a direct result of the pressure for flashy acrobatics in karate tournaments (a process of turning combat systems into combat sports and then combat sports into combat spectacles, something which we're now seeing with the XMA phenomenon, and which, as Flying Crane has posted about before, had actually overtaken CMAs in the form of acrobatic wushu, with the enthusiastic collaboration of the Chinese governement). Success as a spectator sport depends on athletically impressive moves of this kind, so that what TKD has experienced in its evolution into an Olympic sport is now begining to affect karate. And interestingly, I've notice a lot of hand-wringing (including posts on this forum, and in the karate literature) about the prospect that the regearing of karate curricula for sports rather than SD application will lead to a loss of credibility for karate as a combat-effective fighting system comparable to what TKD has undergone. The TKD that I do is much more like Shotokan karate than it is like WTF/KKW sparring-oriented TKD, but I still wince a little when I hear things like that being said...

The fact is that karate kata were the Okinawan masters' `living notebook' of what techs worked in the fairly nasty place that 19th century Shuri was. And Matsumura had particular reason to be be concerned with effectiveness; there is good reason to believe that he was the King of Okinawa's security chief, something like his chief bodyguard. It's also been suggested that Itosu, who worked under him at the palace of the last King of Okinawa, also had security/protection responsibilities. Under the circumstances, they had to be concerned primarily with combat effectiveness. There's a reason why the classic Okinawan and later the Japanese kata included no high kicks, and why the height of kicks in hyung performance has risen dramatically from the time when hyung competition in became a fixture of international tournaments...
 

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What's interesting is that, as Abernethy observes, high head kicks have made their way into the karate curriculum as a direct result of the pressure for flashy acrobatics in karate tournaments (a process of turning combat systems into combat sports and then combat sports into combat spectacles, something which we're now seeing with the XMA phenomenon, and which, as Flying Crane has posted about before, had actually overtaken CMAs in the form of acrobatic wushu, with the enthusiastic collaboration of the Chinese governement).

Well, I'm a bit embarassed to admit I'm part of that phenomenon. I have a small nonprofit school I inherited from the previous instructor. He taught "shorin-ryu" karate, but his drills obviously drew a lot from the Korean systems, since they had crescent kicks and spinning back kicks in them. I briefly tried to introduce more authentic material (kotekitae & makiwara practice among them) into the class, but the students were really more happy with the system as it was. I'm going with the flow right now and I'm explaining the differences to the students as they come up. At some point, I'd like to transition to the taekwondo name and TKD forms since it is a more accurate representation of what the class is than shorin-ryu karate.
 

exile

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Well, I'm a bit embarassed to admit I'm part of that phenomenon. I have a small nonprofit school I inherited from the previous instructor. He taught "shorin-ryu" karate, but his drills obviously drew a lot from the Korean systems, since they had crescent kicks and spinning back kicks in them. I briefly tried to introduce more authentic material (kotekitae & makiwara practice among them) into the class, but the students were really more happy with the system as it was. I'm going with the flow right now and I'm explaining the differences to the students as they come up. At some point, I'd like to transition to the taekwondo name and TKD forms since it is a more accurate representation of what the class is than shorin-ryu karate.

No need to be embarrassed, stoneheartif the practical application is taught in a realistic and responsible way, I actually see nothing wrong with teaching people high kicking; I drill high kicks more than any other individual TKD tech just because they put such terrific stress on balance and strength (particular in the hip flexors). If you can deliver a first class, controlled, accurate high kick in good balance to an arbitrary point on a heavy bag, you're going to have really devastating practical kicking skills for the low-target techs that the original karate and Kwan-era TKD hyungs referred to. The trick is ensuring that people know when to use what. I think that that's the particular argument that IA and others of that bunkai-jutsu group have with the way high kicks are used in the karate curriculum...
 
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