28 December 2009

Yul-Gok Teul

Yul-Gok is the pseudonym of a great philosopher and scholar Yi l (1536-1584) nicknamed the "Confucius of Korea" The 38 movements of this pattern refer to his birthplace on 38 latitude and the diagram represents "scholar".

Below are YouTube-videos of Won-Hyo Teul. You can read a description of the seperate moves here.

A signiture technique in this pattern is the palm hooking block (sonbadak golchyo makgi) (movements #15 & #16 and #18 & #19).These are "soft blocks," in other words their intention is not to hurt the oponent. Rather the hooking block functions to merely redirect the force of the incoming attack. The palm hooking block, in particular, is used to grab an opponents arm. When practising this technique on a partner reach with your hand high up the arm (the closer to the shoulder the easier it is to successfully grab the arm) and pull your palm closer to secure the grip. The grip is tightened by turning the hand from the little finger.

Although there is a hooking block in Shotokan Karate too, ITF Taekwon-Do's hooking block has its roots in Taekkyeon. In Taekkyeon it is not used to grab the arm, but to reach around the neck to the back of the head and pull the opponent off balance. The name for this technique in Taekkyeon is Bakkdeolmijabgo, and can roughly be translated as outside/reverse-turning-grasp, followed by a pull (dang-gigi).

Another interesting, and possibly related, technique from Yul-Gok Teul is movements #1 and #4. It is described as "a sitting stance . . . while extending the . . . fist . . . horizontally." The movement is often explained as a measuring technique. Personally I am of the opinion that this is also a hooking block, but instead of using the palm, you are using the forearm; i.e. a forearm hooking block (palmok golchya makgi). This is also a soft block and merely redirect the opponent's attack, while opening up a vital spot to counter attack. [In issue 15 of Totally Tae Kwon Do magazine, in my essay "Poetry in Motion: A Poetic Interpretation of the Patterns," I give a detailed explanation why I believe these movements in Yul-Gok Teul should be interpreted as hooking blocks.]

14 December 2009

Cartwheel Kick

The Cartwheel Kick above is by Saenchai

In the video below you can see a pretty impressive Cartwheel Kick to knock out an opponent during an MMA fight. This is the first time for me to see this kick used during a tournament, and not merely as a fancy technique during a demonstration.

Some of you may remember that we practised the kick on one or two occassions at the Potch Dojang, including the Aerial Kick, which is basically a Cartwheel Kick without your hands touching the floor. The video below is a tutorial that shows the basic cartwheel, as well as aerial.

The tutorial focusses on the technique, but does not put emphasis on these motions as actual kicks. To transform the cartwheel and aerial into a Cartwheel Kick and Aerial Kick you need to focus on the attacking tools, namely the footsword (balkal) and reverse footsword (deung balkal).

While a Carthweel Kick would be illegal during an ITF-tournament because ones hands are touching the floor, an Aerial Kick would technically not be illegal, although I've never seen it performed at a tournament before and I'm sure you'd shock the referee.

09 December 2009

4th Dan

Dear Soo Shim Kwan friends,

This is just to let you know that I have received my 4th Dan certificate last night, after passing my 4th degree promotional test earlier this year. My new ITF number is: KO-4-150.

Taekwon-Do regards,
Sabeom Sanko

01 December 2009

A Review of 2009 and a Preview of 2010

Dear Friends,

Please find attached the SA-ITF President's Report for 2009. The report covers the main achievements of our national governing body during this year, and also point out the direction we aim at for 2010.

A main focus for 2010 is the Best Practise Instruction Project. Th BPI project will aim at improving the quality of teaching by all instructors, and will also emphasize the "Do," i.e. the Way of Life, in Taekwon-Do. As Research-and-Education Director I will be closely involved with the project alongside many other members of our governing body.

24 November 2009

Reverse Hook Kick

Taking down a mugger with a reverse hook kick... This video demonstrates the principle of "Reaction Force" in Taekwon-Do's Theory of Power. The mugger's forward momentum clashes with the martial artist's foot and knocks him out. The mugger is knocked out with little effort, not because the martial artist kicked excessively hard, but because the force of the kick plus the mugger's forward (running) momentum are combined and culminates on one vital spot ("Concentration") -- the muggers face.

06 September 2009

Most Common Taekwon-Do Kicks

Here's a list of Taekwon-Do's most common kicks. I compiled this list probably about two or three years ago for basic training in the Soo Shim Kwan.

The kicks below are anything from a completed list of Taekwon-Do kicks.

1. Front rising kick (Apcha olligi)
a. Front rising kick – straight up
b. Front rising kick – to opposite shoulder
c. Front rising kick – to outside shoulder
2. Side rising kick (Yobcha olligi)
3. Back rising kick (Dwitcha olligi)
4. Hooking kick (Golcho chagi)
5. Crescent kick (Bandal chagi)
6. Outward vertical kick (Bakuro sewo chagi)
7. Inward vertical kick (Anuro sewo chagi)
8. Front snap kick (Apcha busigi)
9. Side front snap kick (Yobabcha busigi)
10. Turning kick (Dollyo chagi)
11. Side-piercing kick (Yobcha Jirugi)
12. Back-piercing kick (Dwitcha jirugi)
13. Twisting kick (Bituro chagi)
14. Inward downward kick (Anuro naeryo chagi)
15. Outward downward kick (Bakuro naeryo chagi)
16. Pick shape kick (Gokaeng-I chagi)
17. Hook kick (Goro chagi)
18. Reverse side-piercing kick (Bandae yobcha jirugi)
19. Reverse back-piercing kick (Bandae dwitcha jirugi)
20. Reverse vertical kick (Bandae sewo chagi)
21. Reverse hook kick (Bandae goro chagi)
22. Reverse turning kick (Bandae dollyo chagi)
23. Reverse downward kick (Bandae naeryo chagi)
24. Front knee kick (Ap moorup chagi)
25. Turning knee kick (Dollyo moorup chagi
26. Front pushing kick (Apcha milgi)
27. Front checking kick (Apcha momchigi)
28. Sliding front-snap kick (Mikulgi yobcha jirugi)
29. Step over / sliding turning kick (Omgyo didigi / mikulgi dollyo chagi)
30. Step over / sliding side-piercing kick (Omgyo didigi / mikulgi yobcha jirugi)
31. 360° front snap kick
32. 360° turning kick
33. 360° turning kick with step (Tornado turning kick)
34. Flying high rising kick (Twimyo nopi chagi)
35. Jumping front-snap kick (Twigi apcha busigi)
36. Jumping turning kick (Twigi dollyo chagi)
37. Flying side-piercing kick (Twimyo yobcha jirugi)
38. Jumping reverse back-piercing kick (Twigi bandae dwitcha jirugi)
39. Jumping reverse turning kick (Twigi bandae dollyo chagi)
40. Jumping reverse downward kick (Twigi bandae naeryo chagi)

In my dojang here in Seoul we perform numbers 8, 10, 11, 15, and 21/22 every night as part of our warm up with at least five on each leg. As part of the warm up we'd also do some of the jumping kicks. But before these kick, we'd do a number of rising kicks (usually numbers 1 & 2) as part of our dynamic stretching routine. (Dynamic stretching is always done after static stretching.) As part of our general training, we'd do combinations of any number of these (legal) kicks during pad-drills and sparring drills with partners. We never train the "illegal" kicks (i.e. kicks that are not allowed in tournament sparring), such as knee kicks, checking/sweeping kicks and so on, except when I'm teaching the class. Since I'm more into self-defence than tournament sparring, I tend to practise these more practical techniques.

25 August 2009

Tomaž Barada

Tomaž Barada is probably the most famous ITF Taekwon-Do sparring competitor. Apart from numerous European and World Champion titles, he is also a 5 x W.A.K.O Word Champion.

Seoul Dojang

A friend took this photo of me in the main dojang in Seoul, South Korea. The main dojang has two senior classes in the evening, one at 19:00-20:30 and the next from 21:00-22:30. When I go, I often attend both classes and as an assistant instructor I also occasionally teach.

Sabeomnim Kim Hoon, the Secretary General for ITF Korea, has co-opted me into an ad hoc position on the Korean executive as "International Liaison Officer". Basically this means that I help with international correspondences in English.

03 August 2009

Model Sparring

These YouTube-videos show examples of "Model Sparring", which involves the demonstration of basic techniques in a fluid sequence. Model Sparring is often used for demonstration exhibitions. In other words, it is used to "show off" Taekwon-Do techniques. For Model Sparring the sequence of techniques is often shown slowly at first, and then repeated in real (i.e. fast) time. This helps the audience to get a better idea, since Taekwon-Do techniques are frequently very fast, and an untrained eye might not appreciate the dexterity and skill of the practitioners. Accuracy and balance are probably the two elements that can make or break good Model Sparring. Also, creativity in counter attacking greatly enhances the performance for the audience, while Taekwon-Do instructors are usually more impressed with the correct use of attacking and blocking tools, targeted at the appropriate vital spots.

26 July 2009

Won-Hyo Teul

Won-Hyo was the noted monk who introduced Buddhism to the Silla Dynasty in the year 686.

I've written an article on Won-Hyo in last year's edition of "The Sidekick", which you can download from eSAITF's Files-section. You can read a description of the movements here.

Below are YouTube-videos of Won-Hyo Teul as performed by Jaroslaw Suska and, according to hearsay, Gen. Choi's adopted daughter.

19 July 2009

Do-San Teul

Do-San is the pseudonym of the patriot Ahn Chang-Ho (1878-1938). The 24 movements represent his entire life which he devoted to furthering the education of Korea and its independence movement.

You can also read a short history of Ahn Chang-Ho's life at TKDTutor.Com. Read a description of the movements here.

Below are YouTube-videos of Do-San Teul as performed by Jaroslaw Suska and Mike Morningstar.

17 July 2009

Hwang Su-Il

(Are you looking for information on Master Hwang Su-Il's gym in Japan? See this post.) 

I've met Master Hwang Su-Il on one or two occasions and found him to be a very friendly and humble person. During one formal occasion he quickly noticed that I do not drink (I'm a teetotaller), so he helped me out in a sticky situation: alcohol is a very integrative part in Korean social life and often at such formal events, a lot of toasting and drinking occurs. If you do not participate, it might be seen as an insult to your guests. First, he indicated to me to allow someone to pour me a drink, and to use this glass to toast with. Then he immediately ordered me some sodas and tea to drink.

Hwang Su-Il is Japanese-Korean; he is Korean but was born in Japan -- 3rd generation -- and still lives there. You might be more familiar with him as the character Hwoarang in the Tekken-game series. He was used for the first motion capture of this fighting game character, introduced in Tekken 3.

My instructor here in Korea told me earlier this week that there is a possibility that Hwang Su-Il will be the chief examiner on the panel to test me for 4th Dan, around September/October. Of course this makes me a little nervous, since the Japanese standard is exceptionally high.

Below is a YouTube-video of Hwang Su-Il in action.

Dan Gun Teul

Dan-Gun is named after the holy Dan-Gun, the legendary founder of Korea in the year of 2,333 B.C.

You can read a description of the movements here. Below are YouTube-videos of Dan-Gun Teul, as performed by Jaroslaw Suska and from The Legacy.

Chon-Ji Teul

Chon-Ji means literally "the Heaven the Earth". It is, in the Orient, interpreted as the creation of the world or the beginning of human history, therefore, it is the initial pattern played by the beginner. This pattern consists of two similar parts; one to represent the Heaven and the other the Earth.

Chon-Ji Teul as performed by Jaroslaw Suska and Master Phap Lu.

Saju Jirugi & Saju Makgi

Saju Jirugi (Four Direction Punch) and Saju Makgi (Four Direction Block) as performed by Mike Morningstar.

09 June 2009

Report on a Regional Tournament in Korea

The past weekend I attended a regional ITF Taekwon-Do tournament in Korea as an umpire. Here is just a short report of the event.

The 1st Yeongnam Tournament was held in Daegu, a city in the south-east of Korea. There were just fewer than 300 competitors, with a small number of players from Japan and China. Most of the players were children; however, a good number of adults also competed, including a number of foreigners living in Korea.

I’d like to mention a number of things that I found “different” from the South African tournaments.

All students regardless of age or gender could participate in the power breaking category, which included only one event: boards placed on two bricks and then broken with a downward punch. Players that didn’t accomplish the break were eliminated, and the remaining players had an extra board added. They used wooden boards, not plastic re-breakable boards. I was specifically impressed (or shocked) that small children also participated in this event. For the special technique breaking they also only had one event, the jumping sidekick over a distance. I’m guessing that the national championships would include other breaking events.

In sparring they did not use four corner judges. Only three corner judges and the centre referee. Students without a mouth guard had to wear head gear. Students of all ranges of belt levels, from white belt to black belt, competed together within the same weight division, although there were separate black belt divisions as well. The sparring was hard, with definite contact, but showed good spirit and sportsmanship. There were a couple of injuries, but nothing too serious. Sparring gear was “provided” and shared by all competitors. Special sparring gear officials were on standby on both sides of the ring and helped the players put the gear on and take it off.

In the patterns category the bracketing was fairly large, with players of different ages and genders often competing against each other. In general I thought the patterns were very well judged and only noticed one occasion of obvious bias, where an umpire voted for his own student who was clearly not the better performer. Apparently the bias of instructors was discussed in a meeting during the lunch break.

The Opening Ceremony was quite long, with lots of gifts and plaques being presented to different dignitaries. The demonstration afterwards was excellent, with great areal displays of nakbeop (break falling techniques), team patterns combined into self-defence sequences, and well choreographed self-defence demonstrations, as well as great breaking demonstrations. Most of the demonstrations were performed by school children. Sabeomnim Hwang Taeyong (6th Dan – Japanese-Korean) performed the pattern Se-Jong, although I’ve seen him perform Tong-Il on a previous occasion in Japan (Tokyo Champs, December 2008). Seeing these patterns performed by such an accomplished technician is always a pleasure.

The tournament took quite long, which isn’t anything unusual – or so I thought. However, my instructor (Sabeomnim Kim Hoon, the Secretary-General of ITF-Korea) told me that this was an unusually slow tournament. Apparently they had around 700 students last year at the national champs, which he organized, and they finished the whole tournament on one day, in less the time!

04 April 2009

Choke Holds

Dear friends,

I've taught the "rear naked choke hold" in class on numerous occasions, stressing its effectiveness and relative safety.

A study posted on a Judo-website lists a number of cases of people dying from choke holds. In most cases the deceased were intoxicated (e.g. drugs), or had heart disease or hypertension. At the end of the article a couple of guidelines are listed. Please scan the article and read the guidelines at the end.

Another article suggests not:
  1. To perform a "choking" hold on subjects with cardiac disorders or hypertension.
  2. To apply "choking" on youngsters whose central nervous system and heart have not yet attained complete development.
  3. To continue to hold after the subject falls unconscious.
For more on chocking techniques, you can visit this web page.

Taekwon-Do regards,

Bsbnim Sanko

18 March 2009

Visitors at our club

Last night we had two visitors from the Vanderbijlpark TKD club i.e. Stephan & Steward that joined us for training.

We did a variety of activites , one which was sparring. It was challenging and fun.

We would like to wish Stephan good luck in the African Champs.

Thank you for visiting & hope to see you again.

25 February 2009


Dear Soo Shim Kwan - Potchefstroom students,

The instructors for this year will be Bsbnim Philip de Vos (1st Dan), assisted by Kyosa Werner de Bruyn; with myself as supervising instructor. Promotional testing will be conducted under Sb Karel Wethmar (4th Dan) in Pretoria and Master Kim (7th Dan).

Bsbnim Philip is also planning to regularly attend technical seminars throughout the year, and anyone interested is welcome to get a lift with him to the venues. Please make use of these opportunities to improve your skill.

Remember also to attend the twice weekly training sessions (Tuesday & Thursday evenings, starting at 18:00), and feel free to use the dojang on Wednesday afternoons (14:00-17:00) for personal training.

Bsbnim Sanko

24 February 2009

Cross Training

Over the break, just before the semester started, while our dojang was still in use by the freshmen in preparation of RAG, Franco (far right) and I (far left) went for some cross training with the Mixed Martial Arts group in Potch. We had a great work out, coached by Johan (centre).

Our club has always been open minded about cross training. While I’m open to cross training I don’t think it is always beneficial to train in two or more martial arts at once, specifically not while you are still learning the basics of one martial art. When, however, you have mastered the basics of your style, taking up another martial art can be a great way to review your paradigm, to broaden your knowledge and grow as a martial artist.

Although I’m suggestion you not to practice two martial arts at the same time while you are a beginner, I am not saying that you should avoid occasional cross training. On the contrary, cross training in other martial arts (and even other recreational disciplines such as parkour, squash, etc.) can be a wonderful method to supplement your training.

Bsbnim Sanko

ITF Clock

You may have noticed the new fancy ITF-crested clock we have in the dojang. The clock is a gift from Sabeomnim Kim Hoon, the Secretary General of ITF in South Korea, to our dojang. He gave me the clock just before my departure to South Africa, specifically for our dojang. May the clock keep record of many, many, many hours of hard training, sweat and occasional blood ;-) at our dojang.

The photo shows me handing over the clock to Bsbnim Philip.

Bsbnim Sanko

15 February 2009

Korean Dinner & Website

Hello friends,
Remember about our “Korean Dinner” on Wednesday (18:00). More details will be given at the Tuesday evening training session. Budget for around R20+.

I also want to bring your attention to a new website where some of our articles have been published. This martial arts focussed website will become a great resource for future martial art study.


08 January 2009

Individual practice

Hi all,

Hope you've had a wonderful holiday and all the best in the new year to you!

Although the club hasn't officially reopened yet, I will be practicing on my own starting next week (13 Jan). If anyone would like to join me, the dojang will be open and you are most welcome.
Tuesdays and Thursdays
18:00 - 19:00