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.]

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