29 March 2011

"Walk on the Right Side"

Image Source
Last year South Korea started a “walk on the right side” campaign to create consistency between their pedestrian culture and traffic system. Although the traffic system in Korea requires cars to drive on the right side, Korean pedestrians traditionally walk on the left side. This dichotomy has an interesting explanation.

The traffic system in South Korea was based on the United States and dates from the 1960s and 70s when President Park Chung-Hee pushed for economic reform that included great infrastructural development. South Korea's roads and traffic laws were modelled after that of the United States. While Korea's traffic system dates from this era, Korea's pedestrian habit of walking on the left side has an earlier source – the Japanese occupation.

A photo of a samurai carrying his swords
on his left side.
During the Japanese occupation of Korea (1910-1945) Koreans were forced to accept many Japanese habits, including walking on the left side. The Japanese both walk and drive on the left-side. The reason for them walking on the left side is not related to their traffic laws, which were probably influenced by the British. Rather, walking on the left is a custom that dates back to feudal Japan during a time when men customarily carried swords. The swords were carried on the left hip, so that it could be easily pulled from the sheath with the right hand. Because the sheath and sword is fitted on the left hip, it required pedestrians to walk on the left side. If they passed each other on the right side, their swords may bump against each other or get tangled. The solution was walking on the left side so that their empty right hips pass each other, so walking on the left side became the custom and this was passed onto the Koreans during the occupation. This explains the discrepancy between Koreans pedestrian customs (having a Japanese origin) and Korea's traffic regulations (having an American origin).

The reason I'm recounting Korea's (and Japan's) walking habits is to show how the way we move is often influenced by the culture and socio-political environments we find ourselves in. It is undeniable that the techniques we learn in whichever martial art we study were forged from within a specific culture, with its historic influences, and a certain socio-political context. And sometimes such techniques become outdated. South Korea decided recently to change the pedestrian habit which is not in sync with the more recently developed traffic laws. Similarly, some techniques in our martial art may be outdated or be culturally irrelevant. There are a number of examples, but I will focus on only one, because it so vividly illustrates my point.

A throwing technique from a kneeling position.
In its self-defence volume, the ITF Encyclopaedia devotes over ten pages to self-defence from kneeling and sitting-on-the-floor positions. These techniques are very situational and obviously part of a very specific cultural context, namely an Asian setting where people routinely sit on the floor. In all my years of Taekwon-Do study I have not once attended a Taekwon-Do class (even in Korea) where any of these floor-sitting techniques were taught. The reason is obvious, they do not make sense within the cultural contexts of any of the Taekwon-dojang I have attended. I'm not dismissing these techniques altogether; they are an important cultural heritage of our martial art and have interesting historic value and some of it may actually prove contextually relevant. Still, how relevant are they in your life?

It is important for any instructor to research his system's techniques and question their current validity. If they are not of value within your cultural and socio-political contexts, then maybe you should not spend too much time on them. In a previous post titled “I Don't Like Your Self-Defence” I discussed this issue in more detail. Not spending as much time on the techniques that are culturally or socio-politically of less value is one thing, another important point is to actively increase the training of those techniques that are fitting the likely scenarios your students may find themselves in. This may very well require you to reinterpret the techniques in your system and make them practical and sensible for your cultural and socio-political context.

Korean marines training during the Vietnam War.
Image Source
Keep in mind that Taekwon-Do's origin was the Korean military, which means that originally it's defensive approach was for the battlefield, and not for civilian use. Most people studying martial arts today are not combatants but everyday citizens and have to adhere to certain civil behaviours. Therefore, martial arts for civilian practise have to be reinterpreted within a “civilian defence system” as considered by Bob Davis and Dan Djurdjevic, which is different from a real “martial” (i.e. military) system.

26 March 2011

Some Thoughts on the Double Forearm Block

Double Forearm Block in a Walking Stance.
The ITF Encyclopaedia calls the double forearm block (doo palmok makgi / 두 팔목 막기) “one of the strongest forms of blocking” (Vol. 3, p. 224).

(You can read a description of how to perform a double forearm block at eHow.)

One might think that it is because the blocking arm is supported by the other arm, but this is merely an optical illusion as it is only the “second knuckle of the little finger” that presses against the “elbow at the moment of the block” (Vol. 3, p. 224), as seen in the photo on the side. The support provided by the knuckle of the little finger is negligible. The reason the other arm is brought up is rather as a guarding, ready or resting position from where one can “quickly shift [that] forearm into another block while still blocking with the [first]” (Vol. 3, p. 224). The photos below show how the hand that was brought forward is brought into play to block a second attack.

Visually, the only differences between the double forearm block and the inner forearm outward block (an palmok bakooro makgi) is that the former has the other arm brought forward just in case it is required for a secondary block, while the latter has the 'reaction arm' pulled back to its customary place at the side of the hip. Bringing the other arm forward with the double forearm block does not contribute substantially any more than pulling the 'reaction arm' back when performing the inner forearm outward block.

A typical outward block with the fist of
the 'reaction arm' pulled back to the hip.
What makes the double forearm block “one of the strongest forms of blocking” has less to do with bringing the other hand forward and more to do with the angle at which the block intercepts the opponent's attack.

An inner forearm outward block (as in the above photo) intercepts the attack much more perpendicularly.

Approximate angles of interception against an incoming attack.
The red arrow on the left intercepts the attack perpendicularly.
(Note: The illustrations show generalised estimations, not exact angles.)

The illustration (viewed from above) shows on the left the vector of an attack (black) moving towards the defender. The first red arrow (left) shows how a perpendicular defence would intercept such an attack. There are very few blocks in Taekwon-Do that intercept attacks in this way. Instead, blocks usually intercept the attack at an angle as depicted by the red arrow on the right.  The inner forearm outward block is a typical example of a block that intercept an attack like this. While the angle of a typical outward block is not completely perpendicular, the weight of the force is more perpendicular, i.e. towards the left in the example, than forward. This is not the case with the double forearm block.
Approximate angles of interception of an outward block (left)
and double forearm block (right) against an incoming attack.
The above illustration shows the angle of interception of an outward block on the left, compared to the angle of interception of a double forearm block on the right. What you will notice is that the outward block's interception leans more towards a perpendicular interception, while the double forearm block's interception is much more head-on. The next illustration shows the angle of interception of a double forearm block (below left) and the vectors of an actual head-on collision (below centre).
Approximate angles of interception of an incoming attack.
The central figure depicts a 'head-on' collision of the attacker's
attacking tool and the defender's blocking tool.
Such a head-on collision of forces may be imagined as the defender punching the attacker's fist, like we might see in a Jet Li movie where he punches his opponent's punches, so that the angle of vectors correspond, but the direction of the vectors are exactly opposite. What we have then is a good example of Newton's Law of Motion regarding Reaction Force, where two forces moving in opposite directions hit each other resulting in a combined force equal to the sum of the original two forces.

Such a head-on collision of one's blocking tool with the attacker's attacking tool is never advised because the culmination of forces could cause serious injury to yourself. Furthermore, trying to stop the incoming attack from the front is much more difficult because the attack's surface area tends to be smaller from the front (the front of a fist is a smaller area to block than the side of an arm) and it is more difficult to judge the distance of something coming straight at you. For these reasons blocks generally intercept attacks at an angle from the side, rather than straight from the front. The angle helps to deflect the attack's forward force, changing it's direction away from your vital spots. What is interesting to note, however, is that the less perpendicular the block is, in other words the more “head-on” it is, the harder it is; the reason being the culmination of the two opposing forces. On the other hand, if the block is too “head-on”, it might easily miss the target or slip pass the target as depicted on the right in the illustration above.

A forearm guarding block in an L-stance.
What makes the double forearm block “one of the strongest forms of blocking” is its ability to intercept the attack while maintaining a loaded amount of forward force; there is definitely more forward force than perpendicular force, contrary to a normal outward block where the perpendicular force outweighs the forward force.

In this regard, the double forearm block functions in quite the same fashion as the basic forearm guarding block, which – if not used merely as a guard, but actually to block an attack – intercepts a straight incoming attack at pretty much the same angle as a double forearm block would. An obvious difference is that the double forearm block can only be done with the inner forearm as the blocking tool. Although the guarding block is usually performed with the outer forearm as the blocking tool, other blocking tools, like the inner forearem, knife-hand and reverse knife-hand, can also be employed.

Side view of a double forearm block
in walking stance.
Although I have adamantly argued at the beginning of this post, based on the ITF Encyclopaedia, that the purpose of the non-blocking hand in a double forearm block is not to support the blocking arm, but merely to bring the hand up in case it is needed as a secondary block, I foresee that it can actually have an augmenting support function. If you are to use the double forearm block and the attack were to push against your forearm, it is feasible that your blocking arm might tilt in such a way that it pushes against your "supporting" fist. While the non-blocking arm does not actually contribute to the force of the block, it could under certain circumstances have an augmenting support function. It is for this reason that the double forearm block is sometimes referred to as the augmented block.

An interesting observation about the double forearm block is that in the patterns it is never (as far as I know) performed at middle section. In the patterns it is generally performed at high section in a walking stance, and occasionally at low section, but then only as a pushing block, usually in an L-stance. The ITF Encyclopaedia shows some examples of the double forearm block being used at middle section, so clearly it can be used at that height. That the patterns should only employ it at high section may suggest a strategic use for the double forearm block, which, unfortunately, is not explained in the encyclopaedia, but is worth exploring.
Students are usually introduced to the double forearm block for the first time at 5th geup when the learn the pattern Yul-Gok

Photo Credits:
Colour photos are from Sonkal.
Black-and-white photos are from Volume 3 of the ITF Encyclopaedia.

21 March 2011

A Principle Based (Martial) Art

A friend and I was speaking yesterday about Taekwon-Do when he pointed out to me that we had one point on which our understanding of Taekwon-Do differed fundamentally. To him Taekwon-Do is an exact science; there are precise ways to do something. Techniques, based on clear scientific principles, are therefore to be done precisely the same by everyone. To me, on the other hand, Taekwon-Do is an art and therefore there is room for interpretation of the principles which would allow for some deviation in technique. As different people (instructors) interpret the principles a little differently one notices deviation in technique from dojang to dojang. So which is it? An exact science or a principle based art? In this essay I will try and explain my point of view, that Taekwon-Do is a principle based art.

"Unique Forms of Continuity in Space"
by Umberto Boccioni

I describe my understanding of Taekwon-Do as a “principle based art.” Notice that I'm not calling it merely an art; rather, it is an art directed by certain principles. In the fine arts one often find certain art styles that are based on an art manifesto. Such a manifesto would describe the way they would approach their art, techniques the artist would use, the themes they would devote themselves to, etc. For example, in 1909 the Italian poet F. T. Marinetti wrote the “Manifesto of Futurism” that contained a charter of eleven points, describing what he considered are the futurist ideals. Points of import for the futurists were energy, dynamism, rage, speed, man's taming of nature with science, the glorification of war, and so on. Looking at the photo of the bronze sculpture entitled “Unique Forms of Continuity in Space” (1913) by the futurist artist Umberto Boccioni one can get a sense of the futurist ideals. The sculpture evokes feelings of energy, dynamism and even rage. There is something aggressive about the bold lines and thick spikes. This sculpture successfully reflects the manifesto it is based upon.

"Funeral of the Anarchist Galli"
by Carlo Carrà.
Now compare the sculpture with the accompanying painting “Funeral of the Anarchist Galli” by Carlo Carrà. Notice the dynamic lines, the bold aggressive colours, the obvious tension and general aggressive tone. Here we see two different pieces of art, in different media, but both clearly embody the same manifesto. Although these two artworks are obviously different there is still an evident similarity – an underlying current based on the shared manifesto. The same, I believe, can be true for (ITF) Taekwon-Do. ITF Taekwon-Do is a principle based art because it is founded on a “manifesto” that outlines how we approach, perform and apply our techniques. Taekwon-Do's “manifesto” – the principles it's based on – is simply the Training Secrets and Theory of Power. (It just so happens that much of these principles are rooted in science: Newtonian physics and bio-mechanics.)

In case you are not familiar with the Training Secrets and Theory of Power allow me to quickly review them.

Theory of Power Summary:

The Theory of Power is basically a list of six principles (mass, speed, concentration, reaction force, equilibrium and breath control) that we employ for power generation and transference in our techniques. For example, when punching I don't merely want to hit with the weight of my arm, but rather put my whole body's weight behind the punch (Mass). A faster punch will, of course, increase the force (Speed). Further more, if my opponent was moving towards me as I punched, the impact would be greater because it will be a combination of his forward momentum plus the forward momentum of my technique (Reaction Force). Also, by focusing the surface area of my punch onto a smaller area (the first two knuckles, rather than the whole fist) I can increase the concentration of the force into my opponent's vital area – rather than displacing the energy over a larger area (Concentration). Additionally, to ensure proper transference of force I need to be in a stable, i.e. balanced, position (Equilibrium). Finally, the proper use of breathing will help my body to tense up at the exact moment of impact which will also contributed to the power of the technique (Breath Control).

This is a somewhat simplistic summary – be sure to study the Theory of Power in its entirety.

Training Secrets:

1) To study the theory of power thoroughly.
2) To understand the purpose and method of each movement clearly.
3) To bring the action of eyes, hands, feet and breath into one single coordinated action.
4) To choose the appropriate attacking tool for each vital spot.
5) To become familiar with the correct angle and distance for attack and defence.
6) Keep both the arms and legs bent slightly while movement is in motion.
7) All movements must begin with a backward motion with very few exceptions. However, once the movement is in motion it should not be stopped before reaching the target.
8) To create a sine wave during the movement by utilizing the knee spring properly.
9) To exhale briefly at the moment of each blow except during a connecting motion.

It is my opinion that two people doing Taekwon-Do can, to the observer, look both different and similar. This dichotomy is explained by the fact that they are individuals, creating different pieces of art and therefore look different, but because they are basing their technique on the same fundamental principles, they also look the same. If they are both applying the principles, I would not call the one “wrong” and the other “right,” for they are both “right” although they may look slightly different. It is here where my friend and I disagree because I would suggest that there are slightly different ways one could interpret the principles, while he would say that the principles can only be interpreted in a single way.

To continue my argument, we need to look at a concrete example. The seventh point of the Training Secrets says that movements should start with a backward motion and that they may not stop before reaching the target. If we apply this to a punch it means that we need to first pull the arm back. Unlike in Karate where the punch is pulled back, stops and then zaps out to the target, this point in the Training Secret tells us that the arm cannot stop. To solve this problem we do a “winding motion,” as it is sometimes called. The arm is pulled back, makes a loop and then flies to the target.

Look at the video clip of Master Mike Morningstar and notice how he pulls his arm back (i.e. “backward motion”), then loops it upwards and then dash his punch forward towards the target. Through the use of the loop, the motion is never stopped and therefore adheres to the point that says “once the movement is in motion it should not be stopped before reaching the target.”

While the seventh point of the Training Secrets implies the necessity of a “winding motion” (or loop) it does not prescribe the characteristics of the loop. The size of the loop may be done slightly different by different people. I may prefer a small diameter while other instructors may teach a more exaggerated loop. In the end, it comes down to a personal interpretation of the principles and other variables such as my body type and musculature – or even personal preference.

Although I am saying that because people may interpret the principles in slightly different ways they may do their techniques in slightly different ways and that both are “right,” there is definitely a way in which somebody's technique could be “wrong.” Your techniques are “wrong” when they fall outside of the parameters prescribed by the “manifesto.” I have to add here that they can also only be considered “wrong” within the confines of ITF Taekwon-Do. Within another martial art using another technical “manifesto” they may be completely acceptable. In Karate it may be acceptable to withdraw your hand, stop it at your hip, and then punch from there; while in ITF Taekwon-Do that would clearly be “wrong.”

In a previous post I mentioned that General Choi described Taekwon-Do as the Korean (Martial) Art of Self-Defence. The Korean expression for “martial art of self-defence” is hoshin-mooye 호신무예. There are two other ways he could have described it – either as the “techniques of self-defence,” hoshin-moosool 호신무술, which would suggest a more pragmatic and scientific approach or the “way of self-defence,” hoshin-moodo 호신무도, that could suggest a more esoteric or philosophical approach. He opted, however, to go with “art,” rather than the more precise “techniques” or the more abstract “way.” Since he was himself an artist (of calligraphy) I believe that his choice of words was deliberate. It was a good choice because a principle based “art” finds itself in between an unbending scientific approach that's too precise to make room for the improvisation required during the chaos of a real fight, and an overly philosophical approach that is equally impractical because it is too abstract and can easily become “so heavenly minded” that it is “of no earthly good.” (You can read more about moosool, mooye and moodo here.)

Taekwon-Do is for me a creative act; the scientific principles it is based on are merely the “art manifesto” I use to lead me in my artistic expression.

A Letter on the "-Do" Suffix in Korean Martial Arts

I recently received a letter from a reader of Totally Tae Kwon Do who wrote to me about my article “Martial Technique, Martial Art and Martial Way” – Issue #24, based on an earlier post from this blog called, Moosool, Mooye and Moodo. I asked the author permission to republish his letter with my reply in an upcoming issue of Totally Tae Kwon Do, so I am sure he won't mind me posting it here as well.

Dear Mr Lewis

I read with interest your article on Musul, Muye and Mudo.

One thing I thought that may have been of benefit to the reader was to inform them that the term “Do” used in conjunction with “Mu” in naming martial arts in Korea is a modern construct which only applies to those martial arts formed after the Japanese occupation. It is a simple way of determining if the martial art is a modern construct or not (although many are now using the more historically correct “Sul” and “Ye” terms in an attempt to recreate a link with the past). If we look at the pre-occupation arts of Subak, Sibpalki, Taekkyun and Ssireum (the latter two being more folk arts), there is no implementation of “Do” in the naming. It only appears later on with arts such as Kong Soo Do, Tang Soo Do, Tae Soo Do, Tae Kwon Do, Hapkido, Hwarang Do, Gumdo, Haedong Gumdo, etc., which were all formed after the occupation.

Thank you for writing the article. It is nice to read some more philosophical articles.

Kind regards,

Damian Adams

Dear Damian,

Thank you for your letter. I am glad that you liked the essay; it is always nice to get some feed back.

Your observation regarding the “-Do” suffix as a modern phenomenon and label to identify the recency of the Korean martial art is indeed correct and I agree with you. I did not mention it because I thought it may deter from my main argument, which is that there is progression in the martial art journey starting with the learning of techniques (“moosool”), to an assimilation of those techniques to a level where one can apply them creatively (“mooye”), to a level where your martial art journey becomes part of your life; your Way (“moodo”).

To return to your point, I find it interesting how General Choi described Taekwon-Do as the “Korean art of self-defence.” The actual Korean is hoshin-mooye / 호신무예; literally, self-defence martial art. While he proposed the name Taekwon-Do, which is in line with your observation that Korean martial arts that developed after the Japanese tend to have the “-Do” suffix, he defined Taekwon-Do as “mooye,” which is in line, as you pointed out, with the historic custom of using “-Sul” or “-Ye” as the suffix.

Best wishes,


12 March 2011

Sine Wave's Fundamental Relationship to the Circle

I've spoken about the sine wave motion's relation to a bigger principle, which I refered to as the wave principle or circle principle before (see here). My admonition was that the "sine wave motion is an icon, i.e. a simplification, of the [circle] principle."

I recently found this illustration on Wikipedia, which depicts the "sine wave's fundamental relationship to the circle" and thought it would be good to post it here as well. The reason I believe it important is because people often become obsessed with the sine wave motion in Taekwon-Do, but do not realise the greater principle (i.e. the "circle principle") it is based on.

What's the point? Basically, the point is that "sine wave" in Taekwon-Do is more than just "bobbing" down-up-down when stepping. In fact, if your concept of the sine wave motion is limited only to stepping or sitting stance punching, you are clearly not understanding the underlying principle. The fundamental principle, of which the sine wave motion is one manifestation, permeates through all our movements. It is part of how we step, true, but it also involves how we chamber, what we do with our hands, how we block, why we rotate our arms when punching, why our techniques start with a "backward motion"; it is even part of our approach to joint-locks and throws. To properly understand the sine wave motion (or any other fundamental way of movement in Taekwon-Do), one has to understand this underlying principle that I call the wave principle, which can just as satisfactory be called the circle principle or Taegeuk ("yin-yang") principle.

05 March 2011

Taekwon-Do and Calligraphy

I think it was around 2004 when a Korean artist had an exhibition in Potchefstroom, South Africa, displaying paper fans on which she had painted exquisite pictures in the traditional Korean style. While looking at her paintings I interpreted them from my only solid understanding of Oriental art, namely martial arts and in particular ITF Taekwon-Do. The paintings included both pictorial depictions and calligraphy. I saw in these paintings some of the same dynamics, the same type of energy, the same type of lines and motions, that I'm familiar with in Taekwon-Do.

In around 2005, I saw a CNN broadcast of a Chinese dance choreographer who used calligraphy as inspiration. The choreographer was probably Liu Qi from the Guangdong Modern Dance Company, who choreographed the successful “Upon Calligraphy”.

This of course got me thinking about General Choi, the principle founder of Taekwon-Do, who was himself a gifted calligraphist, being one of many martial art legends who was also known for his calligraphy:

"Many martial arts legends such as Jigoro Kano (Founder of Kodokan Judo), Gichin Funakoshi (Founder of Shotokan Karate), Morihei Ueshiba (Founder of Aikido), Wong Shun-Leung (Legend of Wing Chun Kung Fu), and General Choi Hong-Hi (Founder of Taekwon-Do) were all famous East Asian Calligraphy artists." -- Yvonne Yang-Yun Kwok

General Choi Hong-Hi
Apart from Taekwon-Do, calligraphy was General Choi's great passion. One has to wonder how much his practise of calligraphy affected his development of Taekwon-Do. There is no doubt that his study of Chinese characters contributed to Taekwon-Do. We know that it was his intimate knowledge of Chinese characters that helped him in coining the name “Taekwon-Do,” i.e. 跆拳道. More than merely a semantic contribution, I'm wondering how much calligraphy influenced Taekwon-Do on a technical level? In other words, how much “calligraphy” can we see in the actual motions of Taekwon-Do?

My question is not unreasonable. We know that some of the movements are named after symbols found in Chinese and Korean characters. For instance, the W-shape block is named after the 山 symbol, which means mountain. The Korean term for this technique is in fact mountain-block. The name for L-stance in Korean is nieun-seogi 니은서기. Nieun is the name of the character "ㄴ". The stance was given this name because its shape resembles ㄴ; that's why the name in English is "L-stance", as the letter L has a similar shape (just rotated and inverted). We also know that the diagrams of some patterns reflect certain Chinese characters. The pattern Yul-Gok is an example where its diagram represents scholar.

While I am curious about other techniques that may represent Chinese and Korean characters, my real question is even more poignant. I'm wondering if the aesthetics in Chinese calligraphy which General Choi practised since childhood can be found in the motions of Taekwon-Do technique. Unfortunately my understanding of the aesthetics of Chinese calligraphy is far too elementary to answer the question satisfactory. If I have to go with my gut feeling, my answer would be that there is some correlation, that the way the calligraphy artist makes the strokes resonates with the way a Taekwon-Doin performs Taekwon-Do movements. Drawing a calligraphy brush stroke and performing a Taekwon-Do movement is a complete act; it requires the whole mind and the whole body in a singular action. It necessitates precision, but also fluidity. For both to approach perfection requires unwavering resolve. And while each movement, like each stroke, stands alone, it is also part of a greater whole -- of a sequence of movements that forms a distinct pattern, or a set of strokes that form a distinct character.

Such are the things I think about.

02 March 2011

ITF Taekwon-Do -- Dojang in Seoul, South Korea

One of the searches that attracts visitors to this blog is people searching for a dojang where they can practise ITF Taekwon-Do in Seoul, South Korea, so I thought I'll post some details about it here.

Master Kim Hoon
There is one dedicated ITF Taekwon-dojang in Seoul run by Master Kim Hoon. He is a 4th Dan in ITF, 7th Dan in WTF and former captain of the Korean Tiger Demonstration Team. Master Kim is the owner of the 'The Way' Martial Arts & Fitness Gym, which is located close to Kunkuk University (Kunkuk University Station). 'The Way' also have classes in stand-up fighting (based on kickboxing, Muay Thai and ITF Taekwon-Do) and grappling (based on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Yusul -- Korean jujitsu). All classes are taught in Korean and English and are very foreigner friendly with a nice group of Koreans and foreigners training together.

Taekwon-Do is taught Monday through Friday in the morning from 10:45 to 12:00 for adults and again from 19:10 to 20:20 (7:10-8:20 PM). There is also a Saturday afternoon session. Taekwon-Do classes are often augmented with self-defence techniques derived from Hapkido. Directly following the evening Taekwon-Do classes there is a cross-fit session to improve general fitness and conditioning.

Children classes follows a WTF Taekwondo curriculum. Class times are in the afternoons.

The stand-up fighting are on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings  and grappling classes are on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. Both begins with a cross-fit session, starting from 20:30 (8:30 PM) with the actual stand-up fighting or grappling starting around 21:00 (9pm).

You can find more details for 'The Way' here. (And on Facebook.)

Totally Tae Kwon Do

Because I was in South Africa over February with limited access to the Internet I could not post the link to the February 2011 edition (Issue 24) of Totally Tae Kwon Do in which I contributed the piece on "Martial Technique, Martial Art and Martial Way" (p. 23) based on an earlier post on this blog, entitled Moosool, Mooye and Moodo.

Issue 25 of Totally Tae Kwon Do, published at the beginning of March, contains my contribution "Prearranged Sparring: Definition, Purpose and Value" (p. 53) also based on an earlier post from this blog. I believe that this particular essay is quite important in our current era where practises in traditional martial arts are often misunderstood and ridiculed in the light of the increasing popularity of combat sports, i.e. mixed martial arts.The article also features photos of students from The Way Martial Arts Academy of Seoul where I teach ITF Taekwon-Do in South Korea. (Thanks guys! I appreciate your patience with all my photo shoots!)

Issues 24 and 25 are special for another reason as well; they contain other South African contributions. Sabeomnim Tristian Vardy, the vice-president of the SA-ITF, wrote a three part series on "The Physiological Responses of Children to Exercise," with specific suggestions to Taekwon-Do instructors that teaches children. I edited the series when we published it in our The Sidekick eZine. Part three will be featured in next month's issue (#26) of Totally Tae Kwon Do.

Other interesting articles from Issue 25 are Jason Ainley's "Offensive and Defensive Entry Techniques" (p. 37) and Roger Haines' "12 Axe Kicks of Tang-Soo-Do and Tae-Kwon-Do" (59).

Sam-Il Teul

Yesterday (March 1st) was "Declaration of Independence Movement" Day in Korea, also known as March First Movement Day or Sam-il Movement Day. Sam-il, literally means three-one, referring to the first day of the third month. (Korean dates are ordered year-month-day.)

Sam-il Movement Day is a public holiday to commemorate the independence movement against the Japanese colonialism that started on 1 March 1919, when 33 nationalists affirmed the following Korean Declaration of Independence, that was composed some time earlier by historian Choi Namseon and poet Manhae:

"We herewith proclaim the independence of Korea and the liberty of the Korean people. We tell it to the world in witness of the equality of all nations and we pass it on to our posterity as their inherent right. We make this proclamation, having back of us 5,000 year of history, and 20,000,000 of a united loyal people. We take this step to insure to our children for all time to come, personal liberty in accord with the awakening consciousness of this new era. This is the clear leading of God, the moving principle of the present age, the whole human race's just claim. It is something that cannot be stamped out, or stifled, or gagged, or suppressed by any means."

The Sam-il Movement is considered the first national non-violent protest. Like Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Ghandi’s pacifistic (non-violent) protests, so too the Samil Movement involved non-violent protest – but just at a much larger scale. By the end of the movement, an estimated 2 000 000 protesters participated. Thousands of Koreans died during these protests.

In Taekwon-Do, one of the 3rd Dan patterns is named after this movement. Sam-il Teul has 33 movements in honour of the 33 nationalists that started the movement.