10 May 2011

Sine Wave and Motion

I realised that I've never actually properly explained the basic understanding of the sine wave motion on this blog. I've always assumed that readers of this blog know what I'm talking about and from there move onto a deeper interpretation of the sine wave motion. So, herewith, the sine wave motion as it is typically understood by most ITF practitioners. The following is something I wrote many years ago and is part of the Soo Shim Kwan handbook. (My understanding of the sine wave motion has evolved since I originally wrote this.)

Sine Wave and Motion

By Sanko Lewis with references to the ITF Encyclopaedia and the essay: “Pattern Speeds and Sinewave Study” by Paul McPhail (VI Dan) – www.itfnz.org.nz (2004).

The sinewave-motion is a method of power generation utilized by ITF Taekwon-Do. The obvious purpose of sinewave is to lift the body mass, thereby increasing potential energy and then converting the stored energy into kinetic energy by dropping the body mass into the technique. Taekwon-Do techniques, therefore, usually work in a natural partnership with gravity.

The above description only explains the last half of the total sinewave-motion. A full sinewave-motion involves that the body is first relaxed (dropped) prior to the raising and dropping of the body mass.

The aim of this initial part of the sinewave-motion is to consciously relax the muscles. Following below is a list of reasons why relaxing is advocated:

  • In a stressed environment the musculature have a tendency to tense up. Relaxed muscles are faster and more reflexive than tensed muscles.
  • Naturally bending the limbs, specifically the legs, allow for better thrust.
  • Lowering the centre of gravity contributes to a balanced initial foundation from where the technique can commence.
  • Relaxing the muscles reduce the unnecessary use of energy.
  • Muscle cells uses up ATP-energy when active. Cells only need a short time of relaxation to produce ATP.
  • Relaxed muscles ensure smooth graceful motion.
  • Conscious relaxation helps to focus the mind on the task at hand; mentally preparing for attack or defence.

“The relaxation desired is relaxation of muscles, rather than of the mind or attention.” – Bruce Lee.

At the beginning of the sinewave-motion the body is relaxed, the limbs slightly bent and the mind focussed.

The middle part of the sinewave-motion, when the body mass is raised, usually coincide with the backward-motion referred to in the Training Secrets of Taekwon-Do. The raising of the body mass is achieved by raising the hip as suggested in the Theory of Power – Mass.

As for the last part of the sinewave-motion, the body mass is not merely dropped down, but is usually accelerated down at the end of the sinewave-motion. This is achieved by utilizing the knee-spring action and by jerking the hip (rotating the waist) in the direction of the attacking or blocking tool as described in the Theory of Power – Mass. (There are some exceptions.) Power should be unleashed gradually throughout the sinewave-motion and must achieve maximum acceleration during this last part, specifically at the point of contact with the opponent’s body. Every muscle of the body must be concentrated towards the appropriate tool at the proper time. (Refer to the Theory of Power – Concentration.)

The down-up-down motion of sinewave should always be performed smoothly like a wave in water. The motion is never performed jerkily (saw-tooth motion) as this will in fact reduce accumulated momentum.

  • Full sine wave motion requires that the body is relaxed (down); the mass is then raised (up); and completed by finally dropping the body mass into the technique (down). This down-up-down motion completes one movement / technique with full sinewave. 
  • 2/3 sine wave motion means that upon completion of the first movement, the practitioner immediately moves up and then drops the body mass down to complete the next movement (up-down). 
  • 1/3 sine wave motion means you are already up at the completion of the first movement and only drops down into the next movement (down).

Fundamental movements (e.g. in patterns) may also be described according to the particular speed, tempo-quality of the technique, the method of breathing used, and attitude of the performer.

  • Normal motion is the speed and tempo at which individual movements / techniques are normally performed in patterns; with the usual characteristically short-sharp exhalation (normal Taekwon-Do breathing) and full sine wave motion.
  • Slow motion movement is performed slowly with slow breathing. This is used to emphasize an important movement and to check balance and control. The tempo of slow motion is about four times that of normal motion. The attitude is that of focus and concentration.
  • Fast motion is performed urgently and aggressively with normal breathing, i.e. one short sharp exhalation for every technique. Fast motion is nearly always attacks, usually two punches. The sinewave is cut short; springing straight from the first movement into the next.
  • Continuous motion links movements together with no pause between the end of one movement and the start of the next. Inhale once at the beginning of the series of movements and exhale in a continuous flow of air but emphasizing each movement. Try to link the movements smoothly, with grace and beauty. Continuous movements nearly always start with a defensive (blocking) technique. 
  • Connecting motion joins two movements with one breath and one sinewave. Connecting motion is always performed with two movements using opposite arms. 

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