02 October 2011

Techniques: when serious harm is not intended

A couple of posts ago I mentioned that a major difference between Taekwon-Do and Hapkido is that Taekwon-Do traditionally does not have “arresting techniques”, known in Korean as chepo-sulgi 체포술기. These are techniques used to control and pin an opponent—for instance joint locks—that you can use to “arrest” your opponent; in other words, keep him still and compliant while you wait for the police to arrive and take him away. One uses these types of techniques when you do not wish to seriously harm a person. Taekwon-Do was developed in the South Korean military, within the contexts of WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. It's purpose was not for civilian use, but military use. Techniques are therefore intended to harm, not control, the opponent. How then, do we handle a situation in which you do not wish to seriously harm your opponent?

There are two categories of techniques that the Taekwon-Do aresenal does include which are less brutal in nature. Unfortunately, even these techniques are not all that safe and can still cause serious injury—indirectly in the case of the first category, and directly, if performed without the necessary control, in the case of the other. These two categories are pushing techniques and throwing techniques.

Pushing Techniques 미로술기

Almost all techniques in Taekwon-Do employ attacking and blocking tools that are innately hard and often conditioned to make them harder still. Furthermore, the force is often concentrated onto small surface areas, for example only the first two knuckles instead of the whole fist, to increase the pressure and so cause more injury.

Pushing techniques, on the other hand, frequently use softer parts of the anatomy and have the force spread over larger surface areas, for instance the open palms. When pushing techniques are performed with harder anatomical structures like the forearms, it is done in such away that the opponent is not hurt. The purpose is not to cause direct damage; rather, the purpose of a pushing technique is to break the structural integrity—or more specifically, the equilibrium—of the opponent and to create distance between oneself and one's opponent. Pushing techniques can be described as “soft techniques” 유술기.

Although pushing techniques can be used against a person with little direct harm, they can still be indirectly dangerous. Pushing techniques are generally aimed at breaking the opponent's balance, often causing the opponent to fall. People not versed in proper break falling methods are more likely to get hurt when falling. People have died from falling and hitting their heads against a hard surface. Pushing techniques are better than other offensive techniques if you do not wish to hurt someone, but they still carry a measure of risk.

Throwing Techniques 던지기

According to the ITF Encyclopaedia, one reason for doing a throwing technique is “when you do not wish to seriously injure an opponent” (Volume 5, p. 341). The reason is not that throwing techniques are not dangerous, but because a person acquainted with throwing techniques can more easily control how hard they perform the throw. Depending on the type of throw, one can also sometimes prevent the opponent's head from hitting the floor. Throwing is therefore a relatively safer category of techniques if you do not wish that much harm to your opponent. The problem, however, is that it is not always that easy to control a throwing technique. During moments of duress you may perform the throw harder than intended, especially if adrenalin is rushing through your system. Also, a person that does not know proper break falling techniques may still get injured, even if the throw is performed with reasonable control.

In conclusion, pushing techniques and controlled throwing techniques are offensive techniques that can be used if you do not wish to cause too serious and direct injury to an opponent. Beware, however, that accidental injury can still occur. Personally I believe that since most of us do not practise Taekwon-Do for military combat use, we need to further supplement our Taekwon-Do arsenal with techniques that are more appropriate for civilian defence.


Ymar Sakar said...

I went into aikido because they had put emphasis on joint locks and I needed practice. Or rather, I needed practice with the locks themselves, since I originally learned them only as joint destruction methods and techniques.

But the six base locks could be used for restraint defense locks as well, without the destructive intent. But that took a lot of practice. Often I noticed that some of my fellow students had a rather difficult time remembering the ways in which certain arm and wrist locks were accomplished. I only had issues with the hybrid locks. The ones that used more than one of the six base locks. Once I could figure out which of the base locks an aikido lock was, I essentially had it memorized right then and there. Thus there was no mental confusion to trip up the physical training.

I think learning the destruction methods first, made me a lot more careful than the other beginners in the aikido class were.

SooShimKwan said...

True, once you know those basic couple locks, they are all pretty much the same.