Monday, December 26, 2016

Throwing in Choong-Moo, Part 2

I apologize in advance for all the gifs your computer has to load. It’s difficult to talk about these throws with just static images. In this post I'll cover three more throws found in Choong-Moo, once again using the more commonly known Judo names.

Cross body o soto gari (large outer reap)
An o soto gari
O soto gari refers to any throw where you reap the opponent's cross-side leg out from the outside as you pull them off-balance. The cross-body version pulls your opponent at a 90-degree angle before reaping. The reason being is that -- being a lateral throw -- it is much more difficult to counter, as the opponent cannot simply step backwards to avoid leaning over.

Application for flat spearfinger thrust
We'll start the defense with the flat spearfinger thrust in response to a grab. Although this move is usually portrayed as directly striking the eyes, I wouldn't recommend going for such a small target. Instead, a more practical application for the move is a palm strike to the chin that turns into a flat spearfinger thrust as you claw down into the eyes, a move you commonly see in self-defense circles.

The move has other uses. You can dig upwards into the opponents's throat, for example (this was Gichin Funakoshi's application). In the gif I provided, the defender uses flat spearfinger thrust as an intercepting block, before following up with an elbow strike with his back arm. If you shoot the spearfinger thrust on the other side of the opponent's head, you can transition into a headlock. The back hand for the guarding block can also be an inward strike to the neck. The exact move you do isn't important; so long as you neutralize your opponent in some way.

That said, the fact that the guarding block is open-handed is rather strange. One possibility I've read (from a karate guy) is that the movement can be used as a "lever" against a double lapel grab. The spearfinger strike will push the opponent backwards, straightening their arms. Use both your arms to push the opponent over 90-degrees (knifehand guarding block).

You may then place your right leg behind theirs while grabbing them (bending ready stance A to the back), and reap it out (side kick to the back) to perform the throw.

Application for moves 4-7 of Choong-Moo. Note that the perspective for the first three example images is mirrored.
Of the five side kicks in the form, this is the only one preceded by the bending ready stance.
Kani basami (flying scissor takedown)

Kani Basami
If you've ever wondered why there's a step-flying-side kick out of nowhere in Choong-Moo, it's likely a stand-in for kani basami, sometimes called a "flying scissors throw" or "crab claw throw". The initial step you take is for positioning: getting your front foot in front of your opponent. Jump up and scissor your opponent between your two legs, then twist your hips to take them to the ground.

This throw is infamous for breaking the leg of the judoka Yasuhiro Yamashita in the 1980 Summer Olympics. As a result, it is banned in Judo and most BJJ tournaments. But is it good for self-defense? Maybe. I'd avoid performing this on a hard floor, but it can a quick and effective takedown if you are grabbed from the side. It's also very surprising and difficult to counter.
Werdum's flying side kick

I've noticed that some taekwondo-ists perform a step-pump-side kick for this move. This appears to be incorrect: there is no frontal pump in the instructions for Choong-Moo (or anywhere in the Encyclopedia for that matter) (fnt 1). Instead, the flying side kick is like a skipping side kick with a jump; your back leg never travels in front of your front leg. So if you're wondering how a frontal pump relates to kani basami, the answer is that it doesn't.

This isn't to say that the flying side kick isn't a useful technique in its own right. We saw it used recently in the UFC (Werdum v Brown). Flying kicks also make very good conditioning tools: develop leg strength, balance, and coordination, all of which are transferable to other techniques.

Kata Guruma (Shoulder wheel throw) aka Fireman's Carry

Kata guruma
Kata guruma is the usual application I see for the U-shaped block followed by the jump and 360-degree spin. The use of the U-shaped block is obvious: it’s the pickup part of the throw. The bottom arm traps the opponent's leg and the top arm traps the opponent's arm. The jump represents lifting with your legs; notice how the thrower squats low before lifting.

But why the spin?

I’m pretty sure wrestlers just do it for show. Even the version of kata guruma in the Encyclopedia doesn’t include a spin. What gives? (fnt. 2)

Stuart Anslow’s explanation is that only the first 180-degrees of the turn is part of the throw, followed by a backwards dump, and then the remaining 180-degrees is just turning to face your now downed opponent. Here’s my interpretation of how the move works as kata guruma.

You begin by using U-shaped block from a knees-bent position against a standing opponent. Instead of relying on your arm strength alone to lift them up, you turn and sort of bump your shoulders into them as you rise upwards (the "jump"), placing them on your back. You occasionally see Judoka do this (see right gif). The judoka turns to initially help lift their opponent, and then keeps turning to control them as they try to escape.

The placement of the throw in the form would also make sense, since the next throw in the form (kuchiki taoshi) can be used in case your kata guruma fails. Both throws involve gripping the opponent's inner leg.


Between these two posts, I believe I've provided applications for roughly half of Choong-Moo. Although next post I'm going to return to a different subject, there are many other throws and takedowns to be discovered within the forms. Not all of them have Judo equivalents: many of them involve head cranking, for instance, or sweeping the legs with a kick, both of which are illegal in Judo.

I thought I'd leave you with this video from Karate Culture. It's about karate (obviously), but it has a similar theme to these posts: showing how you can learn form applications by finding the motions in other arts.

Want even more throws? Check out throwing in Po-Eun.


1) The frontal pump appears to be a recent taekwondo innovation, likely added to help students with insufficient leg strength do jumping kicks. In the Encyclopedia, jumping kicks are either done straight upwards or after a running start.
2) Apparently this jumping spin also appears in a karate kata. Iain Abernethy's explanation is that it's a stomp to your opponent's head after throwing them. Personally I don't buy this: there is no reason to jump or spin 360-degrees to perform a stomp. If anything, that's going to make your stomp very difficult to aim.

Stuart Anslow. Ch'ang Hon Taekwon-do Hae Sul - Real Applications to the ITF Patterns: Vol 2

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