Sunday, July 16, 2017

Hae Sul 3: Hwa-Rang twin block set

Hwa-Rang moves 4-6 is clearly based on the opening of Heian Nidan, but adds in an odd bit of footwork: slipping in the front foot, and then sliding out into fixed stance for the third move. Funny enough, the footwork for Heian Nidan has often changed in between different versions of the form:
  • Heian Nidan: Remain in back stance for all three moves
  • Pinan Shodan: First two moves in cat stance. Shift into ready stance for move 3
  • Pinan Sono Ni: First two moves in cat stance. Slip front foot into riding stance for move 3
None of these are quite what we do in Hwa-Rang; it's just interesting that different karate masters felt a need to alter this set.

Slipping the front foot is not just cosmetic: it can be used to get around an opponent's leg, to create space to pass an arm, or as a sweep. Take a look at the following application for the opening of Won-Hyo from Matthew Sylvester's channel
Source: Practical Taekwondo
I like this application, but although he identifies it for Won-Hyo I think it works a little better for Hwa-Rang because 1) the upward punch is a better torso attack than a knifehand strike, 2) If the opponent resists the foot sweep, we can use the forward slide as a takedown.

Therefore, here is my modified version of the above application.
  • Use the crossed-arm chamber for the twin block as a parry-pass. I.e. parry an attack inward with your front arm, then grab and raise up your opponent's arm with your back hand as you step forward. I noticed that in the Encyclopedia, the student performs the move with a half-turned front fist. Though this is likely an error, you can use the half-turned fist as a side backfist strike to your opponent's face or jaw as you lift their arm. Dan Djurdjevic shows something close in the image below.
Source: Dan Djurdjevic
  • Grab their shirt with your front hand. Pull them in as you perform the upward punch, striking their solar plexus or driving up under their ribs.
  • Sweep out your opponent's left leg with your right leg (slipping the right foot back in)
  • Use the slide forward to knock out your opponent's hips as you bar the front of their body with the punch, knocking them to the floor.
This sort of hip bump or "wedge throw" is a simple takedown: by ramming into someone with the slide you take their balance. Below is a gif of Lyoto Machida using such a technique in the UFC.
Source: Bleacher Report
This is also what I think might be going on in Pinan Sono Ni, with the slipping of the front foot into riding stance.

Sources

Monday, July 10, 2017

Hae Sul 2: Gae-Baek drop takedown

In General Choi's books the double arc hand block is portrayed as catching a frisbee or throw pillow -- something that got a chuckle out of me the first time I saw it. Here I'll analyze the first time the movement appears in Gae-Baek and get something else out of it. The set is:
  • Front stance rising block 
  • Maintaining stance, low block
  • Maintaining stance, double arc hand block
  • Lift and bring in front foot to bending ready stance A
Of note, this is the first time in the ITF forms that a bending ready stance is not followed by a kick. In my club we tend to turn an extra 45-degrees as we perform the stance, in preparation for move 9.

A common interpretation for the last two moves is a two-handed "push" followed by a sweep. To avoid retreading old ground here's a different application, shown in the combined gif below:
Sources: One Minute Bunkai, Maul565
Details:
  • Assume an opponent grabs you. Use the rising block as an upward strike to their jaw (not in the gif) as you grab a hold of their wrist with your reaction hand.
  • Use the low block to crank their arm
  • Continue the crank into the double arc hand block. The top arc hand strikes the opponent's jaw
  • You can use the bending ready stance as a knee strike to the back of the head, but the interpretation I like is stepping behind your opponent and dropping to one knee, throwing them to the ground.
There are a couple other uses for the rising block. In the form you move backwards into it: it could be that your opponent is doing a grab-and-punch to the head and you are defending (a rising block, properly used, makes a good round punch defense). Another option is that your opponent is doing a double grab, and the rising block is breaking one of the grabs. Something similar is shown in the images below.
Left: rising block against a round punch. Right: rising block and low block against a double grab.
Sources: KDCombat System, Richard Moon
Sources

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Hae Sul 1: Dan-Gun rotary throw

I've decided to try a different format for these posts. Rather than long, encyclopedic explanations of forms, I'm going to focus on single sets at a time. This will hopefully make things more digestible. For the inaugural post, let's return to Dan-Gun.

The twin outer-forearm block has changed between karate and ITF taekwondo. In both karate and kukki-taekwondo the front fist faces inward. This works well for one of it's main applications: a simultaneously rising block and strike to the jaw. The chamber is also down at the hips, meaning both arms travel upwards.

Twin block from Choi's 1965 book
Oddly, ITF taekwondo made two changes to the movement, and not at the same time. By the time Choi's 1965 book Taekwon-do: The Korean Art of Self-Defense was published, the front fist faced outward, but the trajectory of the technique was the same as in karate (right image). By the time the Encyclopedia of Taekwon-do was published 20 years later, the chamber had altered into the cross-arm setup we practice today.

Because of these two changes, the applications differ from the karate version. The orientation suggests that both hands could be grasping something. Take a look at this shoulder lock from an old Judo self-defense manual.
Source: Art of Manliness.
Originally from Modern Judo and Self-Defense by Harry Erwin
In case you can't see it, the back hand rising "block" is used to lift and turn the opponent's arm, while the front hand grabs the opponent's shoulder, pinning them. Even the initial defense looks like the low chamber from Choi's 1965 book. A common variant is to grab the head rather than the shoulder. Although the defender uses a 180-degree turn, often a three-quarters turn makes this lock easier. This brings us to Dan-Gun. The set we'll analyze is:
  • Front stance high punch
  • Front stance high punch
  • Three-quarters turn into back stance twin outer-forearm block, sliding the back leg
  • Front stance high punch
An application for the first three movements are shown in the gif by two Krav Maga instructors below:
Source: Stewart McGill
Details:
  • Use the setup hand to parry a round punch as you enter and thrust your elbow over your opponent's shoulder (first high punch). Make sure you grab and pull your opponent's arm with the reaction hand
  • Take another step forward, raising the opponent's arm while you pull down their shoulder (second high punch)
  • Continue by stepping out with your back leg and doing a three-quarters turn into the twin outer-forearm block, raising their arm and pinning their shoulder or head. This twists the opponent's arm behind their back, putting them into a shoulder lock.
Although the example gif above is against a round punch, I've also seen Krav Maga instructors use this technique against a blunt weapon -- like a bottle or club -- similar to the Judo knife defense above. Twisting the opponent's arm back in this way makes it difficult for them to hold onto their weapon.

The Rotary Throw

You have a few options from this position. You could knee strike your opponent, attempt to pin them, or you can do what in Aikido is called a kaiten nage, or "rotary throw." The latter is what the form recommends, with the final high punch.
Source: Rogue Warriors
As you walk forward into front stance, use the opponent's own arm as a lever to throw their body (remember: they are in a shoulder lock). You can also use your reaction hand to press down their head so they are forced to flip over.

There are a lot of online tutorials on this throw if you're interested in more detail. Just be warned that the entry for aikidoka is very different -- they don't really defend against punches -- but the throw itself works.
Bottom row: SouthQueensferryTKD
Sources