Monday, April 8, 2019

Koryo double side kick

Source: Majest
Even though I am ITF-trained, I'm rather fond of the KTA poomsae Koryo and have been studying applications for it recently. The most baffling part is the back leg double side kick performed early in the form. Koryo's ready position and opening guarding block have a simple application that is, I think, fairly well known. It comes from the karate kata Kushanku. After using the ready position as a guard to defend against any kind of swinging attack (haymaker, front bear hug, headlock), overhook the opponent's arm while striking the side of their neck.

Source: Practical Kata Bunkai
This is an old, perhaps the original, application for the guarding block. It appears not only in traditional martial arts but modern self defense systems. A live demonstration by Tony Blauer (as part of his S.P.E.A.R. system) is shown below.
Source: CrossFit
It can be used against a haymaker, front bear hug, or tackle. By pushing out on the opponent's neck you prevent them from striking or hugging you effectively. You can also throw in some quick hand strikes or knees from this position. In some ITF forms, a front leg front kick is used.

What you cannot do is the double side kick. There's no way to realistically apply it from this close a range, and why use it over simpler hand strikes? However, I don't think the two kicks are meant to be used from this defensive position, but rather as your opponent escapes from this position.

Applying pressure to the side of the neck is uncomfortable and once the opponent realizes they can't take you down, they may dive away from your knifehand.

(1) Since you have an overhook, you have tactile information that their arm is slipping. (2) Lock their arm with both hands as you turn 180-degrees stepping forward. (3) Perform the low side kick to the side/back of their knee. This will cause them to collapse onto that knee, lowering their head. (4) Perform the second side kick to the back of their head. Pull the arm back while kicking for greater damage.

I have one more application from Koryo that I will discuss in my next post.


  1. In the Kukkiwon Taekwondo Textbook, the second yeop chagi in the godeup yeop chagi in Koryo is explicitly stated to be targeted at the chest (the face, however, is mandated for WT competition). Given that, your proposed application certainly lines up well.

    1. Thanks for commenting. It's my understanding that the second kick was chest level up until 2006 or so. I guess the high kicks look better in competition.

    2. WT mandates all kicks be face height in competition except for the first kick in the godeup yeop chagi in Koryo and the first ap chagi in the dubal dangsong chagi in Taegeuk Pal Jang. In the dojang however, many master instructors encourage face height kicks for exercise/flexibility, but the good ones will remark that kicks need not be face height in application. Also, a few newly published KTA books are starting to encourage middle/low kicking, kicking while holding the opponent, etc. in their application work. WT is certainly still focusing on TKD as a game, but the KTA and to an extent the Kukkiwon, are slowly starting to come back to self-defense and updating the curriculum.