Saturday, May 18, 2019

The ITF low block chamber

Last time I talked about the knifehand guarding block and the theory that originally it was the chambers of basic techniques that were the blocks. To show another example of this, let's look at the ITF/Ch'ang Hon low block chamber.

In Choi's 1959 book Tae Kwon Do Teaching Manual, the Shotokan karate low block chamber is used. But by 1965, the chamber had changed to the wrist-to-wrist position. Many ITF basic techniques -- including the rising block, backfist, and knifehand strike -- utilize this chamber.

In this chamber, the blocking tool sets up inside the pulling tool, with the fists oriented such that the back of the wrists can touch each other.
ITF Low block
The traditional use of this chamber is brush-grab-strike. Meaning:
  1. You do an initial parry against a linear attack with your front hand.
  2. You do a secondary parry with your back hand (parry-pass) and grab. This forms the chamber.
  3. Pull in the opponent's arm to your hip while you use your front hand as a strike.
For the ITF low block, the "strike" is a hammerfist to the groin. This may be done from inside or outside the opponent's arm (depending on whether you parry the attack outward or inward), although for the low block is it safer to perform from outside since you leave your head exposed.

Source: Maul565
Source: Ryan Parker
What about if you parry the arm outward? From here a different strike, such as the backfist or knifehand to the neck, is preferable. ITF uses the same chamber for these two techniques.

In this 1956 taekwondo demonstration, we see both the chamber and pulling hand utilized. Source: hapkist
Other Applications

The chamber could also be used as a flinch block against a swinging attack. Since the pulling hand is on the outside, it can catch the opponent's arm and pull as your strike. This application is similar to the above gif where a punch is deflected outward.

The ITF rising block also uses this chamber. For two consecutive rising blocks, the chamber may be used to create a rudimentary figure-four lock. The application goes like this:
  1. Use the first rising block to block an attack or raise the opponent's arm
  2. Stepping forward, thread your other arm over the opponent's elbow as you grab their forearm with the blocking arm. This creates the chamber
  3. Circle behind the opponent and pull down their forearm (pulling hand) while lifting their elbow (second rising block), creating the lock.
Source: Nantanreikan Karate Dojo
From here you may walk forward or use a three-quarter turn (like in Dan-Gun and Do-San) as a throw.

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