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Oerjan Nilsen
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Are there applications in Korean derived forms?

In another thread recently started (Moving Backwards and Spinning 360 Degrees (or 180 with a head turn) in Original Koryo (and anywhere else).) the opening poster asked about applications from Original Koryo. In the very first reply Dave B said:

"I hate to say it, but the applications of wtf forms are punch, kick and block. A spin like that would have been added purely for difficulty. TKD just wasn't designed the same way karate was. It was based on the glorified Tae-bo that was Japanese Shotokan. Now all that said there's nothing particularly wrong with block/strike karate if it is trained at realistic distance with a realistic view of the impact of striking" End Quote

In a post a little later down in the thread Leigh Simms says:

"Whilst I would agree that the TKD forms that are based on Karate Kata and have been (re-arranged and changed) were probably done so with kick-block-punch applications (if any in mind)"  

He also goes on to say:

"Where I think the difference is, is that the TKD forms are haphazard collections of practical applications that I believe were put together without any logical pracitcal thought behind the process. Because of that I would guess that most spins and turns found in TKD forms will be for linking movements together. But my knowledge of the history of TKD Forms is limited and I am more than happy change my view on evidence presented to me. " End Quote

What I would like to discuss is the possibility that there are practical applications in Korean derived forms. I personally think there are (In the KTA forms atleast). I think that what many people who disregard applications in Taekwondo forms are doing is

1) Believing it was based entirely on Shotokan

2) Funakoshi did not teach any applications beyond block kick punch

3) Looking at modern mainstream Taekwondo who has truly lost the applications beyond block kick punch

As for 1) I can say that the KTA (who made the forms "Palgwe 1-8", Black belt forms including original Koryo) was made by representatives from several different schools of different roots. The schools represented in the comite were: Chung Do kwan, Chang Moo Kwan, Song Moo Kwan and Oh Do Kwan. Now the majority of these have connections to Funakoshi. All except schools except Chang Moo Kwan came from a strong Funakoshi influence. Chang Moo Kwan was founded by Yoon Byung In who had mastered an unkown Chinese Martial Art in Manchuria before moving to Japan and study with Toyama Kanken. It was not a typical master, student relationship as Yoon Byung In and Toyama Kanken exchanged knowledge. Later the same comitte with the addition of representatives from Ji Do Kwan and Moo Duk Kwan made Taegeuk 1-8 + "new" Koryo. Ji Do Kwan`s founder Yoon Kwae Byung studdied with Kenwa Mabuni and Toyama Kanken. Moo Duk Kwan`s founder Hwang Kee trained martial arts in Manchuria as well as a lot of study with Yoon Byung In and Yoon Kwae Byung. So The foundation for the KTA is Shotokan, Shito Ryu and Shudokan Karate + Chinese sources as well as that several founders claimed to have studdied Taek Kyon.

2) I have to point out that Funakoshi gives examples of what many people would call "advanced" or "practical" applications in his own works. In his earlier works he even points to which Kata the examples are from. The applications seems to have been gradually downplayed and especially so after ww2 but the founders of the Kwan`s studdied with him before ww2. The other side of the coin is that other founders of schools that later joined to form Taekwondo studdied with Mabuni and Kanken + various Chinese teachers so I do not think it is impossible that the founders knew more than most people give them credit for.

 

3) Modern mainstream Taekwondo has developed a long way from its roots, and the sportification process has been relentless. Looking at the modern mainstream art to judge the Taekwondo of the 60s and 70s is impossible. An analogy I like here is that it would be the same as looking at Windows 7 and from that make judgements on windows 95. THey are both from the same company and both operative systems but I think we can say that they are very different. Same analogy can be used when looking at modern mainstream Shotokan and classical pre ww2 shotokan.

I am interested in hearing about other peoples views on the subject:-)

 

gerasimos
gerasimos's picture

Hi Oerjan,

Some thoughts:

1) A quick addtion to this would be to point out that other Japanese arts like Ju-Jutsu and Judo were around during the Japanese Occupation of Korea and that Chan, Sang Sup (Ji Do Kwan) was originally trained in Judo. All these arts have had some influence on what would become TKD. My Dojang nowadays throws in Ssireum for fun still. I still think that "classic" TKD is a hollistic mix of all powers (areas) of parent arts for Self Protection (not  to be confused with MMA).

2) In Hidden Karate by Gennosuke Higaki, the author is a student of Shozan Kubota (who the author asserts was a student of both Mabuni and Funakoshi) stated that during his training, Kubota stated that the true Bunkai for Kata was purposefully obfuscated by the elder masters. Only people judged worthy received the correct knowledge. It is certainly not unreasonable to suggest that both Mabuni and Funakoshi knew and taught applications beyond "Block/Kick/Punch" to those they deemed worthy (in this case, Shozan Kubota).

3) I think the sportification of TKD is an effort to keep TKD alive during an arguably "less violent" time by widening its audience and making some money. When I started learning in the late 80's, the (Chang Moo Kwan) Dojang I attended was very Self Protection oriented. My Master taught us 7 year olds the principle of the Dangki Son (even though I really didn't get it until now) and Ho Sin Sul and hard sparring was emphasized. Compared with the cardio class I attend nowadays, that was real stuff.

What I should say is that I think that now it appears to be about paying the bills and spreading the art to as many people as possible in the "safest" way possible.

- Gerasimos

Kevin73
Kevin73's picture

I think the more important question should be, "Were there originally applications in Korean derived forms"?

As Mr. Anslow and O'Neill have pointed out in their books.  Yes, you can use the motions that are similiar from the original okinawan katas and pull out applications.

But, I think if we look historically to the WTF/ITF we will find all of the top masters/instructors stating that the applications were block/punch/kick.  The creators of these forms have not come forward and stated any different either that they put hidden applications in them.

Much was lost in translation from the Shorin-Ryu katas to Shotokan.  I have pointed this out before, but if you look at the kata "Wansu", there is a throw taught called in western terms, "fireman's carry throw".  If you look at the same kata in Shotokan, "Empi" you find a jumping move where you turn 180 degrees instead.  The concept is lost there.  Then you have shells of the former katas that were passed on to the early founders of TKD, and they designed their ideas of forms around that idea of punch/block/kick.

But, back to my original statement.  It does not mean that you can't look to the source material with matching movements and assign those movements with applications beyond the simple obvious ones.

DaveB
DaveB's picture

Kevin, I'd be careful implying that Shorin ryu forms are older. There's no evidence of this at all. What we do find is that Funakoshi's karate comes from a different line than most of what is called Shorin ryu. The throw you mentioned was a commonly understood application within Shotokan schools, even back before the likes of Iain started publishing. The difference between Shotokan and Shorin ryu is in emphasis and in how they are encoded. The jump is illustrative of throwing while providing exercise for the leg muscles needed to do it, maximising kata as both codex and training device. On the thread topic I agree with Kevin completely. If there were deeper applications built into the Korean kata they would have been made apparent by the people who created them. The founders of Taekwondo could have trained with Pai Mai of the White Lotus sect, what they put in to the forms were a hodge podge of basic techniques that look like authentic kata but aren't. Just because in 2014 we think blockkickpunch is incomplete or ineffective doesn't mean they thought so in 1950. IMO trying to claim greater depth is just wishful revisionism.

Oerjan Nilsen
Oerjan Nilsen's picture

DaveB: If you think that the Korean Masters used the Kick Block Punch Paradigm when making their forms how come there are so many sequences in the Taegeuk series as well as in the Black Belt Poomsae that just does not make sense in a kick block punch paradigm? Take the second half of Taegeuk 2 Jang for instance. You move forward in short stance and do a high block. You move forward again and do a high block. You then forget about this assailant and ignore him while moving 270 degrees and do a middle section block. You then ignore this assailant (number 2) and move 180 degrees to the other side and do a block in the mid section against a third assailant. You then ignore this third assailant and turn 90 degrees while doing a low block. This opponent you finish with front kicks and punches. If a block is simply a block and this was the view of the originater you would believe that each assailent would be finished with at least one offensive technique?

Tau
Tau's picture

Oerjan Nilsen wrote:
DaveB: If you think that the Korean Masters used the Kick Block Punch Paradigm when making their forms how come there are so many sequences in the Taegeuk series as well as in the Black Belt Poomsae that just does not make sense in a kick block punch paradigm? Take the second half of Taegeuk 2 Jang for instance. You move forward in short stance and do a high block. You move forward again and do a high block. You then forget about this assailant and ignore him while moving 270 degrees and do a middle section block. You then ignore this assailant (number 2) and move 180 degrees to the other side and do a block in the mid section against a third assailant. You then ignore this third assailant and turn 90 degrees while doing a low block. This opponent you finish with front kicks and punches. If a block is simply a block and this was the view of the originater you would believe that each assailent would be finished with at least one offensive technique?

http://iainabernethy.co.uk/content/what-angles-mean-and-why-things-are-threes-video

The Korean forms were derived from the BPK (Block-Punch-Kick) mentality which we now understand to be massively flawed. They adapted this flawed system... and this is why I don't do TKD anymore!

Incidentally, pretty much all of the applications I was given to the ITF forms were based on strike attacks, with the occassional grab. The double arc-hand block in Ge Baek was seen as defence against a chair being swung.

Your point about finish offensively is entirely valid and I asked this whilst I was TKD Kup grade. Consider:

- Chon Ji finishes with a punch, albeit which stepping backwards

- Dan Gun finishes with a stepping punch

- Do San finishes with a back knifehand

- ... then Won Hyo finishes with a "guard." Admittedly that positition could be seen as strike

- Yul Gok finishes with a block

I did question this, but no instructor could answer.

Oerjan Nilsen
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The Korean forms were derived from the BPK (Block-Punch-Kick) mentality which we now understand to be massively flawed. They adapted this flawed system... and this is why I don't do TKD anymore!

 You state this as fact. The fact is that the mainstream were indeed taught the system as block kick punch with added self defense techniques and forms but again I will point out that if the forms were made purely from a kick block punch paradigm in mind then there would be no "illogical" sequences like the one I just gave from Taegeuk I (2) Jang where you end up blocking 3 different opponents before engaging a 4th without having done one single offensive technique to any of the aforementioned 3.

- Chon Ji finishes with a punch, albeit which stepping backwards

- Dan Gun finishes with a stepping punch

- Do San finishes with a back knifehand

- ... then Won Hyo finishes with a "guard." Admittedly that positition could be seen as strike

- Yul Gok finishes with a block

I did question this, but no instructor could answer.

The mainstream teaches Taekwondo as block kick punch (there are no facts that say that people did learn more but I think it is likely) so it is not so strange that no instructor could answer your questions once you go beyond the kick block punch applications. I am not so familiar with the Chang Hon forms. In Kukki Taekwondo the forms usually end with an offensive technique allthough we have some exceptions like Jitae where it ends with a knife hand guarding block. The ending of the forms should be with an offensive technique if you subscribe to a purely kick block punch way but they do not always follow this "rule". Inside the forms themselves there are sequences that simply make no sense from that paradigm either. Taegeuk Pal Jang has Oe Santeul Makki followed by Dangkyo Teok Chigi (A double block where you block low block in front of you and an outward high block behind you followed by grabbing the opponent in front of you and striking his chin with your fist while pulling him in). Again we simply "block" the opponent behind us that we do  not even see and then ignore him for a good while before turning to face him where we again do the same double block blocking one infront of you and one behind you and then ignore the one behind you completly never to face him again. I just believe if kick block punch was the only thing on the originators of those forms mind then the simple kick block punch applications would be very logical and clear to see. In spite of this there are an insane number of sequences in the forms that do not make sense with this view that can only be explained by "deeper" applications beyond the kick block punch view.

I can not know what the originator thought of when creating them, there is no evidence that they were taught deep applications beyond circomstancial ones but at the same time there is little evidence against it beyond "They never told us about them" etc. I find it very odd that people only being taught basic kick block punch applications would devise forms based on this view that do not make any sense in this view.

http://iainabernethy.co.uk/content/what-angles-mean-and-why-things-are-threes-video

I have not seen more than a few seconds so far but I will enjoy watching this later:-) Thanks for sharing with me Tau:-)

gerasimos
gerasimos's picture

One form I like to think does not adhere to the Block/Kick/Punch paradigm is Keumgang. The pattern notably contains "things in 3" like Iain's video. Near the beginning of the pattern it contains 3 palm "strikes" to the chin going forwards, followed by 3 knife hand "pushing blocks" going backwards.

Other points of note:

- There are no kicks in the pattern (there are actions that can be interpreted as "stamps" at 2 different points) as demonstrated in any of the other Kukkiwon Patterns.

- A lot of spinning into side punches whilst in horse stance (similar to Naihanchi). These are the only "strikes" that occur following the 3 palm "strikes" near the beginning.

- The pattern contains ample use of the crane stance with a high block and low block performed simultaneously.

- All other movements appear to be "blocks" or grab releases.

My point is that the movements contained therein do not confirm to the typical Block/Kick/Punch and when analyzed further appear to point to a very anti-kicking oriented pattern (as has been stated by many, Oerjan included on his blog). This may be one example, but it is a whole pattern. The Masters involved in creating Keumgang didn't just string a bunch of random moves and/or sequences together because they might have looked cool and to also contain 2 examples of "things in 3" would imply an understanding of the concept as presented by Iain's video at least in the most basic sense. This would also imply that the concept of "things in 3" was taught openly to the Korean Masters and passed down to those who had an idea of how to use it. Why not just use 1 or 2 movements instead of 3 (though in the Taegeuk [which is newer than the Yudanja and Palgwe], series we see groups of 2 as per Taegeuk 2 Jang)?

[Pattern]

Kevin73
Kevin73's picture

Oerjan Nilsen
Oerjan Nilsen's picture

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4tzs1gncsHM

I am not sure where you are going with this and how it is furthering the discussion. I have not given any "dingelhoppers" as I have not said anything about what the techniques are for. What I have stated is that there are several sequences (very many in fact) that does not comply with the kick block punch paradigm in the KTA forms. I have given examples on two of these in my previous posts. I still think that if we take the view that the Korean masters who made the forms only knew kick block punch when they made the forms the forms should make perfect sense in that paradigm. They do not and not even close. Therefore I ask why is this? Why does it not conform perfectly into a kick block punch paradigm if that is what it is based on?

DaveB
DaveB's picture
Oerjan Nilsen wrote:

DaveB: If you think that the Korean Masters used the Kick Block Punch Paradigm when making their forms how come there are so many sequences in the Taegeuk series as well as in the Black Belt Poomsae that just does not make sense in a kick block punch paradigm?

Tkd it's self is a block-kick-punch art, the poomsae are meaningless. Combatively empty exercise. They were an attempt at making a copy of karate (which has many kata that end with blocks or moves that look like blocks), that was different for the sake of being different, in a time before karate was properly understood outside of a few Okinawan masters. That's why they don't make sense.

Karateka in those days explained kata as power generation training, balance and rhythm training, breathing training, basics training and visualization/meditation, and whatever other bs they could come up with to fill the void of a missing martial strategy and no applications for nom standard movements.

Kakushite, the idea of implied counter attacks that sit between the explicit techniques was all the application needed for sequences that end with blocks.

As stated, there is no good reason why deeper applications of the TKD patterns would not have just been passed down as part of the syllabus as normal as in Chinese martial arts.

Another point worth mentioning is that even in karate forms blocks are often just blocks because the real value is in the sequences of techniques and why they fit together.

By all means, add more depth by adding more complex applications to the forms aspect of your syllabus, but they were not there to begin with and as such they will be harder to find than those in karate kata.

Tau
Tau's picture

DaveB wrote:
By all means, add more depth by adding more complex applications to the forms aspect of your syllabus, but they were not there to begin with and as such they will be harder to find than those in karate kata.

That is an excellent statement, much more succint that what I've been saying.

gerasimos
gerasimos's picture

Tau wrote:

DaveB wrote:
By all means, add more depth by adding more complex applications to the forms aspect of your syllabus, but they were not there to begin with and as such they will be harder to find than those in karate kata.

That is an excellent statement, much more succint that what I've been saying.

A very valid perspective on this conversation though I disagree with it because there is an absence of difinitive proof for either sides of this conversation. This isn't the first time I have participated in this type of conversation and it is usually those who share the quoted opinion that provide the best "proof" or logic against their own ideas to foster creativity as opposed to stifle it. It isn't like they aren't sticking to their guns they just do it constructively.

Just because we repeat something over and over doesn't make it any less or more true.

DaveB
DaveB's picture
gerasimos wrote:

Just because we repeat something ov

er and over doesn't make it any less or more true.

Neither does wishful thinking in the face of the odds.

There is a historical context to why Japanese karate lost its applications and the Koreans learned the art from those who either did not know or were not teaching application at that point in history.

If TKD had been built with deeper applications why weren't they taught? Why weren't they ever mentioned by the people who created the patterns?

There are complete detailed descriptions of the philosophical ideas behind the Wtf patterns, hell you can even study a degree in TKD in Korea, so why is it only on the back western revision of Japanese Karate's kata that applications have suddenly surfaced?

Until someone can come up with convincing answers for these questions instead of just avoiding them, I for one will not be changing my view

gerasimos
gerasimos's picture

DaveB wrote:
gerasimos wrote:

Just because we repeat something ov

er and over doesn't make it any less or more true.

Neither does wishful thinking in the face of the odds.

There is a historical context to why Japanese karate lost its applications and the Koreans learned the art from those who either did not know or were not teaching application at that point in history.

If TKD had been built with deeper applications why weren't they taught? Why weren't they ever mentioned by the people who created the patterns?

There are complete detailed descriptions of the philosophical ideas behind the Wtf patterns, hell you can even study a degree in TKD in Korea, so why is it only on the back western revision of Japanese Karate's kata that applications have suddenly surfaced?

Until someone can come up with convincing answers for these questions instead of just avoiding them, I for one will not be changing my view

My statement applies as much to my perspective as it does to yours. Personally, I am not asking you or looking to change your views, I am looking to see if you can provide something other than "does not exist" from your perspective. If you can't, then you've already said that many times over and it's okay. Don't expect me to roll over and change my view either.

It doesn't matter if you've attended Yudo College (I believe its name changed to Yong In University now) and are smoking the 2000 year TKD myth and it's philosophies, there will be those that will look beyond it to find the truth. If the truth is that no one taught applied mechanics, then so be it.  If the truth is that some people did know them, but chose to hide them for TKD much like Karate did when it went to Japan, then so be it. You would be hard pressed to find a nationalistic Korean that wants to admit TKD isn't theirs whilst some westerner with no nationalistic ties is more open to exploring/rediscovering or "revising" history.

Regardless of where we stand, thanks for the thoughts. :- )

DaveB
DaveB's picture

The 2000 yr old tkd idea is precisely the same kind of revisionist nonsense as the deep application concept.

The former was nationalist pride looking to reclaim a cultural identity after the Japanese tried to erase it.

The latter is tribal stylistic pride looking to reclaim the respect of the MA community since MMA and the pragmatic MA movement have diminished the value of kicking.

The answers to that dilemma are in the future not the past.

Ever since I started training TKD, I've thought TKD should do away with its Korean Karate patterns and develop forms like the Ashihara and Enshin karate sets. Encoding the years of strategic refinement; One set of forms for sport tactics and one set for self defense based on the military training. TKD is a modern martial art and there's nothing wrong with developing it further.

This and other ideas to progress Taekwondo won't ever happen so long as people are always looking backwards trying to reinvent the past.