Martial Arts with Integrity



Episode 29: The “Traditional” Trap


A rant about why, as a traditional martial artist, I dislike the term “traditional” in referring to martial arts.

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At-Home Training #3


Hope everyone had a great weekend! If class weren’t canceled today, it would be a sparring class. You can’t really practice sparring at home without a sparring partner, but you can learn some things to improve your sparring skills.

First, watch this sparring match.

There are a lot of interesting things about this match.

  • This is a national championship, and both fighters badly want to win, but they are respectful toward each other and toward the judges.
  • The fighter in the red helmet is taller (and probably a little older) but the fighter in the blue helmet maintains a lead through most of the match. Remember: the smaller, younger kid can win!
  • At 0:40, you can see how both of them are light and quick on their feet. They’re not flat-footed. That makes them able to move faster to attack and to get out of the way of the other kid’s attacks.
  • At 0:57, you can see the red fighter attacking with a roundhouse kick and the blue fighter defending by spinning for a fast back kick. Remember trying that in class? Think you can be that fast?
  • At 1:25, the red fighter tries to start off a combination with a spinning kick. At 1:40, the blue fighter tries the same thing. Both of these kicks miss because you have to be a LOT faster than your opponent for that to work, and both of these kids are pretty fast. Spinning kicks are much easier to land in the middle of a combination, or as a counter.
  • At 2:43, in the second round, the red fighter is a lot more aggressive. He starts scoring a lot more points. He keeps moving forward and the blue fighter keeps moving backwards. But the blue fighter is really good at scoring while moving backwards (even though that’s harder than moving forward) so he is able to win the match.

But the biggest thing I want you to notice about this match is that both of these fighters are really good at footwork.

Try this:

  • Get in a fighting stance, and bounce in place. Try to be really light on your feet so you can move quickly.
  • Try moving forward an backwards. Try to be FAST when you do it.
  • Try moving from side to side. Again, try to be FAST.
  • Switch feet, and do it all again.

Now it’s time to add some strikes.

  • Shuffle forward, and throw two punches, one to the head and one to the body. 10x each foot.
  • Shuffle to the right and throw a left leg roundhouse kick. 10x, then try the other side.
  • Shuffle backwards and throw a front leg side kick. 10x each foot.

Overachievers: Watch this sparring match. What kind of attacks do the fighters favor? What would you do if your opponent attacked you that way? What would be the hardest thing to overcome in sparring someone who fights like that? How would you overcome it?


At-Home Training #1


I know I’m not the only one disappointed that we’re not having class tonight. If you want to have some martial arts at home tonight, here’s something you can do instead.

The subject for the day was supposed to be Master Carlson’s Grab Bag of Doom. For this lesson, we’ll explore the history and culture where taekwondo comes from.

See if you can do the following:

Part 1:

Take 15 minutes and learn to read Korean. Now you can read the crazy squiggles on belts and uniforms and rank certificates! See if you can write your name, or see if you can read these words:

Overachievers: Give this podcast a listen.

Part 2:

Take 1 1/2 minutes and take a look around the Taekwondo Museum in Seoul, Korea. If you pause at 29 seconds, you can see nine bronze plates on the right half of the display. Those show the emblems of each of the original nine kwans, the original taekwondo schools that joined forces to create Kukkiwon, the official governing body of taekwondo. The one right smack in the center is Kang Duk Won, which is the kwan that you are training in today. Here’s a better look at it:

Overachievers: Learn a little about the larger facility. It looks like the videos are broken, but they aren’t. They’ll load if you click on them, and you can see Korea’s national taekwondo demonstration team doing a very flashy performance.

Part 3:

You’re probably ready to move around by now. Most of you have a jegi already, but if you don’t, you can make one really easily. Take it outside! Start with some jegi chagi (the warm up exercise) to get your hips ready to move. Then try some traditional jegi games.

Overachievers: Try hitting it with your taekwondo techniques. Try everything–punches, ridge hands, roundhouse kicks, side kicks, spin hook kicks, or whatever else you can think of.

Have fun, and let me know how it goes!