All Basic Techniques of Tea kwon do fall into one of four general categories:stances, blocks, strikes and kicks. The approach of Tae Kwon Dois direct and uncomplicated, its very strength derived from its seemingsimplicity. Unlike other systems, such as certain styles of Kung-fu, wherecomplex maneuvers are learned to deal with specific defensive situations, Tae Kwon Do encourages spontaneous reaction by its students.
The techniques themselves are geared for practical efficiency, with theblocking techniques developed to protect specific areas of the body (although not necessarily against specified forms of attack) and the strikingand kicking techniques to direct maximum force in a variety of directions. Thus a trained student of Tae Kwon Do, when confronted with anattack to the head, for example, possesses a wide array of defenses andcounterattacks that can be employed effectively. The techniques of someother martial arts systems provide elaborate, esoteric means of dealingwith particular types of attack.
The problem with this approach is thatif the defender misreads the attack, or if the attacker is unorthodox, thedefense may prove to be ineffective. Tae Kwon Do avoids this problemby developing sound, general techniques, and it leaves the specific application of those techniques to the trained intuition of the individualstudent in real-life situations. In this way, students of this art are prepared for a virtually infinite variety of attacks.
Tae Kwon Do is often compared (and confused with) a number ofother systems, most usually Japanese Karate-do. At one time, whenthe art was first introduced into the United States, Tae Kwon Do waspopularly known in the West as Korean Karate.
While there are some superficial similarities between these two systems, each martial art isa distinct system emphasizing different things. Specifically, Tae KwonDo can be differentiated from other systems by its emphasis on kicking techniques and a mobile and upright fighting stance.
Consider theanatomical structure of the human leg in comparison to that of the arm.A leg can reach almost twice as far as an arm, delivering a blow from a much greater distance. And the heavy musculature of the leg makes itmany times as powerful as an arm. Thus, a properly executed kick candeliver far more power than it is possible to generate with an arm, whileat the same time keeping your opponent at a safe distance.
Those whohave any knowledge of the martial arts are aware that virtually everysystem employs kicking techniques, many of which are similar to thoseof Tae Kwon Do. The important difference between these others andTae Kwon Do, however, is the manner in which kicks are delivered.
Tae Kwon Do emphasizes the quick retraction of the striking limb(arm and leg) following the delivery of an attack, as opposed to Japanese Karate-do, for example, in which the limb remains more rigidlyextended for a brief time following the blow.
The advantage of the rapidretraction of the limb is that it enables the student of Tae Kwon Do todeliver multiple strikes with great speed. Further, blows from rigidlyextended limbs are much easier to evade in a real-life situation, whereasquickly retracted blows snap out with such speed that an opponent ishard pressed to block or evade them. There are those, however, whoargue that such rapidly retracted, or “snap” techniques cannot deliverthe same power as the more rigid techniques. We believe this is a misconception.
When a student of Tae Kwon Do learns the proper use ofhis or her pelvis in the delivery of a technique, the same level of powercan be generated as with a Karate kick, and without the rigidity and exposed vulnerability inherent in other approaches. Another danger withthe more rigidly extended limb: The longer the limb remains extendedaway from the body, the more opportunity an opponent has to grab andmanipulate that limb. The “snap” techniques of Tae Kwon Do makethis virtually impossible as well.
As we mentioned above, Tae Kwon Do is characterized by its uniquearray of kicking techniques. The strength and reach of the leg make itan ideal tool for unarmed defense. The power generated by these techniques, however, comes from the proper use of body mechanics thatTae Kwon Do has developed over the centuries.
But in order for anytechnique to be optimally effective, the defender must adopt a properly aligned stance that can support and help transmit power into thetechnique.
This then brings us to the fourth and final general categoryof techniques: stances. Although the most basic of all techniques, wecannot overemphasize the importance of developing proper stances.If a student works very hard to perfect his punching and kicking techniques but cannot support those techniques with a proper stance, hewill never be able to generate power. The key to generating power islearning to use the hips and waist properly.
This is something that onlycomes with time and practice—there is no shortcut. If you apply yourself diligently, though, you will soon reach the point where you willcome to “feel” when your stance is proper. Then you will be on the roadto developing power.
On the following pages, we have separated the basic techniques ofTae Kwon Do into the four general categories: stances, blocks, strikesand kicks. While the techniques presented are not an exhaustive listof every Tae Kwon Do technique, these are the basic techniques thatstudents of the art must master in order to achieve the level of firstdegree black belt.
We have illustrated each of the blocking, striking,and kicking techniques from a single stance (usually a kicking stance)and from a single camera angle.
Furthermore, we have not illustratedall of the various possible applications of each technique. Our focus inthis chapter is on providing the reader with a working understandingof the basic techniques and illustrating the proper form used when atechnique is done correctly.
Variations in applications of techniqueswill be discussed in Chapter 4, which deals in depth with sparringtechniques.
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