Tae Kwon Do: Alternative Applications For Blocks

Most of our video applications on this blog are primarily from a Karate and Kung Fu perspective (as they are the styles that Keith and I do).  However, we thought we would do something a bit more geared to Tae Kwon Do as we did not want TKD practitioners to feel left out :)

But first a little background.  The applications to many Karate moves were “dumbed down” when Karate went public.  Firstly Karate was introduced into Okinawan schools to help physically prepare students for national service (and you don’t want school kids damaging each other).  Then when Karate went from Okinawa to Japan at a time when Japan was modernising very fast, traditional martial arts were seen as obsolete, except as a method for physical and character training (more dumbing down).  Then during the American occupation of Japan after WWII, martial arts were banned; so to be allowed to practice the Japanese had to claim it was more for self development and sport than for self defence and then had to practice accordingly (even more dumbing down).

Tae Kwon Do’s General Choi would no doubt have learnt this dumbed down version (as did the vast majority of Japanese masters).  However, the more it is investigated the more it is apparent that Karate’s basic “blocks” do not work well as blocks.  Yet these same “blocking” movements can be quite efficiently applied as close quarters strikes, arm locks and releases from grabs.  Although we don’t know for sure what the original intentions of the creators would have been, it is far more likely they would have been used as close quarter strikes/grappling then for actually blocking.  If they were used for blocking, then it is more likely that the block occurred at the chambered position and the completed position would have been a some kind of counter (strike/lock/etc).

To add to the confusion for Tae Kwon Do practitioners, in some versions of Tae Kwon Do these blocks were adapted to make them “more efficient blocks”.  In other words, to make them better at what they were not really meant to be used for.  In particular, the chambering position has been changed in some versions of Tae Kwon Do (other versions of Tae Kwon Do still chamber the Karate way).

However, I’m a believer that if you change a movement, you usually gain something and lose something.  Throughout the centuries, Okinawan and Chinese martial arts masters have changed their arts to suit their physiques, their environments and their own mental make up.  They gained an advantage for their personal circumstances but maybe lost something that could have favoured their masters circumstances.  So change is not necessarily a good or bad thing, as long as it can be used by the practitioner for their own personal circumstances.

Whilst the adapted chamberbing position used by some versions of Tae Kwon Do will have lost some of the original applications from its Karate roots, they will have gained some new applications.  Not better, now worse, just different.

In the video below, Keith and I look at how some the amended Tae Kwon Do chambering positions can be used for close quarters strikes and grappling applications.  We don’t claim that these would have been what the originators had in mind, we simply don’t know.  Nobody dose.  We simply believe that these are additional applications in your arsenal, for moves that you are already doing. For any Tae Kwon Do practitioners who have not seen these types of applications before, Keith and I are far from unique in our way of thinking. There are some very good books on the subjects, most notable are show below.


[Applied TaeKwonDo]

If you are interested in Tae Kwon Do specific applications, then the books below are leaders in the field:-


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2 Responses to Tae Kwon Do: Alternative Applications For Blocks

  1. admin says:

    Thanks Matt. I think that may be where have an advantage doing the Okinawan Karate, as I don’t think it got as much dumbed down as the mainstream Japanese styles (though I may be wrong).

  2. Matt says:

    Very nice! Enjoyed the TKD perspective. Once you accept that the dumbing down occurred it makes it much easier to try and get inside the heads of the old Sensei and bring out what they may have originally intended for the technique.

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