I haven’t covered much in the way of bunkai (applications) lately, so I thought I’d put in a few videos from Iain Abernethy, one of my favourite applied martial arts teachers. Although Iain is a primarily a Karateka, he has a following from many other systems, especially Taekwondo due to it’s Karate background.
The first sequence is from the kata Wanshu/Enpi (depending on which style you practice). It has an interesting application for the lower block which can be applied to any place that the lower block is used (not just in this Kata).
Next we look at knee attacks. High level knee attacks look good and look dangerous but have a lot of limitations, which Iain demonstrates here before showing how to make them more practical.
And we finish of with a nice bit of strangling and takedowns which appears in a number of kata/patterns.
Russ Martin, 5th Dan TKD is recognised within the Taekwondo Association of Great Britain as an expert on applied Taekwondo (the practical application of the basics and patterns). He should really be known further afield as he has a very extensive knowledge.
To better understand his own art he decided to study Shito Ryu Karate as well and has attained his black belt in that too. He has also attended seminars with many of the great names in applied pattern/kata bunkai.
In the videos below he demonstrates applications to a number of basic blocks and pattern movements, most of which will be very readily recognised by most Karateka as well.
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.
I was particularly looking forward seeing this one as it was a fusion of the 2 styles. Having made my own DVD, blending Karate and Kung Fu, I was keen to see somebody else doing a similar thing between different styles. I wasn’t disappointed. But first, their promotional trailer:-
Grandmaster Kim (Hapkido) and Master Bae (7th Dan TKD) introduce the DVD, explaining that it is aimed mainly at TKD students to emphasis the self defence aspects of the art. The masters felt that with since TKD became an Olympic sport there is so much emphasis on sport that the original self defence aspects of the art are sometimes overlooked. Master Kim explains that TKD has the speed and power, whereas Hapkido has the flexibility, pressure point and joint locking skills.
The DVD is well produced with step by step break down of movements. It emphasises that the student should not just try to memorize the movements, but learn the principles behind them. This I think is the best advice from the whole DVD as by learning the principles, these masters are giving the student the tools to go away and work things out for themselves. It brings to mind the old saying, give a man fish and you feed him for a day, teach him to fish and you feed him for life.
I did feel however, that the DVD sold TKD a bit short. Being a Karateka, I am aware that Karate was dumbed down when it went public. The vast majority of Japanese masters learned the dumbed down version, which TKD was also based on. However, many Karateka who also studied Kung Fu, Aikido, JuJutsu and others arts (or went back to Okinawa) soon recognised that the techniques in those other arts were the same as movements in their own Karate kata, but the applications were far more effective than the dumbed down applications they had been given in Karate. Many of these Karateka have brought this knowledge back into Karate and accepted it as being the original meaning of the art (rather than being an imported part from another style).
I believe that TKD being largely based on Karate is in the same position. The pressure point, joint locking applications are not missing from TKD, they have in many cases (though not all before anybody jumps on me) been lost or forgotten.
When General Choi took Karate back to Korea and started to formulate TKD, he would have influenced by the indigenous Korean martial arts such as Hapkido. So for TKD exponents to look at a sister art such as Hapkido is an excellent idea for them to re-discover what should have been there from the very beginning. Don’t look on Hapkido as something different, look on it as something that helps fill the gaps and completes your TKD knowledge.
I would recomend it, a good Christmas present if you know a TKD exponent.
This DVD is just about Hapkido and compliments the Mixed TaeKwon DVD very well. But first the trailer:-
This follows the same step by step format as the previous DVD, with break downs, close and wide angle views, parnter and solo practice drills. It establishes the underlying principles of Hapkido first, then these principle are used over and over again during the self defence scenarios demonstrated. A very good introduction to Hapkido for anybody interested in the style. Also good for TKD and Karate people who would like to explore further some of the seemingly obscure parts of their own style.