Welcome back! In my first post, we explored the beginnings of Tae Kwon Do, and what it meant to be a practitioner of our style, Ji Do Kwan. As I mentioned previously, I’m going to talk about a wide variety of subject matter, including technique, philosophy, life skills, respect, discipline, accountability, focus, power, goals, and ethos. With so much to cover, I’ll once again start at the beginning by discussing basic technique.
Every participant in class comes in as a white belt. You’ve filled in nothing at this point; you’re new and have everything to learn. When you first enter class, you might be daunted by all of the people-where do you go, how should you act? No matter what dojang (school, gym) you belong to; class always begins by lining up. We stand in even rows together with the highest belt anchoring the group from the right front corner. We stand in charyot-or attention, which means that your hands are at your sides, you look straight ahead, you stand upright with your shoulders back, and stay still. We do this to show our respect for our art of Tae Kwon Do, to our instructors, and to show the discipline we have achieved.
Most classes run through a series of kicks and punches to begin, and ours is no different. Punching takes place in Ju Choom Seogi, or horse riding stance. This stance is wider than shoulder length apart, with your toes pointed at a 5 degree angle off center. Your hands are in fists resting at your belt level. Your shoulders should be square and pulled back, and you should spot a target in front of you. You can view an example here: https://youtu.be/hTSgA3bJeqA
Punching is executed from your belt, where your fist extends, upside-down, until the last moment when you turn it upright into a strike. These punches should be executed to land at your solar plexus level. The target you spotted earlier will help keep your focus. These chest punches, or momtong jeorugee, are done in a series to allow you to become used to punching correctly. Your wrist should be in alignment with your hand, and your thumb should always be on the outside of your fingers, NEVER on the inside!
Once punches are complete, we head to kicks. Tae Kwon Do has the widest variety of kicks of any martial art-it’s the cornerstone of our art. At the beginning of class, we do the following 6 kicks:
Straight leg raise
Out-to-In Crescent kick or Ahn Bandul Cha-gi
In-to-Out Crescent kick or Backat Bandul Cha-gi
Front kick or Ahp Cha-gi
Round (Roundhouse) kick or Dolryo Cha-gi
Side kick or Yup Cha-gi
Our class does this from a stance, specifically the front stance, or Ahp Geobi. You can view an example of this stance and all kicks here: https://youtu.be/7zrivED391k
To properly be in this stance, have your toes in front at 5 degrees off center to the left (or right, depending on which leg is in front) and stand with that same knee bent where you can’t quite see your toes. The leg that is back should correspond to the hand that is up by your face. This hand should be under your eyes to allow a sightline. Your other hand should be at your side around your belt level. Here are examples of each as executed from this stance.
Now that you’ve seen each one, I’m going to break down each kick into its individual parts. This is very detailed and not the most interesting, but it’s fundamental to being able to master each kick. Each kick will be executed with my right leg and described as such.
Straight leg raise: from your ahp geobi stance, bring your right leg up keeping it straight and touching it to your right shoulder. Swim with your arms, so that the left comes up to protect your face and the right swings back past your leg. Come up on your toes with your left foot to generate even more height with this kick. Bring you leg back down and return to your stance. Your arms and leg should move at the same pace-match in everything that you do to achieve the balance required to execute the kick flawlessly.
Out-to-In Crescent kick or Ahn Bandul Cha-gi: bring your left arm behind your back, and your right across your body while winding your upper body. Your right leg should swing close to your left, come up high and land in an arcing motion on the ground. Then it returns to your stance. Your arms should swim; your right arm swinging back along with your right leg, and your left should come up to protect your face.
In-to-Out Crescent kick of Backat Bandul Cha-gi: bring your leg up from the outside across your body while turning your plant foot (left foot) to allow for the leg to properly come over your body. Also swim, so your right hand comes down on the side of your body while your left hand comes up to block your face.
Front kick or Ahp Cha-gi: bring your right leg up to chamber it before snapping it out. Swim with your arms, bringing your right hand back and your left hand up to protect your face. Those arms come straight, not across your body. Also, when your leg comes up to snap out, come up on the toes of your left foot and send your hips forward as you snap out your leg. Project this forward to allow greater power.
Round kick or Dolryo Cha-gi: bring your leg up (almost as if you’re lifting it over an imaginary height) and kick out across your body. Make sure the leg comes straight across, not sweeping up. Turn your bottom foot to face 180 degrees away from the front as you allow your entire body to turn. Swim with both arms as you would in any other kick, with the right being sent back as the left comes up to protect your face. Again, use your hips to project your entire body with the motion of the kick.
Side kick or Yup Cha-gi: bring your leg up as if you were intending to do a front kick, but turn your bottom foot to that same 180 degree position as you “punch” out your leg, striking with the edge of your foot. It’s important to create that edge and not strike with your toes. Your arms won’t swim, but rather both come up in front of your face to protect it as you kick out. Your hands should be up closer to your head to also assist in maintaining your balance.
These are all of the basic techniques that are the building blocks for many of the other things we do in TKD, including forms, board breaking, and advanced kicking. I look forward to presenting more next time! Master Cruz