Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan Federation Techniques

This article describes Soo Bahk Do techniques in both physical and philosophical terms. I find the philosophy is critical to properly learning the physical. As importantly the philosophy is necessary to extend the techniques to new situations.

May 2005

As I recorded in my journal, on the way home from the February 2005 Gup testing Lorraine asked me how much we practiced for the breaks we did. The answer was none. White belts broke for the first time at testing, in front of an audience.

With the ATA we practiced heavily for the breaks we did at testings. It was a major feature of classes in the weeks preceding testings. Given that testings were every other month we did a LOT of practicing for breaks!

As I struggled to explain to Lorraine why we did zero practicing for breaks, I reached an epiphany -- the SBD techniques are performed the same regardless of whether we're striking air, a pad, a heavy bag, an opponent, or a board. There is no difference in techniques!

There is a difference in control, especially when free sparring (as opposed to active self defense), but that has nothing to do with how the techniques are performed.

With the ATA we learned two different sets of techniques -- one for general purposes that we used in forms, one-steps, self defense, and sparring. The second was learned separately for breaking. The "normal" version of all techniques does NOT use the hip -- these techniques snap fast but rely on that speed for their power. For breaking a version of the techniques that does use the hip (although it was never defined that way) had to be learned.

This proved difficult for many students. Side kicks can be difficult to teach, and until breaking a board there is little indication in how much power is lost by doing the technique incorrectly. And side kick is probably the kick that is most often performed incorrectly.

I learned to do side kicks correctly when I had to perform a #2 (back leg) jump side kick break. I'd wallop that board hard enough to knock two holders and a backup guy (none of them lightweights) back a step without breaking the board. I just couldn't figure it out. Then one of the Black belts suggested turning my hip over farther.

I tried that and blew straight through the board! [During my time as an assistant instructor with Vision TKD I made it my mission to teach people to do correct side kicks!]

Last night (12 May 2005) I had another epiphany. Master Bannard gave us a "fun" night -- we did knife defense for while as a method of teaching us a new technique, and then we did Ki Cho Hyung Il Bu with long staff.

We didn't concentrate on the knife attacks, just the defense. But Master Bannard pointed out that we should use ANY weapon as an extension of our body. Train to fight with a weapon and when you don't have the weapon you're unarmed. Train to use the weapon as an extension and you're always armed.

So he briefly instructed us to attack with the knife as if punching -- a straight stab with the knife (rubber, of course). This made perfect sense! Then on to Ki Cho Hyung Il Bu.

Ki Cho Hyung Il Bu (Basic Form #1) consists of all low blocks and middle punches in front stances, moving in an "I" pattern. It's the easiest hyung to learn, and Master Bannard says Kwan Jang Nim uses this hyung most often to teach concepts. The hyung is easy so we can concentrate on the concepts.

The positioning of the staff to switch between the blocks and strikes was confusing. I freely admit I just was NOT getting it. Then Master Bannard reiterated that ALL techniques in SBD are performed the same regardless of target or presence of a weapon!

I'll take Kwan Jang Nim's example and use Ha Dahn Mahk Kee to explain myself:

To prep for Ha Dan Mahk Kee. Without a weapon I move into the intermediate position, left fist by my right ear, right hand low across my abdomen, elbows crossed. With the staff I do the same basic movement -- the left hand grips the staff high, with the hand near my right ear. The right hand grips the staff low, down on the left side of my abdomen. Elbows are crossed either way.

To execute the technique without a weapon I swing my left arm down in an arc to cover my left thigh, shifting my right hip forward and my left hip backward, while pulling the right hand into chamber. With the staff I make nearly identical movements, with the exception that right hand acts as a fulcrum for the staff and the technique ends with the right hand is stretched across my abdomen, with the staff resting alongside my ribs on the left side.

Essentially it is the same movement, regardless of whether I'm empty handed or not. I did need Master Bannard to explain tha point clearly, but once he got through to me it all made sense! [There are times when the bone density of my skull appears to be stuck on MAX! :-) ]

It's a lot easier to learn one set of techniques with minor variations for different situation, rather than learning two totally different sets of techniques!

Copyright 1999-2008 Bryan Fazekas