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Taekwondo hand strikes are as a close distance alternative to kicks. They are executed in a number of ways from standing, jumping, spinning and rushing forwards. Hand strikes make up fast combinations of strikes which can leave an opponent stunned and unable to defend himself. Taekwondo hand strikes can be separated into two distinct styles:
Various surfaces of the hand may be engaged as the striking surface depending on which area of the opponents body which is being targeted. This leads to a large array of hand positions.
- Forefist - A closed fist may be jabbed out directly to strike with the forefist knuckles. This is a suitable position for general punches to soft areas of the body. Without protection, it is inadvisable to strike the bony face as fingers are likely to get broken on the hard temple and jaw bones.
- Hammer fist - A closed fist may be brought down in a hammering motion to strike with the underneath. Such a strike can obliterate an opponent's nose, making it nearly impossible for him to retaliate.
- Backfist - A Son Deung clenched hand is swung backwards into the face of an opponent. The back of the hand makes contact and the momentum garnered in the swing makes this a powerful strike. Spinning backfists are a knockout punch and banned in most Taekwondo competitions.
- Flying Punch - struck usually from the rear hand, the combatant hops on the front foot, kicking back with the rear foot and simultaneously extending the rear hand as a punch, in the form of "superman" flying through the sky.
- Knifehand - 'Sonkal' is the Taekwondo name for a move similar to the "karate chop", i.e. where an open hand is hammered down to make impact with the underside. A ridgehand is the opposite, where the top of the open hand strikes. These are commonly made to the side of the neck.
- Fingertips - Jumeok can be used to strike vulnerable areas of the body such as pressure points. Four finger strikes engaging the tips of the outstretched hand (known as a spearhand) can be made to vital points in the neck.
- Thumb - Eomji is a fist with the thumb protruding over the top. This is a formidable weapon in pressure point striking. Vulnerable areas can be targeted all over the body such as the sternum, the spaces in between the ribs and other nerve clusters.
- Palm heel - a classic self-defense strike where the hand is pulled back to engage the base of the palm in an upwards thrusting strike. This is particularly dangerous if applied to the base of the nose or chin and can result in death. This strike is banned in competition Taekwondo.
- Elbow strike (palgup chigi)- The forearm is folded inwards towards the body and the strike is delivered with the outside of the forearm or elbow while stepping forwards. Tae Kwon Do also makes use of reverse and front elbow strikes.
- Four-knuckle strike - This is a fist shape particular to the Asian martial arts. Instead of closing the fist completely, the fingers are held out and only the knuckles are bent, thereby presenting the upper set of knuckles as the striking surface. This fist is used for breaking boards as the smaller surface area concentrates the punches power. In self-defense, it may be used to purposefully break an attacker's jaw.
- Eagle strike - In this strike, the fingers all touch together, and the hand is pointed down, exposing the top of the wrist, which is then swung upward to strike the underside of the jaw. If done properly, this strike can easily fracture the jawbone, and is usually banned from competitions due to the extreme danger. If done improperly, however, the practitioner may break his wrist.
- Tiger claw - A strike using the space between the index finger and thumb. Fingers are made rigid, and the attack is usually directed towards the neck/trachea. Serves as a way to incapacitate an opponent for a few seconds.
- Pincer hand - A strike which uses thumb and forefinger to strike opponent's throat. In this technique a fist is closed except thumb and forefinger which are fully extended outwards.
- Scissor finger - A fist in which forefinger and middle finger is extended out as if to dig someone's eye. Similar to Pincer hand except that the forefinger and middle finger is extended outwards.
- Chestnut fist - Similar to normal fist except that first three knuckles are pushed outward slightly with thumb.
All kicks can be executed as jump kicks, spin kicks, jump spin kicks or multi-rotational spin kicks. Also, all can be performed by the front or rear leg in a given stance.
Some of the best-known Taekwondo kicks include:
- Front Kick (앞 차기 ap chagi): This is a very linear kick. The practitioner raises the knee to the waist, pulls the toes back and quickly extends the foot at the target. It is also known as the snap kick. The front kick is one of the first kicks learned in taekwondo; if mastered it can become one of the most powerful. This technique is more meant to be used to push the attacker away, but can injure the opponent as well.
- Side kick (옆 차기 yeop chagi): A very powerful kick, in which the practitioner simultaneously raises the knee and rotates the body 90 degrees, while extending their leg. In WTF style taekwondo, this technique should strike with the outside edge of the foot, although using the heel may provide more force if used in sparring.
- Roundhouse kick (돌려 차기 dollyeo chagi): The practitioner raises the knee, turns the hips, pivots on the non-kicking foot, and snaps the kick horizontally into the target at an 80 to 90-degree angle, either with the instep or with the ball of the foot with the toes pulled back.
- Back kick (뒷 차기 dwit chagi): The practitioner turns the body away from the target and pushes the back leg straight toward the target, hitting it with the heel while watching over the shoulder. The turning motion helps to give this kick a lot of power. Without proper care, you can "spin out" and lose your balance from using this attack.
- Reverse side kick (반대 옆 차기 bandae yeop chagi): This kick is similar to the back kick, except the body turns further, allowing the heel to hit the target with the foot pointing to the side as in a regular side kick, instead of downward as in a true back kick.
- Hook kick (후려 차기 huryeo chagi): A less popular kick traditionally, however it has found increasing favor in modern competitions. The practitioner raises the knee in a fashion similar to the roundhouse kick, then extends the foot outward then snaps it around in a dorsal arc, with the heel as the intended striking weapon.
- Axe kick (내려 차기 naeryeo chagi): Another kick that has increased in popularity due to sparring competitions. The leg is raised usually from the outside of the body like an outside crescent kick. then the leg is pulled down with the heel pointed downward. It is typically targeted toward the head, shoulder, or chest and requires significant flexibility to employ effectively. This kick is best used against the collar bone, which can readily break from this attack. the setup in the initial raise of the kick can also be done from the inside, or middle (straight up and down.)
- Crescent kick (an chagi/bakkat chagi): There are two variations of this kick: the outer crescent and the inner crescent. In the outer, the practitioner raises the extended leg as high as possible, and slightly up across the body, (a bit across the centerline of the body), then sweeping outward to the side, in a circular movement. In the inner, the motions are the same but the direction of the kick changes, this time originating from the outside of the body, heading towards the inside, or centerline of the body. These kicks are also called "inside crescent kick" and "outside crescent kick" at some taekwondo schools.
- Reverse Turning Kick (반대 돌려 차기 bandae dollyeo chagi): This kick may appear similar to a hook kick, but is performed with a straight leg, and usually at least a half-rotation. The heel connects with the target.
- Spin kicks There are several spinning kicks that involve the rotation of the entire body and head before the kick is released. Spinning kicks include the back pivot kick (dweel chagi), spinning hook kick (dweel huryeo chagi), spinning axe kick, returning kick, 360 turning kick, and a number of other kicks of varying popularity.
- Fly Kick (on mondollyo chagi):The practitioner steps forward and spins in the direction of their back leg while raising their knee and jumping to perform a spinning inside crescent kick in midair.
- Jump Kicks (뛰어 차기 ttwieo chagi):
There are also many kicks that involve jumping before their execution. These include the jumping front kick (ee dan ap chagi), jumping side kick (이단 옆 차기 idan yeop chagi), flying side kick, jumping axe kick, jumping roundhouse (ee dan dollyeo chagi), jumping spinning hook kick, jumping spinning roundhouse kick, jumping back kick, and jump spinning side kick. Normally, jumping kicks involve pulling up the back leg to help gain height during the jump and then performing the kick itself with the front leg.
- Advanced kicks: There are a variety of kicks that can be used in combination or stem out from a simple kick to create more difficult ones. Some of these include 540 Kick (One spins 1½ times in mid-air and does a kick, usually a back spinning hook kick), a 720 Kick (the practitioner spins 2 times in mid-air and performs a kick, usually a back spinning hook kick), and Triple Aero Kicks (Practitioner performs round house kick, back spinning hook kick, and another round house kick in mid-air).
- Fast Kicks: Also, many kicks can be employed using a fast kick style. The practitioner shuffles the back leg forward to the front leg, and the front leg comes up and kicks closer to the enemy than the practitioner had been before execution. This can be used with side kick, roundhouse kick, front kick, hook kick, and axe kick.
- Monkey Kick: This is an awkward, ineffectual kick that is just barely impactful enough to cause hogu that are rigged for electronic scoring to register a point, especially in WT (formerly WTF) - style sparring. It is often cited as an example of how the practice electronic scoring harms sport Taekwondo. Electronic hogu have embedded sensors that detect the vibration from a blow. In principle, the idea is that a legitimate taekwondo kick (such as a roundhouse kick) will impact the hogu and cause the sensors to vibrate -- thus scoring a point. Because there is no guarantee that the legitimate kick will impact directly on the sensor, the sensors need to be calibrated to detect even "light" impacts. This kick takes advantage of this light calibration by allowing the competitor to score a point with a simple, awkward tap of the foot on the hogu, as long as the impact occurs near a sensor. In the case of a Monkey Kick specifically, this light impact is accomplished by tapping the bottom of the foot against the opponent's sensor while standing very close to the opponent.
- After many complaints from different Member National Associations, the WT Technical Commission decided to sanction the athletes who used the technique in excess. The Commission also called all coaches from the participating countries for a meeting so the coaches could express their opinions about the technique and situation
- Lower Kick: This kick can disarm the opponent if done with a lot of force but if the opponent is on the guard the kick might not work.
Taekwondo blocks known as Makgi are used to stop and deflect an incoming attack. They engage various parts of the arm with the hand and are held in different positions such as knife-hand, closed fist etc. Each block is suitable for a particular kind of attack and may be combined with another punch or kick to make a counter-attack.
- Single Forearm Block - Wae Sun Palmok is used to deflect an attack (usually a kick) made at the torso. Starting up near the opposite shoulder, and the leading hand is projected down and across the body to deflect the kick with the forearm.
- Low Block - Najundi Makgi is used to defend against low attacks to the torso or legs. This is one of the most basic Taekwondo blocks and one of the first things a beginner will learn. The lead forearm is bent and raised to shoulder height, snapping the arm down straight with the palm facing the ground, which blocks any incoming low kicks.
- Rising Block - Chookya Makgi is another basic Taekwondo block, used to defend against overhead attacks to the head and shoulders. The arm is bent and raised above the head, and the underside of the forearm absorbs the impact of the blow, which may be painful but is better than it connecting with your head or delicate clavicle. This block is used to defend against Hammerfists, Axe Kicks and overhead strikes with blunt instruments.
- Palm Block - Sonbadak Naeryo Makgi is a standard block used to deflect incoming kicks and punches. The open hand is raised up to shoulder height and thrust directly down to meet the attackers limb. The heel of the hand makes contact with the attacker's forearm in case of a punch, or shin in case of a kick. Although simple, it requires a lot of partner training to get the timing of this Taekwondo block correct.
- Knife Hand Block - The hand is kept in a knife hand position to block attacks to the torso. As the front arms sweeps down in an arc from the inside to the outside of the body, the back hand is simultaneously pulled back to the back hip and ready for a counter punch.
- Double Forearm Block - This is a more advanced Taekwondo block, designed to be used against a strong attack to the center of the body. Standing sideways, the lead forearm blocks the attack with the fist closed. The second arm provides further support, linking into the crook of the arm so both forearms are at a 90 degree angle to the body.
- Double Knife Hand Block - With the hands held open in the knife hand position, a powerful kick aimed at the solar plexus can be successfully blocked. Both hands come across the body, intersecting at the forearms and providing a firm defence.
- Nine Block - This is a black belt leveled block and the first time it is usually used is around the black belt form. The person blocks their chest with one hand and stomach region with the other. The shape of the block forms a number nine when executed correctly. Both arms are bent at a 45 degree angle as well and it leaves little space open in the mid region of the defenders body. Your hand when this move is executed correctly should also be above your groin on the bottom and next to you opposite shoulder with the top hand.
- Upper Block - Also known as the Ulgul Makgi. The one using the block first keeps their fist sideways at the stomach or torso. They then rise the fist up to their head, deflecting the attack. Any attack made at the upper part of the body is blocked if timed correctly using this block.
Patterns, poomsae, hyung, tul
Taekwondo patterns, also known as poomsae, teul, or hyeong constitute an important part of Taekwondo competitions. A pattern is a series of movements linked together in a prescribed sequence. Both basic and advanced taekwondo techniques can be contained within a single patterns and the higher the level of the competitor, the greater the difficulty of the techniques and the complexity of the pattern. Competitors must perform their highest pattern in front of a panel of judges.
There are three types of Taekwondo pattern competition:
- Team Taekwondo patterns - Performed simultaneously by several competitors from a club organised into a single team. Club teams compete by performing two patterns each, one after the other. Once one team have finished both their patterns can the competing team then perform theirs. Again, the judges choose the best pattern to go through to the next round.
In taekwondo tournaments, pattern competitions are generally graded on:
- Realism. Taekwondo patterns are the learning ground for real combat. As such, every technique must display the requisite speed, power and firmness to be realistically used as an attack or defines move.
- Spirit. A competitor's 'presence' on the mat must be as credible as his technique. Self belief, confidence in abilities, and intention to perform to a personal best are tangible virtues considered indispensable in Taekwondo practitioners.
- Decorum. Proper manners must be displayed when interacting with the judges directly before and after the pattern. Respect must also be extended to rival competitors, clubs and other officials.
- Form. General qualities that judges look for in any Taekwondo practitioner include proper breathing technique and body control. The diaphragm must be engaged in deep breathing, shallow breathing concentrated in the upper abdomen results in raised shoulders and stressed muscles. The muscles of the body should be lightly relaxed in order to perform the pattern with fluidity, speed and grace. Muscles should only be tensed at the moment of imaginary impact in order to commute maximum power to any individual Taekwondo technique.
|ITF Chang Hon-style
|Jhoon Rhee style
|Beginner Exercises (3)
|Beginner Exercises (3)
|Unofficial Beginner Forms (usually 3–)
|Beginner Forms (2)
|Four Direction Punch
|Four Direction Punch
|Kicho Hyeong Il Bu, Kibon Hana or Kibon Il Jang
|Four Direction Block
|Four Direction Block
|Kicho Hyeong Ee Bu, Kibon Dool or Kibon Ee Jang
|Four Direction Thrust
|Four Direction Thrust
|Kicho Hyeong Sam Bu, Kibon Set or Kibon Sam Jang
|Kibon Net or Kibon Sa Jang
|Color Belt Forms (9)
|Color Belt Forms (9)
|Color Belt Forms (11)
|Color Belt Forms (Taegeuk, 8)
|Color Belt Forms (8)
|Taegeuk Il Jang
|Taegeuk Ee Jang
|Taegeuk Sam Jang
|Taegeuk Sa Jang
|Taegeuk Oh Jang
|In Wha 1
|Taegeuk Yook Jang
|In Wha 2
|Taegeuk Chil Jang
|Choong Jung 1
|Taegeuk Pal Jang
|Might for Right
|Choong Jung 2
|Black Belt Forms (8)
|Black Belt Forms (15)
|Black Belt Forms (19)
|Black Belt Forms (9)
|Black Belt Forms
|Same as ITF
|Juche, or Go-Dang*
|Older Color Belt Forms (Palgwae, 8)
|Palgwae Il Jang
|Palgwae Ee Jang
|Palgwae Sam Jang
|Palgwae Sa Jang
|Palgwae Oh Jang
|Palgwae Yook Jang
|Palgwae Chil Jang
|Palgwae Pal Jang
|Older Black Belt Forms
|Older Black Belt Forms
|* Go-Dang is considered deprecated in most ITF styles
|U-Nam is an ITF Chang-Hon form that appears only in
the 1959 edition of Choi Hong-hi's Tae Kwon Do
|Candidate Demo Forms (2007, never officially finalized)
|Kukkiwon Competition Poomsae (2016)
|Nareusya (called Bigak Sam Jang by WT)
|Bigak (called Bigak Ee Jang by WT)
|WT Competition Poomsae (2017)
|Bigak Il Jang (developed by WT)
|Bigak Ee Jang (based on Kukkiwon's Bigak)
|Bigak Sam Jang (based on Kukkiwon's Nareusya)
Taekwondo self-defense is known as kinuo and it forms one of the 20 main principles of the art. The self-defense applications would be difficult to score in sparring as they are designed primarily to cause injury or quickly incapacitate an adversary.
In competition, self-defense techniques take the format of a demonstration event, much like ponomoom. One person is usually designated the part of the Taekwondo practitioner, while several teammates take the role of common street aggressors who attack from various angles with punches, kicks and grabs common to street brawlers. Weapons may also be used, as Taekwondo has specific techniques for dealing with armed adversaries.
Taekwondo self-defense competition provides an opportunity for students to display their understanding of Taekwondo self-defense applications and the ability to put together their own team choreography. Self-defense routines are often performed as displays for the public, in which case there are no judges present. Many Taekwondo clubs include self-defense in their daily routine in both WTF and ITF.
There are two main concepts in Taekwondo self-defense. For real life combat situations, an experienced Taekwondo practitioner is versed in the following:
- Linear (or hard) techniques
- Circular (or soft) techniques
These include mostly punching, kicking, headbutts and other striking maneuvers. Force is countered with force and all limbs are involved in stopping an adversary. Taekwondo kicks have a wide reach that keeps the adversary at a distance. With proper execution opponents may be incapacitated with a single blow, which lessens the number of attacks in encounters with multiple people.
These emphasize redirection and manipulation rather than strength. The adversary can be manipulated into a position whereby a lock, stranglehold and/or finishing move can be applied. Grappling techniques are used both as a means of securing an adversary and escaping from an adversary's grip. Soft self-defense techniques like the stranglehold or joint lock can be used to subdue the attacker, avoiding dealing permanent injury.
Taekwondo self-defense techniques demonstrated in competition may include:
- Pressure point applications. In Taekwondo philosophy, the body has many sensitive areas that are susceptible to precise attack. These are known as pressure points or ji ap sul. There are three types of pressure point that can induce one or a combination of the following: pain, paralysis, or death. These can be targeted with gripping and/or striking in order to immobilize or cause substantial pain to submit the opponent.
- Throws. Known as too sul, Taekwondo practitioners can divert the opponent's force to their own advantage and throw him to the ground. Once on the ground the practitioner has greater control over his adversary and can follow up with subsequent controlling or finishing techniques.
- Joint Locks. Otherwise known as kwan jyel sul in Taekwondo, these can be useful against armed attackers. Typically the attacking limb is grabbed and then manipulated to cause immense pain in the adversary. Joint locks can be applied on any joint in the body and are particularly useful for controlling an opponent who has been thrown to the ground.
- Termination techniques. These are a range of strikes applied to an opponent downed by a previous throw or strike. Powerful downward traveling kicks and hand strikes are used to make sure the opponent stays down.
- Choking techniques. In chil sik sul, the idea of applying a stranglehold is to deprive the attacker's brain of either oxygenated blood through the carotid artery and/or oxygen for the lungs through the trachea. The Taekwondo practitioner uses leverage from his arm and sometimes involves the attackers clothing in applying pressure to the sensitive neck area. Choke holds are particularly dangerous and only taught to higher level Taekwondo students, as over exertion can crush the trachea or cause sudden death.
- Freeing techniques. Paegi are taught to Taekwondo students so that they can quickly free themselves and neutralise the danger of being grabbed by an attacker. Competition demonstrations frequently involve one student grabbing another from behind. The science of Taekwondo is equally concerned with defense as attack so proper freeing techniques must be learnt.
Like other Taekwondo competition events, self-defense is marked by a panel of judges. When scoring they are looking at the following factors:
- Aliveness. How realistic is the Taekwondo students demonstration? Does he move with the requisite urgency and do his techniques have the emotional content to make the judges believe in their power?
- Technique. Are the Taekwondo techniques being demonstrated precisely? Are the kicks clean, fast and strong? Are joint locks and throws being performed accurately? Does the student have control over his adversaries or are they making it easy for him?
- Variety. What is the range of the Taekwondo practitioners knowledge? Is he showing his understanding of liner and direct counter-attacks? Has he performed a practical finishing technique after each throw or lock?
- Difficulty. More difficult Taekwondo techniques score higher than simple ones if performed correctly. However, a poorly executed technique will always score lower than a simple, effective technique performed well; students should not be demonstrating techniques that they have not mastered.
- "The "Monkey Kick", anti Taekwondo". 21 May 2015.
- Taekwondo Forms
- "American Taekwondo Association | Martial Arts, Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Tae-Kwon-Do". Ataonline.com. Archived from the original on 2006-04-19. Retrieved 2015-06-26.
- Website, A. "Blue Cottage Taekwon-Do". Bluecottagetkd.com. Archived from the original on 2015-06-27. Retrieved 2015-06-26.
- "Main". Gtftaekwondo.com. Archived from the original on 2015-06-27. Retrieved 2015-06-26.
- "World Taekwondo Headquarters". Kukkiwon.or.kr. Archived from the original on 2018-06-22. Retrieved 2015-06-26.
- "Home". Jhoon Rhee Tae Kwon Do—Arlington. Archived from the original on 2008-06-28. Retrieved 2015-06-26.
- "U-Nam The Forgotten ITF Pattern" (PDF). Blue Cottage Taekwondo. Archived (PDF) from the original on February 23, 2016. Retrieved January 5, 2016.
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- Modern Taekwondo:The Official Training Manual, Soon Man Lee and Gaetane Ricke; Sterling Publishing Company, New York, NY; copyright 1999
- Traditional Taekwondo:Core Techniques, History, and Philosophy, Master Doug Cook; YMAA Publication Center, Boston, Massachusetts; copyright 2006
- Forces of Tae Kwon Do, Edward B Sell and Brenda J Sell; U.S. Chung Do Kwan Association, Lakeland, Florida; copyright 2004