Back to Basics
From beginner to black belt and beyond
By Grandmaster Tony Vohra 8th Dan. Photographs by Master Jeff Scott-Smith 5th Dan
New Year Resolutions of getting fit and healthy by training in the martial arts provide the perfect opportunity to work on a training regime which concentrates on the basics. Basic training eventually becomes the foundation for developing a personís ability and honing their skills ready for advanced training.
WE have covered both the Bowing and Ready stances in a previous article and will now progress to blocking and correct positioning of techniques. The aim is to focus on targeting specific parts of the body and perfecting the techniques that are delivered when we advance from a stationary position to one involving movement, as demonstrated in stances and forms.
When training it is important to visualise the points of attack, or the area to be blocked when practicing both attacking and defensive movements. For Tae Kwon Do training purposes the body is divided into three sections, low, middle, and high, which are referred to as Arae (lower part of the body), Momtong (Trunk), and Olgul (the face). These three areas serve as targets and are considered vital points for attack and defence where the focus of the technique is to protect the centre line of the body.
For the lower part of the body the specific target is the groin, for the trunk it is the solar plexus, and for the face it is the philtrum, (the midline groove in the upper lip that runs from the top of the lip to the nose).
When we practice techniques it is important to remain relaxed, only tensing at the end of the technique. Remember to tighten the abdominal area when delivering an attacking or defensive motion. When executing a block one should consider using the wrist, specifically the part where one would wear a sweat band. Some basic guide lines to consider are that blocks are angular with body movement and normally delivered from the outside. In contrast, attack motions are direct and in a straight line, think of the direct path that a bullet takes that has just been fired from a gun; that is the path that attacking movements should follow.
Key techniques to utilize whilst attacking are punching, striking and thrusting movements, and for blocking consider low, mid and high movements. Try and use both arms and the body for movement and generation of power.
Remember that the end of one technique becomes the starting point of the next one. Power equals force, times velocity. Power is generated through timing and coordinated motion so that you are relaxed until the completion of the movement. Relax during execution of the technique and only bring power and tension at the point of contact.
Punching - Key points.
When considering the correct punching position, it is important that the first two knuckles impact the target whilst striking. Correct alignment of wrist and hand can be practiced by doing press ups on the first two knuckles with fists clenched tightly. Aim at the centre line of the body.
Remember when practising techniques, one hand is at the side (waist or love handles).Upon punching the striking hand travels in a straight line one hand moves forward while the other one retracts. Imagine a string tied over your shoulders connecting both hands, so that as one moves forward the other is automatically pulled back. Twisting of both hands upon reaching completion of the technique must take place.
Low Block. Key points.
Start the block no higher than shoulder level. Twist as you get near to the end of the block. Your fist should end up the span of a hand distance from the body.
Mid Block. Key points.
Start no higher than shoulder level. The block ends up between 90 to 120 degrees but best at 110 degrees angle to cover mid riff.
High block. Key points.
To start no lower than the waist, ending up no higher than fist distance above your forehead, with the wrist at 45 degrees to the oncoming attack. When changing arms during blocking and attacking make sure to cover with the other arm so as to protect the vital points and reduce any vulnerability to attack. Muscle memory is achieved by practicing a technique over 2000 times. Practice is imperative to develop your skill and power. The more relaxed the training environment, the easier it will be for you. So remember to enjoy training and practice diligently and more importantly have fun in practicing the basics. Master Tony Vohra is always pleased to advise individual students, instructors and clubs and can arrange demonstrations, courses & seminars to suit any individual or groups both at home and abroad.
President Grandmaster S. S.
Vohra (8th Dan), International
School of Martial Arts UK HQ,
Nottingham School of Tae Kwon Do,
Ilkeston Rd., Nottingham NG7 3FX,
England. Tel: 00 44 (0)115 9780439;
Fax: 00 44 (0)115 9785567