REPORT 2 – SOFT AND HARD MARTIAL ARTS
Judo and Taekwondo
This is part 2 of my 2nd dan research project – comparing and contrasting 5 hard and 5 soft Martial Arts. This report contains research on judo and taekwondo – hopefully there should be some familiar ground when read with Report 1, and some new elements. Unlike the two Martial Arts that I chose for Part 1, these two are ones I am more familiar with. I am learning judo myself and know friends that do Taekwondo – and obviously have seen both on TV during the Olympics.
SOFT MARTIAL ART 2 – JUDO
WHAT IS JUDO?
Judo is a Japanese Martial Art, founded by Jigoro Kano in 1882. It grew out of the Jujutsu (jujitsu) movement, which used throws, punches, kicks, chokes, throws etc in its attacks. Judo can be translated as JU – “gentleness, or giving way” and DO – “principle or way”, and put together it is “the way of gentleness”. Judo is primarily known for its throwing techniques – “nage-waza”, and holds – “katame-waza” (including locks and strangles) but also has a bank of striking techniques – “atemi-waza” which are only to be used in self defence, as a last resort when someone is in extreme danger.
JUDO AS A SOFT MARTAL ART
Judo is classified as “soft” because it does not seek to work by pushing back against an attacker – the man who is stronger will win, but rather it advocates turning the body and keeping balance so that the attacker will lose his. He is then weakened and the judoka can use this advantage to overcome the attacker. By giving way you conserve energy while your attacker uses all theirs.
A lot of the moves use the idea of turning your opponent, applying the idea of leverage to throw them – around the hip, with a foot placed on the attacker’s Achilles, or pulling their outstretched arm for example.
Kano studied jujutsu under many different teachers but was dissatisfied with the lack of underlying principles and also the differences in teaching – how was he to know which way was correct? Kano sought out his own principle which applied when you were hitting or throwing an opponent: to make the most efficient use of mental and physical energy – and he then rejected all techniques that didn’t fit this idea.
As mentioned before, the name Judo translates as “the Way of gentleness” and Kano saw “the Way” as being the concept of life itself. Judo is not merely for self defence, it is a way of life. He sought to apply the idea of maximum efficiency to all areas of life – physically, in terms of being healthy and strong but also mentally and morally disciplined too. Sport or exercise should be useful and carried out with interest and intent in order to be useful.
Judo uses kata (pre-arranged movements) and randori (free practise) to train the body and mind. Randori, especially, teaches the judoka to seek out the opponent’s weaknesses, make quick decisions and act decisively. It is important to choose the most efficient technique to overcome the opponent, and not to use too much force and cause injury.
Controlling anger and emotions, such as worry, was also a goal of Kano’s – he wanted Judo to help people choose a path to success and make positive choices.
Kano believed that the principles of Judo also applied to life outside the dojo – and can be summed up:
1. Carefully observe oneself and one’s situation, carefully observe others, and carefully observe one’s environment
2. Seize the initiative in whatever you undertake
3. Consider fully, act decisively
4. Know when to stop
5. Keep to a single path, don’t become either cocky with victory or downhearted by defeat
If the principle of maximum efficiency is applied to life then there will be harmony and peace, mutual welfare, high achievement as well as wholesome bodies and a good method of self defence.
POWER GENERATION AND EFFECTIVE TECHNIQUE
Footwork is essential in mastering correct technique in judo – to keep balanced but also to be able to turn into a position (tai sabaki) where you can turn overthrow your opponent. Breaking the opponent’s balance is also crucial and this is achieved by altering their centre of gravity from the middle, and this is known as “kuzushi”. It is important to counter your opponent’s attempts to break your own balance – give way to them then apply your own kuzushi. To then throw you need to move into a good position – this is called “tsukuri”.
Training in these techniques often involves a process called “uchikomi” – repeated practise of the movements needed for a throw, but stopping before the actual throw – this can train the footwork and body position necessary but does not actually complete the process so is a limited tool. Randori (free practise) is now accepted to be the major building block of judo skills – it teaches you to read your opponent and also practise on the move. Moving beyond the static is more realistic as you cannot guarantee what position or balance your your opponent will be in when you come to throw so you need to learn to read the situation and position yourself accordingly – there are no prescribed patterns in randori, so correct technique becomes essential.
The final piece in generating power in judo is adding the hips in. The process begins, as we have seen, with kuzushi which is achieved by using the arms to break the opponent’s balance. This can be done by gripping the jacket which can then be pushed and pulled to manoeuvre the opponent into a position where they are weaker and their grounding is broken. All throws have to begin with this balance breaking – it is almost impossible to throw without this, especially if the opponent is larger than you. Other methods of initially breaking this balance are using a strike or feint to make them respond and move or, if they have moved into throw you, by effecting a counter attack. The second phase is the tsukuri – stepping into the correct position whilst still maintaining the pressure and pulling with the arms, before finally moving on to executing the throw.
Using your hips at this final stage is crucial in power generation in judo – rather than just using the arms to pull or push an opponent, although these are useful in starting the process of kuzushi. Judo requires you to not just use your upper body strength but this is not always a natural thing to do. To teach this, it can be useful to start off with larger movements, a “wind up” – swinging your leg into position, or twitching your hip and then refine and lessen these signs as you improve.
Lower body strength is essential in being able to move power upwards and forwards and then transfer this power to the upper body via the hips. This theory is known as “koshi” which is the Japanese word for the area between your belly button and hips, but is used to refer to generating power with the hips. The hips connect the upper and lower body and co-ordinate the movements of both halves of the body together and add the power of your legs to your smaller arms.
Hip Twisting causes the upper body to follow the hips while still remaining relaxed which adds speed, and brings the whole weight of the body into a technique – for power.
Hip Thrusting uses both hips together rather than twisting which focuses more on pushing one hip forward. Both hips move in the same direction whilst contracting the abdominal and gluteal muscles.
In addition, hips provide the rotation needed to execute good throws and also the power to turn out of hold downs.
A You Tube clip of uchikomi – repeated practise of a throw: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zbs_aGNZVnI
And a bit of Olympic judo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NsGD9fStPJQ
(Reference – “Kodokan Judo” by Jigoro Kano)
HARD MARTIAL ART 2 – TAEKWONDO
WHAT IS TAEKWONDO?
Taekwondo (also written as Taekwon-Do, Tae Kwon Do or TKD) is a Korean Martial Art which focuses on fighting and self defence and, nowadays, is a very popular sport Martial Art, and also an Olympic event. Its name translates from the Korean as: TAE – “to strike or break with the foot”, KWON – “to strike or break with the fist” and DO – “the way or path” – or put together – the way of the foot and the hand. There are 2 main strands of the style: ITF TKD which is also known as “traditional” taekwondo and more “sport” taekwondo which has a more competition focus and is WTF TKD.
Historically, the style developed from three schools of unarmed combat, dating back hundreds of years, and they also focussed of Confucian and Buddhist ethics and philosophies. It was particularly warriors who trained in these ways. Over time, Korean Martial Arts declined and were just used by the military. Japanese occupation of Korea reignited an interest in Martial Arts and eventually the schools unified under the title of taekwondo, which is still studied today.
TAEKWONDO AS A HARD MARTAL ART
TKD is classed as a “hard” martial art as it concentrates a lot on the use of kicking techniques, working on the principle that the leg is the longest and strongest limb and can mount attacks with the least chance of a successful counter. Direct blocks, kicks, punches and strikes are included although some schools also include throws, locks and pressure points.
Unlike many other Martial Arts which concentrate on unarmed combat or the use of weapons, TKD also places a lot of emphasis on board or tile breaking.
Taekwondo, philosophically, has 5 principles or tenets:
Courtesy (YeUi) – having respect for and consideration of self and others; being polite; humility
Integrity (Yom Chi) – sticking to what you know is right; having a moral and ethical code; honesty
Perseverance (In Nae) – sticking with it, even when it seems impossible, or unattainable; dedication
Self control (Guk Gi) – being able to exert your will over impulses and emotions and desires of the body; learning to use the powerful techniques safely and wisely; patience, discipline
Indomitable sprit (Baekjul Boolgool)– pushing yourself mentally and physically to be the best you can, overcoming failures and getting back up; maintaining inner strength; bravery; courage
All these principles apply to TKD training in the dojang (dojo) and also to life outside at work, with family or doing everyday routines.
POWER GENERATION AND EFFECTIVE TECHNIQUE
(With thanks to Senior Master Raymond O’Neill VIII Dan for help)
TaeKwonDo has a “Theory of Power” which can be remembered with the acronym: CREMBS. All elements need to be considered and used together to deliver the most powerful and effective techniques.
1) CONCENTRATION – (Yip Joong)
Concentration is broken down into TWO main elements:
The first is concentrating all your energy into the smallest output point. When punching you want the whole force of your body and punch directed into the smallest area ie the first 2 knuckles. This is akin to being trodden on either by the entire sole of a shoe or by a stiletto heel – same body weight, very different pain levels! The effectiveness is increased even more if vital points on the opponent are attacked.
The second form of concentration is what we know as “kime” where all the muscles are tensed at the moment of impact. This has the effect of using the power of the larger muscles, especially around the hp to add impetus to the smaller ones and increase their intensity.
2) REACTION FORCE – (Bang Dong Ryok)
Again there are 2 types of reaction:
The first is your own reaction; using the physics theory that every action has an equal and opposite reaction so pulling back one hand aids the forward movement of the other and increases the power output.
The second is your opponent’s reaction – using their own large mass against them as they move onto your smaller, concentrated point of attack. This will allow a smaller strike to have a devastating effect when added to the speed and mass of the attacker, effectively using their own energy against themselves.
3) EQUILIBRIUM – (Kyung Hyung)
Another word for this is balance, and this – again – has 2 strands:
a) Static – This is the ability to maintain balance when still by keeping the centre of gravity controlled through the correct use of stances and weight distribution.
b) Dynamic – this applies when moving – to be able to perform moving techniques especially kicks while keeping well balanced. It is important to control hand movements and not lean back too far, for example, to keep the centre of gravity central to the body.
4) MASS – (Zilyang)
Mass is our size, it cannot be altered or changed, but it can be manipulated to enhance the production of power. Gravity works on mass to increase weight – think of pushing a car uphill – hard work but the same car will roll downwards with ease – but it has a constant mass.
To increase power and force you can apply the following techniques to your mass:
a) Hip Twist – Using the large muscles in your hip and abdomen will increase the weight and speed of your punch or block and thus, increase the power produced.
b) Knee Spring – This allows you to bring gravity into play and increase the weight of your technique. Bending the knee downwards slightly while performing a move will add gravity to your mass (like the car rolling down the hill) and again increase the power.
c) Sine Wave – This is the practise of using circular movements, like a steam train wheel where the off centre arm travels backwards, upwards, forwards and downwards in its travel. In TKD this is used when punching, say, and the arm is moving in a downward and forward movement on point if impact – maximising the weight increase.
Using all three weight increase techniques together will deliver the most additional power possible.
5) BREATH CONTROL – (Hohup Joojool)
Exhaling fast is critical when fighting – both when delivering an attack but also when receiving one. In doing so, the abdominal muscles will tense and tighten allowing you to absorb an attack more effectively and if done on point of impact will increase power to the attack but also ready you for any counter-attack.
6) SPEED – (Sokdo)
Like with reaction, Speed also conforms to the laws of physics – in layman’s terms: power = speed x mass. Basically, the more you accelerate, the more power is produced. A ball gently thrown at a window will bounce off, yet the same ball thrown at speed will break it. Similarly, a hand or foot on its own will cause no damage but when speed is applied they can deliver devastating blows.
Combining these 6 elements will ensure every technique is executed to its maximum potential.
The first 2 are a selection of TKD kicks – the kicks are great, the editing less so: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H48XGX0L5DI and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQV_OvD7bhM
And a bit of board breaking: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bN7YVOLRtmQ