Friday, 4 September 2009

Sine wave in forms/hyung/poomse

I'm currently reading a fascinating book by Alex Gillis regarding the history of Tae Kwon Do which is called 'A Killing Art-The untold history of Tae Kwon Do'. This is an excellent read, if somewhat dry in parts, and reveals some interesting facts about this very modern art.

I often thought that certain Korean Tae Kwon Do practitioners had a certain bobbing up and down feel to their forms somewhat and reckoned this was due to stylistic or cultural differences. I've always been told to move through from one technique to another aspiring to keep the head as level as possible and to minimise 'bobbing'. Gillis says that General Choi introduced what he called a 'sine wave' to his forms when he was introducing Tae Kwon Do to North Korea in 1980. This, maintains Gillis, "distinguished it from Karate and Kim Un-yong's Tae Kwon Do".

This sine wave relies therefore on gravity for power and not a hip rotation and as Gillis writes, "gave Choi's...patterns a distinct style-slower, more rhythmic".

Whether or not this is more powerful I cannot say as I have never practiced the sine wave but it helped concretise the schism within Tae Kwon do and meant Choi could claim the North Koreans were practicing "pure Tae Kwon Do" and that other instructors were "fakes".

Here's an interesting video showing the diminuative Choi himself emphasising the 'big' sine wave:

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And this other video shows 'Choong Moo' hyung being performed showing this chracteristic bobbing motion:


Dan Prager said...

I was at a local rec. center following a swim with the kids and we watched a taekwondo class doing the bobbing thing. Now, I'm also from a "keep everything level" background so I showed the kids what I prefer.

The interesting thing to me is the possibility of using the up-down motion for power generation. I think that there are definite possibilities, but I wonder if it could be less overt. I.e. Gradually make the amplitude smaller until it's imperceptible, but still utilize the power-generation mechanism. In circular arts we usually start training with large circles, and then shrink 'em down.

Also, have you sparred against the bobbers? How does it influence your tactics?

Charles Hobby said...

I looked through some of my old textbooks and rediscovered that my original system was politically aligned with Un Yong Kim and so we did not practice the bobbing motion. On the other hand, we also did not practice hip snaps during blocks or punches.

The hips were there to give the legs and spine something to attach to and that was all there was to it.

As long as a technical theory allows that martial artist to get the job done then I believe that none of these differences really matter.

I am glad to see the bobbing explained, however. Now I know.

Littlefair said...

Sparring against someone who bobs lulls you into a slightly false sense of security and you think you can get away with catching them 'on the hop' (literally) by attacking when they are momentarily off balance. This is pretty tough to execute though, but possible.

My sparring style is direct, grounded and thorough. I tend to drive aggressively in a continued attack and not let the 'bobber' get back into a rhythm.

But it's not always clear cut...:-)