Friday, January 11, 2008

Human Weapon: Taekwondo

The show Human Weapon did an episode just recently on Taekwondo. I didn't catch it right away because I was wrapped up in holiday mayhem but thankfully the DVR picked it up. I watched it last night along with my wife and kids who caught parts of it as they were going about their nightly activities (my wife is addicted to webkinz now).

The premise of the show is 2 guys trained in martial arts traveling around the world to different martial arts meccas exploring the nuances/trademarks/specialties of each martial art. The show will generally use each segment on a different aspect of the martial art talking to an "expert" in that particular aspect. The last segment near the end of the show will be a match against a local expert using what they have learned. In the matches, they've had mixed results of winning/losing or at least keeping it close.

Going from memory from last night (always suspect...I need more Ginko Biloba), the segments were on the "tornado kick" (aka narabong), the axe kick, how bodyguard services use Taekwondo, the history of it (which you can pretty much see on the website with a clip they have) including training in the predecessor martial art of Taekkyon, and a segment on Hwa Rang Do including what appeared to be a modified version of the back kick. The match at the end was against a guy they dubbed "The Professor" who, IIRC, actually teaches Taekwondo as a doctorate level course at some university in Seoul. He is a former World Champion.

Me and my girls are actually learning the tornado kick. We've been having to do an "on-the-ground" version of it up to now. However, the kicking combinations that we are doing for our current belt level include an in-the-air tornado kick. I'm having serious issues maintaining my balance and getting my kick to a height where this is really effective. In other words, a shot to the head of your opponent.

I found myself critiquing how the hosts were being taught the axe kick. We've been taught to bring the axe kick straight up with bent knee, then extend the knee and come straight down on the opponent's head or part of the upper body that your leg can reach too. Last night, they were adding a slight arc to the kicks making it seem a little like a crescent kick but still striking on the downward motion. I don't think my instructors would be pleased.

I was also a little surprised that the "experts" consulted in the show were all called "masters". Technically, a master is someone who is a 4-6th degree. A grand master is 7th degree or above. I would have thought they would have been consulting grand masters for the show. I could be a bit naive on how many grand masters there actually are though. I feel extremely lucky to be training under one.

Regarding the match itself, I won't ruin the results for you. Watch the show. Let's just say that I have a lot of respect for the martial art that I'm studying now, especially the spinning hook kick which we are currently learning as well.

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