Thoughts: Isolation and Combination

There are many ways to study technique, and there are many qualities we can develop for a particular move. When we practice a side kick, we can try to understand how our foot moves, how our hips rotate, and where our kick is most effective. We can develop focus, speed, power, and many other qualities for our side kick. This discussion will concentrate on two aspects of any basic technique: combination and isolation.

We can break up a technique into isolated moves to build a more complicated technique. I'd like to distinguish between a single move which is itself combined, and a combination or sequence of moves. While any two (or more) techniques can be strung together in sequence, some moves naturally fit together, for example, knife-hand block followed by reverse punch. These moves fit together so well, we may be tempted to call them natural combinations or tight combinations.

Even though middle-target punch has several things going on, I'd like to categorize it as an isolated move. Similarly for round-house kick. All of our basics (with the notable exception of reverse punch, as mentioned above) are isolated moves or sequences of them.

What are some more examples of tight combinations? They are plentiful in hyungs (forms). Pyong An I moves 4-5 (wrist smash with a short right step back followed by a middle target punch with a left step) and moves 6-7 (low block followed by a rising knife block) are good examples. These example teach quite different lessons, however. Moves 4-5 teach us to move our bodies from one technique right into the next one. Moves 6-7 are a more sophisticated combination; there is no stance change or foot motion after the lower block, yet we execute a strong rising block. This can only be accomplished with the proper use of the hips for generating power to complete the combination.

When we study hyungs from the point of view of combined moves, several interesting themes develop; one such theme is discussed below. The first two moves of Pyong An V, back-fist block followed by a hook punch, form a tight combination. Similarly for moves 4-5 of Chil Gi I: left down block followed by a hook punch. Similarly for 13-14 of Chul Gi II: knife-hand block followed by a hook punch. Moves 5-6m 20-21, and 23-24 of Yon Bi are all different arm-block/reverse-punch combinations. Cho Ahn has several examples as well. This theme, arm block followed by reverse punch, is nothing new. It comes from basics!!! Tae Kwon Do is a defensive art, yet we combine blocking closely with counter attacking.

There are other tight combinations in hyungs; I have just pointed out one set with a common flavor. One may find it beneficial to pursue this further.

Now that we have found some examples, what do we do with them? The purpose of this study is to encourage breaking up tight combinations into their individual components to understand why they fit together naturally. Conversely, isolated techniques can be studied to find ones which fit together as natural combinations. Any block/attack sequence has immediate potential. Pulling techniques apart and putting techniques together are important exercises in developing Tae Kwon Do skills.

Steve Heller, 198?

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