Training Diary: Week 9

Three trial Taekwon-do lessons full of beginners this week and one grappling session.

With the Taekwon-do classes starting up again we have a huge influx of beginners, mostly from Kukkikwon backgrounds. Most of them seem to be able to kick very well and will really pad out the more advanced part of the class. However, there is always the difficulty in coming over to our style of sparring if they want to do that. It is obvious to most of them that adapting to hands as well as feet isn’t easy just from watching us spar. In fact, they say that our style looks very aggressive, which may be true (aggressive is always a good attribute in martial arts, though not self protection) but to me it’s much easier to be a counter attacker in our style than it is in theirs. It would be interesting to try out WTF rules but I am sure I would be pretty slow.

Analysing the approach of the Kukki guys (and there are a lot of them) you can really see how side kick is not emphasised. Almost universally, they start to kick out whilst their knees are still parallel, which is interesting because technically there isn’t supposed to be much of a difference in how any Taekwon-do guys throw side kicks. The turning kicks too are noticeably built for speed and power and covering distance but are thrown without the possibility of being able to defend a counter (which in WTF rules is probably true).

It’s nice to meet new people and teach but not to demonstrate. My turning kick (or Side Turning Kick for ITF people to be more precise) is terrible and hopefully I’ll see some improvement once we get into the classes proper. Sparring techniques are still there by and large (was able to punch into a head kick) but the natural instincts are much lacking and I was very much back to throwing singular techniques rather than combinations. Defence was off too. I am sure this will all come back. I am more concerned about turning kick technique. The technically correct leg and hip position for this kick I find to be a very tight position for me (in the hip) and hard to get into quickly whilst pivoting the proper amount. Many people in the class cut corners but it’s hard to know whether I should follow suit to keep up or fall behind trying to get it right and look slow and crap. I’m trying to walk the line but it could be a real problem until I get to a club where the exact technical positions in the kicks are a focus. One of my problems is that for a long time I have pivoted only to 45 degrees (as most ITF people do) and this has hidden problems that become more clear when one kicks to 90 degrees (i.e. dead ahead). Am I to spend forever being the guy who really struggles with some of the basics but just is too bullheaded to admit defeat?

A pretty standard grappling session, without too much strain and tiredness after. My adventures in being flexible enough to not have to tap where most other people tap continue with the class focusing on Kimuras. I’m not being a tough guy, I just don’t feel any pain at positions where others clearly do way before the joint is in danger. However, in rolling I obviously tap super early.

When listening to instruction I really try to focus on the specifics. It’s sort of frustrating when you are with a slightly more experienced guy who clearly can’t remember more than three pieces of information and starts to skip to the end of the movement. I suppose if you have more of a background in martial arts you know that ignored nuances are very persistent in being forgotten if you don’t program them in at the start,

Long chat with the instructor afterwards about charlatans in the martial arts. It’s basically the main common identity that all martial artists have is our despair with con men. It does give me some insecurity though as somebody who has some technical difficulties in my main art (see above) and is probably a tad over-promoted is always in danger of being lumped  in with people who have no idea. I have an idea what my problems are and I try to fix them. I think I will never hold the sort of grade in taekwon-do that really travels well and impresses people (beyond patterns, where I’m not bad) but am much more likely to have the sort of grade that makes sense amongst people who have known me for a long time and know that I really am trying as hard as I can. Hopefully I can change that and come up to a standard I am happy with (it has happened in the past) and that will be universally acknowledged but who knows.

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