Monday, September 1, 2014

Defense / Strike

We live in a world where violence is both common and yet, not at all tolerated. I grew up in a mid-western town just west of the Ohio-Pennsylvania border. A place where boys will be boys, there was always a neighborhood bully, and sometimes a guy's gotta do what a guy's gotta do. There is an episode of the Andy Griffith show titled "One-Punch Opie" and is about a bully that moves into town and has to be dealt with. I grew up in that era.

Today, of course, violence of any kind is considered unacceptable. School districts have policies that mandate that any student engaging in a fight must be suspended, even the child who defends himself is tossed out as there is zero tolerance for fighting. Fortunately, not everyone has adopted this extreme position. Still, if you throw a punch even in defense, you are considered equally guilty.

Enter the world of Tang Soo Do, an entire martial art that is based on the concept of defense / strike. First, almost every technique and combination of techniques such as Forms (Hyung / Kata) and One Step Sparring, begin with a defensive move. The first eight forms we teach, up through advanced Green Belt, begin with blocking techniques. This occurs in our first two years of training. Even the advanced Sip Soo, Jin Teh, and the Kyma Hyung forms all begin with moves to thwart an attacker.

Long before we teach punching, "karate chops", elbow strikes, or head butts, we teach, reinforce, and advance the art of blocking. Low blocks, high blocks, middle blocks, side blocks, open hand blocks, two fist blocks - we practice them all, and incorporate them into our sparring drills and forms.

And we block hard, with force, determination, concentration, and focus. In the art of Tang Soo Do, our defense is also our offense. If someone tries to punch us, we aim to block the punch with such deliberateness that the attacker has no desire to try again. This is one of the meanings of the phrase, Defense / Strike. We do not teach you how to beat people up, we teach self defense. But make no mistake about it, defending yourself includes ensuring that the attacker doesn't want to try again.

One of the benefits of Tang Soo Do, an art that finds its origins in fundamental concepts a thousands years old, is that with the modern world's hypersensitivity to violence, one can learn to defend oneself using techniques that others find acceptable, i.e. "I didn't hit my attacker, I merely blocked their advances." Even those that would find fault with the force of your block, cannot dispute that it was a defensive response to a potentially damaging threat perpetrated by an aggressor.

Defense / Strike is an approach to martial arts that uses the fundamentals of self defense, honed over centuries of hand to hand combat, to enable modern-day artists to feel safe in a world which is sometimes violent, and always judgmental how we react.

Follow by Email