Saturday, May 18, 2013

Tang Soo Do: Defense / Strike

The translated meaning of Tang Soo Do is “Defense / Strike” a term that has two different interpretations. The easy one is that defense comes before attacking. This is an important message in that it defines Tang Soo Do as a Defensive Martial Art.

If you are looking to acquire the skills of a Navy Seal such that you can force your way into a hardened enemy bunker, Tang Soo Do is not your best choice. Don’t get me wrong, many of the exercises and techniques of Tang Soo Do will serve you well in any defense situation. But almost every technique, form, hyung, and fighting sequence begins with a defensive move. We attack only when there is no other option.

Tang Soo Do is a defensive martial art.

That being said, there is another interpretation of Defense / Strike that is equally important. The defensive techniques of Tang Soo Do are soundly offensive. Our blocks are powerful strikes. Here is a demonstration I like to perform in class to punctuate the concept.

Kyosa Nim (Certified Instructor) Brian Mattes is demonstrating Fighting Technique #1. Next he uses the same blocking technique to break two one inch boards. This is sufficient force to break a nose, cheek bones, collar bones, ribs, or the smaller bones of an attacker’s arms. Unfortunately, my little Flip Video Camcorder doesn't capture high def, but you'll get the point.

Clearly, this simple block is also an offensive strike. This is the other interpretation of Tang Soo Do’s meaning; “Defense / Strike”

1 comment:

  1. "Tang Soo Do Tramps on MMA's Toes..."

    Don't look, but the MMA / Karate Authority over @ FIGHTLAND, claims to have come forth with just the point about hard blocks are meant to be karate strikes. M. Meredith, how could you? Allow me to digress on my philosophy on traditional karate blocking.

    Hard blocks as strikes can certainly be done. However, I feel that this is alternative to the standard way of blocking; one which should be reserved & performed-- only developed for advanced students...say black-belt level... Why?

    The essential function of the block, is as your definition of TSD--Defensive in nature. The applied purpose of the block is to dissuade, deflect or impede the assault. A second tactical purpose is to place the opponent's weapon temporarily out of action. Third, the block should create a momentary opening or vulnerability in the opponent--the opening for your philosophically defensive, now tactically offensive counterstrike.

    If (using the example above) your reverse punch or front punch is up to snuff, you're about to 'clock' your assailant and end the conflict. The block main thrust makes possible & sets up your counter-offensive.

    I often feel the MMA community, in seeking to compete with karate for attention, tries to first find fault. IMHO, on the contrary, it's the beautiful simplicity of the block-punch tactic launched with "mind-body union," that raises karate over the sport-fighting methods.

    We karate traditionalist don't need to be so clever and make the standard blocks into strikes. YouTube examples of Shotokan karate kumite abound of the simple strategy of what I'll dub, "Neutralize the attack and SMASH 'EM."

    The block-punch tactic. Who said the Okinawan karate masters couldn't fight?


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