Monday, July 16, 2007

Unintentional Applications

I've been taking some time lately to review Dangum hyung with my students. This is the basic dagger form within the WTSDA curriculum. I think the form is extremely interesting because there is a lot of application that lies beneath the surface of this fairly "basic" form. As a hyung, it can be very stylized at times with some high kicking and other exotic techniques that normally wouldn't see it's way into a "knife fight." What's more, the techniques themselves seem like pretty basic stabs and slashes while employing the reverse, edge-out grip.

I've been working with the yudanja in our class, working on application. This was an interesting proposition, since I normally do not teach knife work in our class. I tend to refer my students to the Experts, those who taught me what I know, within our Association. I showed one or two techniques to some junior black belts, and they may have walked away a little, well... terrified.

Dangum Hyung

On some level, I think it's good to have a little terror, as it can contribute towards a real respect for the blade. When you stop and think about how really nasty and brutal every technique can be, you start to really take your training more seriously. This seriousness applies itself to Tang Soo Do overall. Yes, we have a lot of fun, but don't forget for one second what you are training for.

I will often say that the knife is a tool, used for the specified purpose of cutting. I say this in an attempt to remove the "evil" factor from the blade itself, and transfer it instead to the grey matter of the individual wielding the tool. You shouldn't be scared of a knife, no matter how weird, intimidating or scary it may look. A screwdriver will puncture you just as easily (and often, quite nastier.)

After the student has a good feel for the form, we can start talking about how the knife can be applied. The first thing I point out is that the dangum has 4 application points: the tip, blade, back of blade and butt of the handle. When doing dangum hyung, we often think about the most obvious parts: blade and tip. In reality, almost every movement has 2-3 extra applications when we use the other parts.

Employing the punyo and back of the blade, we create locking, trapping, pressure point, and striking applications that just weren't "there" beforehand. In fact, they may not have even been imagined by the creator of the form. These movements just happen to occur on the same line of motion, and only bring themselves to the foreground when you focus on them.

That, for me, was the real lesson. I wasn't too concerned if they remembered any of my neat killer applications. I wanted them to instead experiment and see what they found or created "by accident." I see it in the face of a student when they stumble into one of these ideas, I see the real learning take place.

Now, they own that information. They aren't just parroting my ideas anymore. They have something of merit and value that they can share with their contemporaries and their own students. I especially hope that one day they can teach me something that I haven't seen, and when I pass it on I can say "this is something my students came up with. Ask them if you want to learn more."

It's starting to happen. Yay!
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