Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Hyung of the week followup.

In my last post, I talked about my hyung of the week focus idea. I thought I'd follow up on what I got from the drill. The basic premise was that I wrote the name of every hyung I know on a small piece of paper, threw them in a hat, and would draw a new name every week.

In the process, I drew the following hyung:

  • Dangum Hyung
  • Seisan
  • Bong Hyung Sam Bu
  • Pyung Ahn Cho Dan
  • Pyung Ahn Oh Dan
  • Jindo
  • Naihanchi Sam Dan
  • Pyung Ahn E Dan
  • Sip Soo
  • Kong Sang Koon Sho

I was doing fairly well with this, until I got distracted:

I know, I know: "excuses, excuses, excuses..."

That aside, I think that the exercise has had some benefit. It may not be optimal, but I have found that it allows me to pick one thing and work on it in my downtime. My current levels of downtime are low, so having a solitary focus for the week is nice. I can think about the hyung while walking, come up with a few application ideas, do some youtube research to watch variations, etc.

Downside? Well, first off, a week really isn't very much time. I know a few senior Masters who focus an entire year on one thing. And certainly some people take a single form over a lifetime and specialize in it. So what to do?

Right now, I focus on a concept or topic that spans over several hyung. Sometimes, if I come up with something new in my current form, I go back to previous weeks and see if it works. My current concept focus is analyzing trends and repeated movements in a form. For example, in Sae Kye 1, the low block/center punch combination is obviously a key component of the hyung. The #3/#4 cut combo in Dangum repeats several times. As I put these together, I start trying to assign a level of priority to the movement. Then I mix them up, unfold the form and try putting it together in different ways.

I know that to some, this might be a case of blasphemy, but I truly feel that the forms are folded up into footwork diagrams as a mnemonic for an advanced student to unpack, rearrange and add to as needed. Have you ever used a form in sparring and thought "Boy, that really opens them up to THIS!" but THIS isn't in the hyung? To me, those followup movements are either implied or assumed that you know what to do from there.

An example is in Dangum hyung. We have the 3/4 cut combo in the third count. We end the movement with the knife at center level, pointy end directly at the opponent. To me, this says that it is implied that this ending position should either be a stab, or bringing the opponent to a "bargain" (knife pressed against throat) position.

If we can accept that premise, then we can also accept that from that opening, we can continue onward with another portion of the hyung that works from that position. If we return to our Dangum example, we've finished movement number 3. A great way to continue that flow would be a movement from later in the hyung where we perform high/low, low/high thrusts (those of you who practice this form may think of this as the "sewing machine" combo.) Flow from that, into the upward rising slash in count number 6, and we once again find ourselves in a point forward facing position, and we could either go into the "high/side/center" stab combo that is shown later, or we could loop back into one of the other combinations. I don't profess to be an expert in the knife, but my preference is to keep that blade moving and hunting for targets rather than single strikes.

In my opinion, a drill like this does wonders for a student's ability to understand the form. Performance is one thing, and I too am a big fan of maintaing aesthetic. It is a martial ART, after all, and I hate seeing sloppy technique. Unfortunately, a lot of students never move past performance into understanding. They become teachers and risk passing on empty movements that can be arbitrarily changed.

So now, that I've got some spare time (lol) I've pulled another hyung out of the hat. This week's choice: Bassai.