These are just some notes and interpretations from the past six months of training. If they help you, cool. If you disagree or would like to expand on anything, feel free to do that in the comments. Discussion is always welcome.
Don’t use the body to power strikes. Keep stance and body still like a tree trunk.
- Practice hyung slowly and precisely keeping body still and focused.
- As the movements become easier and more precise, speed the movements up.
- Make recovery from strikes as quick as the strikes themselves.
Good workout is not necessarily good practice
The old edict to “work smarter, not harder” is along the same lines at this. Of course good workouts are important to our physical health and well-being, but they are less important than good practice. Practicing the correct moves in the right environment allow us to magnify the effects, not only of our martial art, but of our training time as well.
Working the body hard develops strength and conditioning. Good practice develops skills and develops the body into a healthier, smarter organism. Both are important, but both are not easy to accomplish.
Good workouts are easy. Any fool can go outside and work out until their body gives out. When we apply intelligence and creativity to workouts they become even better.
Good practice takes time. We have to practice practicing. Good practice develops the mind and spirit as well as the body.
Enjoy your stop
This, I believe, was said in jest by Master Sung-Jin Suh. It refers to the habit of building what I think of as “micro-pauses” into your hyung (forms). These stops are not “enjoyable” in any rational sense of enjoyment. They usually involve deep stances, physical and mental stamina, and some level of physical discomfort. Enjoyable to martial artists, but not to the untrained (or under-trained).
Stop and Go
The “Rhythm of the Hyung”. For normal practice, we want to think of adding our microscopic pauses, with immediately moving on with the hyung. This rhythm contrasts with two other rhythms.
- Stop/Stop: The Rhythm of Teaching and Learning. This is the rhythm that we use when we are checking everything in our form. We’re not practicing the hyung itself so much as every position inside the hyung.
- Go/Go: The Rhythm of Self Defense or Combat. This movement pattern requires no conscious thought and happens spontaneously.
Make your forms longer and bigger
As we increase in rank, it seems that there is a natural tendency to make forms smaller, tighter and more efficient. I am learning what feels like the opposite mode of training now . By making our forms take more floor space, and more time, the character of the forms seems to change. Rather than being a race to the finish, they seem to become almost an environment, or a vehicle of some sort. Of course the physical demands are different, but the mental state required differs as well.
Strikes below shoulder level.
Not a lot to say about this one, but it is surprising how hard it is for me to retrain myself to do this.
Five Minute Technique Practice
- DBN- Up to DDMK 5 min
- JKN – Up to EIJAS 5 min
- KSN – Up to JPES 5 min
And no, I’m nowhere close. I need more practice.
Kicho Hyung 4: turn then strike, hands only, not body.
This illustrates a movement pattern that repeats throughout the hyung. “Preparing” the strike before turning and striking (below the shoulder).
Baeki Hyung Stance in 18 movement Dahn Bong
Baeki Hyung has a Go/Go rhythm and thus different stance requirements. This unique stance deviation works well in Kicho Dahn Bong.
Hands free on jump kicks.
By releasing the hands from rigorous positioning we can use them to power jump kicks and maintain balance throughout kicks. We still are conscious of not over-extending ourselves, but we are not quite so worried about hand position during the actual kick.
Problem with cat stance is not cat stance. It’s long stance.
In several hyung, there is a pull back from a long stance into cat stance. It was easy to get the cat stance position wrong until the long stance position was fixed. Once we do that work, the cat stance fixes itself.
Bong strikes horizontally most of the time.
Even though there are vertical and diagonal strikes in Kuk Sool Bong training, most of them happen horizontally. By disciplining ourselves to keep our horizontal strikes horizontal and not “almost”, we see a big difference in hyung and dae ryuhn.
So these are some of the things I’m working on fixing in my training. There is always lots to do in Kuk Sool. We always Need More Practice.