Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Black belt class, here we come

I had a partially successful Tae Kwon Do grading last Wednesday night, going for my 4th Gup (blue belt with 3 stripes, or blue 3 for short). To raise the standard of future black belts, blue 3s and up are welcome to attend black belt training to work on grading requirements, such as form, sparing, breaks and self defense.

At my level, my next grading requirement will only require form and sparing, though self defense is good to know, and it's a little confidence booster to be able to do the breaks.

Earlier, I mentioned a partially successful grading. This was because I passed, but I was not happy with my sparing performance. In fact, I was initially horrified because I accidentally punched my opponent in the face.

Tae Kwon Do sparing rules are kicks from the waist up, and punches between the waist and the neck.

I managed to land a lazy punch that was rather high on the chest and slid up to connect with his jaw. Not cool. It didn't knock him out or even knock him back. The ref didn't actually see it, and only deducted the point when the opponent tapped his jaw to indicate he had been hit there. That was the end of round one.

Round two wasn't much better. This was the first time I'd been against someone who was actually my height (possibly a bit higher), and my build (or maybe a bit more solid). And he wasn't going over easy. I tried a couple of front kicks and a side kick, but he just wasn't going anywhere. At that point, I figured I'd have to go for the head or pull out the spinning back kicks or turning side kicks. I was just about to launch an axe kick, when the ref called the end of the round.

I've since learned that my opponent is or was a boxer. Punching someone in the face is still not a nice thing to do, which is why I have trouble making kicking someone in the head my go-to move. But apparently it takes more skill to lift a foot from the ground, get around their defenses and land it to the head, than to move a fist that should already be at head height, defending, to their head; and that makes it alright.

Lessons for next time. A big guy isn't going to be swayed by punches or prop front kicks (lead foot kicks). What you have left is your big guns, which are movements with alot of weight behind them, or head shots.

Anything to the head will do (as long as it's with your foot). I'd likely do an axe kick first, as a warning, since it will slap the side of the head and drop down on their shoulder. A front kick could be nasty it if lands, and I'm not sure I'm flexible enough to land a head height side or round house kick.

Solid body shots are going to come from turning side kick, spinning back kick, front kick from the rear foot or even a jumping round house kick. The front kick should probably be preceded with a quick switch of your feet to give you some room if you're too close, or even step back then kick from the rear foot. The forward motion of pulling the knee up and snapping the foot out will have a bit of weight behind it, and should knock the opponent back. And if you're close enough, and it's high enough, you may even connect to the face.

Turning side kicks can disorient the opponent, perhaps cause them to move closer, but the key point is that once the kick happens you will step forward to deliver another.. perhaps a slipping side kick, or another turning or spinning move.

The spinning back kick is one of the more powerful non-jumping kicks I have, at the moment. It hits with the heel of the foot and can break ribs (or, from experience, pine boards, which are supposed to be similar in strength to ribs). Once done, you can use the momentum to do another, or move into a slipping front, side or round house kick.

Anyway, all stuff I have to learn over the next three months, along with my new form. The next belt level is 3rd Gup (red belt with 1 stripe).

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