The Universal Taekwon-Do Federation was founded in 1981 by Grandmaster Han Cha Kyo as a learning organization, for and about learning, where members develop their body, mind, and spirit through martial arts training, teaching, and developing leadership skills. All students and instructors are expected to learn from each other, and to help the organization improve its ability to help people learn.....
.....Taekwon-Do is considered the means to learn about oneself, about how others work, how groups work, and about how the world works because it is an environment where the body, mind, and spirit are all forged by learning to meet increasingly more difficult challenges.
Grandmaster Han had been a TKD champion in Korea, kicked over a full-grown bull, trained champions, commandos and police, demonstrated in Asia, Europe, Africa, and North America, pioneered new kicking techniques, and safely captured a grenade-carrying double-agent after a balcony-jumping chase through a major airport, but he saw the most important and needed reasons for TKD training was to help people grow in order to build safer and stronger communities, and ultimately a more peaceful world.
To demonstrate that TKD could be helpful to all people Grandmaster Han established programs with the elderly, the disabled, and people with diverse physical, developmental, social, emotional, and cognitive abilities. All of these programs were successful, showing that every person has the potential to improve.
Unlike Taekwondo as a sport where the aim is to prove oneself better than someone else, the UTF sees Taekwon-Do as a creative art where the focus is for each person to become more capable today than they were yesterday. To do this necessitates expanding one’s awareness, seeing realistically, and improving the ability to see what is needed and respond appropriately in any given situation.
In the spirit and practice of the UTF being a learning organization, where changes occur as (hopefully) deeper understanding and improved methodology evolve, we are including dates and often the initials of those responsible for what you read and/or view. The intention is not to catalogue such evolution but rather to demonstrate that what you are looking at has been further developed than what you may have seen, or even printed, some months or years ago. This can be seen as a way of stating who is responsible for the document, and who can be contacted if there are any questions about it. Dates are on any documents or videos, etc., because we expect that improvements can and will be made if we are still learning. Ultimately it is up to you, the student/practitioner, to internalize, realize, and actualize such instructions and any changes as part of your in-depth training.
UTF BASIC TRAINING PRINCIPLES
These principles apply to our martial arts training as well as to improving our total life.
Awareness - through ever-expanding levels of self, of others, of situation.
Relaxation - enhances power, agility, speed of response, decision making, and reduces wasted energy. (See “The Force to Knock Over a Bull” and “Power Robbers” for a more thorough discussion.)
Timing - refers to various expanding levels of interaction. An early level might be the proper timing of a person’s own muscles to produce an effective technique or action. Another level would be a person’s timing of their actions to another person’s for effective sparring or teamwork. A more extended level of timing would be a person ordering their actions and accomplishments in order to have the most effect in the world around them. Proper timing enables a person to achieve the most effect for the effort expended.
Realistic Application - is the idea that what the student is doing has a real-world application beyond exercise, and that practice and training should be done in such a way as to best fulfill that purpose for a student’s current skill level. Realistic application is the standard against which techniques, methods and ideas can be measured in order to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of training.
Repetition - underlies all other principles. Our principles, techniques and tools can only be mastered through aware repetition. Our minds must know and our bodies must know, and be sufficiently trained to be able to respond automatically whenever needed.
UTF ADVANCED TRAINING PRINCIPLES
are based on Basic Training Principles, and a certain degree of mastery
of them is necessary before these advanced principles can be approached.
Integration - is the idea that the principles of force, power and training need to be used simultaneously in the proper balance and proportion to realize the maximum effect possible. For example, twisting the hips to power a technique will be most effective when the mind, body and spirit are centered, relaxed, focused, and all other principles are contributing to the effort.
Spontaneous Adaptability - the ability to “be in the moment” and act according to that moment’s needs without distraction from past events or future plans.
Flow - force is managed physically with the least amount of damage when changes in position and direction are made smoothly; this applies to our joints, to personal encounters and to our lives. Our lives are the most rewarding when the coordinated forces of our mind, body and spirit can unselfconsciously respond and interact with the world around us, united in the flow of life.
Written instructions cannot take the place of a good instructor. The art lies in the how, not in the what. The art lies in the doing of it, not in the knowing of it. Techniques are merely the necessary brushstrokes, dance steps or musical tones, the art is in how they are performed and used. Much aware repetition with a self-critical attitude will lead to it, a good teacher can shorten the journey, and written notes can provide directions to help keep you on the path, but you must make the steps.
For the beginning and intermediate student integrated breathing can be a very important factor in unifying the body’s efforts and coordinating it with the mental state. A properly performed exhale will unify and stabilize the body, concentrate the energy, and release tension:
The most productive exhaling is done with the lower abdomen (not with the chest), and is often performed against a feedback pressure provided by the throat and mouth: exhale as if you were yelling, not as if you were blowing out a candle. Exhaling with no resistance ends too quickly and does not pressurize the torso which is needed for generating power and receiving impacts. The central foundation provided by the activity of the lower abdomen is the crucial element in all motion and movement. Exhale properly and the inhale will mainly take care of itself. After exhaling fully, if the body is allowed to relax the chest will naturally return to an uncompressed state which will result in ½ an inhale. To finish filling the lungs requires a deliberate effort to fully expand the chest, but doing this is often not necessary.
It is not necessary to inhale for every technique in a sequence. In fact to do so will usually impede the flow of motion and power in the sequence. However, it is useful to exhale with every technique, but the exhale does not need to be complete. Proper breathing should assist and augment the activity and not get in the way of it.
Begin exhaling just before the movement is to start. Do not inhale up to some intermediate stage in the technique and then start exhaling to generate power. Using the entire motion to build power will naturally result in more power than using half the motion.
The exhale itself should accelerate and lead the acceleration of the technique.
Conscious and deliberate effort may be needed initially to retrain your breathing habits, but just as with kicking and punching, the more it is practiced the more it will become automatic and just as much a part of any technique as the appropriate posture and arm position is.
In basics and pattern practice, the eyes should begin the turning in the direction of the next action before any other part of the body moves. This is done so that power can have as long a focus time as possible, and so that a habit is created of seeing first in order to know what is needed, rather than turning the body first with what might turn out be a vulnerable posture or an inappropriate technique. Seeing first will be the safer and more useful habit to have when the next move is not known, which is the usual situation in sparring and life. Practice seeing, not looking. Because seeing is noticing what is and looking means looking for something, when something different appears than what you are looking for, you will be surprised and slower in responding. Expecting one possibility makes you less prepared for other possibilities. Practice being prepared for what is.
Stances should be practiced as low as the definition of the particular stance permits. This will improve balance, power, leg strength, and flexibility. It will also allow longer distances to be covered in a single step as well as permit a jump to be made more quickly by not having to first drop into a spring position, an action which also gives your intention away to an opponent. If practiced low, techniques will still be in control and powerful when the situation necessitates a higher stance. Training in a high stance, however, will not prepare you adequately to perform techniques when a lower stance is suddenly needed. The height and movement between stances is determined and led by your center between your hips, not by the head or shoulders.
The basic posture attitude is one of focused relaxation. The most power and speed develops from, and with, a state of relaxation. Conversely, tension robs power and speed. Concentrating on speed or power usually creates tension. Focus on moving from a relaxed state, like a whip.
Power should come from the whole body, not just from the arm or leg - these are weaker and they tire more easily when used alone. Similarly, the impact mass of any technique should be developed to be that of the whole body delivered through the contact point of the tool.
Counter force (Active reaction force) should be used with all techniques. This is most easily realized initially with hand and arm techniques, as when the force of a forward punch or low block or rising block is countered by the equally strong snap of the opposite fist back to the side of its hip. This balanced movement allows the rest of the body to remain relaxed. Being relaxed permits a quicker and more complete response to the next situation, and since it is less tiring than having a tense body it results in increased stamina.
A balance which is centered left/right, up/down, front/back, and in/out needs to be maintained for maximum results. Your center is you, not the floor. Maximum power and speed can be achieved by learning how to maximize acceleration starting from that center. Focusing on acceleration keeps you concentrating on what you are doing now (the only period of time you can do anything about). Focusing on speed, however, has you thinking about the future result (occupying you with expectations, fear of failure and other non-productive/tension-producing thoughts). Take care of your "now" (acceleration) and the future (speed) will take care of itself. See the separate UTF "The Force to Knock Over a Bull" article for a more thorough exploration of the power topic.
Patterns take powerful single self-defense and attack techniques and tie them together as a story series in order to provide a way to practice applying focus and power in successively more demanding dynamic situations. To fully realize this intention the student must apply power in a realistic manner within the various imaginary pattern "encounters". Practicing patterns with focus and power, while using hard and soft, high and low, fast and slow, continuous and separate, develops a wide range of responses to be further applied to sparring, self-defense and board breaking. When performed correctly a pattern should end in the same location it began.
Force must be created before power can exist. As well as guiding martial arts training, these principles also prove useful in guiding efforts to make our actions and our lives more effective.
CENTER – All forces exist as equal and opposite pairs, either moving away, toward or around the system center. When our center of energy coincides with our center of mass we have the best foundation from which to generate maximum force and to receive outside forces with the least upset to our equilibrium. A strong sense of center gives us a base for maintaining, and regaining, stability in stances, in movements and in our lives. Since all forces occur as equal and opposite pairs, every force we create has an opposing reaction force. By creating appropriate counter forces, reaction forces can be cancelled. Doing this allows the intended motion to be more effective by enabling our center to remain relaxed and in balance, ready to respond to the next needed action. Similarly, in our lives all our actions will create reactions. When these reactions are not helpful to the overall purpose, creating counter actions can help reduce the negative effects of these reactions and help us maintain overall equilibrium.
INTEGRATED BREATHING – It is quite possible when under stress to not breathe enough, or to breathe too much. Having to consciously control breathing, however usually means some attention is being diverted from more important matters. With appropriate training the body and mind can learn to unconsciously work together to automatically determine and produce the amount and frequency of the breathing needed for their mutual benefit. Properly integrated breathing releases tension, unifies and stabilizes the body, and focuses physical and mental energy.
FOCUS – Undirected force usually is not very effective in achieving a particular purpose, and often results in undesirable side effects and wasted energy. The more purposely we can focus our intentions, the more efficient and effective our forces of action, thought and spirit will be – from a wide focus for maximum awareness through various degrees all the way to a tight focus for maximum impact.
CONTROL OF MASS – Mass can be as solid as a diamond, as fluid as flowing water, or any degree in between. Having bodies with multiple parts connected by joints gives us the ability to make ourselves one rigid difficult-to-move mass or, by relaxing our joints, to be more flexible like a whip. For example, acceleration is most efficiently achieved by sequenced stages, while impact is most effective as a unified mass. For maximum effectiveness in our movements and in our lives it is important to know how and when to become any degree of connectedness from rock to water.
ACCELERATION – Acceleration is the unique factor that must be present with mass in order for a force to exist. If a mass is at rest, or even moving at a constant speed, by definition (f=ma), there is no force since there is no acceleration. In order for anything to move, change direction, or change speed, acceleration must be present. The manner, timing, and focus of our acceleration determine the amount and effectiveness of our force.
FUNDAMENTALS OF MOVEMENT AND ALIGNMENT
the “what” and “why” list
1. Use your center to begin and receive all force.
a) reduces the possibility of straining your muscles, joints and back,
b) provides the most acceleration and fastest finishes,
c) reduces “telegraphing” your techniques to your opponent,
d) keeps your upper body relaxed,
e) increases your stability against shoves and pulls,
f) keeps your own movements and techniques from actively unbalancing you,
g) permits your techniques to be delivered successfully from any position.
2. Train your awareness skills along with your body skills.
a) speeds up learning and raises your performance level when your conscious mind, nonconscious mind, and body are trained as a single unit,
b) improves seeing the bigger picture and thereby helps you make better decisions,
c) decreases your response time,
d) speeds your learning when the conscious mind is kept in a state of quiet, non-judgmental observation,
e) decreases the likelihood that unawareness will become a habit.
3. Keep your upper body in a relaxed upright posture, rather than leaning, tilting or bending.
a) makes it easier to keep your center focus to maintain equilibrium and begin movements,
b) provides the most freedom of motion,
c) exposes the fewest target areas,
d) increases your available power due to better muscle alignment,
e) maximizes available tools,
f) allows more acceleration since there is less tension when your muscles don’t have to hold your body at an angle.
4. Maintain your weight centered on the balls of your feet.
a) increases your balance and stability when changing position compared to heel/toe shifting,
b) prevents backward imbalance and decreases the time it takes your to recover,
c) increases adaptability since the ankle joint adds more degrees of motion and impact absorption,
d) increases your joint safety since the smaller pivot area reduces the amount of torque going to your ankles, knees and hips when you move and turn.
5. Relax your knees.
a) keeps your travel motion horizontal, making motions quicker and less work than going up and down over an unflexing knee.
b) improves your stability when moving over an uneven or shifting surface.
6. Place your foot and shift your weight to it, to maintain foot/knee/hip alignment.
a) reduces strain on your knee ligaments,
b) allows maximum safe power transfer for moving, pushing and jumping,
c) reduces muscle work since supporting your weight is transferred to your tendons.
7. Use low stances, for training.
a) increases your stability (lower center of mass),
b) increases your range of reach (longer steps possible),
c) encourages the use of your center to move yourself (rather than leaning),
d) improves your flexibility (from dynamic stretching),
e) develops your leg strength simultaneously with other training,
f) protects your knees (safer bent than straight when hit),
g) makes possible “telegraph-free” jumping (no need to dip down first).
8. Spiral your body turns around your center, instead of block turning around one foot.
a) speeds up starting motion since less of your mass needs to be moved at one time,
b) reduces effort needed to stop since there is less of your mass moving at any one instant,
c) improves stability since your body’s center is the axis of your turning body rather than your body pivoting around your off-center foot,
d) reduces tendency to turn too far, since your body is turning on itself and not being pulled around by your tool’s motion,
e) increases joint safety since spiraling flows power rather than the jerk of a one-piece start,
f) reduces body tension since your body is not trying to hold itself rigid as one piece,
g) allows you to see what is going on sooner since the head turns first.
9. Relax and align from your center when performing hand techniques.
a) increases your acceleration and power since larger, central muscles start the motion,
b) reduces exposure of your body targets since relaxed arms stay closer to your body,
c) provides more counter-mass resulting in increased, and more stable, force generation,
d) provides better support to your shoulder and elbow joints thereby reducing injuries.
10. Protect (and move within) your vertical center-line.
a) develops self-protection habit first rather than solely focusing on the incoming technique,
b) increases your awareness and control of boundaries,
c) reduces exposure of body targets compared to reaching out to stop opponent’s technique,
d) provides less opportunity for you to be grabbed and/or pulled off balance,
e) increases your power since your techniques are projected from your center rather than from your side.
Self-defense situations concentrate on tools, targets and techniques not usually permitted in sparring situations. They are taught in order to give students a graded variety of responses to choose from in confrontational situations when a fully combative response is not desirable or necessary.
These self-defense pages (not available on this site yet) are intended for the purpose of organizing and focusing the teaching of this skill. A qualified instructor is essential for the student to properly learn how to apply the principles and methods outlined here. The teaching purpose is to replace involuntary brute force reactions arising from panic with aware responses chosen for their maximum effects with the least effort and repercussions for a particular situation. Once a particular technique is "understood", it is necessary that it be repeated many times, at different times, in different conditions, with different people until it can be used spontaneously whenever needed to the degree appropriate. Only then can it be considered "learned".
Several entire martial arts have developed using only "hands-on" self-defense techniques. It is quite possible to spend a lifetime just specializing in these types of techniques. In our Taekwon-do training it is the intention that the basic principles and methods behind these techniques be learned so that the student can adapt and apply them whenever a new situation arises. Learning many does not replace learning well. Ultimately, beyond knowing a certain number of basic responses, it is not the quantity of techniques known, but the quality of the knowing which will determine the students’ preparedness.
1. Use knowledge rather than brute force.
2. Realize that being grabbed also offers you a connection to control the attacker: if they have you, you also have them.
3. Use a larger part of yourself against a smaller part of them.
4. Don’t go against where their power is concentrated, but use your force where their power isn’t.
5. Don’t put yourself in a more dangerous position in the process of getting out of the original predicament.
6. Break their focus, especially if it is necessary to go against their power.
7. Use the concept of leverage to multiply your force.
8. Pressure points are preferred to pain infliction, because they:
a. are often easier to regulate in their degree of effect,
b. work even when the person is "feeling no pain" from drugs or other factors, since they act directly on the nervous system and are not mediated by any decision-making process,
c. do not usually need a healing time to recover from bruises,
d. are less likely to cause "now it’s my turn" reactions.
(These last two are worthwhile considerations for keeping friendly relations among practicing students.)
9. Brute force is a last resort, but does have its applications.
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