Special Techniques for Kids

Mr Jon Sawden produces some of the best Special Technique practitioners in the country.

How does he do it? He starts young, and he works a lot on general mobility, strength and gymnastic skills with the kids as you will see.

This video may challenge some preconceptions you have about what you can get kids to do in your class.

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Snippets of amazing old footage

DON’T FORGET TO WATCH No. 10 – Paul McPhail performs Juche forwards and backwards

For my 5th degree black belt grading in 1993 I thought it would be a cool idea to perform Juche Tul forwards then backwards for General Choi.

The plan failed miserably as I started the backwards part… I hadn’t even considered the possibility that General Choi would take offence to it. He turned his head and refused to watch. I figured… well… I may as well carry on now and struggled through to the end.

I passed the grading so I guess the General had forgiven me by the day the results were announced.

Here is the footage of the pattern at the grading.

Classic : NZ Self Defence Syllabus 2008

This video technology enables students to compare themselves to experts side by side so that they can see how to improve in visual detail.

The full video gives this kind of analysis so you can see the differences in technique and timing. Even if you are not Riana, you can still get tremendous benefit by comparing someone to an extremely skilled athlete at the same time.

Relaxation : the key to power and performance

Spend any amount of time in a dojang  and you will see some guy (and it is more often than not a guy) whose moves look, well, clunky. They have a tense stiffness about them, a forced attempt to generate power. Trust me I know I was that guy (and still am on occasions).

Instructors faced with the clunky guy almost invariably say “try to relax”. Of course as soon as anyone tells you to relax you are likely to find yourself completely unable to do so, in fact, you are likely to actually stiffen up more. Akin to the experience of being told not to think of a pink elephant, the first thing that pops into your mind is a pink elephant.

Gen Choi instructing

Over two decades have now passed since the Founder of Taekwon-Do passed away. Every now and then I reflect that most of the people in my classes, even senior black belts, never got to meet and train with General Choi. That is a great pity as he was certainly a legend – an amazing figure and source of incredible knowledge.

In April 2002, practically on his death-bed, Gen Choi travelled to the United States to fulfil his promise to Grand Master CE Sereff to teach a course for his students. That was considered his last IIC. The previous September was the last full course, held in Jamaica shortly after the devastation of 9/11. As you will hear him say at the end of the video, the world was chaotic and people were afraid to travel. But 30 fanatical Taekwon-Do students gathered in Jamaica regardless to learn from the man himself.

This footage was shot by myself, Mark Banicevich and Graham Patterson – the three Kiwis at the course. It’s not high quality, but nevertheless it is valuable, historic footage to be cherished.

General Choi always encouraged us to ask questions. In fact before each course, he would approach some seniors privately and encourage them to ask lots of questions at the course. He usually wouldn’t discuss techniques much before that – preferring instead to save that for the seminar.

These videos show some techniques that have since been modified slightly since Gen Choi’s passing. The various organisations around the world have sought to standardise techniques as much as possible so it is natural that decisions had to be made on certain points that were ambiguous. The point here is that over the last decade some of these techniques have been changed so check with your instructor before quoting Gen Choi from this video. And in many cases there was no right or wrong answer on how a technique is to be performed. Gen Choi himself would show different variations at different courses. And he modified techniques over time too.

General Choi was most gracious and generous with his time, and was always careful to repeat his key points so they were clear. Sometimes though he would not quite understand what was being asked and go on a bit of a tangent. It was tricky to try and push for an answer sometimes without being disrespectful, so I would normally just stand and wait for as long as I could comfortably get away with – but sometimes eventually you just had to bow and sit down.

Classic IIC : Gen Choi in Jamaica 2001

Over a decade has now passed since the Founder of Taekwon-Do passed away. Every now and then I reflect that most of the people in my classes, even senior black belts, never got to meet and train with General Choi. That is a great pity as he was certainly a legend – an amazing figure and source of incredible knowledge.

In April 2002, practically on his death-bed, Gen Choi travelled to the United States to fulfil his promise to Grand Master CE Sereff to teach a course for his students. That was considered his last IIC. The previous September was the last full course, held in Jamaica shortly after the devastation of 9/11. As you will hear him say at the end of the video, the world was chaotic and people were afraid to travel. But 30 fanatical Taekwon-Do students gathered in Jamaica regardless to learn from the man himself.