Taekwon-Do and Ground Fighting

Best Positions in Grappling
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Sanko Lewis

TAEKWON-DO is primarily a s triking art. This me ans that the bulk of our arsenal focuses on strikes and kicks, rather than on gra ppling. Nevertheless, Taekwon-Do does include joint locks, joint breaks and ground fighting techniques. In the ITF Encyclopaedia (Vol. 1, p. 21), in the sectio n discussing the definition of Taekwon -Do, the following is written: Thus taken collectively "Taekwon-Do" indicates the mental training and the techniques of unarmed combat for selfdefence as well as health, involving the skilled application of punches, kicks, blocks and dodges with bare hands and feet to the rapid destruction of the moving opponent or opponents. The emph asis is clearly on “pu nches, ki cks, blocks and dod ges” and aga inst “moving…opponents”. For this reason, Taekwon-Do spends a lot of time learning how to be swiftfooted. The Taekwon-Doin must be light on the feet and have great (static and dynamic) balance. Through the ma stery of dodging te chniques th e T aekwon-Doin lea rns h ow to keep a safe distance, especially avoiding being taken down to the floor. The rea soning behin d Tae kwon-Do’s fo cus on striking and kicking, rather tha n on grappli ng, is that gra ppling usually limi ts your defence to a single opp onent. While grappling it is p ractically impossible to fight more than on e o pponent, be cause groun d fighting seri ously limits your mobility. On the other ha nd, a st and-up fighter is more mo bile, and althou gh it is difficult, a standing fighter has a better chance against multiple opponents than a reclining fighter does. However, fig hts are u npredictable an d the unfore seeable does happ en. Therefo re, it is important to have some knowledge of ground fighting. The ITF Encyclopaedia states (Vol. 4, p. 321): “The student of Taekwo n-Do shoul d b e abl e to m eet an op ponent or opponents even in a reclining position.” Being primarily stri kers, Taekwon-Doin shoul d fo cus o n using thei r fa miliar weapons while o n t he g round. The ITF Encyclopaedia list s m any st rikes a nd ki cks ( excluding elbowing a nd kne eing) that can be perfo rmed from a reclining position. Taekwon-Do’s Theory of Power should be employed a s far as possible even in this clo se ra nge of combat. Students can ask their instructors to cover some of the gro und t echniques (“noowo gi sool”) fou nd in t he ITF Encyclopaedia.

A fore-knuckle fist punch performed on the ground as shown in the ITF Encyclopaedia.

Some extra knowledge of “traditional” grappling techniques may also come in handy. Periodically I will supply so me thoughts, theories or techniques for fighting on t he ground. Some of them will be purely Taekwon-Do based, while others may be a fusion of Taekwon-Do principles and other grappling arts, such as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

An eZine published by the SA-ITF’s Information Directorate. www.taekwondo.co.za

The Sidekick

it also negates most of you r defensive tools. From the rear-mount you can ea sily do a rea r naked choke 3 . and quickly re nder your opponent unconscious by cutting off the bl ood flow to his brain – usually this does not cau se any serious injury. Yo ur h eels (not your to es!) should be h ooked in side the oppon ents leg s. but be careful nonetheless when training.As an introduction to ground fighting. in grou nd fighting. an d th e othe r a rm around th e opponents n eck. “sleeper hold”. The rear-mount 1 position i s con sidered the safe st and most advantageous position in grappling. or a knife-hand inward strike for the neck arteries. From the rea r-mount it is very difficult for the enemy to defend hi mself. lying with your back on the floor or if the opponent is raised up on his hands and knees. Now curl the fingers of both hands and hook them into each other to make a tight ball. (This gri p will hide away all your fin gers so that the opponent cannot easily break your fingers as a counter-attack defence. From this rule. sit on your opp onent’s t orso facing t owards his head. Also tuck your thumbs in so that they cannot easily be grasped and bent over. To secure the positio n one arm wrap s under the opponent’s a rmpit. We will look at how to perform this technique in a future issue of The Sidekick. but they should be train ed with caution. The position can be kept loosely to allow the opponent to turn if he wants to.co. To do the mount. (Front) Mount The mount or mounted position is probably the most famous of the grappling positions. You shoul d positio n yourself clo se against the b ack of your opponent with you r le gs wrapped a round him. 3 The rear naked choke (often abbreviated as RNC) is also known as the “naked strangle”. Other possible attacks from this position includes a mi ddle-knuckle turning punch or a side-fist (ha mmer fist) in ward strike to the temple and angle of mandible. Many Taekwon-Do striking techniques are possible from the rear-mount position. “hadaka jime” (Japanese) or “mata leão” (Portuguese). I wish to describe the four best positions for grappling. Do not cro ss your ankles as thi s will give you r opponent th e opp ortunity to do an ankle lo ck. Rear-mount Probably the most important rule in fighting is not to show yo ur back to yo ur opponent. we can deduce that prob ably the best po sition to be in. The h ands should be cla sped in an opposing thumbs grip 2 with the thumbs tuck ed in.taekwondo. 2 1 6 An eZine published by the SA-ITF’s Information Directorate. is to have you r opp onent’s back fa cing you. a s they a re all potentially le thal. To make an “opposing thumbs grip” place your palms on top of each other so that your thumbs point away from one another. Leani ng a little back you ca n u se the elbow to strike vital spots such as the occiput and cervix. Place your knees as hig h a s possible to your opponent’s armpits.) This position is considered a “rear-mount” regardless if you are sitting. This is even truer on the ground. in which case he will be opening his back an d you can e asily slip into the rea r-mount position and disable him with a The rear-mount is also known as the “back-mount”. Not only d oes this blind you to what your opponent is up to. www.za The Sidekick .

you can fully use TaekwonDo’s Theory of Power. When your opponent tries to circle around your legs use you r elb ows to shift you into the d efensive position – facing your opponent and usi ng your legs to guard. Guard If ever you find yourself on the bo ttom. With your legs wrapped around your opponent. getting the greatest amount of downward momentum. it is alway s important to keep good po sture with your bac k straight. a ccelerating y our m ass behind your pun ches and elbow stri kes: posture your body back and then drop your whole weight behind you r tech nique (eg. From th e closed guard you can defend against punches and try arm locks o r othe r self-defen ce and counter-attack techniques.taekwondo. this po sition is called a closed guard (as illustrated in the pictur e below). then you want to be in th e guard position. yo u can push hi m a way with yo ur thi ghs. keeping your head out of reach from the opponent’s attack attempts. If your opponent attempts to pu nch you. which I term the legguard. you may a ssume a variatio n of the ope n gua rd. but at least the gua rd will give you a bit more defence-manoeuvrability. From thi s po sition. While lying on yo ur back raise yourself up on your el bows and lift you r legs as a n atural barrier between yourself and your opponent. When your o pponent is in your guard and your fe et are lo cked behind his back. pu nches or elbo w strikes). but the opp onent is not necessarily able to effectively count er-strike. you have some control over his movement. The m ount i s considered the m ost dominant position because it allows you a variety of strikes and joint attacks.rear na ked choke. With your opponent this close. If you are on the floor and your opp onent is not ye t on top of you .za The Sidekick . Being on the floor is neve r ideal. than when you are mounted by your enemy. it i s preferable to lock yo ur feet tog ether behind your opponent’s b ack (clo sed guard) to p revent him from simply pushin g your knees do wn and stepping over in order to mount you. If your legs are not locked. yet he is too clo se for y ou to safely get on your feet. In the mount. An eZine published by the SA-ITF’s Information Directorate.co. www. the positi on is called an open guard.

The pic ture on the left. Fo r b etter thru st. With the leg s free. Lower your hips and drop your weight o nto the ene my. In con clusion.Org Boosabumnim Sanko Lewis is chairman of the SA-ITF’s Information Directorate and kwanjangnim of the Soo Shim Kwan. i nner thigh s.za The Sidekick .taekwondo. 2006. however get on your feet as soon as possible thereafter. stretch o ut your to rso diagonally over your opponent’s chest. www. version 2.From the l eg-guard ma ny of Taekwon -Do’s ground kicking tech niques ( noowo bal gisool) can be used to attack you r opponent if he com es t o clo se. from the ITF Encyclopaedia. To smother their opponents’ defensive techniques the side-control is used. because your opponent may have friends. the defend er has raised himself onto his pal ms and stationary leg. Therefore.co. An eZine published by the SA-ITF’s Information Directorate.net References: ITF Encyclopaedia. To a ssume the si de-control. Although the side-control is the lea st d ominant g round po sitions. kne es. US Military Combatives Field Manual (FM 3-25. In a self-defence situati on. make sure that you have stunned or incapacitated your opponent so that he does not immediately continue his assault. 3 & 4. Soo Shim Kwan Colour Belt Handbook. aimed at the solar plexus of an atta cker that closed in to mount the de fender. pushing more body weight into the technique. depicts a g round fro nt sn ap ki ck ( noowo apcha busigi). Conclusion It is a good idea to spend some time getting use to the feel of these ground-fighting positions and familiarize yourself with the different Ta ekwon-Do strikes and kicks that can b e performed from each. remember t hat a s Tae kwon-Do pra ctitioners we want to spend the le ast amount of time on the ground. weighing him down like a wet blanket. it neverthele ss all ows for con siderable control over the opponent on the bottom. giving you some extra time to retreat to safety. Keep your head down to avoid knee kicks. Side-control The lea st do minant of the favourable g round po sitions is the side-control (aka “sid e-mount” or “cross-mount”).150) Www. it is relatively easy to get up on your feet aga in. Volumes 1.Wikipedia. when you do find yourself in these more favourable ground positions make ample use of them. it is a stable position from wh ere the top fighter (the one that has the side-control) ca n do elbo ws. Please Support us And Visit MartialArtsHeadquarters. Ob vious targets a re your opponent’s knees. some arm -locks and also shift into the mount. an d genitalia. Fighters grappling may often find themselve s in such a side-by-side situation. From this po sition. Keep y our l eg nearest to th e opp onent straig ht and bent the other leg so that the knee is close to the opponent’s hip. Place your elb ow o n the gro und in the hollow formed by your op ponent’s head and should er (as in the picture) and put your oth er palm on the ground on the near side of the op ponent. He is currently teaching English and Religion in the Republic of Korea.

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