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Thursday, September 3, 2015

Taekyun - Inside Jegi and Outside Jegi

For each class I teach in the 50 States Challenge, the goal is to include one technique that I learned at the previous school in the Challenge--something I've learned that I'm passing on to a new school.  But what about the first school?

The last time I traveled out-of-state for martial arts, I went to Korea and studied taekyun under Master Do.  Adding a little taekyun to the lesson seemed interesting.  Since I was asked to teach kicking, it was reasonable enough to add it to the lesson, considering "taekyun" literally means "contest of kicking."

I am not a black belt in taekyun, but Master Do gave me permission to include what I know of taekyun in my lessons for this project.

Master Do and someone else... I forget who.

Taekyun, like judo or taekwondo, is both a martial art and a sport.  What makes taekyun stand out is the how closely it is tied with dance.

Master Do is quick to point out the aesthetic similarities between different cultures' traditional dance and their fighting styles.  In Michael Rosenbaum's "Kata and the Transmission of Knowledge" he expands on the intersection of martial arts and dance, citing examples in pentjak-silat, capoeira, Langkas of Filipino arts, Motobu-ryu karate, and sword dances from all over the world.

In taekyun, dance is used as a vehicle to teach timing.  All martial arts require good timing. Just like balance, speed, precision, and power, it's a fundamental that every martial art has to teach.  Taekyun is the only martial art I've ever studied that teaches timing first. The way they do this is by making it as simple as possible.  Instead of practicing your technique against a non-compliant opponent moving according to his own agenda, beginners time their movements to a steady, predictable rhythm that they can hear.  Later they take away the music, make the movements more complicated, and base the timing off of an opponent's movement instead of a predictable rhythm.  But for the beginner, it starts with a step.

Start with the feet shoulder-width apart, turned slightly outward if you like, and keep the knees and hips relaxed.  On the count of 1, step forward with your left foot, then drop the hips to make a little bounce.  On 2, you do a technique.  For now just lift the left foot and bounce the hips down again.  On 3, put the left foot back where it started.  Then do the same for the right foot on the next 3 counts.

Each time you step forward, your stepping foot should go to the tip of  the triangle.

There are a lot of different techniques that can be done on the second count, and in fact there are variations on the stepping as well, but for the purposes of what I taught in Washington, I kept it simple with an inside jegi.  

A jegi is a traditional Korean toy, similar to a shuttlecock but used like a hacky sack, and that's where this technique gets its name.  The movement looks a lot like someone is kicking a small ball into the air, although the application is not a kick at all.  

The outside jegi is a little more challenging.  The heel comes up to the outside of the body. When most people first try this, they keep their knees and upper legs mostly stationary and just bend the knee to flip the heel up.  To do this movement correctly, raise the knee along with the heel.  It should produce a distinct feeling in the hips.

While both techniques are great for warming up and conditioning the hips, they are not strictly exercises.  The application for both is to whisk the foot away when an opponent attempts to sweep the front leg.

If you want to know more about taekyun, resources in English are hard to come by. Fortunately some Korean videos are still interesting even if you can't understand what is being said.  This one shows part of a taekyun tournament, and this one includes demonstrations of techniques that are not allowed in competition.

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