**“The real voyage of discovery consists not in**

**seeking**

**new landscapes but in having new eyes.”**

**-Marcel Proust**

We can theorize
endlessly about what a new Black Belt Curriculum might contain, but at some
point we must go beyond mere theory. We must begin to develop useful teaching
tools for the prospective instructor.
Our analysis of the low block may be an excellent place to start, but it
simply does not yield enough information from which to develop a truly
meaningful and satisfying Black Belt Curriculum. What it does do is show us where to
begin. The answer is obvious once we give
it some thought. We must do what we
should always do when confronted with a crossroads in our training: we must go
back to the basics. In fact, Grandmaster Jae C. Shin tells us, “Mastering
correct basic techniques is the most important step in reaching higher levels
of achievement.”[i] We need to do more than repeat rote
executions of our basic techniques, however. While this repetition of basics is
extremely important, we must begin to look at our basics with a whole new set
of eyes. While we must remain true to
our existing curriculum and our traditions, we must at the same time shed some
of our former beliefs and misconceptions and develop our “black belt eyes.” More importantly, we must teach our students
to see with these eyes as well. In seeing with these eyes, we will begin to
realize that instead of leading our black belts one step at a time towards an
inevitable conclusion, it is at times actually preferable to start with the
conclusion and help our black belts deconstruct its meaning.

Step
1: Identify an Advanced Concept

If we accept the premise put forward
in the previous chapter that we should teach concepts rather than specific
techniques, then it is important that we are able to identify a concept from
which we can begin. This should be an

**Advanced Concept**, which we are now able to define as*an idea of _____ formed by mentally combining several of its defining characteristics.*In this case, if we insert “basics” or “basic drill” into the blank, we know that we must first identify some of the defining characteristics of our basics, and then combine them to form an Advanced Concept. The number of Advanced Concepts that can be identified in this manner is staggering, and therefore attempting to document them is both beyond the scope of this document and counterproductive to its purpose, which is to assist others in developing their own curricula, rather than simply copying one that already exists. Instead, it is important to identify**how**we develop an Advanced Concept and move towards development of specific drills to fit this concept. Whenever we desire to identify the defining characteristics of a component part of Tang Soo Do, we should look beyond the merely physical, and examine how the subject in question can be categorized using one of the core principals of not only martial arts, but of Asian thought in general: that of*um*and*yang.*In quickly defining*um*and*yang*as “opposites that work together”, we can begin to isolate several defining characteristics of our basic that work within this method of categorization:
·
Push and Pull

·
Hands and Feet

·
Defensive and
Offensive

·
Soft and Hard

·
Linear and Circular

While it
is possible to continue this list, let us assume for the purposes of this
document that we have chosen to explore the characteristics of linear and
circular techniques. There is much
discussion and disagreement over whether circular or linear techniques are
better, or and even about exactly what constitutes a circular or linear
technique, but generally speaking, these methods of classification are
extremely prevalent, and will continue to be so for some time to come. The problem arises in that there is really no
great benefit in continuing these classifications beyond a certain point. Once a student understands the basic movement
patterns of a given technique and is able to understand why it is traditionally
classified as either “linear” or “circular”, it is time to challenge this
perception. Remembering that as we get
closer to approaching the Ideal Concept “it’s all the same”, we can begin to
combine these generally accepted characteristics in order to form an Advanced
Concept:

**All circles are straight lines and all straight lines are circles.**

Interestingly enough, this concept is not a new one, and is
a matter of debate between mathematicians, physicists, and even
theologists. While all this is beyond
the scope of this document, it is interesting to contemplate how the concepts
in martial arts and the concepts that govern the nature of the universe are
often one and the same.

Step
2: Uncover Basic Concepts

Now that
we have an Advanced Concept, we must deconstruct its meaning through the
creation of drills that will, in the end, begin to uncover some more Basic
Concepts, and, in so doing, will begin to open the “black belt eyes” of our
students. If we are going to start with
circular and linear characteristics of our basic techniques, then we must first
identify a technique that is traditionally viewed as circular, and one that is
traditionally viewed as linear. While
there are large numbers of techniques typically categorized within either of
these labels, perhaps it is best in this paper if we stick with techniques that
are familiar to most martial artists, so we will stick to “the basics”.

First, we
will identify a technique that is traditionally viewed as linear. This is a good place to start in that when
martial artists attempt to classify Tang Soo Do, they usually identify it as a
“hard” or “linear” style. While these
are actually false labels when any art is examined completely, they nonetheless
serve as a place to start. So, let’s start with a basic technique usually
classified as linear:

**the center punch.**It is safe to say that most casual observers, if asked to identify the characteristics of a center punch as circular or linear by merely watching the execution of the technique, would pick the latter. Even most students would classify the technique in this way, most likely insisting that the punch travels in a straight line from the chamber position at the ribcage directly to the intended target. This classification would ignore the multitude of circles present in this technique. First, there is the twisting motion of the hand and arm as the punch travels from the chamber to the target. Not only does the hand rotate in a circular motion, but the entire forearm does so as well. In addition, the hips, and therefore the entire body itself moves in a circular path, rather than linear, through the entire execution of the technique. Finally, if we actually view the path of the arms as they execute a center punch from directly above that practitioner, and not from the side, we will see that the punching hand moves from the side of the body towards the center, while the chambering hand moves from the center toward the opposite side. The path followed is not a line, but again is circular in nature. So, in one technique that is usually classified as linear, we have easily identified three different circular motions:
1. Hand and forearm circular movement

2. Center punch: circular movement of hips
and body

3. Path of travel for punch – circular
movement

This all tells us that yes, the technique is actually
circular AND linear, but what are really uncovering and understanding here? As
we begin to get our black belt students to concentrate more and more on the
circular aspects of a technique that they had long viewed as linear, there is
one key concept that is unlocked:

*Circular motion adds power to a technique.*

This is a Basic Concept that every black belt

*should*know, but all too often they are absorbed in punching as quickly as possible, with as much muscular force as possible, that they begin to neglect the circular motions contained in the technique that actually generate the greatest power: hand rotation, hip twist, and chambering arm retraction. Grandmaster tells us this in his second book,*The Basics:*
Regarding hand and forearm rotation:

For striking, the twisting action creates greater
penetration power along with the impact power (this can be seen from the principles
of a working drill). [ii]

Regarding hip twist:

Keep the waist loose and flexible. Twist the trunk slightly
in the opposite direction of the target just before executing a technique. At
the moment of impact, forcefully twist back into a natural position to create
maximum power.[iii]

Regarding chambering arm retraction:

Punch with equal strength on both sides. The stronger the
pull back on the non-punching arm, the stronger the punch will be.[iv]

While the mathematics are difficult to comprehend, they
actually hold this concept to be true. This why levers, pulleys, and wheels
work. It is also observed in the
principles used in weapons such as a whip, a sling, or a catapult. In fact, in nature, true linear motion doesn’t
exist. All objects, even those that seem
to be moving in a straight line, are actually moving in circles. This is again difficult to understand, but
let’s look at the science, in relatively simple terms.

According to one physics lesson:

Uniform linear motion is the reflection of the inherent
natural tendency of all natural bodies. This motion by itself is the statement of
Newton’s first law of motion: an object keeps moving with its velocity unless
there is net external force. Thus, uniform linear motion indicates “absence” of
force.

On the other hand, uniform circular motion involves
continuous change in the direction of velocity without any change in its
magnitude (v). A change in the direction of velocity is a change in velocity
(v). It means that an uniform circular motion is associated with an
acceleration and hence force. Thus, uniform circular motion indicates
“presence” of force.

However, a true “absence of force” acting upon anything is
extremely unlikely. Therefore:

Motion of natural bodies and sub-atomic particles are
always under certain force system. Absence of force in the observable
neighborhood is rare. Thus, uniform linear motion is rare, while uniform
circular motion abounds in nature.[v]

Thus we have observed the second part of our Advanced
Concept:

**All straight lines are circles.**

What of the first part of our Advanced Concept,
though? If linear motion doesn’t
actually exist, how can we say that all circles are straight lines? The answer actually lies in the analysis of
circular motion, and how we use it in the martial arts. Assuming we are referring to offensive, or
striking techniques, our goal is to maximize the speed of our technique to both
increase the likelihood of it hitting our target as well as increasing the
force at the moment of impact. When we
examine these ideas in terms of circular motion, we discover that in order to
decrease the amount of time a technique takes to reach its target we can do one
of two things: either increase the speed at which the technique travels
(requiring much additional effort), or decrease the distance between the hand
or foot executing the technique and the target itself. Decreasing the distance actually takes much
less effort, and can be done by decreasing or shortening the radius of the
circular path to be traveled. Note that
the

**radius**of a circle is actually a straight line. Let’s examine this further by looking at a technique that is almost always viewed as a circle, and in fact one in which the very name implies circular motion:**the wheel kick.**
A wheel
kick is actually executing by performing two separate circular motions. First the upper body (above the hips) starts
the circular motion of the kick, and then the kicker allows the leg to extend
straight out from the body, generating a whipping motion that quickly
accelerates the kick in a larger outside circle:

Progression of wheel kick, points 1-9, point 5 is
impact

Here the radius of the circle is represented by the kicker’s
outstretched leg. How can we decrease
this radius, if the length of one’s leg is, obviously, a constant? We do this by both altering the angle of the
circle traveled, and also by not straightening the leg until just prior to the
point of impact.

Grandmaster
Shin illustrates this point in

*The Basics:*
Regarding the angle of attack, we see that the circle does
not travel in a plane that is parallel to the ground, but instead that it
travels in an arc that is approximately 45 degrees between the ground and
vertical:

Regarding the extension of the
leg in the kick:

A common mistake
for beginners is to release the kick too early in the turn, thereby expending
the kick’s power to the left of the center line, before reaching the target.[vii]

Our first
illustration actually depicts this mistake.
By releasing the kick at point 2 in the circle, we have artificially
increased the radius of the circle, and expend too much energy keeping it
moving. By the time the point of impact
has been reached, the useful power has already been depleted. However, if we reexamine the kick, we begin
to see that a more correctly executed wheel kick, viewed from above, will look
something like this:

More correct execution of a wheel kick, demonstrating
extension of leg

In this example, we see the
proper extension of the leg, just prior to the point of impact (at point 5), as
well as the continued leg extension past the point of impact, but at the same
time bending the knee where appropriate, thereby decreasing the overall radius
of the circle traveled. The outer
circle here shows the original size of the circle, while the inner circle
depicts the new, smaller radius. Thus,
the

*straight line*distance to the target has been reduced, and the technique itself is able to move more quickly.
What
then about the force generated at the point of impact? This is a great question, and one that
strengthens our argument further. It
turns out that the force generated by circular motion at any given point along
the circle (such as our point of impact) can only truly be measured in terms of
a

*tangent*to the circle in question. A*tangent*is*“a line that touches a curve at a point so that it is closer to the curve in the vicinity of the point than any other line drawn through the point.” [viii] Thus, the force at impact is actually moving in a straight line, even if only at the exact point of impact:*
So, at last we arrive back at our
original Advanced Concept:

**All circles are straight lines and all straight lines are circles.**

What new basic concepts have we
uncovered in this analysis of circular motion?
By concentrating on the more linear aspects of the “circular” wheel
kick, we have discovered that we both reduce the distance necessary for our
kick to travel, thus reducing the overall effort required to execute the kick,
and also that we are able to generate a greater impact in the process.
Therefore, we have learned that:

*Linear motions help us to reduce unneeded movements, thereby increasing efficiency of techniques and creating overall economy of movement.*

We have demonstrating that in
deconstructing an Advanced Concept, we learn more about the actual nature of
our basic techniques, while at the same time uncovering some Basic Concepts
that will serve as principles for a deeper analysis of all our other basic
techniques. We have started to develop a
certain level of Understanding in regards to our basics. It is now time to mover forward with
Application and Improvisation.

Step
3: Understand, Apply & Improvise

We
have reached a certain level of Understanding of our basic techniques, but we
must explore this stage a bit further before continuing on with the development
of our Black Belt Curriculum. While we
have examined only two basic techniques in order to deconstruct our Advanced
Concept, it is necessary now for our black belts to begin examining additional
basic techniques with the following two Basic Concepts in mind:

1.

*Circular motion adds power to a technique.*
2.

*Linear motions help us to reduce unneeded movements, thereby increasing efficiency of techniques and creating overall economy of movement.*
One of the
best ways for black belts to begin to examine a number of techniques and their
characteristics simultaneously is through the use of basic combinations.
Typically these will consist of no more than four techniques. Students should drill the selected
combinations repeatedly, until they can begin to define the circular and linear
aspects of each, and in what ways these motions will assist in the Application
of the technique. This should be
reflected upon and discussed between the students and the instructor, but the
main focus at this stage should be allowing the black belts to discover on
their own, now that they have been led to the path and taught what they should
be looking for with their black belt eyes.
For example, they should begin to uncover their own ideas about how a
twisting motion of the chambering arm lends itself to a grab, how the circular
motion of the hips lend themselves to upsetting an opponent’s balance, or how
that more linear movements contained within a “circular” block can become
“hidden” strikes. Once they are able to conceptualize and articulate some of
these ideas, it is time for them to begin working with a partner on the
Application Stage. At this stage,
black belts will be assigned a specific combination (or no more than two in any
one lesson) and will be asked to identify as many different applications as
possible for these specific applications, while keeping in mind that:

1.

**Advanced Concept: A block is a strike is a trap is a lock is a throw**.
2.

*Basic Concept: If one strike is blocked, the next strike should already be on its way*.
3.

*Basic Concept: Both hands must be considered when identifying applications for a given technique.*
The students will have to not only be able to execute the
combination, but will truly have to be able to visualize each attack in order
to apply the techniques contained within the selected combination. Once they have begin to identify a few
different applications, the instructor should ask them to isolate one or two
applications that they like, and with which they will be comfortable executing
on a repeated basis. At this point they
will begin to move away from static, one-sided Application Drills, and move
towards more dynamic, give-and-take Flow Drills. In a Flow Drill, the motion between partners
never stops, and as soon as one side has executed their selected
applications/defenses, they will immediately move into the attacks decided upon
by their partners, and vice versa. Once they have developed a true sense of
flow, and are able to move seamlessly from one technique and one partner to the
next, it is time to enter the next stage: Improvisation.

The
Improvisation stage is exactly as it sounds: students must now begin to create
not only their own applications for ore-determined techniques, but will now
begin to improvise the creation of their own combinations, the corresponding
attacks, and the applications generated from each. Our black belts are going far beyond
mimicking and regurgitating information given to them. They are now actively creating their own
drills, and forming a deeper understanding of their basic techniques. The drill does not end here. It is time for the instructor to pick one or
two students and have them share their improvised combinations with the rest of
the class. At this point, the class will
begin to drill these new combinations, will find new partners, and the process
comes full circle, in the end looking something like this, once again proving the
point about circles and lines:

The Basics: Conclusions

What can we
conclude from all of this analysis? In
short, there is nothing truly basic about the “the basics.” It would be impossible to generate a truly
complete Black Belt Curriculum that covers everything there is to learn about
this foundation of our art. Instead, we
have tried to develop a method of instruction that will allow qualified martial
arts instructors to develop their own varied curricula through the
construction, deconstruction, and reconstruction of concepts rather than
individualized techniques. The method
for creating a Black Belt Curriculum then, is as follows:

**Step 1: Identify an Advanced Concept:**Start with a specific technical or philosophical goal in mind, identify as many characteristic features that comprise the goal as possible, and combine them into one idea.

**Step 2: Deconstruct the Advanced Concept to Uncover Basic Concepts:**Create drills that emphasize the point of your advanced concept, while at the same time breaking the Advanced idea down into chunks that are easier for students to understand and identify.

**Step 3: Use both Advanced and Basic Concepts to Understand, Apply, and Improvise:**Once Basic Concepts have been identified, begin using new drills or techniques in order to help students solidify their Understanding of these concepts. Then have students begin to explore Applications of these drills, finally leading them towards Improvisation of their own drills relating back to the initial Advanced Concept.

This may seem a difficult model
to comprehend and follow at first glance, but the more we use it, the more we
will find it fits both our goals for teaching black belts as well as providing
them with challenging opportunities to learn “new” material, and ultimately
leading them towards their own discoveries and creations. This is a model that will increase both retention
and comprehension in black belt students, and is one that can be applied across
the many different areas of our already existing curriculum.

Kick. Punch. Easy Stuff.

[i]
Shin, Jae Chul. (1994).

*Traditional Tang Soo Do Volume II: The Basics*Philadelphia, PA: Jae C Shin, preface
[ii] Shin,
Jae Chul. (1994).

*Traditional Tang Soo Do Volume II: The Basics*Philadelphia, PA: Jae Chul Shin, p.49
[iii] Shin,
Jae Chul. (1994).

*Traditional Tang Soo Do Volume II: The Basics*Philadelphia, PA: Jae Chul Shin, p.49
[iv] Shin,
Jae Chul. (1994).

*Traditional Tang Soo Do Volume II: The Basics*Philadelphia, PA: Jae Chul Shin, p.51
[v] Singh,
Sunil Kumar. http://cnx.org/content/m13871/latest/

[vi] Shin,
Jae Chul. (1994).

*Traditional Tang Soo Do Volume II: The Basics*Philadelphia, PA: Jae Chul Shin, p.95
[vii] Shin,
Jae Chul. (1994).

*Traditional Tang Soo Do Volume II: The Basics*Philadelphia, PA: Jae Chul Shin, p.95
[viii] http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/tangent?s=t