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Do you fight like you train? Do you train like you fight?

Chon-ji Hyung

Chon-ji Hyung … a bit of Heaven and Earth happening 

Many traditional stylists who use kata or hyung practice at the core of their training would have problems with that question.  The main issue is that kata or hyung does not reflect much of what you do when you spar. And the reason why is that sparring encourages you to ‘transact’ with your opponent. Many of the encounters happen at the medium to long range. And mostly both parties get to touch gloves and walk off.

The ‘self defence’ drills however could be seen more in line with what you do through the patterns. Short and sharp movements break you free, stun the opponent, and take him down. If you cater for changes in the axis of your centre of gravity, loads of ‘self defence’ moves reflect what you do within traditional patterns.

I’d like to make a general observation that in sparring, many ‘modern’ practitioners use shoulder rotation and reach to hit the opponent from further away, whereas in self defence there are more strikes done at medium to close range. I will also generalise to say that in the short range, people tend to need to do more hip rotation to generate the requisite power to put an opponent down.

So if you’re attempting to use the same dynamics of reach and distance into your kata or hyung performance, and find yourself falling over … well, this is the reason why. Patterns encourage you to look at the world from the viewpoint of a ‘self defence’ drill. If you try to mix your ideas of combat – meaning sparring, into this structure, it doesn’t work. The practitioner goes through his paces within the form and is creating power through a very different paradigm. Much of the acceleration and deceleration has to be done by the legs. Your holding your trunk vertical doesn’t mean you’re not getting into it. It just means that the power you’re generating is pulsed through the body differently from when you’re working on the bag.

People who tend to focus only on sportive fighting, irrespective of how vicious it may be, won’t understand this exercise. For instance, an old post Kata: Falling for You (I’ve since changed the title) incurred the wrath of the weekend warriors from Bullshido in Kata: Falling for You???. Rudeness aside, what they are saying reflects all those sentiments of kata or hyung being a useless unrealistic form of exercise.

Good luck with your training! 🙂