The Art of Dae Ryun - Building the Foundation, Part 3

Tue, 03/18/2014 - 8:39pm — Grandmaster

The Art of Dae Ryun - Building the Foundation, Part 3

In part 3 of our series on the Art of Dae Ryun, I want to discuss Ja Yu Dae Ryun or free sparring in more detail. To do this, we need to break down Ja Yu Dae Ryun into three (3) basic categories. These are:


  1. Um/Yang Theory
  2. Mind/Body Considerations 
  3. Specific Strategies 


I like to teach my students Neh Gong or the mental curriculum first. I do this because it is much easier to learn the material if a student
understands why it is so important and how it involved in building one's foundational skills. For this reason, I will start with the UM/Yang Theory
first and how it applies to Ja Yu Dae Ryun and specifically how it involved in building one's core competencies 


Um/Yang Theory
Um/Yang theory is a way at looking at free sparring where the practitioner realizes that opposing concepts and principles must co-exist in  harmony for maximum potential. Stated differently, while the practitioner may lean towards being an offensive sparer rather than defensive one, it is important to realize that the two must be in balance for the entirety to work as a whole. Therefore, we must not only get in or be able to close the gap quickly but we must also be able to get out or create a buffer while maintaining the best defensive posture. Similarly, we must not only execute offensive moves, but we must also execute defensive moves. Additionally, we must not only move in a linear fashion, but we must be able to move from side to side as well as angle off when necessary. As one of my original instructors use to say, "we must not only be able to dish it but to be able to take it as well." At the most advanced levels, a great free sparrer can absorb energy and or deflect it when he or she needs to. 

Within Um/Yang Theory exists the concept of "Won" or circular motion. In fact, if you look at the Um/Yang symbol on a Korean flag you will notice it is round and not linear. It is also blended (red to blue and blue to red) which symbolizes both the fire element and the water element co-existing in harmony. Similarly, a solid practitioner is assertive at times and then passive as when retreating or moving back. Later when we are cover Shi Hap Dae Ryun or tournament sparring, you will learn that by reading your opponent's temperament, you can much more readily prepare for your competition. For example, if your opponent is a type A or aggressive individual, you might be best to use a defensive or counter attack strategy.

As we learned in part 2 of this series, it is best to become well versed in Yak Sok Dae Ryun or pre-arranged sparring before starting Ja Yu Dae Ryun or free sparring. This is mainly because it takes a while for a new student to develop the mental and physical attributes necessary to free spar effectively. These attributes are what I call "Mind/Body" considerations. Let's look at a few in the next section. 

Mind/Body Considerations
To become good at sparring, the practitioner must have developed proper timing, endurance, distancing, speed, and an excellent understanding of targeting. As you know, this is developed during Yak Sok Dae Ryun or pre-arranged sparring. In free sparring, these mental and physical attributes are further developed. For example, during Ja Yu Dae Ryun the practitioner has to think on their feet to come up with creative combinations that work effectively in both an offensive and defensive posture. This not only further develops timing, endurance, distancing, speed and targeting but further develops physical and emotional control, agility, flexibility, strength and or muscle power, and persistence.  It is also during this phase that the practitioner further develops:


  • The Initial Move
  • Closing the Gap
  • Getting Out or Strategic Retreating


Let's look at the initial move as it relates to strategic sparring. 

The Application of Strategic Sparring - The Initial Move
Strategic sparring is an exercise which allows both sides to practice sparring in not only a safe manner but also reinforces the application of
formal standard techniques. This is often done first with no-contact or "Gun Nun Dae Ryun". This allows the novice sparer to work on body control and further develops proper distancing. As the student becomes more advanced, they move from basic and intermediate technique to more advanced sparring combinations including jump and jump spinning kicks (both offensive and defensive). We also allow for light to moderate contact at this level with proper safety gear to ensure the student conditions both their mind and body. It is in this phase that the practitioner further develops both their offensive and defensive strategies using specific techniques, combinations, and or tactics. 
Let me give you a simple example. A smart strategy for free sparring is to quickly close the gap after distracting your partner. This can be done by using a leading or feinting action or technique. It can also be done by attempting to throw your partner off balance by a leg check or partial sweep. In this case, the strategy is to use either my hands (Soo Gi) or feet (Jok Gi) to feint to one target area (say zone 3 or the legs) and then quickly move in with the main attack or what I call closing the gap to zone 2 or the torso. 

Gap Analysis/Closing The Gap
Gap analysis is another great way to use strategic sparring. Let me give you another simple example. Since I know my legs are both stronger and longer than my arms, it makes most sense to close the gap with a lead leg kicking technique as it allows for the most effective initial move. I then would use another kick to a follow-up or counter attack. This chain reaction strategy is also a great way to set up my next best move. Using a lead leg front kick followed by a back leg jump front kick is a classic example of both smart strategic sparring and effective tactics. If you prefer using your hands as they are often quicker, the classic combination is a lead hand feint to the zone 1 or the head followed by a lunge reverse punch to zone 2. This allows you to close the gap in a split second and is very hard for your opponent to get out of the way. In fact, I have taught this simple yet effective combination to more than one of my students who went on to use it to win Grand Championships and World Cups over the years. 

The next thing we need to look at is the best way to immediately resume a defensive posture or what I call "getting out" and or creating a gap. 
Getting Out or Creating a Gap The easiest way to avoid getting hit is to be fast on your feet. This is especially so if you know how to get out fast by resuming a defensive posture after closing the gap. This is why we start in Yak Sok Dae Ryun to teach the fundamental skills of sparring from the balls of your feet rather than flat footed. This is also why it is important to develop your calf muscles as you need to be able use them to drive off the ball of the foot quickly in all directions. At the end of the day, great technicians realize they must be equally good at creating a gap as they are at closing the gap. Once these skills are in place, they can start to use specific techniques or tactics to retreat strategically. This is especially important in Da Soo Dae Ryun or group sparring which we will cover in more detail in the next section. 

In the next part, we will cover not only group sparring but also specific combinations that are effective when sparring one on one, two on one, three on one, four on one or more. For example, we will cover the following effective sparring strategies using both hands and feet:

  • Low/highs
  • High/lows
  • Multiples (including off tempo combinations)
  • Re-Directional techniques
  • Creative sweeps
  • Rolls to create a gap
  • Shuffle steps, slide ups, and switch-offs 


I look forward to sharing more in part 4.  In Moo Do & Dedicated to Your Success!!!




Tang Soo!!