The Art of Dae Ryun - Building the Foundation, Part 4

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 12:03pm — Grandmaster

The Art of Dae Ryun - Building the Foundation, Part 4

In part 4 of our series on the Art of Dae Ryun, I want to discuss Da Soo Dae Ryun or group sparring in more detail. To do this, we need to break down Da Soo Dae Ryun into three (3) basic categories. These are:


  • Fundamental Principles
  • Key Concepts
  • Specific Strategies


There are many reasons to practice group sparring but before we get into the fundamental principles I need to mention at least one caveat. That is, group sparring should only be practiced by advanced level students and always under the direct supervision of an experienced instructor who is properly trained and certified to teach advanced level sparring.


With the above caveat in mind, let’s get started with the fundamental principles of Da Soo Dae Ryun. For some of you they be familiar as they are exactly those that apply to the art of ho sin sul or self-defense in general. They include:


  • Yu or flow like water
  • Won or circle
  • Wha – or harmonize     


The main focus of “Yu” is to never meet the force of your partner or opponent straight on if you can avoid it. It is better to let it flow by you. Fluid movement maximizes the transition between offense and defense and vice-versa. The “Yu” principle allows for the synthesis of internal and external energy or ki. Once you have learned to properly balance these forces, you will be better able to enjoy Da Soo Dae Ryun or group sparring.

When writing about the “Won” or circular principle, it is important to note that circular movements make it possible to use your attacker’s strength against them. Very similar to the Japanese art of Aikido it allows for offensive and defensive techniques to be executed simultaneously. It is also important to note that the “Won” principle symbolizes the source of the universe and its limitlessness. Within the circle of the UM/YANG symbol, one sees the comprehensiveness of the art of Tang Soo Do. When you incorporate the trigrams that are on the outer boundaries of the Korean flag, it includes linear, arcing, circular offensive and defensive techniques, as well as the concept of opposing yet complimentary forces. A great example for the purpose of this article is when one is attacked straight on, it is best to counter using a circular technique. Another example is when confronted with anger it is best to relax and meet the negative with a positive so to speak. 

The final fundamental principle of Da Soo Da Ryun is “Wha” or to harmonize. It is best to harmonize with your attacker’s force and then make that force your own. This blending of power allows the practitioner to quickly transition from one attacker to another and also and in the case of a sweep or arresting technique to use the first attacker as an obstacle for the second attacker.

It is important that we also cover some key concepts of Da Soo Dae Ryun before we discuss specific strategies of effective group sparring. What follows is my top ten list of things you need to know and be able to execute when practicing Da Soo Dae Ryun. They are:


1.      More is not better. Less done with maximum efficiency is better. Group sparring requires outstanding stamina and or endurance. If you are just throwing more technique you will quickly tire and be defeated.

2.      You must be constantly alert and aware to the teachings of your instructor. This will not only help you learn faster but will help your focus and or concentration (Chung Shin Tong Il).

3.      Be sure to develop accuracy and distancing first, great balance second, and speed third. This is best done by progressing from slow to fast and low to high. It is also best done if you have already developed proper endurance.

4.      Understand the relationship of proper breath control (Ho Hup) to achieve proper timing and speed control (Wan Gup).

5.      Be aware of how much power or strength is needed to achieve your goal. Power control or “Him Cho Chung) is an essential ingredient of proper Dae Soo Da Ryun or group sparring.

6.      Understand and use the non-resistance principle or “Hwa”. Move with your attacker along the path of least resistance or in the same direction he moves. This will allow you to use his weight and momentum against him.

7.      Understand and use the circular motion principle of “Won”. Control your attacker by leading his attack in a circular pattern. This will allow you to add his power to your own. This gathering of energy is the same principle nature uses when we see a tornado or hurricane.

8.      Understand and use the water principle or “Yu”. This will allow you to flow in and around your opponent.

9.      Keep your eyes on your attackers at all time. It is critically important that you don’t turn your back on your attackers unless you must run. Proper focus or “Shi Sun” is another essential ingredient of proper group sparring. Also, remember your attacker may behind you if you turn you back. This is why you must not only use your eyes to see but more importantly your vision which is seeing with your mind or in this case using extra sensory perception which is developed at the higher levels of Tang Soo Do training.

10.     Never underestimate those attacking you. It is always best to know your limitations. I teach my students to assume your attackers know as much about self-defense as you do if not more. Have a healthy dose of humility or “Kyum Son” is another essential ingredient to proper Da Soo Dae Ryun just as it is in ho sin sul.


    I will finish this article covering some of the specific strategies you should know and use while practicing group sparring. They can easily be placed into three (3) categories. They are:

  • Yun Hang Sul or arresting (escort) techniques
  • Jok Sul or leg techniques including sweeps
  • Nak Bub Sul or falling techniques

    Yun Hang Sul or arresting (escort) techniques are designed to manipulate the joints and pressure points of an attacker to arrest and escort the person without causing serious injury. The can also be used to shield yourself using an attacker against other attacks. They are very effective when done properly.


    Jok Sul or leg techniques are used to keep an attacker at bay. A great example of this is a simple but effective push kick off the front let to create space between you and your attacker. Another example of Jok Sul is trapping an on-coming kick and then executing a leg sweep to take your attacker down. This creates and obstacle and temporarily limits the number of incoming attackers. Another example is a double jump front kick to simultaneously hit two attackers.


    Nak Bu Sul or falling techniques are designed to teach proper body movement and positioning to prevent injury when one falls or is thrown. Falling techniques include front, back, side, rolling, jumping, obstacle falls and in the case of the double jump front kick can be used as a roll out to escape between two on-coming attackers after the kick has been executed. Nak Bub Sul also conditions and toughens the body, develops coordination and body awareness, and teaches methods of escape against multiple opponents. 

Tang Soo!!