More Questions...

A question I am asked from time to time:

"Why should we learn a foreign language (Korean, Japanese, French, Tagalog, whichever) just so we can learn a martial art? What's wrong with English?".

"What's wrong with English?"; I am not going to open that can of worms. Not today. Well, maybe a little.

Another question I am asked from time to time:

"How does a low block work? Is your arm really strong enough to block a kick like that?". Like that little Non Sequitur?

The standard reply from instructors all over the US is "of course it is! You just have to (be faster/be stronger/be more powerful/rotate your hips/put your weight behind it)". In truth, unless you are a REALLY big and strong person, your puny little arm is no match for a full-force powerful kick from me. That is just not happening.

So why do we teach "low block"? Because if you teach it correctly it works and this is where knowing the original language becomes important.

Back to "What is wrong with English?".

Nothing per se, but the translations from other languages are often horrendous. Case in point, "low block". "Low block" came into Tae Kwon Do from Shotokan Karate; Shotokan Karate and othe forms of karate came from Okinawan karate, Okinawan karate came from Naha-te, Shuri-te and Tomari-te. So the origins are "Korean, Japanese, Japanese and Ryuku Japanese; the point is: English is not in there anywhere.

In English, Rising/High block, Outer Forearm block, Low block are all the same thing - types of blocks. In Japanese though, Age-uke (rising block) and Soto-ude-uke (outside forearm block) are uke (blocks? are they?) but "low block" is Gedan Barai. Not the same thing at all.

"Gedan Barai" is "low level sweep". Blocks are intended to stop something from moving but sweeps are designed to redirect something while it is moving. This is why "low block" works; because it is not really a block at all.

And this was not really a Non Sequitur at all, either.