Category Archives: The Physical Art

taekwondo power training

taekwondo power training

At Pacific International Taekwondo, we train our students to hit hard. We want you to practice unloading massive amounts of power into each technique. We also want that power to be automatic, burned so deeply into your muscle memory that you don’t have to think about it. Focus and precision needs be honed also, it’s no good having power if you can’t hit what your aiming for. Our goal is that, should you ever need to kick or punch someone in a real-life self-defense situation; your body will strike with devastating accuracy without you having to think about it at all.

One of the best ways to train that kind of power and precision into your body is to try practicing against a live partner. We love to train with live partners because there is no room for cheating. When you practice against imaginary targets, for example, your aim and sense of distance will always be perfect. With a live partner, however, your kick or punch will either be well-placed or else it will not. That said, your training partner is more than a punching bag for you to practice on. They are giving you the gift of their time, attention, and trust. You owe them the courtesy of making the most of this gift.

One good way to show that courtesy; is to pay attention to your training. Specifically, pay attention to the way the techniques feel as your muscles and joints swivel, flex, contract and release. Feel the power of the technique and your body working in unison to deliver a well-aimed blow toward another person’s body.

Another way is to stop your techniques at 90% extension and about two (2) centimeters away from impact. This kind of self-control does two things. First, you’ll be demonstrating respect to your training partner by not hurting them. Causing unnecessary injuries is a terrible way to train, and will quickly ensure that no one will want to practice with you. Secondly, you are training yourself to have laser-like precision and control. In a real defence situation, it will be very easy to extend that extra 10% of distance—and go right through your target.

Then, for those times when you really want to feel the impact of landing a full-contact strike, ask your training partner to hold a kicking shield for you. Strike the shield with as much power, speed, and with as clean a technique as you can manage. Feeling that kind of contact in your body, along with developing targeting precision, is another way of developing the kind of muscle memory necessary to hit hard, automatically.


You don’t have to be a natural to benefit from martial art training. I know this from personal experience! My family and I started attending classes at Pacific International Taekwondo Dutton Park in 2011.  With the exception of my oldest son Thomas, the rest of us were new to Taekwondo.  It took me about three months to realise that I was no natural, and after almost two years not much has changed! However, the desire, energy and determination has not wavered.


I am what you would call biomechanically challenged.  There is no hiding from it, and my Senior Instructor sees it weekly during my Taekwondo classes in Brisbane.  I work on technique but will always come up short.  Weak, too old (did I mention I was 42) or just lazy?   I believe none of these.  I am lucky because I can always counter- attack most situations in life with a persistent ‘never say die’ attitude.


Do you ever start something you can’t put down?  I am like that. When I start something and it grabs me you need to stand aside.  I get into this Avatar state frenzy.  I know I have it when I find myself researching something late at night.  It usually starts with finding out the history of Taekwondo. Why was it formed in the 1950’s?  Why so many divisions within the one organisation? Who are the current champions and masters?  How does it rank against other arts? What’s this linear versus circular form?  Why are there so many similarities between Tai Chi and Taekwondo?  When I start looking into these things, I know I am hooked.


Then there are the pre-training jitters and that feeling after training, when you hear yourself say: “I am glad I went to Taekwondo, I feel much better for it.”  I also find myself looking for a deeper meaning within the patterns: the way they look, the sounds and feelings you get from doing them.  I find some patterns are almost meditative and others are forceful and angry.  I seek constant feedback from first dans and instructors at my Pacific International branch, and at grading and senior training.  Grading for me is stressful but exhilarating.  You have nowhere to hide but so much to learn about yourself and what you have achieved and what is still to be accomplished.  Listen and watch Master Dicks when he gets motivated about Taekwondo.  His words and actions are not scary or angry. It’s energy and he’s imploring you to lift and be your best.


So, what about these biomechanics of mine and how I do the best with what I have got?  For me stretching and flexibility are critical. We normally arrive 30 minutes prior to class to stretch and to make sure I am ready for what’s ahead. It’s a time to focus both body and mind.  Talk with the instructor and first dans and ask them about techniques and some of the finer aspects of patterns and moves.  I also keep fit with regular swim, bike and running training, throw in the occasional triathlon or half marathon.  These keep up my cardio fitness, but I know that over doing these will impact that all important flexibility.  Like Taekwondo, I get a real enjoyment from these other activities; a ride up Mt Coot-tha or early run around the river while the sun comes up are some of the real pleasures in life.


So, does this ‘never say die ‘attitude ever wane or dim? Yes! It does for several reasons.  The obvious reason is that in life we juggle many things.  Your health will vary because you’re lacking sleep, not eating right or things like school or work is busy, dare I say stressful.  These things slow you down and your body lets you know. I feel this when training hard for triathlons. At worst it’s called fatigue, but really, it’s the mind and body’s way of saying “slow down”.  You need to listen to this.  Also, if we did the same thing all the time, it wouldn’t inspire us much. While consistency in training is good, we need to mix it up.  A break for a short period can be good too. Changing your routine in life is a better way of giving you variety.  All these come from an element of trial and error.


There is also that pesky voice in your head, one that is persistent and can be negative.  It will start about 30 minutes prior to training, when you’re on the couch or just coming home from work. It’s the one that tells you to stay at home because you’re feeling tired, there’s a TV show to watch, or you feel a little sick. Avoid this by remembering the good things you have achieved, the fact you now put on a different coloured belt, or that great feeling you get after training. You need to change tack if that voice starts to win. It means you have grown tired and maybe sore from what you’re doing and the goal seems unachievable. When you first start to feel this, seek advice on how to modify your expectations and goal setting.


I am not going to be the world’s greatest martial artist. I will be realistic in the goals I set.  I would be ecstatic if I can do all 10 Taekwondo patterns to the best of my abilities and maybe one day become a black belt.  But that’s a goal of lesser importance.  I have other goals which relate to my three sons and their Taekwondo journey and helping them reach their full potential would be even greater.


In finishing, take time to enjoy the Taekwondo journey, or anything you choose to conquer in life.  There will be spills and thrills along the way just like any pursuit.  Celebrate the milestones and victories and learn from mistakes so you come back stronger.  We must all be grateful and remind ourselves for the things we have by ensuring we make the most of what we‘ve got.

Scott Rathbone

Dutton Park branch member



Taekwondo jump kick

Ben Jumping Front Kick

Anyone who begins any form of martial art, and in our case Taekwondo, wants to be good at it.

We know there are multiple benefits to be gained from taekwondo training such as confidence, self-esteem, fitness, flexibility etc. but what about the feeling of satisfaction of learning new techniques and combinations and the exhilaration of using them during sparring – fantastic!

Knowing them is one thing… putting them to use is much more challenging.

So here are the seven steps to help you reach ‘fantastic’.

1. Be specific

2. know the components of the technique

3. Understand how it is used

4. Practice each component

5. Visualise its use.

6. Join all the components into one fluid movement

7. The secret


1. Be specific. Are you developing a single technique like a twisting kick, or a combination such as – jab, reverse punch, front kick, jumping front kick.

The difference between the two is, in single technique practice the focus is solely on execution of that technique. Whereas a combination requires not only practice of each technique but also practising the smooth and fast transition from one technique to the next.

2. Know the components. Each single technique is comprised of several parts; front snap kick for instance has four distinct main movements

  • Raise the knee with the foot shaped and pulled back
  • Snap out the foot to the target
  • Retract the foot immediately
  • Place the foot on the ground

3. Understand how the technique is used. Are you…

  • Using it as a full power finishing blow.
  • Using it as a distracting technique to enable you to deliver the real power technique next.

4. Practice each component. In a single kick the components for instance may be…

  • Raising the knee
  • Pivot and kick
  • Fast placement of the kicking foot on the ground.

5. Visualise its use. You have to see it to be able to use it, so picture in your mind how the technique     or combination will work. Then practice what you see.

6. Join all the components into one fluid movement


7. Do it and Do it and Do it until you are very, very good at doing it.

So there you have it, the seven steps you need.

Is it simple? – yes absolutely. Is it easy? – Definitely not.

There’s an old saying that runs like this… “Nothing easy is worthwhile” and although I don’t think that saying applies across the board, in this case I believe it does.

The good news is you don’t have to go it alone! That’s why you have an instructor, to help you straighten out the difficulties.

Master Dicks


The noise we’re talking about is the shout we use when we are practising taekwondo training.
It’s not restricted only to taekwondo of course; many styles of martial arts incorporate the use the ‘shout’ as part of their training.
The Korean term is ‘Ki-Hap’ it means to shout with spirit. What it actually does is focus and concentrates your physical and mental power in an instant, into a target.
The shout is not the power; the shout is an aid to delivering power. The point is to tense the core muscles of the abdomen as you shout.
Sometimes you hear people doing a long loud drawn out shout which sounds fantastic but is in fact useless for concentrating power. The Ki-Hap shout must be short and loud in order to generate maximum power.
The Ki-Hap can also protect your body from a hit because the muscular tensing protects the torso.
There are other benefits when using the KI-Hap…
A strong loud Ki-Hap boosts your confidence levels. The psychological effects are well documented. During wars soldiers often attack while screaming to psyche themselves up and dampen the natural fear they feel when going into combat.
When you Ki-Hap don’t shout air from the chest, it should come from the lower abdomen, from the Dan-Jun point in fact.
Finally, a strong powerful shout from the Dan-Jun while attacking or even moving fast into a fighting stance can deter an attack and even stop a fight before it begins.

So now you know what all the noise is about – an essential part of your training

Master Dicks


Of all the different facets of training in taekwondo, for most students, free sparring is probably the most exciting.

Testing yourself against an opponent is a quick way to learn about your faults and how to correct them; But only if you spar correctly.

Taekwondo free sparring differs from Karate free sparring. In karate free sparring is more linear, using straight line attacks to score with a technique.

Taekwondo free sparring is continuous multi directional flowing attack and defence.

We use non-contact or light contact free sparring. However that doesn’t mean no contact at all, it means being at the correct distance to be able to contact, and holding the power delivery at the last moment. Sparring in this manner gives the correct distance ‘feel’ to the attacker, whilst teaching the defender to move out of range and or block.

The worst free sparring is when the defender doesn’t have to move because the attacker is completing their kick so far away it isn’t necessary for them to move. When sparring is performed like that it becomes – your turn my turn and changes from sparring to dancing.

When attacking, the point is to cover distance to your opponent as fast as possible then deliver a maximum power kick, punch or strike on target, holding at the point of contact. Do the same with follow-up techniques to form combinations.

When countering an attack the same principles apply.

Covering distance fast in both attack and defence is crucial to good free sparring.

Regardless of anything else, practice moving backwards, forwards and dodging to the side, with speed.

Practice fast body shifting and countering.

When using combination kicks, after each kick get the kicking foot back on the floor as fast as possible, you don’t want to be caught with a counter while standing on one leg.

Take your free sparring seriously, the last thing we want is time off training because of injury.

Train hard and enjoy it.

Combine Breathing Stretching and Meditation.

Stretching takes time. Meditation takes time. Your training takes time.
We live in a fast paced world where people don’t have as much time as they used to. It’s easy to miss out on some aspects of training.
So here is a method of practising breathing techniques, stretching and meditation all at the same time. It cuts down on time without you missing out on any of these aspects of your training.
Once you know the principles of how it works you can apply the method to any stretch.

First let’s find the body’s point of power; it’s called the Dan-Jun point. It’s located a few centimetres below the navel at the centre of the body.

Picture yourself standing. Imagine a steel rod going through your body a few centimetres below the navel from front to back and another rod going through your body from the left side to the right side at the same level. Where they cross is the Dan-Jun point.
You need to focus on this point when meditating.

We will use the sitting open leg stretching position as an example of how to stretch breathe and meditate together.
1. Sit on the floor with your legs wide open as in adductor stretch.

2. Picture the Dan-Jun point and try and place your mind there. Don’t worry if you find it difficult at first, just practice.

3. Sit upright with your eyes closed. Slowly breathe in and hold your breath,
Turn to you left and slowly lean down toward your knee breathing out as you go. When you are at your lowest point, take very shallow breaths; about four seconds in and four seconds out, whilst maintaining the stretch.
Do those twice, on the third exhaling of breath, allow your body to go fractionally lower into the stretch by a couple of centimetres and continue until you are at your maximum stretch.

4. When completed, slowly come back up to the centre position (with your eyes still closed and your mind at the Dan-Jun point.)

5. Repeat to the right, when completed.

6. With eyes still closed, come up to centre position.

7. Forward and down to the centre and repeat the sequence.

During the shallow breathing use your mind to sense tightness in any muscles not being stretched, head-neck-shoulders for example and make a conscious effort to relax them.
Use the same procedure for stretching other muscles.

When you finish you will feel very relaxed and invigorated.
This is an excellent method of increasing mental focus as you stretch and is time effective.

One of the best things about taekwondo, but also one of the hardest, is remembering the different forms and then perfecting them through practice.

If you are having a hard time in remembering your taekwondo patterns, then these are some tips that you can use to help you.

1. Practice One Part at a Time

In the beginning as you watch your instructor go through the entire form, it is easy to be overwhelmed. Then frustration sets in as you struggle through remembering each of the movements. But, if you take one section of the form at a time and learn it, you can move on to another section. Before you know it, you have the entire sequence down and then concentrate on perfecting the movements over time.

2. See What Each Move Means

This is a technique that many martial artists use to help them not only remember the form, but also know then to use them. When you think about each move and about what you are doing in each move, you can then see how they work into an attack. The other side of this is that you can also think about your defense and about your counter attack.

3. Walk Through Your Pattern Each Day

Everyone has heard, and probably knows, that in order to get your muscles to “remember” each of the movements within a pattern, or form, you must practice them a lot. Take some time each day to walk through them at different speeds. This will ingrain them into your muscles and help you to move with more fluidity rather than staggered and robotic.

4. Learn One Form at a Time

Many new taekwondo practitioners want to rush into learning everything that they can as quick as they can. However, when it comes to getting your forms down into a fluid motion you should not move onto another one until you learn the one you are working on. You do not have to be perfect in it, but should know it to the point where you are not stopping to think about it.

5. Consider Competitions

Many people will shy away from competitions until they believe that they can win it. But, in many instances just the thought of competing will spur you into learning the patterns, or forms, much quicker and with better fluidity. While you may not win the pattern competition, you can learn the pattern much quicker and enjoy the process.

Learning taekwondo forms can be quite challenging. Taking the time to practice and repeating each movement, while incorporating each of these movements, will help you to become not only good at the form, but able to teach and show others how to do them.