Sine wave vs. the core purpose of forms

Derailing the core purpose of forms – let me count the ways...

In my previous article I discussed the core purpose of forms; how in order to be effective training tools, forms must place techniques in a dynamic context. And that dynamic context must be both relevant and useful.

Understanding these components, and having these concepts at the back of your mind while you train, is essential for making traditional forms work for you. After all, a form is nigh on worthless if you simply flap your way through it without a care or a single bead of sweat. The best designed form in the world won't help you one iota if you butcher it with a poor performance.

And poor performance is just one issue. Yes, many students have, and many will continue, to be lazy in their kata practice. That is human nature. But others will err not through caring too little but by caring too much.

What do I mean?

Some students will conscientiously perform kata in a way that robs the dynamic context of its both relevance and usefulness, which in turn strips the kata of its core purpose. They will do so through diligent (but misguided) modification. It doesn't take much. Let's take just one (I think obvious) example: the ITF "sine wave".

Can a relevant and useful dynamic context survive the "sine wave" theory?

One point of professional disagreement my friend Sanko and I have is with the infamous "sine wave" theory as it now appears in modern taekwondo. I have previously outlined why the "sine wave" cannot apply to melee range fighting. But to understand my own objections to this theory in the context of kata we need to look specifically at a taekwondo form: in this case let's consider "Chon ji".


Chon ji – the first of the taekwondo patterns

By anyone's reckoning, Chon ji is a very basic form. It is clearly based on stepping of the shotokan karate school (in particular, the stepping found in the heian series of kata – kata which are themselves quite basic forms).

The steps in Chon ji are all full, "natural" steps (ie. where the back leg passes the front). As I discussed in my article "Why bother with natural stepping?" there are good reasons (particularly for beginners) to practice such steps, in particular being able to move as quickly and with as little telegraphing as possible. I won't bore you by repeating the details but I encourage you to read the article if you haven't already.

In my previous article I gave some additional reasons for stepping in stances: such steps add load by:
  • requiring a full step within a timeframe where one might expect to use a mere lunge; and
  • requiring a stance that is much deeper than what one might see in a real fight.

So what is wrong with the above performance of Chon ji? Why am I suggesting that the "sine wave" element is "derailing" the relevance and usefulness of the dynamic context provided by this form? After all, these are strong allegations indeed! Some might say that I'd better have some fairly solid arguments to back up these assertions. Well, I think I have. You see, it all comes down to something I've already discussed in some detail, namely the problem of dead time in natural stepping – and how one deals with that problem.

The natural step: your best friend or your worst enemy

You'll have seen from my previous articles that "dead" time is a real issue, not an imaginary one. In fact, it's a killer. Lyoto Machida shows just how he exploits his opponents' "dead time" in a number of examples I've detailed in my article: "How the internal arts work: Part 1". While that article is about the internal arts, I raise the example of Lyoto Machida to illustrate that the problem of "dead time" is common to all fighters. It just so happens that the internal arts have pedagogic devices specifically geared at addressing "dead time" where many systems are only obliquely aware of it. But whether one is aware of it or not, the issue is there.

As I've discussed, "dead time" occurs with every "natural step": every time one leg passes another you have a period during which you are not exerting any force on your opponent – during which you are a "sitting duck" both offensively and defensively.

Decreasing "dead time": a chance to make the best of natural stepping

Accordingly, as a martial artist you have two choices in relation to your own "dead time": you can either try to eliminate "natural stepping" from your fight plan, or use such stepping to your advantage. The latter is basically karate's (and hence Lyoto Machida's) approach. I discuss this whole issue at some length in my article "Why bother with stepping in stances". (Indeed, that article would have been better titled "Why bother with natural stepping in stances" but I thought the latter would have been a bit too long!)

But it goes without saying that if you choose the latter course, you must also take the opportunity (afforded by so many, many natural steps in basics and kata etc.) of minimising "dead time" in those natural steps. It would be sheer folly to do otherwise. For one thing, it would squander a valuable forum for correction and refinement of movement. For another, doing thousands of repetitions of suboptimal movement will inculcate that something that is, by definition, suboptimal.

Where "dead time" occurs

To understand how one can minimise "dead time" one needs to understand first where that "dead time" occurs in the course of a natural step. It should come as no surprise to hear that the "dead time" lasts until exactly half way through the step. It starts when your back heel lifts off the ground and ends when your back foot draws parallel to your front.

And it should also come as no surprise to find that this is end point is precisely the point at which the body reaches its maximum height during the normal human walking gait. In the course of ordinary walking the body does indeed go through a kind of "sine wave" motion, with the body going up as your feet draw parallel, then down again as you extend out to step forward.

Making a bad situation much, much worse

Every time a taekwondo practitioner consciously "rises" as his or her feet draw parallel, the practitioner is accentuating what is a "natural" tendency. Indeed, this is the argument for doing it in the first place. It is more "natural" and is therefore more "relaxed". But this logic misses the point on several fronts.

That we shouldn't be doing "natural steps" (ie. a full step with one leg passing the other) in the course of fighting is something I have already covered extensively and I won't repeat it here. The more important factor is to note the following:
    How we move "naturally" isn't necessarily optimal for fighting.
If what we did in our normal day-to-day living were sufficient preparation for fighting, we wouldn't need to train. We certainly wouldn't need forms. But that is very far from the truth. More often than not, learning martial arts involves unlearning what we do on a day-to-day basis. This is the case for practically every other specialist movement, be it for dance, sports or other physical activity. Movement to which you naturally gravitate is often the polar opposite of what you need to learn for more targeted activities. Just as the "natural" doggy paddle isn't the most efficient swimming stroke, stepping with a "rise" and "fall" isn't the most efficient way of moving for fighting. In fact, it is the reverse.

And here's the main reason why:
    By accentuating the "natural" rise as you approach the mid-step, you are deliberately increasing your "dead time".
There is simply no way around this. You're making what is already a bad situation, much, much worse. Instead of cutting a straight line (the shortest distance) through the dead time, you're taking a circuitous detour - and dangerously raising your centre of gravity when you are most vulnerable (ie. least stable, least able to evade, least able to counter)!

While internal arts practitioners are investing a great deal of time scientifically and methodically eliminating (or at least minimising) "dead time" in movement, proponents of sine wave are doing the exact opposite.

"We choose to go to the moon!"

But what of the idea that one should do "sine wave" movements so as to learn how to move in a "relaxed" manner? Isn't there some merit to this? Indeed. Moving in the most relaxed manner possible is one of the cornerstones of the internal arts – particularly taijiquan. Just take a look at Master Ren Guangyi performing Chen taiji in the video below and tell me it isn't "relaxed":


Ren Guangyi performing Chen taijiquan: note the relaxed movement, but also note that there is nothing "everyday" about it!

What should be immediately apparent to you is that the movement is often most relaxed when Master Ren is in a very low stance, transferring weight from one foot to another. For example, note his movement from 0:40 to 0:42. In terms of "relaxed" movement, this is the very opposite of "sine wave". Where sine wave is "natural" (in the sense of "everyday") Master Ren's equisite "relaxed" movement is anything but. It is actually very hard to do – even for a master. To get this "relaxed" Master Ren has spent years upon years training in low stances. He no doubt endured years of feeling "stiff" and "tight" before he acquired this level of self control.

Importantly, you can be sure of this: at no point did Master Ren think "I'll just raise my body as I step – that will make it more 'natural' and therefore more 'relaxed'." Why? Because it would not have made him more "relaxed". It would just have made the activity easier. And making something "easier" is no recipe for success. To quote science fiction writer Robert A Heinlein:
    "Tanstaafl".
In other words: "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch." In this world, you never get something for nothing. If you want to know how to move in a relaxed way, you don't take the easy road. To paraphrase President Kennedy (from around the same era!):
    We choose to step without rising! We choose to step without rising... and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard!


So while "relaxed movement" is offered as support for the "sine wave", this contradicts the very reason for having deep stances in the first place - namely to add load.

Conclusion

If you practice kata steps with sine wave (especially to the extent shown in Chong ji form performance above), what have you accomplished? Well, you might well have introduced some relevant movement (eg. a downward motion helping accelerate your punch) - I'll grant that (even if the degree of benefit from such "force accelerators" is questionable).

But I believe you have simultaneously lost the only good reason for doing "natural" (ie. one-foot-passes-the-other) steps in the first place – and that is to increase load. In other words you've lost any usefulness of including in kata footwork that is otherwise inherently unsuited to fighting. If you want to practise punches with such a downward moment, you might as well do them as simple basics - "one-off" punches timed with a dropping motion, but without the inherently impractical (for fighting, anyway) "natural" steps.

And if you have a rise and fall between a block/deflection and its related counter, the context will lose any relevance it otherwise had; you will divorce the related constituents (eg. the block from its counter) into distinct "parcels" so that they no longer occur in a truly "dynamic context" (ie. a context where related techniques have the necessary continuity or temporal connection). Yet this is precisely what is happening with each block/deflection and subsequent counter in the performance of Chon ji.

I've used sine wave as an example here, but the same sorts of criticisms lie against other modern "innovations" such as the "double hip". Instead of using having a sequence of related moves embedded in a dynamic environment, you are left with a disjointed series of unrelated basics. You might as well sit down between each technique – they have absolutely no nexus other than that one follows the other sequentially.

Forms are so much more than a series of unrelated basics. They are a way of understanding the process of change; how techniques manifest in a state of motion. They are, in Sanko's terms, poetry. And just as poems don't comprise a mere series of unrelated words (however "powerful" those individual words are), forms don't just comprise a series of unrelated basic techniques (however powerful these are). In a poem, the magic lies in how words relate to each other - and the meaning (usefulness) the sentences that they create have for you. Forms are no different.

Copyright © 2012 Dejan Djurdjevic

Comments

  1. http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20120429181939AAYtSz2&r=w

    I wonder what you thought about shu ha ri, Dan, and whether you agreed with Iain's podcast there.

    Why do you think so many martial artists, certainly the ones i've spoken to in both life and in correspondence, are somehow stuck at the shu, copying, stage? It's not that they don't progress. It's that they don't want to progress...

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  2. http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index;_ylt=Ai3Yy70BtRGRvj8ECPTR_IPsy6IX;_ylv=3?qid=20120429181939AAYtSz2

    Last link may not work but this one should.

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  3. Dividing the previous post into two separate essays works much better.

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  4. Hi Dan. I've already left a comment or two over on Sanko's blog, where he talks about his perspectives on sine wave, and really enjoyed your perspective on the whole thing. I saw that you had done a post here about it so I thought I would take a look

    Boy.. have you ever put some effort and thought into this counter punch to Sanko's articles. I'm really impressed. As I explained to Sanko I was quite looking forward to joining in the debate and putting over my perspectives too. But between you and Sanko... I'm blown away by the depth of your arguments and the level of discussion.

    Wow keep up the good work. I love seeing well-considered and thought-out reasoning in martial arts conversations. So often it falls into a "my martial art is better than your martial art" discussion.

    I just put a post up on my Taekwon-Do site pointing out Sanko's articles about sine wave, but I was so impressed with your counter argument that I have also mentioned this article in the same post - to allow people to have a different perspective.

    Cheers
    Brett

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  5. I don't really have a view yet on shu ha ri Ymar. Thanks for the link. I'll give it some thought.

    Yes Sanko, I thought it was better as two articles. Really I write as a stream of consciousness with very little editing, so sometimes I look back and realise that at some point I started to change subjects...

    Thanks Brett - I'm glad you're enjoying our debate!

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  6. The good thing about steam of consciousness writing as a form of practice, is that after a few years of doing so, one can obtain the "next level" and be able to refine things down to a single sentence or phrase. Then students 200 years later will read this sentence and think they know what you are saying, but it's just a condensation of a much larger body of thought and work.

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  7. Hi Dan,
    With regards to Dead Time in the sine wave motion,there is a fundamental misunderstanding
    here. The rising and falling is not performed over the entire step, rather it starts from the
    moment the full bodyweight arrives onto the forward leg (about the time the rear knee draws
    parallel to the front, as the rear foot trails a little).
    Watching the vid here, with an eye on the performers front knee during the Dead Time, it is
    clear that he does not raise his weight until the second half of the movement, and the Dead
    Time has passed. Pausing on 9secs and repeatedly double clicking on play for a stop-motion action shows this clearly (yeah, I know, I felt shocking nerdy doing it).
    The still shot in the post shows a time where the centre of gravity is travelling beyond the
    toes of his weight bearing leg, a more accurate picture of the midpoint here:
    http://i48.tinypic.com/1zb9k7c.jpg
    Sine wave is not the natural rise and fall of a normal walking gait, and is not a short cut. While it may not stress the muscles as staying low does, it can be very frustrating to learn.
    On the point of loading; the forms are generally higher than karate and the altering heights certainly take a lot of the load out. But then its apples and oranges a bit isn’t it? Sanko made the point that the forms do perform different functions for ITF Taekwon-Do, and here we see a function that has been abandoned because it clashes with another function - the sine wave motion.
    But there’s more; the very low stances of karate, particularly where the forward knee sits directly above or beyond the ankle would be seen as structurally compromised in tkd. All the stances/blocks/strikes have a huge bias towards structural integrity, they are built to be used as they are, and not as exaggerated training tools.
    And though the tkd forms do not help develop power through loading there is still a reason for doing the natural step. The sine-wave “one off” punches are very similar to a drop step with a rear leg push, the timing/placing of bodyweight changes a little when you are already moving (there is less of a drop forward generally), and the natural stepping and pivoting of the patterns allows practice of this dynamic loading and pushing from the supporting leg.
    Your final point that the patterns are a “disjointed series of unrelated basics” is spot on. This is one of the reasons, along with the aforementioned structural pedantry, that I often think ITF Taekwon-Do is like a construction-kit martial art. All you need is there in terms of structure and power, but tactics or compound techniques are left to the individual instructor. In light of the long tradition of nobody actually knowing what the original meaning of the moves in kata actually are, I think what we have here is a gordian knot type solution to Bruce Lees “classical mess”. Not perfect, and in danger of throwing the baby out with the bathwater, but not without meritt.

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  8. Hi Stuart

    "The rising and falling is not performed over the entire step, rather it starts from the moment the full bodyweight arrives onto the forward leg (about the time the rear knee draws parallel to the front, as the rear foot trails a little)."

    The "dead time" to which I refer is all the time before the back foot is well past the front foot. The very fact that he is more or less at the highest point when his feet are parallel means that he must already have risen, ergo the rise started at some point before the feet drew parallel. Even if the rise continues a little bit after the feet are parallel, this scarcely matters. You only exert force on your opponent after your back foot is well past the mid-point. If the "rise" really did start after the dead time, it might be a bit better but (a) that is not what is happening; and (b) that wouldn't be particularly good anyway as it is still a circuitous path to the target.

    "On the point of loading; the forms are generally higher than karate and the altering heights certainly take a lot of the load out. But then its apples and oranges a bit isn’t it? Sanko made the point that the forms do perform different functions for ITF Taekwon-Do, and here we see a function that has been abandoned because it clashes with another function - the sine wave motion."

    I mentioned on Sanko's blog that the impression that karate stances are very low is misconceived. Karate stances in Okinawa were originally much higher (until Funakoshi's son lowered them for shotokan). Many more karate schools practice them in the original way than the shotokan way. Ditto in most Chinese systems – eg. my own Chen Pan Ling (eg. taiji) where the front stance is virtually identical to what is used in tkd. The relative "height" of the stance is irrelevant – because you're still lower than a normal human gait. Learning to move with no height differentiation is hard - even in "tkd" stances. It requires practice in a dynamic context - if not in "patterns" then in something like patterns. So why not in patterns?

    "But there’s more; the very low stances of karate, particularly where the forward knee sits directly above or beyond the ankle would be seen as structurally compromised in tkd. All the stances/blocks/strikes have a huge bias towards structural integrity, they are built to be used as they are, and not as exaggerated training tools."

    I'll debate the "structural integrity" of stances another time. Suffice to say that I don't agree that they are "compromised'. To the extent that you can "exaggerate" techniques depth and size for "load" or other reasons, this isn't the point I was making. I am not suggesting that tkd lower its stances. I'm suggesting that you take out the exaggerated "upward" moment between them.

    "And though the tkd forms do not help develop power through loading there is still a reason for doing the natural step. The sine-wave “one off” punches are very similar to a drop step with a rear leg push, the timing/placing of bodyweight changes a little when you are already moving (there is less of a drop forward generally), and the natural stepping and pivoting of the patterns allows practice of this dynamic loading and pushing from the supporting leg."

    As I've discussed on Sanko's blog, there is nothing similar between xingyi's drop step and the sine wave. They are polar opposites. The reason is that xingyi's drop step exerts force from the very instant you begin your step. The "sine wave" requires a full step where you only exert force once the back leg has well and truly passed the front.

    Thanks for reading and for your comments!

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  9. One point I must add about Bruce Lee's comment regarding "the classical mess":

    I don't have any trouble with advancements to traditional martial arts based on scientific principles. In fact, I consider this an absolute must.

    However I cannot see the "sine wave" as a "scientific advancement" in any sense. The basis upon which it has been inserted into patterns seems to depend entirely upon one short passage in General Choi's book. As far as the "theory" goes, I have not read a single persuasive argument in its favour. The "relaxed movement", the "adding power" etc. arguments are all manifestly flawed, as I have discussed.

    Accordingly, it seems to me that onus is on sine wave practitioners to establish why this theory provides any sort of advancement on "the classical mess". Until then, I regard it as a dogma; a "post-modernist" mess, if you will.

    I think you need much, much more than one Korean General's words to effectively re-format an entire martial art's basic stepping. Especially when it manifestly involves a movement that can be neither:
    (a) applied against an opponent; nor
    (b) put to use for conditioning.

    And by "conditioning" I don't just mean "body building". I mean inculcating optimal movement via the appropriate muscle memory, firing response and reflex.

    You'll note for example that tennis players have to get "conditioned" to hard courts; no amount of gym work, running etc. replicates the pounding of feet and lunging of limbs in an actual tennis match.

    At some point you have to do movements that mimic the conditions you'll experience in the activity you're training for. In fight training we can't all "fight" because of the injury. So me must find other, suitable, dynamic contexts for training.

    These contexts must serve as a means of training our techniques and reflexes and "conditioning" our bodies - even if the latter just means obtaining the necessary strength in the thighs and core muscles to move without "bobbing". Of course it means much more than that - it also means "moving in a relaxed way" - the polar opposite of "taking the easy road" of bobbing up and down in a step (which, as General Choi noted, you do in normal, everyday stepping).

    Noticing that something is "natural", then making a sweeping change to how every pattern is performed (regardless of whether or not that "natural" movement is taken totally out of context) does not a scientific advancement make.

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  10. "In light of the long tradition of nobody actually knowing what the original meaning of the moves in kata actually are"

    Actually, I think the Okinawan guys do know. It's only later generations, like in Japan, that forgot or were never taught the keys.

    Goju Ryu, Chito Ryu, and other Okinawan styles still preserve quite a bit of knowledge on the keys unlocking kata. Of course some things get lost in transition, but it's not as bad as it could have been. For Korea and Japan, it was as bad as it could be.

    I wonder when the term "drop step" was first used.

    Since a drop step relies on gravity assist to power through on a horizontal plane, it has certain bio-mechanical requirements. While there might be a rise and fall at the end of a drop step, it would be better to simply go from low, to lower. I don't think I've seen that in xingyi forms though, although it might be hidden from the public eye. A sort of desperation ploy in case one had misjudged the range or timing.

    In light of this discussion, I believe one of my sources gave me a link where General Choi himself makes corrections based upon the sine wave. That should be a more factual analysis than a line from a book, I believe.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2tZKtE-W8Q

    Dan's comments on the video there should be interesting.

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  11. Yes, karate kata are understood - imperfectly, but bunkai was transmitted in Okinawa where it was held back elsewhere, at least often enough.

    I'm sure I didn't make up the term "drop step" and it isn't accurate, but as a label it suffices.

    I have seen that video before - thanks for reminding me. It confirms my view that the "high" is reached in the middle - ie. just before you leave the dead time zone. You spend the dead time rising and hence increase it (rather than cutting through in a straight line - the shortest distance). For what? "Power"? Nothing could be more patently absurd or dogmatic. Or unscientific.

    Choi was an excellent martial artist with great skill and charisma. But he let this pet theory run rampant over the style he created. We all have our blind spots and this seems to have been one of his (at least in his latter years).

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  12. "I have seen that video before - thanks for reminding me. It confirms my view that the "high" is reached in the middle"

    First he demonstrates a common mistake (from 14 seconds), this is the sine wave as Dan believes it is performed, followed immediately by a demonstration of how it should be performed, with the later rise as I described previously. It is a “not like this, like this” demonstration. The step at 37 seconds demonstrates the same thing more slowly and with great clarity.

    I did not mean to conflate the sine wave with the drop step/falling step, I was reaching for a quick description of the way I drop forward as I advance my leg at the beginning of a lunge punch from a ready (feet parallel) stance. When I have gained momentum from the forward lean and drop (due to bending the supporting leg), only then do I push with the supporting leg, resulting in the characteristic rise and inevitable fall.

    But enough of the mechanics on this one I think, I am in danger of missing Dan’s more important questions; can it be (a) applied against an opponent or (b) put to use for conditioning. Okay, Dan didn't actually present these as questions, but I'd like to answer them anyway as this is something I put some work into over the last couple of years.

    (a) Application.

    I'd like to start with my conclusion from previous research, for brevity:
    The important part of the motion is the final drop, everything else is expendable.

    In application that means that if you are close enough to strike without moving your feet, then it is simply a punch with a weight drop. The weight drop is accomplished by the sudden flexing of the knees, principally of the advanced knee, as the hip is in motion.

    I use a simple drill, very much like the one at 4:35 on this Geoff Thompson video :
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EvEzqysPg2A

    With some tweaking to accommodate the weight drop (you can't let your weight travel as far forward and to the side when dropping, or you will redirect your momentum to the side.)
    This adds significant impact to the strike for little or no muscle/time cost.

    If you are moving into a target it starts to look more like the the wave from the forms. Have a look at the following video, particularly the guy in green punching from 1:15
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5h2J82kcn14

    That is near-perfect sine wave, though I doubt if he or his instructors ever heard of it.
    There are other drills, but these two delineate my approach to applied sine wave nicely.

    (b) Use for Conditioning.

    Gravity and up / down motion are red-herrings, they are involved (there are not many things in this universe that don't involve gravity), but they are not the point. I use my muscle power to raise my mass, gravity pulls it back down, net result is zero; there is no free lunch.

    Performing the sine wave in the forms teaches the timing necessary for the application drills, and for application itself. That seemingly simple coordination, where the strike lands fractionally before the bodyweight settles, is its primary function.

    Getting the bodyweight moving in the right direction with the greatest possible velocity is the other function, this is the rear leg push that results in the ballistic arc, and the slight forward drop that precedes it.

    As the rise is incidental, I believe it is perfectly possible to do a level sine-wave (oxymorons be damned), but, as in the second video I referenced, muscle push trumps gravity and generally causes a ballistic arc.

    Moderating this push to achieve a more level travel is surprisingly easy, once the timing is learned. Hence timing is the primary function, and weight is subordinate to it. The arc is allowed to exist in its natural enthusiastic state so the movement is learned with full power and correct timing.

    I've used some fairly broad strokes here and glossed over some subtleties, but I think the bones of it are solid.

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  13. Hi Stuart, I'm going to answer you in 2 parts:

    “First he demonstrates a common mistake (from 14 seconds), this is the sine wave as Dan believes it is performed, followed immediately by a demonstration of how it should be performed, with the later rise as I described previously. It is a “not like this, like this” demonstration. The step at 37 seconds demonstrates the same thing more slowly and with great clarity.”

    I’m sorry Stuart. The way he demonstrates it correctly is exactly how I understand it to be done, and it is exactly why I think it is manifestly inefficient, if not dangerous. He goes from down to up to down. The up is in the middle. The middle is not a good place to be up. It is in the “dead time” zone (near the end, but still in it). It is the time you are most vulnerable, yet your centre of gravity has been raised – dangerously. You have taken a longer time to get there – and yet you should have minimised the time to get there at all costs because that time is “dead” – you are not in a position to exert any force on your opponent; you are just manoeuvring into position. You don’t finish manoeuvring until your front foot is past the mid point.

    “I'd like to start with my conclusion from previous research, for brevity:
    The important part of the motion is the final drop, everything else is expendable.”


    Now finally we’re getting somewhere! That’s exactly what xingyi does, for example. It “expends” the rest. And I think so should taekwondo! “Loading yourself up for a big drop” is a recipe for disaster. It’s like taking a massive wind up for a punch. You get hit while you’re doing it because it is (a) so much slower to get started; and (b) you telegraph your intention. These twin evils make the sine wave “load” totally and utterly inapplicable. If you chose to use it against a bag or makiwara, that might be okay because you’re not kidding yourself that the context is dynamic; it is clearly static and artificial. But if you choose to put it into a dynamic context (eg. stepping in a pattern), then you really ought to be careful about inculcating the worst possible habits.

    “I use a simple drill, very much like the one at 4:35 on this Geoff Thompson video :
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EvEzqysPg2A”


    I’m sorry Stuart, but that is not remotely “sine wave”. From 4:35 onwards he is stationary. If you mean to suggest that there is either a rise or a fall to some of his techniques, then I remind you of my article that sine wave does not equal rise and fall.

    ”If you are moving into a target it starts to look more like the wave from the forms. Have a look at the following video, particularly the guy in green punching from 1:15
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5h2J82kcn14


    No, no, no! That is precisely in line with xingyi’s drop step (except for the stance). In other words, his first movement is his front foot; this drops him immediately into action. There is zero dead time. This is not sine wave. It is a xingyi-like drop step, pure and simple. If only itf sine wave was done like this. It isn’t. It uses a large “load” (done entirely in “dead time”) to get artificial height well before one is in a position to exert the force this fellow is demonstrating. You don't get to exculpate sine wave by showing a demonstration of the very distinction I've been making for years now!

    Please note that the fellow in your last posted video does not raise himself before "dropping". That is the distinction. He is using gravity to fall, but he hasn't lifted himself up to do it via a full step. He "drop steps" without his back leg ever passing.

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  14. “Performing the sine wave in the forms teaches the timing necessary for the application drills, and for application itself. That seemingly simple coordination, where the strike lands fractionally before the bodyweight settles, is its primary function.”

    Okay – let’s assume I agree with your second sentence (which I don’t; xingyi times the strike and foot to land at more or less the same time, karate and the external arts do the same with some movements, but with others the strike is fractionally after the foot lands – it depends on the context).

    But your first sentence? How does sine wave (where you teach yourself to “load up” before dropping down) help with the timing of your strike and foot? This is exactly what I’m talking about. You’re looking only at the second part of the “sine wave”. You can’t ignore the first part. If it is “expendable” then “sine wave” is expendable. You’re now talking about “falling”. You might also talk about “rising”. But a “down, up, down” (ie. full “sine wave”) is neither.

    “Getting the bodyweight moving in the right direction with the greatest possible velocity is the other function, this is the rear leg push that results in the ballistic arc, and the slight forward drop that precedes it.”

    Sure. And climbing up onto a tower and jumping down onto your opponent might generate even more velocity. That doesn’t mean that your opponent will wait for you to do so. You just can’t do stepping in such an inefficient way and expect it to be “good conditioning”. It will condition something: an inefficient body movement. It will condition a bad habit.

    ”As the rise is incidental, I believe it is perfectly possible to do a level sine-wave (oxymorons be damned), but, as in the second video I referenced, muscle push trumps gravity and generally causes a ballistic arc.”

    No, the rise is not “incidental” to sine wave stepping. If it were, you would have a xingyi-like drop step or a karate style yori ashi. You don’t. ITF patterns have a “down, up, down”. Not a “down”. Not an “up”.

    Put simply, if the rise is “incidental” then you’re not talking about sine wave as it appears in ITF patterns.

    ”Moderating this push to achieve a more level travel is surprisingly easy, once the timing is learned. Hence timing is the primary function, and weight is subordinate to it. The arc is allowed to exist in its natural enthusiastic state so the movement is learned with full power and correct timing.”

    The first part I agree with. The second part of the “arc” being “allowed to exist in its natural and enthusiastic state” is something I’ve done to death. It might be “natural” in the sense of “everyday” but what we do in our “everyday” is not optimal fighting movement.

    Anyway, the exaggerated arc of sine wave stepping is far from “natural” in this sense, otherwise Gen. Choi wouldn’t have had to “explain” it so much to people. He would have left them to do things the way they naturally do it (ie. with a “small” rise in the middle of the kind beginners do – as I point out occurs in my article “Why bother with stepping in stances”).

    “I've used some fairly broad strokes here and glossed over some subtleties, but I think the bones of it are solid.”

    Yes, the bones are solid. I just don't believe they are the bones of sine wave; I think they are the bones of a different beast - one that you wish sine wave were.

    Don't get me wrong: I think you are looking and developing in the right direction: It is worth pursuing the second part of "sine wave" - ie. dropping the first.

    Thanks again for reading and for your comments and I hope you don’t mind my earnest and strident debating manner. It is not intended to offend a position, merely defend and justify one.

    Dan

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  15. As a further point to all those who do the sine wave because they like the "drop" at the end:

    If you are doing full, natural steps in patterns (rather than just the drop), then it is worth examining why you're doing them. As I've said, "loading up" for a bigger drop isn't a good reason - at all.

    Personally I don't have a problem with full, natural steps despite the "dead time" they entail; I've found a good reason to do them (ie. conditioning by adding load to core muscles so as to learn how to move as efficiently as possible and without telegraphing). For more on this, see my article: "Why bother with stepping in stances".

    I think that adding an "arc" to full, natural steps does not help; it does the very opposite. It takes away any possible reason for such stepping.

    I suggest that if you want to exercise the second part of sine wave (ie. the fall) then do that on its own; a study of yori ashi or suri ashi from the Japanese arts will help. I'm sure there are Korean equivalents. Or you can study xingyiquan, bak mei, southern preying mantis, white crane or any number of Chinese arts where this kind of footwork occurs.

    If you like to use a "rise" with your strikes (eg. by pushing off the floor) then by all means do the same; the above arts are chock-full of similar techniques.

    If you absolutely must do a "down, up, down" motion, then make every part count:

    Execute one technique to time with the "up" and another to time with the "down". Don't just march through the "down, up, down" for the sake a technique right at the very end of this sequence.

    For an example of executing techniques contextually with a rise and fall, see the video embedded in this article.

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  16. Dan, that guy in the video Power Line Punching is using so much of his shoulders it is kind of funny. In Xingyi, that would never happen. The only way people can think of xingyi when seeing that is if they, like you, have integrated the xingyi movements and principles, and have learned how to avoid seeing the techniques.

    Because a xingyi technique done that way without the pad, would shatter the clavicle, spin the target around, and then the target would drop. Done with a hammer fist or palm, rather than a fist, no damage would even be received to the hands.

    Due to the number of videos Dan has used and analyzed on his blog, when I said that his comments would be interesting it was because I had good confidence in his video analysis skills. Those that lack experience analyzing videos may well have made the mistake of conflating 2 with 1, but only because they aren't paying attention.

    If a person wants to do timing their hand movement with their foot movements, all they have to do is to find a pad, bag, person and practice launching all kinds of attacks while doing one step sparring. One step. Restart. One step. Restart.

    You can get a lot of reps in that way. And you don't need to do sine wave. Thus if the form doesn't have a function, one doesn't need the form.

    The problem with students learning things by copying forms is two fold. One, the student does it incorrectly and copies the wrong thing. Two, what the study is copying is inherently flawed and they just don't know it. This is why it is imperative to advance a student to the next stage, thinking for themselves, as soon as possible. This is where the "real learning" starts. Everything else before can be considered "habits". Some are good, others are bad. A warrior should have no habits at all, no predictability. Everything should be controllable, based upon context or even unpredictable like Musashi.

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  17. Other people have asked me about TKD forms and learning. While I don't train in TKD, I do point them to Iain Abernethey's Kata bunkai analysis website and articles. TKD uses some of the same kata, thus they would benefit from the bunkai Abernethey gives out for free too.

    Also, further consideration of Choi's form movements presents some additional problems. For one thing, there's too much "yang" in that leg to go from high to low. During the single step, the high part is when the person has most of his weight on one leg. That means that leg is doing a couple of things simultaneously. It's yin, taking in the weight and momentum of the body, and it is yang in terms of holding up the weight by resisting gravity and maintaining one's balance and equilibrium. If, however, you add in another "yang" component where the leg has to "rise" in the sine wave, now that leg is overloaded on yang. And if any force comes in from any direction, like an unexpected attack or kick, that leg will collapse due to overloading yang. Bad way to go. Also, if something unexpected happens, that leg is so yang that it won't be able to react in time. If the leg was balanced in yin and was just taking the momentum then theoretically you could shift or even reverse the momentum with some body movements in time to block or defend yourself or reposition yourself. But when the leg has a double yang or full yang component, first you have to countermand the order to the leg muscles, order it to relax, wait for it to relax and adjust to the momentum of the body weight, and then order it to move somewhere else. Takes way too long. People have been known to die in that interval. I think the reason why internal arts don't do this is due to efficiency. It's just unnecessary. And good enough fighters will take advantage of people who do unnecessary movements. For someone newly initiated into using body weight, it might look like it's a meaningless complaint. That's because they have never seen moments where half a second means the difference between life and death.

    Anyways, that's how I look at it, with some additional experimentation and consideration. I'm sure more will come to me.

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  18. My interpretation of what Stuart has done is that he has taken the xingyi momentum transfer methods plus the drop stepping from other sources, and made something that can generate force on contact without using muscle strength primarily. I do not know why Stuart attributes it to sine wave theory, but in my view sine wave theory is probably not the best source to think about when doing these exercises. It can conflict with a student's progress, especially if they interpret things incorrectly.

    If I was forced to deal with sine wave, such as if I was a TKD instructor like Sanko and I couldn't just put my foot down and tell my students to forget sine wave theory ever existed, then I would handle it by telling them not to do the first part of sine wave and only focus on the last part, the momentum drop. The fact that this invalidates the theory entirely... well, we won't mention that.

    Dan, no need to thank me about the video. I believe my sources would be pleased that their links are getting useful attention. And certainly your comments were useful to me in the context of comprehending what everyone was talking about concerning sine wave.

    When you get enough time to form a view on shu ha ri, I'll be interested in hearing about it.

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  19. I think I have the hang of your debating manner now Dan, though I had to re-read your initial reply to make sure you weren't as furious as you appeared!

    clarifications:

    I never said the Geoff Thompson video included anything like sine wave, I said I use a drill like that but with an added weight drop .

    Here you explain why the drop step video drill is not sine wave:
    He is using gravity to fall, but he hasn't lifted himself up to do it via a full step.

    No, but he drops (bends rear leg) then rises (pushes with rear leg) then drops (lands). That is sine wave as I understand it, as I teach it and as I use it. I'll not go over the “full step” misinterpretation again.

    Elsewhere I described the arcing as “natural” because it is the natural result of pushing hard with your rear leg while your front foot is off the floor. If you drop step you can either (a) keep your rear leg straight (topple), (b) bend it as you drop, or (c) bend and push.

    If you choose (c) you will travel in an arc when you push, unless you push gently in order to flatten the motion. Hence my use of “natural and entheusiastic”.

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  20. I think what Geoff Thompson is doing is using an adapted kinetic link system from external arts like boxing. They get away with that because it's Western boxing, not Chinese boxing, and they also get away with it because they're not taking a step. Thus it cuts down on the time between start and finish of the move.

    If a person is doing a step like Choi is doing, back leg stepping to front leg, there's a lot of opportunities to interrupt that kinetic link, because it's just too open, wide, and slow. Also I don't even think the kinetic link sustains itself when used in that manner. The back leg pushes up, which moves up the leg and the hips, and goes out on the same side as the leg to the arms and shoulders, making the shoulders do a lot of the work. Of course Choi demonstrated it in other stances and movements.

    Here we are getting to the absolute limits of what can be done using the written word on martial arts. Another reason why I don't tend to argue subjects in martial arts much if at all.

    Without videos, without hand to hand contact to feel this, a lot people miscommunicate concepts. And I don't mean videos of "other people". I mean videos of themselves. And even then, much is lost in translation because what matters in martial arts, especially internal martial arts, is "feeling". Not what the form "looks like" but how the power feels at the end, middle, beginning.

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  21. Thank you for the clarification on the Geoff Thompson video.

    "Here you explain why the drop step video drill is not sine wave:
    He is using gravity to fall, but he hasn't lifted himself up to do it via a full step.
    No, but he drops (bends rear leg) then rises (pushes with rear leg) then drops (lands). That is sine wave as I understand it, as I teach it and as I use it. I'll not go over the “full step” misinterpretation again."


    I assume you mean the fellow in green in this video. As far as I can tell, he lifts his front foot which propels him forward (as per the xingyi drop step) and down - but down very slightly (unlike xingyi, at least in most xingyi steps).

    If the green fellow does "rise" before the drop, then this rise is even smaller than the subsequent drop. That said, I really find it hard to see any initial "rise" here. Regardless, I know this can happen if, as you say, you bend your back knee to drop a little so that you can push with your back foot.

    This is why I said the green fellow's move was "xingyi-like but for the stance" - and why I cautioned against trying to change every full step in taekwondo to a "drop step". The essential problem with the front stance is that it has your weight biased to the front. This makes it difficult to lift the front foot while pushing with the back simultaneously. The latter is really quite crucial. Xingyi solves this by using a backward weighted stance that shuffles up the back foot as you land your punch (please refer to my article "Xingyi stepping vs. karate stepping" and this video). It allows maximum force to be exerted with no dead time. The force primarily comes from the whole body momentum along a horizontal plane. It has little to do with a "dropping" moment. I will do a further exposition of xingyi's drop step and other issues in future articles, but the science is quite complex.

    What you describe is an attempt to fix the front weighted problem of forward stance by shifting the weight, albeit briefly, to your back leg (which necessarily happens when you are in a front stance and you bend the knee) and only then pushing off your back leg while executing a drop step. It should be clear that transferring your weight back to your back leg is a kind of "load" and that it takes time. The change in height as you do so is another matter:

    The shift of the weight to your back leg can, if you are not careful, drop your weight, and the subsequent push forward can, if you are not careful raise it. Why do I say "if you are not careful"? Because all of this simply causes you to take a more circuitous route to your opponent. The extra gravitational force you get behind your strike from a slight rise and fall is, scientifically speaking, really negligible, especially compared with the momentum of your whole body pushed more or less along the horizontal plane. To the extent that gravity helps a drop step power your lateral motion, I think you'll find that xingyi really does it optimally – with little to no rise and fall.

    To summarise, I think you'll find that any "falling" moment (ie. any visible drop in your body) has little to do with the final force you apply to your target during a step – rather it is mostly how you've managed to propel your momentum along a horizontal plane that matters.

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  22. Despite my earlier comments, a rise or fall can indeed be seen in martial techniques. If you look at this video you see at 0:20 a use of "rising" . Later, from around 0:54 onwards, I demonstrate a sequence of 3 punches that have a slight height differential between each of them, some falling some rising. However, even here the main "power source" remains the hip (hence the title and subject of the video); the slight rise or fall is not the cause but rather a by-product of the force (which mostly comes from the hip). I forget the exact statistics, but the Australian Institute of Sport did a study and discovered that 60-70% or so of your force in, say, a punch comes from your hip, 20-30% comes from your body along a more or less horizontal moment and the remainder comes from other sources (principally the movement of your arm, but it would also include any slight rise or fall of your body – ie. a vertical moment). Accordingly, while I think the role of "rise and fall" is greatly exaggerated, it still plays a role.

    If this is "sine wave" (ie. that your body will inevitably go through a slight rise or fall in movement and might add a bit of incidental force), then I am fully in agreement with it. But this is not how I understand sine wave. Considering my video, I am not putting all my eggs in the "rise and fall" basket; I'm relying on hip force and horizontal momentum above all else. Furthermore, I am not using a rise and fall simply to "load" as per sine wave in ITF forms; rather I am making each rise and fall count: in other words each rise or fall corresponds to its own technique.

    "I think I have the hang of your debating manner now Dan, though I had to re-read your initial reply to make sure you weren't as furious as you appeared!"

    I'm not sure why people think that I am "furious" (which seems to happen quite often)! It's probably that, unlike me, they are unused to a lawyer's trained methodology of attacking an argument (rather than a person) as succinctly and comprehensively as possible. This combination of economy and thoroughness no doubt comes across as terse but I've found that if you mess with this formula, your essential argument (which might actually be quite complex) is lost in some kind of "sugar coating".

    In other words, when arguments are complex they must be expressed tersely for the sake of clarity. But terseness is not equivalent to "anger". I can assure you that I get about as angry as, say, Sam Harris (who I don't wish to compare myself to in intellect nor education - I'm merely picking him as a rather direct and thorough, though polite, debater of my generation).

    Thanks again for prompting such an interesting discussion!

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  23. I've done some xingyi stepping. Initially, I was making the mistake of not knowing how high or low I should go. But once I figured out that vertical movement is actually energy lost, I devoted all my leg strength to making me fly like an arrow at the target. This, I felt, made a difference in energy generation.

    Once I figured out I was supposed to move in a straight line, it made a lot more sense.

    And it's not gravity pulling me down that's of secondary importance. Secondary or primary importance is getting that leg shuffled up because that's the shock breaker. I think it acts as a wall to reflect force back into the target. Gravity would thus be of tertiary importance. If that back launch leg extends too straight, then it's not going to be in a position where it is set on the ground to reflect force back into the target. So all the extra oopmh from gravitation would just bend me backwards. Because there's a bio mechanical limitation on how much force and in what direction my back leg can produce, it is best I devote all that energy into the target on a line. And let gravity figure the stuff out after I've hit the target and prevented feedback from going into me. Gravit'ys always in a straight line down, I don't need to mess with it.

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  24. Hi Dan,

    "rather I am making each rise and fall count: in other words each rise or fall corresponds to its own technique."

    The full sine wave motion is used in the patterns to teach certain concepts, such as what I explained in my latest post on "Intermediate Positions".

    The problem with the patterns is that they often show only single techniques and often middle section techniques (which in ITF translate as somewhat downward angled techniques) with full sine wave motion, so one seldom see how each rise and fall is used for its own technique, although there are actually examples of this in the patterns-- particularly the higher level patterns. A proper study of the patterns actually reveals all types of motions, not only the full sine wave motion employed.


    But back to the full sine wave motion: As I mentioned in a post of mine, the advanced level practitioner learns to "ride the wave": pushing up for upward angled techniques, dropping for downward angled techniques, and in most cases using hip rotation in the direction of the force applied.

    ( http://sooshimkwan.blogspot.com/2011/04/basics-of-power-generation-in-itf.html )

    The place this is practised most determinedly is not the ITF patterns, but in other (dynamic context) drills.

    (I should probably make a side note here, that I cannot speak for all ITF dojang around the world. I'm sure there are many that have a very elementary understanding of the function of the sine wave motion . . . I'm sharing with you how I understand it ought to function, how I teach it, and how I understand others such as Stuart to also apply it.)

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  25. Hi Sanko!

    I'm not a fan of analysing a dynamic context by reference to postures. This is because postures are inherently "static" constructs. I discuss this in my article that contrasts taiji and yoga.

    Human movement is defined by more than three dimensions; it is defined by four - time being the fourth dimension. Accordingly any useful analysis must take account of all four dimensions. A static analysis is necessarily flawed. I discuss this in this article.

    So, for example, the xingyi heng quan "posture" you depict in your blog article is at the very end (and not necessarily at the beginning) of heng quan as it occurs in xingyi movements.

    Heng quan is a compound technique comprising at least three distinct phases. I can guarantee you would not be able to predict how one got into the photographed "posture" or how one might begin to execute another heng quan. If you were to execute a second heng quan (which only ever occurs in the most basic practice) you might do so in any number of ways, depending on whether you are advancing or retreating, staying put, evading, etc. I discuss the general application of xingyi basics in this video.

    And what you might (reasonably assume) to be something like a chest block to the outside is nothing at all of the sort - in angle, type of movement or application. It is about as alien to most tkd/karate practitioners as you can get. The still photo reflects none of this. Any resemblance between your still tkd picture and this photo is actually misleading; the two movements that lead to these "postures" and the roles those "postures" play (the tkd one is "intermediate", the xingyi one is definitely "at rest") are totally different.

    Accordingly I don't think that "postural" analysis of dynamic contexts is actually very useful other than to examine whether you are moving efficiently between points. In this regard, it is apposite to note that "intermediate postures" in sine wave movment include this picture, which shows the practitioner having taken a circuitous route to his target and now dangerously high at his most vulnerable point (in the "dead time" zone).

    My preceding comment to Stuart addresses the usefulness of "riding the sine wave" in actually adding any real force to a blow.

    Thanks again for contributing to the debate!

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  26. I should have made it clear that by postures, I am of course including the "interim positions" that you have noted in your blog.

    Don't get me wrong: I think it is admirable to examine transitory points, and I think all stances amount to such things. Accordingly you will note my general approval of your article, which is very well set out and researched (even if I made the point about the heng quan!).

    However I just can't see how such an analysis of such points supports sine wave theory; as I have detailed above, if you look at the exact mid point of a sine wave step (surely a pivotal transitional position), the practitioner is in a highly compromised position that evidences a "loading up" during "dead time". For me that is the most salient issue - and a determinative one for any dynamic context.

    I understand your point that sine wave does not occur everywhere, however for me the issue remains: why have it in patterns. I await your future article, but for me, it seems to be grooving habits that are counterproductive to any other dynamic context. Learning to coordinate your strike with a downward or upward moment does not require such an ineffient stepping method.

    "The problem with the patterns is that they often show only single techniques and often middle section techniques (which in ITF translate as somewhat downward angled techniques) with full sine wave motion, so one seldom see how each rise and fall is used for its own technique, although there are actually examples of this in the patterns-- particularly the higher level patterns. A proper study of the patterns actually reveals all types of motions, not only the full sine wave motion employed."

    It might be that some higher patterns use one technique per rise and fall. But from what I have seen this is not the norm. And it would have to be pretty much the norm in patterns to add merit to sine wave stepping. This is setting aside the "relaxed stepping" argument with which I disagree.

    In any event, as I said to Stuart, I doubt that the rise or fall is what actually adds any real force. Rather it is hip and the general momentum of the whole body movement. This might be angled slightly downward or upward, but the angle is not really pivotal unless we're talking a directly vertical technique (a stomp or an uppercut).

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  27. I Believe the way Sanko teaches it has merits, but it still doesn't justify the use of the sine wave as maritial theory. It simply justifies some of Sanko's own personal applications or methods. I'm not making a full affirmation either way, but I would tentatively say that what Sanko is doing with the sine wave has merits, but that accrues credit only to Sanko, not to the sine wave. A good teacher can make use of the entire totality of horrible drills in the face of martial art existence, including patterns and drills the student did incorrectly for years. But that point isn't going to exonerate the use of sine wave theory by anyone else. A theory should help instructors tie things together for their students to boost student advancement and capabilities. If the theory does the exact opposite, hinders rather than helps, then the theory is an obstacle that should be removed or modified permanently.

    "I'm not sure why people think that I am "furious" (which seems to happen quite often)!"

    I could probably quote the relevant sections that give that impression. They aren't the meat of the post, but certain one liners that when repeated give that impression. Those one liners are uniquely personality based. Meaning people often have "catch phrases" in their texts. That's how analysts can tell who wrote what. You repeat those "catch phrases" because it grooves your thinking and it feels natural, but it is the opposite of natural.

    On the rise, if one's intent is to develop gravity sourced power, then using the legs to increase potential energy takes time and energy. Because it is an investment, it is a risk. If the payout doesn't come, you invested energy for nothing. If I load up my leg up high to stomp down, it's only because I know I have enough time to do so. If I do not, I might simply take a step and drop my knee. Then roll out and turn 180 while rolling, to check the area. Or take a step, tenkan 180 around, then drop the knee. This is the concept of simultaneity, or getting two for one.

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  28. So in summary, I would say the minuses to the things the sine wave can lead a student in having are:

    1. additional effort expended at increased risk and time, without necessarily any greater reward.

    2. Double loading the leg when in a vulnerable stance/position transition moment, thereby making a person's momentum predictable and thus easily trapped or destroyed for those that can use sen no sen.

    3. Both the extra load on the leg to increase one's height and invest in the loading of potential power, decrease time and time is a commodity that should not be wasted on gambles that probably won't pay off.

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  29. For people who wish to develop internal power or power based off of gravity/weight, then they should use this drill.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=outSxWcsmdU

    It's very good for beginners in terms of isolating key components and increasing skill through repetition.

    Then later one starts adding upgrades to the drill by extending the range and using pads to shock the damage (although internal power has been known to completely bypass pads and still go through the organs and CNS). And only at the end, would I ever recommend a student combine drop stepping with that, when working on IP.

    The reason for this is that no matter how much power gravity gives you, it won't avail you much if your body cannot make the force go into the target. That might even be the 4th negative about sine wave, in that it doesn't teach a person anyway to correctly handle the feedback force. If a person cannot handle the feedback force, they're not getting more than 50% of the gravity assist. If they think that is good enough... wait until they see the full version.

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  30. Though it wasn't the main objection to the sine wave, I wanted to debunk the idea that it somehow gives you more power using basic physics.

    I'm guessing that a proponent might say that the body is "channeling" the force that gravity is imparting into the horizontal direction. According to Newton, momentum remains constant unless acted upon by an outside force. The downward momentum of a person performing the sine wave is increasing because of gravity. The only way to change the direction of this momentum into the horizontal would be some interaction with the environment external to the body--friction between the foot and the floor.

    But the friction force is created in reaction to a force in the opposite direction and is exactly parallel to the momentum vector created by gravity. There is no way to exert a horizontal force on the floor with a completely vertical momentum. Any horizontal force against the floor's friction must come from the body expending energy in the form of muscle movements. But then you might as well skip the falling part and just push against the floor.

    You could argue that the added downward force from your vertical momentum increases the coefficient of friction allowing you to push off of the floor with more force, but unless your push-off foot has been slipping backwards when you execute your punches, you aren't maxing out the frictional force as it is. Extra stickiness isn't doing you any good.

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  31. Well said Peter.

    That is why no one has ever demonstrated that sine wave can increase the force of, say, a standard step and punch (which is mostly how sine wave theory is being employed in ITF patterns).

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  32. I don't think the objective is pushing a horizontal force into the floor, through the legs. The feet must be rooted to the ground, meaning it is always pushing power downwards directly towards the center of gravity of earth's g well. The horizontal force is expressed through the hips, shoulders, and arms. I asked one Taiji instructor, and he said pretty much the same thing I had concluded. Any up or down movement takes away that horizontal force or delays it. Thus Taiji stepping is done in a fashion that does not allow your head to go "up" or "down" until the moment of impact (maybe never given the way it is used). Conserve the horizontal force, then completely transfer it, no loss at all, into target. That is, if at anything, the secret of gravity powered internal power. To do so, however, requires such complex motor control and mental focus, that nobody who used physical reflexes and visual acuity in the external arts could match or replicate. The external arts increase the power output by increasing the muscular force, because much is lost from momentum of the body and joints. The internal arts seek to preserve the energy freely given by nature and the world.

    Choi seemed to have hit upon some kind of personal concept with using Takkeyon based momentum transfer for kicks and what not, but the way he tried to xfer it... didn't really make a lot of sense. At least from my limited perspective. Someone would have to be a Takkeyon expert or someone like Sanko involved in research over momentum conservation and internal principles, before they can make positive use of the sine wave. I always said that there's no bad training or bad habit I couldn't make use of to benefit a student's skills. But that's not to say it is a good thing they learned from such a bad example.

    I've tentatively come to form my hypothesis that heavenly drill power is used by combining the downward force of gravity with a horizontal component in targeting. Xingyi would be an example of this. Taiji Chuan also does this when a user uproots an opponent. Stories have been told that some guy was uprooted so high, he somehow landed on the roof of a one story building. Other stories are that an opponent of a Taiji chuan master, ended up flying backwards sliding on the ground shaped like an ingot, like someone stretching by trying to touch their toes. I suspect this is an example of drilling power, or spiral power. Shock type transfer of power, however, is notably used almost always in horizontal or even vertical trajectories. If you cannot move down, or up, only forward, shock type power is very efficient. Doesn't do as much damage as spiral drills though.

    I'll have to gain more data to test whether this hypothesis is correct or not.

    Reading what Sanko has written on this topic, the use of the sine wave in order to link several different elements in ITF TKD together is I believe generally a good thing. The principle is correct, but the technique may not be. That's how I see it. Part of what makes the principle true is how it explains physical phenomenon. This is up to the instructor, not the style or founder. Students are hit by too much stuff they cannot integrate or tie together, so a set of theories and principles that link everything to one or two ideas, is very useful generally speaking.

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  33. In order for standard step/punch to be increased by internal power, they would have to make the power system that of a spiral drill. And so far, the spiral drill requires the mastery of both linear force penetration and circular rotational momentum generation. If a student doesn't have linear and circles down, at least, they aren't going to get the "wave" or the "spiral" or the "drill".

    And even if they could get the drill, a simple step and punch is probably not the best way to utilize the drill. At least, not ranges longer than .5 feet chest to chest.

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