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Finlay's picture
Knife hand and forearm variations

Hello Tried to start this post a few times and couldn't get a nice intro so I am going to just jump in with the question...

Do all movements have both knife hand and forearm variations?

I studied the ITF taekwondo patterns which are based, albeit loosely, on shotokan karate kata. As you work through the forms eventually you are introduced to both forearm/closed hand and knife hand/open hand variations of each movement. I was wondering if this also happens in the karate kata.

My intuition leads me to believe that it doesn't and only in a few cases are there both open hand and close hand variants.

An example would be the low block. While the main stream application has the forearm application of this as a defence against a kick to the abdomen, I was introduced to the knife hand version as for a kick aimed a few inches lower, to the groin.

Clearly making such a judgment is difficult to say the least.

However, if we take the application of the low forearm block as an arm bar then maybe there could be an argument for a knife hand version. 'Cutting' to the inside of the elbow to break balance perhaps rather than grasping and controlling.

A similar argument can be made for guarding block having both open and closed hand versions. The first to clear limbs for strikes the second to represent a stand up grapple.

When I look at other movements I have difficulty in giving application for both. It strikes me that the creators of the forms of ITF taekwondo sort of ran out of ideas and then created a whole load of extra movements by altering the hand positions thus creating more raw material for forms.

I would be interested to hear what other people think of this

Cataphract's picture
Finlay wrote:
Do all movements have both knife hand and forearm variations?

Some people advise against the use of fists in self defense situations. They consider palm heel, sword hand etc. safer and more effective. Itosu changed many open hand techniques into fists for his pinan/heian kata for safety reasons.

My impression (from watching) is that ITF forms are modeled after pinan/heian, but with a sparring mindset. While I have no interpretation for these forms, I'd say there is not much you can do with closed hands that open hands can't do as well or better. So my answer is 'yes'.