10 posts / 0 new
Last post
Black Tiger
Black Tiger's picture
Sine Wave (ITF TKD)
All I need you guys to advise me what the Sine Wave is for. I have popped to my local ITF Dojang, got my ITF Dobok and raring to go, even though I got to put on a White belt again. I need to understand the SineWave, what's it for? What's the application of the technique, with the "up/Down" effect comes into play? Where did it originate from as I have researched some ITF schools don't teach the Sine Wave to their Forms (Poomsae)? Is it more Western Schools putting the Sine Wave in as opposed to Korean School etc/ I'm also learning Koryo Poomsae (WTF) from a student of mine. I am Japanese/Korean Karate based as you already know and we tend to glide without a Sine Wave on the Forms I'm used to doing. Looking forward to your responses etc Thanks
Michael Hough
Michael Hough's picture

Sine wave is (IMHO) the misapplication of a principle (dropping power) across the system to give the system a flavor of its own. It did not exist in TKD until relatively recently (I first saw it in 1998 or 1999) but it came from the top. I don't know if Gen. Choi came up with the idea, but he certainly endorsed it. I imagine it never caught on with some ITF instructors.

(My information is from conversations with an old instructor of mine who earned a 5th Dan from the ITF under Chuck Seriff and trained personally with Gen. Choi. He bought in to Sine Wave. I played with it for a bit, then dismissed it. It is certainly possible that I misunderstand the concept, but I don't think so. I think the ITF just needed a "characteristic" that distiguished it from the hundreds of independent TKD schools that do the Chang-Hon hyung.)

PASmith's picture

I think Michael is pretty much spot on.

As far as I'm concerned it's a concept similar to the falling step as used by Jack Dempsey and sinking from goju ryu and chinese arts. Basically you are dropping your weight into a technique. Some thing that can be useful.

I started TKD when sine wave was not so prevelent and currently train with someone that doesn't really teach it, but it's always been in TKD but only recently has it become so pronounced. There are certainly many ITF TKD branches that don't use it (hip twist was what I was taught). TKD patterns have always had a more up down motion when compared to Karate where you tend to stay more level. Sadly, these days, the natural up/down that comes from moving from stance to stance or the useful sinking of weight has become the pretty abstract and largely useless "sine wave" of modern TKD patterns. It's very telegraphic and some ITF guys even put a down/up/down motion in techniques where the technique is travelling at an upward angle, where the final down motion is actually robbing the technique of as much power as it could have.

Stuart Anslow (who posts here on occasion) has done a great article that explores where the sine wave comes in and why the exaggerated version of it is basically a modern affectation seemingly added to make the patterns less "Karate" and more "TKD". I'll see if I can dig it out.

PASmith's picture
Oerjan Nilsen
Oerjan Nilsen's picture

The ITF are almost not in existance in South Korea so there is little sine wave to be found. These days there are about 3 Dojangs that I have seen and know about (2 in Seoul and 1 in Gwangju) but the WTF are in abundence there. Some years ago General Choi managed to get his ITF taekwondo established in North Korea. So in South Korea ITF taekwondo is usually labeled North Korean Taekwondo.

I think Stuart Anslows article is very well written and a very interesting piece of work:) There are even more articles in the Totally Taekwondo magazine about  sine wave, both Stuarts and some readers wrote an article in answer to Stuart. If I remember correctly the articles author was pro the sine wave while Stuart was against the modern sine wave:) Google Totally Taekwondo magazine and start reading:D

Finlay's picture

yeah I think all you guys are right on about the sine wave

I was a good idea that got out of control.  when i started training in 1994 there was a sine wave but about 3 years later it was revised and exgaggerated. and no i think it is more just a style thing rather than anything that gives you power

still basically a good idea, as stated before alot of chinese system use something similar. maybe just a little over worked.

StuartA's picture

Sine wave was originally a sound principle, based on natural movement ie. we rise as we move forward and drop into techniques. Then a 'political' thang happened (to much to go into, but can if you want) and basically Gen Choi added a 'drop' prior to the rise motion.. IMO, to slow to be effective for anything SD related. Wont rehash what others have said here, except to say thanks for pointing to my article - it was a bug bear of mine :-)


Nate's picture

What about stability during the movement? A low center of gravity increases stability, while a high COG reduces stability.  If one is pushed somehow during the upward phase, wouldn't  the technique be more likely to be disrupted? "Power" is only one consideration we make as martial artists, after all. 


Oerjan Nilsen
Oerjan Nilsen's picture

Just wanted to add that Colin Wee (Not sure about the spelling of his name)  had a great article on the subject in issue 35 of Totally Taekwondo Magazine. It can be downloaded on www.totallytkd.com

Black Tiger
Black Tiger's picture

I was on another forum and this was one of the responses


Look, Honestly, I did the SINE WAVE for 10+ years. It is useless. I met spoke with a real close friend(Grandmaster Kim Bok Man) of General Choi and he stated that he thought that sine wave was useless. He approached the General before his passing and and told him. General Choi agreed with him and wanted to revert, take out, the Sinewave technique out of Taekwondo. But the ITF and other related federations were too big and indoctrinated, and basically to late to change because of General Choi's I'llness at that time. If you don't believe me look up Master Kim Bok Man. He is basically one of the handful surviving members of original Korean Martial Art and it's transformation into Tae Kwon Do in the late 40's to 50's.

You will have guys try to justify it any way they can but if you have an open mind you will understand that it just does not make sense... I teach my style TKD and the sinewave is completely taken out of my curriculum.... Taekwon! "