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Updated: Mar 11, 2021

Two students showing 1 step sparring
One Step Sparring

Whilst we will occasionally cover this in our Intermediate Leadership Classes, Il Soo Sik Dae Ryun (One Step Sparring) is covered within the syllabus from Cho Dan (1st Dan Black Belt) onwards. One Step Sparring (together with Three Step Sparring (Sam Soo Sik Dae Ryun) often come in for a significant amount of criticism from outsiders, as, when they see it practiced, they see a person stepping into a front stance, executing a punch & remaining still while their partner executes a series of techniques. They will often level an accusation such as ‘no one throws a punch like that!’. That’s good, because Il Soo Sik Dae Ryun is not designed to teach defence against a punch.

So why do it? Well, one step sparring is probably the logical next step after Basics & Hyungs because we are now starting to practice techniques with a live partner. We will often have already started this, but Il Soo Sik Dae Ryun is another block in our self-defence wall - some of the blocks (skills) that are being taught are as follows:

Distance (or as I like to call it ‘working out actually how long your arms & legs are!’)

Being the correct distance away from your partner/attacker is critical self-defence - how often do I demonstrate effective self-defence using stances alone? If you are too close, you are in danger; too far away & you cannot counter; just close enough & you can evade attacks & deliver disabling strikes effectively & with great power. Working as we do in our Il Soo Sik Dae Ryun practice where we get close to the body but not strike it (close enough to just touch the uniform) teaches us how to be at the correct distance to use a variety of techniques.


Once we’ve moved past the stage of learning the order of these simple techniques, using this simplified approach allows use to work on our reaction timing. We often talk about timing of Blocks - it only becomes a Block if you actually stop yourself being struck - waving your hands around in an aimless way does not stop you being hit; you have to be able to deliver a Block at the right place, at the right time, with the right amount of force. Much of this comes down to timing. When practicing Il Soo Sik Dae Ryun, we will get to practice many different types of techniques which require different timings.


Dart hitting a target
Target - Use your aim

In order to deliver an effective strike or defence, you need to be able to deliver it at the right place, at the right time, with the right amount of force. We talk about aiming a Middle Punch down to the solar plexus as that is the vulnerable part of the body. Hit the sternum or the muscles of the abdomen & that stroke becomes less effective (and sometimes painful to the striker!). Il Soo Sik Dae Ryun teaches us to target our techniques to the most effective parts of our opponent’s (partner’s) body. Working with different partners will also improve accuracy against different sized partners.


As an attack comes in, you have 360 different directions in which to move in order to evade the attack & set up your counter moves. Moving to the open side, the closed side, moving forwards or backwards at an angle, moving offline & moving inside or outside an arc of attack are all part of Il Soo Sik Dae Ryun. So, whilst someone may not actually attack you like your parter will when practicing Il Soo Sik Dae Ryun, you may fid yourself in one of the positions used to counter and so practicing Il Soo Sik Dae Ryun can help to give you options once you are there!


You have to be able to deliver a technique at the right place, at the right time, with the right amount of force. It’s very easy to do a technique at full power; it’s much harder to do it with control & finesse & to be able to deliver any desired power level. Il Soo Sik Dae Ryun teaches us to be able to use different levels of force depending on who our partner is when we are practicing or to what target area we are aiming our strikes to. Him Cho Chung (Control of Power) is one of our 8 Key Concepts, so use of ‘control’ is an important skill applicable to a combat situation - ‘Do not kill if you can wound. Do not wound if you can disable’.

Il Soo Sik Dae Ryun has been around for a long time. Why? - because done correctly, it works. It is an important step as part of the journey from individual practice to partner practice & it builds upon skills already learned whilst practicing Basic Techniques & Hyungs. It also prepares the practitioner for Sam Soo Sik Dae Ryun (Three Step Sparring) & developing your own Freestyle One/Two/Three Steps. It also supports your skills development in Free Sparring.

So, the next time someone says Il Soo Sik Dae Ryun has no value, it may be worth mentioning some of the above…

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