SO WHAT’S THIS TANG SOO DO THING ALL ABOUT? (Self-Defence)


Demonstration of sleep grip
Sleeve Grip Hol Sin Sool

The next part of our training that I want to cover is Hol Sin Sool (self-defence). It may seem slightly odd to refer to one part of our martial art, taught as a self-defence system, as ‘self-defence’, but what I am referring to are the wrist & clothing grabs, executed at close quarters. This is what we refer to as ‘Hol Sin Sool’. As with everything else we do in Tang Soo Do, Hol Sin Sool are not stand-alone self-defence techniques; they are just another piece of the overall jigsaw puzzle


As with multi-step sparring and the basic techniques, when observed by outsiders, self-defence techniques may often look slightly odd. Beginner level techniques such as simple wrist grabs do not appear very realistic from an outsider’s perspective as no one will just grab your wrist and then just stand there! There is method in this madness though.


We build up all of the skills from basics to free sparring in order to strike, move & defend from a distance so that we do not get hit or grabbed. Hol Sin Sool starts to teach you what to do when someone is able to get a hold of you - you have failed in some way and your opponent has now got a hold of you. However, we introduce a number of simple self-defence techniques early on in your training to start to build up your ‘toolbox’ of techniques. You can further develop your Hol Sin Sool when you look at applications of Hyungs or develop your techniques & apply them ‘freestyle’.


Hol Sin Sool, as well as being techniques in & of themselves, will help to develop a number of skills.


Working at close range

We work on this in the more advanced basics - ‘getting up close & dirty’ - but a lot of up close work will involve grabs rather than strikes due to simple space requirements. Hol Sin Sool will give students options for once their perimeter is breached!


Understanding how joints work (& what makes them not work!)

Hol Sin Sool teaches a student how to utilise an opponents elbows, wrists, shoulders, knees, ankles & fingers in order to inflict pain & to restrain an opponent, and so remain safe. Whilst most techniques show one simple lock or joint manipulation, with a number of years training, students can gain a broad knowledge of how joints work & can use the technique appropriate any given situation.


Controlling an opponent

Whilst we must exercise Him Cho Chung (Control of Power) in all areas of our training, Hol Sin Sool adds another level of control. Rather than just by varying the power of a strike, students learn how to vary pressure on joints or the neck to maintain compliance but not cause permanent damage. Students also get to feel how the technique is done when practicing with another student.


Getting Free

In their simplest form, Hol Sin Sool teaches students how to get free from someone who has grabbed them. Whilst it is clear why to most people who do martial arts, a large number of people will be ignorant of how to do this effectively, especially against someone who has a height/weight/strength advantage. Our Hol Sin Sool will often teach that getting completely free may not be your best option.


Scenarios & Options

Once you have a good grasp of the basics, you can turn to the ‘what if they did this instead…’. One technique will not always work against any variation of a particular hold - you need to learn some options.


Lao Tzu quotation
The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step

What many students forget is that your Black Belt is just the first step on your journey. As a Black Belt, you have not learned to defend yourself - what you have done is learned some of the things that will help you to start learning to defend yourself. Your more advanced training is about putting it all together. It may seem like a daunted and never-ending task, but martial arts training is a journey that never ends.

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