Free Sparring seminar with Master Horan

On Saturday 25th January 2020 Master Horan 7th degree conducted a 3 hour seminar for UTA members on the topic of “Free sparring”. Almost 70 students from various UTA clubs attended this well supported seminar.

The seminar got under way at 10am, with Master Horan quickly explaining that although we were focusing on free sparring, he wanted us to understand the vision that General Choi Hong Hi had when designing and describing free sparring in the encyclopedia. He explained that modern free sparring that we see, especially in competition, is far from the traditional free sparring that General Choi wanted to create.

After a quick warm up, we partnered up and began to work on our footwork, which included shifting, stepping and stance changes. Master Horan emphasised the importance of maintaining the same distance with our partner whilst performing these footwork exercises. The reason behind this was to highlight that one of the most important aspects of sparring is defence, which should always be kept in mind even when attacking.

Next, we looked at a variety of attacking methods, including instant attack, counter attacks and how we can utilise fakes and height changes to create an opening for attack. Master Horan demonstrated how we can feint techniques to force the opponent to move their guard, thus creating an opening elsewhere. He also showed how we can use multiple attacks with the same attack, and create openings by changing the height of each technique, such as executing a middle turning kick swiftly followed by a high turning kick to catch our opponent off guard. However, this was all performed without pads, placing an emphasis on precision and control with the ultimate aim of placing each technique 1-2cm away from the target, as General Choi had wished for Taekwon-Do sparring. Throughout this section of the seminar, Master Horan encouraged the use of techniques which are not used in Free Sparring, such as attacks with the knees and elbows in order to encompass a much wider range of techniques from the thousands available in Taekwon-Do.

The next section of the seminar was dedicated to jumping whilst sparring. We looked in particular depth at avoiding sidekicks using jumps including countering with a punch whilst in the air. Master Horan showed us that we can also just use the jump to disorientate our opponent if we jump to their blind side or towards their back where they would be vulnerable for an attack when they turned around. This encouraged us all to be creative in our movement whilst sparring and avoid being stuck on the same linear line.

At the penultimate part of the seminar tasked students to create a pre arranged sparring routine with a partner. Master Horan noted that this used to be an event in ITF Competitions. At the end of the practice time a variety of pairs from all ages demonstrated their routines to the group, all of which were performed with great confidence and technique.

Finally the seminar finished off with all students putting their pads on and sparring focusing on the methods and techniques that we had just practiced. It gave us a great opportunity to not only practice all that we had learnt in a controlled and supportive environment, but also to connect with friends new and old through the shared passion of Taekwon-Do. It was certainly useful and insightful for all UTA members, from coloured belts who have just received their pads and started sparring recently, to the World and European champions who were also present.

Thank you to Master Horan for the excellent seminar and thank you also to Mr Owen of LBTKD for hosting. All proceeds raised from the event will go to the UTA fund for our competitors at next year’s ITF World Championships in Holland.


Elliott Callahan

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