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General Documents

Sinewave Study

By Master Paul McPhail
(Updated Sep 2004)

Marriage to Gravity
"The uniting of strength, mind and breath while dropping with the weight of the body. The merger of all of the above factors at the time the body drops greatly adds to the force of a blow or strike."
(Ed Parker - Kenpo Karate) The Overlook Martial Arts Dictionary - Pub 1983.

The follow is a study of the various speeds in patterns, such as fast and continuous motion, and how we do sinewave.

"In the beginning", there was only normal, fast and slow motion. Continuous came later, then finally connecting with the publishing of the second edition of the 15 volume Encyclopedia in 1983.

There is generally no problem with understanding slow and connecting motion... connecting being two movements in the one sinewave and one breath...like hooking block/punch in Yul-Gok, scooping block/punch in Ge-Baek.

But what is the difference between fast and continuous motion?

Is it the sine wave? Is it the breathing? Is it the overall speed or time it takes to complete the movements? Is it the interval of time between the two movements?

Let's look at these one by one:

With the continuous motion in Dun-Gun, General Choi gave very clear instructions to drop down after the low block, then rise up, then down on the rising block. In other words, full sine wave. Down-up-down. In Po-Eun however, every continuous movement is NOT done with full sinewave - the final "down" of the preceding movement becomes the first "down" of the next. So there is no clear rule there. There is also the fast motion in Ul-Ji which is just one movement - dropping into x-stance...so how can we make a clear rule to do with sinewave? Then there is fast motion with kicks also - like in Hwa-Rang and Choong-Moo...

The ITF Technical Committee also offered this definition of continuous motion and sinewave at the seminar in New Zealand, August 2004: Movements in continuous motion should be completed using full sine wave (down-up-down) unless there are more than 2 movements (eg Po-Eun 6-12, 24-30 and Yoo-Sin 16-19), in which case perform a 2/3 sinewave. This definition holds true on my chart in the Sinewave study below.

Both fast and continuous movements call for individual breaths...although the General tended to "merge" his breaths somewhat on continuous motion. The ITF Technical Committee further explained continuous motion breathing as inhaling only once, then breathing out on each technique as you execute it. (NZ seminar, August 2004). Connecting motion has only one breath.

It should be noted (just to confuse things) that there appears to be a mistake in the Encyclopedia. It says in the Theory of Power section that each movement should have one breath except for "continuous motion". This I think is an error, as it states in the Training Secret section "except on connecting motion".

Over-all speed or time taken:
Sometimes continuous movements take longer to complete than fast - sometimes the other way around. For example, the two fast motion punches in Do-San are over and done with quicker than the low/rising blocks in Dan-Gun. Yet in Po-Eun, the continuous motion techniques are completed at a fast rate.

Interval between movements:
There is a popular view that the difference between normal, fast and continuous is the interval, or gap BETWEEN the movements. The idea is that two movements performed at normal speed would have a natural count or gap between them, fast has this gap shortened, the continuous has no gap at all. This would fine except that this is not the way fast motion gets performed, either by seniors, Masters or General Choi himself. If you watch, there is no gap at all between the two punches in Do-san for example... as soon as the first is finished you spring straight up into the 2nd... almost in a continuous-like motion.


In my discussions with General Choi, I came across what I think it is all about. I asked him - "why not just get rid of Continuous and just call everything Fast? Don't you mean just go fast - join them together - cut out the interval between movements?"

"No no - fast motion is performed with urgency, - aggressive. Continuous motion is performed with grace and beauty - it must flow."

So I think then, we have to try and understand what his thoughts were when he introduced the terminology. He had "fast motion" already - but it didn't adequately describe the flowing, continuous nature by which he wanted certain other movements linked. I don't believe he gave that much thought to there being any confusion over the two terms, as in his mind they are totally different.

If you look then...continuous movements always involve defence - and the idea is to link them smoothly with a nice flow and rhythm. Fast techniques are normally attacks, nearly always punches and kicks (but not always - Yoo Sin 34-35).


Okay - that's all very well, until you have to teach your 1st dans Ge-Baek, where we have fast then continuous motion side by side. I tend to give a few guidelines, which make people feel more comfortable with the differences. This then is the general summary I use:


Slow motion - movement is performed slowly with slow breathing. This is used to emphasize an important movement and to check balance and control.

Fast motion - urgent and aggressive, normal breathing. Fast motion is nearly always attacks - mainly two punches. Short-cut your sinewave - spring straight from the first movement into the next.

Continuous motion - link the movements together with no pause between the end of one movement and the start of the next. Breath in once then out in a continuous flow of air but emphasizing each movement. Try to link the moments smoothly, with grace and beauty. (Continuous movements always start with a block). 

Connecting motion - complete the two movements with one breath and one sinewave. Connecting motion is always with two movements using opposite arms.

There is also other terminology used in patterns like - "in a quick motion, a releasing motion, in a consecutive kick" etc. How is a quick motion different from a fast motion? I asked the General is it the same... he laughed and said no no...but gave no explanation. 0(

My thoughts with these are:

- "Releasing motion", the General is telling us it is a releasing technique

- "Consecutive kick", the General is telling us "do not put your foot on the ground after the first kick"

- "quick" - used for single movements so means "do it quickly", as apposed to fast motion, which describes how two or more movements should be performed together.

Sinewave Study

This is an analysis of how sinewave is performed in pattern movements in relation to fast, continuous and connecting motion. This is based on watching Gen. Choi and others perform the movement at various seminars over the years.

There seems to be 4 ways of moving from one movement on to the next, as listed below:

Full sinewave means once the first movement is complete, you then drop your weight down, up, then down again as you complete the next movement (down/up/down).

2/3 sinewave means completing the first movement, moving straight up then down to complete the next movement (up/down).

1/3 sinewave means you are already up at the completion of the first movement, so then drop down into the next (down).

Fast motion Full  2/3  1/3 None
Do-San 15-16, 19-20 (punches)   *    
Yul-Gok 2-3, 5-6 (punches) *
Yul-Gok 9-10,13-14 (punches)   *    
Joong-Gun 15-16,18-19 (release/punch) *
Hwa-Rang 18-19 (tkick/tkick/kh guard)   *(block)     *(kicks)
Choong-Moo 14-15 (tkick/bkick) *
Ge-Baek 3-4 (punches)   *    
22-23 (tkick/flying s kick) *
Choong-Jang 46-47 (punches)   *    
Yoo-Sin 2-3 (angle punches) *  
  34-35, 36-37 (DFA/low bk)       *
Choi Yong 21-22 (pressing bks) *
Ul-Ji 11 (X-stance drop)     *  
So-San 5-6, 7-8 (kh bk/punch) *
  39-40, 47-48 (punches)   *    
Tong-Il 5-6 (punches) *
  14-15 (punches)   *    
20-21 (punches) *
Continuous motion Full  2/3  1/3 None
Dan Gun 13-14 (low bk/rising bk) *      
Toi-Gye 7-8 (pressing bk/vert punch) *
Po-Eun 6-12, 24-30 (blocks-punches)   *    
Ge-Baek 5-6 (rising bk, low bk) *
  37-38 (low guardg bks) *      
Eui-Am 5-6, 18-19 (down bk/rising bk) *  
Sam-Il 30-31 (inward bk/punch) *      
Yoo-Sin 16-17, 18-19 (hook/punch) *
  20-21, 25-26 (press/rising) *      
Ul-Ji 2-3 (pressing/rising) *
So-San 52-53, 57-58 (low bk/punch) *      
71-72 (kh guarding/punch) *
Connecting motion Full  2/3  1/3 None
Yul-Gok 16-17, 19-20 (hooking/punch)     *  
Ge Baek 9-10, 29-30 (scoop/punch) *
Yoo-Sin 10-11, 14-15 (scoop/punch)     *  
Moon-Moo 28-29, 37-38 (scoop/punch) *

It is apparent from studying this chart that there is no direct correlation between the speed of the movement (ie fast, continuous or connecting motion) and how the sinewave in the movement is performed.


*Thanks to Mr Mark Banicevich, IV Dan, for his assistance with this study.

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