The literal English translation of tahn bong sul is "short staff techniques".
This may seem confusing at first because we tend to associate a "staff" as
something which is quite long. A more figurative interpretation of "tahn
bong" would be "short stick". However, in order to maintain the integrity of
the literal translation "short staff" will be used.
Tahn bong techniques can be found in martial arts styles in almost every
country in the world. Throughout Asia it is often one of the training tools
and/or weapons of fighting arts in many countries; Japan, Okinawa,
Philippines, China, Viet Nam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Burma, Thailand, Korea,
and many more
Tahn Bong Techniques
Though there are many types of traditional Korean martial arts weapons, one of
the most practical of these weapons of self-defense is the Tahn Bong (short
stick). It may be found almost anywhere. It may be a pencil, ruler, or a
piece of stick found on the ground. It may be easily adapted to practically
any self-defense situation.
The tahn bong ranges in length from six inches to thirty-six inches. Tahn
bong sul (short stick techniques) are helpful in developing concentration and
physical awareness of techniques, both in empty-hand and weapon training.
The tahn bong is versatile for quick blocks, strikes, traps, disarms, and
counterattack movements. It can be easily concealed, as in being hidden in a
jacket or behind ones back. It is practical, since you are able to use many
everyday objects to apply and take advantage of tahn bong applications.
Police and other law enforcement personnel, as well as the military, use the
tahn bong in different forms of batons, for enforcing the law and to maintain
Tahn bong techniques and training methodologies have guidelines which are
designed to direct the practitioner in order to help insure the applications
are both practical and precise. Though specific training methodologies may
vary from school to school and even from instructor to instructor, the basic
theories, concepts and principles of tahn bong techniques remains constant.
Once educated in these methodologies, an individual, under the guidance of a
qualified instructor, is able to create an almost limitless series of
techniques. How many techniques and variations to each technique is only
limited by the knowledge and imagination of the individual.
Beginning To Train:
In tahn bong training, the practitioner is first taught the twenty-four inch
tahn bong. Once the basics have been learned, the student is taught how to use
the tahn bongs of other lengths. When learning the tahn bong, basic movements
are stressed. One must master each basic movement if he is to ever create
combinations which have power and are practical.
But knowing the basics is not enough. The practitioner must understand the
principles of tahn bong techniques. The principles of tahn bong techniques
instill in the individual the ability to develop his own techniques. By
following these principles the student can create an almost unlimited amount
of variations to the techniques he has already learned.
The techniques of the tahn bong are almost limitless. The tahn bong can be
used to strike, punch or block with. When striking is performed, the tahn
bong is held loose and done in a snapping motion. The hand holding the tahn
bong tightens just before it impacts against its target. Using the ends of
the tahn bong, you can punch an opponent. In all types of blocking and
striking with the tahn bong, proper muscle tension, breathing, body movement
and centralization of Ki power is essential.
Muscle Tension And Relaxation:
One factor to take into consideration when practicing tahn bong techniques is
the proper tensing of the muscles. If you tighten the muscles in your arm and
try to punch as hard as you can, you will be much slower than if your arm
muscles are relaxed until just before the point of impact. This same
principle is applied to the application of tahn bong blocks and strikes. You
must be like a cat, relax. Then, in a split second, move quickly and relax
again. This will help you conserve your energy and increase your speed. By
increasing your speed you will be able to generate more power, thus making
your techniques much more effective.
Another factor which is a must for the performance of proper tahn bong
techniques is correct breathing. When you begin to move you should inhale.
As you execute your block or strike you should exhale quickly through your
mouth, while at the same time lowering your center of gravity and tensing your
muscles. Breathing between movements should be normal. This type of
breathing also helps conserve energy and increases your speed and mobility.
To breath correctly, inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth.
You should not try to fill your lungs with air. Rather, you should gently
force your stomach out as you inhale. This is where your Dan Jun is located.
The Dan Jun is where you store your internal energy, known as KI (pronounced
Kee). By breathing in this manner you will also fill the lower third of your
lungs, which is usually not brought into use when you are simply trying to
concentrate on filling your lungs. Proper breathing is required if tahn bong,
or any other type of techniques are to be executed with maximum power.
Correct Body Movement:
Correct body movement is the third factor to understand in order to execute
correct tahn bong techniques. Body movement is concerned not only with
evasive tactics, but how the body itself moves. Evading a direct
confrontation with an on-coming blow is vital when applying tahn bong
techniques. Therefore, tahn bong techniques are used in conjunction with
evasions and counter attacks.
When a person is in an on-guard posture he is ready to defend against your
attacks. However, as soon as he begins to move, openings in his defense are
created which in turn expose targets the tahn bong practitioner can attack.
Also, it is hard to change direction once a person begins to move. With Tahn
Bong Sul, in the beginning, the student is taught to wait for the opponent to
make the first move so he will be easier to neutralize. Correct body movement
is taught in order to increase the student's ability to move quickly with
balance, speed and power.
Centralization Of KI Power:
The next factor to take into account when learning Tahn Bong Sul is the
centralization of KI power. There are two types of power, external and
internal. External power comes from developing strong muscles. A person can
possess great physical (external) strength and be able to lift heavy objects
or move huge obstacles. However, though Tahn Bong Sul helps build a strong
body, it reaches toward the cultivation of internal strength, known as KI.
As time passes, a person's physical strength will diminish. Yet, internal
strength, if proper training is maintained, will increase with age no matter
how old a person becomes. Learning to centralize one's KI will greatly
increase the power of the techniques of Tahn Bong Sul, giving the practitioner
not only power but confidence and control.
The tahn bong is a universal defensive weapon which can be found almost
anywhere, yet by many, never seen. Its techniques are natural, fluid and
practical. The traditions of this ancient Korean weapon teach the
practitioner control, confidence, respect, discipline and humility. It is a
weapon which will help you develop effective self-defense techniques if that
is your goal. But, tahn bong training will aid you in cultivating something
much more valuable than the ability to defend yourself, family or country.
Tahn bong training gives you, continued peace of mind both in and out of the
There are many different types of tahn bong (short sticks) used in
the Korean martial arts. Some are pointed at one end, others at both ends.
Some have a leather strap or rope attached at one end for wrapping around the
practitioner's wrist in order to provide added speed and power to strikes and
blocks. Tahn bongs also vary in length from six inches to thirty-six inches.
They are usually made from a hard wood, like oak, or a more porous material
such as rattan or bamboo.
The Mini Tahn Bong:
The shorter tahn bongs are known as the mini tahn bongs, because they are
only six to twelve inches in length. The most common mini tahn bong is twelve
inches long. When applying techniques the execution of the tahn bong's
movements are done in a quick snapping action. This is accomplished by
holding the tahn bong loosely, then quickly snapping the tahn bong toward its
target with a flip of the wrist. Blocks are directed to hyel do (vital
points) and sensitive areas of the body.
If an opponent is holding a weapon, the radial nerve which runs along the top
of the forearm is a prime target. A sharp blow to this area could cause the
opponent to drop the weapon and may temporarily paralyze his arm. While the
opponent is momentarily stunned another strike to a different target could
disable the opponent and give the defender the time needed to get away.
While the shaft of the mini tahn bong may be used to block and strike, the
ends are principally used for striking targets. The length of the mini tahn
bong dictates that it is generally used as a close range defensive weapon.
The defender usually will move his body out of the line of attack while
closing the distance with the opponent. At the same time, the tahn bong is
used to either block the attacking weapon (if the opponent is armed), block
the attacking arm, or if the opponent is in range, strike the opponent
somewhere other than the attacking arm. The tahn bong may also be used to
re-direct an attack.
Most Common Tahn Bong:
The most common length of a tahn bong is twenty-four to twenty-eight inches.
This length of tahn bong is ideal for almost every type of both defensive and
offensive tahn bong technique. This length permits application of easy traps
and disarms while at the same time allowing the practitioner to maintain a
safe distance from an attacker.
This length also provides for a larger blocking area thus enabling the
practitioner to protect a larger portion of his body with each block, parry,
or deflection. The added length further provides longer range strikes than
shorter versions of the tahn bong, while at the same time permitting the
practitioner to move to a closer range and apply disarms and immobilization
Here are several methodologies which can be used with the tahn bong to defend
against both unarmed and weapon attacks. The following are the:
"Principles of Tahn Bong Defenses":
Let's take a look at each of these principles.
- Block the weapon.
- Re-direct the weapon.
- Srike the arm holding the weapon.
- Re-direct the arm holding the weapon.
- Strike the attacking arm.
- Re-direct the attacking arm.
- Strike body targets.
- Trap the attacking arm.
- Disarm the opponent.
- Apply chokes.
- Attack pressure point targets.
Block The Weapon:
The shaft of the tahn bong may be used to block the blade of a knife, a club,
or other weapon. It is important that the block be applied as close to the
opponent's hand, which is holding the weapon, as is possible. If you attempt
to block the end of a long weapon, his strike may overpower your block. The
end of a baseball bat which is furthest from the player's hand will generate
much more power that a section of the bat which is much closer to his hands.
Imagine trying to block the end of a baseball bat when it is swung full force.
So, position yourself so that you are able to block an oncoming force, arm,
club, etc., as close to its pivot-point as possible.
Re-Direct The Weapon:
If a downward attack with a weapon, such as a club or sword, is directed
toward you, you could step to the side to avoid the initial attack then, with
the tahn bong, strike or push the weapon in the direction it was initially
traveling. This would tend to off-balance the opponent allowing you the
opportunity to strike or disarm him.
Strike The Arm Holding The Weapon:
By striking the arm which is holding a weapon you could possibly disable
and/or disarm the opponent. The intensity of your strike will determine how
the opponent will react to your strike. Striking the arm which is holding the
weapon also includes other targets of the arm including, but not limited to,
the wrist, elbow, biceps, triceps, and forearm.
Re-Direct The Attacking Arm:
You can re-direct the attacking arm and maneuver the opponent into an
immobilization, submission, or throw. Re-directing the attacking arm may also
contribute to off-balancing the opponent, will create openings in his defense,
and may lead the opponent into a disarm technique.
Strike Body Targets:
Vital points of the body may be struck in order to render the opponent unable
to harm you. To strike these targets you must get close enough to the
opponent in order to make your strikes effective. You must be selective about
the targets you choose, for once an opponent is able to get close to you, he
shall be in a position to possibly grab you even after you strike him.
Strikes must quickly disarm an opponent or place him in a position where he is
unable to reach you.
Trap The Attacking Arm:
The tahn bong is excellent for applying traps. The shaft of the tahn bong is
used to exert pressure against joints and sensitive pressure points of an
opponent. By using leverage the tahn bong can greatly, if not completely,
immobilize an opponent no matter what his size. Traps are often used to
control an armed opponent while at the same time securing his weapon so it no
longer poses a danger to you.
Disarm The Opponent:
Disarms can be executed by striking the hand, arm, elbow or other portion of
the extremity which holds and/or controls the weapon. The tahn bong itself
may be used to apply pressure to disarm an opponent or as a lever to pry or
easily rend a weapon from the grasp of the opponent.
The shaft and the ends of the tahn bong may be used to apply a wide variety of
choking techniques to an opponent. Chokes are extremely effective when
attempting to immobilize and control an opponent.
Attack Pressure-Point Targets:
It is usually the ends of the tahn bong which are used to exert force to
pressure points. These pressure points are nerves and sensitive areas of the
body which are extremely susceptible to pain. With the use of the tahn bong,
you can induce pain, paralyze portions of the body, and disable an opponent.
It is attacks to these areas of the body which help make tahn bong techniques
so effective against even the largest opponent even if he is armed.