Foundations of Taekwondo – Form & Power

By Sr. Grandmaster Brenda J. Sell, 9TH Dan Kukkiwon.

President, U.S. Chung Do Kwan Association, Inc.

Excerpts from Forces of Taekwondo Interactive E-Text Book @


What are the building blocks to excellence?

Breaking boards and bricks, flying through the air with an impressive jump side kick, creating a knock out weapons form to music, synchronized forms, a challenging sparring match in a tournament are all end results of a person who truly understands the value of pursuing excellence in the basic fundamentals of Taekwondo.

Many times we talk about keeping the interest of the students with “disguised repetition” as if it is something new. Think about it…. What is the included in every aspect of Taekwondo?

You might say character, a good Instructor, desire, perseverance…. And while all of these are true, these are developed as a result of your traditional Taekwondo training. However, there is foundational one thing that you MUST have.


A true technician understands the importance of pursuing excellence in what I refer to as Basic Fundamentals. If the basics are not right, you limit your ability to excel. Excellence in technique must be developed in two main categories: form (Amazing Grace) and power (Awesome Power). Form is the foundation for power. I am known for the saying, “Little things make a BIG difference” because I know that to be true.

Amazing Grace was made famous by Sr. Grandmaster Brenda J. Sell

Awesome Power was made famous by Sr. Grandmaster Edward B. Sell

The U.S. Taekwondo Chung Do Kwan Association teaching principles challenges each student to execute “precise” techniques! Perfecting your fundamentals is a KEY FACTOR that will assist in accomplishing such a challenge. The terms technique and fundamentals are used interchangeably because proper technique is fundamental. The habits you develop in fundamentals will carry over into all other components of your training. The way you apply a technique should not change from basic fundamentals to forms, one-step, or free sparring. In order for technique to become second nature to you, your body must memorize how the move is accomplished. Motor encoding and muscle memory are developed as you consistently practice technique with the same application. This is why it is important for lower ranked students to stay true to one system. If not, you will develop confused body momentum.

The more you practice the fundamentals, the sooner they will become second nature to you and you are on your way to precision. Be watchful of proper stances and technique. The two of these combined provide the foundation for balance. The constant practice of fundamentals keeps your muscles flexible at conditioned. Each time you execute these techniques you should try to put more power and precision into each move. “Constant repetition is the pathway to perfection.” Sr. Grandmaster Edward B. Sell


Created by Grandmaster Brenda Sell in 1979, the Amazing Grace method of teaching fundamentals. At the same time, her late-husband, Grandmaster Edward B. Sell, developed the Awesome Power theory. This theory has revolutionized the teaching of martial arts. Here, we will share excerpts of this revolutionary training for the serious taekwondo student.


#1. Application of Technique

Application of technique is the “how to.” Be diligent in learning the proper way to apply each technique, which 1 of the 26 striking weapons on your body to strike or block with, the direction the technique moves, practical striking area for each technique, control points, and in the case of blocks the coverage area.

#2. Focus

Focus is one of the foundations of traditional Taekwondo. Focus in mind, body, and spirit. Mental focus is paramount. Peace and self-control are two of the character traits of a true black belt. If anger is not directed properly, it causes a person to lose mental focus in stressful situations. If intimidation is not turned into confidence a person will not have the intestinal fortitude to do what they know needs to be done. When you lose control over your emotions, you lose control over your actions. Poomsae is one of the best ways to develop mental focus.

Your Striking line.

Every technique has a control (focus) point. I developed the “Amazing Grace” seminar with one of the components being the Striking Line. When practicing basic fundamentals, forms, and one step sparring, every technique has a predetermined target on the striking line. Remember, if you aim for nothing, you will probably hit nothing!

Discovering Your Striking Line:

  1. The basic striking line can be found by bringing your arms together with your elbows locked out in front of you, fingertip to fingertip.

  2. Move your hands vertically from the top of your head to the floor drawing an imaginary line from the top of your head to the floor. This is your striking line.

Striking Line Drill:

  1. From a straddle stance, identify the following 5 targets:

  • Target #1= between the tip of the nose and the mouth

  • Target # 2= throat

  • Target #3= sternum (bottom of the “V” on the uniform)

  • Target #4 = the solar plexus

  • Target #5= groin area 

    Practice striking with full power to each of the 5 targets from the stationary straddle stance. Stay focused with your mind, target, and intensity. Start with 10 punches to each target at a pace that maintains form and power, then go down the striking line: target 1,2,3,4,5, then mix it up keeping in mind your goal is to stay focused both mentally and physically.

    My philosophy is if you are going to make a commitment to do something, make the commitment to do it with excellence, giving it

    everything you’ve got.


Awesome power is the nickname given to my late-husband, Sr. Grandmaster Edward B. Sell. He discovered and practiced the “6 secrets” of Awesome power every single day. Everyone has a degree of power. Without learning how to take advantage of the kinetics of movement we have minimal power and are only using brute strength. This type of power is very limited. But, when you learn how to shift body weight your power multiplies. People were amazed to see me breaking concrete and house bricks at 120 pounds when 250 pound men could not. This is where the science of Taekwondo overrides brute strength.

#3. Push/Pull

One of the most important power principles is “Push/ Pull.” Sir Isaac Newton states in his 3rd Law of Motion that “for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction.” This means that in every interaction there is a pair of forces acting on the two interacting objects. The direction of the force on the first object is opposite to the direction of the force on the second object. Force always come in pairs – equal and opposite action-reaction force pairs.

This becomes very obvious in concreate and brick breaking. The position of the opposite hand will many times determine the success or failure of a break. The push/pull of the striking hand and the opposite hand create momentum and cause power to shift through the shoulders.

Proper Practice Makes Good Technique.

Never allow yourself to have “stink’n think’n. Enjoy your training, especially, the basics. They are the foundation and building blocks of a technician. Pursue excellence and you will reap great rewards.

Sr. Grandmaster Brenda J. Sell, 9th Dan Kukkiwon, (1 American female in 10 million black belts.) is the President of the U.S. Chung Do Kwan Association, established in 1967, celebrating 50 years as a leader and pioneer of modern day Taekwondo. For more tips from Grandmaster Sell, information about the USCDKA, or to contact her about being mentored, seminars or public speaking contact her at:
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