Saju Jirugi translates as Four-Directional Punch, and whilst it's not one of the twenty-four official taekwon-do patterns, it is an important sequence of fundamental movements. Getting it looking its best at the start of your taekwon-do journey will lay the foundations for other well-executed patterns.
Before you start - Watch this quick video
It's also worth remembering that as you move up the grades, you will still be expected to perform Saju Jirugi at gradings. By the time you reach black belt, you will have been tested on it at least nine times. Read these five tips, watch the short video, then start your practice.
Tip #1 - All about the shoulders
Walking stance middle punch is full-facing and walking stance outer-forearm low block is half-facing.
This means, when you step forward into your middle punch, both your shoulders should be the same distance from the wall in front of you. We sometimes call this square shoulders. When you pivot and step backwards into the outer-forearm low block, the shoulder of the blocking arm, should be slightly forward of the other.
Tip #2 - Reaction hand
We call the hand that isn't punching, blocking or striking, the reaction hand. If you punch with your right hand, your left hand is the reaction hand.
As you perform each technique, pull the reaction hand back to the hip as strong as you can. The stronger your reaction force, the stronger your punch / block. When the hand reaches the hip, it should be formed into a tight fist, with the back of the hand facing downwards.
Tip #3 - Back to back
When preparing to perform outer-forearm low block, cross the arms in the 'back to back' position.
Imagine you have two watches on, one on each hand. Now cross your arms in front of your chest so the watch faces touch each other. Using this starting position means both arms rotate and generate torque as they move towards their final position.
Tip #4 - Pivot
No, not like that classic scene in Friends.
During the first half of this sequence, keep your left foot in the same spot throughout the first seven techniques. Pivot 90 degrees anti-clockwise on the ball of the foot after every punch. Pivot on the ball of the foot, not the heel.
In the second half, this is reversed. The left foot should pivot 90 degrees clockwise after every punch.
Tip #5 - Rhythm
Maintain a steady rhythm throughout this sequence. I think of the rhythm as: relax, prepare, punch, or relax, prepare, block.
As you relax, soften the knees and elbows.
As you prepare, either cross the arms in preparation to block, or aim for the punch.
Then perform the technique with power.
It's time to shine
Now you've implemented these tips into Saju Jirugi, it's time to shine. Remember to take your time when performing patterns and fundamental movements. If your technique is good, you want the examiners to see it, so don't rush through and hide your skills.
Good luck on your next grading.