Insider Blog: Calling on the Master

Posted May 25, 2010

Taekwondo and the Chiefs front seven? It's not as far-fetched as it sounds.

Yesterday, the Chiefs had a Taekwondo instructor giving members of the Chiefs front seven a pass rush tutorial. Trust me, it’s not as strange as it sounds. This martial arts expert has football roots that run deep.

GrandMaster Joseph E. Kim was in town for OTAs on Monday and he took the Chiefs defensive linemen and outside linebackers through a furry of handwork drills (take what you think you know of d-line shed drills and speed them up about 100 notches). Kim’s actually been working with Chiefs defenders for the past few months, but his presence on the football field for practice work was a first.

Known by many around league circles as a “pass rush guru,” Kim has worked for seven NFL franchises and one BCS collegiate program. His involvement in professional football spans over the course of 18 years.

GrandMaster Kim’s Football Resume:

Cleveland Browns (1992-95)
Assistant Strength Coach/ Pass Rush Specialist

Dallas Cowboys (1998)
Pass Rush Consultant

Cleveland Browns (1999-2000)
Assistant Strength Coach/ Pass Rush Specialist

Miami Dolphins (2001-06)
Pass Rush Consultant

Green Bay Packers (2005)
Pass Rush Consultant

Denver Broncos (2007)
Pass Rush Consultant

Penn State University (2009)
Pass Rush Consultant

Buffalo Bills (2009)
Pass Rush Consultant

Kansas City Chiefs (2010)
Pass Rush Consultant

During his first stint with the Browns Kim worked for head coach Bill Belichick, thus giving us a Chiefs connection. Chiefs GM Scott Pioi was part of the scouting department with the Browns at the time and obviously has more deep-seeded roots with Belichick.

“Joe Kim is tremendous,” Belichick is quoted as saying on Kim’s website. “The blend of martial arts expertise, football background and an ability to train all athletes makes him one of the best.”

By calling on Kim for help, the Chiefs are making a concerted effort to bolster their pass rush with the progression of in-house talent. Both Pioli and head coach Todd Haley have been quoted this off-season about putting a premium on the importance of marked improvement from young players currently on the roster – in essence, that’s what builds and sustains long-term success.

With two top-five picks manning each defensive end post, and another first-rounder occupying the primary pass rush position, the Chiefs defensive front is definitely one that is filled with young promise. Unfortunately, that young talent hasn’t translated into an elite pass rush just yet.

Despite more than doubling their sack output from 2008 to 2009 (10.0 sacks to 22.0 sacks), Kansas City still ranked 31st in that category a year ago.

The Chiefs did go out and add NT Shaun Smith in free agency and drafted OLB Cameron Sheffield this April, but ultimately the Chiefs are placing hopes for an improved pass rush on those who are already in-house. The major additions to help get the best out of those players were brought in on the coaching side of things, starting with Romeo Crennel and former NFL defensive lineman Anthony Pleasant. Kim’s expertise is another welcome addition.

“He’s a real big pass rush specialist,” DE Tyson Jackson said. “He works with several teams in the NFL and some of the great pass rushers that play this game. What’s real big with him is the use of hands and hand/eye coordination to develop pass rush technique.”

In anyone knows about hand/eye coordination its Kim.

A 7th Dan Black Belt, Kim is recognized as one of the most successful Taekwondo experts in the United States. He earned his first degree Black Belt at age 11 in 1980 and has since produced over 250 Black Belt experts out of his Cleveland, Ohio training home. He’s also a permanent athlete resident at the U.S. Olympic Training Center.

Though they’ve only had a short relationship, Jackson is already noticing improvement in his pass rush technique from working with Kim.

“I can already tell just from these first few OTAs how much my pass rush technique has improved from the end of last year,” Jackson said.

But why take on Taekwondo to improve the pass rush?

Really, it makes perfect sense. Each of these NFL defenders has gone through countless hours of coaching from the pee wee ranks, right on up to the professional level. For the most part, their opponents have undergone similar training aimed at stopping these learned tactics.

When two professionals end up in a one-on-one battle, games are often decided. Something has to give; something that trumps the hours and hours of football fundamentals that have been preached to these players. Why not find an edge that goes beyond natural talent, some-how, some-way?

Pass rushers go through vigorous, short bursts of hand-to-hand combat on every snap, why not bring the quickness and focus demanded in Taekwondo to the gridiron for a leg-up in these one-on-one battles?

Taekwondo is often described, according to Wikipedia, as "the way of the foot and fist" or "the way of kicking and punching."

Kim’s lessons were geared towards the Chiefs pass rush specialists yesterday, but don’t count out Steve Hoffman and his specialists from future learning sessions either. If anyone needs hand quickness to separate off of blocks to get downfield, its punt team gunners who are often times double teamed on the outside to keep them from harassing return men.

The Chiefs aren’t the only ones utilizing Kim’s expertise. Earlier this month, Kim was hired by the N.Y. Giants to host a two-day coaching clinic.

An area that needs vast improvement, the Chiefs are working overtime when it comes to gaining an edge in the pass rush.

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