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#328258 - 03/15/07 12:48 PM Re: Should they re-invent their forms [Re: Shonuff]
oldcoach Offline

Registered: 07/19/06
Posts: 130

Here are some modern Karate kata that reflect the kind of thing I was thinking of.

Ahh, now I see what you mean. Been there, done that, have the forms to show for it. Getting the WTF to recognize and ratify them is another matter, however...LOL

#328259 - 03/15/07 01:43 PM Re: Should they re-invent their forms [Re: TeK9]
tkd_high_green Offline

Registered: 05/16/05
Posts: 1031
Loc: Vermont
Pah, same discussion different thread.

Every time we turn around people are discussing the value of patterns. Drop them, change them, practice them, learn them, love them.

I'm sure I'm like many of you, where if asked what I'd like to do in class, I am likely to answer "kick stuff", but that doesn't mean I don't enjoy or find value in patterns. In fact, there is nothing I enjoy more than learning a new pattern.

My instructor says its not the moves of the pattern that are important but how you do them.

There is no way you can ever include every technique, variation and combination in a pattern. I see patterns being a sort of dictionary of moves and movements. Like a dictionary it doesn't tell you how the moves go together, although it may give you a suggestion. What you get are the basics which you can then learn to vary to fit different situations. Learning the words doesn't mean you can write a poem, but it certainly helps.

Each pattern in whatever art is a progression of techniques, each successively harder. I've never learned a pattern that hasn't had its own challenges, whether its learning to pivot or to keep my balance in a side kick. Patterns are also one of the few things you can practice on your own, anywhere, and without any other equipment.

Patterns are also about discipline. From my observation, those that are best at patterns are also best at everything else because they are willing to take the time to practice and perfect their patterns as compared to those that just kick and punch in class.

Perhaps since we spend so much time focusing on kicking in the rest of our classes, it makes sense that there is so little of it in our lower patterns as those other techniques don't get as much attention in other areas.

Also, focused as the patterns are in gradually increasing difficulty and technical requirements, it also makes sense that those patterns which so adequately represent TKD do not appear until higher patterns. The technical difficulty required in many of those techniques means that it will take most students years to gain enough skill to perform them.


#328260 - 03/15/07 02:00 PM Re: Should they re-invent their forms [Re: TeK9]
Shonuff Offline

Registered: 11/03/04
Posts: 604
Loc: London, UK
Tek9 I see where you are coming from, but I disagree with your assessment of the overall usefulness of forms.

The need to alter movements in forms (at least in older MA's) comes from two main reasons. Firstly the culture of secrecy surrounding MA training, if an enemy understood your forms they understood your fighting style and could use that knowledge against you. Thus movements were concealed so viewing a form would not be enough to learn the art.
The second reason is that to encompass every possible variation that could occur from a movement or position would require an infinitely long form. Homogenising movements to encompass a number of possibilities while expressing none or a few specific ideas fulfils both reason 1 and forces the student to keep an open mind. Plus the very shape of a movement can act as a guide to the shape of the art inspiring new application beyond the defined but still within the framwork of an art. On top of all these reasons there is the fact that forms are training exercises. A mid or high height kick is more work than a shin kick. When it comes to forms, their ambiguity is in many ways their beauty.

The other point you made that I disagree with is that students should be allowed to make up their own forms. Fine, once you have mastered the art that is already in place and you understand and can use all aspects of it as well as understanding something of the world of combat beyond your art, but if students are just making stuff up they feel they like (which we all do/did and will continue to see regardless) they will not really gain anything and they certainly won't be learning the art as it is defined. If they are not learning and practicing a defined art then what are they learning. It is my assertion that TKD is more than a collection of random techniques that can be strung together any which way you feel. It is it's own martial art with its own tactics and combat theories. Students need to be guided through those. Teachers can't give everything, both because of their own short comings and the students, forms act as a text book for when the teacher is not around, and even a guide for the teacher himself to continue his study.

Re-made forms would give students a way to live and learn the art without having to be spoonfed info. It would give them something to meditate on and become one with. Drills are good and absolutely necessary, but if all you have is defined drills then all you have is two person forms. It is no different except that you cannot practice it on your own and becuase the movements can't be altered without altering the drill they are more psychologically rigid than solo patterns. I also advocate new forms being designed around the concepts of self defence and fighting. I agree with what you said about the current forms not relating to TKD fighting or SD and I think they should.

With all that said, in this modern age of video forms are not 100% necessary, but I find them a far more traditional, elegant and effective solution to the problem of re-cataloguing an art than just creating 50 or 60 training drills sticking them on video and making every 5th dan and above memorise them all and pass them down the line.
It's Shotokan not Shoto-can't!!!

#328261 - 03/15/07 02:02 PM Re: Should they re-invent their forms [Re: Shonuff]
Dereck Offline

Registered: 10/04/04
Posts: 10416
Loc: Great White North

You said that you will not be able to become a better tkdist from studying the patterns. Well you should be able to. That is their purpose.

If patterns are the only thing you study and have no application of the techniques with resistance then no, you cannot become a good TKD'ist. However I agree that patterns as a part of a curriculum can most certain benefit one's training as long as what is in the patterns is important. For say a person only interested in TKD sparring then I don't believe they will be as useful. Don't get me wrong, there is a lot of good stuff in patterns that I understand and practice myself, however I only figured that stuff out from doing practical training with resistance and then related it back. I'm a hands on kind of person and once I understand the actual technique then I have no problem recognizing it in the patterns. For others they may learn the opposite way.

From your posts I am understanding you more and more and I think it would be difficult to have much in the patterns that could encompass all that TKD. TKD has a lot of kicks that is is famous for but many of these would not be done their true justice by mimicking them in the patterns. Seeing them in actual action is more impressive and I think why TKD has its sparring, to showcase its pinnacle. Perhaps TKD's founders realized this and why they chose breaking and sparring as these certainly showcase the kicks that TKD is famous for.

I think the questions would be, do you think TKD is lacking in these skills due to them not being present in the patterns? I'd have to say no and why I don't think changing the patterns to include them would make that great of an impact.

#328262 - 03/15/07 02:42 PM Re: Should they re-invent their forms [Re: Dereck]
Shonuff Offline

Registered: 11/03/04
Posts: 604
Loc: London, UK

However I agree that patterns as a part of a curriculum can most certain benefit one's training as long as what is in the patterns is important. For say a person only interested in TKD sparring then I don't believe they will be as useful.

My problem with the current patterns is that their really isn't much in them and what is there is a throwback to old Shotokan ideas as opposed to reflecting the modern vibrant art of TKD.
If someone's only interest is sparring then they won't care about patterns whatever you do to them, but I'm talking about a worldwide reform.

Green belt, you have a good start, but there is much much much more to patterns as a martial tradition if not as an aspect of TKD. Your assesment of TKD patterns is pretty correct IMO, but there could be so much more to them.
It's Shotokan not Shoto-can't!!!

#328263 - 03/15/07 05:01 PM Re: Should they re-invent their forms [Re: Shonuff]
EarlWeiss Offline

Registered: 07/29/05
Posts: 322
The more you look at the Chang Hun System the more interesting it becomes, notwithstanding the many simiarities to the Shotokan / Shorin / Shorei systems. Interesting aspects include the progression of movement starting with such progressions as learning quarter turns, then half , then 3/4 then full turns. The fact that the "Blocks" in 8 out of the first ten patterns start with an opponent to the left side and you are moving toward them. Easiest Kicks appear first and difficulty increases until more athleticaly demanding moves are added.

#328264 - 03/17/07 09:16 PM Re: Should they re-invent their forms [Re: Shonuff]
TeK9 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/22/05
Posts: 2257
Loc: Northern California, USA
What I meant by students performing their own forms, I meant it not as a way of combat, but as a way of perfecting their technique. which in case is what taekwondo considered an art.

For me the distinction between fighting system and art is how the person practices. Anyone can throw a punch or kick, but practicing the technique over and over, performing it slowly, quickly, using different levels of inensity and trying to perfect it is what I consider to be a criteria of art. In this case a student making up his/her form is an artistic way for them to express themselves or practice. It's may not necessarily be like shadow boxing which is the preferred method for boxers to practice how they will actually fight. But there are times when even a boxer, is just throwing out punches with different intensity but mainly focusing or visualizing or just plain working his angles on footwork. This is what i mean.

I took a look at the clips you posted. if I am correct that style of karate does not formalized forms. However, they do have exercises which to me looked as if that kid was just performing 10 different exercises together which makes it look like one standard form. If that is the case, I can see how it benefits. I know that many kenpo schools do the same thing. Taking their drills and self defense exercises and performing them as one whole form. Not bad because the person is actually practicing the movements as if they were being done on an opponent. Unlike traditional forms where much alteration must be done in order to make them applicable to modern self defense. Which I believe was your original point.

As far as saying that taekwondo is an art with it's own set of rules and concepts, I believe your are sounding like a TKD purist which may be okay for you but others like myself prefer using other methods, concepts and/or ideas from other styles.

In my opinion it is a bit narrow minded for many reasons to be a purist. It stops growth because it asks you to follow a set of techniques and rules blindly. No innovations can come from that mentality. It is very clear that taekwondo is not an close fighting art, although the taekwondo-man has techniques which he/she can employ, the emphais of the art as a whole does practice this way. With kicks being stressed more than any other art, this makes TKD a long range art and at best an art with mid range skills.

Clearly you can see that by only accepting these limitation would be detrimental to any martial artist who wishes to be a well rounded martial artist.

I myself use other arts and styles to advance such as kenpo and boxing for mid range combat and JKD/FMA for close range, I use thai boxing and bjj for grappling.

Once again not that TKD does not have techniques for these areas, but they are not as vast nor do they emphasize this area of combat as much as other arts.
"Poor is the pupil who
does not surpass his
master" - Leonardo Da

#328265 - 03/18/07 08:19 AM Re: Should they re-invent their forms [Re: Shonuff]
harold Offline

Registered: 11/29/06
Posts: 10
I am going to weigh in on this. As a student of both I.T.F. TKD and Modern Kenpo, I say forms,patterns,kata are a good thing to practice as long as you understand why the moves are there and what they represent.In my opinion, TKD has become so sport oriented that the practical self defense applications are disappearing. In my present TKD school for example, we practice patterns that have a spinning backfist in them yet we are told in free sparring not to do a spinning backfist since it is not allowed in tournaments. This emphasis on "rules" will get you hurt in a real situation.Practice forms to develop muscle memory.

#328266 - 03/18/07 08:49 AM Re: Should they re-invent their forms [Re: TeK9]
Shonuff Offline

Registered: 11/03/04
Posts: 604
Loc: London, UK
Hello Tek9

What you describe as students creating free artistic practice sets is a natural and common occurence already and students would always be free to do so.
Mastery of technique is certainly a part of an art, but there is more than just movements to perfect. Understanding and mastery of the methods and tactics of that art is also important and if you do not have anything you consider as a unique method to your art then you are just practicing dance moves as the kicks and punches loose their purpose. the technique of a taekwondo technique should be linked to it's correct usage. A student making up their own exercises while artistic, teaches them nothing about how their art should be employed.
Also keeping a record of those methods and tactics in forms I believe is important to the art.

Take Shotokan for example. Many changes have been made to the art and much of the Shotokan world is sport oriented, but for those who wish to the forms exist and can be studied in order to understand the fighting concepts of the art.

The clips I posted were not randomly made up movements, they were kata. they are the modern forms developed in Ashihara Karate. Ashihara realised that no one really understood the classical kata he had been taught and that they did not reflect at all what he considered practical fighting, So he made new forms to contain the methods movements and ideas that he felt were useful for combat. This is what I am talking about TKD doing. Making new forms based on how TKD actually fights instead of using old outdated ideas that dont fit with the art anymore.

I am by no means a Taekwondo purist, TKD is one of many arts that I have studied and it was not the first. Although I see nothing wrong with being a purist so long as you understand the strengths and weaknesses of what you do. Someone who wants to be a purist must accept that usually this will not mean being 100% rounded and most dont want to admit that. While I agree that cross training is useful and even important, I believe that each style should be proud of and clear about it's individuality. Taekwondo by its forms currently is psuedo karate. The actuality of Taekwondo as it is practiced is an entirely different art but the past idea of what TKD would become that is illustrated in the forms is being clung to.

I totally agree that TKD is a long to mid range art with some close quarter elements. I don't see that as a weakness, just a different way of doing things, and this is someone who has trained in specific arts for each range.
Yes if you want to become more proficient at other ranges you should go study other arts, but TKD has its own ideas of combat and mastering TKD involves understanding and mastering these. The quest to expand individual skills is for the individual, the recataloguing and redifining I am talking about is for Taekwondo as a whole, and I feel that Taekwondo as a whole would benefit from it.
It's Shotokan not Shoto-can't!!!

#328267 - 03/21/07 05:13 AM Re: Should they re-invent their forms [Re: Shonuff]
sjon Offline
Smiter of the smited

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 186
Loc: Spain

Good debate, but Iím afraid I canít stay long.

TKD has been a lot of different animals since its inception:

1. An SD art similar to old-style Okinawan Toudi and Chinese Quan Fa, based on the patterns, not the kick-block-punch interpretations but more complex grappling and striking. This was pretty much lost and was taught to relatively few people by the founding masters. I donít have time to go into this now, but Iíve done *a lot* of research on it, and Iím very confident that this was the case. I have also come across a lot of evidence to suggest that neither the Chang Hon nor the WTF patterns were ďpatchworkĒ forms, but contained a coherent SD syllabus which unfortunately was never really taught as such.
2. The hard punching and kicking style, I suppose rather similar to Kyokushinkai, which was taught to the general public in the 1950ís and Ď60ís, and also to the military with added neck breaks etc.
3. The spectacular high-kicking, board-breaking version exported to the West in the late 1960ís, a bit lower on contact and higher on mysticism.
4. The modern sport styles, particularly the Olympic-oriented one, which has evolved into a sporting activity loosely based on but in reality almost entirely separate from the other versions, and with very little to do with SD. Thatís not to say that sport-oriented schools donít do patterns, SD, etc, just that their sparring styles have taken a completely different path which is not intended for SD.

Check out any of the debates I participated in up to a few months ago, and youíll find a lot of discussion on this.



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