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#421458 - 08/10/09 05:22 PM Should TKD patterns be scrapped?
Prizewriter Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 10/23/05
Posts: 2577

For those that don't know, I did TKD for a year quite a while ago with the TAGB (Chang Hon).

Question(s): Should the patterns (hyungs/poomse), in all versions of TKD, be scrapped? Is there any need for them? Is there anything particular in the forms that is shown elsewhere in TKD? Do they have any function aside from just being there??

Now, a lot of you may be thinking "Why is he singling out just TKD? Other arts use patterns (aka forms/kata etc...)" The reason I am looking at TKD is due to the following:

i) In my experience, and it seems in many other peoples experience, so called "self defence" movements taught in TKD come from a variety of other sources outside the art e.g. Hapkido, Krav Maga, Ju Jitsu... I have seen very little to suggest there is anyone seriously practicing TKD patterns, then looking for fighting application in said patterns in the same way that Karate has the kata/bunkai relationship. There may be one or two exceptions, but by and large it seems to be that TKD pattern application doesn't exist, if simply because hardly anyone is teaching or learning it.

ii) ITFUnity is lucky enough to have studied at an old school TKD class, where by his accounts, they do all sorts of good stuff like sweeps and takedowns. I have seen parts of the TKD encyclopaedia, and it seems that a lot of this existed in original TKD. ITFUnity did mention though that a lot of this was drilled in step sparring, not patterns. So if there are different techniques being used in TKD "above the norm", are they being learnt in step sparring, not patterns? Hopefully ITFUnity reads this, because I would be interested to hear what he (and others think!).

iii) The patterns of TKD were created or modified to promote Korean identity. Sure they may have other reasons to exist, but that I think was a BIG reason for their existence, and then in their evolution (i.e. Poomse).

I haven't come across another art that seems to have as little practical use for patterns as TKD.

Is there any practical reason for having patterns in modern TKD? They don't make you better at sparring, Self Defence techniques in many TKD schools is either borrowed from other arts (e.g. Hapkido) or taught in step sparring, and many of the patterns were created for what seemed to be reasons more to do with promoting national identity rather than having any practical use.

Am I presenting one side of this? Probably. Then again, people were complaining about it being slow on here, so hopefully this will generate some discussion!
"Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food" Hippocrates.

#421459 - 08/10/09 06:25 PM Re: Should TKD patterns be scrapped? [Re: Prizewriter]
Dereck Offline

Registered: 10/04/04
Posts: 10416
Loc: Great White North
I'm a yes and no. This for me all comes down to what you are training for. If you are truly training for self defense then yes, scrap them. If you are to be a fighter whether TKD or perhaps you blend it in with your MMA then again I say yes. Now if you are in a traditional system and are taking TKD as a whole then I say no.

#421466 - 08/10/09 10:01 PM Re: Should TKD patterns be scrapped? [Re: Dereck]
Christie Offline

Registered: 07/12/05
Posts: 872
Loc: Waterloo, ON
Derek you need to write one more post, you are at 9999.. make a wish!

I look at poomse the same way as I look at dance coreography. Will coreography help you on the dance floor? No, probably not, but that isn't what it is there for. For one, it is definitely there to show off, and it is a lot of fun. It may not help you with your lead and follow on the dance floor but you dancing does improve when you practice coreography. It is a way to practice, repeatedly moves in sucession with other moves. You can learn possible combinations, how the end of one move is supposed to flow into another one. How the weight is shifted before and after, etc. etc.

I agree with Derek, if you are taking martial arts to defend yourself, you don't need them. But they aren't completely useless when martial arts is looked at as an artform and I do quite enjoy them.

#421467 - 08/10/09 10:08 PM Re: Should TKD patterns be scrapped? [Re: Dereck]
VDJ Offline

Registered: 05/09/05
Posts: 1674
I go back to Mr. Anslows book which shows many SD applications within the patterns. I don't think the question is should they be scrapped as much as should instructors be held to a higher standard of teaching the applications? I think that the Japanese arts do a better job of this.I do believe in most cases that obtaining the BB rank in TKD is much to easy (definitely when compared to BJJ). I think that tests should be held no less than 6 months apart with a proficient knowledge of the applications of techniques from both the basics and the patterns. I don't like hearing that TKD takes its techniques from "other, more effective" arts as this is true of most all arts. Again, it comes down to how it is actually taught ! I am a practioner of the art and I believe in it, but again, I may hold my self to a higher standard in my practice of it. I don't care what rank I reach, I will NEVER use the term "Master" as I know I have too many flaws in executing some of the techniques, whether it be due to body type or age. Keep them, analyze them, teach them accordingly!


#421474 - 08/11/09 07:07 AM Re: Should TKD patterns be scrapped? [Re: Dereck]
Supremor Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/22/04
Posts: 2510
Loc: UK
I think Dereck is closest to my own personal position. Patterns are simply not an effective way to train for either sparring or self defence. I would widen that remark, not only to refer to Taekwon-do, but all martial arts. But we have to admit that there are many reasons people take martial arts. For those who are looking to get a bit fitter, enjoy themselves and learn a neat party trick, I can see nothing wrong with practising patterns. Even for those, like myself at one point, who simply find it interesting to try and do something "perfectly," as an exercise in focus and perseverance, will also find patterns agreeable. I don't see those goals as somehow less worthy than training to spar or defend oneself, as long as the individual is honest with him/herself.

Personally, I train almost purely for sparring and scrapping. I enjoy the sports aspect of martial arts much more than the self defence aspect. I don't think that makes me less worthy a martial artist than anyone else, although I wouldn't use the term martial artist to describe myself. I'm a hobbyist.

So, for me, whether or not patterns should remain in TKD is first and foremost a question of why one is doing TKD. It is exactly the same when I practice basketball. I go out a few days a week and have a shoot around for an hour, on my own. Does it improve my ability to play a 5v5? Probably not. Do I want to become better at 5v5s? Not really. But I resent someone telling me that I am not a basketball player, I merely play with other goals in mind.

#421510 - 08/12/09 01:17 PM Re: Should TKD patterns be scrapped? [Re: Supremor]
KickingAngel16 Offline

Registered: 07/30/08
Posts: 94
Loc: Dacula, GA
I see forms as a way to practice what you have learned and to apply them in a short amount of time. It is also fun and beautiful to watch and perform. Also, it helps me with my footwork. Kinda hard to defend yourself when you trip over your own feet. I'm naturally a clutz.
If you're tired, kick some more. Your opponent most likely has extra kicks to spare on you.

#421512 - 08/12/09 01:47 PM Re: Should TKD patterns be scrapped? [Re: KickingAngel16]
Dereck Offline

Registered: 10/04/04
Posts: 10416
Loc: Great White North
Also, it helps me with my footwork. Kinda hard to defend yourself when you trip over your own feet.

I disagree with this statement regarding patterns.

If you are training to defend yourself then you have to be put in that position over and over until you figure things out. That means you have to do live training with individuals. You have to be put in positions where you feel uncomfortable and out of your element. Only then when you practice this will you truly be effective at self defense.

The thing with patterns is life doesn't mimic them. It is just like when you sit in horse stance throwing punches; who does that in real life? It is not a practical training method and simple is something of the art of the martial art. I can accept the art side and in many aspects it can be beautiful to view, though I will admit that TKD patterns either WTF or ITF are not as fluid and beautiful as other martial arts I've seen.

Plainly put, working against imaginary opponents doing set out patterns is not an effective way to train if you are in it for self defense or in it to learn to fight. You want that then you need to train as such. If you want to take a martial art for the overall experience then patterns are fine and they can express the art. You truly cannot train techniques to their fullest in patterns to apply to real life experiences.

You say what? I'll say it again, you truly cannot train techniques to their fullest in patterns to apply to real life experiences. For example, you cannot tell me the kicks you are performing in patterns is as effective as hitting a person or a slammer shield or a heavy bag. Kicks are meant to be driven through the target which is something you cannot do in a pattern. Now you say that the patterns are a supplement to that such training you are doing as well. I then say good, that is what I would expect from training martial arts as a whole BUT if you are training specifically for self defense or fighting then you are wasting your time because time could be better spent doing more live training. Cut out the fluff and train like you want to perform.

Again, nothing wrong with patterns within a martial art system where you can enjoy all of the aspects. But don't for once think you are more then that.

#421524 - 08/13/09 03:07 AM Re: Should TKD patterns be scrapped? [Re: Dereck]
GriffyGriff Offline
Good Egg,

Registered: 01/28/04
Posts: 414
Loc: Earth
TKD Patterns should be scrapped!

The Chang Hon Tuls take similar movements from Karate Katas but are "Spiced Up" and taken out of sequence just to give them a Korean flair. (Which leads nicely onto the fact that most Karate Katas should also be scrapped).

The movements have been modified beyond their initial usage to the point that not even Stuart Ainslow ("The Darren Brown of Tuls"), can really decipher them.

But the performing of techniques can in fact be immensely helpful, if approached with integrity and with proper techniques, focus, timing and power.

Don't believe me? confused

OK, go visit an Enshin Karate School.
They are the only style I know that has NO WASTAGE in their Katas!!
Techniques learnt in their Katas translate DIRECTLY to fighting, be it Line-Work, Bag-Work, Sparring or Self Defense.

But in case I may have inadvertantly defended those who live in Plato's Cave. I would like to make amends by saying "Stay near the Fire, don't venture out! it is dark beyond the comforting firelight. Keep practicing your Tuls which often mimic postures similar to Coat-Racks and Hat-Stands"
I am NOT homophobic... I am NOT afraid of my own house!

#421525 - 08/13/09 03:13 AM Re: Should TKD patterns be scrapped? [Re: Prizewriter]
Chen Zen Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 02/09/03
Posts: 7043
Loc: Ms
Im a JKD guy now, so I no longer practice forms but before JKD I was TKD. I did TKD with ATA, and the I moved on to Moo Duk Kwan TKD. This will surely offend, and I apologize ahead of time, but IMO ATA was a joke. I believe that it instills a false sense of security and an inflated sense of skill, and its been watered down to point sparring competition techniques and sold as self defense. Its fraudulent at best.

MDK was different. My offense was somewhere around 80% kicking techniques 20% punching and no grappling at all while doing ATA. In MDK it broke down roughly to 70% punching, 20% Grappling, either in the clinch or on the ground, and about 10% kicking and of that 10% about 90% of it was knee strikes and low level leg kicks. We still did forms, for form. After we had the form, it was broken down to 2 and 3 step sparring, and when we had that, we then drilled with progressively increased resistance and full contact sparring. So not ALL TKD patterns should be scrapped, just most of the teachers.
"When I let Go of who I am, I become who I might be."
Lao Tzu

#421533 - 08/13/09 10:21 AM Re: Should TKD patterns be scrapped? [Re: Prizewriter]
KiBon Offline

Registered: 08/13/09
Posts: 1
Hi, Im new here. But ive been coming to this site for quite some time reading posts, articles etc. I study TKD, no longer practice at a gym(financial reasons). Ive been doing martial arts close to 20 years on and off now.

I thought this was a very interesting topic, ive been thinking about it a lot lately so I had to chime in. I came across these patterns on youtube. Hand techniques Leg techniques

Im on the fence whether or not the patterns as we know it should be scrapped or not, but I do think better patterns could be employed. More focused, centered on application rather than aesthetic purposes. Something like, 3-4 patterns and thats it, there is no need for 16 patterns(WTF) and 24(ITF) ... for the most part they are just the same moves done over again with one or two here and there that are different. Don't get me wrong though, I do know each technique has its various applications, but we are getting to a point in MA where we know what really does and doesn't work. And unless you are gifted in certain areas, strength, speed, agility, etc.. Even less techniques work.

Also, if you haven't read A Killing Art by Alex Gillis , I recommend it to anyone interested in Taekwondo. In there it talks about how in the beginning only few techniques were practiced and actually utilized in real world instances. To me, a very eye opening book, until I read it I was starting to lose hope and confidence in my TKD. Now, completely renewed with a better direction. I believe there is another thread posting videos that Mr. Gillis shot of some sparring patterns that were developed, I believe these are more along the lines of what should be done for patterns. Very basic, simple combinations, with clear and concise application.

I believe of all the TMA, even though TKD is less traditional being formed only since the 50s, is actually one of the most evolving arts. I think TKD schools are quicker to cross breed, and a lot have been since day 1, hapkido, boxing, judo... Eventually, at least at the place I trained at, hapkido, boxing, and TKD were taught as one art and just called TKD. Granted we weren't getting the BEST boxing instruction or the BEST hapkido instruction, but it definitely was enough to offset TKD and now, to me, it just is what TKD is. So i think, at the very least, new patterns should be created, or new methods of practice should be employed as the center or TKD training. Like shadowboxing, which is basically a form of pattern training, and simple combinations, rather than full blown choreographed patterns. I don't know though, im still confused smile ...

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