What is the purpose of a Taekwondo form?

Discussion in 'Tae-Kwon-Do' started by skribs, Nov 26, 2018.

  1. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    Not really, unless you're confusing maturity within the art with physical/emotional maturity in general. They're not at all the same.

    Obviously there is variation by individual, but I don't think I've ever met anyone who had a mature understanding of an art in less than 6-8 years, at a minimum. And most take longer than that.
     
  2. pdg

    pdg Senior Master

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    What is required for you to consider someone's understanding 'mature'?
     
  3. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    Well, as I said originally (you did read that post, right?), in this context being able to move beyond "technique" and into "movement" would be a good sign. If you still think movements have to be exactly like they are in forms, your understanding is not mature. If you can't think of a way to apply a movement other than the obvious applications that are used to explain the movements in forms, your understanding is not mature.
    Like most things, it's not totally a cut and dried thing; just like other forms of maturity, maturity in a martial art is a continuum, not a point.
     
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  4. pdg

    pdg Senior Master

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    Yeah, I read the other post - it's just nice sometimes to have a little summary to confirm interpretation.

    By those criteria, I appear to have at least a partially mature understanding of the art (tkd).

    That's nice to know too ;)
     
  5. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    Yeah, I didn't need to word things that way. I apologize.

    I think my own is only partial, too.
     
  6. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    Regarding time-in-grade, I think a lot of people are forgetting that a black belt in most TKD schools means that someone has a foundational understanding of the art. If someone gets a black belt in 3-4 years, that means they've got the foundations. It's not til 2nd or 3rd degree (probably 7-12 years for 3rd degree) before people have a real solid understanding.

    In my experience, if I find a motion in a form can be used in another application, its usually by accident. It's usually that I'm using the other application already, and I realize it's similar to that in the form. In that case, I find that maybe the muscle memory from the form helps. In some cases it doesn't really help, because even though the motion looks similar - it's different enough or I'm looking for something a little bit different and it takes just as long to get it from there.

    I have more thoughts, but I'll discuss these more after I address what @Buka said.

    I am speaking for my school, which the curriculum is considerably different than a lot of other schools. As I've mentioned, our versions of the Palgwe forms are different, and we don't do the Taegeuks. However, most of the same techniques show up in our forms, if even in a different order. We also have our own set of self defense techniques, I'm not sure what my Master brought straight from Taekwondo, and what comes from his training in Hapkido, Judo, and Tuk Kong. So take what I say with that grain of salt.

    With that said, outside of forms, the primary things we teach at my school are self defense and sparring. So I'll look at how the stuff from the forms is used in either of them, and how much from those is not in the forms.
    • Blocks - We actually learn more blocks than we use in sparring or in self defense. There are several blocks that never pop up in our defense scenarios. There's a huge thread I have about the double-knife-hand block (we use the regular knife-hand, but not the double). We never use scissor block, the low diamond block in Keumgang kind of appears in one of our hand grabs (but is not done with the crane stance), we never really do the double outside blocks or double low blocks you see in Keumgang. The inside/outside block in Keumgang (where the kiyhap is) we actually do use, but much less stylized.

    • Punches - We learn several punches that don't end up making it into our forms. In particular, the low underpunch, the vertical punch (some of our basic punches), and the spinning chop don't appear. There's also the jab without stepping, as well as the hook punch (uppercut kind of appears in Taebaek, but not in the way it would typically be used). What you find even less of is punch combinations. Jab-reverse, hook-uppercut, the normal 1-2-3-4 (jab-reverse-hook-uppercut) combo, reverse-backfist, etc. There's a few cases where you get multiple reverse punches back to back, or else an elbow and then a chop, but for the most part, punch combinations aren't there.

    • Kicks - There are a TON of front kicks in our forms, a few side kicks, and then a few other kicks get sprinkled in here or there. (I have another thread about this, about developing kicking forms). There's very little in the way of roundhouse kicks and back kicks, and none of the jumping versions of those. Hook kicks are pretty much non-existent, except our alternate version of Keumgang has a 360 hook kick in it. We have a few crescent kicks, no ax kicks, and no tornado kicks. If I were to teach one person only our forms and another person only our kicks, they might both have a good front kick, but other than that have completely different skill sets. Now, if the purpose of the form is to document the list of techniques, then those meager appearances of back kicks and side kicks is okay. But if the purpose is to build muscle memory, then you won't learn much about the kicks doing the forms (again, except for front kick).

    • Footwork - We do step-behind kicks in practice that don't show up in our forms (same with step-behind hook kicks). There's a lot of different slides and jumps that don't show up in our forms. The footwork in our forms is mostly steps, turns, and stance changes. These show up somewhat in our self defense, but the footwork for Taekwondo sparring is completely not there.

    • Grappling - The forms do not teach leg sweeps or hip throws. They do not include techniques to get someone off-balance in a body grab. There is absolutely no ground-fighting, and no techniques that would work on a downed opponent. We have plenty of different hand grabs at my school, and having done 36 hand grabs and 5 body grabs by the time we get our black belt, I can comfortably say that there is very little overlap in the techniques between the forms and the self defense training. Part of this may be in the way the footwork is done, a big part is how they're stylized. But unless you consider the forms to be a Rorschach Ink Blot in terms of how vague each motion can be interpreted, the grappling isn't there.
    Now, I think the forms apply more to our self defense than to our sparring. The style of our self defense is to stay more grounded, with deeper stances and a lot of the same blocks. However, a lot of the nuances (such as how to develop leverage) aren't there. If you do the motions as the form teaches them, it would not be very good.

    If I compare this to some of the motions I've seen in Kung Fu forms, I definitely see how the Kung Fu forms teach the motions to properly generate leverage. Even if those are stylized a bit, I look at some of those and definitely see the types of movement in the hips and shoulders that I would use to get my opponent off balance and/or to make a throw.

    So, @Dirty Dog , this is why I don't see a grappling application. It's a combination of the hand motions being slightly off, and the details of the footwork and body control are all wrong for grappling. Plus, the forms don't have anything to follow up. Even if the forms aren't supposed to be scripted, there are 0 takedowns, and 0 techniques you would use on a downed person.
     
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  7. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    Thank you for providing this example of exactly what I've been saying.
    The Palgwae forms certainly do include grappling. You don't see them. That's ok. You'll get there eventually.
     
  8. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    I have to say, we've been doing a mix of grappling and striking in our self defense since I started. I have 3 years wrestling experience from when I was a kid. And I've got a green belt in hapkido after taking it for 3 years. I don't see any crossover in what I've learned in the forms vs. what I've learned in any of my grappling experience.

    Can you elaborate on how the grappling is in there?
     
  9. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    Well, let's take the simple "low block" as an example. By simply rotating the forearm and wrist, you can catch a kick on the inner surface of the forearm. Allow the elbow to flex a bit, and you've just trapped the leg. Now step into your opponent. If they don't fall down, you're probably fighting Stretch Armstrong.
     
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  10. pdg

    pdg Senior Master

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    I would click "agree" to this, but I don't know the palgwae forms enough (at all) to be able to do so legitimately.
     
  11. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    You realize that about half the technique you mentioned is NOT in the form, right? In fact, everything that takes it from a block and makes it a grappling application is NOT in the form.
     
  12. pdg

    pdg Senior Master

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    No apology necessary.

    Is it, honestly, possible for anyone to say they have ever fully matured within the context of a martial art?

    To me, saying that would imply that there is absolutely nothing left to learn or develop - which is either patently false or indicative of a very restrictive definition (i.e. "I've memorised the book").
     
  13. pdg

    pdg Senior Master

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    That's because you're exclusively focusing on 'technique', which is emphasised in previous posts.

    It appears that if you aren't told that a movement is actually technique X, it can't therefore be technique X (and Y, as well as B and S).
     
  14. pdg

    pdg Senior Master

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    How long have you been practicing, and what grade are you?
     
  15. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    That's because the movement for the rest of it does not exist in the forms. At least in no way connected to the down block.
     
  16. pdg

    pdg Senior Master

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    I can't speak as to the content of your forms, because I don't know them.

    But, one of our very first patterns includes a set of "techniques" that is a low block followed by stepping forward with a punch.

    To me, that can be directly repurposed to be that "catch-drop" movement, even including the chambering of the reaction hand for the punch...
     
  17. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    Thank you for proving my point. You'll get there eventually.
     
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  18. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    If it's not in the form, you can't say the form teaches it. I'm not saying you can't expand on what's in the form. But you can't claim it comes from the form.
     
  19. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    That sounds similar to one of our techniques. I'll try to find a video of it and send it to you, see if it's what you're talking about.
     
  20. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    That's what I mean about them being indirect applications. If I were a TKD teacher (which would presume I knew at least a little TKD :p), I'd encourage students at a certain level to start exploring the forms by adjusting them to those kinds of indirect applications. I do that (probably too early) with the forms I teach.
     

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