What is the purpose of a Taekwondo form?

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

  1. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    Skribs, speaking as a non-TKD fellow myself, but as someone who practices a traditional Chinese method that has a heavy emphasis on forms, I wonder if your expectations of what is intended to be learned from the forms is erroneous.

    From my experience, there are no Answers with a capital A in the forms. Rather, there are answers with a small a, as well as suggestions and options. What you find in the forms helps to broaden your perspective on what is possible. However, you need to develop your own ability to use it in a way that is effective and meaningful for you. That may well differ from what others come up with. This is the effort and time you ought to be putting in, away from your school. Working privately with classmates to develop these skills is very useful. That is where you dig through and try everything to see what works for you. And I agree with Wab25 in that you do have the luxury to do that. That is what training is all about, if you want to be able to really use what you have learned. In fact, it is your responsibility to do this. We all must take responsibility for our own training. Our teachers guide us toward the answers, they do their best to help us understand the principles and the strategies and proper technique, but often cannot simply give us the functional answers on a silver platter. It just does not work that way because we all will have our own ways of applying what we have learned.

    But the bottom line is, there is a lot of ambiguity in forms but they are still a useful tool for extracting functional ideas.
     
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  2. wab25

    wab25 Black Belt

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    Well... now that I am interested...
    So, this was the first research I have done into history of TKD. I started with Choi, as he was mentioned here as an authority. The many articles I found on him, refer to him as the father of TKD, but also talk about how he gathered together others, and how they worked together. (I understand that these articles were most likely written by Choi proponents...)

    If I understand what you are saying, Choi is the father of ITF TKD. Hwang Kee would be another in that group that created TKD? From my reading Lee Won Kuk was also involved... am I understanding correctly? Who all was in that group of people working together?

    There was a third guy I came across (but lost that particular link) who helped in the development of TKD, who also trained under Funakoshi. Would that have been Hwang Kee?

    As long as I am learning this stuff... I might as well get it right.
     
  3. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    I want to know why it's in the TKD curriculum and what the people who put that into the curriculum want us to get out of it. It has nothing to do with whether or not I can do what wab25 is suggesting. It's just that it doesn't help me answer my questions.

    You say I'm wrong, but I have yet to see proof that I'm wrong. Just because you disagree with me, doesn't make me wrong.

    Maybe lumping them together makes it easier for you to train, because you only train one motion instead of two separate ones. So what you're doing is purposefully reducing the effect of one technique in order to make it easier on yourself. Alternatively, maybe you train both motions but say they're the both motion. In that case, you're being intellectually dishonest with yourself, or you're creating an artificial group where one doesn't exist.

    Regarding the video, you're right. I didn't invent the Taegeuks. But if you look at the "application" of what is taught in the Taegeuks, you have to look at what is taught in the Taegeuks. If the application has several concepts that are NOT present in the form, then that application cannot have come from the form. They would have to come from somewhere else in the curriculum or instruction. But to show the "application" of what you've learned in the Taegeuk and have it only contain 10% moves from Taegeuks...I'm thinking of a Welch's Grape Juice commercial now.

    Your assumption of what happened when the forms were rearranged is not congruent with most of what I've read. It doesn't even match the description in the videos you posted. In those videos, he says the martial application was removed or dumbed down to make it acceptable to teach to kids.

    Most of what I've read has said the building blocks were rearranged in large part to make it different from the original, and that in many cases the application was lost by doing so.

    Since those forms were rearranged, looking at the purpose of the forms before the rearrangement is an okay thought process, but what the rearrangers thought the purpose was is now the proximal question. And the newest forms were further removed from that original curriculum.

    If we're going to go back several generations of forms, we might as well just ignore Karate and go back to the Kung Fu forms. We'll get just about as good an answer out of those than we will out of the Kata that are a few arrangements behind the Poomse.

    Everything I do would be different if I were doing an arm bar. With the exception of maybe 3 of my joints. It is two completely different motions, even if they look similar. Everything from how I control my balance, how I shift my weight, the motion of my shoulders and head, the motions in my arms, the way my hips are aligned. Every thing that goes into making a good arm bar would make my block have a slower follow-up, and everything that goes into making my block effective would mean a weak armbar.

    I don't have to "fix" the armbar in Taegeuk Il Jang, because it's not an arm bar. I could change the form. I could expand on the form and transition from the block to an armbar.

    And if I have to "fix" the form, then that just shows further there's something wrong with the form.

    And then there's KKW/WTF, which purposefully changed things specifically to make them not ITF, after the political fallout between the South Korean government and the General.

    Well, I have a problem with saying teaching Palgwes instead of Taegeuks is a "lower standard." We have a similar amount of forms, with similar difficulty to the Taegeuks, and we have a lot on the curriculum that are not on the Taegeuks.

    And since it's not enforced, then it feels more like the Pirate's Code, according to Barbosa: it's not really rules, per se...more like a set of guidelines.
     
  4. Balrog

    Balrog Master of Arts

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    Reasonably accurate, except that ATA's forms are far more complex than any of the other styles. They were designed that way to challenge the students more at every level.
    The forms in ATA (Songahm Taekwondo) are based on self-defense. Yeah, we have one-legged stuff and tension moves, but those are thrown in to help improve balance and timing.
    Otherwise, every technique has a practical application of some sort.
    The answer is yes. :D

    Seriously, forms should challenge the mind and the body. I teach forms with the basic concept that every move (except the tension moves) should earn you the right to do the next move. If your block is weak, your opponent just hit you. You don't get to do the next move. If your punch or your kick is weak, you don't get to do the next move because your opponent is still standing. By emphasizing this, I get the students thinking about combinations, timing, focus, balance, power, etc., as a means to an end: self-defense.
     
  5. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    Keep in mind, I'm very bad at history. But from what I understand, it went something like this (and people can fill in the blanks and correct me where needed):

    • During WW2, during the Japanese occupation of Korea, Koreans were not allowed to practice Korean martial arts, as part of an effort to replace Korean culture with Japanese culture. They did learn Japanese martial arts.
    • After WW2, the Koreans created several different martial arts schools based on what they had learned from the Japanese. These were called Kwans.
    • The original 9 Kwans unified. General Choi led one of the Kwans and was heavily involved in the unification.
    • Due to disagreements with the unification association and South Korean government, General Choi left, eventually ending up in Canada. He was still in charge of the ITF.
    • South Korea created the Kukkiwon and World Taekwondo Federation to govern and promote Taekwondo throughout the world.


    This video seems to have some of the best answers I've found on the subject. (Most of which are researched, and not just "what I've heard" or "probably" type of answers). It's probably not 100% accurate, but should give you an idea of how politics shaped the forming of Taekwondo and the various federations.

    Now you understand where I'm coming from. As long as I'm learning...might as well get it right.

    From what I've been learning about how the Chinese forms work, I understand there are two main styles - one focused on big motions for the mind-body connection, and one focused on the shorter motions for speed and accuracy. Which is it that you train? (I have follow-up questions from there, but I'll ask different questions depending on where this one takes us).
     
  6. wab25

    wab25 Black Belt

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    Then looking at the history of the curriculum would help. Where did it come from? Why were the changes made? What knowledge and experience did the people have who were making the changes?

    Funakoshi was the one doing the dumbing down for the kids. Since he was dumbing it down, he would be a pretty good resource for what applications were that we was removing. Choi and Lee were his direct students, and therefore most likely learned the real, non dumbed down applications from Funakoshi himself.

    This would be an argument for looking at the original source. How do you know what changed, if you don't know what they started with?
    Comparing the original, to the changed versions would be very informative here. When they moved the down block, from the 1st move in the pattern to 6th move, did they also intend to remove the throwing application from that movement?
    Great idea! Well, except the part about ignoring Karate. Go back to the Kung Fu, and trace the lineage through Karate, noting the changes, then to TKD and all the changes made there, again noting what changed. Looking at the history of what these were originally for, and learning why and how the changes were made, will give a person a good understanding of why things are the way they are.

    If this is true, that the primary reason for the change, was to make it different... then they did not intend to remove the throwing application from the down block. If the primary reason for the change, is to dumb it down for children, that would explain the removal of the throwing application. Note, that though Funakoshi dumbed down the kata, for the children, he also taught (presumably to adults) the true applications that may have been hidden from the children.

    All of your arguments here, point to learning the history more. I am sorry that that history goes through Karate and Kung Fu...
     
  7. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    So I have two follow-up questions for you (and maybe you're not using these techniques in ATA forms).

    1. Can you elaborate on how tension moves improve timing?
    2. Does ATA have double-blocks? What I mean by this is, for example, we have in our forms:

    • An outside block to the side with one hand and a high block with the other. (Taebaek step 9 or 14-2)
    • A down block to the side with one hand and a high block with the other. (Keumgang step 8, 15, 18, and 25)
    • An inside block and outside block to the sides (Mountain Block)
    • A down block and outside block at the same time (Scissor block, Taebaek steps 23 and 25)

    http://www.taekwondobible.com/trainings/poomsae/Keumgang.html
    http://www.taekwondobible.com/trainings/poomsae/taebaek.html
    Mountain Block

    Would you see a purpose to these techniques?

    I may have to steal this.
     
  8. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    I don’t know that there are two main approaches in Chinese martial arts. There are many many different methods from China and I would be surprised if they can be classified within two approaches.

    My method is a long fist method, meaning we train large movements as a mechanism for learning to get full-body connection. I don’t really know about “mind/body”.

    Within that context, we have lots of application within the forms.
     
  9. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    Exactly. They're written by ITF people from an ITF perspective. The suggestion that General Choi was the motivating force behind the unification movement, is, frankly, ridiculous.
    The motivating force behind the unification movement was the Korean government saying 'you guys should get together and work out a Korean art, instead of teaching renamed Japanese stuff.' That happened in 1952. Three years before General Choi would found the Oh Do Kwan.
    The five orignal Kwan were the Chung Do Kwan, Sung Moo Kwan, Moo Duk Kwan, Jido Kwan and Chang Moo Kwan. General Choi was (if memory serves) a Chung Do Kwan student at the time.
    The Han Moo Kwan, Oh Do Kwan (which General Choi had, by then, founded), Kang Duk Kwan and Jung Do Kwan came around later.
    The unified art was original called Tae Soo Do, although Tae Kwon Do was also considered and, eventually, adopted.
    General Choi didn't like how the unification was being handled, so he left the KTA and founded the ITF. The ITF descended from those who left the KTA with General Choi.
    He wasn't the only one, of course. GM Hwang, for example, left even earlier and taught Tang Soo Do Moo Duk Kwan, and then eventually changed the name to Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan. TSD and SBD schools are descended from students who left the unification with GM Hwang. TKD MDK schools (such as ours) are descended from GM LEE, Kang Ik and those others who stayed with the KTA after GM Hwang left.

    Lee Won Kuk was the founder of the Chung Do Kwan, the first Kwan founded after the liberation of Korean from Japanese occupation.

    There were many many people involved in the unification efforts, and to my knowledge there is no complete listing. This is understandable, given how many groups and individuals joined and then left, and given that the efforts were pretty effectively derailed by the Korean War.

    Doubtful. Like many of the founders, his history is clouded. For example, GM Hwang claimed to have studied Tae Kyon as a child. This is extremely doubtful, given the near-total destruction of Korean culture at that time. His training was primarily Chinese, specifically Kuk Sool. His system was originally called Hwa Soo Do, but this has changed several times, first to Tang Soo Do, then to Tae Soo Do (during the unification), then back to Tang Soo Do, then Soo Bahk Do.

    Good luck with that. There are not a lot of good records about the early days. And those that exist do tend to be from very specific viewpoints.
    But it's safe to say that no one person can claim to be "the" father of TKD.
     
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  10. Earl Weiss

    Earl Weiss Senior Master

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    What, when and where was this event?
     
  11. Earl Weiss

    Earl Weiss Senior Master

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  12. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    Good question. I don't know, precisely. It reportedly happened in the early 1950's (I want to say '52 or '53, but chemo brain...) when the President watched a martial arts demo on a military base. I don't have any idea which one.
    That report would tend to be supported, I think, by the governments continual push to have only one style of TKD (Kukkiwon) recognized. And by the virtually complete control over the Kukkiwon exercised by their government.
    Don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to say General Choi was not important to the early development of TKD. I'm saying that it's incorrect to consider any single individual "the" father of TKD. A specific Kwan, certainly. But not TKD as a whole. I'm also saying that hard facts regarding those early days are more than a little muddled. That, despite having talked (as you have) to more than one person who was present and involved in the goings-on.
     
  13. DaveB

    DaveB Master Black Belt

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    Except that one of the main purposes of forms is self study. Self study seems to be what Wab25 is suggesting.

    Actually it does. Not on everything. But on this, yes it does.

    Like when a kid says "maybe I could become Spiderman from my spider bite! You don't know!"

    In this case you'd be the kid, and I'd be the molecular cell biologist who specialises in Arachnids and has a side interest in cross species mutation effects for work on a project to create super humans.


    Amazing. Every word you just said, was completely wrong. Option 3, perhaps you just don't know enough to form an opinion.

    I didn't watch the video and wasn't using it as a base for my comment. This one you are right on though... from one perspective.

    One of the primary schools of thought around karate kata, was to use the postures in a form as jumping off points. That way helps the student think through the tactical concerns of developing combinations and builds improvisational skills, helping to move from dead pattern to live fight.

    If the TKD founders had been taught that, it might explain some of the more unrealistic sequences. It also would explain applications that evolve beyond the base pattern.
     
  14. Earl Weiss

    Earl Weiss Senior Master

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    I have an idea :)- 1954 .
    https://1c47d0f0-a-62cb3a1a-s-sites...P23jCCR30mSXLoHUiTu1bmJxoqvMU=&attredirects=0

    President Rhee told General Choi who was standing next to him during the demo and whom he knew to have an MA background that they needed to teach this to the troops. At the time there were 28 infantry divisions and he let General Choi form a 29th and recruit top talent for the division among them Nam Tae Hi and Han Cha Kyo who were part of the demonstration. he then used that talent to develop the new system, develop instructors for the system, came up with a name for the system, Lobby tirelessly for the use of the name TKD, used military transports to take people from the Oh Do Kwan as the gym for the division was named (Nicknamed "Fist " division) . ultimately dispatch instructors throughout the world to teach the system, use his military travels to recruit Korean instructors in other parts of the world (Jhoon Rhee being one of the noteables) to adopt the name TKD and teach the system. (HU Lee and He Il Cho among others) spreading TKD to 60+ countries all before the WTF was formed. What other individual during the first 20 years of TKD existance even came close to that.?
     
  15. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    So you're saying President Rhee should be considered the father of TKD?
     
  16. dvcochran

    dvcochran Senior Master

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    One of the purposes of a scissors block is to disarm or break an opponents attack as the arms intersect each other. Think in more dimensions instead of singular purpose.

    Keumgang Makki is the high/low block done as you go up and down the long line.
     
  17. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    I'm having trouble visualizing that.

    Right now you're reminding me of a professor I had in college, who made these exorbitant claims and when the entire class called her out on it, pulled the "I've studied longer than you so I know more than you" card.

    And how am I wrong?
     
  18. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    Actually, I think that would be Keumgang Arae Makki (Diamond Low Block), to differentiate it from Keumgang Momtong Makki (Diamond Middle Block) such as is taught in Palgwae 4. What skribs is describing is Santeulmakki (Mountain Block).
     
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  19. Gnarlie

    Gnarlie Master of Arts

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    Depends on what is incoming and from what angle, if at all.

    One of the main issues with application is people get too fixated on the idea of doing a set move.

    You need to look holistically, and realise that it can either be a response (in which case how it is applied is determined by the attack), or a preempt (in which case the application is determined by how the opponent is standing).

    Think about sparring: if you only pay attention to what you are doing, and not what your opponent is doing, it is very difficult to successfully apply the simplest of motions.

    Pulling hand applications depend absolutely on context.

    Sent from my Nexus 6P using Tapatalk
     
  20. DaveB

    DaveB Master Black Belt

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    That's about right.

    Your views are based on assumptions about how and why techniques are presented in forms that are wrong.

    I said that you were incorrect because you didn't invent the forms, but you didn't stop to consider the implications of that.

    The logic you would apply to creating a kata is not the logic that they used in Okinawa 130 years ago. The culture that the forms came from was different.

    This is why people have had to look at old books and old interviews and in some cases train in old regional kung fu systems to help understand the processes that went into encoding techniques.

    The considerations you raise are only a part of the picture. And fair enough, you are not training in karate, it's not wholly necessary for you to learn the systematic elements of a technique not systematic to your art (though i explained some of it to you anyway in the thread on this topic, but you were too busy trying to pick holes to take it in). But the idea that you can by theory alone debunk methods that have been studied and tested relentlessly for the the last 20 years, in the modern context of mma, specifically with intent towards practical usage is pretty arrogant.

    Just out of interest, what was your professor's subject and what exorbitant claims did he make?

    Since you are looking for Taekwondo answers to the problem of Taekwondo Patterns, especially newer one's, your only hope is some kind of Kukkiwon poomsae course. And I suspect that the answers you get will be based on the kind of "1-step sparring reality" that most 20th century martial arts lived in. The stuff that the people in this thread have all left behind because it was so unrealistic.

    Its not that TKD people learned and encoded no applications, it's that at the time no one was learning the real applications of karate techniques. They learned place holder "block-counter" applications, which I suspect is what Choi' s book shows.

    The unrealistic nature of these techniques spurred karateka to look deeper, but tkd had become it's own animal in terms of fighting.
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2018

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