What is the purpose of a Taekwondo form?

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

  1. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    This is...what I'm asking. Now your advice is to do what I am doing.

    Again, you are so arrogant to think I couldn't figure this out without you. But yet, I'm asking the questions you want me to ask.
     
  2. pdg

    pdg Senior Master

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    If the options are exactly what I said or exactly what you said, I'll have to disagree and agree with both viewpoints :D

    As a student I don't like being handed too many "answers", especially if I didn't ask a question.

    I don't mind at all being given a possible explanation/application - as long as it's accepted that I may very well come up with other possibilities. I don't do well at all with the somewhat dogmatic stance I see many take.
     
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  3. wab25

    wab25 Black Belt

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    Nine Kwans
    Five of these guys have Karate instructors (very good ones). Three were under Funakoshi. Following is Karate relationship:
    Anko Itosu

    Funakoshi
    General Choi
    Won Kuk Lee
    Byung Jick Ro

    Kanken Toyoma
    Byung In Yoon

    Kenwa Mabuni
    Kwe Byung

    Further, reading from this book, "Taekwondo: From a Martial Art to a Martial Sport" by Udo Moenig... He is also suggesting looking at Karate manuals in an investigation of TKD. (Taekwondo)
    (I hope the link works) Scroll up a little and read the whole section titled "Karate and taekwondo literature," its not very long. He explains how studying Funakoshi's works would be necessary because of his relationship with several of TKDs founders. (he suggests that other Karate instructor's works would not apply, as they had no relation with the founders of TKD)

    I don't think I am off base when suggesting that finding out what the creators wanted a student to learn from the forms in TKD, would involve looking at what Funakoshi taught.

    But, I will bet that I am wrong again, and that this is all irrelevant, again.
     
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  4. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    I think both are important. Both given the "answer" and then being allowed to explore. It's just like anything else. When you teach kids art, the first thing you do is teach them to color inside the lines. Then you teach them to make their own lines.
     
  5. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Unless I'm misremembering, the current KKW forms are relatively new. They wouldn't have been created by even the founder of that branch of the art, but by one or more senior folks in the organization at the time. I think that's what @skribs is getting at. He's wondering what the current KKW leadership (or perhaps those who created the current forms, if that's different) intends as the purpose of the forms as they currently exist. That intention can't be gotten by going into past generations.

    For comparison, if someone wanted to find the purpose of the forms I teach in NGA, even talking to my primary instructor wouldn't help. He has no idea what the purpose of those forms is, because he doesn't use them and never has. You could find much out about NGA by talking to him, but not about anything I've changed.
     
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  6. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    That last part is probably the easiest thing to agree with I've read in days.
     
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  7. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    Correct. The KTA was formed around 1955. A unified curriculum (using the Palgwae forms) wasn't implemented until 1965 or so. The Taeguk forms were developed by a group (I believe it was one representative of each of the Kwan that were currently part of the KTA) and then implemented in the early 1970's.
    So, forms by committee. And it's always been made perfectly clear by those who developed the Palgwae, Taegeuk, and Yudanja forms that there is no hidden techniques built into them. Yes, a movement or series of movements will likely have multiple applications, but the developers didn't hide anything in the forms, as is commonly believed to be the case with Japanese kata.
     
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  8. DaveB

    DaveB Master Black Belt

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    From the Kukkiwon website:

    Taekwondo Poomsae is the style of conduct which expresses directly of indirectly mental and physical refinements as well as the principles of offense and defense resulting from cultivation of Taekwondo spirit and techniques.

    So poomsae exist in Kukkiwon Taekwondo to
    • Cultivate techniques
    • Cultivate spirit
    • Express the principles of offence and defence
    • Express mental and physical refinement.
     
  9. DaveB

    DaveB Master Black Belt

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    So to expand on the above:

    • Cultivate technique, suggests getting good at the techniques through practice.
    • Cultivate the spirit, I tend to think of this in terms of determination aided by the exacting discipline of attention to detail and physical practice.
    • Express the principles of offence and defence, well the principle is the underpinning idea, so... Get out of the way, get something in the way, hit back, hit in combination... These are all expressed in the forms.
    • Express mental and physical refinement, well as you get stronger, faster, more flexible, etc it shows in your technique. As you get more disciplined you remember the forms better and become more polished in your performance.
    So this appears to be the answer for Kukkiwon.

    It is consistent with the general explanations of both general poomsae practice and specific technical detail that I have encountered.

    It's also consistent with my reading of the history, which differs from Wab's in that I believe in the period that Koreans were being taught Shotokan, the Japanese were not teaching deeper application for a variety of political reasons.

    This is further corroborated by Dirty Dog's statement above, that the builders of the modern forms explicitly stated that the poomsae they created were not encoded with anything other than surface level applications, ie it is what it's called.

    So the only question that remains, does this answer satisfy Skribs?
     
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  10. Earl Weiss

    Earl Weiss Senior Master

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    The part you ad quoted and that you disagree with was a follow up to this in a prior post: :

    "This is not to say I cannot also teach what I disagree with and why. However, I take care not to confuse students wit too much information, particularly at the lower ranks."

    It also does not say anything about "How" things are taught, nor does it limit teaching anything in addition to what the system contains.
     
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  11. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Based on these three posts, I'd tend to say there aren't likely to be many direct applications to sequences in the forms. So a given combination is not necessarily meant to be used as that same sequence outside the form. But the transitions that exist (getting from one end position to the next technique) probably have applications, as do the individual movements and the principles used (which I usually refer to as indirect applications).
     
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  12. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    The primary thing I disagree with is this statement:
    I think there absolutely should be cases where the student (who looks at that old reference material) needs to ask that. It probably shouldn't be a large portion of the material that's different (then you're probably teaching a different, new style), but there should be differences.
     
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  13. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    One of the things the developers explicitly stated about these forms is that they are not to be considered as choreographed fights.

    A good example. The beginning of Palgwae II is a left front stance with a high block, followed by a rear leg front snap kick, then stepping down into a right front stance and doing a middle punch.

    It doesn't take an advanced degree in physiology to notice that if you're close enough to do the high block, you're too close to throw the front snap kick (well, ok, you could kick them in the ankle...), let alone stepping forward into the punch. The ranges are all wrong.

    If you were trying to use something similar to this in practice, you'd throw the kick with the front leg, and even then it would be at a fairly low target (probably no higher than the beltline). Higher would be possible, depending on the exact conditions at the time. Stepping forward would make an elbow a more likely follow up move than a punch.

    On the other hand, the same basic series of motions can be used, if we want to.

    The high block would have to be done much farther out from the body than is taught in forms. Consider someone moving towards you, reaching for a grab. The block would (in this example) be more circular, turning it into a wrist grab.
    As you're moving/grabbing their wrist, you could throw a rear leg kick (though, again, it probably would not be high). Then stepping forward would allow you to either strike with one hand while controlling their arm from the wrist grab, or perform various grapples.

    As you can see, using the series as it's presented in the form requires you to think about movements, not techniques, since the ranges and details of the movements are quite different than the stylized movements used in forms.
     
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  14. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    That's interesting to me, DD. In my own forms, I've purposely given some options for variance (a different strike can be used in some cases) specifically to try to help students not get too tied up in the exact techniques they're practicing, but thinking more about using the sequence of movements/transitions. Mine are far less polished (I'm really hoping none of my students goes on to use them exactly as I created them - someone has to make them better!), but it sounds like there's some similar thought behind them.
     
  15. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    This is the kind of disconnect that I see. Similarly, in Palgwe 1, the form consists of 16 blocks and 4 strikes (as named in the form). The form even ends on a block.

    The problem is that I don't really see that type of thought process with the forms as something that's really encouraged within the art. Go look on Youtube for form application videos, and you'll find far more results for Karate than for Taekwondo. I wonder if part of the reason that application isn't taught as much as to do with the fact it wasn't taught to the Koreans by the Japanese - that because they didn't learn the application, it wasn't deemed an important part of the form, and thus that tradition was started.

    I play a LOT of games - board games, video games, etc. And in those games I like to run spreadsheets and analyses to figure out the best ways to build my characters or the best build order for a strategy game. This is the mentality that I'm bringing here. If there is a motion we are being taught, I'm assuming there is a reason for it. There is a situation where that motion will be used. And if there isn't, then there must be another purpose behind that motion. If there isn't a situation in which that motion is better than another one we know, then it becomes superfluous.
     
  16. DaveB

    DaveB Master Black Belt

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    The application process while talked about historically was rediscovered by enterprising individuals who went beyond their class teaching to find answers their teachers eventually admitted to not having. It wasn't just another part of the art handed out in class though the goal is to make it so now.

    I imagine It's not such a big deal in tkd because of the heavy sport focus. Few tkd people that I've met don't give a second thought to patterns or basics outside of a grading requirement. TKD is about kicking and most folks are happy with that.
     
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  17. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    I don't see it as a disconnect. I see it as a maturity thing. When you start, you're going to think in terms of techniques, and you're going to think of those techniques as being exactly as shown in the forms. That is normal and as it should be. As you mature in your understanding of the art, this changes. You'll realize that Palgwae I actually has 20 strikes. And 20 blocks. And some grappling.
    I'm not sure how much of that can be taught, honestly. Yes, I advocate teaching application, but I'm not sure if you can really teach people to move beyond the specified applications. You can teach 3, or 4, or 5... but can they come up with others on their own?
    If there is anything in the TKD world that hampers development of this maturity in the art, I think it's possibly the trend towards baby black belts, or black belts being awarded after only a few years of training. Maturity takes time. And if you're a black belt in a year, or two years or three, then I wouldn't expect real maturity in the system to appear until high Dan ranks.

    That's not meant as a slam at any system. In most systems that have baby black belts or Dan ranks in 2-3 years, teaching ranks don't start until mid- to high- Dan levels. And that is how it should be, I think, if your system has rapid advancement.
     
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  18. pdg

    pdg Senior Master

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    I think some of that is true, some less so.

    Young kids getting Dan rank - I don't think they necessarily have the maturity to have earned it fully.

    Getting BB in a few years - that's a little more contentious really.

    If everyone gets promoted to BB after a short time then I can see a potential issue.

    But likewise, if everyone is expected to do 10 years, it gets a bit too much like simply serving time. Is that 10 years of once a month? Twice a year? 3 times a week?

    Surely it should be an individual thing - where each person is treated as an individual case and assessed as such. Some kids can show astounding maturity and understanding, and some adults never learn...

    If someone puts in the effort and progresses properly to (whatever is deemed) BB level in 2-3 years, why is that a lower standard than someone who takes 15 years because they don't put the same effort in?

    Time does not always equal knowledge, or maturity.
     
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  19. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    I have a question. Does anybody know how many techniques are taught in TKD that are not in any of the forms? Just curious.
     
  20. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Entirely OT - you'd slaughter me. I just build by "feel".
     
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