Tae Kwon Do Forms

JR 137

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Also for what it's worth, if you're wondering why I was an exception. I started training under my instructor in January of last year. Before testing he told me that since I had started training I had only missed 4 classes. We offer classes generally 3 to 4 times a week. Since this year only three times, but last year we did 4. I had more hours logged between 2 test than some did between 3 and 4. I never asked to test early, my instructor just felt that I had shown that I can do all the colored belt material proficiently enough to test for 1st dan.

I wasn't questioning why you tested earlier. Your teacher thought you were ready. Average times are just that - average. Some go earlier, some go later.
 

Th0mas

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I'm not saying martial arts has no martial application. Of course they do. What I was asking about was your statement that "Everything we do has martial significance and application." If this is true, IMNSHO, you would have to have a definition of "martial significance and application" that is overly broad or simply exclude things that clearly don't have a direct martial application from the "everything we do" category.



This is quite possible. I would be interested in hearing some examples of what you consider esoteric aspects of martial arts that contain martial applications.

Pax,

Chris
I can give an example, and there are a few that are the result of lack of understanding of the original intent, followed by an esoteric rationale that became the "traditional" explanation.

Many of them are usually associated with the opening "salutation" of the form. For example in the karate kata kenkudai ( or kushanku) the opening move is wrongly interpreted as a representation of the rising sun or similar nonsense about the moon... Whereas in fact it can be applied as a rather effective tactic for the initial clash of arms in a frontal assault to gain control and reduce the chance of a headbutt (there are other interpretations with equal merit).

Now there are kata (or forms) who's original intent was not to provide a direct relationship with fighting applications. Asai Sensei's Junro kata's were designed to improve fluididity in karate ( he had witnessed how stiff western karateka were and had devised a set of kata to solve this problem). Also a large number of the "new" TKD forms are just a rejumbled set of non related kata moves that arguably are only about practicing the physical movement and don't have any underlying set of combatative principles ( I know that may not be popular on this forum, but there it is).

Personally I don't practice kata that sit in that catagory as I can get the same benefit in Kihon.
 

chrispillertkd

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I can give an example, and there are a few that are the result of lack of understanding of the original intent, followed by an esoteric rationale that became the "traditional" explanation.

Many of them are usually associated with the opening "salutation" of the form. For example in the karate kata kenkudai ( or kushanku) the opening move is wrongly interpreted as a representation of the rising sun or similar nonsense about the moon... Whereas in fact it can be applied as a rather effective tactic for the initial clash of arms in a frontal assault to gain control and reduce the chance of a headbutt (there are other interpretations with equal merit).

Yes, Iain Abernethy's interpretation of that move is as valid as most I have seen. But does it mean it's correct? The presupposition that the "esoteric" movements have had their "real" applications lost is a good one. But I don't know that it's true so much as just someone reverse engineering things because they think every single thing you do must be an attack. It's a bit like when George Dillman was "proving" that blocks really weren't blocks. Except that is completely style dependent, as my then kung-fu Sifu was pretty adamant that the blocks I was learning were blocks. Could they be applied in different ways? Sure. But that doesn't mean they aren't what they appear to be.

Now there are kata (or forms) who's original intent was not to provide a direct relationship with fighting applications. Asai Sensei's Junro kata's were designed to improve fluididity in karate ( he had witnessed how stiff western karateka were and had devised a set of kata to solve this problem). Also a large number of the "new" TKD forms are just a rejumbled set of non related kata moves that arguably are only about practicing the physical movement and don't have any underlying set of combatative principles ( I know that may not be popular on this forum, but there it is).

Personally I don't practice kata that sit in that catagory as I can get the same benefit in Kihon.

FWIW, this completely refutes the assertion made above (not by you) that "everything" in martial arts has "martial applications." While I do think that nearly everything we do is at least developing good habits for martial artists to have, that's quite different from saying everything has a martial application (at least in any meaningful sense of those words).

Pax,

Chris
 
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Azulx

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I wasn't questioning why you tested earlier. Your teacher thought you were ready. Average times are just that - average. Some go earlier, some go later.

I understand, I guess I was just throwing in a "fun" fact.
 

Th0mas

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Yes, Iain Abernethy's interpretation of that move is as valid as most I have seen. But does it mean it's correct? The presupposition that the "esoteric" movements have had their "real" applications lost is a good one. But I don't know that it's true so much as just someone reverse engineering things because they think every single thing you do must be an attack. It's a bit like when George Dillman was "proving" that blocks really weren't blocks. Except that is completely style dependent, as my then kung-fu Sifu was pretty adamant that the blocks I was learning were blocks. Could they be applied in different ways? Sure. But that doesn't mean they aren't what they appear to be.



FWIW, this completely refutes the assertion made above (not by you) that "everything" in martial arts has "martial applications." While I do think that nearly everything we do is at least developing good habits for martial artists to have, that's quite different from saying everything has a martial application (at least in any meaningful sense of those words).

Pax,

Chris
Hi Chris
I think "good" explanations are ones that are based on the weight of evidence, where the mostly likely conclusion best fits the "facts" we have. The reason for the endless debate is because kata interpretation is not based on quantative testing more qualatative reasoning ( think of it more like the study of history than the study of the science of biology for example).
Iain's interpretation is not the only one, there are quite a few, from different styles, with a similar conbatative interpretation for kushanku. The particular strength with Iain is that he does test his assumptions (kata based sparring etc) and adapts his conclusions accordingly.

We know the intent of the creator of the Junro kata's, he only passed away relatively recently and explained them!

From my experience, a lot of what is said by instructors/sufus/Sensei's etc is often accepted without the application of critical thinking by students... And these instructors are human and also fallible. George "no touch knockout" Dillman, is a case in point.

I think the point is that if you are studying a martial art, everything you do DOES have relationship with martial activities, but not everything has martial application. Bowing and other forms of respect in a dojo, for example, are an essential element in the fighting arts where a group dynamic is exposed to high levels of aggression and physical violence... To the point, I don't think bowing is a misinterpretation of a headbutt application :)

Which I think is my long winded way of saying I agree with you :)
 

Earl Weiss

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I can give an example, and there are a few that are the result of lack of understanding of the original intent, followed by an esoteric rationale that became the "traditional" explanation.
.

How is it that you are privy to the "Original intent" of forms such as those in the Shorin and Shorei systems?
 

Earl Weiss

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Yes, Iain Abernethy's interpretation of that move is as valid as most I have seen. But does it mean it's correct? The presupposition that the "esoteric" movements have had their "real" applications lost is a good one. But I don't know that it's true so much as just someone reverse engineering things because they think every single thing you do must be an attack. It's a bit like when George Dillman was "proving" that blocks really weren't blocks. Except that is completely style dependent, as my then kung-fu Sifu was pretty adamant that the blocks I was learning were blocks. Could they be applied in different ways? Sure. But that doesn't mean they aren't what they appear to be.


,Chris

We are pretty much on the same page. Popular theories include:

1. Some textbook application(s) is /are the Real / original one.
2. The real / original application was lost or hidden and can be found by reverse engineering.
3. (My Favorite) Applications, Textbook or reverse engineered are but a tool to help you understand how to move. Fast, powerful, efficient, well balanced, on target etc. Once you can move well, then you can morph the technique as needed from this center point (Think center of a sphere) in any manner (Think anywhere toward the edge of the sphere) as as applicable for the circumstances. (Think "Wax On Wax off" and if you don't recognize the term get the first Karate Kid movie).
 

Earl Weiss

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Hi Chris
I think "good" explanations are ones that are based on the weight of evidence, where the mostly likely conclusion best fits the "facts" we have. The reason for the endless debate is because kata interpretation is not based on quantative testing more qualatative reasoning ( think of it more like the study of history than the study of the science of biology for example).
:)

It may not be based on such testing now and much has been lost, but if you get "Bubishi" Bible of Karate which is a translation of an older text which explores many Chinese roots there are passages to how they reportedly lined up prisoners of war for such testing.
 

Th0mas

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It may not be based on such testing now and much has been lost, but if you get "Bubishi" Bible of Karate which is a translation of an older text which explores many Chinese roots there are passages to how they reportedly lined up prisoners of war for such testing.
I know there are first hand accounts of the Japanese during WW2 of using prisoners of war to test techniques with the bayonete and katana, and historic documents showing how samurai during earlier periods would do the same (if memory serves, I think I have seen copies of a manual on how best to practice sword cuts on a body).

However I think with regard to the bubishi, those claims should be treated with some skepticism (only because of the length of time and like Sunzu's art of war, the may have been a number of different authors who contributed to the text overtime).
I think in principle there are a number of general assumptions that we should make when considering applications for the pre-1922 katas :
1) they were devised by someone who had either direct practical experience or was taught by someone who did
2) they are a method of recording a set of fighting principles or strategies
3) the applications shown are an example to demonstrate those fighting principles
4) in the majority of cases, they are designed for dealing with common attacks and self defence scenarios.
5) The kata's in themselves are not enough, they should complement an instructor lead training regime.

Taking on those assumptions then help to contextualise any interpretation when trying to re-engineer the original intent of their creators (whoever they were)
 

chrispillertkd

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Hi Chris
I think "good" explanations are ones that are based on the weight of evidence, where the mostly likely conclusion best fits the "facts" we have. The reason for the endless debate is because kata interpretation is not based on quantative testing more qualatative reasoning ( think of it more like the study of history than the study of the science of biology for example).

I do agree with you to a certain point. The problem with this analogy is that actual historical research requires going back to eye witness accounts and primary sources. The debate about forms and their (possible) applications largely doesn't rise to that level of study. Not all but most of what passes for getting to the "original applications" are little more than wishful thinking, IMNSHO.

Iain's interpretation is not the only one, there are quite a few, from different styles, with a similar conbatative interpretation for kushanku. The particular strength with Iain is that he does test his assumptions (kata based sparring etc) and adapts his conclusions accordingly.

I have a lot of respect for Iain's approach, as well as the majority of the actual applications I have seen of his. I won't say he's the end all and be all of bunkai, but he does yeoman's work, it seems to me.

One of the things I really like about him is that he actually does what I mentioned above, viz. goes back to actual historical documents and sees what people said. The works he cites from Mabuni, Funakoshi, etc. may not qualify as going directly to the originator of the patterns (or, more importantly, the originator of the martial system in question) but it allows him to place himself directly in the line of tradition of his art. For me personally, I think this is important (others may disagree).

We know the intent of the creator of the Junro kata's, he only passed away relatively recently and explained them!

Indeed. The same can be said about, for example, both Gen. Choi when he developed his patterns and the collective effort of the Kukkiwon when they developed their pattern sets. I have no problem whatsoever with people saying that Taekwon-Do patterns can be "made" to work according to karate standards but the fact is that, as far as I can tell, the actual originators of these patterns were aiming at different goals than the Okinawans appeared to be.

That being said, Master Weiss has pointed out more than once that when asked about a particular application for a pattern Gen. Choi would answer: "If it works it's a good application." I think, in particular, Mabuni's approach to the meaning and use of angles in patterns is extremely helpful in expanding the possible applications within Gen. Choi's pattern set. But to say this was his original intent would be, I think, incorrect since he was designing a martial art that was to be spread to very large numbers of soldiers not passed on in a one-to-one or one-to-small-group setting like Okinawan karate.

From my experience, a lot of what is said by instructors/sufus/Sensei's etc is often accepted without the application of critical thinking by students... And these instructors are human and also fallible. George "no touch knockout" Dillman, is a case in point.

Indeed. Dillman's earlier works have some good stuff in them and the seminar I attended with him was interesting and worthwhile. But several years later I saw him on video talking "no touch" knock outs and the demonstration was... disappointing, let us say.

I think the point is that if you are studying a martial art, everything you do DOES have relationship with martial activities, but not everything has martial application. Bowing and other forms of respect in a dojo, for example, are an essential element in the fighting arts where a group dynamic is exposed to high levels of aggression and physical violence... To the point, I don't think bowing is a misinterpretation of a headbutt application.

Exactly! This is something with which I totally agree and part of the reason why I originally posted but you've really put it in a way that is easily understood.

Which I think is my long winded way of saying I agree with you :)

Ditto.

Pax,

Chris
 

MI_martialist

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1. If all you want is "Martial" you will waste lot of time in a "Martial Art" - I COULD NOT AGREE MORE!!!
2. If the Creator of the form said something was supposed to be symbolic and the symbolism was X, then that is what it was intended to be . If the creator of the form said something was for beauty / aesthetics, then that is what it was meant to be. THERE IS MARTIAL APPLICATION TO THE MOVEMENT...you may not have been told it, or your instructor may not have known it, but it is there...that is for real "forms" and not the gymnastics that is done so often now.

So the answer to your questions above are "Yes" and "No".
No
 

MI_martialist

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I couldn't say, since you were the one who brought up "esoteric" stuff in martial arts and said that they're the result of a lack of knowledge of applications. To wit: "In fact, often, many of the "esoteric" portions of "martial arts" come from a lack of understanding of application."

I did not bring up the esoteric stuff...I responded to someone else's post. We do not do the esoteric stuff, so I would not know what it is. I can look at your "esoteric" stuff and find the application in it.

If you don't know what esoteric elements of martial arts contain martial applications how do you know that the esoteric portions of martial arts are the result of a lack of understanding of those applications in the first place?

I cannot know because I do not do the esoteric stuff...we do application, which is found in the "meaningless" esoteric stuff that martial arts folks don't understand.

Pax,

Chris
 

Earl Weiss

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That being said, Master Weiss has pointed out more than once that when asked about a particular application for a pattern Gen. Choi would answer: "If it works it's a good application." I think, in particular, Mabuni's approach to the meaning and use of angles in patterns is extremely helpful in expanding the possible applications within Gen. Choi's pattern set. But to say this was his original intent would be, I think, incorrect since he was designing a martial art that was to be spread to very large numbers of soldiers not passed on in a one-to-one or one-to-small-group setting like Okinawan karate.



Chris

Therein lies another key point not to be overlooked. It is somewhere in General Choi's materials as well with regard to patterns teaching Distance and direction (angles).
 

chrispillertkd

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Therein lies another key point not to be overlooked. It is somewhere in General Choi's materials as well with regard to patterns teaching Distance and direction (angles).

Master Weiss, I remember reading a statement to this effect when I got a copy of the General's 1972 book back when I was a green belt and thinking something alone the lines of: "How does that work?" While I have no idea of Gen. Choi was familiar with the concept that Kenwa Mabuni states regarding the angle one takes in a pattern is actually the angle with one should use while attacking an opponent (instead of the angle from which an opponent attacks you) approaching the tul in such a way does tend to open up some very interesting possibilities. Personally, I tend to think both approaches are good and have merit to them.

Now if I could just track down that quote! I've spent the better part of an hour looking for it in the 1972, the encyclopedia, and even the 1965 book and the closest thing I've been able to find is the statement about angles and distance in the "Training Secrets." I nearly positive that I saw one directly related to patterns, as you mentioned, though and this is going to drive me crazy until I find it.

Pax,

Chris
 

Earl Weiss

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Now if I could just track down that quote! I've spent the better part of an hour looking for it in the 1972, the encyclopedia, and even the 1965 book and the closest thing I've been able to find is the statement about angles and distance in the "Training Secrets." I nearly positive that I saw one directly related to patterns, as you mentioned, though and this is going to drive me crazy until I find it.

Pax,

Chris

Well, sir you need to know it warms my heart after all the times I made a post alluding to some material I could not pinpoint, and you seemed to pinpoint it in short order, I gave you a tough one for a change:)
 

JowGaWolf

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Good job on your improvement. The one thing I notice about your videos is that you always take in information that you feel that you need and then improve. That says a lot about you as a student and your dedication.
 

Earl Weiss

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......................................... Gen. Choi was familiar with the concept that Kenwa Mabuni states regarding the angle one takes in a pattern is actually the angle with one should use while attacking an opponent (instead of the angle from which an opponent attacks you) approaching the tul in such a way does tend to open up some very interesting possibilities. Personally, I tend to think both approaches are good and have merit to them.

Now if I could just track down that quote! I've spent the better part of an hour looking for it in the 1972, the encyclopedia, and even the 1965 book and the closest thing I've been able to find is the statement about angles and distance in the "Training Secrets."

Chris

So far, only source I have located as well. Certainly it applies to patterns as well as everything else.
 

chrispillertkd

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So far, only source I have located as well. Certainly it applies to patterns as well as everything else.

Agreed, sir, but I am fairly sure there's another quote somewhere specifically about patterns relating to angles. It's going to drive me crazy until I find it again. I think I first saw it in the 1972 book and may have to spend a bit of time rereading that volume in the next few days to see if I can locate it.

Pax,

Chris
 
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