The role of patterns/forms/poomsae in Taekwondo

lifespantkd

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Flying Crane wrote in the recent thread on whether Taekwondo techniques are effective:​
"I guess I'm wondering tho, what is the role of the patterns? are they simply a requirement for promotion, a vehicle for demonstration or performance, an artistic endeavor, a vehicle for teaching useful martial techniques skills and concepts, or something else? It's just in how you had worded that prior comment that made me wonder how they are being used in TKD, from your experience.

And, Earl Weiss wrote: "Deserves it's own thread at least. Perhaps it's own volume would be better?"

I would welcome that discussion. I'd especially be interested in how people's views have changed the longer they've practiced Taekwondo. I'd also be interested in how those who teach Taekwondo convey to their students both the content and the purpose of poomsae.

Cynthia
 

Flying Crane

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Since it was my comment that sparked this thread, I'll speak up for a moment. I do not train TKD. The system that I train is heavily focused on forms (patterns) as a training tool and is how the system, curriculum, and method is taught and trained. I do understand very clearly the role that forms play in my system.

My comment from the prior thread was made because of some things that someone else had stated that suggested to me that at least for that person, patterns may not play the same role that they play in the system that I train. So I asked for some information, to understand that perspective, or to find out if I am simply misunderstanding something with regard to TKD.
 

SPX

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What system do you study and what would you say the role of patterns is?
 

granfire

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Forms allow a practinioner to perform moves that can't be used in friendly partner work.
You know, those techniques that aim to maim.

Of course, it requires an understanding of said moves. Reaching for the attackers head is not meant to gently pull his ears, but ever so gruesomely gouge his eyes (before slamming his head onto your knee) - a move out of Choon Moo IIRC....

The role of patterns is the same, regardless of style.
 

Earl Weiss

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Of course, it requires an understanding of said moves. Reaching for the attackers head is not meant to gently pull his ears, but ever so gruesomely gouge his eyes (before slamming his head onto your knee) - a move out of Choon Moo IIRC....

.

Actually this reflects a common misunderstanding of this move application for moves 11&12 of Choong Moo. If you are in the specified stance their head and your knee will never meet. It is an "Upward Kick with the knee" to the opponents Solar plexus.
Of the nine points to be observed while performing a pattern "7. ... know the purpose of the movement.'
and of the "Training Secrets " "To become familiar with the correct angle and distance. "
 

granfire

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Actually this reflects a common misunderstanding of this move application for moves 11&12 of Choong Moo. If you are in the specified stance their head and your knee will never meet. It is an "Upward Kick with the knee" to the opponents Solar plexus.
Of the nine points to be observed while performing a pattern "7. ... know the purpose of the movement.'
and of the "Training Secrets " "To become familiar with the correct angle and distance. "

<points to the 'understanding the moves>

Thank you for pointing out the misconception and proving my point. :)
 

igillman

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I had to take a year out of training due to blood pressure issues (the cardiologist told me to stop exercising). During that time I decided that I could do very low impact stuff and so I spent some time at home learning and practicing various poomsae both up to and above my belt level. I noticed that each pattern showed you how techniques can be put together to form a series of attacking and defending moves. Pretty soon it became natural to strike right after a block just like you do in some of the patterns. The patterns also show you how to flow from one move to another in a smooth and efficient way.
 

MariaK

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First, let me state that TKD poomsae- this is what really brought me into TKD and martial arts. I have a privilege to train under the master who is the current USA national poomsae team member and medalist (2006 - to 2011) (although he was also a two times national champ in sparring/medalist of PanAmerican games etc. - so a kind of one of a few "universal" TKD atheltes out there). So, the view that I get from his is that there are several aspects why poomsae should be practiced. First, it teaches the physical control of the body. Thus, the ability to inhibit/initiate movement at the precise time with a precise speed when you need it. While you spar - you calculate all the time the angles/degrees, the position of your body relative to your opponents etc - and poomsae gives you a lot of practice with it. His favorite quote is "Think about TKD sparring as a game of chess but with impact". At the psychological level - the same thing - you learn to focus your attention that is a necessary thing when you spar. In sparring the distribution of attention in professional (or more experienced, that is > 5 years of training) atheltes is different from non-professional atheltes. That is the ditribution of visual search patterns is as following: while we, say the "inexperienced" folks, pay too much attention to flying legs/arms during sparring or just to the environment around us - this distracts us enormously from searching for an "opening" in the target and we miss the opportunites. Poomsae trainig teaches you how to redistribute your attention selectively - the simple test if you can do it correctly is ask yourself whether you notice people around, noises etc. while performing poomsae - if "yes" - then you have not learnt yet to focus your attention in the correct way. Also, there is research showing that when poomsae training is absent from martial arts training (like in MMA, Krav Maga etc. military combat styles) in comparison to more "traidtional" styles (karate, TKD etc.) - thsi leads to increased level of agressiveness in practitioners (even when the level of agressiveness is controlled prior to starting the martial arts program). Well, there are hundreds of other reasons - like poomsae gives you an opportunity to compete until well into 60s. etc.. Hope it helps to some extent.
 

Marginal

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I've found plenty of times that I can learn new techniques faster thanks to being able to liken a move or tactic to a sequence in a pattern I've done. I htink like anything, you get out of a pattern what you're willing to put in.
 
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lifespantkd

lifespantkd

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When I just began studying Taekwondo, learning poomsae was a real challenge. All I could do was focus on what move was followed by what move, which way I should turn, on which foot I should pivot, whether my stance was correct, and so on. I was basically just learning choreography--and badly, at that. With more training, I became more coordinated and confident in the execution of individual movements. Then, I was able to change my focus to vaguely imagining an attacker against whom I was defending. Developing power and control of speed came gradually, too. I am still working on discovering the application of different segments of the many poomsaes I have learned and imagining an attacker engaging in specific attacks against which I am engaging in specific defenses. And, instead of just knowing a word or a phrase which the poomsae symbolizes, I ponder their related meanings as originally presented in the I Ching. In my experience, complete physical and mental engrossment in a poomsae, experiencing it at all levels simultaneously--physical exertion, artistic expression, self-defense visualization, perpetually striving toward improvement, philosophical contemplation, moving meditation, and so on--can only be approached after years of practice. Quite frankly, I feel I am just getting started.

Cynthia
 

Cyriacus

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Patterns were intended to be Communicative.
Take To-San.

Outer Forearm Block > Reverse Punch.
I.e.: Block Roundhouse Type Punch > Counter Punch.
 

Ironcrane

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It is my opinion that forms are the blue print to your martial art. Learning the moves, and what they do will help in understanding what makes you art what it is.
 

Dirty Dog

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As a child, my training in patterns was strictly by rote. I learned one move after the other (and the transitional positions, of course), but that's all they really were to me. A series of moves. Pretty much a dance.

As we grow, our understanding does too. As an adult, I learn patterns as a fight, imagining an opponent and what moves they might be doing that would be countered by the techniques I'm practicing.
 

Earl Weiss

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The Chang Hon System is largely progressive. Combat is different than sparring. Sparring involces rules and one opponent typicaly positioned in front of you. Combat may have adversarys all around. In this system the fundamental exercises teach quarter turns, next pattern, half turns, then 3/4 and later full turns. First patterns, no kicks, then simple kicks which become more involced and then flying kicks. Physicaly the level of difficulty progresses so that you can even do the patterns in order as a warm up.
 

TaekwonTiger

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I've only learned 4 patterns so far, the 4th one I've only just started to learn. I found at first it was just choreography, but now I find that the patterns give me security when learning, especially about timing. I'm pretty fast in remembering the sequences, that gives me plenty of time to then focus on the individual techniques and I can concentrate on moving my body, arms and legs at the same time and be precise about it. And because I know what's next, I worry less about it than in normal line work where sabumnim might suddenly change the exercise we do and move to the next block.

I also found imagining an opponent has helped, especially since I struggle with the inside block - needed a mental image to know what I was hitting where and that helped.
 
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