Where has Poomse intensity gone?

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Mudo Warrior

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:soapbox: Ok I hate to do it but I have to get on my traditionalist soap box. First let me tell you all what has gotten me so fired up. Last week for the first time in several years I competed in a Tae Kwon Do tournament. To make a long story short I had quit teaching Tae Kwon do around 3 years ago to follow a great carreer oppourtunity. During my 2 years off I may not have had time to teach but I will always train so I found an Okinawan Karate Dojo that I could train at any day of the week. This solved my time constraint issue and alowed me to not only continue to train but also to learn a differeent style. While training there I had to contiually listen to how bad Tae Kwon Do is and that I was one of the few TKD black belts that they had ever seen who had great technique, good sparring skills, and intensity in performing Kata (Poomse). Now I did take this as a compliment to me and to my Sabumnim for teaching me the way that he did. Anyway back to the subject about a year ago a came to a point in my career where I could again open a Dojang and teach Tae Kwon Do. This brings me to last week when I competed in the adult blackbelt poomse divison at a local TKD tournament. Now let me just say that I have never complained about any decision before right now, its disrespectful and not the way a true black belt should act. However, I had been practicing for weeks making sure that each strike, kick, block, and stance landed exactly where it was ment to . And my intensity forget about it, I could have punched through a stack of boards with each technique. So it came down to me and another black belt both doing the same poomse. I got up there and did my poomse the best I have ever done it , it felt great. Next my fellow competitor gets up to do his poomse and while he did have very good technique it truley looked like he was cross breeding Tae Kwon Do and Tai Chi Chuan. After the judging was done he came out with 1st and I got 2nd. Now trophies don't mean a thing to me but, I had several things happen to me after our competition that got me thinking. #1 I had 2 Older Korean masters come up to me and tell me that my poomse was outstanding and they thought that I should have won. #2 I talked to 2 of the judges who said that he got better marks because his ApchaGi was higher. My big question is first of all where has the intensity of Tae Kwon Do poomse gone and second why do we try to kick over our heads in a poomse where it was originally suposed to be to the solar plexus. I realize that the new poomse such a the Tea Guek poomse are not 2000 years old like some forms but the movents are much the same, so why shouldn't we perform them the way the older Kata or Poomse were with power, intensity, speed, and accuracy. Anyway thats my soap box session for the day, Thanks for listening!:D
 
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Disco

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This has been ongoing for the years of your hiatus from TKD. It is only one of the reasons that I no longer either compete or judge. To add to your example. When doing Koryo Poomse (1st BB Form). The opening kicks are a double sidekick. They are suppose to be functionally symmetrical. They are never judged that way though. It's always the second kick going almost verical that's wins the competition. To me the practicality and with it the integrity of the art goes out the window. I can't speak for all areas of the country, just mine. The Korean Masters are the ones who are allowing this to happen. I was over ruled at a tournament I was a judge at. When asked why I graded so low, I told them. Same reason as above. They couldn't care less. It was one of the masters student's who was at the center of the judgement. The real shame of it was that after everything had died down, two other Korean Masters came up to me and said, "your right". But they wouldn't step forward to correct the problem or their countryman. I said to myself, welcome to the real world of the korean martial arts.
 

Rich Parsons

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I had the priviledge a few years ago to judge at an Open TKD Tournament. Meaning it was hosted by a TKD school yet it was open to all. As I was, and adult and from a weapons art, I was asked to sit on the adult weapons forms. I declined and countered with, could I sit on the Young Adults/ Children's forms? They were happy to have me any where, so said yes. I did not want to be involved with the adults as they were all Masters of one art or another, and the political situations would have been horrendous.

The young lady that one the competition did a form I had never seen before with a Bow. Yet, I graded her and everyone else on their intensity and their execution of their technique as I saw it. Foot Sweeps down at the right hieght, complexity of the moves, intesity and flowing capability. As the young Lady was only a Brown Belt she was quite pleased. One of the young male Black Belts was upset and I heard him aks his parents why I graded him lower. So, they told him to ask me. I explained, that his eyes were all over, his technique though fine, was not sharp and where it was flowing was too relaxed. His reply, was that I am the Black Belt though. I smild and said today, in my opinion, this young lady did better than you did. Now mind you I was one of five judges where the high and low was thrown out.

I also have done some point sparring judging for TKD. The senior judge said good clear contact. Then the senior judge almost always stood betwen me and the contestants, and when he did not many times I would call for the other opponent because they could not see that the counter punch was actually landed and that the punch was not a clear shot that had been deflected. It was very frustrating to the point of the center senior judge calling a break to talk to me. I explained to him how I interpreted the rules, and he said I had right now call it. This was very frustrating. So, I called it the way I saw it, and the center Judge got upset.

Were all the judges TKD instructors? Were there any politics involved?

The above situations show how some people can be lax in their techniques and people think it is right or ok. The questions were just to ask and see.

I do not do these type of tournaments anymore. I do stick spar and will sit in this, yet, ....

:asian:
 

Langdow

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The problem as I see it is there is no set criteria for the judging of poomse. That is not to say that people don't look for the same things, but depending on who is judging, at what tournment is going to affect everything.

One thing I have learned is that doing poomse in competition is a show, if you can add style and a certain flavor to the form you'll do well in competition. I've always been told I have a certain flavor when I do my forms and I end up winning more often than not, maybe I'm just lucky. On the other hand when I train by myself I focus on doing the form properly, with timing, power, intensity, and of course making sure the technique and targeting is proper. Depending on if it is a tournment setting or just in the dojang will alter how I do some things.
 
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Mudo Warrior

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First of all let me just say thank you to you guys for the positive replys, I was afraid that some would see me as a sore loser. And winning or losing had nothing to do with it. My point was that for someone to be thought of as having the best blackbelt poomse I thought they should have great intensity and show what the poomse is supposed to mean. So again my respectful thanks for your replys. In answer to one question asked yes I beleive politics did have a small role. My competitor was from the same chain of schools as 2 of the 3 judges, although I would never say that they were making unfair calls just to see a freind win. I would just like to see some more intensity and accurracy of technique in poomse, I can tell you that through my Karate experience that is what kata is mostly about. Because everything has to be perfect to say that your kata is good or even to pass to the next rank. I wasn't just expected to be able to perform my kata, I had to be able to perform it with higher ranks attacking me during each movment. That kind of realistic training is what I beleive is lacking in our poomse today. Oh, I'm sorry, I jumped up on my soap box again, anyway thank you for your repys!
 

Touch Of Death

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A point you brought up bothers me. Many feel it is not becomming of a black belt to ***** about injustices at tournaments. If nobody says anything, how can we expect things to get better. My instructor likes to relate the story about why a judge refused to give the obviosly better martial artist a winnig score for best demo, and the guy actualy said,"If that guy did that on the street, he would go to jail!".:confused:
Sean
 

Damian Mavis

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Lately I've been training at my friends WTF school here in Bangkok and just yesterday I did Koryo with them. They did it all wishy washy and weak so at the end I asked them (since I truly don't know, I'm from ITF) if the pattern was supposed to be done with no power or if we should use power. They told me that we were just practicing it together with no power but normally it should have power. So they demonstrated it with power... it was still weak and wishy washy. Maybe you lost because WTF officially recognises less powerful as the correct amount of power to be used in competitive forms?

Damian Mavis
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Mudo Warrior

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I agree that nothing will change if nothing is said. i am just from one of those older schools that teach that you never question a higher rank in front of anyone. I also will say that my instructor always use to say that all of Tae Kwon Do could be found in Koryo poomse, so I have to beleive if someones Koryo is wishy washy than all of their Tae Kwon Do is wishy washy. Having said that I mean absolutly no disrespect to your freind as I have never seen them in action. My biggest issue with this subject is that intensity is the easiest thing to learn in performing a poomse it just has to be required by the instructor. If we as instructors alow wishy washy poomse or Hyung than that is what our students are going to do. i don't care what the outcome is at any tournament for me or my student, I will teach Poomse the way it should be taught. Again thanks for your positive and very insightful repleys.
 

Langdow

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I don't know if intensity is the easiest thing to teach. What I mean by this is, I believe it's more of an attitude even when doing poomse.

I think you can teach someone a proper technique, how to be fast, how to be powerful, but intensity is something you can only explain to them, and then let them develop by themselves. This could be a possible reason why lack of intensity in poomse is starting to appear. Maybe instructors don't know how to develop it in their students anymore and it's just disappearing.
 
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Mudo Warrior

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I agree that it is not easy to teach intensity, what I should have said was it was the easiest thing for me to learn. I also agree that some instructors don't know how to teach it but I also think with the rise of Olympic style sparring alot of Dojang have geared themselves so much in that direction that they have lost sight of Pommse, using it only as a gauge for promotion testing. Not that I have nothing against Olympic style I just beleive without the other aspects of training such as Poomse, joint locking/throwing, Kibon, and even different types of Kyorugi (alowing punches to the face, sweeps, and kicks to the legs) ect. our art will become no more than a simple boxing match. Thats only mentioning the physical aspects of our training too. What about Kigong, Tenets and philosophy things like that will and have also started to slip. No one shows the respect to their senior students or instructors the way that we had to and wanted to. I don't know mabe I am a radical who doesn't take well to change but the changes I have seen in Tae Kwon Do bother me a bit. I would also say that it is not just Tae Kwon Do I saw it in Karate and Judo as well it is just not as wide spread yet . I think that it is our responsibility as the younger generation of instructors to make sure that respect, intensity, discipline, and traditions are kept alive in Tae Kwon Do today. My other issue is that alot of the instructors that I have seen are making so much money this way that they can't risk offending or scareing any one off with extremly dificult training. Not that I am a great or even a good instructor, but I won't take any more that 20 students in an effort to be able to give quality instruction to each one. I also charge less than any other school around, charging just enough to pay the rent on the dojang and buy some supplies. It is because of that and the way that I teach that My students and I have become like a family, and thats the way that it should be. I have students that came back to me afte 2 years of not teaching like they had just been waiting for their teacher to return. I almsot feel like they are my kids some times. So anyway I got alittle off track but I think that it is the job of instructors to up hold strick standards in Tae Kwon Do. And as always thank you for your rerplys!
 

Marginal

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Just from watching the other people coming up through the ranks with me, I think a lot of the intensity (or lack of) in forms is largely dependent on the student's knowledge or attitude towards them. If they're simply presented as patterns with little more explanation than that, people tend to treat them like dances. Graceful little things to show off the beauty of the movements, and perhaps, a key to personal enlightenment (if they're new agey enough.)

The people that are told to treat each move seriously from the first pattern onwards tend to work towards that intensity as long as they're also given good reason to believe it's important.
 

cali_tkdbruin

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Originally posted by Mudo Warrior
First of all let me just say thank you to you guys for the positive replys, I was afraid that some would see me as a sore loser. And winning or losing had nothing to do with it. My point was that for someone to be thought of as having the best blackbelt poomse I thought they should have great intensity and show what the poomse is supposed to mean. So again my respectful thanks for your replys. In answer to one question asked yes I beleive politics did have a small role. My competitor was from the same chain of schools as 2 of the 3 judges, although I would never say that they were making unfair calls just to see a freind win. I would just like to see some more intensity and accurracy of technique in poomse, I can tell you that through my Karate experience that is what kata is mostly about. Because everything has to be perfect to say that your kata is good or even to pass to the next rank. I wasn't just expected to be able to perform my kata, I had to be able to perform it with higher ranks attacking me during each movment. That kind of realistic training is what I beleive is lacking in our poomse today. Oh, I'm sorry, I jumped up on my soap box again, anyway thank you for your repys!

I must have missed it, but I didn't get which poomse you did in your competition, was it Koryo or Kumgang?

For me, poomse is my favorite part of TKD training, and I always hit it at 100% intensity. Just performing all the poomse I've learned so far is such an excellent work out. When I'm done I'm a sweatbag, all exerted out... :asian:
 

MichiganTKD

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One problem I have seen many times in forms competition: if your primary activity is sparring and you are more concerned with learning how to make a point, your forms will suffer immensely. It is not that WTF forms are inherently weak. I actually think they are very powerful. The problem is that if you focus on sparring, and make forms secondary, your body will get used to adapting to the biomechanics of sparring, and technique will be weak. Form is designed to make powerful technique, hip rotation, and build up your body. Sparring, especially point sparring, does not concern itself with this. As a result, students concerned primarily with sparring are going to have weak forms because they are focusing on a different area of training. Our Instructor used to tell us that if you want to be a professional free fighter, in other words an international-level tournament guy, don't concern yourself with forms and basics. just do sparring drills. Go back to basics, form, and traditional technique after you retire.
 
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ShaolinWolf

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Well lately, in Tae Kwon Do, there has been a big change. Martial Arts are not the same style they used to be. Judging on just Technique, Power, and Intensity is not just what counts. Style, flexibility, and sometimes gymnastic abilities have been a large benefactor as to why people are winning tournaments. Kicking higher shows flexibility and holding it up there for a short period of time shows power, and strength.

Also, you have to remember that TKD of old is alot different than TKD of the past 10 years. Things have changed drastically. I know that flashy kicks have been the trademark of TKD, but it has become one of the most noticeable traits of TKD. Why? Well, people are more impressed with that stuff. Yes, intensity and all is great, I agree, but you gotta remember, your judges are not going to be from your school, which may teach you certain points that others don't focus on. They want to be impressed, well not all of them, by flashy and showy stuff.

High Kicks are a biggie. The higher the kick, the higher the grade. Its just the way things are now. And also, I've been told, though I think its cheap, that judges nowadays don't care how long you take in your form, as long as it looks good. I'm not saying people like Rich Parsons, because you obviously know your stuff and not one to be looking for just flashy stuff all the time. See, if more judges were like that, things might go better. But the other thing I see is that its just the judges' own way of doing things and understanding. Then again, it might have been that the judges thought the both of you were great at poomse and just couldn't decide, even with the varying differences. So, they picked their favorite, the one whom the 2 outta 3 knew and got the 3rd to see it their way...who knows.

Another thing is that flexibility and tendon strength to hold the leg up there is what Demo Teams like the Korean Tigers are all about. Also, the speed, intensity, and power. Its just that with all the Demo Teams out there, being someone with just great technique, intensity, power, and attitude doesn't cut it. Even if your "opponent" lacks one of those, he/she can still pull off a 9.8 or 9.9 with flexibility, and special abilities that you might not have. I know its unfair, and I'm not going to say that I don't like winning jsut because I'm very flexibile, but it helps, and I'm happy I have it.

Abilities are what get you to the US OPEN down in Orlando, which is just a few miles south of me.... :)!!! Watch those guys. They happen to be superb in all the areas. Its that kind of abilities that those guys have, well the ones that are truly worth watching, that give them the high grades. Gymnastic abilities happen to be a thing that is looked for because so many judges see the Martial ARts teams like Team Ruyoko and such that incorporate it into their practice of MA. It jsut looks better, and frankly it's great for exercise and keeping you in shape, let alone gives you so much more control.

I agree its not fair what happened, but then again it is what someone said about black belt attitude. Move on, and get better. I know you trained hard, but maybe next time. Tournaments are sucky nowadays, I admit. The Last one I went to the score keeper had head phones on while I was sparring. They called that I scored all the points and the score keeper scored on the wrong side. So, I "Lost", and it upset me, but it only gives me more thought to make doubly sure that next time I will keep it sticky and be more alert.
 

Marginal

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Eh. To be honest, I don't ever even want to be involved in a competition where gymnastic ability takes precedence over the ability to fight. At that point, they're not even practicing a MA. Might as well give them a ball and a ribbon and call it what it is. Rhythmic gymnastics.

Better's subjective. To me all that flipping and bellowing... It looks like Power Rangers on crack.
 
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ShaolinWolf

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Yeah, that's the only problem. I know all the poomse and everything has effect, but it does have to do with your abilities, not jsut your knowledge of the poomse. But I didn't mean like totally flipping...It's just that the judges are inspired by the Demo Teams...Not that they expect that, but if someone can do it, well, then...

And I'm not saying that you can incorporate it into you form, unless its create a form or something, I'm just saying that if it's probable...
 
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Gary Crawford

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I have always considered TKD (USTU) tournaments to be frustrating at times.My son competed for years and saw a lot of wins and a lot of times we left scratching our heads.The last year he competed was the year the USTU decided to change a lot of rules.The one that screwed us was the under 12 yr old rules,all of a sudden,no head kicks.That was the year my son was really ready for a good year,but the new rule made me train him comletely differently than before.He did fairly well for the situation in sparring and Poomse was always good for him until the Junior olympics in Mineapolis.I have no idea how anybody can judge poomse two at a time.He didn't even place with the best effort he ever made.After returning home I took the video tape to three different instructors with my sons form edited out and ask them to judge,all three had simular results,none close to the tournament results.
 
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ShaolinWolf

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LOL...yeah, that is one thing...I don't much like local tournaments...they have to be nationals or worlds...or official
 

Marginal

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ShaolinWolf said:
Yeah, that's the only problem. I know all the poomse and everything has effect, but it does have to do with your abilities, not jsut your knowledge of the poomse. But I didn't mean like totally flipping...It's just that the judges are inspired by the Demo Teams...Not that they expect that, but if someone can do it, well, then...
Well, then, they're not doing a MA anymore. They're doing bad gymnastics.
 
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ShaolinWolf

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No, I'm not talking about gymnastics, I guess, not really. I meant flexibility. It helps, or what I've seen, if your more flexible. The higher the kick, the more points you get from judges. If you and a competitor have about the same abilities, but one is more flexible, then the judges will choose that one.

Also, I think and know its personal preference. Some judges look for power and intensity. Some look for flexiblity. Some look for focus, attitude, concentration, and flow. I like judges that look at everything, but you gotta remember, we are human, so we can't focus on everything at once. THe Judges can't look at every little detail, unless that judge is designated for hands, the other is for stance, the other is for feet, or just the whole. Also, maybe each evaluation is different from what the judge learns from their own school. And it's only in their knowledge. That's the bad thing. You can't do anything about it. Other than walk away and ask you instructor what he picks out of your form that you could work on. If he/she feels confident about your form, then it's as I described above. Or maybe he/she just overlooked it.
 
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