Are TKD patterns useless?

Discussion in 'Taekwondo Patterns' started by dojo, Apr 17, 2012.

  1. Jon Sloan

    Jon Sloan Member

    To me, forms hold the "heart" of any martial art. There are obvious and "hidden" applications of techniques to each form, and it is up to the practitioner ( as well as the instructor ) to learn them through constant practice and study. I've been challenging my students with practicing the forms as 1-step defenses drills to introduce them to this idea, much like many traditional karate schools go through "bunkai" (application) in their katas. If we can train and teach this more prevalently, I believe we will have less people looking on TKD forms as "useless" or "pointless" as I've read in many MA editorials over the years.
    UK-Student and Anthony Hayward like this.
  2. christopher ramirez

    christopher ramirez New Member

  3. Daniel Sullivan

    Daniel Sullivan New Member

    Forms are not useless, but forms are not the only way to teach a martial art. Arts that use them generally utilize a layered teaching method; learn the the form at a basic level, then learn the applications of the form, etc. In karate, the process of learning applications is called bunkai, in which the kata is deconstructed and a range of applications are pulled from each movement. Hiding applications in kata was also a good way to keep your rivals from actually knowing what you were teaching.

    I cannot speak for non KKW/WTF taekwondo, but in KKW taekwondo, bunhae (Korean pronunciation of bunkai) is not really a major part of the art. Applications are generally taught independently of the forms, kind of like hapkido, which doesn't use kata at all. This is why you often see between twenty and thirty different one-step sparring drills at taekwondo schools.

    In Kukki taekwondo, pumse (forms) are used to learn movement, perfect technique, develop power and flexibility, and to teach the technical core of the art. These techniques are applied outside of pumse in various forms of sparring, from one steps, two steps, five steps, to free sparring of different types.
  4. I guess I am old school. I love the Poomse (forms) and I cannot get enough of them. They help me focus off of other things and at my age they help me to keep my memory in tack. I believe the way you will think of them will also hinge on how you have been taught by your Master. Some Masters do not teach much of this and are more into the sparring side.
    I like a balance of the entire art, learning the forms, how to defend, how to be at peace with others as well as learning some Korean.
    lorraine likes this.
  5. lorraine

    lorraine Member

    All taekwondo is built from basics.Your forms are made up of all your basic stances, hand and foot tecniques.I think that your forms are the most important part of tkd. Practise them well and and all your tecniques will improve as well as your stamina and concentration.If the humble foundations of a mountain are removed then it cannot stand.The same applies to taekwondo.
    Chris J and Daniel Sullivan like this.
  6. Matt Parker

    Matt Parker New Member

    I have found that forms really teach balance and muscle sparring, when you are with a student who isn't as your level, you have better control of your techniques, I think patterns help this....
    Anthony Hayward likes this.
  7. LV77

    LV77 New Member

    I am new to TKD, but I have found that the initial form they have taught me helps in 2 ways. When I am at home I can practice it and get my blood pumping. I am extremely out of shape and enjoy practicing the form much more than running on a treadmill.

    At night when I am laying in my bed I like to visualize myself doing the form. This helps to take my mind off any stressful situations I may be pondering.
  8. Matt Parker

    Matt Parker New Member

    I find what works really well too is to do the form at half speed, really work at holding the postures at the endpoint of blocks punches and such, it gives you the time to correct things plus it'll get the sweat flowing quickly
  9. Mr. Mustache

    Mr. Mustache New Member

    Just joining I can't say enough on this topic. I believe the forms are the most important part of any martial art. Take for instance the Tuls in ITF, they are the ground work for what the martial art teaches. But if you just take the one instance, in the form, that that move is being preformed than you are limiting the art. The kata's and poomse and forms are only giving examples of principals and moves that exist in the realm of thought. I study the forms harder than anyone I know. I read books on them, I buy all the DVDs I read what the founders have said, I can't learn enough. I eat sleep and dream the forms. They are my meditation. Try apply calisthenics to them.
  10. Joel

    Joel New Member

    The patterns (Hyungs-Tuls) helped me with my flexibility, coordination, breathing and neuromuscular memory, specially when I use the floor matts. I always use them as dynamic warm up. In real life situation your instincts will act for you and the cumulative neuromuscular memory over the years.
  11. Taekwonpro

    Taekwonpro New Member

    They are only useless because schools rarely teach them with full intensity or delve into the holds, grabs, and breaks inside the forms.

    I have actually been berated for practicing my forms at full strength.
  12. Nathaniel Flamm

    Nathaniel Flamm New Member

    Yah but it's all about sparring. At least competition wise. Poomsae to too heavily judged on opinion. Even the technical poomsae... Sparring is the real test for any martial artist. Trumps forms in everyway!
  13. Chris J

    Chris J Active Member

    Nice try mate....However
    Survival in defence, preferably without a fight, is the real test for any martial artist.
    Keep up your training, I feel there is much for you to discover.
  14. Leighton

    Leighton Member

    Very true, in my eyes any thug can spar if shown some self control, but not every person has the strength of mind to persist at trying to perfect thier technique. Also as Chris has pointed out the test of a martial artist is self defence and self preservation when in the wrong circumstances.
  15. Master Fahy

    Master Fahy Active Member

    Try and imagine TKD is like figure skating for a moment..... when a figure skater skates in competition they are judged for certain moves or movements and style. Although, every skater does a different routine...they all must perform certain key requirements in their program. Can you imagine seeing the figure skaters do the same routines as the other skaters do? It would take away their freedom of expression! But when they train for the competition they break down the moves and practise them individually before putting it all together. Forms/poomse are really a training tool for TKD and any other martial art. They are not a means of fighting/sparring! They are just a training tool that we use. Master Fahy
  16. bowlie

    bowlie Well-Known Member

    I have to take Issue with this. Sparring is as close as you can really get to a real life situation while still being in control, so if you cannot use them there there must be a reason. Either its harder to use, ineffective or you dont get the opportunity. All of those reasons would be the same in a real situation.

    My objection to forms comes from the same point as my reluctance towards belts, 3 step sparing, breaking and point sparring. I know for most people TKD is a fun hobby but personally what I want from it is to learn to fight. Forms have nothing to do with the stances, techniques or timing that I would use in a fight, so for me they are worse than useless, but confusing. After an hour and a half of doing patterns I forget how im supposed to stand. I think forms and belts also serve as a distraction. For a martial artist the measure of ability should be fighting skill and nothing else. You should always be looking to reach your goals, and learning a pattern or a break to achieve a belt are the way I see it distractions from this task of trying to perfect yourself.

    At the end of all that I should say that I think if your goals aren't purely to learn to fight (and lets face it the vast majority of practitioners aren't doing it for that) then its fine and I dont object to it being part of the syllabus nesceserially.
  17. Master Fahy

    Master Fahy Active Member

    Sparring is a means for sport and for self defense. If you spar a lot for sport your conditioning is set for sport. So when you need to fight like in a street fight....your skills will most likely be like sport. If you spar strictly for street fighting your skill will be ready for the street. There is more to Taekwondo than just sparring. Taekwondo is an art! By sparring over and over again you refine your techniques isn't that what we do in forms training? Forms/poomse is only a way or means to practice techniques without sparring someone! Master Fahy
  18. bowlie

    bowlie Well-Known Member

    The technique I use is different from what is in my paterns so for me it is useless. Even a basic thing like a punch. I dont punch from hip level, I dont use it from any of the form stances, and I dont hold it out after. And that is just for a punch. The blocks in my admittedly low level forms (Only got to green tag before I decided to stop grading) are not what I use, there are techniques I dont use. I agree 100% that you should practice technique and strive for perfection, and not through sparing (that is where you learn to put stuff together and apply it practically).
  19. John Hulslander

    John Hulslander Active Member

    If all you want to do is be the best fighter, then perhaps Taekwondo isn't for you.
    I don't mean to sound arrogant or dismissive, but Taekwondo is what it is, and it has never been advertised as the best free fighting system ever. I would even suggest that there is no best free fighting system ever. Mainly because a system that is good for one person, maybe not so good for another. Teaching Taekwondo to someone physically suited for Sumo isn't going to make them the best fighter they can be.

    Don't get me wrong, one of the end goals of Taekwondo is that the participant is better able to defend themself, but what you should get out of Taekwondo is so much more than just self defense.

    You get to learn about the culture, you get great exercise, you get to be pushed physically, mentally, and spiritually. And part of that is forms/hyung/poomse. You get to learn and practice leadership, you get to be an artist and performer.

    This is part of what makes Taekwondo and other traditional martial arts unique.

    And what is great is that if you have the capability you can be good at both forms and free fighting, or you can focus on just one area.
  20. bowlie

    bowlie Well-Known Member

    I agree entirely. I only got into taekwondo because i was recovering from shoulder surgery and couldnt do kickboxing or anything, but didnt want to be inactive. But it turns out I love taekwondo. The guys I train with have become my best friends and its a great, mutually supportive environment. I am planning to start boxing again as well now that im better though.

    I find the current state of taekwondo quite interesting. Its in a sort of limbo were it is detached from its traditional past as a true fighting system, get is paralysed to move further from its past because of tradition. But i enjoy it.

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