Are TKD patterns useless?

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

  1. John McNally

    John McNally Active Member

    Okay so discribe the chief aim, as you must know more than the creators of the art its self and the military.
    Tuls are to be practiced against imaginary opponents with realism and deternination.
    In many quality schools the Tuls are used while other students attack them so the performer can understand the actual us, Tuls are about 40 % of what TKD is About.
  2. John McNally

    John McNally Active Member

    There is an answer my people that do not understand, every one can discedit an aspect if not understood.
    Understand the reason why the item is taught this then makes you travel the path fully to understanding the teaching and your self.
  3. John McNally

    John McNally Active Member

    There is an answer my people that do not understand, every one can discedit an aspect if not understood.
    Understand the reason why the item is taught this then makes you travel the path fully to understanding the teaching and your self.
  4. bowlie

    bowlie Well-Known Member

    Its my understanding, through listening to and reading Iain's work, is that Patterns were initially a way of recording the techniques used. The old karate masters used them to record the moves they taught. Its even possible that each pattern shows a masters complete fighting system, however, this is disputed. In practice, the students would practice the moves on each other (i think this is called bunkai?), and then at the end be taught the pattern, so that they had a way to remember the whole system. That way, they could do the pattern and it would remind them of every technique, so that they can practice those techniques and pass them on or just keep working on them at home.

    The thing is though, its very easy to misinterpret the original patterns. Just you tube 'bunkai' and it will yield hundreds of videos of people showing their own interpretation of the patterns. What they think they represent. If we look at the taekwondo patternts, we see things like low blocks, and people say 'oh, this is to teach to block against an attacker from behind'. As Iain shows in the videos I posted, its simply not. Its a throwing technique that has been left out of the patterns.

    I honestly havn't looked into why Choi chose to include patterns in Taekwondo. I know that he took alot from karate, including the patterns, and that alot of karate masters were misinformed about the use of patterns. Maybe he got the wrong idea from there. I dont know. I never looked into it or why he thought they were good. All I know is that the original use of patterns by the people who invented them was to record the techniques they used for self defense, not to train students for self defense.

    That is not to say they do not have any value at all. They can tell us alot about the root of our art, that it takes alot from karate, that it has throws, and teaches us various techniques, such as the application of the knife hand guarding block shown in the video above. However, you need to interpret those patterns too. Simply doing a knife hand guarding block will not teach you how to use it. The fact it is called a block shows this. You need to isolate that part, and drill it, as shown above.

    As for whether patterns teach us balance, power, speed, technique. Well, we do get very small benefits in those regards. Punching the air is better than punching nothing, but not as good as punching a resisting object due to the fact that you have to pull it to avoid joint trauma. Balance, well again, you might see some improvement because you are moving, but its not an effective way to train balance. Technique, well do the normal technique! When I punch in sparring I do NOT step through with it, I do NOT use the sine wave and I do NOT put my hand on my hip* and I do NOT square my shoulders so they are square on. I do the opposite, twist sideways so that I can put my whole body weight into the punch, only that doesn't look as pretty does it?

    I know all of those technique things are done for a reason, for example, the stances show the movements you move through as you throw, not before you throw. This is to teach beginners about weight transfer. However, most teachers dont understand this, and dont explain that, so the students never understand weight transfer anyway.

    The idea that patterns have absolutly NO uses is just as silly the idea that they are a great way to train. They do have some carry over with things like power, but not enough to make them worthwhile training techniques. None of the original masters used them for power or balance, and they werent designed to be used for that, and they are inefficient at it. No great modern fighter uses patterns, even Machida, who does karate, does not do patterns in his training. The guys at the top of boxing, MMA, K1, and the old vale tudo champs like Rickson Gracie, not one of them used patterns, becasue they are not an efficient use of time. In my opinion, they are no significant used of them.

    *Oh, and incidentally, reaction hand on hip is nothing to do with power generation, that is another example of how patterns are misinterpreted throughout time. It was originally to show a grab, grabbing someones arm and moving it away to that you can hit your opponent unobstructed by his arm.

    I will try and dig up an interesting thread on another forum about stances to show what I meant earlier
    John McNally likes this.
  5. bowlie

    bowlie Well-Known Member

    Here is the thread, particularly the second page.
    Now you will never see any Mixed Martial Artist using a walking stance, or a L stance if you are just looking, but, if you freeze frame at points you will see these stances emerging. This is because no matter the style, you cannot change the laws of physics, and what works best with one style will always work best. Even though these guys arent taught the traditional stances, they still move through them, as they are taught how to transfer weight well. Stances are a way to teach people to transfer weight, but very few people understand that, thinking you should punch from sitting stance.
    John McNally likes this.
  6. John McNally

    John McNally Active Member

    To be honest i do not think i explain it well enough in typing, shifting of wieght happens when you walk, shifting of wieght comes from hip twist, falling comes from gravity.
    When you punch then the direction of mass should end with contact of fist or other striking or blocking object.
    Try a ball and chain it will only go in the way directed, if spun around it will go around until it is in direction of impact.
    A square shoulder position shows final technique, so if your making one punch your shoulder will be square as the direction of the punch has finished.
    Development in the art of TKD uses reaction force and hip finish for hand, purely again for drilling.
    Imagine painting with out praticing the basics.
    Tuls have always been a way of teaching techniques and as such should be practiced with realism, not prety moves.
    You make very valid points above from the eyes of some one that has only been shown the surface of TKD.
    But also maybe not all of TKD will sit well with everybody and that is the wonderful thing about discussions.
  7. bowlie

    bowlie Well-Known Member

    I also think it is a mistake to give people like Choi infallibility. Martial artists of any art have a tenancy to think their masters can do no wrong. In truth, we are all just men, and everyone can make mistakes. G. Choi and the like were great martial artists, but that does not mean they can never be wrong, and it does not mean we never have to think about these things ourselves.
    UK-Student likes this.
  8. bowlie

    bowlie Well-Known Member

    Im not sure I agree with this, but that be because I didnt quite understand. If your final punching technique ends with the shoulder at 90Degrees to the body, then that means the body cannot have turned very much at all. you want as much mass behind the punch as possible, and this means driving the whole body into it. I dont see how this can happen if you keep your body stationary.

    Also, with the reaction hand, its something that came from patterns, as it was something people got the meaning of messed up. I think we are underestimating our fellow practitioners if we think they are not able to handle punching with their hands up. I dont understand how the hand at the hip makes it any more basic, or helps with hip turning. All it does is add confusion
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  9. John McNally

    John McNally Active Member

    The hand to hip helps while in clas to understand rotation, the hip turns and this moves the upper mass in the same direction, thus the hand is the final point of impact delivering the wieght.
    In a walking stance the hip and body still rotate as you move forward, for a basic practise take a step forwad with your hip moving forward and the leg must follow and so will the hand.
  10. John McNally

    John McNally Active Member

    of course not and at the same time there is a reason that art is done the way it is and that is to maximise tachnique, thus a drill of techniques may be done in many ways to gain as close to perfection as possible, no one can ever be perfect but one can try to be as close as that person can be.
  11. bowlie

    bowlie Well-Known Member

    Ok thanks for clarifying. When I try it, it has the opposite effect. I.e. bringing the hand back makes me twist my hips less. But that may just be because I did boxing and they stress twisting the hip fully so im used to getting hip twist in. If that is so, it begs the question to me, why bother with this little inbetween step, and go straight to punching with hands up and focusing on good hip rotation. I dont think its so hard that beginners would be thrown by it.

    Oh, and here is an article on kata (the karate pattersn TKD are derrived from) be Iain.
    Before reading Iains works I was firmly in the camp that patterns are completely useless. I think I commented in this thread a few months ago to that effect. This was because noone had ever managed to explain to me a valid reason it was useful, people said it was for power and technique and those reasons do not hold up under close examination. Otherwise the greatest fighters around would all do patterns. Iain is the only person who has been able to put forward a real, valid use of patterns, and while I still think they are not the most important training tool, and should not take up too much class time, I do now see where and how they should be used and the value they do have.

    EDIT: to summarize, that value is that it shows you all the techniques that taekwondo encompasses, and if done correctly (sadly its not) reminds people that throws, grapples and locks are an integral part of taekwondo. It teaches the techniques of a holistic system, that you can then drill individually.
    UK-Student and John McNally like this.
  12. John McNally

    John McNally Active Member

    Try another but by executing from side on, imaging your holding a stick pointing up and it has two strings on it with ball bairings attached at the end of the string, spin the stick 180 and the ball bairings will follow.

    You dont always have to use a step, the steps are to help you understand.
    There is no complication when practising and developing understanding, as when standing in boxing you use the hip, this is the same in TKD if your standing right leg forward and jab then you use your right hip and then shoulder to push out the hand.
    if using the left hand in the same stance you would use the left hip.
  13. bowlie

    bowlie Well-Known Member

    I just think that 1) adding the reaction hand means your concentrating on two things, not one (hips and hand, not just hips) and that 2) the fact that if you punch in walking stance your shoulders should be 90 degrees to your arm means you cant rotate the hips past 90 degrees, meaning not much rotation. I doubt the original patterns had this hip at 90 degrees to oponent thing, another example of corruption by 'masters' that did not understand it.

    I understand the idea, The idea is that the bodyweight should be travelling in the same direction as the punch on the end of it. So for example, a boxing jab is impure, because the bodyweight is twisting clockwise as you pivot whereas the punch is going straight forward. In contrast a hook is pure because although your bodyweight is twisting, its twisting in the same direction as the fist is travelling. The idea that the punch stops at 90 degrees is that you connect with it at 90 to get the most force (because the weight of your bodyweight is traveling straight forwards at exactly 90 degrees) at the point of impact. The problem with this is that it limits the range of the punch. I presume that this is what the step through is for, to make up for the loss of range. However stepping through poses problems of its own.

    The idea that your fist hits as your body is at 90 degrees, and your back leg is straight (as in the other thread) are to generate power, but they both sacrifice range. This means that taekwondo punches are most effective at very short range. I find it interesting that our patterns (however flawed) have valuable things to teach us. the short range punches and throws / grapples in patterns for example, clearly show us that taekwondo is a close combat system. However many 'purists' and 'traditional' teachers dont understand this, and practice the art of kicking from several feet away using long range strikes, as this is how people compete in taewondo tournaments (just look at the olympics). I find it ironic that the traditional teachers, those that place so much importance on patterns, fail to learn its lessons. The value of patterns are that they teach us that fights happen at close range, and provide us the techniques to deal with that. Yet the very people that place the most importance on patterns also neglect this reality. I asked a question about grappling in taekwondo on another forum and someone said 'this is just revisionist nonsense from people trying to cash in on MMA's success. real taekwondo has no grappling'. The patterns demonstrate clearly that grappling is a vital part of taekwondo, and they are even included in the encyclopedia. The 'revisionists' are in this case closer to the idea that the original masters wanted than the 'traditionalists'.
    John McNally likes this.
  14. John McNally

    John McNally Active Member

    Yes i believe you are understanding my sometimes confusing or in depth explanations, tae kwon do is not just long range but also close range, but believe me this is only know to traditional experienced, or exploring instructors.
    Please realise that some that call themselve traditionalist only teach to thier knowledge and this is not all bad.
    A true traditional Instructor knows how to uttilise the techniques they teach for more than just a release move.

    As in ITF Do san the release movement is a throw lesson as well as a body shift spin. but most just concentrate on the release and drive.
    A movement from one pattern should be used with another form a different Tul to be suited for that situation.

    Explore and discover the growth to a true Black belt.
  15. bowlie

    bowlie Well-Known Member

    Noone can do more than teach to the best of their ability, sadly in TKD we often lack a way of determining who the good teachers are and who are the bad. In boxing, a bad teacher will have no students, becasue noone likes getting beaten up. In taekwondo, the majority of people dont have a way of testing their ability as well because less people compete, and the competitions are very far removed from the real righting art (lack or grapples and throws again) so its harder to see what teacher knows what they are doing, and what doesnt.
    UK-Student likes this.
  16. John McNally

    John McNally Active Member

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  17. NoBullShitFighting

    NoBullShitFighting Active Member

    Besides the patterns, the design of the uniform is the only artistic element that binds taekwondo practitioners together. I have seen so many things implemented in the exams in my time, a black belt from a different club has huge problems adjusting to a new one, also the trainers usually don't do anything about it.

    Besides this we have the sparring rules. So no, I do not find dropping tuls or poomsae smart at all. In fact I would rather add tuls or poomsae instead of other techniques for belt exams. At least they can get help with that online. Then teach both forms of sparring and have self defense courses that are aimed at self-defense, without the pressure of having to perform something on a belt exam distorting the lessons. Besides that I must also admit, I have seen some very dull defense drills on belt exams, more like demo-techniques in my opinion. Tough acrobatics has a place in taekwondo, it does not need to sail under the self-defense flag. We learned our jumps and self-defense without needing a belt-test.

    Simply said: Taekwondo is to different from club to club, resulting in adjustment problems for new students, this often ends with them choosing to learn a different art instead, which is bad for business. In order to create more of a consensus for what should be performed on a belt exam one could cut out parts that varies from place to place, with parts that are the same. An example of this is the sparring and the patterns. That way students could also enter both WTF and ITF tournaments and ultimatly ends up getting double the taekwondo for the money. This does not mean that acrobatics, techniques and other misc. that makes each club its own needs to go lost.
    UK-Student likes this.
  18. bowlie

    bowlie Well-Known Member

    They shouldnt be dropped, but they should be better explained and understood
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  19. John McNally

    John McNally Active Member

    did i miss somthing who mentioned dropping items.
    Nothing should be dropped and to be honest within the ITF style schools most teach the same grading requirements, if not then well what can i say.
    All the Tuls will be the same except for Ko'Dang and Juche.
    The set sparring in the uk generaly is the same.

    From ITF to WTF school or the otherway around, it will not be easy but it should be enjoyable and a view to of seen.

    In my personal opinion if your looking at a school in the business perspective then its the wrong perspective, before any one says it :) yes you have to have eyes on it to a degree as a business to ensure the school survives.
    Ultimatly over time with good teachings you will grow.
  20. UK-Student

    UK-Student Active Member

    With respect, I think Iain has as much practise in traditional martial arts as most instructors in the United Kingdom. He is a sixth degree black belt in Goju and has experience in Judo and Iado. He also posts videos de-constructing power application into punches and takes things such as body control very seriously.

    I think it dismisses the idea way too simply to say that martial artists become revisionists because they do not understand the lesson. As "the lesson" is never tested in laboratory settings, the statement establishes a position that cannot be argued against through logic.

    Revisionists like Iain show their methods and cite their historical sources and have legitimate traditional backgrounds so I think we should take them seriously.

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