[WTF] Series poomsae, new invention?

Discussion in 'General Taekwondo Discussions' started by Mario Ray Mahardhika, Jul 7, 2013.

  1. Mario Ray Mahardhika

    Mario Ray Mahardhika Active Member

    Recently my club's head incorporate new exam material called series poomsae, first introduced in previous two periods of national black belt exam. I'd like to know whether this invention comes from WTF (or Kukkiwon) or simply a(nother) crazy invention from my country's black belt holders.

    This poomsae is formed as a matrix, where the exam material will ask random cell from the matrix and the exam participant must do the correct movement as specified in the matrix at that cell. I don't remember the entries, but assume it this way (for simplicity):
    Serie \ Movement |          1          |          2          |          3          |
                     |       Ap Kuubi      |                     |                     |
            1        |   Momtong An Makki  |         XXX         |         XXX         |
                     |   Momtong Jireugi   |                     |                     |
                     |                     |      Yeop Chagi     |                     |
            2        |         XXX         |      Dwi Kuubi      |         XXX         |
                     |                     | Sonnal Momtong Makki|                     |
                     |                     |                     |                     |
            3        |         XXX         |         XXX         |         XXX         |
                     |                     |                     |                     |
    So, for instance, the examiner could ask for "Serie 2 Movement 2" then the participant must execute Yeop Chagi, followed by Dwi Kuubi - Sonnal Momtong Makki. Similarly, "Serie 1 Movement 1" will order the participant to do Ap Kuubi - Momtong An Makki followed by Momtong Jireugi. The movement will be executed 3 times, with only the 3rd one must be done with a kihap, then dwiro dora, re-execute 3 times, again the 3rd one with a kihap, another dwiro dora, then next movement.

    What bothers me is that this kind of thing (from my point of view) doesn't have any essence to teach, yet it makes things more difficult and meaningless (you have to remember cells in matrix instead of understanding language syntax and semantics of movement). Moreover, this thing is tested on ALL belts, from white to black, with EXACTLY the same matrix. Now this makes me have to teach Dwi Kuubi, Sonnal Momtong Makki, Yeop Chagi, etc. that's not part of white belt's curriculum to them. Most white belts can't even do Ap Kuubi correctly, and their roundhouse kicks are still so diagonal (perhaps near vertical), how can they be taught something like this? Just FYI, the matrix also includes blue and red belts movement like Hecho Makki, Otgoreo Makki, Dwi Chagi, etc.

    If any of you can confirm that this comes from WTF, please tell me the reason and purpose of this.
  2. Gnarlie

    Gnarlie Well-Known Member

    This is not an international standard. Sometimes National Governing Bodies (NGB's) impose their own progressive syllabus to ensure students reach the minimum standard set by the Kukkiwon. This sounds like an NGB thing to me, or perhaps a local school standard.

    Most NGB's and local schools have some kind of basic technique series that is intended to help beginners drill and remember the basic techniques outside of the Poomsae.

    I remember doing Basic 1 and 2 in England, and in Germany we do Basic Techniques 1 and 2, within the club. Those techniques are practiced from 10th kup on, and contain all basic kicks including Bandae Dollyeo and many basic hand techniques including Hecho and Sonnal, and stances Apkubi and Dwikubi.

    I have never had to memorise a matrix though, for the purpose of recall in a test. That just adds work, and adds thinking time, and goes against the principles of Taekwondo.

    I don't see any problem with introducing basic versions of kicks and stances to beginners, so they can start trying to figure them out physically. I don't believe they should be expected to demonstrate basic kicks and stances credibly until around Blue belt. No harm in asking them to show that they understand the basic shape of a kick or stance or hand technique though. It doesn't have to be perfect.
  3. Mario Ray Mahardhika

    Mario Ray Mahardhika Active Member

    That's a different thing. Although I never really did those basics in the past, I've seen them and they do have points that make them useful for students.
    Well yes, but giving too many materials wouldn't be good for them. The burden would be too heavy. I'd rather give 2-3, maybe 4 per belts (per technique group: kick, punch, strike, stance) and shape them up till they reach one level that can be said adequate.

    Another problem with giving too many materials, especially for kicks, is that from my own research, I found that kicks are actually form hierarchy. Thus, in order to do one correctly, you have to master its requirements. It would be difficult to teach dwi hurigi without mastering yeop hurigi and dwi chagi. Anyway, this is the hierarchy that I've built as my teaching reference:

  4. Gnarlie

    Gnarlie Well-Known Member

    I think the matrix idea is just someone else's way of achieving a similar thing, i.e. that the student has all the techniques by 1st Dan, albeit less structured than your way. So:

    If only the BB Grading tests the full matrix, then you can split and structure the teaching of it how you like, for example test a few cells for each Kup level in a structured way.

    But, if your club head instructor is going to test the full matrix at every Kup grading, that's probably going to create the overload problem of which you speak.

    Perhaps you can speak to him about a structured approach?
  5. Gnarlie

    Gnarlie Well-Known Member

    Another thought: learning this matrix is really no different than preparing step sparring techniques for a grading, or learning particular kicking combinations for free sparring use. So I guess we all use an informal version of a matrix when we test. That might be where this idea is coming from.
  6. Mario Ray Mahardhika

    Mario Ray Mahardhika Active Member

    Will try, but he's a police and has some kind of military mental (read: whatever your boss say, do it, boss is always right)
    Gnarlie likes this.
  7. Gnarlie

    Gnarlie Well-Known Member

    And this is exactly how Taekwondo helps us to develop; now you have to think of a way to influence him, so that he can see why it's a good idea to structure this a bit more.

    I suggest focusing on the positive outcomes of a structured approach first, perhaps taking an outline with you of how you think you could structure the progressive teaching of the techniques over the grading process - if he doesn't have to do the work on it, he's more likely to agree to it. Try to imagine every possible reason why he might say this is a bad idea, and have a watertight counterpoint. He won't really be able to say no, I mean look:

    Advantages of a structured approach
    • It will be simpler to teach
    • There is less risk of students feeling overwhelmed by the material and leaving
    • Students will find it easier to learn new techniques as they will already have learned a similar prerequisite technique at the last grade
    • Students will have less to focus on for each grading, giving them more time to focus on each aspect, leading to a higher overall standard for the club at the final black belt grading for each student
    • There will be distinct material to teach at each grade instead of repeating the same stuff over and over
    • Techniques can be taught in progressive levels of difficulty, making them easier to learn and reducing the likelihood of students trying something they are not ready for and injuring themselves - this is the number one cause of injury and insurance claims in Taekwondo
    • Students are more likely to be motivated to learn the matrix and the Korean terminology if it is in bite sized chunks
    • Younger students are more likely to understand what is being taught
    • The techniques will relate better to the syllabus for each grade - e.g. no Dwikubi at white belt

    Disadvantages of a structured approach
    • White belts won't be able to test for black belt - which they can't anyway
    • Extremely talented students with very high levels of motivation will perhaps want more - which can be given
    • Students from your club may not know all of the requisite techniques if they attend a national seminar where these techniques are practiced - can be addressed with the NGB representative if required
    • Someone will have to work out and publish the structure and stick to it when teaching - that would be you
    • Otherwise - NONE!
    Mario Ray Mahardhika likes this.
  8. Blue_Knight

    Blue_Knight Active Member

    Well, you can rule out the WTF right away since the WTF does not teach Taekwondo, and has no curriculum or method of Instruction. If it deals with what qualifies a Poomsae as good quality for competition, or sparring rules and judging criteria for sports, then that might pertain to the WTF, but not promotion test requirements or daily instruction methods.

    This “matrix” appears to be something created by one instructor or Master for the ease of understanding a relatively complex theory of seeing each level of Poomsae as though it were on a single plane (kind of like the multi-level chess game shown in the Star Trek TV series). Most Instructors already do this without a written martix, and we analyze the Poomsae as a ‘series’ since that is how the Taegeuk are designed. Each segment of each gwae (trigram) can be compared and contrasted. Teaching students to be able to do their individual jang (form) forward and backward, or isolating a particular segment improves the memory.

    Teaching higher ranks to be able to go back and repeat previous forms helps to keep the basics fresh in their memory and builds on what was previously learned. To integrate each jang in the series, and jump from one line or “block of a matrix” to another in a different jang will tend to strengthen the student’s overall grasp of the versatility of application and gain a better comprehension of the Poomsae as a series. Real life self defense does not follow the exact pre-arranged Jang, therefore the individual skills are floating freely in the mind to be connected and attached to any other chain of combinations throughout the series.

    However, I do not believe this should be done too soon for beginners as it can be an overload of information before they grasp the basics. I do not believe in teaching any rank of student the techniques of the higher ranks, let alone test them on that material.

    In my opinion and experience, a student should focus on the first level only in the beginning. Once they move to the 2nd level, they can integrate the two. The 3rd level student can blend the knowledge of all three, and so on. However, the first level student should not be trying to integrate higher levels into their beginning level training.

    Blue Knight
  9. Mario Ray Mahardhika

    Mario Ray Mahardhika Active Member

    The matrix is not the problem, but how it's used (it's silly that you have to remember cell contents by index). The contents (basic movement combination) are perfectly fine. After all, before we teach students about Poomsae, basic movement combination is what we have to teach first so students can understand how to connect between one movement to another because Poomsae consists of it.

    From the bad side point of view, even before I get my black belt, there are already black belts who don't know exactly what their kill is. The don't know the name, how it's executed, how it reaches the target or how it blocks an attack, etc. I'm afraid they're now in the chairs and create this to hide their incapabilities (it's much easier just to say "serie n movement m" with the reference on their hand than having to spell the movement names).
    Yes, this is the problem for students (without ignoring problems for instructors, where we have to teach more topics as well). I fully agree with you and it's what already working prior this "invention", though maybe not all dojangs do material review for higher ranks.

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