Being Too Literal with Pattern Applications

In the Study of Taekwondo, this application from Po-eun by Russ Martin was shared, but received some slightly negative criticism. Not overly so as this instructor does show some really solid applications, and from the little I've seen I consider him to be quite an effective martial artist in his own right. One comment that prompted my response focuses on the instructor having applications that are "too literal." Meaning they have tried to stick with the techniques from the pattern to the detriment of 'simpler solutions' that would have ended the encounter faster.

My response was " ... [name of responder] makes an interesting point of being too literal in pattern analysis - which is why I am happy to focus on stuff in a pattern which I want to focus on. Meaning i don't feel the need to explain every bit of a pattern which then shows just how little I know. I am teaching to the best of my ability - rather than flopping around trying to do this technique guessing game. I know how to hurt a person, and i want that world view to be supported at every turn. :-) This helps my training program and practice. There is a time and place to brainstorm possibilities - just not as a lesson plan."

I feel there are some instructors who try not just to be too literal, but too 'clever.' For whatever reason, they have chosen to present rather esoteric interpretations. Some of these are really good material for the continuing progress of other high level practitioners. But otherwise, they would fall under the category of "the classical mess" that Bruce Lee referred to.

Don't let this comment make you think I'm ready to label the practitioner from just one video - I know how difficult it is to represent your style through a 2-3 minute video. You really can only get an idea about the person or his practice through concerted and continued contact hours with them. One video isn't going to cut it, and cannot represent the entirety of their martial practice.

Sometime to think about.

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FootFistWay said…
Hi Colin,

In my case I think I err on the side of being too literal, but that's because I don't think we get much out of practicing forms unless the applications fit the motions that we are doing. On the other hand, basic exercises like blocks are meant to be template motions, so I can understand changing them a little for each application; it's difficult to find the line of how much change is acceptable. The rule I like to go with is that we should at least understand why a particular motion/block is used to represent an application; if there's a better way to represent it then it's worth practicing those motions instead.

Also, hi, I'm a lurker who also researches form applications. I actually wrote about that same set from Po-Eun recently: in case you're interested.

Colin Wee said…
Sorry to have taken so long to get back to you, David.

Many of the moves in patterns are going to be just gobbledegook. EVEN if they are explained, the student will only be able to assimilate so much even if their training was to span over a few years.

I just went to your blog - I really like what I see. Hope I don't disappoint you with the resources I'm going to be sharing on mine. :-)



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