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The Importance of Patterns in Taekwondo.

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The Importance of Patterns in Taekwondo

By Philip Hines

A pattern is defined as “a set of attack and defence movements against one or more imaginary opponents”. In taekwondo however, patterns much more than just a series of movements.

Often seen as the more traditional side of taekwondo, all syllabus patterns are linked to important events or people in Korea’s history. Not only may the number of moves in the pattern or the pattern’s diagram be significant, I think that the pattern’s interpretation is as important as the pattern itself. Knowledge of the interpretation of the pattern helps to give students an understanding of the pattern and an insight to the correct frame of mind to perform the pattern in, meaning that the correct mental attitude towards the pattern is vital. The need to learn the interpretations also helps to discipline the mind of the student and portray the student’s attitude towards taekwondo. I think that without the pattern interpretations and historical links, patterns would be without meaning and therefore lacking the passion and determination needed to perform the pattern properly.

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In the syllabus leading up to and including the patterns for 1st dan black belt grading there are in total nine patterns (excluding freeforms). For 9th Kup grading, Saja Jirugi is learnt. Though not recognised as a pattern, the purpose of Saja Jirugi (four directional punch) is to teach students the vital aspects of patterns that are covered in Saja Jirugi. For example it helps practise timing, power and coordination.

The first pattern that a student learns is called Chon Ji tul, which literally means heaven and earth. As it is a relatively simple pattern and the first pattern we learn, it should be our best pattern was yellow belt is achieved. After chon ji, there are seven more patterns to progress through until the student reaches Choong – Moo Tul. This is the pattern for black belt and is actually my favourite syllabus pattern. This is because it is the most challenging pattern to perform, mainly because it has a wide

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When creating my freeform, I decided to move away from a symmetrical style pattern where a combination of moves is performed on the left, then next, the moves are repeated to the right as seen in earlier patterns such as Dan Gun Tul. Instead I decided to base my freeform upon the reality that no fight in real life will be symmetrical. Therefore the direction change is designed to represent the direction changes in a real life fight – spontaneous. However it does retain some of the traditional traits of a pattern as it finishes on the same spot and requires power, timing and coordination.

To conclude I believe that taekwondo’s patterns are what gives the art an identity and a sense of tradition in line with the tenets while at the same time helping taekwondo students in all other areas of the art. From a personal aspect, the challenge of patterns is never ending. When I have achieved my black belt, I would like to help with teaching the lower grades patterns.  

Philip Hines

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