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Patterns: The Devil Is In The Details - Part 1
by Stuart Anslow
Having just completed three in-depth books on the Ch’ang patterns (The Encyclopedia Of Taekwon-Do Patterns), I clarified a few points with various Taekwon-Do Masters and Grandmasters (both within the ITF and some not in the ITF) to ensure the books were as accurate as possible and by doing so I gained a lot of useful insights into various techniques contained within the patterns.
I have noticed at a few recent tournaments that many miss some of the finer details within their patterns performances, which could make the difference between a medal placing and of course could effect a grading mark as well. This article is not a criticism of any instructors teachings of patterns as the reasons are numerous as to why things can be slightly wrong, from miscommunication to lack of communication altogether or something altogether different.
There are other reasons as well, for example, many use YouTube video’s to revise their patterns and if one organisation does things different to your own, errors can creep in that way. Or if an instructor has taught your instructor something that is slightly incorrect, then it filters down the line until someone else corrects you or you notice yourself! Also, one should bear in mind that different Taekwon-Do organisations may deliberately want things performed differently, for example AIMAA students always perform a crescent kick when ever they perform a ’W’ block—so this is not wrong, just different. Students should always clarify such things with their instructor if need be.
What I refer to as ‘correct’ is how techniques were left following General Choi’s death in 2002, like I said, other groups may want them performed in a different way, but these details are General Choi’s version of the patterns. Whilst there are a few Masters of our art that can virtually quote General Choi’s books word for word, for the rest of us details can get forgotten over time. For example, whilst training up for my recent grading I found getting my 3rd dan patterns 100% correct was the hardest part, as I did not have any 3rd dans at my Academy, so these patterns are the ones I teach the least, that is only natural and without refreshing them constantly (as I was now doing) I found that small errors crept in that needed to be corrected prior to the actual grading.
When I teach new patterns (mainly the black belt ones) there are always little things that, following a black belt training session, I need to clarify afterwards, as to be honest, with so many moves and combinations that are similar, I simply cannot remember some of the finer details sometimes—maybe its an age thing, or maybe its only being human. Whatever the case, whilst its all still fresh, I thought an article or two on some of the things I have noticed may prove useful for some. Others may simply feel “Of course I knew that”, but I have seen that many do not know (but should) which is why I have put them here. They are simply things that I have picked up or noticed that I think others may find useful and are in no particular order.
Toi-Gye’s Backfist and Hwa-Rang’s Side Elbow Thrusts
One of the things I constantly see is students sliding on both these techniques, as they are technically, both backward momentum type motions. For this example we will use the ‘step back’ into a Backfist Strike found in Toi-Gye and the Rear Elbow Thrust found near the end of Hwa-Rang tul.
The correct way is that you ‘step’ into the Backfist Strikes and ‘slide’ into the Side Elbow Thrusts and this is the way all of these motions are performed all the way through the patterns (though I am working from memory here, its 6am in the morning, so I`m open to be corrected).
How long is the slide motion? Approximately 6 inches from your previous stance ie. Where your left foot was originally.
The Backfist Strike from Toi-Gye tul
The Rear Elbow Thrust from Hwa-Rang tul
Okay, lets jump onto some of the techniques within the black belt patterns. Speaking of ‘jumping’ did you know that technically there are no jumping kicks in Taekwon-Do! That's right, because the word ‘jumping’ refers to the shifting of stances in the air (and possibly other things) but not kicks. All, so called ‘jumping kicks’ should really be called ‘flying kicks’! Anyway, moving on: