27 December 2015

Quick Thoughts on Pattern Interpretation

On a Facebook-group that I belong to, there was recently a discussion with regards to pattern interpretation. It was pointed out that many Taekwondo grandmasters see the forms as nothing more than a combination of blocks-punches-kicks, and that we should not search for deeper or hidden applications in these forms.

I make no secret about it, that for me the primary function of the patterns in ITF Taekwon-Do is to teach certain principles of movement, and that they are not primarily templates for fighting.

However, I do hold the view that the patterns are artistic artifacts; i.e. works of art. If we believe the forms to be works of art then we must accept that they are open to interpretation as are all pieces of art.

The power of art lies not simply in their ability to communicate the artist's original intention, but more importantly, that art can resonate at an individual level with the audience so that each person engaging with good art should experience a unique encounter.

For me, I have always considered the patterns to be analogous to poems, and such a view of the forms have helped me gain wonderful insight into them.

Having said this, as with all artistic interpretation -- there is no single correct answer; however, there are some answers that are obviously wrong. Similarly with pattern interpretation, it is definitely possible to come up with alternative applications; however, some applications are obviously impractical and / or illogical. Sadly, I've seen all too many such nonsensical interpretations of movements in patterns.

It is nearly 2016, and I hope to share some good news soon about my studies. May you all have a blessed festive season and may 2016 be a phenomenal year.