A few years ago I went to an American TaeKwon-Do Federation International (ATFI) Patterns seminar lead by the ATFI’s President Master Nunez. I could not believe how much I learned at this seminar. Sometimes you don’t know how much more there is to learn about a subject until a Master teaches you.
Master Nunez is an ITF World Champion and has spent many hours with General Choi learning the ITF Patterns himself. And he has a way of teaching where every little pre-move, move and after the move is emphasized. He can also demonstrate everything he is talking about in a way that no one else that I know of can.
I also think that you have to reach a certain level of training before you can learn at an advanced level, so there comes a time in your life when you have yourself learned something well enough to be able to accept another layer of higher information on the subject that you thought you knew inside and out. This is sometimes called enlightenment or a point of understanding in one’s TaeKwon-Do journey through life.
It is funny that there are a lot of students when they start learning TaeKwon-Do that have no idea why they should practice Patterns. I have to admit I was one of those guys who just wanted to know whatever I needed to spar with someone. Then as I advanced a level or two I started to realize that there was more to TaeKwon-Do than just winning sparring matches and that you should know what every movement or blocking and attacking tool is used for. And therefore the Patterns or Tuls of TaeKwon-Do.
The Founder of TaeKwon-Do along with his senior Masters created more than 24 Patterns. But in the end only 24 were accepted into the final system of TaeKwon-Do. These Patterns are the soul of TaeKwon-Do and no matter what you learn, if you practice these Patterns correctly, as the Founder General Choi Hong Hi intended you will know true Chang Hon TaeKwon-Do.
The Do in TaeKwon-Do means the Art or way of. To teach the art of TaeKwon-Do you must teach everything that is included in the system and in learning the Patterns you will learn the most important part of TaeKwon-Do. Because within each Pattern is the all of the tools of TaeKwon-Do and how they are to be applied. Without this, you are just practicing kicks or punches which is in itself not an art.
In the Encyclopedia of TaeKwon-Do the General wrote the following: (Hi, 1993)
“Patters are various fundamental movements, most of which represent either attack or defense techniques, set to a fixed and logical sequence. The student systematically deals with several imaginary opponents under various assumptions, using every available attacking and blocking tool from different directions. Thus pattern practice enables the student to go through many fundamental movements in series, to develop sparring techniques, improve flexibility of movements, master body shifting, build muscles and breath control, develop fluid and smooth motions, and gain rhythmical movements.”
The general goes on to say that there are 9 points to follow when practicing Patterns. But the one that stands out to me the most, although they are all important is point number 6. (Hi, 1993) “Each Pattern should be perfected before moving on to the next.” If you do not perfect the Pattern at the level you are at, you will not have gained all of the techniques that you need to learn the next Pattern and therefore have a weak foundation when moving to a more advanced Pattern.
There is so much to learn in a Martial Art such as TaeKwon-Do that if you spend your entire life practicing, at different periods you will receive enlightenment and be able to go to the next level.
This is what happened to me at the ATFI Patterns seminar with Master Nunez, even though I had been taught by many Masters the Patterns of TaeKwon-Do, I was able to grasp at that moment a very advanced understanding of what I had been trying to learn for many years. I had an enlightenment that comes from practice and mentoring from great Masters. I also realized at that moment that I will never stop learning, there is always more understanding to gain about even the most basic techniques that you learned as a white belt, you will still be learning after all of these years.
Hi, Choi, Hong. (1993). The Encyclopedia of TaeKwon-Do. Mississauga: International TaeKwon-Do Federation .