What separates a true martial art from simply learning to “fight”?
“Fighting arts” tend to be narrowly focused on the combat aspect. This can be useful. We also learn how to fight in Tae Kwon-Do. But we learn much more.
A true Martial Art takes a holistic approach. True martial arts are a way of life, inside and outside the dojang. You learn how to defend yourself and become a warrior.
Some arts tend to only dismiss the practice of patterns. I believe patterns are essential. You might think that you learn a technique and then learn the corresponding pattern. It’s actually the reverse. You first learn the pattern, then the techniques as you master the pattern.
The first pattern you learn in Tae Kwon-Do is called Chon-Gi Tul. This introduces a low block in a walking stance, a lunge punch in a walking stance, and an inner forearm block in an L-stance. By drilling that very first pattern, you will learn three different techniques.
After you learn Chon-Gi, you will move on to Dan-Gun Tul, which uses the same stances you just learned (walking stance and L-stance). Dan-Gun also introduces the double knife hand block, the high punch, the high block, and the single knife hand strike.
Do these patterns build on one another? Maybe. I’d rather think that they compliment each other. Also, while you are practicing a low block, you are learning a myriad of other techniques without even being aware of it. You’re training your body to do things that are not expected of normal people.
Learning patterns is all about repetition. There are 24 patterns in the traditional, ITF (International Tae Kwon-Do Federation) version of Tae Kwon-Do. The only way to remember all 24 is by practicing them consistently.
By 6th dan (a black belt rank), you will know all of the patterns. You will work not just to maintain them, but master them. I know all 24 patterns, as well as one that has since been removed, and two that are considered to be “lost patterns”. I also practice some patterns from other martial arts.
Patterns are a necessary aspect of true martial arts training. They help to solidify both the basic and more advanced techniques. Practicing patterns also has many other benefits for life both within the dojang and without.
Patterns themselves are an excellent workout. They also improve your balance.
Patterns help to develop long-term memory processes. Multiple studies have concluded that martial arts patterns are effective in staving off the effects of Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive impairments as you age.
Patterns are also a way to push yourself beyond the restrictions of normal training. I teach my students not to hit as hard as they can during sparring. Or not to slam as hard as they can during self-defense. Those aspects of training are all about demonstrating control.
With patterns, though, you don’t need to hold back. You’re not putting anyone else at risk, so you can go all out, exploring and expanding the limits of your own strength and power.
As a martial artist, patterns are your best friend.
Master Gorino’s Tae Kwon-Do offers a trial program for individuals and families in Buffalo, NY and the surrounding areas that allows you to get a feel for the different classes, meet our instructors, and experience our dojang. It’s a great way to see if Tae Kwon-Do is right for you. To learn more or to sign up, register online or call (716) 836-KICK (5425) and a member of our team will follow up with you on next steps. We look forward to helping you achieve your goals. Pil-Sung!