heavy emphasis on solo forms for the preservation of the key concepts of the system.
Somewhere along the way however the Korean Martial Arts seems to have lost their link back to their forms, treating them solely as performance sport rather than the encyclopedia or basis upon wich their practical application of the Martial Arts rest. It is unfair to say that this is only a problem in the Korean Martial Arts as there are similar situations in both Chinese systems (Tai Chi for instance is often trained solely as performance art for health benifits) and Japanese systems (several styles of Karate train them for grading purposes and for maintaining "Tradition").
That Taekwondo should suffer from this lost link between Poomsae and Eungyoung (Practical application) is not strange when we look at the history of the rather "new" art. You see modern Taekwondo is very much MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) in that it is based on a lot of different systems. Kukki Taekwondo (often mistakingly called WTF) was the result of a merger of several different schools/ styles to form one unified Martial Art.
The emphasis has therefore "always" been to standarise the techniques and making one common form set that could be implemented and trained by all the different schools so we all could have one big martial art instead of several small fragmented ones. We can actually "thank" the Korean government for this little known fact as it was they who demanded the merger. Naturally the emphasis being technique, forms and then sport to spread the art has made the application of the forms to take a back seat. This coupled with the fact that all the system were close range systems was fused with Taek Kyon (wich is a system containing a great deal of long range kicks) and the subsequent focus on the Taek Kyon root to the exclusion of the other roots has robbed the Korean Martial Arts practisioners of the link between forms and practical applications.
But enough about that, if you are still reading on you are most likely reading hoping that I write about the analisys of forms and I want to do just that. Here are a few "pointers" that I have picked up along the way that might serve some of the readers well:
- Study the history of Taekwondo and embrace all the root arts not only the Korean roots but also the foreign ones (Chinese/ Japanese/ Okinawan)
- Study the original works of Gichin Funakoshi, Toyama Kanken and Kenwa Mabuni as they provided the "Karate platform" that Taekwondo was partly built upon.
- Aquire and study the Bubishi as it served as the Textbook of early Karate and containes a lot of information on strategy as well as vital points and practical applications.
- Study the most likely attacks that you will encounter in a civilian defense context as these are most likely the attacks our forms were meant to counter (study the history and you will see).
- You can look at the terminology we use, but be aware that prior to the 1920s most of our techniques did not have names, therefore the name of the technique might not have any real corrolation with the application of the technique.
- Our forms are not exlusivly striking, but neither are they exclusivly grappling! In fact the forms favor integrated grappling and striking all the time.
- Our forms are not exclusivly defensive, but neither are they exclusivly offensive! In fact the forms favor integrated offense and defense together.
- Do not be fooled by the meongi lines (performance lines) of our forms. If you turn in 8 directions during the performance of the form it does not in any way mean that you are somehow fighting 8 different opponents.
- Sometimes the turns in our forms are part of the applications (throws, trips, sweeps, joint locks), sometimes they tell you where you should move in relation to your opponent, and sometimes a turn is just a turn so the form does not use too much training space!
- Look at all the movement in a technique if you want a sophisticated application. Ask yourself why you use this exact stance, why your hand is on your hip and why the other hand was chambered a certain way and not another way.
- The "stealing method" of Boonseok: Look at what other people have found in their forms and "steal it" making it your own.
- The "borrowing method" of Boonseok: Look at what other martial arts are doing. See something that fits your forms? "Borrow" it and use that as an application of your form.
- The HAOV method of Boonseok: Take one movement from your form and insert a habitual act of violence. If it does not fit, then try another until you find a match.
And with that I wish you all happy training:-)