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Three common misconceptions about patterns (tuls)

“Patterns are various fundamental movements, most of which represent either attack or defense techniques, set to a fixed and logical sequence.”

– Gen. Choi Hong Hi (Vol.9, p.13, “Encyclopedia of Taekwon-Do”, 1985)

1.  Misconception: A pattern is an imaginary fight

A pattern represents no imaginary or real fight. In fact, it represents no fight at all. While practising a pattern, one is not defending from or attacking to some imaginary opponent. One is simply perfecting all the smaller patterns that the large pattern contains. But perfection can come only if the technique is correct along with the correct application of power, which results in the “realism” of the pattern. Thus, a correct and a powerful execution of a pattern may seem to resemble an imaginary fight; nonetheless, it is not so. A pattern is only an exercise to gain perfection of the smaller patterns, which contain fundamental movements like stances, blocks, punches, kicks, throws, and other attacking or defensive movements, in all directions, and by utilising both right and left limbs.

2.  Misconception: A pattern is for fighting a group of people

Anyone who has ever been in a real fight knows very well that a real fight is totally unorganised, chaotic and unpredictable. Whereas a pattern is fixed, logical and sequential. Then how can a pattern teach to fight against a single individual or a group of people, real or imaginary? The only purpose of practising a pattern is to gain mastery of the fundamental movements, in all directions, and using both left and right limbs.

3.  Misconception: A pattern is useless in a real fight

If you know how to correctly give a kick, then one kick is enough to end a real fight. Similarly, one punch or one block is also enough. Punches, kicks, blocks, etc. are fundamental movements. Fundamental movements help you to win a fight. One or more fundamental movements make a small pattern. Small patterns make a large pattern. Hence, when you are practising a pattern, you are only practising smaller patterns, which again means that you are actually practising fundamental movements. And fundamental movements win fights, thus, practising a pattern is very useful in a real fight.


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