Tae Kwon Do

About PMA Tae Kwon Do

Tae Kwon Do is the traditional Korean martial art which literally means the "art of foot and hand fighting". Tae Kwon Do is considered to be one of the "hard" forms of the martial arts. Hard forms use direct and straight line techniques rather than those found in "soft" forms. Soft forms tend to move toward the flowing, circular movements depicted in the television series "Kung Fu". The trademark of Tae Kwon Do is its devastating kicking techniques.

Although the name "Tae Kwon Do" is relatively new, the origins of the art reach far back into Korean history. The name "Tae Kwon Do" was adopted in 1955 as the national martial art of South Korea, when nine of the existing kwans ("schools) agreed to unify under the new name. Prior to this, most of the major kwans called their style tang soo do (China hand way) or kong soo do (empty hand way). Even though the kwans were ordered to unify by South Korea's President Syngman Rhee, not all of them joined.


During the 6th century AD, the Korean peninsula was divided into three kingdoms. Silla, the smallest was in constant peril of being overrun by her more powerful neighbors for the advanced wealth, technical skills and art forms that Silla was famous for. In response to this pressure, Silla assembled an elite fighting's corps of young member of the aristocracy which they called the "Hwarang Do" or "Flower of Youth". Legend has it that these warriors went into the mountains and along the seashore studying the fighting techniques of nature to use to their own advantage.


The ethical spirit of modern Tae Kwon Do may be traced directly to the five pointed code of Hwarang, which emphasized loyalty to the nation, respect of parents, faithfulness among friends, courage in battle and avoidance of unnecessary violence. There is no first attack in Tae Kwon Do. The tenets of Tae Kwon Do demand that a student of Tae Kwon Do never initiates an attack. Therefore, most patterns begin with a block.


To consider Tae Kwon Do as simply a sport or just another way to get in shape is to deny the proud heritage of almost two thousand years. The combined thought and experience of centuries has produced out modern art form which continues to draw strength from the past.


One of the traditional methods of training is the use of forms (kata, poomse, hyung, etc.). These are, simply stated, a sequence of techniques that fit well together with minimum effort, producing maximum effect. Many schools today have abandoned the practice of forms. This in unfortunate and not the way things are done at PMA. Each form teaches valuable concepts, and each series of movements have a practical application. In short, a reason for doing them.


Lower belt patterns have more fist movements and long range techniques. Higher belt patterns have more open hand movements and close range techniques.


Not all movements are intended for actual application, some are only included to condition the muscles and reflexes. So possible application of pattern movements are open to interpretation. Higher patterns emphasize hand techniques not introduced in the color belt patterns. Therefore, if you do not progress beyond black belt, you miss out on many hand techniques. This means that Tae Kwon Do usually does not get credit for many of its hand techniques. Movements in the patterns emphasize the action-reaction principle. They teach how to chamber before movement which helps set the rhythm of the pattern. Each movement sets up the next movement by using a action/reaction movement and the momentum resulting from it. Thus, the thrust of one movement leads into the next movement so transitions are smooth.

Mental Aspects of Patterns

Students tend to overlook the mental aspects of patterns during their training, but they are just as, if not than more than, important. One of the obviously mental aspects of pattern performance is the kiai/kiyup. The kiai is not just a yell to be performed at specific points in a pattern, it is the convergence of all your energy and thought at a single instant of maximum power. When the pattern is performed correctly, you feel so good that you cannot help but make a noise. An explosion will make a loud noise, but a loud noise is not an explosion, likewise, the kiai is a shout, but a mere shout is not a kiai. When you perfect a technique to the point that you know an opponent would be powerless against it and you execute the technique in a pattern, you feel exalted at its perfection. This feeling of exaltation and perfection is released through the kiai. Only perfection will bring out a true kiai. Otherwise, it will only be a yell. If you have an unshakeable belief in both yourself and your ability to apply the techniques of the kata, regardless of the circumstances, then your kata will posses kiai.


Are you locked into the belief that pattern practice is useless in modern Tae Kwon Do training? If so, you need a key to free you from this prison of thought that restricts your growth.  When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate one another. Some think patterns are restrictive; that they inhibit free expression. However, rather than being restrictive, they are actually liberating. Patterns keep your basics honed as you sharpen your other skills. Patterns keep you practicing your basics, while you seek your own sparring, self-defense, or breaking style.


YouTube PMA Forms (Patterns)


Learning a Martial Art

There are 5 basic steps in learning a martial art. These steps are the same whether the art is Tae Kwon Do, Karate, Kobudo, or Kung Fu. The steps, if properly followed will come together to form a circle or spiral pattern. One step leads to the next until ultimately, the pattern returns back to the first step. To memorize a movement or imitate a motion is not difficult, however, to make that imitated motion become a skill takes dedicated study. The quest to become skilled and proficient in any martial art is a never ending process, but by carefully following these steps, proficiency can be achieved.  As previously stated, this process should be applied to any and all martial art styles.  In truth, we should apply this process to most everything we do from day to day.

Step 1 - Patience
Due to the dedicated nature of martial arts techniques, patience with oneself is imperative, Learning is not a rapid "do it once and know it" process. Without patience, one can not accurately practice and learn.


Step 2 - Repetition
Repetition is most likely the most difficult step in the learning process. Without the over and over repetition of even the most basic of skills, movements will not become reactions.


Step 3 - Understanding
A martial artist should always strive to understand why a particular motion works the way it does and why it effects the attacker the way it does. Without this understanding, the student will be unable to gain a real insight into the art or make the connection between the similarities of different movements. The understanding of movement similarities is the corner stone to understanding the application of combinations.


Step 4 - Experimentation
This is the nest logical step. Take acquired knowledge and try different applications. Some of the application will work and others will fail, but the process will help to polish the students technique and lead to the development of a personal defense system. The experiment step can only be entered once the understanding step has been completed. Experimentation without technical understanding results in injury.


Step 5 - Evaluation
Evaluation is a very difficult step due to the fact it requires complete self honesty. The student must honestly evaluate whether a motion worked or not, did it have proper application, did the movement take too mush time, etc.. If the evaluation is positive then remember the motion, if the evaluation is negative, then admit error and reexamine the technique.