IntroA pattern set is a group of specific patterns listed in the order required to be learned for rank advancement. One or more of the patterns are assigned to each rank and must be learned and performed along other requirements at a rank test before the student may be considered for promotion to the next rank. There are several national and international taekwondo organizations throughout the world, many of which teach different pattern sets.
Pattern sets allow students to learn and remember hundreds of combinations of techniques. At a black belt testing where a testing student must perform all the patterns up to and including the current rank, it means the student must remember over 600 individual pattern movements in the correct order. This is like taking a test with 600 questions, where just one missed question results in failure.
Remembering all the movements would be almost impossible under the stress of testing if a student had to perform them in order from one long list or if all the movements were in one pattern. However, when the movements are separated into 20 individual patterns of 30 movements each, it is like taking 20 tests, each with 30-questions, which is a much more manageable task. This grouping of individual movements into a functional unit of integrated movements that functions as a whole, with properties not derivable by summation of its parts, is what is called "gestalting."
The following are some pattern sets used by major taekwondo organizations.
Chang-hon pattern setThe original taekwondo pattern set developed by General Choi Hong Hi, founder of the International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) and questionably the founder of taekwondo itself. Many of the patterns were heavily influenced by the shotokan karate patterns that Choi learned during his younger years.
Choi originally had only 20 patterns. He named each pattern (except chon-ji) after important people in Korean history, as a reminder of the importance of honoring and cultivating respect for those who have accomplished great things. In some patterns, the shape of the diagram of the movements and the total number of movements also represent a significant Korean person or event.
Choi later dropped ko-dang and added eui-am, moon-moo, ju-che, so-san, and yon-gae to bring the total to 24 patterns. Choi chose the number 24 to correspond to the 24 hours in the day, a continuously repeated cycle that represents eternity. Ju-che is difficult to perform so some organizations either do not use it or allow a substitution for older students. Some organizations still use ko-dang.
This pattern set is one of the most difficult for new students to learn since it uses intricate footwork and jumping kicks in the color belt rank patterns (most schools using this pattern set use the first nine patterns for color belts). The black belt patterns are long (yu-sin has 68 movements) with many jumping, spinning kicks, which make them physically and mentally demanding, especially during testing and competition.
Palgue pattern setThe pattern set originally used by the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF), now renamed to just World Taekwondo. Due to shotokan karate influence in the patterns, the set was replaced in the 1970s by the taegeuk pattern set, which is easier to for beginners to learn. For schools and organizations still using this pattern set, the first eight patterns plus koryo are usually required for black belt. Patterns 1 through 4 are relatively easy to learn, but then the patterns become more difficult.
Taegeuk pattern setThe pattern set that replaced the palgue pattern set that was used by the World Taekwondo organization. Since this is the pattern set used in international and Olympic competition, it is very popular. The black belt patterns are physically demanding, and each pattern is relatively unique.
Songahm pattern setThe American Taekwondo Association (ATA), founded1i969, was one of the first taekwondo organizations in the United States. It used the chang-hon pattern set until the mid-1980s when its founder, Haeng Ung Lee, developed his own pattern set he called songahm. The ATA has a copyright on these patterns so they cannot be used in competitions by non-ATA members. Lee developed a symbol to represent the pattern set and each pattern in the set represents a portion of the symbol.
Heian pattern setThis pattern set was developed during the Japanese occupation of Korea (1905-1945) from the heian patterns of shotokan karate, which many Koreans studied after they moved to Japan to study or work. Many traditional schools still teach these patterns under the Korean name pyong ahn, although many of the patterns still retain their Japanese pronunciation. The set is composed of five-relatively short patterns that increase in difficulty.