Mar 12
Last Updated on 15 August 2017

Why do Patterns or Tul

Written by John Cuddy | 13 April 2009


The ancient law in the Orient was similar to the law of Hamurabi, “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,’ and was vigorously enforced even if death was caused accidentally.

In this type of environment, and since the present system of free sparring had not yet been developed it was impossible for a student of the martial arts to practice or test his or her individual skill of attack and defense against actual moving opponents.

Individual advancement was certainly hindered until an imaginative practitioner created the first patterns or forms.  These are also known in the Korean language as Tul.  Patterns are various fundamental movements, most of which represent either attack or defense techniques, set to a fixed and logical sequence.

The student systematically deals with several imaginary opponents under various assumption using every available attacking, blocking tools from different directions.  Thus pattern practice enables the student to go through many fundamental movements in series, to develop sparring techniques, improve flexibility and movements, master body shifting, build muscles and breath control, develop fluid and smooth motions, and gain rythmical movement.   Patterns also teach the martial artist where pressure points are on the human body.   Patterns develop fast muscle fast twitch fibers on both the delivery and the recoil of a technique.

Patterns will develop speed, strength and focus in martial artists.  Students will also acquire certain special techniques whcih cannot be obtained form either fundamental exercises or sparring.

The following points should be considered while performing patterns:

  1. Pattern should begin and end at exactly the same spot.  This will indicate the performers accuracy.
  2. Correct posture and facing must be maintained at all times.
  3. Muscles of the body should be either tensed or relaxed at the proper critical moments in the exercise.
  4. The exercise should be performed in a rhythmic movement with the absence of stiffness.
  5. Movements should be accelerated or decelerated according to the instructions in the ITK encylopedia written by General Choi.  And as taught in ITF Instructors Training Courses.
  6. Each pattern should be perfected before moving to the next.
  7. Students should know the purpose of each movement.
  8. Students should perform each movement with realism.
  9. Attack and defense techniques should be equally distributed amoght the right and left hands and feet.

All patterns are performed under the assumption the student is facing “D” .   The sides are A, B, C and D.    D is always where the instructor stands or sits.     C is opposite D.   A is to the left of D and B is to the right of D.

D              (D is Where the instructor Is)

A          B



There are 24 patterns in Tae Kwon-Do.   Four direction punch, four directional block, set one and set two are not patterns or tul.  They are fundamental exercise.

The life of a human being, perhaps 100 years, can be considered as a single day when compared with eternity.  Therefore, we, mortals, are no more than simple travellers who pass by the eternal years of an aeon in a day.

It is evident that no one can live more than a limited amount of time.  Nevertheless, most people foolishly enslcave themselves to materialism as if they could live for thousansds of years.  And some people strive to bequesth a good spiritual legacy for coming generations, in this way, gaining immortality.  Obviously, the spirit is perpertual while material is not.  Therefore, what we can do to leave behind something for the welfare of mankind is, perhaps, the most important thinkg in our lives.

Here I leave TaeKwon-DO for mankind as a trace of man of the late 20th century.  The 24 patterns represent 24 hours, one day, or all my life.

Now that General Choi, the founder of Tae Kwon-Do, is gone it is clear that the patterns he developed will continue to show martial artists the way of Tae Kwon-Do.