Most schools practice the patterns in the same way. That is putting focus and power into each individual movement. This is an excellent practice in many ways, it builds control of the body, builds technical proficiency, and power. However, the way that we practice patterns also hides a lot of the applications, movements that should flow together or movements that are throws, locks or redirects/parries are obscured by the ‘tick- tock’ way that we move during our practice.
Of course all of the applications can be practiced with a partner once we have found the meaning for the movements, but then that causes a disconnect between pattern practice and application. i.e. the way we move in each are unrelated. I think it is this disconnect why a lot of people see patterns as just an exercise for creating power rather than a practice of fighting techniques, and even look to other styles for self-defence techniques.
Pattern practice doesn’t have to be like that. If you move away from the competition or grading requirements and practice them as at real training tool and more importantly personalise your pattern practice
Firstly, we should all have a good knowledge of the pattern, the usual way of practicing gives us great muscle memory, power and balance, once you have got to the point that you can practice those patterns almost automatically, by that I mean without thinking about the next movement, you can start making the practice more challenging by increasing the tempo. At this point it is important that you take all the knowledge gained from learning the patterns and apply it at a higher speed. This involves finishing each movement; keeping the same concentration of power, and keeping you balance as well as still being technical in stances and target areas. This shouldn’t be used as an excuse just to blast through the patterns without thinking.
Through this practice you will hopefully notice that some parts of the patterns flow together easier than others. Also moving fast will give you a better idea of how the movements look like when used. We then should try to move them forward one more step to expressive practice.
During this practice the only thing we are thinking about is the application of the forms. The practitioner can ‘play’ with the tempo of the movements. Practicing the pattern in short bursts of speed according to the application that, that individual prefers. For example in the pattern Won Hyo, the practitioner may do the first three movements as a quick blast, then the next three, the bending ready stance and side kick could be done individually followed by the knife hand guarding blocks all being one ‘group’
Through this practice the student is gaining an understanding of which movements flow in to each other and which are isolated or beginning of a new group. It doesn’t matter if your interpretation is the same as other students’ but for many forms there is a more logical way of dividing them up.
Following this it is up to the student to go and take that information and practice applying it for this a practice partner is needed, however, by the time we get to the partner stage we should be more used to moving faster and in a more natural way with in the form of the patterns so the application of the pattern should be getting clearer.
There are of course many other ways that patterns could be practiced. If we break away from the competition/ grading idea of trying to do them in a set way without considering what the movements are for. Also this helps us get away from dealing with the movements like each of them are meant to be applied in an isolated fashion. Patterns can also be done slow with maximum concentration and intensity or in a very loose way to practice developing power from your body rather than your arms.
These are just a few ideas. Have fun playing with you patterns