As I read in many internet forums there seem to still be a lot of controversy about the applications of the movement found in patterns. Recently I have seen a number of youtube videos highlighting the mainstream applications of the patterns, while the production quality of these videos were usually quite good they still put forward a number of flaws in the applications. I would like to point these things out to make it clear why I disagree with many of the mainstream application
- Moving towards a person to block an attack that would never have reached them
This is a very common issue with many of the movements that are presented as ‘blocks’. In a lot of patterns we move forward in to walking stance while executing a ‘low block’ or a ‘rising block’ in some cases the practitioner even turns to perform these things. We seem to be constantly turning and moving into attacks in order to defend against them. As a tactic this doesn’t make sense, and in the case of turning 180 degree to block a waiting attack it just doesn’t makes sense as a likely scenario. If you know someone is there why would you turn and throw your hands down instead of protecting your head for example?
- Using only one hand with the other siting uselessly on the hip
It is often seen as getting ready for the next attack that your hand sits on the hip. Again why is it there instead of protecting your head? Why in none of the application are we using that hand to pull the opponent thus putting them in a weaker position? By only using one hand and hoping for a knock out strike we are also giving them opponent an equal chance to hit us. If we hold on to them and pull them off balance by pulling an arm, or clothing or even hair, we give ourselves a better opportunity to get strikes in. In the mainstream application we see a lot of one-handed techniques.
- Placing yourself in a bad position just to make a technique work
All the way through the patterns we seem to be constantly placed in odd positions and the ‘imaginary opponents’ are making odd attacks just to make the ‘block, punch’ principle work. This includes blocking to the side in a sitting stance, blocking on one leg, blocking or striking people behind us without looking, and in some cases jumping into a block. Again in a fighting system all of these things don’t make sense.
- Randomly placing weapon attacks my make some of the applications look better
It would seem that when we cant think of a ‘block, punch’ application for a particular movement we add something, usually a stick or other weapon. The problem I have with this is that the placing of these are completely random. We may have one movement in three patterns that is specific to a stick attack, the rest of the time we use purely hand and foot attacks. Yes of course there is some crossover with the two attacking styles, but then why have the stick attacks at all. Also they tend to also be fairly unrealistic
- Blocking more than one opponent at the same time
Here we see what happens when a movement is larger and the hand doesn’t go back on the hip, we are seen to be doing some combination of blocking and striking to two different people. Even in a hard sparring session it is hard to block one person, never mind when you are trying to do it in a self-defense situation against 2 opponents
With all of these fairly basic reasons it would seem to suggest that we have some of the applications for the patterns wrong. Despite this many teachers still claim that that these are what the movements are for. Maybe they claim that it is an artistic expression of a fight or even that it was the way that people used to attack. However the same people that claim those things will still teach the movement as viable self-defense tactics. An easy way for you to find out about these movements is to go an try them, not in one step sparring but find a training partner and ask them to attack you try to apply any of the movements, if they work for you great, if not then you may need to rethink what you are teaching as a martial system