In a previous post, I wrote about ways to practice poomsae: what to do and think about, how to evaluate what’s working and what’s not, and how to improve and make a form your own. I thought it might be nice to take all that theory and show what it was like for me to practice every form I know, every day, for a week.
This journal records one week at a particular moment in time, so it’s not meant to be comprehensive or show universal insights about what it’s like to train a large number of patterns outside of a dojang setting. Even though your solo training may be very different from mine, I hope it’s useful—either because it gives you ideas about how to practice and evaluate your own training sessions, or because it helps you identify and articulate similar concepts you’ve noticed in yourself.
Except where noted, I didn’t try any of the fancy techniques and tools (described in some detail in my previous post) for these sessions. I didn’t warm up or stretch, just went to a large disused space in the basement of the huge mill building where I live, did all the forms I knew, then walked back up the stairs and back to my work day. For most of the sessions, I didn’t strive for absolute perfection in every technique of every form. My standard was to be sure that each motion was “functionally acceptable” which, to me, means that the endpoint and energy of the technique must be correct, but I might permit minor flaws in preparation, connectedness, etc. up to a point. For instance, I might allow myself to skip repeating an entire Taegeuk series form if I used the pre-Kukkiwon style of preparing an inside block—as long as I recognized the problem while I was in the middle, didn’t break the forward momentum of the form, and if the resulting technique was solid and would have worked as an inside block. Sometimes I might repeat the form anyway if I remembered that moment as a problem I’ve had to correct before. In other words, I’d often allow fleeting thoughts, hesitations, or errors of style as long as they weren’t harmful to the spirit of the technique. This often came down to a judgment call, and some days I was more lenient than others.
Everyone has to set their own standards for a given practice session. This may be based on available time, trying to fix problems identified last time, how the body’s feeling that day, and any number of other variables. The important thing is to have a particular idea in mind, and then to rigorously follow the plan to achieve what’s important for that particular workout.
At the bottom of each post is a table of contents for the series, so just click the next one if you want to keep reading.