How To Practice Five Patterns In Five Minutes

Brendan Doogan 5th Dan, Dragon’s Spirit Papatoetoe


A few years ago during a seminar, Master McPhail told us a quick way of practicing patterns. Rather than practicing all of Dan-Gun to get good at Dan-Gun, take the tricky bits out and practise them separately. Once they’re improved, put them back in. I asked him about it a while later and he replied he’d picked it up from music. I brought it up because I’d played with the idea and came up with a quick way to improve all my patterns by practicing only a few movements.

I noticed that most of our side outward blocks are middle or high. And they’re done with the tool higher than the elbow, more or less like Chon-Ji # 9. And there are heaps of them in patterns – but just how many?

I counted them – took a while – and found that of the colour belt patterns and sajus about 35% of the movements are that bent-arm-block shape. Sometimes the same shape is performed inwardly, like Won-Hyo #2, the rear arm in middle guarding blocks and the “reaction” hand in Toi-Gye #2.


By practicing this movement a few times with different tools and stances, inwards and outwards, I can practice more than a third of my colour belt patterns. And it only takes minutes [assuming I’m performing correctly!].

I had another look. The straight arm punches [i.e. not angle, vertical, upset etc] make up another 25% of the colour belt patterns. Practicing straight arm punches [and thrusts] at different heights and on different stances, stepping and turning, I’ve covered another quarter of my patterns in only another few minutes.

This means you can practice the movements of about 60% of your colour belt patterns by spending only five minutes on bent arm in/outward techniques and straight arm punches and thrusts. So, five patterns in five minutes.

Some other groups of movements that you could practise together:

  • Knee upward kicks and back piercing kicks are essentially the reverse of each other.
  • Angle, turning and crescent punches are the same other than the elevation and the stopping point.
  • Upset and upward punches are more or less the same motion stopped in different places.
  • Low outward blocks [Chon-Ji #1, Choong-Moo #10] and outward strikes that finish with a straight arm [Do-San #24, Juche #41] are basically the same movement at different heights.
  • Front snap, turning, reverse hooking and twisting kicks are all the knee opening or closing at different heights and angles. [see “How To Get Your Kicks In Taekwon-Do”]


All images from General Choi’s Encyclopedia