From the beginning, Taekwondo practitioners have attempted to justify patterns based upon the idea that they represent an authentic training tool for sparring. Patterns supposedly teach the fundamentals of attack and defense. Jhoon Rhee, the “father” of American Taekwondo, considers patterns a link between Taekwondo training and actual fighting.
In 1971, Choi Hong Hi’s departure from mainstream Korean Taekwondo was a turning point in its development. Choi's influence, as someone trained in Shotokan karate , was to preserve both a Shotokan style and philosophy in Taekwondo. However, a younger generation of Koreans who had not trained under Japanese instructors was coming into power. Beginning with the formation of the World Taekwondo Federation in 1973, Taekwondo began to adopt a more fluid and dynamic fighting style that relied more on speed, timing, and strategic body movement. It began to stress competition as an integral part of its training. Competition rules were extensively modified to encourage a higher level athletic skill development and to remove techniques that had no particular athletic development potential.
Patterns began to change to incorporate more realistic fighting techniques. Movements followed a "trigram" pattern of movement rather than the traditional "H" pattern. However, the patterns remain based, in both in structure and theory, upon karate forms. While Taekwondo has evolved into a rather unique martial art, the essence of Taekwondo is poorly reflected in any of the commonly recognized Taekwondo patterns, whether they be Pinans, Chon-ji, Palgue, or Taegeuk. These patterns are basically nothing more than an arbitrary series of movements that use relatively few variations of combinations of a very few kicking and punching techniques. They do not represent any correlation with the overall skill level of the belt level to which they are assigned. Taekwondo patterns still fail distinguish Taekwondo from karate style patterns. They also fail to provide a mechanism for the preservation of either historical movements or a repository for non-competition skills, such as self-defense. The only skill that patterns seem to develop is perseverance in overcoming the boredom of performing uninspiring patterns.