I've been working my way through the chang hon patterns and putting together realistic applications and drills using Iain's kata bunkai as a primary source and also other sources as inspiration (Stu Anslow, Ciaran McDonald, Matt Sylvester, Andy Allen, etc).
I'm trying to stay true to the pattern sequences but also try and have a cohesive structure over the top so application 2 builds on application 1, application 3 builds on that, 4 and 5 show variation on a theme, 6 and 7 show failsafe options, 7-8 go closer in range and so on.
Similar to Iain's structure to the Pinan/Heian drills and Gavin Mullholland's Goju system outlined in his book "4 shades of black".
Trying to make it a "system" rather than a collection of disparate or unrelated drills and ideas. Which can be tricky as (as we know) the TKD patterns are basically chopped up Karate kata put back together without an eye to practicality. But so far I'm liking what I've done. The first 4 patterns at least (Saju to Do san) fit together really well.
As part of this process I'm also making sure I can justify what it is I'm doing, what I'm including, and I want to know why I'm doing anything. I'm not happy with the answer "because my instrucotor told me this is what we do" or "this is how it's always been done". Similar to Iain's "traditional things I do/don't do" videos he did recently. I want not just the "what?", "how?" or "when?" but also the "why?".
A real lightbulb moment was realsiing that the very first technique of the very first "pattern" (saju jirugi) was a "simple" stepping punch. Not a "block", a step back or salutation. Something offensive, pro-active and pre-emptive. That's a great foundation and sets out a basic self defence strategy and everything builds from that (and returns to that if needed!).
As I worked forward through the patterns from there I also realised I could work backwards too.
Although it's the first technique of the first pattern and something you'll probably learn in your first lesson of TKD (or at least in the first week of lessons) it's not the first thing/s you actually learn.
I'd argue thet the first three things you ever learn how to do in TKD are "chunbi" (stand ready), "charyot" (come to attention) and "kyong ye" (bow). You do it at the sart of every lesson, every pattern, every sparring round, at the end of the lesson, etc. You'll (more than likely) do it in your first ever lesson and the last lesson you ever do. And it struck me that these constitute important lessons too and also fit into the system I was trying to "impose" over the patterns.
Chunbi - To be ready. To stand balanced and ready to go. To appear outwardly calm and confident even though you may feel nervous inside (like at your first grading!). Head up, shoulders back, chest out. Not cowering and nervous but not outwardly overtly aggressive or confrontational either. Steadfast and resolute. I'd say this is a vital self defence lesson and a guide to how we should go about our lives. Not trying to victim blame at all but carrying ourselves with calm confidence (even when we don't feel it!) without being confrontational can deter would-be attackers from choosing us as a target.
Charyot - Coming to attention. Directing our attention in a useful way. Going from a "ready to act" state to a "preparing to act" state. Using our attention, our awareness, in a focused way. I know I'm using the word attention in two different ways really but I still think that's a useful concept for self defence. If someone knows you are paying attention to what they are doing, paying attention to the world around you yuo can deter an attacker from selecting you as a victim.
Kyong-ye - Bow. To show respect. A show of respect to your instructor, your dojag, your training partners and students and masters that have gone before. There are many shows of respect in the world (bow, handshake, touch gloves, fist bump and slap, etc). As an Asian martial art TKD uses the bow. Again I'd say to treat people with respect in our daily lives is an important self defence lesson. Be polite, respectful and courteous and you'll annoy less people as you move through life. You'll create fewer points of conflict.
If you appear outwardly calm and confident, switched on, aware and attentive AND treat others with respect and courtesy, IMHO, you are going a long way towards detering others from choosing you as victim or target for violent attention.
For the people in the world that don't care if you are confident, attentive and courteous and are going to attack you anyway? Well those people need the NEXT thing you learn in TKD which is a full power, full body-weight, pre-emptive strike!