Poomsae - Some info

Post date: Jul 7, 2014 10:47:38 AM

Taekwondo Symbolism - Color Belt Poomsae

Symbolism of the Palgwae

For Taekwondo color belt poomsae, symbolism is primarily drawn from the I Ching. The I Ching is an ancient Chinese text that describes a method of divination (i.e., fortune-telling and spiritual question-answering) based on 64 hexagrams. For example, a western-counterpart would be a divination method such as tarot cards.

    • Each I Ching hexagram is made up of two trigrams
    • A trigram is a set of three solid or broken lines, such as or
    • Each trigram and each hexagram is assigned a set of meanings

Coins or tokens could be tossed to represent solid or broken lines. The sequence of solid and broken lines specifies a trigram. Each trigram has a series of meanings. Two trigrams taken together form a hexagram; each hexagram also has a defined set of meanings. The meanings of the hexagrams are documented in a book called the I Ching, or Book of Changes. The Book of Changes is thought to have been written at least three thousand years ago, but the divination tradition is believed to predate even the book.

The trigrams are called gwae and there are eight of them. Recall that the sino-Korean word for eight is pal. So the eight trigrams are the pal gwae --the eight trigrams. This is the name chosen for the eight color-belt poomsae originally used by WTF Taekwondo: Pal Gwae.

Four of the trigrams are also used on the South Korean flag: the sky, the ground, fire, and water, reminiscent of the ancient European tradition of referring to those four elements as the fundamental building blocks of all things.


The Taegeuk, representing the unity of opposites

Symbolism of the Taegeuk

In 1972, subsequent to the use of the palgwae poomsae, a new set of WTF forms was defined. These are called the taegeuk forms. The word taegeuk refers to the Korean version of the "yin and yang" symbol, the red-and-blue circle at the center of the Korean flag. In Korea, the "yin and yang" are called eum and yang. The taegeuk symbol denotes the concept of "unity of opposites." In other words, it represents the concept that things which seem to be polar opposites are in fact the same thing, two sides of the same coin.

There is a related symbol called the Sam Taegeuk; instead of being divided into two pieces, it's divided into three (recall that sam means three in the sino-Korean numbering system). This symbol has a completely different meaning than the two-piece Taegeuk. The Sam Taegeuk represents the Heavens, the Earth, and Man -- the three sources of all change in the universe.

Taken together these two symbols represent two of the fundamental aspects of taekwondo philosophy:

    • Recognition that the heavens, the earth, and Man are the sources of all change in the universe
    • Recognition that there is unity in the universe, where even things that seem polar opposites are recognized to actually be merely two aspects of the same thing

The Sam Taegeuk, representing the Heavens, the Earth, and Man - the sources of all change in the universe

Black Belt Forms

Each of the WTF black belt forms symbolizes a concept as follows:

    • 1st dan - Koryo - the learned man
    • 2nd dan - Keumgang - diamond, symbolizing hardness
    • 3rd dan - Taebaek - bright mountain
    • 4th dan - Pyongwon - vast plain
    • 5th dan - Sipjin - longevity
    • 6th dan - Jitae - the earth
    • 7th dan - Cheonkwon - the sky
    • 8th dan - Hansoo - water, symbolizing fluidity
    • 9th dan - Ilyeo - oneness of the mind and body

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