Meaning of Taekwondo Forms
This page provides the meaning of each WTF or WT Taekwondo Taegeuk form (i.e. Il Jang). Many Taekwondo schools require their students to know the meaning of each form (poomsae) in order to pass their belt tests. For bonus points, some instructors might also ask for the meaning of the word Taegeuk. Taegeuk refers to the Asian philosophy of the “unity of opposites” (Yin and Yang). It is also the name of the red and blue circular symbol used in the flag of South Korea.
FYI – In 2017, the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) changed its name to World Taekwondo (WT). This has led to a little confusion regarding what are WTF and WT forms but they are the same thing. The organization simply changed its name in order to avoid the negative connotation of “WTF”.
For videos and instructions on how to perform these Taekwondo forms, please visit Black Belt Wiki’s main WTF Taekwondo Forms section.
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Meaning of Taekwondo Forms
- Taegeuk Il Jang (Form 1) – Taegeuk Il Jang “represents the symbol of ‘Keon’, one of the 8 Kwaes (divination signs), which means the ‘heaven and yang’. As the ‘Keon’ symbolizes the beginning of the creation of all thing in the universe, so does the Taegeuk 1 Jang in the training of Taekwondo”.
- Taegeuk Ee Jang (Form 2) – Taegeuk Ee Jang “symbolizes the ‘Tae’, one of the 8 divination signs, which signifies the inner firmness and the outer softness”.
- Taegeuk Sam Jang (Form 3) – Taegeuk Sam Jang “symbolizes the ‘Ra’, one of the 8 divination signs, which represent ‘hot and bright’. This is to encourage the trainees to harbor a sense of justice and ardor for training”.
- Taegeuk Sa Jang (Form 4) – Taegeuk Sa Jang “symbolizes the ‘Jin’, one of the 8 divination signs”, which represents thunder “meaning great power and dignity”.
- Taegeuk Oh Jang (Form 5) – Taegeuk Oh Jang “symbolizes the ‘Son’, one of the 8 divination signs, which represent the wind, meaning both mighty force and calmness according to its strength and weakness”.
- Taegeuk Yuk Jang (Form 6) – Taegeuk Yuk Jang “symbolizes the ‘Kam’, one of the 8 divination signs, which represents water, meaning incessant flow and softness”.
- Taegeuk Chil Jang (Form 7) – Taegeuk Chil Jang “symbolizes the ‘Kan’, one of the 8 divination signs, which represents the mountain, meaning ponder and firmness”.
- Taegeuk Pal Jang (Form 8) – Taegeuk Pal Jang “symbolizes the ‘Kon’, one of the 8 divination signs, which represents ‘Yin’ and earth, meaning the root and settlement and also the beginning and the end”.
- Koryo (Black Belt Form 1) – Koryo poomsae symbolizes “seonbae” which means a learned man. Koryo (Goryeo or Goreyeo) is also the name of an important ancient Korean dynasty. Many “weaponless” Korean martial arts were developed during the Koryo dynasty.
- Keumgang (Black Belt Form 2) – “Keumgang [meaning diamond] has the significance of “hardness” and “ponder”, The Keumgang Mountain on the Korean peninsula, which is regarded as the center of national spirit, and the “Keumgang Yeoksa”[Keumgang warrior] as named by Buddha, who represents the mightiest warrior, are the background of denominating this poomsae”.
- Taebaek (Black Belt Form 3) – “Taebaek is the name of a mountain with the meaning of “bright mountain”, where Tangun, the founder of the nation of Korean people, reigned the country, and the bright mountain symbolizes sacredness of soul and Tangun’s thought of “hongik ingan”[humanitarian ideal]. There are numerous sites known as Taebaek, but Mt. Paektu, which has been typically known as the cradle of Korean people, is the background naming the Taebaek poomsae”.
- Pyongwon (Black Belt Form 4) – “Pyongwon means a plain that is a vast stretched-out land. It is the source of life for all the creatures and the field where human beings live their life. The poomsae Pyongwon was based on the idea of peace and struggle resulting from the principles of origin and use”.
- Sipjin (Black Belt Form 5) – The “word “Sipjin” derived from the thought of 10 longevity, which advocates there are ten creatures of long life, namely, sun, moon, mountain, water, stone, pine-tree, herb of eternal youth, tortoise, deer, and crane. They are 2 heavenly bodies, 3 natural resources, 2 plants and 3 animals, all giving human beings faith, hope and love”.
- Jitae (Black Belt Form 6) – The “word “Jitae” means a man standing on the ground with two feet, looking over the sky. A man on the earth represents the way of struggling for human life, such as kicking, trading and jumping on the ground. Therefore, the poomsae symbolizes various aspects occurring in the course of human being’s struggle for existence”.
- Cheonkwon (Black Belt Form 7) – The “word “Chonkwon” means the Heaven’s Great Mighty, which is the origin of all the creature and itself the cosmos. Its infinite competence signifies the creation, change and completion. Human beings have used the name of Heaven for all principal earthly shapes and meanings because they felt afraid of the Heaven’s mighty. Over 4,000 years ago, the founder of the Korean people, “Hwanin” meant the heavenly King. He settled down in the “heavenly” town as the capital near the heavenly sea and heavenly mountain, where the Han people as the heavenly race gave birth to the proper through and action from which Taekwondo was originated”.
- Hansu (Black Belt Form 8) – The “word “Hansu” means water is the source of substance preserving the life and growing all the creatures. Hansu symbolizes birth of a life and growth, strength & weakness, magnanimity & harmony, and adaptability. Especially, “han” has the various meanings, namely, the name of a country, numerousness, largeness, evenness, length and even the heaven and the root of evening, among others”.
- Ilyo (Black Belt Form 9) – “Ilyeo means the thought of a great Buddhist priest of Silla Dynasty, Saint Wonhyo, which is characterized by the philosophy of oneness of mind [spirit] and body [material]. It teaches that a point, a line or a circle ends up all in one. Therefore, the poomsae Ilyeo represents the harmonization of spirit and body, which is the essence of martial art, after a long training of various types of techniques and spiritual cultivation for completion of Taekwondo practice”.
- World Taekwondo Federation, Poomsae, http://www.wtf.org/wtf_eng/site/about_taekwondo/poomsae.html