Your Ultimate Guide To Taekwondo Forms: Poomsae & Patterns

You are currently viewing Your Ultimate Guide To Taekwondo Forms: Poomsae & Patterns

Consider Taegeuk to be the levels of progression in Taekwondo then Poomsae would be the set of moves you need to master before you progress to the next level. Each taegeuk comprises of several poomsae or forms which are pre-defined. Generally, the taegeuk in the World Taekwondo is the most popular one with 8 color belt forms and 9 black belt forms. However, the taegeuk in the International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) is different. In this blog, we’ll cover poomsae and understand about them in detail.

Table of Contents

Evolution of Taegeuk from Palgwae forms

The Kukkiwon-style Taekwondo, the original style developed by the Korean Taekwondo Association (KTA) integrated palgwae forms based out of nine kwans in Taekwondo. These palgwae forms were widely practiced between the period of 1967-1971. However, post-1971, taegeuk forms were introduced and replaced the palgwae form which was deprecated as time went on. However, you’ll still find some Taekwondo associations teaching the palgwae forms. World Taekwondo (WT) or Olympic Taekwondo uses taegeuk forms and thus these get the mainstream exposure.

What are Taegeuk?

As mentioned earlier, Taegeuks are levels of progression. Under each level, there are certain forms you need to master before you progress. These forms are known as poomsae. Each level of taegeuk signifies the level of a Taekwondo student i.e. it correlates with the geup/gup/kup which means belt.

What are Poomsae?

Firstly, to avoid confusion, poomsae is also known as poomse and pumsae. Now that we have the confusion out of the bag, let’s focus on what it means. Poomsae are generally considered to be an art form, where you learn different movements to improve your consistency and precision as compared to power and speed.

To simplify it further, there are:

Taegeuk i.e. levels signified by Geup i.e. belt which can be achieved if you master poomsae i.e. forms/techniques.

Let us check each Taegeuk levels with respect to Geup and Poomsae through the table below:

World Taekwondo Colour Belt Poomsae

Belt Level (Geup)

Name

Symbol

Techniques

8th Geup (White Belt)

Taegeuk Il Jang

Heaven

·        Walking stance

·        Front stance (also called long stance)

·        Low block

·        Inside block (also called middle block)

·        High block

·        Middle punch

·        Front kick (also called front snap kick)

 

7th Geup (Yellow Belt)

Taegeuk Ee Jang

Lake

·        High punch

 

6th Geup (Green Belt)

Taegeuk Sam Jang

Fire

·        Back stance

·        Knifehand middle block

·        Knifehand neck strike

 

5th Geup (Green Belt)

Taegeuk Sa Jang

Thunder

·        Double knife hand block

·        High knife hand block

·        Palm block

·        Back fist strike

·        Spearhand strike

·        Side kick

 

4th Geup (Blue Belt)

Taegeuk Oh Jang

Wind

·        Cross stance

·        L-Shape Stance

·        Outside block

·        Hammer fist

·        Elbow strike

 

3rd Geup (Blue Belt)

Taegeuk Yuk Jang

Water

·        Outer forearm block

·        Double wedge block

·        Roundhouse kick

 

2nd Geup (Red Belt)

Taegeuk Chil Jang

Mountain

·        Tiger stance

·        Horse stance

·        Lower knife hand block

·        Double block

·        Knee strike

·        Double upset punch (i.e., uppercut)

·        Crescent kick

 

1st Geup (Senior-Red Belt)

Taegeuk Pal Jang

Earth

·        Mountain stance

·        Jumping front snap kick

 

Visual Guide for each Taegeuk in World Taekwondo:

Taegeuk Il Jang (White Belt)

Taegeuk Ee Jang (Yellow Belt)

Taegeuk Sam Jang (Green Belt)

Taegeuk Sa Jang (Green Belt)

Taegeuk Oh Jang (Blue Belt)

Taegeuk Yuk Jang (Blue Belt)

Taegeuk Chil Jang (Red Belt)

Taegeuk Pal Jang (Senior Red Belt)

Once, you’ve covered all the colored belts, it’s time for you to progress towards the black belt. These black belts can be classified in Dans based upon the progression:

Taekwondo Black Belt Poomsae in World Taekwondo

Belt

Form

1st Dan

Koryo

2nd Dan

Keumgang

3rd Dan

Taebaek

4th Dan

Pyongwon

5th Dan

Sipjin

6th Dan

Jitae

7th Dan

Cheonkwon

8th Dan

Hansoo

9th Dan

Ilyeo

Visual Guide for Taekwondo Black Belt Poomsae in World Taekwondo

1st Dan - Koryo

2nd Dan - Keumgang

3rd Dan - Taebaek

4th Dan - Pyongwon

5th Dan - Sipjin

6th Dan - Jitae

7th Dan - Cheonkwon

8th Dan - Hansoo

9th Dan - Ilyeo

As discussed earlier, Taegeuk poomsae are different from Palgwe poomsae. Let us check out the 8 Palgwe forms:

Taekwondo Palgwe Poomsae

Forms

Name

1

Il Jang

2

Yi Jang

3

Sam Jang

4

Sa Jang

5

Oh Jang

6

Yuk Jang

7

Chil Jang

8

Pal Jang

Visual Guide for Taekwondo Palgwe Poomsae

1. Il Jang

2. Yi Jang

3. Sam Jang

4. Sa Jang

5. Oh Jang

6. Yuk Jang

7. Chil Jang

8. Pal Jang

After these 8 forms are completed, students practicing Palgwe form switch to the same black belt forms as Taegeuk forms.

As opposed to Taegeuk and Palgwe forms, different taekwondo organizations have different progression process. In the International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) and American Taekwondo Association (ATA), the belt representation and forms are different as compared to World Taekwondo. 

International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) Poomsae

ITF

 

No Belt

Forms

10th Gup

White Belt

No Form, Basic Exercise

9th Gup

White Belt with Yellow Stripe

Chon-Ji (19 movements)

8th Gup

Yellow Belt

Dan-Guri (21 movements)

7th Gup

Yellow Belt with Green Stripe

Do-San (24 movements)

6th Gup

Green Belt

Won-Hyo (28 movements)

5th Gup

Green Belt with Blue Stripe

Yui-Gok (38 movements)

4th Gup

Blue Belt

Joong-Gun (32 movements)

3rd Gup

Blue Belt with Red Stripe

Toi-Gye (37 movements)

2nd Gup

Red Belt

Hwa-Rang (29 movements)

1st Gup

Red Belt with Black Stripe

Choong Moo (30 movements)

1st Dan

Black Belt

 

ITF - Black Belt Poomsae

Black Belt

Forms

Moves

1st Dan

Kwang-Gae

Po-Eun

Ge-Baek

39

36

44

 

2nd Dan

Eui-Am

Choong-Jang

Juche

45

52

45

3rd Dan

Sam-Il 

Yoo-Sin

Choi-Yong 

33

68

46

4th Dan

Yon-Gae

Ul-Ji 

Moon-Moo 

49

42

61

5th Dan

So-San

Se-Jong

72

24

6th Dan

Tong-Il

56

Visual Guide for International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) Poomsae​

Pattern 1 - Chon-Ji

Pattern 2 - Dan-Gun

Pattern 3 - Do-San

Pattern 4 - Won-Hyo

Pattern 5 - Yul Gok

Pattern 6 - Joong-Gun

Pattern 7 - Toi-Gye

Pattern 8 - Hwa-Rang

Pattern 9 - Choong Moo

Pattern 10 - Kwang-Gae

Pattern 11 - Po Eun

Pattern 12 - Gae-Baek

Pattern 13 - Eui-Am

Pattern 14 - Choong-Jang

Pattern 15 - Juche

Pattern 16 - Sam-Il​

Pattern 17 - Yoo-Sin

Pattern 18 - Choi-Yong

Pattern 19 - Yong-Gae

Pattern 20 - Ul-Ji

Pattern 21 - Moon-Moo

Pattern 22 - So-San

Pattern 23 - Se-Jong

Pattern 24 - Tong-Il

American Taekwondo Association (ATA) - Colored Belts Poomsae

ATA

Belt

Forms

Moves

No Belt

  

White

Songahm 1

18

Orange

Songahm 2

23

Yellow

Songahm 3

28

Camouflage

Songahm 4

31

Green

Songahm 5

34

Purple

In Wha 1

44

Blue

In Wha 2

42

Brown

Choong Jung 1

44

Red

Choon Jung 2

46

ATA - Black Belt Poomsae

Belt

Form

Moves

1st Dan

Shim Jun

81

2nd Dan

Jung Yui

82

3rd Dan

Chung San

83

4th Dan

Sok Bong

84

5th Dan

Chung Hae

95

6th Dan

Jhang Soo

96

7th Dan

Chul Joon

97

8th Dan

Jeon Seung

98

The progression is relatively simple. The higher you rise, the tougher it gets. Before you can become a black belt practitioner in Taekwondo, you need to complete the tests of forms 1 to 8. Not just that, you will need to showcase your mental and physical ability in front of the instructor. It’s not a straight-out presentation, rather a test of intuitiveness, alertness, precision, and focus. Because your instructor might ask you to pull off any form between 1 to 8 in random order.

Having learned about Taekwondo Poomsae, let’s discuss how we can improve it. 

Beginner’s Guide to improving Taekwondo Poomsae:

Whether you’re up for a demonstration or for regular practice, you want your body to rise to the occasion. In such a scenario, you don’t want to place a foot wrong as it can be detrimental to your progress. When it comes about improving Taekwondo Poomsae, you must keep the steps below in mind:

  1. Basic Stretching: Before you begin with a demonstration, you’d want to spend quality time of about 30-40 minutes doing basic stretching before starting with poomsae. This is an important warm-up which activates your body and prepares it for the next step. By now, you’d know why this is important! It reduces the risk of injuries. (Our in-depth guide about stretching can prove to be really handy here).
  1. Leg Stretch: While the in-depth guide does talk about stretching in details, there’s one particular thing you must make note of and i.e. the importance of leg stretching. Leg stretching is an important part of Poomsae and you must take 20-25 minutes of your spare time to work on your flexibility.

Some of the stretches you can engage in a contemporary way include:

  • Reading, watching TV or playing Xbox while sitting in full splits
  • Following the full split by front split with emphasis on each leg for up to 20 minutes
  • Butterfly stretching with someone pressing down on your knees from behind.
  1. Stance: There are three main stances in Taekwondo poomsae, i.e. cat stance or beom sohgi, front stance or ahp sohgi, horse stance or juchoom sohgi. It’s crucial that you practice the forms with these stances first. You can have someone correct your forms and postures or you can practice it in front of the mirror. Stop at each movement to evaluate its preciseness. Ultimately, precision is what we’re aiming for. Never forget to keep your shoulder square and your back straight in every movement, that is a pre-requisite.
 
  1. Hands & Leg Movements: Poomsae is a combination of the entire body movement. Thus, once you get a grip on stance, you should emphasize on hands and legs movement. You want to perfect each motion. Thus, you can start off by focusing on the hand movements. Majority of the movements require your hands to be flat and fingers to be together. When practicing leg movements or kicks, don’t get lured by power and speed. What we want to achieve is balance followed by motion and power. Balance is crucial as, without which, no kick can be delivered effectively.
  1. Club it all together & focus: Not only do you need to practice forms but you need to remember them as well. Once you’ve each movement in place i.e. stance, hand movements, and kicks, emphasize on improving the accuracy. Start slowly while maintaining the proper form. The goal is to not lose your balance. Once you achieve control, then you can integrate power and tenacity in your poomsae.

Conclusion

I hope this detailed-guide about Taekwondo Poomsae helped you learn a little more about poomsae, to begin with. We intended to help you learn about the forms and progression through a combination of visual representation and text, where you can actually see how the masters teach poomsae. If you or any of your friends are starting with Taekwondo, feel free to share this blog with them as it will come as a great help to them.

Furthermore, if you’ve already started with Taekwondo and are keen on learning about various Taekwondo kicks in detail, you can begin by choosing from the topics below: