THE WHITE BELT
Signifies the absence of all color and represents the new student who will learn and be colored by the teachings of Tae Kwon Do.
THE YELLOW BELT
Signifies the color of the sun rising early in the morning, opening to receive knowledge.
FORM (POOMSE): TAEGEUK IL JANG
This is the first of the eight Taegeuk Forms. It applies to the principle (Gwe) of Keon to Palgwe in The Book Of Changes. It represents Heaven and Light. It is the powerful and manly Gwe, the source of creation and the symbol of the Father.
This form represents the source of creation by presenting the most basic techniques – the Low Block, Inside Middle Block, Middle Punch and Front Kick. This technique can be learned by the beginning student, and is practical in the study of Tae Kwon Do. Taegeuk IL Jang is the foundation from which all other forms are built. Most of this form is performed in a Walking Stance, which is easy for a beginner to maintain. However, the Front Stance is also introduced, and the student learns to shift from one stance to another.
FORM (POOMSE): TAEGEUK YI JAN
The second aspect of Taegeuk is the principle Tae of Palgwe. (This Tae, as seen by its Chinese character, is different from Tae in Taegeuk). Tae means joyfulness. Its form represents the state of mind which is serene and gentle, yet firm within. It is the state from which true virtue smiles. Tae is feminine, symbolized by a lake. It is silent, yet bubbling with joy.
This second form represents joyfulness, and consists of movements that are made softly, yet firmly and with control. The students shift from a Walking Stance to a Front Stance more frequently than in Taegeuk IL Jang, and emphasize the Front Kick, allowing them to move more freely. This emphasis on the movements of the lower part of the body allow the students to learn balance and the proper stances, and strengthening the muscles in the legs. Taegeuk YI Jang introduces the High Block as a new technique.
THE GREEN BELT
Signifies the color of a spring season – new growth, and beginnings.
FORM (POOMSE): TAEGEUK SAM JANG
This form applies to the principle of Ri of Palgwe. It symbolizes fire and sun, and their characteristics of warmth, enthusiasm, and hope.
Ri is feminine, and represents South. The actions of Ri should be performed with variety and passion, like the flickering of a fire. Like the fire, this form is filled with changing bursts of power connected with a continuous flow of motion. It teaches combinations, specifically those hand combinations that are used in free fighting, such as a Front Kick followed by a Double Punch, a Front Kick followed by a Low Block and a Reverse Middle Punch, and a Single Knife-Hand Block followed by a Reverse Middle Punch. After practicing these combinations in this form, they can be applied in free sparring.
FORM (POOMSE): TAEGEUK SA JANG
Taegeuk Sa Jang applies the principle of Jin of Palgwe. Jin is male. It represents thunder, which with lightning, evokes fear and trembling, but reminds us that danger, like a thunderstorm, passes as suddenly as it comes, leaving blue skies, sunshine, and rain-freshened air in its wake. The practice of this form should help one act calmly and bravely in the face of loud and terrifying dangers, real or imagined, knowing that they, too, shall pass.
In Taegeuk Sa Jang, one is responding calmly to threats of danger.
In performing all forms, you should think not of executing techniques in a vacuum, but rather of responding to attacks from a number of opponents surrounding you. You should always turn your head first, look at your imaginary opponent, then perform the required block or attack. For example, this form begins with a Knife Hand Block. Imagine you are blocking a punch, and thrust a spear hand into your opponent’s midsection. Then you block an imaginary attack to your head with a High Knife-Hand Block, palm out, and simultaneously execute a Knife-Hand strike to your imaginary opponent’s neck. (This double move is called “Jebi Pom Mokchiki”).
This form introduces the Outside Middle Block, palm out, many knife-hand techniques, and the student’s first kicking combinations – two Side Kicks, first right, then left. This kicking combination requires the student to practice balance and coordination without sacrificing power. This form also trains the coordination of the entire body with the arms and legs, particularly in steps 10 &12. Here, the student must execute a Front Kick and step back with the kicking leg into a Back Stance. Then, when this combination is mastered, the student will be able to slide back smoothly and quickly as one motion. This combination is followed by a Reverse Inside Middle Block, in which the body is twisted 45 degrees towards the imaginary opponent.
THE BLUE BELT
Signifies the color of the sky, reaching high, for youth and ambition.
FORM (POOMSE): TAEGEUK O JANG
Taegeuk O Jang is a series of actions applying the Seon of Palgwe. Seon is female, and symbolizes the wind. Although there are horrible and destructive winds, such as the typhoon, hurricane, and tornado, the wind’s true nature is gentle but penetrating. Spring breezes softly caress the willow, but the willow does not stop the wind, rather it bends willingly in its path. Thus, the wind symbolizes humility and good natured actions. Seon can be alternately gentle and flexible as a breeze, or powerful and unyielding as a cyclone. Again, this form expresses the duality implicit in all the Palgwe forms.
Like a gentle breeze, Taegeuk O Jang is simple, yet like a storm, it is strong and powerful. Its techniques sweep through the air, pushing away resistance, then penetrating like the wind. These techniques include a Hammer Strike to the face, an Elbow Strike, and the execution of a Back Fist while leaping into a Crossed Stance. Taegeuk O Jang’s powerful combination includes a Front Kick, Inside Middle Block, Back Fist Strike and High Block, Side Kick, Elbow Strike.
HIGH BLUE BELT
FORM (POOMSE): TAEGEUK YOOK JANG
Taegeuk Yook Jang applies to the principle of Gam of Palgwe. Gam is male, and it symbolizes North. Through Gam, we learn that we can overcome every difficulty if we go forward with self-confidence and persistence, easy to bend but not to break.
Gam is water, which is formless, yet never loses its nature, though it may conform to the vessel in which it finds itself. Water always flows downward, and in time can wear away the hardest granite.
Like water, Taegeuk Yook Jang is flowing and gentle, yet destructive. It teaches that man, when faced with a challenge, can overcome it by persistence and unwavering belief. To give this form the appearance of continuity, its separate sequence of motions are connected by the Front Kick.
This form uses the Outside High Block, palm out and Middle and High Reverse Single Knife Hand Blocks, which demand fluidity, as the hip and body must twist 45 degrees toward the target. It introduces the Round House Kick, followed by an immediate change of direction, which requires great balance and coordination to remain fluid, like water.
THE RED BELT
Signifies the color of blood or of the sun, and develops a strong foundation of one’s body and nature. It is also a warning for danger.
FORM (POOMSE): TAEGEUK CHIL JANG
This form applies the Gan principle of Palgwe. Gan means “top stop”, and symbolizes a mountain. It is male, taciturn and steady. Like a mountain, it is totally stable and cannot be moved. One should not act hastily – the principle expressed by Gan. We must know when to forge ahead, but also when to stop and rest in order to achieve our goals. Representing the mountain, this form teaches the student to move only when it is necessary to move – and then to move rapidly, and to stop suddenly and solidly, standing like a rock. It teaches commitment to motion and to immobility, for one must not waver.
This concept can be applied to sparring, to eliminate superfluous motion that waste energy. This form is the first of the Taegeuks to be performed in a Cat Stance, which can easily be held still, but out of which one can also move quickly. It introduces the Knee Kick and the Crescent Kick as well as a number of blocks designed to stop an opponent’s motion without being rocked, like the unwavering power of a mountain. These blocks include the Palm Heel Center Block, Scissor Block, X Blocks, and Spread Middle Blocks, followed by a Knee Kick and Double Uppercut, then stop.
FORM (POOMSE): TAEGEUK PAL JANG
Taegeuk Pal Jang applies the Gon principle of Palgwe. Gon symbolizes the earth, the source of life. Keon is the father, Gon is the mother. The earth is where the creative force of heaven is realized. Gon represents the receptivity of the earth. It is moist and heavy, sinking into the ground. Gon is also gentle and nurturing. Gon signifies the infinite concentration of Um energy. The earth nurtures in silence and in strength. Gon teaches us the importance of the life force within ourselves, and to respect life in all forms.
Representing the mother earth, from which all life comes, Taegeuk Pal Jang contains all the basic elements of Tae Kwon Do, serving both as a review of the beginning forms, and as a foundation of the first Black Belt form. Besides reviewing techniques already introduced, it adds a Lifting Outside Middle Block, a simultaneous grab and uppercut, and a Single Mountain Block.
THE BLACK BELT
Black contains all the colors, signifying the deepest and densest knowledge, the accumulation of every preceding level.
FORM (POOMSE): KORYO
The word “Korea” derived from Koryo, the name of an ancient dynasty dated between 918 AD and 1392 AD. The Koryo men were people of great conviction and strong will. They demonstrated this in battle by persistently resisting the aggressions of the Mongolians, which were sweeping the world at that time. Their firm conviction and intrepid spirit was born of wisdom, rather than brute strength or numbers, and earned them the title “Men of Conviction.”
The form Koryo can be a way of cultivating the strength that arises from firm conviction because every motion must demonstrate confidence and strong will.