Taekwondo is a modern development of much older Korean Martial Arts with a heavy emphasis on kicks. Taekwondo was developed during the 1940s and 1950s from the indigenous Korean fighting styles of taekkyeon, kwonbeop, and subak, with influences from foreign Martial Arts such as Karate and Chinese Martial Arts.
Since those early days Taekwondo has split in to 2 distinct styles, the larger being developed by the Kukkiwon (World Taekwondo HQ) and the World Taekwondo Federation (Sport body) whilst the other style referred to as ITF style being developed outside of Korea by General Choi Hong Hi (deceased) under the International Taekwondo Federation. Each style has their own set of patterns or forms along with different sparring and competition rules.
Taekwondo has a number of belt levels starting from white belt through to black belt and dan ranks.
There are normally 10 colour belt levels before black belt with 2 levels per colour of belt. Each level is known as a ‘Kup’ or ‘Geup’.
White belt – 10 kup to 9th kup
Yellow belt – 8th kup to 7th kup
Green belt – 6th kup to 5th kup
Blue belt – 4th kup to 3rd kup
Red belt – 2nd kup to 1st kup
Black belt – 1st Dan to 9th Dan
Kukkiwon style Taegeuk patterns (Poomsae) for colour belts:
Taegeuk 1 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, do does the Taegeuk 1 Jang in the training of Taekwondo. This poomsae is characterized by its easiness in practicing, largely consisting of walking and basic actions, such as arae-makki, momtong-makki, momtong-jireugi, and ap-chagi. The 8th Kup-grade trainees practice this poomsae.
Taegeuk 2 Jang symbolizes the “Tae”, one of the 8 divination signs, which signifies the inner firmness and the outer softness. An introduction of the olgul-makki is a new development of Taegeuk poomsae. The ap-chagi actions appear more frequently than in Taegeuk 1 Jang. The 7th Kup-grade trainees practice this poomsae.
Taegeuk 3 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. A successful accomplishment of this poomsae will give the trainees a promotion to a blue belt. New actions are sonnal-mok-chigi and sonnal -makki and dwit-kubi stance. This poomsae is characterized by successive makki and chigi, and continued jireugis. Emphasis is laid on the counterattacks against the opponent’s chigi. The 6th Kup-grade trainees practice this poomsae
Taegeuk 4 Jang symbolizes the “Jin”, one of the 8 divination signs, which represent the thunder meaning great power and dignity. New techniques are sonnal-momtong-makki, pyon-son-kkeut-jireugi, jebipoom-mok-chigi, yop-chagi, momtong- bakkat-makki, deung-jumeok-olgul-apchigi and mikkeurombal [slipping foot] techniques. Various movements in preparation for the kyorugi and lot of dwit-kubi cases characterize it. The 5th Kup-grade trainees practice this poomsae.
Taegeuk 5 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. New movements are me-jumeok-maeryo-chigi, palkup-dollyo-chigi, yop-chagi & yop-jireugi, palkup-pyo-jeok-chigi and such stances as kkoa-seogi, wen-seogi and oreun-seogi. This is characterized by the successive makkis such as area-makki and momtong-makki and also the chigi by thumbling after running. The 4th Kup-grade trainees practice this poomsae.
Taegeuk 6 Jang symbolizes the “Kam”, one of the 8 divination signs, which represents water, meaning incessant flow and softness. New movements are han-sonnal-olgul-bakkat-makki, dollyo-chagi, olgul-bakkat-makki and batang-son- momtong-makki in addition to pyonhi-seogi [at-ease stance]. One should be careful to make the kicking foot land on the ground correctly after dyollyo-chagi and to lower the hand by a palm’s length at the time of delivering a batang-son momtong-makki lower than in the palmok-makki. This is practiced by the 3rd Kup-graders.
Taegeuk 7 Jang symbolizes the “Kan”, one of the 8 divination signs, which represents the mountain, meaning ponder and firmness. New movements are sonnal-arae-makkki, batangson-kodureo-makki, bo-jumeok-kawi-makki, mureup-chigi, momtong-hecho-makki, jechin-du-jumeok-momtong-jireugi, otkoreo-arae-makki, pyojeok-chigi, yop-jireugi and such stances as beom-seogi and juchum-seogi. Smooth connection of movements is important for training. The 2nd Kup-graders practice this poomsae.
Taegeuk 8 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. This is the last of the 8 Taegeuk poomsaes, which may enable the trainees to undergo the Dan [black belt] promotion test. New movements are dubal-dangsong-bakkat-palmok-momtong-kodureo-bakkat-makki, twio-chagi, and palkup-dollyo-chigi. Emphasis must be laid on the accuracy of stepping and the difference between jumping-over kick and dubal-dangsong [alternate jumping kick in the air]. The 1st Kup-graders practice this poomsae.