Taekwondo forms: ATA, ITF, WTF

Taekwondo Forms

A “form” in Taekwondo is a series of choreographed movements, which can be performed with or without a weapon, for the purpose of interval cardio training and developing proper physical and mental technique. They are more akin to exercise and conditioning than combat, while also showcasing the artistic possibilities of Taekwondo. In competitions, Taekwondo forms are judged by a panel of judges, who evaluate Taekwondo forms based on criteria such as power, precision, control, and speed.

Taekwondo forms are given different Korean names depending on the organization of the respective dojo.

In unaffiliated traditional Taekwondo, the forms are called Hyeong.

In ATA (American Taekwondo Association) and WTF (World Taekwondo Federation), the forms are called Poomsae.

In the ITF (International Taekwondo Federation) style, the shapes are called Teul.

Types of Taekwondo Forms

Traditional Taekwondo – Because Traditional Taekwondo is not affiliated and therefore not standardized, its collection of forms is a massive amalgamation of often very different schools. There are no “standard” forms for traditional Taekwondo.

ITF Taekwondo Forms: There are 24 forms of ITF Taekwondo (Teul), developed primarily in the 1960s. ITF Taekwondo represents the first attempt to unify and standardize the martial art.

ITF White Belts do not do forms, but simple exercises. As students move up the Taekwondo belts, the forms become more and more complex.

In increasing order of belts, the ITF Taekwondo Forms are:

Chon Ji – Means “Sky-Light”, referring to the beginning of the world, and is appropriate for a beginner entering the world of Taekwondo.

Dan-Gun – Named after the founder of the first kingdom of Korea in 2333 BC. Of course, he is the grandson of the sky god.

Do-San – Named for Ahn Chang-Ho, whose pen name was Dosan, a prominent Korean independence activist and leader of the Korean-American immigrant community in the US.

Won-Hyo – Named for the important thinker and writer in the Korean Buddhist tradition.

Yul-Gok – Named for the great Korean philosopher Yi I (Yul-Gok was his pen name), called the Confucius of Korea, who theorized that Chi is the controlling agent of the Universe.

Joong-Gun: Named after the Korean patriot who assassinated the Prime Minister of Japan.

Toi-Gye – Named after Yi-Hwang, the authoritative Korean Noe-Confucian scholar.

Hwa-Rang: Named for the group of famous warrior-scholars in Korean military tradition.

Choong-Moo – Named for the undefeated Korean admiral Yi Soon-Sin, who saved Korea from collapse due to the Japanese invasion in 1592.

ITF Taekwondo Black Belt Forms

Kwang-Gae – Named after the 4th-century king of Korea who expanded the nation’s empire.

Po-Eun – Named after the 14th-century Korean poet, scientist, and public servant Chong Mong Chu.

Gae-Baek – Named for the 7th century Korean general, remembered for his valiant last stand against overwhelming odds.

Eui-Am – Named after the pseudonym of 20th-century Korean independence leader Son Byong-Hi.

Choong-Jang – Named after a 14th century Korean general.

Juche – Named for the philosophical concept that man is the master of his destiny.

Sam-Il – Literally translated to March 1, referring to the 1919 date of the Korean Independence Movement.

Yoo-Sin – Named for the 7th century Korean general famous for helping to unify the country.

Choi-Yong – Named after the 14th century Korean general.

Yon-Gae – Named after the 7th century Korean general.

Ul-Ji – Named for the 7th century Korean general who repelled an invasion of nearly a million men.

Moon-Moo – Named for the 7th century Korean king.

So-San – Named for the great 16th century Korean monk who helped organize a force to repel Japanese pirates.

Se-Jong – Named for the 15th century Korean king who helped develop the Hangul alphabet.

Tong-Il: indicates the eventual reunification of Korea, divided since 1945.

Taekwondo ATA Forms: The ATA and its forms (poomsae) were created at the same time as the ITF, but tends to involve more kicks.

Color Belt ATA Taekwondo Forms (poomsae):

Songahm 1 – 18 movements

Songahm 2 – 23 movements

Songahm 3 – 28 movements

Songahm 4 – 31 movements

Songahm 5 – 34 movements

In Wha 1 – 44 movements

In Wha 2 – 42 movements

Choong-Jung 1 – 44 movements

Choong Jung 2 – 46 movements

ATA Taekwondo (poomsae) black belt forms:

Shim Jun – 1st Dan, 81 movements

Jung Yul – 2nd Dan, 82 movements

Chung San – 3rd Dan, 83 movements

Sok Bong – 4th Dan, 84 movements

Chung Hae – 5th Dan, 95 movements

Jhang Soo – 6th Dan, 96 movements

Chul Joon – 7th Dan, 97 movements

Jeong Seung – 8th Dan, 98 movements

Forms of the World Taekwondo Federation (Poomsae): These forms are less combat oriented and more geared towards preparing students for sports and combat, with stances more upright than short.

Color Belt Forms of the World Taekwondo Federation (Poomsae):

Taegeuk Il Jang – a simple poomsae in a walking position, meaning “heaven”, from where everything begins, symbolizing the beginning of Taekwondo training.

Taegeuk Ee Jang – A more frontal stance focused poomsae meaning “lake” as movements should be fluid yet firm.

Taegeuk Sam Jang – Meaning “fire,” this poomsae should be performed with fiery enthusiasm and bursts of power.

Taegeuk Sa Jang: Meaning “thunder,” this poomsae is practiced with pride and dignity.

Taegeuk Oh Jang: means “wind”, since it is powerful and soft.

Taegeuk Yook Jang: means “water”, since it is fluid and soft, but also persistent.

Taegeuk Chil Jang: Representing the mountain, this form is noted for its stability, solidity, and immobility.

Taegeuk Pal Jang – The earth stance, as it contains all the others, and is the foundation for the upcoming black belt forms.

World Taekwondo Federation (poomsae) black belt forms:

Koryo – 1st Dan, named after the dynasty from which the word “Korea” comes.

Keumgang – 2nd Dan, which means diamonds, which are too strong and difficult to break.

Taebaek – 3rd Dan, referring to the “shining mountains” from which Korea’s legendary founder is believed to have ruled the nation.

Pyongwon – 4th Dan, referring to a great and vast plain.

Sipjin – 5th Dan, which means longevity and refers to continuous growth and development.

Jitae – 6th Dan, this poomsae refers to the earth and the great power within it, in relation to the great power within human muscles.

Cheonkwon – 7th Dan, referring to the sky and the majesty and amazement that it inspires in men, forcing them to always strive upwards.

Hansoo – 8th Dan, symbolizes the fluidity and adaptability of water, from which Taekwondo draws its strength.

Ilyeo – 9th Dan, refers to the Buddhist concept of unity between mind and body.

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