Friday, 25 November 2011

Part One: A Dan Promotion test in 1962

Have you ever wondered how a black belt test was in the old hard style Taekwondo? Would it not be great to go back in time and see what the students had to to get their next Dan rank? I know I would love to do that, but unfortunatly we do not have the technology yet. I do however have some idea of how it all went down after reading  a little of "A Modern History of Taekwondo" by Kang and Lee. You see this wonderfull book contains a great part on the Dan tests of old. Hong Jong Pyo kept the paperwork after the first promotion test that the Kwans did together in 1962 and Kang and Lee used his paperwork and testemony to show their readers how the test was conducted.

Then as now the test consisted of Forms, Sparring and written tests. The sparring was done with Hogu (chest protector) and it was one round of three minutes. The written tests contents was not documented and untill I or someone else find another source for this we will not know the excact details of the written tests, wich is a shame really. It would be extremly interesting to know what the Kwan founder found so important that it made it into the written test, but I digress. One of the things I found most interesting was the list they provided on what forms the students had to do for the different ranks. There was a bunch of names that I just did not know what was, and I have been researching and studying Taekwondo for some time now. I have tried to investigate and see if there is any surviving forms behind these names as the list itself reveals little on how the forms looked like and its background. Anyway here is the list of forms that the students had to perform for 1 Dan in 1962:
  • Pyongahn1-5
  • Naebojin 1 Hyung
  • Chulgi 1 Hyung
  • Kima 1 dan hyung
  • Ja Won Hyung
  • Hwarang Hyung
 Pyongahn 1-5 are known as the Pinan Kata in Okinawan styles of Karate, and Heian Kata in Shotokan (Gichin Funakoshi renamed the series of 5 Kata to Heian). They were created sometime in the early 1900s by Anko Itosu. Many people and sources say they were created based on the older Kata practised at the time to simplify Karate for learning to school children. In recent years Iain Abernethy and others have researched the Kata series and they now believe it to be one single coherent fighting system. I recomend the readers to go to and read his articles on the Heian/Pinan Kata for more information regarding the background of this Kata series. Our present day Kukkiwon Taegeuk Poomsae draws many of its techniques from this series of Kata.

Naebojin, Chulgi and Kima hyung are all different names for the same hyung namely "Tekki Kata" from Shotokan or Naihanchi Kata from okinawan styles. Tekki and Naihanchi being one Kata with two names. Before reading "A Modern History of Taekwondo" I had never heard about Naebojin or Kima hyung and such I had to do a little digging before finding out and verifying if it was indeed the same hyung. This Hyung is thought to be of Chinese origin and many credit Matsumora Sokon as the man who imported the form from China to Okinawa. Before the Pinan/Heian Kata was created the Naihanchi/Tekki Kata was the first and sometime the only Kata learned. Shurite is said to be based on this form. Choki Motobu said that all you ever need to know about fighting is contained in this form. Shotokans founder Gichin Funakoshi studied this form for three years before moving on to the next in the series. Sometime around 1900 Anko Itosu made 2 more forms to compliment this one.

Most forms on the list was easy to find out but Ja Won Hyung has eluded me so far. If anyone reading this has any clue to any information on this form please leave a comment below. My best guess is that it is a form of Chinese origin and a part of the syllabus to the Kwan`s with a direct Chinese Kwon bup lineage. I checked Kim Soo`s Chayon Ryu list of forms as he has retained many of the forms that were once part of Taekwondo but in modern times has dissapeared from practise and I could not even find any information on it there.

The last form on the list for 1 Dan students is a well known form for any modern day red belt practising ITF derived Taekwondo. Hwarang. It was created in the 1950s as one of the first four patterns for the Oh Do Kwan. Choi Hong Hi has been given the credit for creating all the 24 (25 counting Kodang/Juche)) Chang Hon Hyung but for the most part he gave loose instructions to the Oh Do Kwan pioners and they came up with a patterns and Choi Hong Hi would approve of the form or make some changes to it. In Hwarang Hyungs case the pioneer doing the most of the work to develop it was Nam Tae Hi a master from Chong Do Kwan and a student of that Kwans founder; Lee Won Kuk. At that time Hwarang was designated a 1st Dan pattern, but in most Dojang under ITF today it is taught at red belt level.

For 2 Dan they choose 2 forms from the following list:

  • Balhan Hyung Dae
  • Chulgi 2 Hyung
  • Naebojin 2 Hyung
  • Kima 2 Dan Hyung
  • Choong Moo Hyung
Balhae Hyung is one of my grey hairs waiting to happen. I have no proof of this so I will be the first to say that this is me "guessing". In the Kwan founders lineage (Shotokan/Shudokan/Shito Ryu Karate) there are a few forms with a suffix "Dai and Sho" meaning greater or lesser. These are Gojushiho, Kushanku and Bassai Kata. Dai in Korean is pronounced "Dae", so there is a great chance that Balhan is one of the aforementioned forms from Karate. My guess is that it is another name for Bassai/Patsai Kata. In Korean this form is also known under Patsai, Bassai, Balsaek, Palsaek etc. If I am correct and this is indeed Bassai Dai then the man often credited with its creation is Matsumura Sokon (also known as Bushi Matsumura). I do not more than that at this time. Again if you are reading this and have any information on this hyung please leave a comment below.

Chulgi/Naebojin/Kima 2 hyung is the same as Naihanchi/Tekki 2 Kata in Karate. as such it was created by Anko Itosu somewhere in the early 1900s to complement the first in the series. As a side note many sources on Choki Motobu say he only knew the first in the series, but there is also a motobu ryu version of the second in the series. In this version the grappling and throwing applications seem more apparent then in its Shotokan counterpart.

Choong Moo hyung is another Oh Do Kwan creation, and is still practised in ITF Dojangs today. It is usually learned prior to black belt (at red belt with black stripe level) in most Dojangs. Choong Moo Hyung was like Hwarang hyung developed by Nam Tae Hi in the 1950s.

Below are video excamples from all the martial forms I could find. I have chosen to use the Shotokan forms as done in Shotokan since most of the Kwan of old style Taekwondo had a Shotokan base. Therefore it is logical that the way they performed their patterns was similar to Shotokan. I know they included a few kicks here and there and if it was a stomping action in Karate they would often substitute the stomp with a kick. All in all they did their patterns remarkebly similar to Shotokan though. As for the martial forms currently practised in ITF I have included examples from present day ITF instead of trying to find old videos. They did use sine wave or knee spring in the early 60s but it was not nearly as pronounced as it is in the current version. Other than that the martial forms of ITF has been largely preserved since their creation.

I will try to keep video examples for each form in this post here, but in my experience youtube links are not something that lasts forever. It is therefore greatly appreciated if the readers would comment below if any of theese videolinks die out so I can get current links going:-) Thank you.

Heian 1 Kata/ Pyongahn 1 hyung

Heian 2 Kata / Pyongahn 2 Hyung

Heian 3 Kata / Pyongahn 3 Hyung

Heian 4 Kata / Pyongahn 4 Hyung

Heian 5 Kata / Pyongahn 5 Hyung

Chulgi/Naebojin/Kima 1

Chulgi/Naebojin/Kima 2 Hyung

Balhan Dae Hyung??? (Shotokan Bassai Dai)

Hwarang Hyung

Choong Moo Hyung


  1. I think Ja Won is Jion

    1. Yes. You are right, Ja Won or Jah Won is a Korean pronunciation of the characters for Ji On or Jion.
      Balhae and Pal Che are other pronunciations of Bassai Dai in Korean.

    2. Thanks for replying :-) I am planning on remaking this series with the new stuff I have learned over the years, and hopefully I can make my own videos demonstrating how the different Kwan (or at least how some of the Kwan) did the different forms.