Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Palgwe forms (+ original Koryo as a bonus)

I often see questions about the Palgwe forms on internet forums. The most common ones are how were they done/ how did they look like? Are they still practised in Kukki- Taekwondo? Why did we replace them with the Taegeuk set? etc

I will try to keep this post short but to see how they looked like etc I have tried to gather what is in my own opinion the best resource for these forms video-wise. So for the first question just look at the clips I have embedded below:-)

Are they still practised in Kukki-Taekwondo? According to the Kukkiwon themselves they are seen as suplemental forms. You can practise them but they are not officially in the syllabus. The Taegeuk forms replaced them and made them outdated. Some schools chooses to teach them anyway as a supplemental forms set so they are still in use but they are not "grading forms".

Why did we replace Palgwe with Taegeuk? This was a political motivated move. In 1965-67 all the schools together made Palgwe forms so they could all practise one common set of forms. At this time the Ji Do Kwan and Moo Duk Kwan which were very big and succsefull were not part of the Korean Taekwondo Association. Later these two schools also joined the organisation and to keep the spirit of all the schools contributing to the forms in that organisation they made the Taegeuk forms and a new Koryo Poomsae with representatives from all the schools including Ji Do Kwan and Moo Duk Kwan. Another reason that is often stated is that the Palgwe forms looked too much like "Karate Kata" while the Taegeuk forms were made to make them look less like Karate forms.

The philosophical meanings of Palgwe forms correspond directly with the Taegeuk forms. So Palgwe Il (1) Jang would have the same symbolism etc as Taegeuk Il (1) Jang and so on.

Palgwe Il (1) Jang (Version one/ Kukkiwon`s version):

Note that there are two versions. The above link shows the latest/last video from the Kukkiwon displaying these forms and use "Momtong An Makki" or inward middle block while the oldest video I can find (and a lot of newer ones) make use of "Momtong An Palmok bakkat Makki" (Outward middle section block using the thumb side forearm).

Version two:


I do not know which is "correct" or "original" as that is up for debate. Kukkiwon made the DVD where the first clip is from in the link so that is obviously Kukkiwon`s version but the other clip demonstrates what is possibly the older version of the form. If you practise Kick Block Punch Applications you will see that it does not matter as both techniques has essentually the same function but if you look deeper in any way it will matter imensily which version you choose. Personally if I were to import these into my own training (I do not practise these) I would go with the second version as I would use them as additional forms and movement education instead of deep study of applications. Applications would be part of my usage but the primary aim for me would be movement education and as such the outward middle block rarely shows up in Kukkiwon Poomsae making version two a better addition to the Poomsae of Kukkiwon than version one.  This is only my personal opinion of course and you are free to do as you whish:-D And that is the beauty of Taekwondo.

As far as I know the rest of the forms are trained in the same way all over so I will only post the links to the Kukkiwon made demonstrations as these are of the highest detail and quality.

Palgwae I (2) Jang:

Palgwae Sam (3) Jang:

Palgwae Sa (4) Jang:

Palgwae Oh (5) Jang:

Palgwae Yuk (6) Jang:

Palgwae Chil (7) Jang:

Palgwae Pal (8) Jang:

And there you have it:-) Personally I am studdying Taegeuk Il - Pal Jang, Koryo - Hansoo Poomsae (including original Koryo), Chulgi Chodan Hyung and Bal Wol Hyung + my own teachers creation the Soak Am Ryu forms. Needless to say I have more than enough forms in my training:p So I will not import the Palgwae forms but I do like them and I can undestand if anyone would like to import these forms into their training. They are more varied and challenging than the Taegeuk forms set. They share the same philosophy and were made using the same movement standard so it is not difficult to learn them and use them in your training. Also this is where we as Taekwondoin came from in the sense that this is the fist creation that were made using representatives from all the different martial arts schools in Korea (excluding Ji Do Kwan and Moo Duk Kwan). The imported Hyung from Karate is where we started as Taekwondoin but this is the first creation from almost all the styles in an attempt to make one forms set all the styles could practise. The Chang Hon Ryu which were made by GM Choi Hong Hi was the first forms set made in Korea but this forms set was limited to the millitary for the most part and the earliest forms were made by GM Choi Hong Hi, GM Nam Tae Hi and GM Han Cha Kyo all from Chung Do Kwan (GM Choi Hong Hi had practised the same Karate style as Chung Do Kwan founder Lee Won Kuk had and was an honorary "Kwanjang" of Chung Do Kwan).

Bonus: Original Koryo were made along with the Palgwae forms but it was also replaced in 1972 by the new Koryo. Here is one interpretation of the original Koryo (slightly different versions exists):

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  1. I personally don't practice these, but I do use them as a bridge for applications and sequence comparison with Karate. One day I noticed that most of Taebaek's sequences showed up in multiple Poomsae within the Palgwe's and the Heian set (for reasons obvious to the initiated). I find it very interesting why the Masters would have thought to emphasize the following techniques so much in the Gup levels and again focus on them in a Dan Poomsae. I don't know if anyone finds this as interesting as I, but I believe it intriguing enough to share below:

    PS: I originally had listed these sequences and techniques and the Kata & Poomsae they appeared in but I lost them because I hit "Publish" without being logged in and I am too tired to write more. : /
    From memory, you can try referencing Heian 2,3,4 and Palgwe 4, 5,7,8.


    Sequence/Tech List: These are repeated many times in the Palgwe's (with some variations) and featured in the Heian's

    - High Block with Knife Strike

    - High Block & Middle Forearm Block
    - Upper Cut
    - Punch (variation with knife strike, might be reaching here).
    - Side Kick & Punch (grab) to Elbow Strike (as tech by itself with variation Open Palm in one pattern)

    - Knife Thrust to turning arm release (release has low and high variations in Palgwe)
    - to spinning hammer fist
    - to punch

    - Front Stance with Middle and Low Block (not in Front Stance in Heians, so I might be reaching here.)

    1. I met an american Group of Taekwondo students while studying Taekwondo in Korea and I asked them if they practised Palgwae. They did both form sets (Taegeuk and Palgwae). Then one guy jokingly said that his favorite form was Palgwae 9 better known as Taebaek:-p So you are not alone in seeing that Taebaek contains a lot of the same sequences as Palgwae series does.

      The sequences you list are very popular and shows up again and again in all the forms sets in Karate and Taekwondo, Tae Kwon Do and Taekwon-do :) I look at them as "key sequences" or sequences that have the most allround utility.

      The last technique you describe and note that the Heian does not do it in front stance and that you might be reaching might not actually be you reaching at all. I am not sure if it is done in back stance or not but I noted that when comparing the different Kwan forms to the Shotokan forms that the shotokan forms themselves had evolved a little. Some back stances had taken over for front stances, tiger stances became back stances, etc.

      If you are referring to Scissors Block as in the end of Taebaek or in the middle of Taegeuk Chil Jang I think I only remember that in feet together stance (Moa Seogi), allthough it shows up in older forms sets and in CMA.

  2. Correct, I was referring to the Scissors Block as practiced in the end of Taebaek. I noticed that it appears in front stance with the single scissor (mirroring Taebaek) in Palgwe Oh Jang. Taegeuk Chil Jang contains the front stance version but with the double scissor more closely mirroring Heian Sandan. I have seen it practiced in CMA as well.

    Abernethy has a few good applications which he combines with a couple of "what if's" with respect to the first Sequence I listed above. It works very well from a striking or grappling perspective. I've been working on a couple variations but lately it has been all about my Original Koryo applications mini project.

    Ryan Parker also has a lot of good Naihanchi videos which show the Tuidi usage for the elbow strike into the arm which I find very interesting in terms of possible derivative applications.

    Okay. I feel like I am rambling. Time to go and practice Palgwe Gu Jang. :D

  3. My OCD wouldn't let this go. I ended up watching 26 Shotokan Katas and figured out that the Scissors Block movement as it appears in Taebaek appears in Jiin with variants (Scissors in the opposite hands) in Jion and Chinte.

    1. That is interesting:-) Sorry to hear about Your OCD though. I hear that can be very tiresome:p (The evil person in me would like to ask you if you have checked all the Naha te kata as well since we have an albeit Limited Connection through Yoon Kwae Byung:p ) I think that I should do a post on that technique as it is one that baffles every single student who come up to the rank where they practise Taegeuk Chil Jang (and they rarely get any good explanations).

  4. The scissors block baffles me too. I usually see the double scissor being demonstrated in videos but each scissor has a different meaning.

    A couple things I have noticed and remember off the top of my head:

    - parry (taking the chamber into account) into shoulder lock control and face attack. (OMB Video)

    - pushing or moving your opponents hand away from his face (attempted block) and then striking him with the other (as a principle this one is great, my friend often does this to me when we spar).

    - attack to goin and face, release from grab.

    - breaking arm from the side (Iain video).

    Possible derivatives based on personal training:

    - when in a neck clinch, use the chamber motion to snake your arms within the clinch (one from top, other from bottom) and complete the scissor motion. this is pretty effective at using body mechanics to break a tight clinch. A favorite of my friend and staple in Praying Mantis.

    - I like to use this when in a clinch rage to grab a knee coming at me and striking through the clinch to the face. when doubling up the motion I then turn it into a throw pulling the head with my upper fist and lifting the knee/leg with my lower one. messy, but works.

    1. Do you have a link to Iains video? I have an Application that attacks the elbow from the side as well, I just want to see if Iain does his the same way I do mine:-) I have seen the One minute bunkai video and loved that Application. The removing the Block and attack the face With the other hand as a principle is pure genious and one that I also make use of:-) In Kukkiwon textbook kyoreugi section there is a formal sparring where the punch is blocked Down and a backfist strike is delivered at the same time which I also liked. Apart from some clinching action you have covered all the Applications I was thinking of Publishing:p and provided an example I had not thought of:-) Guess you saved me a blog post:)

  5. This is one of Iain's new videos. It covers the block as it appears in Heian Sandan:

    This one covers the hand removing and attacking principle and is from the same Seminar:

  6. The applications from clinching range where developed as a consequence of Reality Based Sparring with my friend. Praying Mantis is a very close ranged art. Its percussive and grappling attacks are usually quick, brutal and off the centerline. I found myself overwhelmed up close because I wasn't used to that much action up close. I then combined some applications from Chil Chang that I believed simulated clinched fighting similar to Muay Baran and added the actions of the Scissor Block in an unorthodox way.

    Part of my journey at first was to see how effective TKD could be against MMA (because I was tired of hearing how negative people were). I came to a realization that in order for TKD to be effective against all powers that it would have to evolve and rediscover its hollistic applications for self defence. Hence the shift in how I look at a lot of movements in terms of grappling whilst standing and ground based (though I know I shouldn't be there and that they might not exist. I'm stubbornly open-minded compared to many people).

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