Saturday, 16 May 2015

Basic Taekwondo Theory for Gup Graders (coloured belts) Part 2

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In the last post I wrote about basic Taekwondo theory aimed at coloured belts and people doing the jump from 1st gup to 1st dan. In that post we covered what does Taekwondo mean, how to write Taekwondo in Korean Hangul, the different heights of the body in Korean as well as counting to 100 and some body parts. This time I wanted to provide a quick reference to the 8 "Gwe" and a chart of Vital points as well as a few examples of techniques to use to attack a few of those points. I will keep this relatively basic but it is always good to review this material as this is what people usually get on a theory test and knowing this stuff will make you able to answer many lower graders questions if you are a senior student or an instructor. Again a short caveat: I practise Kukki Taekwondo, I follow the Kukkiwon standard and I practise the KTA Poomsae (Taegeuk and Black Belt Poomsae). If you are ITF or belong to an independant Dojang some of this theory might deviate from what you are using.

Lets start with the 8 Gwe, I remind everyone that this is a simple reference and not an indepth discussion. The taegeuk philosophy is very deep but typically in a theory test people are expected to be able to draw each Gwe, give their name, a short word for what that Gwe symbolices and how many poom the form based on that Gwe contains. So without further adu lets start:

The nice thing about practising the Taegeuk Poomsae is that if you know them to the point where you can instantly know how to perform them in your mind you have a great mnemonic devise as to how to draw each Gwe. You see each Taegeuk Poomsae is made so it corresponds with the Gwe it is based on. For a whole line you move in two stances to both sides while a broken line you remain in one stance to both sides.

So to give the first two Poomsae as an example: Taegeuk Il Jang`s first line is low block to the left in short walking stance followed by moving forward one short walking stance and middle punch. Here you have moved two stances so it is a whole line. The second line you move to the sides in the form you stand in short stance with a middle inward block. You step forward and do a middle section punch. So you have moved twice which means yet another whole line. The third time you step to the sides you do a high section block in short stance, You kick and step forward and do a middle section punch. So you have moved twice and that means yet another whole line. Therefore the Gwe that Taegeuk Il Jang is based on consists of three whole lines and can be seen at the very top of the opening picture.

The next example is from Taegeuk i Jang. The first time you move to the sides you do a low block in short stance and move forward into a long stance middle section punch. This gives us a whole line at the botton. The second time you move to the sides you do a low block, kick and then put the leg down forward into a long stance high section punch. This is two steps to the sides which gives us a whole line. Therefore the middle line in the Gwe has to be a whole line. The third time you move to the sides you do a middle section inward block in short stance. Then you turn and do the same to the other side which means you just stepped once to each side instead of two. Therefore the top line of the Gwe has to be a broken line. If you look at the top of the opening picture you will see this Gwe to the top left just beside the Gwe for Taegeuk Il Jang that we just covered in the first example. This way of thinking will make drawing the different Gwe very easy. You just follow this way of thinking for all the 8 Taegeuk forms:-) Below are all the Gwe. First the illustration of the Gwe and then below it a short description of its symbolic meaning and how many counts each form based on each Gwe has. Again I remind the readers that this is simply a few shorthand sentences about the philosophy so the reader should strive to gain a deeper understanding of it than presented here.

Keon`s symbol is that of heaven and light as well as Father. It is a pure concentration of Yang energy.  
Taegeuk Il jang contains 18 Poom (counts)

Tae`s symbolic meaning is that of a lake, it is also a symbol of joy. 
Taegeuk I Jang contains 18 Poom (counts)

Ri`s symbol is that of fire and sun.
Taegeuk Sam Jang contains 20 Poom (counts)

Jin`s symbolic meaning is that of Lighting and Thunder.
Taegeuk Sa Jang contains 20 Poom

Seon`s symbolic meaning is that of wind.
Taegeuk Oh Jang contains 20 Poom

Gam`s symbolic meaning is that of water
Taegeuk Youk Jang contains 19 Poom

Gan`s symbolic meaning is that of mountain.
Taegeuk Chil Jang contains 25 Poom

Gon`s symbolic meaning is that of Earth and mother. This Gwe represents pure Um energy
Taegeuk Pal Jang contains 27 Poom

Vital Points of the body: Keupso 

I had to think a little about wether I should present this information freely on the web or not but a quick google search showed me that it is all over the web and so a basic chart listing a few common Keupso (vital points) along with a few sample techniques of how to attack them on this blog will simply be like a drop in the ocean. This is also a huge subject and I am not (at this time anyway) going into any depth. This subject should be studdied thouroughly under the guidance of an instructor. Below is a chart listing 10 common Keupso:

Examples of techniques to attack Keupso:

Again this is in no way an exhaustive indepth analysis it is simply a few shorthand examples of techniques you can select that fit the vital point you are attacking. There are many ways to skin a cat so to speak so dont get to hung up on these examples, simply look at them for what they are (examples) and apply it to make your own. 

  • Top of the head, Me jumeok naryo chigi (Downward hammer fist strike)
  • The third Eye: Bam Joomeok chigi) Pheonix fist or single knuckle portruding fist.
  • Eyes: Hanson Keut or Gawison Keut (One finger strike or two finger strikes)
  • Just below the nose: Joomeok (forefist), or Sonnal (knife hand)
  • Chin: Batangson Chigi (openhanded strike/palm)
  • Solar Plexus: Ap Chagi (Front kick) or Jireugi (regular forefist strike)
  • 5cm below the navel: downward forefist strike
  • Crotch: Ap Chagi (Front kick) 
  • Top of the knee: Yeop Chagi (Side kick)
  • Inside of ankle: Dollyo Chagi Apchook (low turning kick with ball of the foot).
I hope this information is of any help and use for the students out there:-) Good luck on your theory tests everyone:-)

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  1. Hey what fun to see this! after 40+years of knocking around in TKD i have never seen the trigrams used in Taegeuk as an explanation of counts. i have seen them referenced in Palgae, with the usual "wind, lightening,etc" but again never as the actual number of techniques. i have heard that the "embusen" (combat line) of the Heian series spells out the name when viewed from above. then again, most Shotokan practitioners have no idea about that either.
    it is interesting to note that in the internal CMA they are important in a slightly different manner. the 8 trigrams describe the main cardinal directions of movement and technique in Tai Chi. Baqua literally means 8 trigrams and each one defines the "palms" (hand position) Xin Yi follows a similar pattern.
    while modern usage of vital points tends to stay away from the TCM model that i learned, many older interpretations of the asian arts (esp. older katas and forms derived from them) follow this model. instead of isolated targets as shown, you would link these elements together in a sequence. you would follow a Yin Yang, and elemental pattern.
    for example, a "double knife hand block (sonnai momtang magki) lets say your lapel is grabbed. with your closer hand you press/strike down on the opponents inner elbow (L5) causing him to bend forward and turn his head away from you. you then knife hand strike the back or side of his neck that he has just presented. You have struck metal meridian (lung) and then wood (GB), causing the knockout (metal cuts wood). go back and look at the position of them in the trigrams! at least in the Later Heaven versions.
    anyway keep up the good work here and in Facebook. this, is as i said, fun,

    1. I am so happy to read this:-) I am glad you learned something Richard after all you (and your comments) have taught and keeps teaching me :-) As for the vital points I simply listed singular ones which we would call striking points. In my organisation I believe it is around 4th Dan where you have to start demonstrating self defense techniques using the vital points and 5 element theory etc but I know of few Taekwondo orgs where those Things are taught beyond what I shared here (strike here points).

      The more I try to study Taekwondo indepth for my self studies the more I feel that the cultural baggage (in lack of a better term) must be studied and understood to make the most sense out of our current system. You can of course ignore everything and still enjoy Taekwondo but I really feel that there is so much more to it than sport, physical education, recreational activity etc

  2. 28 years and this is the 1st time I heard of this correlation. Thank you so much!

    PS: I kind of understand why people don't like to present certain info in literature but like you I found that whatever scary technique I wanted to find is so easy on the internet now. I just include a disclaimer.

    1. Hi there:-) You are the third experienced martial artist to comment that you learned something new about Taegeuk Poomsae from this blogpost (the third commented on facebook). I am very happy that I wrote this now :-)

      After googling around I have found that absolutly everything is on the internet for everyone to see so I am not sure I see any reason not to present stuff on this blog as everything seems to be a quick Google search away.