Taekwondo patterns, or poomsae, are broken down into three main areas of concentration. As one practices each pattern, one of the three main areas of technique, composition and points of emphasis is highlighted within the pattern. Generally the interplay between these three facets becomes more complex as more and more complex poomsae patterns are explored, as one moves upward in rank. The simplest poomsae has a distinct focus on technique – specifically stances, basic punches and basic kicks. Upper level poomsae may weave together more complicated techniques, complicated composition of the pattern with changes in direction and combinations of foot, hand and head position, etc and different points of emphasis such as soft fluid movements with sudden explosive ‘power’ movements at different intervals.
Taeguk Poomsae, those from 1 (il) jang to 8 (pal) jang are for the Kup (Gup) grader to learn and practice. These Kup students are white belt beginners to those that are achieving black belt rank. The Koryo up to Ilyo are Dan grade poommsae, meant to be studied by those holding black belts and Dan ranks. The taeguk poomsae consist of 8 patterns based on the 8 divination signs (Kwae) in the Oriental science of divination. These divination signs are usually depicted as a chinese character that means ‘king’.
Taeguk 1 jang represents the symbol ‘Keon’, which is one of the eight divination signs. Keon means ‘the heaven’ and also ‘yang’. Further Keon represents the beginning of all things in the universe and creation and is therefore a fitting symbol for the starting point of taekwondo training. The actions in this poomsae are basic and consist of walking forward and back, assuming simple stances and executing simple punch and block techniques and adding in a simple forward kick. This is the first poomsae pattern every taekwondo student learns and it is reserved for the 8th Kup students. Often students that have moved a couple of belts higher will assist with the 8th Kup students in teaching them this poomsae, thereby solidifying their knowledge by teaching others and contributing to the ‘culture’ of taekwondo where students help each other to achieve the highest possible success. Though the pattern is simple, it is important and valuable to establish good ‘habits’ in poomsae execution and even a taeguk 1 jang done with precision, attention to detail and correct form will be an example of the skill of a practiced student.