How to use Taegeuk Poomsae to remember all the "Gwae"

Discussion in 'The Instructors Room' started by Oerjan, Aug 12, 2013.

  1. Oerjan

    Oerjan Active Member

    In Kukkiwon Taekwondo Dojang it is often required that the students can Draw or at least link the different "Gwae"/ "Kwae"/ "Gwe" With its Associated Taegeuk Poomsae. There are 8 "Gwae" and each Taegeuk poomsae is Associated With its own "Gwe". The Gwe is a symbol consisting With Three horizontal lines over each other and each line can either be broken or unbroken.

    So how can we easily remember each Gwe besides sitting Down and memorising a diagram? The answer: Use the Taegeuk Poomsae as a mnemonic Device:-D It is very simple if you know Your poomsae and you always have them handy (in Your head, no cheating notes required).

    The principle is simple, if you move two times to the sides it is a Whole line "-" and if you move once to the sides it is a broken line --.

    Using this principle on Taegeuk Il (1) Jang you will see that the first "line" in the poomsae is a Whole line because you move twice in Ap Seogi (first low Block and then move forward middle section punch). The middle line is also a Whole line because you move twice in Ap Seogi (first inward middle Block and then middle punch). The top line of the Gwe is a Whole line because you move twice in Ap Seogi to the side. First high section Block then kick and punch. So Three Whole lines.
    - Whole line (high Block kick and middle punch)
    - Whole line (middle Block middle punch)
    - Whole line (low Block middle punch)

    If we look at Taegeuk I (2) Jang you will see that the first line is Whole (first ap seogi low Block then ap koobi middle punch). Second line is Whole (first ap seogi low Block then kick ap koobi high punch). The top line is broken because here you move once to each side With a middle section inward Block. So we get
    -- broken line (middle Block)
    - Whole line (Low Block kick and high punch)
    - Whole line (Low Block middle punch)

    Taegeuk Sam Jang
    - Whole line (low Block kick two punches)
    -- broken line (middle section knife hand Block and punch. You change stance but do not walk)
    - Whole line (low Block kick 2x middle section punch)

    Taegeuk Sa Jang

    -- Broken line (back stance outward Block kick and back again to same stance inward Block)
    -- Broken line (middle section Block and punch without walking)
    - Whole line (knife hand guarding Block, spear thrust )


    You can do this With each Taegeuk Poomsae and it makes it very easy to remember each "Gwe". Untill recently I thought this was common knowledge but after talking to several students over the last few weeks from different parts of the world I now know this is not true. So I just wanted to share it:)
    spinningkick and Gnarlie like this.
  2. Gnarlie

    Gnarlie Well-Known Member

    I knew this as:

    If you take a step forward on the line, it's yang, if not, it's um.

    Also, the meaning of each Gwae bears a (more loose) relation to the rhythm and / or the motions in it.

    For example, Taekgeuk O Jang (wind) begins slowly and builds speed and / or intensity of motion throughout, Chil Jang (mountain) contains high, but stable cat stances.
  3. Oerjan

    Oerjan Active Member

    Yang line = Whole line, Um line = broken line. It is the same way of thinking but different Words:)
    Gnarlie likes this.
  4. Melody

    Melody Member

    I have been looking everywhere for a comprehensive break down on how to move through Forms rhythmically with correct posture, stance and positioning as well as the philosophy of each Form. The above information regarding half lines and whole lines as well as "wind picking up speed" is new to me. Where can I study more about this? I have seen a few videos on youtube but they only explain the steps. Thanks in advance!
  5. Gnarlie

    Gnarlie Well-Known Member

    Yes, it is!

    Hi Melody, there's a lot of information out there on the net, but most of it is copied and pasted from the Kukkiwon website, so that's a good start. Or the Kukkiwon Taekwondo Textbook.

    Typically this information is available:

    But there's other stuff out there:

    Also, have a look at this, which is a decent introduction to the theory, but does contain some erroneous information, namely the spelling of Taegeuk and Poomsae, and the pictured back stance which does not meet the current standard requirements: Poomse.pdf

    Master Woo has some Taegeukdo information on Youtube:

    I have an article that I wrote, called 'What is Taegeuk?' that covers much of this, but it is as yet unpublished online as I keep changing it and I intend to publish it as a book. A long time ago I asked that question 'What is Taegeuk', and have been finding out more and more since.

    If you are really, really interested in what Taegeuk is and what the trigrams mean, the I Ching is the place to look, but be prepared to delve into Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Yeokhak, Yoga and Meditation, Han Philosophy, the Chun Bu Kyung, Korean history, values and culture, Shamanism, and Traditional Chinese Medicine if you wish to even really begin to understand what is being communicated via the Poomsae. They were developed in a culture very different to our own, where knowledge of certain traditions and values is de rigeur, customs and values that can be hard for us as westerners to fully comprehend. My recommendation: embrace the culture, keep asking questions of the right people, start reading now and give it time. There is a lot to learn in the Hermit Kingdom.

    I'll of course gladly answer any specific questions you might have, if my research has already covered something!
    Melody, Sabomnim Dan and Oerjan like this.
  6. Melody

    Melody Member

    Gnarlie, you have my deepest gratitude sir! I spent the entire afternoon yesterday pouring through the information you provided and still haven't finished. This is exactly what I'm talking about. What a fascinating study!! Yes, I would love to read the I Ching and even consider it necessary. As with all ancient texts there is always a translation that is regarded as superior, do you know which one I should get?
    Many, many thanks.
  7. Gnarlie

    Gnarlie Well-Known Member

    I have the eBook of Complete I Ching 10th Anniversary Edition translation by Taoist master Edward Huang. Research told me that this edition is well respected, as he not only translates, but comments on other famous translations and offers alternative translations of some words and gives his reasoning. This is very important when attempting to understand the meaning of the Gwae.

    It is a very abstract book from a westerner's perspective, particularly if one is familiar with and conditioned by the canon of Western Philosophy, which does not apply here at all. But, read with an open and thoughtful mind, the I Ching can really aid understanding of change, and how change and the Universe are viewed in the East. That's a good backdrop against which to view and learn Taekwondo and its Poomsae.

    There's something else that I forgot to mention, that's a few months worth of reading online, if you have the urge:

    These writings can only help you to understand some ideas. It is the practice of Poomsae with these ideas that will help you to understand them. I hope you enjoy your journey.
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  8. Oerjan

    Oerjan Active Member

    Great input Gnarlie. And please let me know when the book comes out. Like you I started asking questions many years ago, and have tried to find answers. I have even written an unpublished article in Norwegian titled: What is Taegeuk:p

    I have a copy of the I Ching and the Tao Te Ching which is another book you might want to look into Melody:) is a great Resource as well, but while I really like his philosophical input there is also a lot of Korean nationalism that I do not agree With (Taekwondo is purely korean, Karate is Korean, Everything is Korean, Taekwondo is 5 000 years old, etc etc). I believe he also wrote a book called Taekwondo bible that you can get on ibook as well. I am not sure if it is the same Author, but the book "Taekwondo bible" is a great read and would serve as a great starting point for any interested parties. He has tried to link everything to Taekwondo practise which is great as that is something few People do and fewer People share.

    And thank you for reccomending the eBook of Complete I Ching 10th Anniversary Edition translation by Taoist master Edward Huang, I will be sure to purchase it in the relatively near future:)
    Melody likes this.
  9. Melody

    Melody Member

    This is all very helpful, thank you so much. I really believe to understand any Art from any country you must also understand it's culture, religion, philosophy, music, dance, language....even it's food is so steeped in I will really enjoy this deep study and yes, the journey as well.
  10. spinningkick

    spinningkick New Member

    Really good information thanks for sharing
    Melody likes this.

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