- Koryo (고려) - first dan, also spelled Goryeo and Koryeo ("learned man", symbolizing a wise person)
- An older, deprecated form called Original Koryo is also considered by some clubs/associations to be one of the Yudanja forms, but it isn't considered so by the Kukkiwon (for gradings or the Master Instructor Course) or by the WTF (for the World Poomsae Championships).
- Keumgang (금강)) - second dan ("diamond", symbolizing hardness, unbreakable)
- Taebaek (태백)) - third dan ("sacred mountain", symbolizing spirituality)
- Pyongwon (평원)- fourth dan, also spelled Pyeong-won ("open plain", symbolizing peacefulness)
- Sipjin (싶진)) - fifth dan, also spelled Shipjin ("eternal 10", symbolizing health and longevity)
- Jitae (지태) - sixth dan (symbolizes mankind as the connection between heaven and earth)
- Cheonkwon (천권) - seventh dan, also spelled Cheon-gwon ("sky", symbolizing piety)
- Hansoo (한수) - eighth dan, also spelled Hansu ("water", symbolizing adaptability)
- Ilyeo (일여) - ninth dan (symbolizing the Buddhist concept of oneness of the mind and body)
Each of the yudanja forms has a floor pattern that traces out a Chinese character or other symbol. Each character is said to represent a characteristic that should be exhibited by a taekwondo master: wise, unbreakable, spiritual, peaceful, long-lived, pious, adaptable, etc.
For Koryo (고려), the floor pattern symbolizes "seonbae", which means "learned man." The name of this poomsae memorializes the Koryo Dynasty (918 C.E. - 1392 C.E.) and reflects the indomitable will of the Korean people in the face of extreme adversity. The country name "Korea" derives from the word Koryo (also spelled Goryeo).
Video with Notes
The following video is a step-by-step demonstration of Koryo, with notes.
To print the diagram, click on the image and select "See full size image," or right-click and open the image in a new tab.
- PUSHING HANDS...
- From the Ready Stance (joon-bee) with your hands down below your waist, open your hands into a knifehand position (with the hands facing each other, fingertip-to-fingertip, palms up) and slowly raise your hands toward your head.
- When you reach chest level, flip your hands over (slowly) so they rise to form a triangle in front of your face (not too high; about mouth-level).
- Once in front of your face, push the "triangle" out directly away from your face. Your two hands should be twisted slightly so that your palm is toward your face; in other words, an audience should see the back of your hands, not the palms.
- At the same time, slowly rise up on your toes when you first start moving your hands, and then sink back down (feet flat on the ground) as you push the triangle outward.
- FIRST GOING LEFT (Da)...
- 1. Step left with the lef foot to turn left 90 degrees into a right Back Stance (i.e., left foot forward). Leftward Double Knifehand Block.
- 2a-b. Pivoting on your left foot, use your right (rear) foot to execute a double Side Kick (first knee-height kick, then head-height kick). Application note: some schools teach that the low Side Kick here is not really intended to be a kick; rather, the idea is that you are hooking your foot behind the opponent's knee and then pulling his knee toward you; as he is now stumbling towards you, you then kick to his head. The point of this is to reinforce with students that after the first low kick, the foot needs to be withdrawn completely back before starting the second kick.
- 2c. Step down with the right foot into a right Front Stance. As you are stepping down into the Front Stance, chamber the right knifehand to the left shoulder, then Outward Knifehand Strike (palm down) to the opponent's neck with your right hand. (This is a tricky maneuver: chambering for the knifehand strike while still recovering from the high side kick.)
- 3. Without stepping, quickly execute a middle-height Punch with the left hand.
- 4. Slide the right foot back into a left Back Stance (i.e., right foot foward). Right Inward Block.
- THEN GOING RIGHT (Ra)...
- 5. Step with the right foot to turn 180 clockwise degrees into a left Back Stance (i.e., right foot forward). Rightward Double Knifehand Block.
- 6a-b. Pivoting on your right foot, use your left (rear) foot to execute a double Side Kick (again, knee-low then head-high).
- 6c. Step down with the left foot into a left Front Stance. Outward Knifehand Strike (palm down) to the opponent's neck with your left hand.
- 7. Without stepping, quickly execute a middle-height Punch with the right hand.
- 8. Slide the left foot back into a right Back Stance (i.e., left foot forward). Left Inward Block.
MOVE UP THE MIDDLE
- FIRST GOING FORWARD (Ga)...
- 9a. Step with the left foot to turn 90 degrees clockwise into a left Front Stance and execute a Low Knifehand Block with your left hand.
- 9b. Without stepping, Arc-Hand Strike to the opponent's neck with your right hand.
- 10a. Front Kick with your rear (right) leg, and then step down into a right Front Stance.
- 10b. In the Front Stance, perform a Low Knifehand Block with your right hand.
- 10c. Without stepping, Arc-Hand Strike to the opponent's neck with your left hand.
- 11a. Front Kick with your rear (left) leg, and then step down into left Front Stance.
- 11b. In the Front Stance, perform a Low Knifehand Block with your left hand.
- 11c. Arc-Hand Strike to the opponent's neck with your right hand. Kihap.
- 12a. Front Kick with your rear (right) leg, then step down into in a right Front Stance.
- 12b. Knee Break: As you are completing the Front Kick, chamber the right arm in front of you with the open palm down; chamber the left arm back by the ribs with the palm up. The idea is that your right arm is going to then grab underneath the opponent's calf and left the leg upward while the left hand strikes downward onto the opponent's knee. (This is a tricky maneuver: chambering for the knee break while still recovering from the front kick.)
- THEN COMING BACK (Na)...
- 13. This is a tricky turn: step forward with the left foot to 180 degrees clockwise into a right Front Stance and execute a middle-height Inner Forearm Opening Block.
- 14a. With the right foot fixed, execute a Left Front Kick then step down into a Left Front Stance.
- 14b. Knee Break: mirror step 12b - grasp your opponent's calf with your left hand and press down on the imaginary opponent's knee with your right hand
- 15. Slide the left foot back into a Left Walking Stance (i.e., left foot forward) and execute a middle-height Opening Block (i.e., an Inner Forearm Opening Block).
- FIRST GOING RIGHT...
- 16. Step back with the right foot to turn clockwise into a Horse-Riding Stance, look left and perform a single Knifehand Block with your left hand.
- 17. Without stepping, Target Punch: Punch your right hand into the palm of your left hand - keep your left arm extended. You will turn your left hand slightly from the Knifehand Block position - imagine grasping an opponent with your left hand and holding him while you strike him with a Punch from your right hand. The knuckles of your right fist should punch the lower half of left hand (in other words, don't punch the middle of your hand).
- 18a. Cross your right foot over in front of your left foot into a Cross Stance
- 18b. Execute a Side Kick with your left foot. This is tricky: as you are completing the Side Kick, chamber for the upcoming Fingertip Thrust as follows: turn your head to the right, chamber your left spearhand palm-down by the left ribs, chamber your right spearhand palm-down out in front of you (some people call this a Superman pose, since your hands are arranged like Superman while he's flying). The tricky part is chambering for the upcoming thrust while still recovering from the side kick.
- 18c. Now pivot 180 clockwise and put your left foot down behind you into a Right Front Stance (i.e., right foot forward). Low Fingertip Thrust (i.e., Groin Finger Strike) with left hand. As the same time "grasp" your opponent with your right hand and pulling him until your right hand lands on your left shoulder (this should be like a spearhand at your shoulder, palm facing your chin).
- 19. Slide the right foot back into a Right Walking Stance (i.e., right foot forward) and execute a Low Block with your right arm, while pulling your left thrusting hand back to your waist into a fist as normal. The idea is that you're pulling your opponent by the groin toward you, and then striking downward at his groin via the low block (so really this 'block' is not a block, it can be thought of as a strike to your opponenent's groin).
- 20a. Step forward into a Left Walking Stance (with your left foot forward) and execute a Left Palmheel Pressing Block (i.e., downward palm block).
- 20b. Step forward with your right foot to pivot into aHorse-Riding Stance and perform a Right Elbow Strike with right fist pushed by your left open hand (i.e., the left hand is assisting the elbow strike). Do not enclose the right fist with your left hand; keep the left hand flat as it pushes against the right fist.
- THEN GOING LEFT...
- 21. Without stepping, transition into a single Knifehand Block with your right hand.
- 22. Without stepping, Target Punch: Punch your left hand into the palm of your right hand - keep your right arm extended. You will turn your right hand slightly from the Knifehand Block position - imagine grasping an opponent with your right hand and holding him while you strike him with a Punch from your left hand.
- 23a. Cross your left foot over in front of your right foot into a Cross Stance
- 23b. Execute a Side Kick with your right foot. Again, turn your head left and strike a "Superman Pose" to chamber for the upcoming Fingertip Thrust.
- 23c. Pivot 180 counter-clockwise and put your right foot down into a Left Front Stance (i.e., left foot forward). Low Fingertip Thrust (i.e., Groin Finger Strike) with right hand while "grasping" your opponent with your left hand and pulling him until your left hand lands on your right shoulder
- 24. Slide the left foot back into a Left Walking Stance (i.e., left foot forward) and execute a Low Block with your left arm.
- 25a. Step forward into a Right Walking Stance (with your right foot forward) and execute a Right Palmheel Pressing Block.
- 25b. Step forward with your left foot to pivot into a Horse-Riding Stance and perform a Left Elbow Strike with left fist enclosed by your right hand.
BACK DOWN THE MIDDLE
- 26. Low Hammerfist Target Strike : Slide your right foot next to your left so your feet are together and raise both hands above your head with palms facing forward. Bring both hands down in a circular motion. By the time your arms are horizontal, your palms should now be rotated to be facing the floor. When your left arm is horizontal, close the open left hand into a fist. Continue arcing the arms downward with the muscled side of your left fist striking your open right palm at the bottom of this circle. This is a slow technique and should take about 8 seconds.
- 27a. Step with the left foot to turn 180 degrees counter-clockwise into a Left Front Stance (with left leg forward) and execute an Outward Knifehand Strike (palm down) with your left hand.
- 27b. Without stepping, Low Knifehand Block with the same hand (the left hand).
- 28a. Step forward with your right foot into a Right Front Stance and execute an Inward Knifehand Strike (palm up, neck-height) with your right hand.
- 28b. Without stepping, Low Knifehand Block with the same hand (the right hand).
- 29a. Step forward with your left foot into a Left Front Stance and execute an Inward Knifehand Strike (palm up, neck height) with your left hand.
- 29b. Without stepping, Low Knifehand Block with the same hand (the left hand).
- 30. Step forward with your right foot into Right Front Stance and execute an Arc-Hand Strike to your opponent's neck with your right hand. Kihap.
- PUSHING HANDS...
Even though Kukkiwon/WTF-style poomsae are standardized, it is still possible to broadly interpret a poomsae when performing it. As an example, the video below is a very exagerated version of Koryo. While it is technically incorrect in many areas, it serves as as stark example of what we mean when we say "interpret" a poomsae.
Some example of technical inaccuracies in this performance:
- Of course, the Pushing Hands (aka Log Pushing) ready position at the start of the form is not performed in a standard way.
- Immediately as the performer goes into a Double Knifehand Block, the performer replaces the standard Back Stance with a non-standard Horse-Riding Stance that is too wide, too low, and the feet are not pointed forward as they should be. (Though it's worth noting that the exaggerated Horse-Riding stance used here requires a lot of leg strength.)
- Immediately after the double Side Kick, the Punch should be middle-height, where here it is performed head-height.
- Immediately after the punch, the Inside Block is also performed head-height rather than middle height.
This is not to suggest that the performer is not talented; this performance was clearly exaggerated intentionally, as part of a special event (and clearly required strong athleticism). The lesson is: it is possible to perform standard poomsae in very non-standard ways as a method of personal interpretation (though generally speaking, extreme interpretations such as this one would not score well in a conventional poomsae competition).
Here is another very unique interpretation.
In this version, chambers have been almost entirely eliminated in favor of very-fast combinations.