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The taegeuk, symbolizing the unity of opposites

This article refers to the Taegeuk forms. For the Taegeuk symbol, see Taekwondo Philosophy.

Taegeuk (in Kukkiwon/WT Taekwondo) refers to a set of poomsae or forms used to teach taekwondo. A form, or poomsae (also romanized as pumsae or poomse) is a defined pattern of defense-and-attack motions. Outside of the context of taekwondo, the word taegeuk (the Korean pronunciation of Taiji / T'ai Chi) refers to the Taoist principle of the "unity of opposites" (yin and yang). Taegeuk can also refer to the red and blue circle used in the flag of South Korea.


The symbolic meaning of each form is incorporated into its movements.

Generally all students studying Kukkiwon/WT Taekwondo must learn taegeuk forms to advance to a higher level of belt. There are eight Taegeuk forms, each one more complex than the last, that display the student's mastery of the techniques learned. In order to receive a black belt, the student must generally perform all taegeuk forms consecutively. In the early 1970s the taegeuk forms replaced the older Palgwae forms that were previously used in Kukkiwon/WT taekwondo; some school still teach palgwae forms.

Each Taegeuk form symbolizes a specific force of nature and is represented by trigrams (originally derived from the I-Ching) similar to those found in the four corners of the South Korean flag.

The name of each taegeuk form is a three-word phrase:

  • The first word, taegeuk, as previously mentioned, refers to the principle of the "unity of opposites"
  • The second word (il, ee, sam, sa, etc.) are the numbers 1 through 8 in the sino-Korean numbering system
  • The third word, jang, roughly translates from Korean as chapter or section.

So for example the name taegeuk il jang translates as first chapter of the taegeuk. See Taekwondo Symbolism and Taekwondo Philosophy for additional detail.

The eight taekgeuk poomsae are:

Name Hangul Symbols Techniques Introduced Typical Belt Level
Taegeuk Il Jang 태극 1장 (Taegeuk Il-jahng) ☰, 天, 건

(gun) The heavens, the sky

8th geup
Taegeuk Ee Jang

태극 2장 (Taegeuk Ee-jahng)
Also sometimes romanized as Taegeuk Yi Jang

☱, 澤, 태


7th geup
Taegeuk Sam Jang 태극 3장 (Taegeuk Sam-jahng)

Also sometimes romanized as Taegeuk Sahm Jang

☲, 火, 이

(yi or ree)

6th geup
Taegeuk Sa Jang 태극 4장 (Taegeuk Sa-jahng)

Also sometimes romanized as Taegeuk Sah Jang

☳, 雷, 진


5th geup
Taegeuk Oh Jang 태극 5장 (Taegeuk O-jahng)

Also sometimes romanized as Taegeuk O Jang

☴, 風, 손

(son or seon)

4th geup
Taegeuk Yook Jang 태극 6장 (Taegeuk Yuk-jahng)

Also sometimes romanized as Taegeuk Yuk Jang

☵, 水, 감

(gam or kam)

3rd geup
Taegeuk Chil Jang 태극 7장 (Taegeuk Chil-jahng) ☶, 山, 간

(gan or kan)

2nd geup
Taegeuk Pal Jang 태극 8장 (Taegeuk Pal-jahng)

Also sometimes romanized as Taegeuk Phal Jang

☷, 地, 곤

Ground, earth

1st geup


In 1965 the Korea Taekwondo Association appointed a committee of representatives from six of the Nine Kwans to develop the forms for what is now called Kukkiwon- or WT-style taekwondo. The committee consisted of:

In 1967, this committee introduced the Palgwe and Yudanja (Black Belt) forms (including a simpler version of Koryo). In 1971 two additional kwans joined the committee:

This expanded committee went on to develop the Taegeuk forms.

Trigrams and Floor Patterns[]


Taegeuk and Trigrams

On the first line of Taegeuk Sam Jang you turn by moving the lead foot. On the second line you pivot in-place. On the third line you turn by moving the lead foot. Hence: ☲

Each Taegeuk form is associated with a trigram. A trigram is three parallel lines, each line being either solid or broken (☰, ☱, ☲, etc.). For example, the form Taegeuk Il Jang is associated with a trigram made up of three solid lines (☰). Based on the I Ching, that trigram represents "keon" meaning "the sky" or "the heavens."

In addition, however, each trigram also says something about the associated taekwondo floor pattern for that form. Each Taegeuk floor pattern is also made up of three lines. On each line in every pattern, there is a 180 degree turn:

  • If the 180 turn is a simple pivot-in-place (without moving the lead foot) then that corresponds to a broken line in the trigram.
  • On the other hand, if the 180 turn is accomplished by moving the lead foot to turn the body, that corresponds to a solid line in the trigram.

Consider as an example Taegeuk Sam Jang. The associated trigram is a solid line, broken line, solid line (☲). Now consider the floor pattern. On the first line of the pattern, you turn your body 180 by moving the lead foot (the right foot) to the rear and turning. On the second line of the form, however, you turn 180 by simply pivoting in place. Then again on the third line, you turn by moving the lead foot.

  • First line ~ move the lead foot to turn = solid line
  • Second line ~ pivot in-place = broken line
  • Third line ~ move the lead foot to turn = solid line

This same scheme applies to all the Taegeuk forms. Note that In Taegeuk Pal Jang, the 180 turn on the third line is accomplished by cross-stepping, which is considered a pivot. Note also that the trigrams are read bottom-to-top, so the bottom line of the trigram represents the first line of the Taegeuk form.

Taegeuk Floor Patterns and Trigrams
Trigram Name Association in Nature Form 180 Turns in the Floor Pattern
first line, second line, third line
Keon The Sky, the Heavens Taegeuk Il Jang turn, turn, turn
Tae Lake Taegeuk Ee Jang turn, turn, pivot
Ree Fire Taegeuk Sam Jang turn, pivot, turn
Jin Thunder Taegeuk Sa Jang turn, pivot, pivot
Seon Wind Taegeuk Oh Jang pivot, turn, turn
Kam Water Taegeuk Yook Jang pivot, turn, pivot
Kan Mountain Taegeuk Chil Jang pivot, pivot, turn
Gon The Earth, the Ground Taegeuk Pal Jang pivot, pivot, pivot (cross-step on the third line)

Utilizing every possible combination of solid and broken lines yields eight trigrams. The Korean word for eight is "pal" and the word for trigram is "gwae", so the eight-trigrams are called the pal-gwae (or palgwae). The previous set of KTA/Kukkiwon taekwondo forms used before the Taegeuk forms were called the Palgwae forms and are represented by precisely the same set of trigrams. Because the trigrams number only eight, the trigrams are often arranged in an octagonal shape when depicted graphically. For this reason, the octagon is also considered an important part of the symbolism of the pal-gwae.

Each trigram is associated with an element from nature (sky, ground, water, etc.) but also has other connotations as well. See Taekwondo Symbolism for a more complete list of associations.


There are a number of videos on the Web that illustrate practical applications of Taegeuk forms, in terms of self-defense. Some of the better ones are listed below.

Taekwondo as originally developed in the 1940-1960s focused on combat and self-defense. Especially since the inclusion of taekwondo in the Summer Olympics however, there has also been a line of teaching and training that focuses on the sport aspects of taekwondo, especially for tournament sparring. There has been a recent trend in taekwondo called Sil Jeon that is a reaction to the sports emphasis, the trend emphasizing a return to practical applications of taekwondo for self-defense.


The application of Taekwondo Poomsae on actual fight 태권도 품새 - 실전 응용 액션


실전 태권도 Taekwondo - Lee Dong Hee

See also: Taekwondo Self Defense.

Detailed Diagrams[]


Here are some fun Taegeuk Poomsae desktop wallpapers:

Large Format Wall Posters[]

Here are some super-high-resolution images that are suitable for large-format printing, such as for wall posters. These files can be taken to any print shop and printed in poster sizes:



Low Resolution Taegeuk Poster.jpg


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