Definition of poomse.

In Tae kwon do the modern term for forms is poomse. When written in Korean it is two characters. The first is interpreted as articles. The second is comprised of two symbols meaning, mound of earth worked or cultivated and strength. the combination is cultivating strength. Together the word translates as Articles for cultivating strength.

The World Tae kwon do federation uses the Taegeuk series of poomse for belt gradings and competitions.

Taegeuk poomse symbolism.

Uhm and Yang the red and blue in the South Korean flag ( Taegeukdo ) represent the harmony of all life force in the Universe. The harmony becomes unbalanced and the stronger overflows into the weaker creating an unbalanced state of Uhm and Yang. The state of balance and unbalance constantly fluctuate throughout life. These changes however follow a certain orderly course without exception.

Taegeuk poomse are designed according  to the Taegeuk principle. The opposing phenomena of nature are the main formula of the poomse.

Challenge and response.

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Offense and defense

Attack and retreat.

Fast and slow.

Hard and soft                                                                                                                                                         .

There are eight Taegeuk poomse for the Kup grades ( coloured belts )

these all have a meaning relating to the wholeness of the Earth, Universe and life.

Taegeuk ( 1 ) Il jang. Heaven and light, 9th to 8th kup yellow tag

Taegeuk ( 2 ) Yee jang. Joyfulness ,8thto 7th kup yellow belt

Taegeuk ( 3 ) Sam jang. Fire and sun, 7th to 6th kup green tag

Taegeuk ( 4 ) Sar jang. Thunder, 6th to 5th kup green belt

Taegeuk ( 5 ) Oh jang. Wind, 5th to 4th kup blue tag

Taegeuk ( 6 ) Yuk jang. Water, 4th to 3rd kup red tag

Taegeuk ( 7 ) Chil jang. Mountain,3rd to 2nd kup red belt

Taegeuk ( 8 ) Pal jang. Mountain 2nd to 1st kup black tag


Kumkang Poomse, by Kathryn Lichlyter




  • 1. Koryo (Korea): Represents the fighting spirit of the ancient Korean culture and people. This form should be performed with power and spirit.
  • 2. Kumkang (Diamond):Represents the beautiful mountains in Korea. This form should be performed like the stable mountain that it represents with grace and beauty but stability. This form is also described as “too strong to be broken” or “immovable.”
  • 3. Taebek (Sacred Mountain): Taebek is the ancient name of Mount Peakdo (or Beakdo or Paekdu), considered the ancestral mountain of Korea. This mountain was the historical birthplace of Choson, where Tan-Gun founded the kingdom, over 4,300 years agoIt is one of the best-known geographical spots in Korea. The black belt should perform this poomse with precision and dexterity as a sign of respect for Taekwondo’s Korean cultural heritage.
  • 4. Pyung Won (Vast Plain): Represents fertile plains where people live on the crops and farms they cultivate themselves. The student should perform it as a graceful dance.
  • 5. Ship Jin (Symmetry): Represents endless growth and balanced learning. Literally, it means “decimal system,” indicating the value of order in life. Strive to perform this poomse with balance, precision and control.
  • 6. Ji Tae (Earth): Represents the changes in the earth. Perform it with an emphasis on rooted stances, to represent connections with the earth.
  • 7. Chun Kwon (Sky): Represents the mystery of the sky. The sky has always stimulated the imagination. Perform this poomse with the respect for the balance of life, but with the optimism of imagination. [The Chun Kwon poosme movements are the exact opposite of the movements of Ji Tae (6) demonstrating the balance of earth and sky]
  • 8. Han Soo (Water): Represents water, which adjusts to any situation, which can both weak and powerful. Perform this poomse with fluid movements but with power execution.
  • 9. Ill Yo (Oneness): Represents the Buddhist goal of enlightenment – the state in which the mind, body and spirit are one. Perform this poomse with a concentration that cannot be disturbed by outside influences.