Kup Grade Patterns

These patterns will guide you through the coloured belt grades, although which patterns you learn will depend on the set used by your club.  Kukkiwon style Taekwondo (World Taekwondo Federation) uses the Taegeuk forms for coloured belts, however this wasn't always the case and the Palgwae forms used to be the forms taught to coloured belt students. Withink the Taegeuk patterns Tae refers to bigness and Geuk refers to eternity, which leads Taegeuk to then represent that which is the essence of everything, it has no beginning and no end.



Before 1971 Kukkiwon style Taekwondo had 8 coloured belt patterns called the Palgwae forms. Pal means 8 in Korean and Gwae means trigram so Palgwae refers to the eight trigrams that are associated with the I Ching Hexagrams. The I ching hexagrams were found in the Book of Changes, an ancient divination text based on 64 hexagrams.
To break this down each I Ching hexagram is made up of two trigrams, and each trigram is made up of three solid or broken lines. A meaning is associated to each triagram and hexagram and there are eight trigrams, this is why the forms are called the Palgwae, the eight trigrams. Four of these trigrams also appear on the South Korean Flag and the eight trigrams are said to represent the eight fundamental principles of reality.
After 1971 the Pagwae forms were replaced with the current Taegeuk forms although they still hold the same principles and symbolism as the original Palgwae forms, they have been changed to prepare students for sparring in the sport style of Taekwondo. Some clubs may choose to teach the Palgwe forms as well as the Taegeuk forms.


Further to the great amount of history behind the Taegeuk patterns and their creation, the trigrams around them are also said to represent Yin and Yang. With the closed lines representing Yang and the open lines meaning Yin, this refers to the Taoist principle "the unity of opposites" for example Yang could be dark and Yin could be light. They are opposite but exist to balance each other out. Taegeuk is also the name of the red and blue circle on the South Korean flag.


Applying the principle of Yin and Yang to these patterns shows that each pattern is opposite as are the trigrams and meaning of the patterns as explained below.


Ultimately the meaning behind each pattern whether it is Palgwae or Taegeuk represents the idea a student should focus on when performing that pattern For example when performing Yuk Jang you may want to think about how the pattern flows compared to Chil Jang which represents mountain. As you progress through the grades in Taekwondo it is important to understand the principles and history behind what you are doing. 

Poomse was created as a way of learning the application of moves in through attacking and defending against imaginary attackers. Next time you perform patterns think about what that move is actually doing. Where is this punch going? What am I blocking? When you develop an understanding of why you are doing what you are doing it will improve your practice in Taekwondo.