Palgwe Forms [Poomsae/Hyungs]
by Mike Swope, 2nd Dan
Forms, also known as poomse or hyungs in Korean, are a series of basic attack and defense movements put together in a preset pattern and performed against imaginary opponents. They contain basic physical movements and philosophies of the art. These base techniques, delivered in a realistic fashion, allow the practitioner to develop strength, breath control, balance, power, focus and self-discipline.
Black Eagle Martial Arts teaches and practices the forms [poomse/hyungs] recognized by the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF). The World Taekwondo Federation was founded on May 28, 1973 at its inaugural meeting of 35 representatives from around the world at the Kukkiwon, the worldwide center of learning and research of taekwondo located in Seoul, Korea. The WTF governs and administers the function of Taekwondo competitions and related support services and is a member of the International Olympic Committee for competitive Tae Kwon Do in the worldwide Olympic sports. The WTF practices full-contact free sparring, which became an Olympic sport in 2000. The WTF does not currently promote forms competitions, but local and regional tournaments are privately sponsored and hosted across the country and around the world at all times of the year.
The Palgwe forms, in use since 1967, were the first series of eight Tae Kwon Do patterns adopted and taught by the Korea Tae Kwon Do Association (which had been founded in 1959) and, later, by the WTF and its members. In 1972, the Kukkiwon officially replaced the Palgwe patterns with the Taegeuk patterns, the performance and knowledge of which are now required for gup promotion by WTF-member schools, or dojangs. Thus, WTF-style local and regional tournaments do not allow the older Palgwe patterns for competition. The Palgwe forms were first presented in book form in English by now-Grandmaster Richard Chun in Tae Kwon Do: The Korean Martial Art published by HarperCollins in 1976. Grandmaster Chun is considered to be one of the "Fathers of American Tae Kwon Do."
The Palgwe patterns, practiced since 1967, represent the 8 trigrams from the I Ching, the "Book of Changes," one of the oldest classical historical Chinese texts, dating back to "The Warring States" period 475–221 BC. The I Ching centers on the ideas of the dynamic balance of opposites, the evolution of events as a process, and acceptance of the inevitability of change, concepts now intrinsic to Chinese and other Asian cultures. The term Palgwe represents the eight trigrams together as a group. Although the eight Palgwe and eight Taegeuk poomsae, used to test up to black belt, share the meanings, trigrams and symbols originating from the I Ching, the sequences of movements in each hyung are different. Ironically, both the Taegeuk and Palgwe poomsae share the last nine hyungs used to test for 1st through 9th dan. The Kukkiwon officially replaced the Palgwe hyungs with the Taegeuk poomsae in 1971.
Although no longer required for promotion by the WTF, the Palgwe patterns are still taught and practiced at many Tae Kwon Do schools worldwide. For many black belts, these were the first forms they were taught and by which they earned rank certifications, so they continue to teach them to their students. Compared to the Taegeuk forms, the Palgwe forms employ the simpler stances, blocks, strikes and kicks of Tae Kwon Do. There are no walking stances in the Palgwe patterns.
Master James Hartness, Master Richard Decou and the instructors at Black Eagle Martial Arts continue to teach and require the traditional eight Palgwe patterns, in addition to the newer Taegeuk forms.