Poomsae, or formal exercises, are choreographed sequences of techniques aimed at defeating multiple attackers originating from different directions. They are the manner in which martial arts combat strategy was transmitted from venerable master to worthy disciple across the centuries. The various poomsae can be construed as the catalog of taekwondo containing technical attributes unique to the art and, therefore, represent the essence of traditional taekwondo. Each form is symbolized by a distinct philosophical component derived either from the I Ching, an ancient Taoist text, or personalities and places drawn from martial arts history.
Promotion from one rank to the next is largely predicated on the precision performance of a required formal exercise acting as a barometer for proficiency. Chosun students are required to perform the Kicho set, Kukkiwon-sanctioned Taegeuk, and the older Palgwe poomsae. In addition, black belt students are taught the Yudanja series Kukkiwon forms in conjunction with a complete palette of staff, sword and complex traditional taekwondo poomsae. For purposes of instruction, all poomsae, including their philosophical components, exclusive to the Chosun pure-form taekwondo curriculum, are depicted here for retrieval by our students. As a point of fact, all poomsae, at whatever level, should be first taught to the student by a qualified master instructor with subsequent support from video and written reference materials.
For additional information on poomsae, their philosophy and technical characteristics see Traditional Taekwondo: Core Techniques, History and Philosophy by Master Doug Cook and Tae Kwon Do: The Korean Martial Art by Grandmaster Richard Chun.