Taekwondo Forms: ATA, ITF, WTF

Taekwondo Forms

A “form” in Taekwondo is a choreographed series of moves, which can be performed with or without a weapon, for the purpose of interval cardio training and the development of proper mental and physical technique. They are more akin to exercise and conditioning than combat, while also displaying the artistic possibilities of Taekwondo. In competitions, Taekwondo forms are judged by a panel of judges, who evaluate the Taekwondo forms based on criteria such as energy, precision, control, and speed.

Taekwondo forms are given different Korean names based on the organization of the respective dojo.

In unaffiliated, Traditional Taekwondo, forms are called Hyeong.

In ATA (American Taekwondo Association) and WTF (World Taekwondo Federation), forms are called Poomsae.

In ITF (International Taekwondo Federation) style, forms are called Teul.

Types of Taekwondo Forms

Traditional Taekwondo: Because Traditional Taekwondo is unaffiliated and therefore non-standardized, its collection of forms is a massive amalgamation from often widely differing schools. There are no “standard” forms for Traditional Taekwondo.

ITF Taekwondo Forms: There are 24 ITF Taekwondo forms, (Teul), developed primarily in the 1960s. ITF Taekwondo represents the first attempt to unify and standardize the martial art.

ITF White Belts do not do forms, but rather simple exercises. As students move up in Taekwondo belts, the forms get increasingly complex.

In increasing belt order, the ITF Taekwondo Forms are:

Chon Ji – Means “Heaven-Light”, referring to the beginning of the world, and is appropriate for a beginner entering the world of Taekwondo.

Dan-Gun – Named after the founder of the first kingdom of Korea in 2333 BCE. Of course, he’s the grandson of the god of Heaven.

Do-San – Named after Ahn Chang-Ho, whose pen-name was Dosan, a prominent Korean independence activist and leader of the Korean-American immigrant community in the US.

Won-Hyo – Named after the important thinker and writer in Korean Buddhist tradition.

Yul-Gok – Named after the great Korean philosopher Yi I (Yul-Gok was his pseudonym), called the Confucius of Korea, who theorized about Chi being the controlling agent of the Universe.

Joong-Gun – Named after the Korean patriot who assassinated the Prime Minister of Japan.

Toi-Gye – Named after the Yi-Hwang, the authoritative Korean Noe-Confucian scholar.

Hwa-Rang – Named after the group of scholar-warriors famous in the tradition of the Korean military.

Choong-Moo – Named after the undefeated Korean admiral Yi Soon-Sin, who saved Korea from collapse due to Japanese invasion in 1592.

ITF Taekwondo Black Belt Forms

Kwang-Gae – Named after the 4th century king of Korea, who expanded the nation’s empire.

Po-Eun – Named after the 14th century Korean poet, scientist, and public servant Chong Mong Chu.

Gae-Baek – Named after the 7th century Korean general, remembered for his brave last stand against overwhelming odds.

Eui-Am – Named after the pseudonym of the 20th century leader of Korean independence Son Byong-Hi.

Choong-Jang – Named after a 14th century Korean general.

Juche – Named after the philosophical concept that man is the master of his destiny.

Sam-Il – Literally translating to March 1st, referring to the 1919 date of the Korean Independence Movement.

Yoo-Sin – Named after the 7th century Korean general, famous for helping unify the country.

Choi-Yong – Named after the 14 century Korean general.

Yon-Gae – Named after the 7th century Korean general.

Ul-Ji – Named after the 7th century Korean general who repelled an invasion of almost a million men.

Moon-Moo – Named after the 7th century Korean king.

So-San – Named after the great 16th century Korean monk who helped organize a force to repel Japanese pirates.

Se-Jong – Named after the 15th century Korean king, who helped develop the Hangul alphabet.

Tong-Il – Denotes the eventual reunification of Korea, divided since 1945.

ATA Taekwondo Forms: The ATA and its forms (poomsae) were created contemporaneously with the ITF, but tend to involve more kicks.

Color Belt ATA Taekwondo Forms (poomsae):

Songahm 1 – 18 moves

Songahm 2 – 23 moves

Songahm 3 – 28 moves

Songahm 4 – 31 moves

Songahm 5 – 34 moves

In Wha 1 – 44 moves

In Wha 2 – 42 moves

Choong-Jung 1 – 44 moves

Choong-Jung 2 – 46 moves

ATA Taekwondo Black Belt Forms (poomsae):

Shim Jun – 1st Dan, 81 moves

Jung Yul – 2nd Dan, 82 moves

Chung San – 3rd Dan, 83 moves

Sok Bong – 4th Dan, 84 moves

Chung Hae – 5th Dan, 95 moves

Jhang Soo – 6th Dan, 96 moves

Chul Joon – 7th Dan, 97 moves

Jeong Seung – 8th Dan, 98 moves

World Taekwondo Federation Forms (Poomsae): These forms are less combat-orientated and more geared towards preparing students for sports and sparring, with more upright stances rather than low ones.

Color Belt World Taekwondo Federation Forms (Poomsae):

Taegeuk Il Jang – A simple walking stance poomsae, meaning “the sky”, from which all begins, symbolizing the beginning of training in Taekwondo.

Taegeuk Ee Jang – A more front-stance focused poomsae meaning “lake”, as movements should be fluid yet firm.

Taegeuk Sam Jang – Meaning “fire”, this poomsae should be performed with burning enthusiasm and bursts of power.

Taegeuk Sa Jang – Meaning “thunder”, this poomsae is practiced with pride and with dignity.

Taegeuk Oh Jang – Meaning “wind”, as it is both powerful and gentle.

Taegeuk Yook Jang – Meaning “water”, as it is fluid and gentle, yet also persistent.

Taegeuk Chil Jang – Representing the mountain, this form is noted for its stability, solidity, and immobility.

Taegeuk Pal Jang – The earth stance, as it contains all of the others, and is the foundation for the upcoming black belt forms.

World Taekwondo Federation Black Belt Forms (poomsae):

Koryo – 1st Dan, named after the dynasty from which the word “Korea” comes.

Keumgang – 2nd Dan, meaning diamonds, which are too strong and hard to be broken.

Taebaek – 3rd Dan, referring to the “bright mountains” from which the legendary founder of Korea is believed to have ruled the nation.

Pyongwon – 4th Dan, referring to a grand, vast plain.

Sipjin – 5th Dan, meaning longevity, and referring to continual growth and development.

Jitae – 6th Dan, this poomsae refers to the earth, and the great power within it, as related to the great power within the human muscles.

Cheonkwon – 7th Dan, referring to the sky and the majesty and awe it inspires within men, forcing them to strive ever upwards.

Hansoo – 8th Dan, symbolizes the fluidity and adaptability of water, from which Taekwondo gets its strength.

Ilyeo – 9th Dan, refers to the Buddhist concept of oneness between mind and body.