The Taegeuk and Palgwe forms of Taekwondo are paradigms of the martial art. They contain the basic physical movements and also the philosophical thoughts from which the art was derived.
The words Taegeuk and Palgwe essentially represent the same thing, the universe. They are derived from the Jooyeok, the Book of Changes. In the Book of Changes the universe is divided into eight subsequent combinations derived from the major forces, um and yang (Korean for yin and yang). Each combination is represented by a symbol called a trigram, because it contains three lines. The lines of the trigram can be broken (um or negative principle) or solid (yang or positive principle). The number of possible combinations of a trigram consisting of three lines, broken or solid is (2^3=8) eight, thus the eight universal principles the Taegeuk and Palgwe represent.
The eight trigrams are arranged in a circle, around the symbol for um and yang, so that opposite pairs are across from one another. This represents the relationship that the trigrams have for one another, not opposites but, rather "interdependant polarities" that compose the universe.
Keon is the first trigram and it represents the creative forces, heaven and light. Tae represents the concept of joy, often associated with a lake. Ri is the symbol of fire and clarity. Jin is symbolized by the arousing thunder. Seon, the gentle but powerful wind. Gam, flowing water. Gan means stubborn and mountain. Finally, Gon the receptive earth. All together these concepts and symbols represent the balance of all nature. In the training of Taekwondo as well as in life we all hope to find the balance. The poomse carry with them not only the physical movements but also the meaning of Taekwondo.
In executing the poomse, there are four elements that are considered; direction, pattern, stance and technique.
The first element is direction and is simply the direction the student faces. In Figure 1, the student is in the center of a clock. To the front of the student is 12o'clock, back is 6o'clock, right is 3o'clock and left is 9o'clock. This clock method is used on the form descriptions to convey direction.
The second element is the pattern of the form. The pattern is the area the practitioner follows on the floor while executing the poomse. In Figure 2 the student stands at the beginning of the basic Taeguek pattern. At the end of the form the student will have moved along the black lines and returned to the starting position.
The third and fourth elements are related in that they are the movements, which make up the form. Stance refers to the positioning of the feet and body. [ie. Front Stance, Defensive Stance] Technique is the blocking, striking or kicking method used.
Not only is the student required to memorize the proper direction, pattern, stance and technique but also to display them with the proper balance and power in a consistent rhythm This takes hours of practice and can be a lifetime challenge of Taekwondo.