The information on this page will help to improve the effectiveness of your TaekwonDo. Perhaps one of the most important goals is to make everything we do “fit for purpose”; the information here will help to achieve this.

Stances are the foundation on which every technique is built. If the stance is weak or incorrect, then any technique will be weakened or may even become ineffective. When performing a pattern at a competition this will result in lost points; when using Taekwondo in a real life situation this could result in defeat.

There are many different stances in Taekwondo, each with its own purpose and application. We practice these stances during patterns where the purpose of the stance is shown. For example Walking stance (gunnun sogi) is used for strong forward or backward techniques. Sitting stance (annun sogi) is used as a strong base for lateral strikes and forward techniques. L stance (niunja sogi) is our primary fighting stance. Agility, balance and flexibility are the controlling factors in the correct use of all stances.

It is extremely important to learn the correct posture for each stance at an early stage in your Taekwondo career. This is because we develop ‘muscle memory’ and once a movement is learned it becomes automatic. Therefore if a stance is practiced incorrectly then the resulting muscle memory will also be incorrect. As Patterns become more complicated, or in sparring when we are under pressure, we rely on muscle memory to produce the correct stance. This is why it is essential to practice each stance correctly. We need to understand how a correct stance ‘feels’ so that eventually we just know we are performing it correctly without needing to check.

We suggest that you check your stances whenever you have an opportunity – in line work, or when performing patterns in Instructor’s time. Just a quick glance down to check foot position, spacing, correct weight distribution etc. If anything is wrong, correct it but also try to understand why it was wrong, and how you can get the stance correct next time. If you know what a correct stance looks like and feels like (so that you can correct your stance when you check it) but you still find that a stance is incorrect when you first check, then the only explanation can be an incorrect movement into the stance or application of incorrect muscle memory. The good news is that these can be corrected with your Instructor’s guidance and practice. However you must make it your responsibility to work at perfecting your stances.

Most stances are measured in terms of shoulder widths. A useful exercise is to measure your actual shoulder width, then use this to measure your stances – this will tell you if your stances are the correct length/width.

Basic principles for a proper stance are:

  • Keep the back straight with few exceptions.
  • Relax the shoulders.
  • Tense the abdomen.
  • Maintain the correct facing. The stance may be full facing, half facing or side facing depending on the application (e.g. block or punch)
  • Maintain balance (equilibrium)
  • Make use of the knee spring properly when moving.

To help understand the correct position for each stance, which must be the starting point, please use the instructions below.

Remember, practice makes perfect, but only when you practice correctly!

Attention Stance

Charyot Sogi 차렷 서기

Heels together with feet forming a 45 degree angle between them.

Weight is distributed evenly on both feet with the legs straight.

Arms are held out at the sides and slightly in front of the waist, with elbows partially bent and the fists lightly clenched, facing downwards.

The eyes are facing front and slightly above horizontal.

Bowing motion – bow from waist moving about 15 degrees forwards, continuing to look forwards (or maintain eye contact with opponent. When bowing to a senior grade, you must not raise your head before they raise theirs.
Always say “Taekwon” when bowing.

Parallel Ready Stance

Narani Chunbi Sogi (Chunbi Sogi) 나란히 서기

The stance is 1 shoulder width wide measured from the foot-swords. The feet are parallel.

Weight is distributed evenly on both feet with the legs straight.

The fists are clenched slightly and 5 cm apart. There should be approximately 7 cm between the fists and the abdomen and 10 cm between the elbows and the floating ribs.

The upper arms are forward at 30 degrees while the lower arms are bent upward at 40 degrees.

Walking Stance

Gunnun Sogi 걷는 서기

The stance is 1 shoulder width wide, measured between the center of the insteps of the feet.

It is 1.5 shoulder widths long, measured from the big toe of the rear foot to the big toe of the front foot.

The weight is distributed evenly between the feet.

The back leg is straight and locked with the back foot pointed outward up to 25 degrees.

The front leg is bent with the kneecap directly over the heel with the front foot pointed straight forward.

The foot muscles of both feet are tensed as if to pull the feet together.

Sitting Stance

Annun Sogi 앉는 서기

The stance is 1.5 shoulder widths wide, measured from the big toes.

The feet are even and parallel.

The weight is distributed evenly on both feet with the knees bent over the balls of the feet.

The chest and abdomen are pushed out and the hips are pulled back.

This stance is performed full or side facing.

L Stance

Niunja Sogi 니은자 서기

The stance is 2.5 cm wide, measured from the inside heel of the front foot to the back heel of the rear foot.

It is approximately 1.5 shoulder widths long, measured from the foot-sword of the rear foot to the toes of the front foot.

The weight is distributed 70% on the rear foot and 30% on the front foot.

Both feet are turned inwards by 15 degrees

The rear leg is bent so that the knee-cap is over the toes of the rear foot.

The front leg is bent proportionally.

The rear hip is aligned with the inner knee joint of the rear knee.

This stance is named for the rear foot, and is always performed half facing.

Fixed Stance

Gojung Sogi 고정 서기

The stance is 2.5 centimeters wide, measured from the inside heel of the front foot to the back heel of the rear foot.

It is 1.5 shoulder widths long, measured from the big toe of the rear foot to the big toe of the front foot (therefore 1 foot width longer than L Stance)

The weight is distributed evenly on both feet (50/50)

Both feet are turned inwards by 15 degrees

The rear leg is bent so that the knee-cap is over the toes of the rear foot. The front leg is bent proportionally.

The rear hip is aligned with the inner knee joint of the rear knee.

This stance is named for the rear foot, and is always performed half facing.

Rear Foot Stance

Dwit Bal Sogi 뒷발 서기

The stance has the heel of the rear foot slightly beyond the heel of the front foot, and therefore has no width.

It is one 1 shoulder width long, measured from the small toes of the rear foot to the small toes of the front foot.

The weight is distributed mostly on the rear foot.

The rear leg is bent so that the knee-cap is over the toes of the rear foot and the rear foot turns in 15 degrees.

The front leg is bent with the ball of the front foot slightly touching the floor, the heel of the front foot slightly off the ground, and the foot pointing in about 25 degrees.

The back of the heel of the rear foot extends just past the outside edge of the heel of the front foot.

This stance is named for the rear foot, and is always performed half facing.

Bending Ready Stance

Guburyo Chunbi Sogi 구부려 서기 (A & B)

This stance is performed standing on one bent leg and therefore has no length or width.

The weight is all distributed on the bent supporting leg with the sole of the non-supporting foot placed on the knee joint of the supporting leg and the footsword of the non-supporting foot parallel to the floor.

Type A: The knee of the non-supporting leg faces 45 degrees in from front.

The fists form a guarding block.

Type B: The knee of the non-supporting leg faces to the front (as if in preparation for a back kick).

The fists are held out from the thighs about 25 centimetres with the elbows bent 30 degrees (similar to Charyot sogi)

This stance is named for the stationary leg and is performed full or side facing.

X Stance

Kyocha Sogi 교차 서기

This stance is performed standing on one leg with the ball of the other foot touching the floor next to it with the feet almost parallel; therefore it has virtually no length or width.

The weight is distributed on the stationary leg with the ball of the other foot touching the floor slightly and with the non-supporting leg crossed either in front or behind it (usually crossed in front when stepping and behind when jumping) with both legs bent.

This stance is named for the stationary leg and is performed full, side, or half facing.

Low Stance

Nachuo Sogi 낮춰 서기

The stance is 1 shoulder width wide, measured between the center of the insteps of the feet.

It is 1.5 shoulder widths long, measured from the big toe of the rear foot to the heel of the front foot.

The weight is distributed evenly between the feet.

The back leg is straight and locked with the back foot pointed outward up to 25 degrees.

The front leg is bent with the knee-cap directly over the heel with the front foot pointed straight forward.

The foot muscles of both feet tensed as if to pull the feet together.

Vertical Stance

Soo Jik Sogi 수직 서기

The stance has the heel of the rear foot slightly beyond the heel of the front foot, and therefore has no width.

It is one 1 shoulder width long, measured from the big toes of the rear foot to the big toe of the front foot.

The weight is distributed 60% on the rear foot and 40% on the front foot.

Both feet are turned inwards by 15 degrees

Both legs are straight.

This stance is named for the rear foot, and is always performed half facing.

Close Stance

Moa Sogi 모아 서기 (A,B,C,D)

The stance is performed with both feet together and parallel, and therefore has no length or width.
The weight is distributed evenly on both feet with the legs straight.
The stance is performed either full or side facing

Same: Moa Chunbi Sogi (A,B,C,D)

Diagonal Stance

Sasun Sogi 대각선 서기

The stance is 1.5 shoulder widths wide, measured from the balls of the feet.

The feet are parallel with the heel of the front foot even with the toes of the rear foot.

The weight is distributed evenly on both feet with the knees bent over the balls of the feet.

The hips are pulled back.

This stance is named for the more advanced foot and is performed full or side facing.

One Leg Stance

Waebal Sogi 외발 서기

This stance is performed standing on one leg and therefore has no length or width.

The weight is all distributed on the stationary leg, which is straight with either the reverse footsword of the non-supporting foot (flat and parallel to the floor with the toes pulled back) placed on the side of the knee joint of the supporting leg, or with the instep of the non-supporting foot placed in the hollow at the rear of the knee of the supporting leg.

This stance is named for the stationary leg and is performed full or side facing.

This subject can be quite complicated, and also controversial, so I have tried to explain it in simple terms. Whilst it is important that we understand the principles, never lose sight of the most important thing – that your techniques work effectively!

It cannot be stressed enough to allow the beginning student to move naturally first and get a feel for the movements rather than bombard them with scientific and mathematical concepts of ‘Sine Wave’.

Knee-Spring (or ‘Sine-Wave’, or “Down-Up-Down”)

History: The basis of this motion is a concept often referred to as ‘Sine Wave’, because General Choi likened the motion to a mathematical sine wave in the 1970’s, which is an oscillating up-and-down motion.

‘Knee-Spring’ is a better description, and the one we will use, because it describes what is happening – i.e. using the knees to ‘spring’ from one position to another (this does NOT mean bounce!). It is actually the natural way a human body moves from one point to another. Perhaps we could say we are ‘springing into action’.

Important: Though the ‘down-up-down’ motion of Knee-Spring is often exaggerated to make it clearer, in practice the motion should be slight, not exaggerated.

Knee-Spring is characterised by a down-up-down movement (as seen in the diagram above, and why General Choi likened it to a Sine Wave).

  1. Down – Relax: we relax so we can start to move more quickly (accelerating), and in so doing we drop slightly because we flex our knees as we relax. This is a subtle movement. At this point we are compressing the knees like a spring. We move our arms to the ‘neutral’ position in front of the chest, still relaxed.
  2. Up – flowing into the movement: We are now accelerating into the technique and have released the compression of our knees, which is why we rise up, creating potential energy. We continue accelerating towards the target in a flowing motion, chambering our next technique – i.e. move hands/feet to the point where we are ready to unleash the block/attack.
  3. Down – Power: this is the point where everything comes together and we deliver an effective technique! We have reached full acceleration (speed) at the moment of impact with the target. We use our reaction force to achieve more speed. We exhale (breath-control) to maximise our body-weight (mass) and bring everything together, using kinetic energy and (to a small extent) gravity. We are balanced. We use the correct blocking/attacking tool, concentrating on the correct target.

When trying to describe this process, I often think of a wave breaking onto a shore when the power is unleashed… a smooth motion, not a jagged saw-tooth motion.

In order to understand the purpose and correct application of Knee-Spring, I suggest you review the Training Secrets of TaekwonDo, and take a good look at the Theory of Power.

Unfortunately, some TaekwonDo schools over-exaggerate the ‘Sine-Wave’ motion, forgetting the most important part of any technique, which is that it should work in a real situation! Over exaggerated Sine-Wave motion slows us down, which is the exact opposite of the most important part of delivering a technique that works – speed.

To emphasise the point:

  • Knee-Spring (Sine Wave) should be a natural movement, not a forced or conscious action.
  • The focus should be on the technique you are about to execute and focussing all your power into the blocking or attacking tool.
  • During a ‘normal’ or regular stepping motion, Knee-Spring is generally created by the relaxation of the leg muscles at the initial stage of the technique’s execution, whether it be whilst stepping or whilst stationary.

So, hopefully we now understand how to move from one technique to the next properly, and the basic principles of why we use a Knee-Spring to do so.

But there’s more!

There are various ‘types of motion’ used in Patterns to describe different ways to deliver techniques; it is useful to learn these and to understand why we use them.

Please refer to the table at the bottom which summarises the use of Knee-Spring in each type of motion.

1. Normal Motion – This is the most common execution of a technique utilising the principles (or training secrets) of TaekwonDo. Techniques are executed one at a time, using a full Knee-Spring, culminating with a single breath-control at the end of each movement when the power is applied.

Example: All movements in Sajo-Jirugi, Sajo-Makgi and Chon-Ji use this motion.

Summary: 1 technique, 1 Knee-Spring, 1 breath

2. Continuous Motion – We see this first in Dan-Gun tul. In movement numbers 13-14, we execute a left outer-forearm low block followed by a left outer-forearm rising block in a continuous motion -meaning the two techniques are executed with a single count, with one continuous breath-control (which lasts from the beginning of the first movement until the end of the second movement). There is a full knee-spring for each movement.

In reality, the long breath is accentuated on the power application for each technique; it may be helpful to say “one and…. two” when practicing this type of motion, accentuating the ‘one’ and ‘two’. So in Dan-Gun ‘one’ would be the low block, ‘and’ would be the relaxation/re-chambering between techniques, and ‘two’ would be the rising block.

Purpose: Continuous motion always starts with a block. The main reason for using this kind of motion is to allow an instant response to an attack, by either blocking the next technique or delivering your own counter attack.

Summary: 2 techniques, 2 complete knee-springs, 1 continuous breath (accentuated on the power)

3. Fast Motion – This consists of two movements executed by a single count, performed ‘with urgency‘ (but not rushed). This differs from continuous motion because there are two breath-controls and a 2/3rd knee-spring between movements: i.e. there is no ‘relax’ downward movement between the techniques. This motion is used in movement numbers 15-16 and 19-20 of Do-San tul and 2-3/5-6 of Yul-Gok tul (middle punches).

Purpose: to deliver two techniques effectively, as fast as possible. For example, if you have a clear target such as the floating ribs, and are in position to deliver a punch, then two punches delivered in fast motion will be more devastating. So you don’t want a pause (relax) between the two punches!

Summary: 2 techniques, 2 knee-springs – but 2nd is only 2/3rds, 2 breaths

4. Slow Motion – Slow motion techniques require an incredible amount of balance, breath control and timing – which is why they are used as a training exercise! We are introduced to this motion in Joong-Gun tul. The pressing blocks and turning punch in Joong-Gun are both executed in slow motion. Everything has to come together simultaneously when performing this motion correctly, which is why it is so challenging. In more advanced patterns, kicking techniques are required in slow motion thus adding to the difficulty of the movement and pattern.

For most slow motion techniques, use a count of 4 seconds (“one and two and three and four”)

Purpose: Developing balance, breath control and timing.

Summary: 1 technique, 1 knee-spring, 1 breath-control (all performed in slow motion)

5. Connecting Motion – This motion differs from the others because it involves two movements with only one breath-control and one knee-spring. The movements are linked (connected) to each other. Hence, only one breath-control, which is emphasised at the end of the second movement, and one knee-spring is used for each count.

We first see this in Yul-Gok tul, moves 16/17 – palm hooking block followed by reverse punch. The first movement – the palm hooking block – is delivered on the ‘up’ part of the knee-spring used to move us from the previous technique; the reverse punch is then delivered during the ‘power’ downward movement. Therefore this is only considered a 1/3rd knee-spring.

There is no pause between techniques. It is usually impossible to determine where one technique ends and the next begins.

Purpose: Connecting motion is always with two movements using opposite arms. One reason for using this kind of motion is where one technique ‘sets up’ the opponent for an immediate attack.

Summary: 2 techniques, 1 knee-spring, 1 breath-control (at end of 2nd the technique)

6. Natural Movement – Although not technically considered a “motion”, this type of movement describes techniques that are ‘neither fast or slow’.  They do not require a ‘snap’ or powerful finish. The execution of the movement can be compared to the motion of picking up a pen or raising your arm. For example, moves 1 and 4 in Yul-Gok, and the hooking blocks in Kwang-Gae are examples of this type of motion. Also, the first movements in Connecting Motion are performed as a Natural movement (e.g palm hooking block/reverse punch in Yul-Gok).

Conclusion

Remember, Sine-Wave/Knee-Spring/Down-Up-Down is not power in itself, it merely contributes along with hip torque, breath control, reaction force, timing, acceleration, concentration, co-ordination and force summation.

Force Summation:

In humans, the production and combination of forces from different parts of the body to work together at the same time. From: simultaneous force summation in The Oxford Dictionary of Sports Science & Medicine

 

This table summarises the use of Knee-Spring in each type of movement:

TypeKnee-SpringMotionBreath-ControlMovements
NormalFulldown-up-down1 breath-control1
ContinuousFulldown-up-down1 breath-control2
Fast2/3rdsup-down2 breath-controls2
SlowFulldown-up-down1 breath-control1
Connecting1/3rddown (power)1 breath-control2

An old proverb says that even heaven cannot make a diligent worker poor.
However, in TaekwonDo, diligence or intensive training alone does not produce quality techniques. On the contrary, instructions from a false or unqualified instructor would be worse than not being taught at all because unscientific movements not only reduce the power but require a tremendous amount of time to correct. On the other hand, under the proper guidance of a competent instructor, a student who trains earnestly with dedication will learn the true techniques of TaekwonDo in a comparatively short period of time with less effort.

 

Students should keep in mind the following secrets:

  • To study the theory of power thoroughly.
  • To understand the purpose and method of each movement clearly.
  • To bring the action of eyes, hands, feet and breath into one single coordinated action.
  • To choose the appropriate attacking tool for each vital spot.
  • To become familiar with the correct angle and distance for attack and defence.
  • Keep both the arms and legs bent slightly while movement is in motion.
  • All movements must begin with a backward motion with very few exceptions. However, once the movement is in motion it should not be stopped before reaching the target.
  • To create sine wave during the movement by utilizing the knee spring.
  • To exhale briefly at the moment of each blow except a connecting motion.
  • Reproduced from “Taekwon-Do” (The Korean Art of Self Defence) also known as The Condensed Encyclopaedia.
    Fifth Edition 1999, All rights reserved
    Copyright 1988, 1991, 1992, 1995, 1999 General Choi, Hong Hi.

The beginning student may ask “Where does one obtain the power to create the devastating results attributed to TaekwonDo?” This power is attributed to the utilisation of a person’s full potential through the mathematical application of TaekwonDo techniques. The average person uses only 10 to 20% of their potential. Anyone, regardless of size, age, or sex who can condition themselves to use 100% of their potential can also perform the same destructive techniques.

Reaction Force

According to Newton’s Law, every force has an equal and opposite force. If your opponent is rushing towards you at a high speed, by the slightest blow at his head, the force with which you strike his head would be that of his own onslaught plus that of your blow. The two forces combined – his, which is large, and yours, which is small, is quite impressive. Another reaction force is your own. A punch with the right fist is aided by pulling back the left fist to the hip.

Concentration

By applying the impact force onto the smallest target area, it will concentrate the force and therefore, increase its effect. It is very important that you should not unleash all your strength at the beginning but gradually, and particularly at the point of contact with your opponent’s body, the force must be so concentrated as to give a knock-out blow. That is to say, the shorter the time for the concentration, the greater will be the power of the blow. The utmost concentration is required in order to mobilize every muscle of the body onto the smallest target area simultaneously.

Equilibrium

Balance is of utmost importance in any type of athletics. In TaekwonDo, it deserves special consideration. By keeping the body always in equilibrium, that is, well balanced, a blow is more effective and deadly. Conversely, the unbalanced one is easily toppled. The stance should always be stable yet flexible, for both offensive and defensive movements.

To maintain good equilibrium, the centre of gravity of the stance must fall on a straight line midway between both legs when the body weight is distributed equally on both legs, or in the centre of the foot if it is necessary to concentrate the bulk of body weight on one foot. The centre of gravity can be adjusted according to body weight. Flexibility and knee spring are also important in maintaining balance for both a quick attack and instant recovery. One additional point; the heel of the rear foot should never be off the ground at the point of impact. This is not only necessary for good balance but also to produce maximum power at the point of impact.

Breath Control

Controlled breathing not only affects one’s stamina and speed but can also condition a body to receive a blow and augment the power of a blow directed against an opponent. Through practice, breath stopped in the state of exhaling at the critical moment when a blow is landed against a pressure point on the body can prevent a loss of consciousness and stifle pain. A sharp exhaling of breath at the moment of impact and stopping the breath during the execution of a movement tense the abdomen to concentrate maximum effort on the delivery of the motion, while a slow inhaling helps the preparation of the next movement. An important rule to remember; Never inhale while focusing a block or blow against an opponent. Not only will this impede movement but it will also result in a loss of power.

Students should also practice disguised breathing to conceal any outward signs of fatigue. An experienced fighter will certainly press an attack when he realizes his opponent is on the point of exhaustion. One breath is required for one movement with the exception of a continuous motion.

Mass

Mathematically, the maximum kinetic energy or force is obtained from maximum body weight and speed and it is all important that the body weight be increased during the execution of a blow. No doubt the maximum body weight is applied with the motion of turning the hip. The large abdominal muscles are twisted to provide additional body momentum. Thus the hip rotates in the same direction as that of the attacking or blocking tool. Another way of increasing body weight is the utilization of a springing action of the knee joint. This is achieved by slightly raising the hip at the beginning of the motion and lowering the hip at the moment of impact to drop the body weight into the motion.

Speed

Speed is the most essential factor of force or power. Scientifically, force equals mass multiplied by acceleration.

According to the theory of kinetic energy, every object increases its weight as well as speed in a downward movement. This very principle is applied to TaekwonDo. For this reason, at the moment of impact, the position of the hand normally becomes lower than the shoulder and the foot lower than the hip while the body is in the air.

Reaction force, breath, control, equilibrium, concentration, and relaxation of the muscles cannot be ignored. However, these are the factors that contribute to the speed and all these factors, together with flexible and rhythmic movements, must be well coordinated to produce the maximum power in TaekwonDo.

by Mark Banicevich, IV dan.

More correctly, this article should be called, “Three things must ye know about every movement in all of ye Taekwondo patterns”, but that is too long for a title.

When we learn Taekwondo patterns, we commonly begin by learning the sequence of movements, and then practicing them over and over until they become automatic. The problem with this method is that we frequently fail to understand each and every movement.

General Choi never taught patterns this way. Indeed, one key element of General Choi’s Training Secret of Taekwondo is: “To understand the purpose and method of each movement clearly.”

The three things must ye know about every movement in ye patterns are:

  1. What is it called (English and Korean)?
  2. What is it for?
  3. How does it work?

To know what a movement is called, you must know its stance, tool, height, technique name and stepping – preferably in Taekwondo terminology in both English and Korean.

You must know whether the technique is an attack or a defence, and you must know the appropriate targets for the tool. You must know the body facing and line of each technique. You must also know where the technique finishes and how it gets there, including the intermediate position.

When you know what a technique is called and what it is for, knowing how it works is simply a matter of practice. You can achieve this through a progression of spot exercises, line work, pad work, pre-arranged exercises and free sparring.

What is it called?

The name of a technique comprises of six parts:

  1. Stance, and whether it is left or right
  2. Tool, and whether it is left or right
  3. Height
  4. Technique
  5. Stepping
  6. Type of motion

A completely unambiguous technique name includes all of these elements. This enables instructors to call out a technique and expect students to know exactly what it is. It also enables you to learn patterns from a book.

Let’s take movement two of pattern Chon Ji – “step forward into right walking stance, right fore-fist middle obverse front punch”. This is a complete and unambiguous description of the movement. It is performed stepping forward, into a right walking stance, whilst performing a right fore-fist middle section obverse punch. As long as you know what this means, you can perform the technique.

In the interest of efficiency, common terms are assumed, so we usually call the above technique “right walking stance middle punch” (“orun gunnun so kaunde jirugi”). We may also add “nagagi” – “forward stepping”.

What is it for?

What distinguishes Taekwondo patterns from dancing is that every movement we perform has an express purpose in attack or defence (“with few exception”, as General Choi would say). If you don’t know this purpose, you might as well be dancing! Taekwondo is the Korean martial art of self defence. Unless you know what every movement is for, you are not really learning self defence.

This means, as General Choi said, you must “understand the purpose and method of each movement clearly.” To achieve this, you must know four things about every movement:

  1. whether it is an attack or a defence
  2. the target of the technique which you hit with the tool
  3. its facing and its line
  4. how the movement passes through the intermediate position to the finished position.

The first of these elements is fundamental to understanding what a movement is for. It is the starting point for the other three elements.

If you know it is an attack, what are the appropriate targets for attack? The forefist can be used to attack many targets, including the philtrum, sternum, solar plexus, jaw, point of chin, floating ribs and lower abdomen. See a diagram here.

If you know it is a defence, what are the appropriate targets for defence? For example, a forearm low block is used to block an attacker’s hand or foot directed at the defender’s lower abdomen. The target will usually be the tibia or the back forearm.

When you know all of these things, the method of the movement is often obvious – but your instructor can smooth out any minor errors for you. If you are punching the solar plexus with the fore-fist, it is clear that the fore-fist should travel in a straight line to the target. If you are blocking the tibia with a forearm low block, it is no surprise that you must cross on top at shoulder height, and block downward and outward to the target.

Most movements are either half facing, full facing or side facing. The tool is centre line, chest line or shoulder line. It is important to know these things.

You must understand where each movement begins, the intermediate position through which it passes, the finished position, and the trajectory your body and each limb travels to get from start to finish.

It helps to practice a new movement slowly, to get the feel of it, before you try it out. Sometimes it helps to practice one limb at a time, then put them together. For example, the twin forearm block is easier to master if you try one hand, then the other, then both together.

How does it work?

With an understanding of what a technique is for and how it should work, it is time to do it. You need to practice new skills in a closed way, progressing to an open way. That is, you practice them in controlled situations, progressing to uncontrolled situations:

  • spot technique
  • line work
  • target work
  • pre-arranged exercises
  • free exercises

General Choi always told us we should first learn every technique as a spot technique. From the appropriate ready position, perform the technique to the right, return to ready position, perform the technique to the left, return to ready position, and continue (vice versa for defence). This is the best time for an instructor to correct technique.

Once you are performing the movement correctly, you practice the technique in line work. In this way, you repeat the movement to train your muscles to remember the correct method.

It is not until this point that General Choi advocated learning the pattern – after you have performed every new technique in the pattern to this level. However, to master the technique, and develop the best patterns, each movement must be developed as an open skill.

When you are comfortable using the technique alone, it is time to perform it against a target. The technique can be performed in focus exercises using a partner or focus pad, and in power exercises using an air shield or bag. These exercises utilise a stationary target.

The next step is to practice the technique with a partner in pre-arranged exercises. These include all forms of pre-arranged sparring (and result in great techniques for gradings).

Finally, you should try to utilise the technique in free sparring. Initially, try semi-free sparring to consciously use the technique in certain situations. Ultimately, the goal is to unconsciously use the technique in free sparring. I believe this is what General Choi wanted when he continually berated our tournament sparring as “cock fighting” – he wanted us to use a much greater variety of Taekwondo techniques.

Three things must ye know

General Choi used to challenge our understanding of techniques by asking three things:

“What is tool? What is target? Show me….”

If you know what a technique is called, you know the tool. If you know what it is for, you know the target. If you understood how to do it, you could show him.

Know these three things about every movement in your patterns, and you are a long way towards performing the best patterns you can perform. Moreover, you will have better step sparring, better free sparring, and a greater range of techniques if you ever need to use Taekwondo to defend yourself or others.

This article is from the SooShimKwan blog.

Reference: Definition of Taekwon-Do (ITF Encyclopaedia: Vol. 1, p. 21-23.)

In volume one of the Encyclopaedia, the definition of Taekwon-Do begins with the statement “A way of life.” It would do you good to read through this section in the Encyclopaedia on your own. However, I would like to highlight and comment on some sections.

“To put it simply TaekwonDo is a version of unarmed combat designed for the purpose of self-defence.” This statement says much about how we should consider TaekwonDo. Firstly it is a form of combat. It is, in other words, a method of fighting, battling or making war! The goal of this combat, fighting or war is self-defense. In Korean history, the Korean nation only went to war as an act of self-defence. This is the same in TaekwonDo, only fighting when needing to protect yourself or your loved ones.

“It is the scientific use of the body in the method of self-defence; a body that has gained the ultimate use of its facilities through physical training and mental training.” It is quite clear that TaekwonDo training has two parts; physical training being the one and mental training being the other.

The definition continues to say that though TaekwonDo is a martial art: “…its discipline, technique and mental training are the mortar for building a strong sense of justice, fortitude, humility and resolve.” It is TaekwonDo’s aim to uplift the character. The TaekwonDo Black Belt should courageously and firmly stand for what is right no matter the circumstances, and with humility. (Note how humility is defined in TaekwonDo: Moral Culture, Part Two, C. Be Humble.)

“It is this mental training,” continues the section, “that separates the true practitioner from the sensationalist content with mastering only the fighting aspect of the art.” When a student asked his Grand Master ‘What is the essence of TaekwonDo training?’ the Grand Master answered: ‘It is just mind training.’

Because TaekwonDo is first and foremost an art of fighting, it has the innate possibility of being misused. TaekwonDo is a “lethal weapon” intended for the “rapid destruction of…opponents.” It is therefore imperative that “mental training must always be stressed to prevent the student from misusing it.” This mental training is known as Moral Culture in TaekwonDo. A student trained in TaekwonDo, but without the Moral Culture to govern it, is to be compared with a gun in the hands of a child!

How little time is spent on anything else but the fighting aspect of the art? Most TaekwonDo classes focus only on the fighting aspect. There are many reasons for this, but I am not going to discuss them now. However, the Black Belt must, therefore, make it his or her self-proclaimed obligation to spend quality time at this mental training that is so ignored. This mental training is one of the reason we can call TaekwonDo an “art of self-defence”.

Added to self-defence is “health”. General Choi says that TaekwonDo: “…indicates the mental training and the techniques of unarmed combat for self-defence as well as health…” How pitiful it is when we teach people how to defend themselves against aggressors, but we neglect to teach them principles for healthy living. If we do not teach our practitioners how to defend themselves against an unhealthy lifestyle we can just as well stop teaching them to defend against an enemy, for both have the ability to shorten the life. Self-defence should be broadened to self-preservation, which includes protection from various forms of attack on one’s well-being. Do you now understand the importance of something like “Health Principles” in martial art study? It is the natural overflow of studying an art of self-defence.

TaekwonDo is also defined as a “scientific” method of self-defence. “Involving the skilled application of punches, kicks, blocks and dodges with bare hands and feet to the rapid destruction of the moving opponent or opponents.” This says quite a lot about the characteristics of TaekwonDo. As a scientific method, it should include the “scientific use of the body” through scientifically sound techniques. In other words, the use of “punches, kicks, blocks and dodges” should make sense scientifically. This means that their use should make sense both on an anatomical/biological level as well as be in coherence with the science of physics.

TaekwonDo’s technical superiority is clear when we consider its understanding in the fields of anatomy and biology in such teachings as “Vital Spots”, “Blocking and Attacking Tools” and the “Training Secrets” and in its use of Newtonian Laws in such principles as the “Theory of Power”.

What many overlooks is that TaekwonDo’s ultimate goal, as an art of self-defence, is fighting against “moving” opponents. As an art that relies on traditional physics, Black Belts should familiarise themselves with these theories of motion, balance and momentum in the context of human combat. The Encyclopaedia states: “Most of the devastating manoeuvres in TaekwonDo are based especially on the initial impact of a blow plus the consequential additional force provided by the rebound of the opponents moving part or body.”

When I tell students that TaekwonDo has much in common with styles such as Tai Chi Ch’uan or Aikido they are shocked. This is because of an unbalanced understanding of TaekwonDo. Clearly, they have never read the following sentence that follows on the previous quote: “Similarly by using the attacker’s force or momentum, the slightest push is all that is needed to upset his or her equilibrium and to topple him or her.” Does not this sound like something from an Aikido lesson? No, dear reader, this is basic TaekwonDo theory and part of the “definition” of our art!

The final thing I would like to highlight from this section of the Encyclopaedia is that TaekwonDo, which is “A way of life” should be natural and instinctive. “In the case of the students of TaekwonDo who have been in constant practice or the experts themselves, they spend no time thinking, as such an action comes automatically to them. Their actions, in short, have become conditioned reflexes.”

In conclusion, I hope that from the above, you as a Black Belt have become aware of some of the voids in your understanding of TaekwonDo. Study these voids and through practice fill them and you will have attained the mind of a TaekwonDo Black Belt.

Terminology

Why do we learn Theory and Korean Terms?

Learning the theory behind TaekwonDo is an important part of your training. At every grading you will be tested on theory and Korean terms relevant to your grade.  You should also try to remember theory and Korean terms from all previous gradings.

TaekwonDo is an international martial art originating from Korea.  As such the terminology is taught in Korean to break down international language barriers.  You do not need to speak Korean to learn TaekwonDo! However you should try to learn the Korean terminology used.

You should also learn the meanings behind the patterns, which are named after historical Korean figures who set a good example to others (usually in demonstrating the tenets of TaekwonDo).

Whilst the theory can be a little daunting to start with, you will be surprised at how easy it becomes if you put the effort in. For example the Korean for stance is ‘Sogi’; therefore all stances in Korean are {something} Sogi, e.g annun sogi = sitting stance, gunnun sogi = walking stance.  So now all you need to learn are the names of the different stances, because you know the word for stance is ‘Sogi’.

We suggest that you learn the basics as quickly as possible, and then always try to learn any new terminology relevant to your grade (for example new moves in patterns).

This page contains a comprehensive list of TaekwonDo terms in English and Korean.  Use the search box at the top of each table to find a specific term (English or Korean).

Basic Information 
Where does TaekwonDo come fromKorea
What does TaekwonDo mean?Literally: "Foot Hand Art"
Who was the founder of TaekwonDo?Major General Choi Hong Hi, 9th degree
When did TaekwonDo become an official martial art?April 11th 1955
When did TaekwonDo come to the UK1967, by GM Rhee Ki Ha
Basic TermsKorean
Training HallDojang
Training SuitDobok
Face InstructorSabum (or Boo Sabum) Nim Ke
AttentionCharyot
BowKyong ye
ReadyChunbi
In your own timeKooryong Opshi
Begin/StartSi Jak
About turnDwiyo dorra
Return to ReadyParo
StopGoman
Seperate (in sparring)Haechyo
Continue (in sparring)Gaesok
RelaxSwiyo
DismissHae San
English - BLOCKKorean - MAKGI
High BlockNopunde Makgi
Middle BlockKaunde Makgi
Low BlockNajunde Makgi
Outside BlockBakat Makgi
Inside BlockAn Makgi
Outward BlockBakuro Makgi
Inward BlockAnuro Makgi
Knife-hand Low BlockSonkal Najunde Makgi
Forearm Low BlockPalmok Najunde Makgi
Reverse Knife-hand Low BlockSonkal Dung Najunde Makgi
Palm Low BlockSonbadak Najunde Makgi
Rising BlockChookyo Makgi
X-Fist Rising BlockGyocha Joomuk Chookyo Makgi
X-knife-hand Rising BlockGyocha Sonkal Chookyo Makgi
Twin Palm Rising BlockSang Sonbadak Chookyo Makgi
Arc-Hand Rising BlockBandal Son Chookyo Makgi
Double arc hand BlockDoobandalson Makgi
Double Forearm BlockDoo Polmok Makgi
Twin Forearm BlockSang Palmok Makgi
Circular BlockDollimyo Makgi
Dodging BlockPihagi Makgi
Grasping BlockButjaba Makgi
Nine (9) -Shape BlockGutja Makgi
Louring BlockYuin Makgi
Flat BlockOpun Makgi
Waist BlockHori Makgi
Checking BlockMomchau Makgi
Straight Forearm BlockSun Palmok Makgi
Side Front BlockYobap Makgi
X-fist BlockGyocha Joomuk Makgi
X-knife hand BlockGyocha Sonkal Makgi
U-shape BlockDigutja Makgi
U-shape GraspDigutja Japji
Upward BlockOllyo Makgi
Palm Upward BlockSonbadak Ollyo Makgi
Reverse Knife-hand Upward BlockSonkal Dung Ollyo Makgi
Thumb Ridge Upward BlockUmji Batang Ollyo Makgi
Bow Wrist Upward BlockSonmok Dung Ollyo Makgi
Twin Palm Upward BlockSang Sonbadak Ollyo Makgi
Downward BlockNaeryo Makgi
Palm Downward BlockSonbadak Naeryo Makgi
Twin Palm Downward BlockSang Sonbadak Naeryo Makgi
Alternate Palm Downward BlockEuhkallin Sonbadak Naeryo Makgi
Twin Forearm Downward BlockSang Palmok Naeryo Makgi
Knife-hand Downward BlockSonkal Naeryo Makgi
Twin Knife-hand Downward BlockSang Sonkal Naeryo Makgi
Straight Elbow Downward BlockSun Palkup Naeryo Makgi
X-fist Downward BlockGyocha Joomuk Naeryo Makgi
X-knife-hand Downward BlockGyocha Sonkal Naeryo Makgi
Pressing BlockNoollo Makgi
Palm Pressing BlockSonbadak Noollo Makgi
Fore-fist Pressing BlockAp Joomuk Noollo Makgi
Twin Palm Pressing BlockSang Sonbadak Noollo Makgi
X-Fist Pressing BlockGyocha Joomuk Noollo Makgi
Hooking BlockGolcho Makgi
Palm Hooking BlockSonbadak Golcho Makgi
Forearm Hooking BlockPalmok Golcho Makgi
Knife-hand Hooking BlockSonkal Golcho Makgi
Back-hand Hooking BlockSondung Golcho Makgi
Wedging BlockHechyo Makgi
Inner Forearm Wedging BlockAn Palmok Hechyo Makgi
Outer Forearm Wedging BlockBakat Palmok Hechyo Makgi
Knife-hand Wedging BlockSonkal Hechyo Makgi
Reverse Knife-hand Wedging BlockSonkal Dung Hechyo Makgi
Vertical BlockSewo Makgi
W-shape BlockSan Makgi
Outer W-shape BlockBakat San Makgi
Knife-hand W-shape BlockSonkal San Makgi
Reverse Knife-hand W-shape BlockSonkal Dung San Makgi
Inner W-shape BlockAn San Makgi
Front BlockAp Makgi
Twin Palm Front BlockSang Sonbadak Ap Makgi
Reverse Knife-hand Front BlockSonkal Dung Ap Makgi
X-fist Front BlockGyocha Joomuk
X-Knife hand Front BlockGyocha Sonkal Ap Makgi
Side BlockYop Makgi
Knife hand Side BlockSonka Yop Makgi
Forearm Side BlockPalmok Yop Makgi
Reverse Knife-hand Side BlockSonkal Dung Yop Makgi
Single Straight Forearm BlockWae Sun Palmok
Twin Straight Forearm BlockSang Sun Palmok Makgi
Twin Straight Knife-handSang Sun Sonkal Makgi
Parallel BlockNarani Makgi
Inner Forearm Parallel BlockAn Palmok Narani Makgi
Outer Forearm Parallel BlockBakat Palmok Narani Makgi
Knife-hand Parallel BlockSonkal Narani Makgi
Reverse Knife-hand Parallel BlockSonkal Dung Narani Makgi
Back Forearm Parallel BlockDwit Palmok Narani Makgi
Back Hand Parallel BlockSondung Narani Makgi
Pushing BlockMiro Makgi
Palm Pushing BlockSonbadak Miro Makgi
Double Forearm Pushing BlockDoo Palmok Miro Makgi
Reverse Knife-hand Pushing BlockSonkal Dung Miro Makgi
Knife hand Pushing BlockSonkal Miro Makgi
Scooping BlockDuro Makgi
Palm Scooping BlockSongbadak Duro Makgi
Reverse Knife-hand Scooping BlockSonkal Dung Duro Makgi
Guarding BlockDaebi Makgi
Forearm Guarding BlockPalmok Daebi Makgi
Knife-hand Guarding BlockSonkal Daebi Makgi
Inner Forearm Guarding BlockAn Palmok Daebi Makgi
Knife-hand Low Guarding BlockSonkal Najunde Daebi Makgi
Reverse Knife-hand Low Guarding BlockSonkal Dung Najunde Daebi Makgi
Twin Forearm BlockSang Palmok Makgi
Twin Knife-handSang Sonkal Makgi
Horizontal BlockSoopyong Makgi
Twin Palm Horizontal BlockSang Sonbadak Soopyong Makgi
Twin Knife-hand Horizontal BlockSang Sonkal Soopyong Makgi
English - StanceKorean - Sogi
SittingAnnun Sogi
ParallelNarani Sogi
WalkingGunnun Sogi
AttentionCharyot Sogi
DiagonalSasun Sogi
LNiunja Sogi
XKyocha Sogi
FixedGojung Sogi
CloseMoa Sogi
BendingGuburyo Sogi
One LegWaebal Sogi
VerticalSoo Jik Sogi
Rear FootDwit Bal Sogi
LowNachuo Sogi
Outer Open Stance (45 Degree)Bakat Palja Sogi
Inner Open Stance (toes inward)An Palja Sogi
ReadyJunbi Sogi
Parallel ReadyNarani Junbi Sogi
Walking ReadyGunnun Junbi Sogi
Bending ReadyGuburyo Junbi Sogi
Warrior Ready StanceMoosa Junbi Sogi
L-ReadyNiunja Junbi Sogi
X-ReadyKyocha Junbi Sogi
Sitting ReadyAnnun Junbi Sogi
Close Ready (type A,B,C)Moa Junbi Sogi (A,B,C)
CrouchedOguryo Sogi
English - Hand TechniqueKorean - Son Gisool
Vertical PunchSewo Jirugi
Side PunchYop Jirugi
Side Front PunchYobap Jirugi
Upward PunchOllyo Jirugi
Upset PunchDwijibo Jirugi
U-shape PunchDigutja Jirugi
Crescent PunchBandal Jirugi
Downward PunchNaeryo Jirugi
Turning PunchDollyo Jirugi
Angle PunchGiokja Jirugi
Knuckle Fist PunchSongarak Joomuk Jirugi
Twin Fore-knuckle FistSang Han Songarak Joomuk
Middle Knuckle FistKaunde Joongji Joomuk Jirugi
Twin Middle Knuckle FistSang Kaunde Joongji Joomuk Jirugi
Thumb Knuckle FistUmji Songarak Joomuk
Horizontal PunchSoopyong Jirugi
Long Fist PunchGhin Joomuk Jirugi
Open Fist PunchPyon Joomuk Jirugi
Double Fist PunchDoo Joomuk Jirugi
Horizontal ThrustSoopyong Tulgi
Twin ElbowSang Palgup
Single ElbowWae Palgup
Back ElbowDwit Palgup
Twin Side Back ElbowSang Yop Dwit Palkup
Cross CutGhutgi
Inward Cross CutAnuro Ghutgi
Outward Cross CutBakuro Ghutgi
Side Cross CutYop Ghutgi
Upper Elbow StrikeWi Palkup Taerigi
Upper Back Elbow StrikeWidwi Palkup Taerigi
Front Elbow StrikeAp Palkup Taerigi
High Elbow StrikeNopun Palkup Taerigi
Inward Knife-Hand StrikeAnuro Sonkal Taerigi
Twin Knife-hand StrikeSang Sonkal Taerigi
Reverse Knife-hand StrikeSonkal Dung Taerigi
Twin Reverse Knife-hand StrikeSang Sonkal Dung Taerigi
Under Fist StrikeMit Joomuk Taerigi
Bear Hand StrikeGomson Taerigi
Finger Pincers StrikeJipge Son Taerigi
Downward StrikeNaeryo Taerigi
Side Downward StrikeYop Naeryo Taerigi
Side Downward Knife-Hand StrikeYop Naeryo Sonkal Taerigi
Side Downward Side Fist StrikeYop Naeryo Yop Joomuk Taerigi
Side Downward Back Hand StrikeYop Naeryo Sondung Taerigi
Front Downward StrikeAp Naeryo Taerigi
Outward Knife-hand strikeBakuro Sonkal Taerigi
Outward Side-fist StrikeBakuro Yop Joomuk Taerigi
Knife Hand Side StrikeSonkal Yop Taerigi
Side Fist StrikeYop Joomuk Taerigi
Back Fist StrikeDung Joomuk Taerigi
Twin Back FistSang Dung Joomuk Taerigi
Back Hand StrikeSondung Taerigi
Twin Back HandSang Sondung Taerigi
Back Fist Wedging StrikeDung Joomuk Hechyo Taerigi
Knife-Hand Horizontal StrikeSonkal Soopyong Taerigi
Twin Back Fist Horizontal StrikeSang Dung Joomuk Soopyong Taerigi
Twin Side Fist Horizontal StrikeSang Yop Joomuk Soopyong Taerigi
Twin Back Hand Horizontal StrikeSang Sondung Taerigi
Back Fist Side Front StrikeDung Joomuk Yobap Taerigi
Back Hand Side Front StrikeSondung Yobap Taerigi
Reverse Knife-hand Side Front StrikeSonkal Dung Yobap Taerigi
Front Back-fist StrikeAp Dung Joomuk Taerigi
Front Knife-hand StrikeAp Sonkal Taerigi
Front Reverse Knife-hand StrikeAp Sonkal Dung Taerigi
Crescent StrikeBandal Taerigi
Arc Hand Crescent StrikeBandal Son Taerigi
Finger Pincers Crescent StrikeJipge Son Bandal Taerigi
Backside StrikeYopdwi Taerigi
Side Front StrikeYobap Taerigi
Reverse Knife-hand Side Front StrikeSonkal Dung Yobap Taerigi
English - KicksKorean - Chagi
Hooking KickGoro Chagi
Reverse Hooking KickBandae Dollyo Goro chagi
Turning KickDollyo Chagi
Side Turning Kick (On 75 degrees)Yop Dollyo Chagi
Reverse Turning KickBandae Dollyo Chagi
Twisting KickBituro Chagi
Downward KickNaero Chagi
Pick-Shape KickGokaeng-I Chagi
Crescent KickBandal Chagi
Front Rising KickAp cha Olligi
Side Rising KickYop cha Olligi
Front Piercing KickAp cha Jirugi
Side Piercing KickYop Cha Jirugi
Back PiercingDwitcha Jirugi
Front Snap KickAp cha Busigi
Vertical KickSewo Chagi
Stamping KickCha Bapgi
Sweeping KickSuroh Chagi
Straight KickJigeau Chagi
Foot Tackling (Take down)Bal Golgi
Counter KickBada Chagi
Punching KickJirumyo Chagi
U-Shape Punching KickDigutja Jirumyo Chagi
Side Punching KickYop Jirumyo Chagi
Front Punching KickAp Jirumyo Chagi
Horizontal Striking KickSoopyong Taerimyo Chagi
Grasping KickButjapyo Chagi
Pressing KickNoollo Chagi
Inward KickAnuro Chagi
Outward KickBaturo Chagi
Upward Kick (Knee)Ollyo moorup Chagi
Side Front Snap KickYopap Cha Busigi
Back Snap KickDwitcha Busigi
Side Pushing KickYopcha Milgi
Back Pushing KickDwitcha Milgi
Double KickL-Jung Chagi
Triple KickSamjung Chagi
Skip KickDuro Gamyo Chagi
Waving KickDoro Chagi
Checking KickCha Mumchugi
English - Thrusting TechniqueKorean - Tulgi Gisool
FingertipSonkut Tulgi
Double FingertipDoo Sonkut Tulgi
Flat FingertipOpun Sonkut Tulgi
Upset FingertipDwijibo Sonkut Tulgi
Straight FingertipSun Sonkut Tulgi
Angle FingertipHomi Sonkut Tulgi
Downward ThrustNaeryo Tulgi
Straight ElbowSun Palkup Tulgi
Side ThrustYop Tulgi
Double FingertipDoo Sonkut Tulgi
Side-front ThrustYobap Tulgi
Side ElbowYop Palkup
Single Side ElbowWae Yop Palkup
Twin Side ElbowSang Yop Palkup