In the context of taekwondo the term taegeuk refers to a set of poomsae or forms used to teach taekwondo. A form, or poomsae (also romanized as pumsae or poomse) is a defined pattern of defense-and-attack motions. Outside of the context of taekwondo, the word taegeuk refers to the Taoist principle of the "unity of opposites" (yin and yang). Taegeuk is also the name of the red and blue circular symbol used in the flag of South Korea.
All students studying Kukkiwon-style (i.e., World Taekwondo Federation) taekwondo must learn these forms to advance to a higher level of belt. There are eight taegeuk forms, each one more complex than the last to display the student's mastery of the techniques learned. In order to receive a black belt, the student must perform all taegeuk forms consecutively.
Between 1967 and 1971 Kukkiwon-style taekwondo made use of an older set of forms called the palgwae forms developed by the Korea Taekwondo Association (KTA) with input from some of the original nine kwans of taekwondo. By 1970 additional kwans had joined the KTA so the newer set of taegeuk forms was developed to better represent inputs from all the participating kwans. By 1971 the palgwae forms were considered to be deprecated in favor of the newer taegeuk forms, though some school still teach palgwae forms as well.
Each Taegeuk form symbolizes a specific state thought to be indicative of the belt the student currently holds, and is represented in WTF Taekwondo by trigrams (originally derived from the I-Ching) similar to those found in the four corners of the South Korean flag.
|Belt level||Name||Symbol||Techniques introduced|
|8th Geup||태극 1장 (Taegeuk Il-jahng)||☰, "天", "건", "Heaven, Light"||
|7th Geup||태극 2장 (Taegeuk Ee-jahng)||☱, "澤", "태", "Lake"||
|6th Geup||태극 3장 (Taegeuk Sam-jahng)||☲, "火", "이", "Fire"||
|5th Geup||태극 4장 (Taegeuk Sa-jahng)||☳, "雷", "진", "Thunder"||
|4th Geup||태극 5장 (Taegeuk O-jahng)||☴, "風", "손", "Wind"||
|3rd Geup||태극 6장 (Taegeuk Yuk-jahng)||☵, "水", "감", "Water"||
|2nd Geup||태극 7장 (Taegeuk Chil-jahng)||☶, "山", "간", "Mountain"||
|1st Geup||태극 8장 (Taegeuk Pal-jahng)||☷, "地", "곤", "Earth"||