So what exactly IS a Taeguek anyway?

Discussion in 'Tae-Kwon-Do' started by Gemini, Dec 19, 2005.

  1. Gemini

    Gemini Senior Master

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    In class tonight, we got into a discussion regarding the Taeguek forms. It's not something we normally do, because all the students being different levels, aren't at the point where they follow such things. Tonight was all 2nd dans and a high colored belt. Specialty class! I love 'em.

    So as we're going through the forms, I realized I had no idea what a Taeguek was (besides the name of a form), so I asked. Here's the short version of what I learned. Anyone that can chip in or redirect, please feel free to do so.

    A Taeguek is a symbol on the Korean flag. We all know the four symbols (or if not, just ask), but what I didn't know was that there are 16 Taegueks in all. Three in between each one on the Korean flag. So then I ask "If those are Taegueks, what's a Palgwe?"

    There are 8 Palgwe symbols. (Not talking forms here). Each Taeguek is made up of varying combinations of the 8 Palgwe's.

    So where we left off and I don't have answers for yet.
    1. What is the name of each of the eight Palgwe symbols?
    2. What are the names of the other 12 Taegueks not portrayed on the Korean flag?
    3. Which Palgwe's make up each Taeguek?

    If anyone knows, please clarify.

    Thanks,
     
  2. bignick

    bignick Senior Master

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    http://www.natkd.com/palgawe.htm

    Has the 8 palgwe's and their corresponding meaning, along with what pattern they represent.
    (Heaven, Lake, Fire, Thunder, Wind, Water, Mountain, Earth)


    You're on your own for the taegueks
     
  3. Martial Tucker

    Martial Tucker Black Belt

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    It's the same for the Taeguks and the Palgues. I think you are confusing the terms: Taeguk and Trigram. The Taeguk is actually a reference to the Yin/Yang symbol on the Korean flag. It is surrounded by four trigrams, which represent Heaven, Earth, Fire, and Water. These trigrams come from the ancient I Ching. There are 8 trigrams in total. Similarly, there are 8 poomse in each of the Taeguk and Palgue groups that each have a trigram assigned to them with a name/philosophy. I was going to post more detail, but BigNick's link says it all. Another excellent resource is the book: Taekwondo, Ancient Wisdom for the Modern Warrior.
    Author: Doug Cook.

    Because the Palgue forms are older, with a heavy drawing from the Japanese shotokan forms, I think the newer Taeguks were named after the Yin/Yang symbol on the Korean flag to more solidly identify that set of poomse with the Korean nation/tradition.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  4. Miles

    Miles Senior Master

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    From the Kukkiwon website (and textbook):

    "Taegeuk is a symbol representing the principles of the cosmos creation and the norms of human life. The circumference of the Taegeuk mark symbolizes infinity and the two parts, red and blue, inside the circle symbolize yin(negative) and yang(positive), which look like rotating all the time. Therefore, Taegeuk is the light which is the unified core of the cosmos and human life and its boundlessness signifies energy and the source of life. The yin and yang represents the development of the cosmos and human life and the oneness of symmetrical halves, such as negative and positive, hardness and softness, and materials and anti-materials. The eight bar-signs (called kwae) outside the circle are so arranged to go along with the Taegeuk in an orderly system. One bar means the yang and two bars the yin, both representing the creation of harmonization with the basic principles of all cosmos phenomena. The Taegeuk, infinity and yin-yang are the three elements constituting the philosophical trinity as mentioned in the Samil Sinko, the Scripture of Korean race."


    Miles
     
  5. Gemini

    Gemini Senior Master

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    Hmm. Don't think we're on the same page here. This question has absolutely nothing to do with forms (poomses). For the purposes of this question, forget the forms, I'm talking about the actual entity of Palgwe's and Taegueks. Palgwe's, configured in a certain way, make up each Taeguek symbol. (He was very clear about this). So if a Taeguek (what you're calling trigram) is say, water, there are certain Palgwes arranged in a certain order that make up that Taeguek symbol. He referred to them somewhat like Taro cards. Each card in itself only has a general meaning, but arranged in a certain order, mean something much more specific. But given it's his native country, I doubt that he's confused about Taegueks and trigrams. Also when I said there must be 8 Taegueks, he said no. There are 16. Four of which are shown on the flag and 12 more that are not.

    I appreciate the input, but I think it's me who's failing to make my question clear. I seem to have learned just enough to be dangerous. I'm going to bed. I'll readdress this in the morning with a clearer head.

    Again, thank you all for the input.
     
  6. Gemini

    Gemini Senior Master

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    Sorry Miles. I didn't even see this reply. I have the book at work, so I'll check it out tomorrow. Now this really is getting confusing. What are the eight barsigns. There are only four on the flag and he's says there are 16. Language barrier? I dunno.
     
  7. Martial Tucker

    Martial Tucker Black Belt

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    To my knowledge, there are only 8 "bar signs"/trigrams. In the I Ching, to use these in a manner similar to Tarot cards, you pair 1 trigram with another randomly to signify a meaning. Because there are 8 trigrams, there are 8 X 8, or 64 different possible outcomes from this. As Miles indicated, the single long bar in a trigram represents "yang", and the two short bars "yin". This gives 2 possibilities for each line. Because there are 3 lines in a trigram, the total number of trigrams possible would be 2 to the 3rd power, or 8.
     
  8. Miles

    Miles Senior Master

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    Yes, the 8 Bar Signs are the "Pal" (i.e. 8) Gwe.

    Miles
     
  9. MSUTKD

    MSUTKD Purple Belt

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  10. Gemini

    Gemini Senior Master

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    He always does. He's a great source of information and I was counting on him to jump in here. Not to disclude anyone else who chimed in. All responses, as always are appreciated. Thanks for the link. I just took a quick glance at it and it appears to be just what I was looking for.
     
  11. Miles

    Miles Senior Master

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    Thanks Gemini, but Ron is an awesome source of info for TKD (and kendo). He is a gentleman and a scholar as amply demonstrated in his writings.

    Miles
     
  12. Gemini

    Gemini Senior Master

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    Then I'm glad he's joined us also. We seem to be increasing the amount of truly knowledgable people in this forum, which is great because I'm an inquisitive person and there's so much I don't know.

    Everything submitted here makes good sense to me, but in cross referencing it to what my Sabumnim told me, it doesn't line up. In all fairness though, it does usually take a few conversations on any given topic to understand each other due to the language barrier. He's an extremely intelligent individual and certainly knows his history, but often times things get lost in the translation which can get very frustrating for both of us. I'm going to bring it up again tonight after class.

    Thanks again, all!
     
  13. Last Fearner

    Last Fearner 2nd Black Belt

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    Yes, there are many knowledgable people here and they have all given very excellent answers and useful links. I read this thread a while back, and felt the above answers and links sufficiently covered the subject so I did not reply. However, at the request of Gemini in a PM to me, I will add a few of my own thoughts. (please excuse the fact that some of this has already been stated).

    To further my understanding of the Palgwe symbols and the philosophy of the Taegeuk, many years ago, I began reading the "I Ching - The Book of Changes and the Unchanging Truth" by Hua-Ching Ni (published by Shrine of the Eternal Breath of Tao, Santa Monica, CA, 2nd edition 1990). This book is a very insightful modern translation of the original writings of the I Ching (pronounced EE Cheeng). Although this is of Chinese origin, I am told that every child in Korea is instructed to read, and study the I Ching.

    To my knowledge, everything in the Korean philosophy of "Taegeuk," "Um and Yang," and the Palgwe (8 three-lined diagrams or 64 hexagrams) is borrowed from the I Ching. I am not aware of any additional diagrams, although the I Ching philosophy covers a variety of numbers in nature and can be blended to represent virtually any number (IE: ten celestial phases, 12 terrestrial branches, etc.).

    "Taegeuk" is a Korean word that is represented by the red and blue symbol on the Korean flag, which is identical in meaning to the black and white "Tai Chi Tu" of the I Ching. Each of these circles has three aspects: Yang - the bright side (Chinese as white; Korean as red. The color red is "hong"), the Yin - dark side (Chinese as black; Korean as blue. The color blue is "chung" but "yin" is called "um"), and the circle representing their integration. In this context, the Korean word "Tae" means "bigness," and "Geuk" means "eternity." The Taegeuk symbol represents the essence of everything, and nothing in the universe is left out of this philosophy. Although there are many symbols to represent "um" and "yang," there is only one Taegeuk symbol - the circle.

    Some of the beginning teachings of this philosphy in the I Ching shows the positive force (yang) as a solid line, and the negative force (yin, or um) as a broken line (represented by two short lines). Not everything in our lives is "black and white," or "yes and no." There are varying degrees of urgency, priority, adversity, and other forces of nature. Thus, two solid lines are stacked to show full yang, two sets of broken lines show full yin, a solid over a broken shows "lesser yang," and a broken over a solid shows "lesser yin."

    The 8 natural forces are represented by the 8 trigrams (3 lined diagrams or "palgwe"). Although these are commonly known by name, they represent much more. They can also represent the 8 directions of the compass, the phases of the moon, the cycle of seasons, astrology, and every aspect of human life.

    There are only four of the trigrams shown on the Korean Flag (Heaven / South, Earth / North, Fire / East, and Water / West). There are a total of 8 trigrams. The meaning of each trigram shape changes as the solid or broken lines are stacked in a specific order. I have never heard of any trigrams being arranged to create similar "Taegeuk" diagrams. The palgwe are the 8 trigrams of the I Ching, and they can be stacked to represent the 64 hexagrams - each with their own new meaning.

    A detailed description of what each trigram represents would take up too much space here, and is covered rather well in the links provided by others, and in the "Book of Changes." If I have missed anything important here, or anyone has contrary information, please post it so I can research further.

    Thank you,
    Sr. Master Eisenhart
     
  14. Gemini

    Gemini Senior Master

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    I spent a great deal of time going over the responses of Miles, Martial Tucker and others, then cross referenced that with what my sabumnim explained to me. It didn't make sense for some time, but when dealing with a language barrier, sometimes "creative thinking" is in order to understand and this proved to be such a case. Ultimately, I found they were pretty much saying the same thing, just in two different ways. I did PM SM Eisenhart, because in the short time he's been here, I found his reasoning and responses to be viable and easy to digest and requested his input here. There can never be too many good sources of information, and when the opportunity to pick such brains arises, only a fool wouldn't take advantage of it.

    As my training incorporates more philisophical and historical aspects of the art, I'm sure I'm going to be throwing more and more questions such as this out there. It's nice to know such knowledgable folks are here and willing to help.

    Thank you all very much!
     
  15. Last Fearner

    Last Fearner 2nd Black Belt

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    Thank you for asking, Gemini, and continuing to seek knowledge from all sources. To the others here, I hope I did not present my post in the wrong light by implying that Gemini was seeking a better answer. My response was, of course, no more qualified than the anyone elses here, and that did not appear to be Gemini's intent in asking me to contribute. I did not want the other experts to think I was posting to correct their response. I felt that Gemini was just looking for everyone's opinions and input to see if there was a different perspective, or way of presenting it that might shed a new light upon that which we all agree.
    :)
     
  16. Martial Tucker

    Martial Tucker Black Belt

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    No problem here.......actually, I think it's always nice to have my thoughts essentially confirmed by someone senior to me. It's not like this stuff is all totally "black and white". :asian:
     
  17. Kuk Sa Nim

    Kuk Sa Nim Green Belt

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    Greetings gentlemen,

    Not to beat a dead horse, but I thought I'd add a couple more rays of light on the subject.

    Let me say that all of these posts are right on target. They are all covering the same subject from different angles, but the basic information is in fact all here. I can totally relate to the language problems as I had my fair share with my various Korean instructors. Especially while living in Korea.

    What I will add is that, as Sr. Master Eisenhart put so well, the fountain of this philosophy comes from the Chinese Yin-Yang / I Ching knowledge. The basic terms we see in Korean are virtual translations from their Chinese counterparts. Such as:

    Tae Guk = Tai Chi = Grand Ultimate
    Umm / Yang = Yin / Yang = Soft / Hard, (Heaven / Earth, etc.)

    By studying many of the Chinese classics such as the I Ching, and the Tao Te Ching, etc. one can begin to really make sense of the many philosophical components of our Korean martial arts.

    Lastly, it might also be useful to understand that the Umm / Yang philosophy goes beyond the "opposites as part of the one" aspect and Umm / Yang are comprised of three elements each. They are:

    Umm
    - Yu (Soft, Yielding)
    - Won (Circular, Flowing)
    - Hap (To Unite, Bring Together)

    Yang
    - Kang (Hard, Unyielding)
    - Kok (Linear, Angular)
    - Kan (To Separate, Keep Apart)

    As one can see, they are reciprocal to each other in terms of components of the two Umm / Yang elements. If you can imagine a "hard technique" and a similar "soft technique" you will see their correlations manifest in a tangible manner.

    For example, take a punch defense.

    Hard technique (Such as a common TKD move): Middle block, reverse punch to ribs (most likely followed by a foot sweep and stomp or down punch, etc). The block is hard and angular, the contact causes space, and the punch can crack the ribs. Think of a hard ball bullet.

    Soft technique (Such as a common HKD move): Inward parry, circle hand, trap, counter palm to ribs (most likely followed with an outside wrist lock, throw, lock up, etc) The parry is soft and circular and causes a joining of opponents, the wrist is held and controlled, the palm strike will attack an internal organ, and the energy will blow out the rear. Think of a hollow point bullet.

    In this way a more full understanding of the Umm / Yang concept and it's applications to our martial art(s) and the actual techniques will begin to unfold.

    Hope this helps.
    With brotherhood,
    Grand Master De Alba

     
  18. Gemini

    Gemini Senior Master

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    Okay, that's it! I'm printing this entire thread out and saving it to my hard drive because it contains WAY to much valuable information to be forgotten in the old archives. :) You guys rock!
     
  19. DuneViking

    DuneViking Blue Belt

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    Loosely translated, the Palgwes are the "Forms of the 8 symbols" each is represented by a trigram (the 3 barred symbols on each corner of the Korean flag)
    Il=Keon or Heavens
    ___
    ___
    ___

    Ee=Tae or Joyfulness
    _ _
    ___
    ___

    Som=Ri or Fire
    ___
    _ _
    ___

    Sa=Jin or Thunder
    _ _
    _ _
    ___

    Oh=Seon or Wind
    ___
    ___
    _ _

    Yuk=Gam or Water
    _ _
    ___
    _ _

    Chil=Gan or Top Stop (Mountain?)
    ___
    _ _
    _ _

    Pal=Gon or Earth
    _ _
    _ _
    _ _

    There is also a complimentary pairing, 1-8, 2-7, 3-6, 4,5. Viewing the trigrams for this pairing yeilds representative harmony, Heaven and Earth, fire and water etc. As stated earlier, these trigrams are also used in the taegeuk forms. Hope this helps
     
  20. Miles

    Miles Senior Master

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    Lots of good stuff in this thread folks!

    Thanks for sharing!

    Miles
     

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