Meaning behind hand techniques & joon bi positions in Tae Guek & Yudanja poomsae

IcemanSK

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I've wondered for years what some of the hand positions are in some of the Tae Guek & Yudanja poomsae. I hope you can help me, here.

Koryo jooon bi stance is tong mil gi which translates as "rock pushing" (as I recently discovered). It makes sense as that what it looks like.

What does Kyup Son ( Pyong Won poomsae)represent? What does it translate to?

Tae Guek Chil Jang: Position #11 Left hand grabbing the right in moaseogi stance. What does that represent?

Thanks for your help.
 

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I've wondered for years what some of the hand positions are in some of the Tae Guek & Yudanja poomsae. I hope you can help me, here.

Koryo jooon bi stance is tong mil gi which translates as "rock pushing" (as I recently discovered). It makes sense as that what it looks like.

.

Tong mil gi is log pushing
 

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Tong translates as 'tube' as I understand it. As in momtong makki = body tube block = trunk block. Tong Milgi translates roughly to 'Tube pushing'. Bawi Milgi is rock pushing, and appears in Sip Jin Poomsae.

Returning Wave Systems has some good application suggestions for this on Youtube using facial pressure points.


Personally, I'd say one option is a stylised representation of a SPEAR style reaction to an attack, possibly a twin collarbone strike or palm heel to the face.

Kyup Son is 'Overlapping hands'. I see it as defensive only, covering the groin area from a frontal attack. It's been suggested to me before that it could represent a fingertip strike to a compromised opponent, however.

Regarding Chil Jang, I've recently been looking into Karate Kata with similar movements, and this one does occur, with the oft mooted bunkai being that it's a windpipe grab with one hand around the back of the neck. Google Charlie's Bunkai Jutsu for more information on that one. Not sure if I can agree though.

Simon John O'Neill's 'The Taegeuk Cipher' suggests it as an escape from a neck grab.
 
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I've understood "tongmilgi" to mean "pushing hands" and that applications would include blocking a strike to the throat as well as striking to the face, the base of the neck or the collarbones.

Kyopson, meaning "overlapping hands" could be used to block a low frontal attack or to get the arms inside the arms of someone applying a rear bear hug.

I've learned move #11 in taegeuk chil jang as bojeumeok or "covered fist" and that it could be used as a supported strike or grab to the throat or chin or as a way to get your arms inside the arms of someone who grabbed your throat or shirt with both hands.
 

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Four categories of junbi.

Junbi seogi it self is the most basic junbi at the "MA" position. A position of solemnity and preparedness where our thoughts become unified to halt distraction, where standing inaction is action. Breathing, focus, mind ready because every success comes from the mind. At the beginning of Poomsae, Junbi seogi could be compared to a religious position, ready to take a journey of self discovery. At the end of Poomsae, jumbi seogi can again be compared to a religious position of self review, going back to the beginning, or "MA" position, to review what has happened, what I have experience, what were my actions, what flaws existed, and where in my mind did these flaws come from, and, finally, how can I improve to "cure" these flaws.

Tongmilgi junbi seogi. Tong means something round or circular in shape, like a rock, log, tube, football, etc. Miligi means to grasp and maintain a force against something, stabilizing it, like "pushing against" more than just pushing. This position is highly symbolic and maybe only slightly application oriented. It represents the part of the Yeokhak Theory (Science of Changing), specifically the circle or point, called "won" in Korean language, hence the hands grasping a circular object. The circle is representative for the heavens and/or sky.

Kyopson junbi seogi. Kyop means layered/stacked/piled/overlapped, son means hand. This position is also highly symbolic and maybe only slightly application oriented. It to is from Yeokhak Theory and specially represents a surface/base/plane/earth/a flat line or square, called "bang" in Korean language, hence the hands piling at the bottom of the danjun or abdomen, showing earth as the beginning of life.
This flat line or square represents earth.

Bojumok junbi seogi. Bo means augmented, jumok means "fist." As we stand in this Poom of bojumok junbi seogi with hands raised and centered in front of the chin, our arms make the shape of a triangle, or "gak" in Korean language. This to is from the Yeokhak Theory and means "human." Again, not much application, highly symbolic. The left hand is open and represents the plane of earth, the right hand is made into a fist and represents the circular shape of the heavens. The open left hand covers the closed right hand, but does not actually touch it. Combining of heaven and earth creates human. This is symbolized by "bojumok", the earth and heaven combining to create human through harmony of the universe and this returns humans back to Taegeuk.
 

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It represents the part of the Yeokhak Theory (Science of Changing)

Fantastic insight into Poomsae symbolism, and not something that I've found to be readily available. Thank you for this. I'd love to understand more, can you recommend any sources of more information on Yeokhak / Korean symbology please?

Gnarlie
 

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Four categories of junbi.

Junbi seogi it self is the most basic junbi at the "MA" position. A position of solemnity and preparedness where our thoughts become unified to halt distraction, where standing inaction is action. Breathing, focus, mind ready because every success comes from the mind. At the beginning of Poomsae, Junbi seogi could be compared to a religious position, ready to take a journey of self discovery. At the end of Poomsae, jumbi seogi can again be compared to a religious position of self review, going back to the beginning, or "MA" position, to review what has happened, what I have experience, what were my actions, what flaws existed, and where in my mind did these flaws come from, and, finally, how can I improve to "cure" these flaws.

Tongmilgi junbi seogi. Tong means something round or circular in shape, like a rock, log, tube, football, etc. Miligi means to grasp and maintain a force against something, stabilizing it, like "pushing against" more than just pushing. This position is highly symbolic and maybe only slightly application oriented. It represents the part of the Yeokhak Theory (Science of Changing), specifically the circle or point, called "won" in Korean language, hence the hands grasping a circular object. The circle is representative for the heavens and/or sky.

Kyopson junbi seogi. Kyop means layered/stacked/piled/overlapped, son means hand. This position is also highly symbolic and maybe only slightly application oriented. It to is from Yeokhak Theory and specially represents a surface/base/plane/earth/a flat line or square, called "bang" in Korean language, hence the hands piling at the bottom of the danjun or abdomen, showing earth as the beginning of life.
This flat line or square represents earth.

Bojumok junbi seogi. Bo means augmented, jumok means "fist." As we stand in this Poom of bojumok junbi seogi with hands raised and centered in front of the chin, our arms make the shape of a triangle, or "gak" in Korean language. This to is from the Yeokhak Theory and means "human." Again, not much application, highly symbolic. The left hand is open and represents the plane of earth, the right hand is made into a fist and represents the circular shape of the heavens. The open left hand covers the closed right hand, but does not actually touch it. Combining of heaven and earth creates human. This is symbolized by "bojumok", the earth and heaven combining to create human through harmony of the universe and this returns humans back to Taegeuk.

This is very interesting. While there are equivalent hand positions found in both 'kung fu' and karate forms, explanations of their philosophical meaning tend to be apocryphal or they are otherwise couched in practical usage. No one really knows though because oral history is all the practitioners of these styles have, written documentation in MAs being something that only became widespread in the 20th century.

This is one of the advantages of having the forms creators still alive and able to explain their intentions when designing their forms - a clear plus with regard to TKD.
 

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Fantastic insight into Poomsae symbolism, and not something that I've found to be readily available. Thank you for this. I'd love to understand more, can you recommend any sources of more information on Yeokhak / Korean symbology please?

Gnarlie

Yeokhak Theory, or Yeokhak Seonon is basically a study of the I-Ching involving the changing of the hexagrams. This was applied to the trigrams that represent the Taegeuk Poomsae. In fact, every single action and element within the Taegeuk Poomsae was assembled in accord with this study. No other set of forms in martial arts achieves this depth of synchronization with the foundations of oriental philosophy.

Also of interest, when Sejong's scholars worked on the creation of Hangul, they used elements found in the Yeokhak Seonon to finalize the shape of the vowel sounds, such as point, horizontal line and vertical line.

You have to search it out.
 

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Yeokhak Theory, or Yeokhak Seonon is basically a study of the I-Ching involving the changing of the hexagrams. This was applied to the trigrams that represent the Taegeuk Poomsae. In fact, every single action and element within the Taegeuk Poomsae was assembled in accord with this study. No other set of forms in martial arts achieves this depth of synchronization with the foundations of oriental philosophy.

Also of interest, when Sejong's scholars worked on the creation of Hangul, they used elements found in the Yeokhak Seonon to finalize the shape of the vowel sounds, such as point, horizontal line and vertical line.

You have to search it out.

I have come to see Taekwondo as a holistic physical-mental-spiritual martial art. Learning to increasingly practice it as such is no small task. Some of my favorite reads that shed light on Taekwondo's underlying philosophy and that can easily be found at libraries and/or purchased relatively inexpensively from book sellers are:

The Complete I Ching: The Definitive Translation by Taoist Master Alfred Huang
Korean Traditional Martial Art: Taekwondo Philosophy and Culture by Kyong Myong Lee
What the Buddha Taught by Walpola Rahula
Buddhism without Beliefs: A Contemporary Guide to Awakening by Stephen Batchelor
The Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu

In my experience, repeatedly reading such resources while continuing to learn the physical aspects of Taekwondo yields new understanding with each reading. For me, practicing Taekwondo, including learning its underlying philosophy, is a life-long commitment to personal growth, not merely a physical or intellectual endeavor.

Cynthia
 

mastercole

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This is very interesting. While there are equivalent hand positions found in both 'kung fu' and karate forms, explanations of their philosophical meaning tend to be apocryphal or they are otherwise couched in practical usage. No one really knows though because oral history is all the practitioners of these styles have, written documentation in MAs being something that only became widespread in the 20th century.

I think that in modern times a lot of people have written a lot of books on martial arts, but, not of great value. So little, that I feel I could hold in one hand all the martial arts books that held true knowledge, and even those are shallow.

But I have to somewhat disagree here. The I-Ching, and commentary by it's endless researchers have existed over Millenia. The changes found in the hexagrams explains and matches what is known of physics today. The technique mechanics and philosophy of martial arts, must be one to be true. These concepts and theories that apply to true martial arts have existed in the I-Ching from it's beginning.

This is one of the advantages of having the forms creators still alive and able to explain their intentions when designing their forms - a clear plus with regard to TKD.

This is true, but today as we write here it is actually quite difficult and in some cases near impossible to speak with those few that are still living. Even for those of us that have spoken to them earlier on. But what is very possible is to seek out the later generation Korean Taekwondoin who did care and were curious. Men who researched deeply, speaking to the founder and pioneer types, studying the materials on Tao, Confucius and Buddha and how martial arts grew with the help of those principles.

These are the men we can, and should learn from, and most of them are involved deeply with the Kukkiwon Research Department in some fashion. So getting closer to this source, is getting closer to the Kukkiwon, it's where the root is still alive and well.
 

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I have come to see Taekwondo as a holistic physical-mental-spiritual martial art. Learning to increasingly practice it as such is no small task. Some of my favorite reads that shed light on Taekwondo's underlying philosophy and that can easily be found at libraries and/or purchased relatively inexpensively from book sellers are:

The Complete I Ching: The Definitive Translation by Taoist Master Alfred Huang
Korean Traditional Martial Art: Taekwondo Philosophy and Culture by Kyong Myong Lee
What the Buddha Taught by Walpola Rahula
Buddhism without Beliefs: A Contemporary Guide to Awakening by Stephen Batchelor
The Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu

In my experience, repeatedly reading such resources while continuing to learn the physical aspects of Taekwondo yields new understanding with each reading. For me, practicing Taekwondo, including learning its underlying philosophy, is a life-long commitment to personal growth, not merely a physical or intellectual endeavor.

Cynthia

This is exact and what was intended by giving the brief information that is found in the KTA/Kukkiwon text. Examples: Taegeuk Poomsae is symbolized by 8 trigrams from the I-Ching. Taekwondo descends from Taekkyon. The philosophy comes down to us from the Hwarang and Seonbae. Ect.

These statements are gates. If we are wise enough not to just stand at the gate, and mimic the gate, but to open it and go in deep, we will learn a great many things about ourselves and the world, Taekwondo, Karate, Judo, Kendo, etc are just vehicles to get us there. But we are stupid if we just stand at the gate and think that is all there is. Those statements above should prompt us to search, well at least that is what they did for me.

It's like the discussion of 1st Degree Black Belt and what it means. Who cares about all the drama, what it really means is that someone used a carrot to get you to another gate, hoping you go inside. Once inside, you will find that Dan does not matter, Taekwondo does not matter, nothing matters. what matters is you go here, and now you know. The boat that brought you here. Who cares.
 

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Fantastic insight into Poomsae symbolism, and not something that I've found to be readily available. Thank you for this. I'd love to understand more, can you recommend any sources of more information on Yeokhak / Korean symbology please?

Gnarlie

Oh, I just remembered. You and I had partially discussed Poomsae Keumgang, this is found in Keumgang and it explains Keumgang too. This meaning in the Poomsae is not just pure symbolism in most cases, it is philosophy through action and through application. But not in the way many folks think, like bunkai. Bunkai is creative exercise, yeokhak is a a practical one that applies to all martial arts motions/actions, etc.
 
OP
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Oh, I just remembered. You and I had partially discussed Poomsae Keumgang, this is found in Keumgang and it explains Keumgang too. This meaning in the Poomsae is not just pure symbolism in most cases, it is philosophy through action and through application. But not in the way many folks think, like bunkai. Bunkai is creative exercise, yeokhak is a a practical one that applies to all martial arts motions/actions, etc.

Can you say more about the differences between bunkai/boon hae & yeokhak. Yeokhak is a new term for me. Can you give examples of the differences? Thank you!
 

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Can you say more about the differences between bunkai/boon hae & yeokhak. Yeokhak is a new term for me. Can you give examples of the differences? Thank you!

Bunkai is basically guessing, creating, thinking if this happens, then do that, ect. Nothing wrong with it.

Yeokhak is like quantum mechanics, principles. Varying balance in various positions and when and how to strike, or cover in accord with that balance. Of course determined by the center of gravity and differing rotational forces. All these variables acting on each other as well, in accord with the principles of change found within the I-Ching.
 

mastercole

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Fantastic insight into Poomsae symbolism, and not something that I've found to be readily available. Thank you for this. I'd love to understand more, can you recommend any sources of more information on Yeokhak / Korean symbology please?

Gnarlie

The source would be a collection of the right books, DVD's and training with the right people. Or, this book, but it is in Korean language, lot's of Hanja/Hanmoon, published in 1808. Maybe try to find an English translation of it.

http://books.google.com/books/about/冽蝞.html?id=8Q2NGwAACAAJ
 

Gnarlie

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Thank you very much. That's the Korean language version of the I Ching, yes? I have found an english translation. Also, interestingly, searching for a definition of Yeokhak brings up:

  • Korean: 역학 (yeokhak) - Mechanics
  • dynamics
    mechanics
    epidemiology
    science of divination

It seems too be listed as a school subject next to Physics, Biology, and Chemistry.

Anyhoo, looks like I have some reading to to. See you in a month or so. Thanks again all.
 

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This meaning in the Poomsae is not just pure symbolism in most cases, it is philosophy through action and through application.

Hofstede (1980) proposed various dimensions of culture to help describe its complexity. For example, one dimension of culture is how people relate to each other (i.e., individualism vs. collectivism). Another is how people relate to time (i.e., focus on the past, focus on the present, focus on the future). There is no value judgment involved in these dimensions--one approach is not better than another. They are simply different from each other. Those differences are why concepts grounded in one culture can be difficult (and sometimes impossible) to translate into another culture. In thinking about the philosophy underlying Taekwondo, I often think of the cultural dimension of human activity.

"Human activity may be conceived of as 'doing,' 'being-in-becoming,' or 'being.' In cultures that emphasize 'doing' (e.g., Western European, Anglo-American, African American), human activity means the accomplishment of something. 'Being-in-becoming' (e.g., Asian) emphasizes personal development as human activity. Native American cultures tend to see activity as a mix of both 'being' (a spontaneous expression of the personality) and 'doing' (Good Mojab 2000)."

So, applying this to Taekwondo, because practitioners from Western or Westernized cultures are likely to tend to define human activity as accomplishing tangible tasks and goals, working to attain tangible markers of success and productivity, and other ways of "doing", they are also likely to focus on rank attainment when they practice Taekwondo. This focus on "doing" can make it difficult (or impossible) to recognize, understand, and engage in the "being-in-becoming" involved in Taekwondo with its underlying philosophy being grounded in an Asian culture. The "being-in-becoming" of Taekwondo is simply lost in translation.

Good Mojab, C. The cultural art of breastfeeding. Leaven. 36(5):87-91.
Hofstede, G. Culture's Consequence. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage 1980.

Cynthia
 

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Hofstede (1980) proposed various dimensions of culture to help describe its complexity. For example, one dimension of culture is how people relate to each other (i.e., individualism vs. collectivism). Another is how people relate to time (i.e., focus on the past, focus on the present, focus on the future). There is no value judgment involved in these dimensions--one approach is not better than another. They are simply different from each other. Those differences are why concepts grounded in one culture can be difficult (and sometimes impossible) to translate into another culture. In thinking about the philosophy underlying Taekwondo, I often think of the cultural dimension of human activity.

"Human activity may be conceived of as 'doing,' 'being-in-becoming,' or 'being.' In cultures that emphasize 'doing' (e.g., Western European, Anglo-American, African American), human activity means the accomplishment of something. 'Being-in-becoming' (e.g., Asian) emphasizes personal development as human activity. Native American cultures tend to see activity as a mix of both 'being' (a spontaneous expression of the personality) and 'doing' (Good Mojab 2000)."

So, applying this to Taekwondo, because practitioners from Western or Westernized cultures are likely to tend to define human activity as accomplishing tangible tasks and goals, working to attain tangible markers of success and productivity, and other ways of "doing", they are also likely to focus on rank attainment when they practice Taekwondo. This focus on "doing" can make it difficult (or impossible) to recognize, understand, and engage in the "being-in-becoming" involved in Taekwondo with its underlying philosophy being grounded in an Asian culture. The "being-in-becoming" of Taekwondo is simply lost in translation.

Good Mojab, C. The cultural art of breastfeeding. Leaven. 36(5):87-91.
Hofstede, G. Culture's Consequence. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage 1980.

Cynthia

I had to read this over again, excellent post and right on subject. The Poomsaeseon, or Poomsae line is considered a cultural space where this "doing", "being in becoming" or "being" occurs.
 
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