The Meaning of Hansu Poomsae


Senior Master
Dec 7, 2010
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The 1975 Taekwondo poomsae textbook describes Hansu as follows:
"Water is viewed as the source of life. It might be for that reason
that Thales, the so-called father of philosophy, asserted water is the
origin of all things in the universe. Water forms rivers and makes the
sea, being from a single drop. Water may be quiet but also wild.
Moreover, water adapts perfectly to the shape of the container. The
application of such nature of water, namely, the fluidity and strong
quality and the adaptability is found in the movement of Taekwondo. It
is Poomse "Hansoo." Therefore, attack as forcefully as water in
coordinated for in "Hansoo".

The new Kukkiwon Textbook describes Hansu as follows: "The
word "Hansu" means water which is the source of substance
preserving the life and growing all the creatures. Hansu symbolizes
birth of a life and growth, strongness and weakness, magninimity and
harmony, and adaptability. Especially, "han" has the various meanings,
namely, the name of a country, numerousness, largeness, evenness,
longness, and even the heaven and the root of everything, among
others. Above all, the nature of water characterized by unbreakability
and flexibility, in addition to all the above significances, is the
background of organizing this poomsae. . . . Actions should be
practiced softly like water but continuously like a drop of water
gathering to make an ocean. The poomsae line symbolizes the
Chinese letter which means water."

The philosophy and symbolism of water in a martial arts context is
familiar to most, and is explained well in the Kukkiwon Textbook
passages cited above.

An alternative meaning would be that Hansu is another
acknowledgment to Taekwondo's early roots and the lineage that
influenced Taekwondo -- GM LEE Won Kuk and his Tang Soo Do
Chung Do Kwan. The name of the Kwan, "Chung Do", is usually
translated into english as "Blue Waves", waves being formed by

The name of the form, Hansu, or Han Soo, using a play on words,
contains part of GM Lee's art name, the Soo, in Tang Soo Do. We
can even take it a step further and say that "Han Soo", Han meaning
"Korea", reflects and was influenced by the name "Tang Soo", which
is often translated into "China Hand". Personally, I think that Han
Soo Do would have been a fine name for the art that we all call
Taekwondo today.

The movements contained in Hansu reflect the Chung Do Kwan's
basic philosophies and contributions to Taekwondo, one being the
emphasis on the use of full body weight and power in techniques. This
is shown in the three middle punches shown in the very beginning of
the form.

Those three punches symbolize the Chung Do Kwan and two of its
derivative Kwans, the Song Moo Kwan and Moo Duk Kwan. All
three have the fist in the center of their logos. Song Moo Kwan
founder GM RO Byung Jick and Moo Duk Kwan founder GM HWANG Kee were
Chung Do Kwan members before branching out on their own and
establishing their own successful schools.

The trademark kick of the Chung Do Kwan is the side kick, which is
featured in Hansu. Chung Do Kwan GM UHM Woon Kyu first
popularized the use of the side kick in sparring, so much so that
other members of the Chung Do Kwan began copying and imitating him.

The legacy of the Chung Do Kwan is further carried on through the
Korea Taekwondo Association logo. The KTA logo features a fist in the
center, which is the same fist design for the Chung Do Kwan's logo.
The Chung Do Kwan was the first Kwan established in Korea, and the KTA
was the first organization to unify Taekwondo.

GM Uhm is also recognized as one of the three leaders who were
most responsible for Taekwondo's development during the 1960's,
when the Yudanja poomsae were created -- Chang Moo Kwan GM
LEE Nam Suk, Chung Do Kwan GM UHM Woon Kyu, and
Jidokwan GM LEE Chong Woo.