7. On Poomsae
with Myself as Imaginary Opponent
“What is it to conquer
“It is to do what one does not want to do but must,
and to not do what one wants to do but ought not.”
Taekwondo begins from you who are with your opponent. Thus,
it is desirable that the Taekwondo disciple always train with
his opponent, something which is not always possible. There
are some cases, however, when it is rather more helpful to practice
alone, and it should also be stated here that it is difficult
to remain safe from Taekwondo’s extreme power. Observing
all of this, the ancients invented a sound method for Taekwondo
learners to train alone, and this is the Poomsae.
Poomsae is the established pattern of correct motions, with
a focus on technique, that every Taekwondo-Een should follow
in most general situations. Doing the poomsae of Taekwondo you
can learn how to properly control your body through its continuous
techniques. In poomsae the opponent is always taken as an enemy.
Taekwondo poomsae is sparring with such an imaginary opponent.
Therefore, in its essence poomsae does not differ from Kyorugi.
The fact that the opponent is already in poomsae as an image
determines its essence. You, practicing Taekwondo poomsae, should
understand that making perfect motions in no way differs from
making motions harmonized with your opponent.
The fact that Taekwondo poomsae contains a hypothetical opponent
is its essential distinguishing feature from dance. This difference,
however, is also nothing at the same time. For every actual
entity does not distinguish itself from another by itself, and
every motion of man is same as another. Therefore, a perfect
dance can be perfect Taekwondo and vice versa. Both of them
are the same in that they are man’s motions and the best
motions which express you.
This poomsae is composed of forms with which to practice movements,
forms everyone is taught to follow. This formality of poomsae
is based on the limitedness of man’s action. In other
words, when an opponent attacks you, though his attack contains
some random forms, his movement cannot help but be restricted
within formal limits. The most reasonable and sound form of
his attack from any given pose can take several forms, but all
are still within limits. In turn, it is possible for you to
fend off those attacks using particular formulated actions,
though they too may contain some randomness. When you block
your opponent’s Dollyeo Chagi (turning kick) you can add
slight modifications by varying its height or twisting some
part, just as he can kick you in various ways within the limits
of his movement.
The formality of poomsae is also a result of natural laws.
It is the ordered regularity, which you can find at the end
of the life and death without all intended rules. For example,
the limit that dictates an opponent with two fists cannot make
an attack composed of three fists no matter how fast he moves,
or that he can move in one direction – forward, backward,
upward, downward and sideways – at any one time. Considering
this, we can realize that the law of nature does not differ
from that of man.