Taekwondo poomsae is composed of the connected series of
a man or woman’s motion. Comparing its component motions
to human skin, we can also conceive of the muscles and sinews
that fill such skin or the skeleton that gives it support
and structure. No living body can be composed of skin alone
without flesh and frame. That which corresponds to flesh
or skeleton is called either “Sseuim-sae” or
“Sseuim-nal” , or more briefly, Sae or Nal.
Sseuim-sae is the technique or method of subduing the opponent
with a protective movement, i.e. the principle of organizing
motion in poomsae. This is the underlying meaning and mission
of each motion in poomsae. Just as a knife’s blade
must be sharp if it is to cut, the motion of poomsae requires
power if it is to fell and suppress the opponent as you
perform the motions in the way of Sseuim-sae. This power
is Sseuim-nal. Though you learn poomsae, unless you know
its Sae you can neither use your skilled motion nor think
of using them when needed. Unless you have Nal in your poomsae
you will fail to fell or subdue the opponent, even if you
succeed in hitting your target. Although you practice and
make a series of similar motions, unless you have Sseuim-sae
or Sseuim-nal, it cannot be poomsae. Though a balloon may
be shaped to resemble a man it cannot be one.
Ultimately it is the Taekwondo-Een’s mind that controls
the motions of poomsae, full of both Sseuim-sae and Sseuim-nal.
Since Sseumin-sae, Sseuim-nal and mind correspond to the
Samjae (three materials) of Haneul (Heaven), Tang (Earth)
and Saram (Man) respectively, every motion achieves perfection
when comprised of these three. In this manner, every Taekwondo
movement, which constitutes the perfect poomsae, never veers
from the three ways of Haneul, Tang and Saram. Thus, each
motion of a skilled man includes the harmony of center,
rhythm, breath and meaning, impressing observers with its
natural beauty, while an unskilled man can only imitate
its appearance without achieving its meaningful motions.
The perfection of the complete motion reaches even to the
harmony of an art form, and this is why we call the perfect
martial skill Muyae, reflected in the English term “martial
Because Taekwondo and art are thus related, it is only
natural that in its essence poomsae resembles dance. For
this reason the best dance is smooth, powerful and energetic
without losing its flexibility. It sometimes reveals knots
and linked strong and sharp movements, at other times demonstrating
a smooth and graceful flow. In the same manner, Taekwondo
poomsae is not only strong and sharp but also smooth, rhythmical
and energetic when performed in the correct manner and with
meaning. What then is dance and what Taekwondo?
Dance and Taekwondo can be the same because there is a
non-distinctive Do behind what we know as distinctively
dance and Taekwondo. This non-distinctive Do alone is what
makes their distinction possible. The Do of both dance and
Taekwondo is that of motion. Further, center, rhythm, breath
and meaning all have their inner Do. Do is one and has neither
part nor entirety, it is the shapeless form behind all.
Thus, each thing when perfect makes all the others complete
in its perfection, while if but one is faulty the whole
fails. Everything has Do while nothing is Do.