Frequently Asked Questions
What are poomsae, forms
I often get miscellaneous questions regarding Taekwondo from my
visitors. In the past, I would email them with my answers.
However, since many of these questions are similar, I have
created a Taekwondo FAQ (frequently asked questions) page in order to save
me from writing a million duplicate emails. :) This page
should help you with answers to basic Taekwondo questions.
Please visit the other pages on this website for more detailed
instructions regarding kicks, stretching, forms, self-defense,
What is WTF and ITF?
They are a set
pattern of movements that combine offensive and defensive
techniques (i.e. kicks, blocks and punches).
You will have to
learn forms for each of your belt tests (in addition to other
required items such as kicks/strikes and breaking techniques).
Everyone in your
school at the same belt level will learn the same forms/patterns
as they progress. However, different Taekwondo organizations
(i.e. WTF and ITF) teach different forms. Therefore, a student
at a WTF school will not learn the same forms taught at an ITF
Poomsae is the Korean
word for Taekwondo form or pattern. Other common spellings of
this Korean word are
pumsae and poomse.
For more information,
please read this
What form do I need for
my yellow (green, red, etc.) belt test?
WTF stands for World
Taekwondo Federation and ITF stands for International Taekwondo
Federation. The WTF and ITF are the governing organizations for
many Taekwondo schools. Other
Taekwondo school associations include ATA and Rhee Taekwon-Do. The ITF and WTF
are similar in that they coordinate the standards for the
schools associated with their federations. One major difference
is the required forms/patterns. While the Taekwondo kicks and punches
being taught are similar, forms/patterns are completely different
when you compare an ITF school versus a WTF school.
For more information on the
World Taekwondo Federation (WTF), please read this
For more information on the
International Taekwondo Federation (ITF), please read this
The answer is "It
depends"! Seriously, different
Taekwondo federations (i.e. WTF, ITF, ATA, etc.)
often utilize completely different forms/patterns for each belt
level. In addition,
many Taekwondo schools use different color schemes and/or color belt
levels (i.e. one school's yellow belt can equal an orange belt
at another school). Therefore, it is impossible to give a simple
answer (i.e. you need to learn Taegeuk Ee Jang) because form
requirements can vary significantly between schools. Please check with your
Instructor/Taekwondo Master for the forms required for
your upcoming belt test. After you find out, you can visit our
form page for free written and video instructions covering
WTF and ITF forms/patterns.
Is it possible for an adult (a TKW
beginner) in his 40s to do the splits in a short period of time? How
long? How? Any suggestions?
When I was a color belt student, things were exciting & new.
However, as a new black belt, I am getting bored as we just learn
patterns and do the same old kicks. Any advice?
It is possible but you have to
stretch frequently & every day. I can't give you a time frame
because it depends on how much time you put into stretching.
Also men tend to be "tighter" than women so they are often
slower to achieve full splits. However, if you are diligent (and
patient as the progress might be slow), you can achieve this
stretch. However, be careful that you do not put excess pressure
on your knees. If you are desperate, you can try one of those
split machines (where you slowly crank up the stretch).
work on your side splits, you can visit our
page for tons of different Taekwondo stretches.
- Or you
can watch this
Taekwondo video that discusses how to achieve front and side
addition, here are some articles with more split stretching
Question regarding Martial Arts for
Seniors: "Hello, I was involved with this sport 30 years ago. I am 66 years
(young) and in excellent physical shape. Last week, I decided to
get involved again. The questions for you are: I have lost a lot of
flexibility (never been overly flexible in the hip flexor and
hamstring area) I bike, golf, exercise daily, play tennis and some
basketball. I have been working on my stretching for a number of
weeks. Does it makes sense for me to join a Taekwondo class when I
know my lack of flexibility will limit my kicking ability? Or
should I just keep working on it myself until I feel a degree of
comfort to do the various kicks effectively? Also, what do you think
it would cost me for the appropriate equipment to get started? I
would appreciate your thoughts. Thanks much."
- Perhaps you have a poor instructor. If this is the case then other students will have the
same problem and the school will be losing many students. Talk
to the other students to see if they are having a similar
problem with the instructor.
- Perhaps you only wanted the "goal" of becoming black
belt and do have not the commitment of "being a black belt". Seems like
50% of the adults at our school quit after they get their black belt as
they have accomplished their goal, couldn't handle the
additional cost, have other commitments, too much work, etc.
- However, I am going to give you
the benefit of the doubt and think that perhaps you have seen too many old Hong Kong
martial arts movies - where the senior student breaks away
from the old master in order to learn new skills. If that is
the case then you should just talk to your instructor
and tell him/her that you would like to do more
self-defense, sparring, breaking... whatever area that
interests you. Most martial arts instructors are flexible
and have tons of knowledge that they would love to share.
- Speak up otherwise an instructor
will never know if something is bothering you.
- However, you also need
to do some inner reflection and determine if you are committed
to "being a black belt".
on thinking about getting back into Taekwondo!
- You sound like a
very active individual but since I don’t know your level of fitness
or medical status, I would make the following suggestions:
- First check with
your doctor as Taekwondo can be very intense.
- If the doctor gives
his/her approval, I would recommend looking for schools that have a
large adult student body (versus just focusing on kids and teens).
If they have many adults, the instructor will know how to deal with
us less limber folk. :)
- Talk to the
instructor and decide whether he/she is senior-friendly. You want
someone who will help you as an older Taekwondo student versus just
wanting to collect your check.
- Also discuss the
sparring requirements with the instructor because this might be a
problem if you have any bone issues (i.e. osteoporosis).
- Don’t wait until
you think you are limber enough. Let the Taekwondo classes improve
your flexibility. The Taekwondo instructor will help you with
appropriate stretches in order to improve your kicking and punching
skills. However, first discuss with the instructor if he/she thinks
you are flexible enough to take his/her classes (before paying any
- In regards to the
cost of equipment, it is usually modest. The major cost is the
school fees. Always “try before you buy” any long-term contract and
ask if the school has a free trial period (most do). Also consider
paying on a month-to-month basis to see if you like it and can
handle the physical commitment.
- You might also find
these martial arts articles for the “young at heart”