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Taekwondo Frequently Asked Questions

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, etc.

What are poomsae, forms and patterns?
  • 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 school.
  • 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 Wikipedia article.
What is WTF and ITF?
  • 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 Wikipedia article.
  • For more information on the International Taekwondo Federation (ITF), please read this Wikipedia article.
What form do I need for my yellow (green, red, etc.) belt test?
  • 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?
  • 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".
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."
  • Congratulations 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 money).
  • 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” interesting/useful:

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