The Korean terms hyeong, poomsae and teul are all used to refer to taekwondo forms or “patterns.” These are equivalent to kata in karate.

  • The word ”hyeong” is often romanized as ”hyung” – hyeong is the term usually used in traditional taekwondo (i.e., 1950s-1960s styles of Korean martial arts).
  • Poomsae” is sometimes romanized as ”pumsae” or ”poomse” – poomsae is the term officially used by Kukkiwon/WTF-style and ATA-style taekwondo.
  • Teul” is often romanized as ”tul” – teul is the term usually used in ITF/Chang Hon-style taekwondo.

A hyeong is a systematic, prearranged sequence of martial techniques that is performed either with or without the use of a weapon. In dojangs (taekwondo training gymnasiums) hyeong are used primarily as a form of interval training that is useful in developing mushin, proper kinetics and mental and physical fortitude. Hyeong may resemble combat, but are artistically non-combative and woven together so as to be an effective conditioning tool. One’s aptitude for a particular hyeong may be evaluated in competition. In such competitions, hyeong are evaluated by a panel of judges who base the score on many factors including energy, precision, speed, and control. In Western competitions, there are two general classes of hyeong: creative and standard. Creative hyeong are created by the performer and are generally acrobatic in nature and do not necessarily reflect the kinetic principles intrinsic in any martial system.

Different taekwondo styles and associations (ATA, ITF, GTF, WTF, etc.) use different taekwondo forms. Even within a single association, different schools in the association may use slightly different variations on the forms, or use different names for the same form (especially in older styles of taekwondo). This is especially true for beginner forms, which tend to be less standardized than mainstream forms.