ATA Forms & the Songahm Star
The Korean word "poom-sae" means a "form" or "pattern of movements." It is actually a planned series of movements that combines the physical skills (such as blocks, strikes, kicks, stances and more) with the mental skills (such as balance, coordination, discipline, strategy, focus and more). The target of these movements is an imaginary opponent of the practitioner's own size.
The copyrighted Songahm forms have been arranged as a system to gradually increase the student's skill, develop technical balance equally on the left and right side of the body, train muscles, and to develop students from the beginner level through the rank of Grand Master. This is why each Songahm form does not repeat most techniques more than twice and also why every technique which is done with a right arm/leg is also repeated with the left arm/leg.
These forms, designed by Eternal Grand Master H.U. Lee, were the first that truly emphasized the tradition of the art of Taekwondo, unlike older forms (hyung) which were based on Japanese and Okinawan Karate forms. Not only do the Songahm forms train you in each rank, but they are also excellent for using as a warm-up prior to a work out.
The "system" that encompasses the 18 Songahm forms is based on traditional philosophy, as well as being designed for easy memorization.
All goals require a poom-sae or pattern. Even in life we have structured patterns. When you're born, you learn communication and basic skills in the home. A few years later, you are enrolled into kindergarten or elementary school. Following this comes high school. During high school, we begin to decide the direction we will take in life. We choose a college and/or a career goal. This is the pattern of the first part of our life. If you choose a good pattern, you can be a success. If your pattern is poor, you may not be as successful in your life endeavors.
Similarly, your chances of success in Songahm Taekwondo are much greater by following the solid series of patterns (forms) we have developed for our students.
All of the Songahm Forms create their own shape or pattern that fit on the Songahm Star.
First, in a perfect Songahm Star, the distance from the center point of the star to the East point, is nine feet. The total distance from the East point to the West point equals eighteen feet, representing the number of forms in the Songahm system. All forms performed on the star intentionally begin facing the east in respect to Taekwondo's motherland. In philosophy pertaining to life, the late father of Songahm Taekwondo, Grand Master H.U. Lee, described the Songahm Star created by the form, as being an example of a day in the life of a person.
"Life has a center point. Everything on earth has a center point. This is where we obtain our balance. The center point of the human being is the heart, physically, emotionally and spiritually. The completed forms form a star with a center point and eight outer points, which create a circle if connected. This is the circle of life.
Each day we live, completes a circle: we rise in the morning from our place of rest; then, we go through the day accomplishing our goals and overcoming obstacles that life puts in our way; and, when evening comes, we return to our place of rest. We constantly try to improve this circle. We go to work or we go to school. Why? Because this is the way we complete the best circle. We try to have the best life. Study gives us knowledge that we can apply to make a living. The job is the resource we use to make that living. Diligent study and a good job results in a good pattern or 'poome-sae' in our life. Not only is the circle seen in day to day activity, but also in our entire life itself. We come from the dust of the earth and our bodies return to the dust of the earth. During the span between birth and death, we move throughout life setting and accomplishing goals. This is the reason all forms begin and end at the same spot," said Grand Master.
He continued, "As we complete each form, we must imagine ourselves drawing a circle freehand. No one can draw it perfectly the first time, We just try to close the circle and then we adjust and refine it to make it perfect. It is the same way we must face life. We're not going to make it perfect. However, we can strive to correct the flaws as we move along. We must complete the circle, the 'Winner's Circle'.“ If a student is not aware of the place to begin or end the form, nor has a plan of action to get through the process, how can the student achieve the desired result? The same is true for success in life. Here are Grand Master Lee's words concerning this philosophy: "If a person does not know where to begin or end in life (setting goals), then that person will become confused when given a choice between two paths."
"Pure and without knowledge of Songahm Taekwondo. As with the Pine Tree, the seed must now be planted and nourished to develop strong roots."
The student has no knowledge of Songahm Taekwondo and begins with a clean and pure slate.
The sun is beginning to rise. As with the morning's dawn, only the beauty of the sunrise is seen rather than the immense power."
The beginner student sees the beauty of the art of Taekwondo, but has not yet experienced the power in the technique.
"The seed is beginning to see the sunlight."
The student begins to understand the basics of Taekwondo.
"The sapling is hidden amongst the taller pines and must now fight its way upwards."
The student begins to realize his/her place in the world's largest martial art. The student must now begin to spar in order to promote in rank.
"The pine tree is beginning to develop and grow in strength."
The students technique is developing power. The components of the basic techniques are beginning to work in unison.
"Coming to the mountain. The tree is mid-growth and now the path becomes steep."
The student has crossed over into a higher level of Songahm Taekwondo. The techniques, forms and level of sparring become more difficult creating a "mountain" that must be overcome.
The tree reaches for the sky towards new heights."
Having passed the med-way point, the student focuses his/her energy upwards toward black belt.
CHOONG JUNG 1
"The tree is firmly rooted in the earth."
At this point the student has mastered the basics and developed deep roots in Taekwondo.
CHOONG JUNG 2
"The sun is setting. The first phase of growth has been accomplished."
The first day (the period from white belt to red belt) of growth is coming to an end. The physical skill has been developed but lacks control; therefore, physical and mental discipline must now be achieved.
(1ST DEGREE BLACK BELT RECOMMENDED)
CHOONG JUNG 2
"The dawn of a new day. The sun breaks through the darkness."
The previous day has ended giving way to a new dawn. The student must begin a new phase of training, that of being a black belt.
1ST DEGREE BLACK BELT DECIDED
"The tree reached maturity and has overcome the darkness. It must now begin to 'plant seeds for the future'."
The color black is created when all the colors of the light spectrum have been absorbed into an object. That object has "taken control" of the colors and retained them. If one color was to "escape", the object would no longer be black. The student has mastered the nine grades of Taekwondo. He/she has "absorbed" all the knowledge of the color ranks and has overcome or "mastered" those levels of training.
2ND DEGREE BLACK BELT
"With your noble character, you will develop a new permanence in your life."
3RD DEGREE BLACK BELT
"Peace of mind & tranquility."
4TH DEGREE BLACK BELT
"Crest of Granite Mountain."
You will live comfortably and in peace.
5TH DEGREE BLACK BELT
“Mastered all kinds of knowledge and utilizes this to do many things.”
6TH DEGREE BLACK BELT
7TH DEGREE BLACK BELT
"A project of self awareness towards an individuals future leadership role within Songahm Taekwondo
8TH DEGREE BLACK BELT
"Continually moving forward toward the right ideal or vision"
9TH DEGREE BLACK BELT
"Peace of mind & tranquility."
Above is a map of the constellations which includes (circles in red) the star is officially named "Songahm" by the International Star Registry. The star is located at Canes Venatici RA 12h 56m 43sd 42º 26'.
This certificate is the official recognition of the "Songahm Star" that was given it's place among the heavens by the International Star Registry.