Taekwondo forms are the method we use to practice all of our taekwondo skills.
The forms are a set pattern of movement where every action is a skill like a block, punch or strike, kick or stance and all the variations that allow the artist to practice their skills.
Think of the taekwondo forms, or poomse, as a dance. There is a choreographed pattern of movement that must be learned in a certain order that does not change. Each of these forms has a particular name and become progressively more difficult as one achieves higher and higher rank.
Every teacher, or master, will put their own emphasis on this dance usually based on how they were taught the tae kwon do form when they first began training. Even though taekwondo practitioners learn the same forms, each time you witness the taekwondo forms performed it will look different from person to person. This is because of the influence of the teacher upon the student.
That’s not to say that one way is any better than the other, they are different but equal in terms of their purpose.
The purpose of the taekwondo forms are to teach the student the basic tae kwon do skills they need to learn.
Poomse are the foundation the student must create in order to build the remainder of their education.
Taekwondo forms serve several other purposes too.One of the side benefits of learning patterns is the exercise. Even though from a spectator’s viewpoint they may look easy, if done correctly with maximum force, poomse are a tremendous workout for the body. Additionally, the fact that the practitioner must memorize the patterns makes them a really great workout for the brain. As we get older, our brains need to be exercised as much as our bodies. Learning tae kwon do forms has the same impact on the brain as doing sudoku or crossword puzzles.
As a practitioner of any martial art becomes more advanced, the forms also serve the purpose of allowing them to practice a harmony of mind-body-spirit. The breathing and focus used is something that helps calm the mind much the same way meditation does. This is one reason why yoga or tai chi are popular.
Taekwondo forms serve the same purpose for the more advanced artist.
There are many, many more methods for practicing taekwondo skills. Taekwondo forms is just one of those methods. When you begin to study in the dojang (training gym) you will learn practice drills for kicking, punching striking and blocking. Students are also taught self defense techniques often called one step sparring (not to be confused in any way with Taekwondo Olympic Sparring).
Absolutely every martial art has their version of forms. Taekwondo forms vary by style, yes there are several styles of taekwondo; but no matter what martial art or taekwondo style you study, forms practice is undeniably one of the most important pieces of your curriculum.