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Cycle (Soonhwan Do) and Composition of Taekwon-Do (Taekwon-Do Goosong)


Cycle (Soonhwan Do) and Composition of Taekwon-Do (Taekwon-Do Goosong)

The Composition of Taekwon-Do (Taekwon-Do Goosong) consists of five elements namely, fundamental movements, patterns, sparring, dallyon, and self-defense techniques.

The Cycle (Soonhwan Do) of Taekwon-Do consists of the same five elements in a cyclic fashion.

Composition of Taekwon-Do (Taekwon-Do Goosong)

“Taekwon-Do is composed of fundamental movements, patterns, dallyon, sparring and self-defence techniques that are so closely related that it is impossible to segregate one phase of instruction from another.” = Gen. Choi Hong Hi (Vol.1, p.236)

In military training, during the time of Gen. Choi Hong Hi, troops followed a certain progression as follows:

– Individual soldier’s basic training
– Maintenance of equipment
– Platoon tactics
– Field exercise in simulated combat conditions
– Actual combat

A somewhat similar progression may be seen in Taekwon-Do as follows:

– Fundamental Movement (Individual soldier’s basic training)
– Pattern (Platoon tactics)
– Sparring (Field exercise in simulated combat conditions)
– Dallyon (Maintenance of equipment)
– Self-Defense Technique (Actual combat)

Fundamental Movements (Gibon Yonsup)

Fundamental movements are kicks, punches, blocks, stances, and several other movements used for attacking or defending. They are the basic attacking and defending techniques on which the art of Taekwon-Do is built. Mastery of fundamental movements leads to mastery of patterns, sparring and self-defense.

“Fundamental exercises are considered the back bone of Taekwon-Do, for the students can learn a great number of additional movements which are found neither in patterns nor sparring. […] The student is therefore advised to exercise each fundamental movement correctly and thoroughly one by one before attempting to practise his pattern or sparring.”- Gen. Choi Hong Hi (Vol.6, p.17)

To attain perfection, each fundamental exercise has to be constantly repeated along with maintaining the correct stance at all times. Expert guidance is invaluable, since “Certainly the most important asset any training hall can have is a good instructor. There is no substitute for well-trained, intelligent, perceptive and patient instructor.” – Gen. Choi Hong Hi (Vol.6, p.17)

Patterns (Tul)

“Patterns are various fundamental movements, most of which represent either attack or defense techniques, set to a fixed and logical sequence.” – Gen. Choi Hong Hi (Vol.9, p.13)

There are a total of 24 patterns in Taekwon-Do. “The 24 patterns represent 24 hours, one day, or all my life.” – Gen. Choi Hong Hi (Vol.9, p.14)

Sparring (Matsogi)

“Sparring is the physical application of attack and defence techniques gained from pattern and fundamental exercise against an actual moving opponent or opponents under various situations.” – Gen. Choi Hong Hi (Vol.1, p.161)

Without fundamental movements, perfection in patterns and sparring is difficult, and without patterns and sparring, perfection in fundamental movements is difficult. Thus, fundamental movements, patterns, and sparring are inseparable.

“Sparring […] is, therefore, not only inseparable from pattern and fundamental movement but also indispensable to promote the fighting spirit and courage, to train the eyes, to read the opponent’s tactic and manoeuvers, to forge the attacking and blocking tools, to test his or her own skills and ability and to learn other movements hardly to be gained from pattern or fundamental exercise.” – Gen. Choi Hong Hi (Vol.1, p.161)


The equipment of the Taekwon-Do practitioner is one’s own body and it should be developed adequately with warm-up and cool-down exercises, stretching, and fundamental exercises. Besides these, the tools of the body used for attacking and defending should be toughened.

“Collaterally with sparring, the student must begin to develop his body and toughen his attacking and blocking tools so he is able to deliver maximum damage in actual combat.” – Gen. Choi Hong Hi (Vol.1, p.237)

Self-Defense Techniques (Hosin Sool)

“Once a student has applied himself to fundamental movements, patterns, sparring, and dallyon, then the time has arrived for the student to test his coordination, speed, balance, and concentration against spontaneous attacks, i.e., self-defence.” – Gen. Choi Hong Hi (Vol.1, p.237)

Self-defense techniques utilize one’s own reflexive actions in a dynamic way, which are combined to utilize the opponent’s force and momentum. Constant training in these techniques requires a high level of mastery in fundamental movements and sparring.

“These techniques are not only the most interesting in Taekwon-Do but also the most advanced. They are, in every sense, for practical self-defense. These techniques are the logical application of various motions acquired from patterns, sparring, and fundamental movements to be used against a sudden attack by an armed or unarmed opponent.” – Gen. Choi Hong Hi (Vol.1, p.162)

Cycle of Taekwon-Do (Soonhwan Do)

The practice of fundamental movements leads to patterns, sparring, dallyon, and self-defense techniques, but this progression is like a loop and therefore cyclic in nature. The cyclic nature of the progression makes it hard to determine where the cycle starts and where it ends. This cycle is known as the “Cycle of Taekwon-Do (Soonhwan Do)”.

Cycle of Taekwon-Do (Soonhwan Do)
[Image Source: Encyclopedia of Taekwon-Do, Vol.1, p.238]

“In the illustration, one can see it is difficult to distinguish the beginning of the cycle from the end. There is, in fact, like the deity, no beginning or end. A student will find that he will have to return time and time again to the beginning fundamental movements to perfect his advanced sparring and self-defence techniques.” – Gen. Choi Hong Hi (Vol.1, p.236)


Choi, H. H. (1985). Encyclopedia of Taekwon-Do (Vols. 1–15). Vienna: International Taekwon-Do Federation.


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