The seventh form completes the intermediate grade of forms bringing us to up to testing for red belt, the 4th gup level.
Rank systems in taekwondo are based on 9 levels on each side of black belt going up to il dan, or 1st degree black belt. Some sources say 8-12 levels but nine gup or beginner levels and nine dan or advanced levels , are a more elegant and symmetric way of describing them.
It starts with white belt at 9 gup and goes up to 1st gup or red belt with 3 stripes. As we enter the red belt stripes, we become bodan, the advanced student on the cusp of il dan, first degree black belt.
Here is a front view of the form:
Form 7 Toi gye. Note phrasing of the movement, like a sentence, emphasized by stance changes to drive power through each movement. [NB: video credit to Chloe Orsag]
The gup stages of learning are important to go through to acquire the tactics and techniques. The years spent in these levels are crucial to develop the physical stamina and conditioning required to actually fight.
We do not simply train for a sport. The sport is just a way to simulate real life conflicts, and forms are a way of creating conditioned responses to real life fighting. Forms are therefore important tools to measure our readiness to apply what we have learned in class to the greater world outside the dojang.
Here is 3/4 view of the form to look at the back half better:
Angled view of the form showing the stance and movements in the second half. Note lifting the front foot to effect the stance changes. This drives power through the form. [NB: video credit Chloe Orsag]
We are greater than the sum of our parts. We are not defined by our thoughts nor are we confined by our size, strength, or heights. We can be greater than the sum of our parts by developing grace in movement, economy in balance, and power in application.
Over a lifetime we will be challenged by those around us. Some will be physical such as in combat. Some will be social such as those uncomfortable conversations in relationships. Some may be spiritual in understanding our relationship to each other and our place in this world.
No matter the issue, training develops the neuromuscular coordination, the Tao or Tae, to manage it. It is a template from which we derive comfort and solace to manage unforeseen matters in life.
The way we use our stances, dynamically changing our foot position driving through the ground into the combined punch and kick, creates more power than we have simply in our arms and legs. We become greater than the sum of our parts.
Form practice gives us the foundation to deal with situations that arise not only physically but mentally and spiritually as well.
Perfect practice creates perfect technique. As we change in life, we adapt and grow. Forms allows us to find a way to discover where the power and speed comes from. In this way, taekwondo becomes something that lives in us and changes with us as we grow. You must perform the forms with that in mind.
As you advance think both where you used to, yesterday, last year, even at the beginning of taekwondo. Notice how you have changed and moved forward. You are not the sun of your parts; you are greater.