The Poomsae Series is intended to glean lessons from the meaning of each form (poomsae). My school studies the palgwe forms so that’s what I will use for each post. Descriptions are taken from the book “Complete Taekwondo Poomsae” by Dr. Kyu Hyung Lee and Dr. Sang H. Kim.
Do a scissor block. Right now. Seriously, do it. Weird, eh? Palgwe Oh Jang is the fifth form and is learned at the blue belt level. It’s a complicated pain in the ass. It is as ambitious as it is disjointed as it tries to cram everything you’ve ever learned and more into the standard H pattern.
The last time I did this form in class I breathed and moved in unison with a teenage blue belt who happens to have some developmental disabilities. Afterwards we both smiled at each other and reveled in our weird little moment of silent synchronicity.
When I first met him he was an overly talkative and awkward preteen, and I did not like him at all. Although sweet-natured he doesn’t know when to stop talking. EVER. EEEHHHVEEERRRR. His cheerful mom hints at the darkness behind her smile when she talks about his problems. He is somewhere on the autism spectrum, has OCD, is on a number of medications, displays tics when he’s nervous (repetitive sneezing, sighing), and has a hard time recognizing other people’s emotions and expressions. He is as brilliant as he is troubled.
Like this form he’s a complicated pain in the ass.
When I advanced to the next belt level I was eager to be rid of this form although I knew that I’ll never be truly rid of it—it’s a part of my comprehensive toolbox that I mentioned in a previous post. Instead of clomping through it grudgingly and mourning the beautiful Palgwe Sah Jang I decided to embrace it and see what it could teach me.
This form has helped me handle life’s unexpected and annoying twists and turns. A side kick then an elbow. Just throw it in there. Yeah it looks cool…but WTF it came out of nowhere! And ANOTHER scissor block? REALLY??
I’ve learned a lot from this complicated and troubled boy as well. Like this form his complications give him a uniqueness that might otherwise go unnoticed. His technique is terrible and half the time he’s on the sidelines sipping water and catching his breath, but in the end he never gives up. He smiles with excitement when he masters (well sort of) something new and feeds off the positive energy of the few of us who make the attempt to be patient and engage with him. His side kick during sparring is surprisingly brutal. He still annoys the crap out of me, but my heart has softened towards him, and I want to make his time in the dojang as pleasant as possible. The world is not going to be kind to this boy.