The Poomsae Series is intended to glean lessons from the meaning of each form. 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.
I am crushing on Palgwe Chil Jang. It’s as beautiful as it is forceful and brutal. The form begins with a defiant glare and a powerful double low block. We then weave through a series of meticulously placed blocks, kicks, strikes, and a crazy spinning low block until we gracefully slide back into the starting position with a vicious punch and the same steely glare.
As dynamic as this form is Palgwe Chil Jang more than any other brings a sense of quietness to my movement and my thought processes. I wondered if that state of mind is possible outside of choreographed and carefully performed movement. There is clutter in our work and home environments, in our actions, and in our minds. We let our focus be easily seduced by “multi-tasking” and end up getting so far off track we forgot what we originally set out to do.
Being mindful and present is easier said than done. I’ve been trying it for years, and the most I can get is a fuzzy sense of presence that wavers in and out of focus. The advice you typically find on mindfulness is savoring every bite of food, meditating, de-cluttering on a literal or metaphorical level, and noticing sensations in the body. They’re helpful actions and can temporarily snap you back into what Eckhart Tolle calls being “awake,” but if the underlying habit isn’t there the tiny efforts will be disconnected pieces of good intention rather than a connected thread of practice.
Being mindful and intentional in movement means I was finally patient enough to master caramelizing onions and took the time to let my home-done manicure set (not at the same time I was cooking onions). Not being mindful and intentional means I dropped a container of parmesan on the floor when I was rushing to make my salad for lunch and then had to sneak past the security guards in the office building because I forgot my work badge. Less is more.
Taekwondo has been a great vehicle for quieting the mind. The threats of falling over or being hit in the face are pretty good motivators to pay attention, but they don’t always apply outside the dojang. What’s worked best for me is just making a promise to myself to be mindful (or at least give it a shot) and to declare my brain, body, surroundings and actions a clutter-free zone. It requires constant reminders and refocusing, but it’s working. I don’t get all bent out of shape as much. I’m a lot more content AND I have a much more organized closet.