Elwood 5566

Patriotic Taekwon-do – Dan Gun Hyong (단군형)

Posted in History, patriotic Taekwon-do, taekwon-do by 노강호 on March 10, 2011

The Tomb of Dan Gun near Pyongyang, North Korea (authenticity disputed)



Dan Gun (단군) is the second pattern (형) of the International Taekwon-do Federation (ITF) and is used to promote beginners to yellow belt. Dan-Gun Wang-geom (단군왕검) is the legendary founder of Korea who is associated with the founding of the first Korean kingdom, the Gojoseon in 2333 BC. The origins of Dan Gun (pronounced more like ‘Dan Goon’), are steeped in rich myths involving bears and tigers. Dan Gun’s lineage was heavenly and his father had descended to Earth via Baekdu-san (백두산, 白頭山), a volcanic mountain on the borders between North and South Korea. Baekdu is a common destination for school trips and family outings and is especially beautiful as the caldera is occupied by Heaven Lake. Dan Gun was himself born from a woman who had originally been a bear and ascended the throne to form the Gojoseon Kingdom,  near Pyongyang.


Heaven Lake, Baekdu Mountain, where Dan Gun's father ascended to Earth


the man himself

The ITF pattern Dan Gun builds on the foundations laid by the first pattern ch’eon-ji-hyeong (천지형 – Heaven and Earth – ie, the creation). Dan Gun is the only ITF pattern where all strikes are to head height representing Dan Gun climbing a mountain. The pattern operates on the diagram, 工, this being the hanja character (장인 – 공 – labour: workman) which is an important radical conveying the concept of  labour and work and is often present in characters associated with scholars, study,building, achievement, production and examination.

Dan Gun


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© 林東哲 2011 Creative Commons Licence.


6 Responses

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  1. 3gyupsal said, on March 14, 2011 at 7:10 am

    I’ve heard that I.T.F. Tae Kwon Do borrows from Karate and Taekkyon. You can kind of see it here. The form has the flowing bouncy motion of Taekyon and the “stick it motion of Karate.” The stances are longer than Karate and this form looks like it used pinin 1 as a template. The guy doing the form is pretty good.

    • Nick said, on March 14, 2011 at 1:07 pm

      When I trained in WTF TKD it was much the same – really not a lot of difference to patterns from the Shotokan tradition (Heian, Tekki and Pinan etc.) The wave movement wasn’t so pronounced when I trained in the 80’s. However, the ITF kicking, and probably WTF was much more effective than in the Shotokan and Yoseikan schools I trained in. One of the most redundant kicks, and just a personal point, was the side snap kick. All that jerky wasted energy, a decent side thrust kick or a side piercing are far more damaging. As for Chinto, which you mentioned earlier. I found that a strange pattern – can’t really describe it – angular and stifled. It seems like it is a Chinese based form but with all the fluidity and beauty taken out of it. Its performance probably warrants something I have overlooked as I never studied it for a grading.

  2. 3gyupsal said, on March 15, 2011 at 5:34 am

    When I was talking about Chinto, I wasn’t talking about the shape of the form, I was talking about some of the individual hand motions. And you are right. The WTF form Taebek has exactly the same shape as the Dan Gun. Taebek is an incredibly boring form in my opinion. Wait change that, all of the WTF forms are all incredibly boring.

    By the way, I don’t exactly know the Karate forms, I know Karate forms via Moo Duk Kwon, so the motions are a little different.

    As for side kicks. I find side kicks to be a very difficult kick. They are hard to use in sparring since they are so slow and telegraph easily. They could work well for self defense if you mess up someone’s knee with them, but you don’t really need to turn your hip so much.

    • Nick said, on March 15, 2011 at 1:16 pm

      I agree though I only did the WTF forms up to red belt. When I was doing competitions, a side thrust kick was one of my best kicks which I usually launched from the front leg. Have you looked at Bruce Lee’s ‘Kicking Techniques?’ ( one of a series of four books). He gives some great advice on using a penetrating side thrust kick which uses a feint to set up the opponent. I also used to like using a low side kick to check an on coming kick followed by a midsection side kick. Oh, and a side piercing kick is fast and dangerous. Maybe I found side kicks easier to use as I used to fight in stance that put my hips in line with the opponent (probably influenced by the B Lee book) which suited by best arm and leg and which meant you could launch a side kick without rotating hips (they were already aligned). Further, you can launch side thrust and piercing without doing that ‘cocking’ motion the traditional style require and that really telegraph a technique.

      Sorry, don’t mean to sound a bore. MA were a massively important influence on my life a long time ago and I rarely talk about my experiences. Have you ever looked at Wing Chun? An impressive style! I only dabbled in it for a short time but with some incredible practitioners and it made a big impact on my technique. I’ve visited your site before but for some strange reason I can’t seem to leave any comments. I’m 55 and passed it but if you are young and in training, I envy you! Enjoy it!

  3. 3gyupsal said, on March 20, 2011 at 11:36 am

    I’m almost thirty, and I know that I have probably lost a step. I don’t really have enough time to put the necissarry effort into training to be able to do anything really physically demanding. I’ve found TaeKyon to be easy on the body. Kendo doesn’t require any kicking so it’s nice exercise.

    I’d like to try win chung, but I don’t know of any place nearby were I could learn it. There are a couple of kung fu schools where i live, but I don’t think that any of them have anything to do with win chun.

    • Nick said, on March 22, 2011 at 12:38 am

      Yes, I’d thought of giving kendo (kumdo) a try.

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