Hyung: Origin and Meaning
Fighting forms, or hyung as they are called in Korean, are a collection of moves done in succession in an attempt to help the learner coordinate, synchronize, and harmonize movement in a powerful, quick, and efficient way. They teach the student of traditional martial arts how to effectively move when sparring in order to overcome an opponent. But they also have an artistic element to them. When you study hyung, you will begin, almost immediately, to see their symmetry, grace, power, and beauty. If you listen carefully you will notice that they often tell a story. This is the “art” in martial arts. Below you will find some of the history, meaning, and interpretation of the various hyung we study. It will help deepen your appreciation for and understanding of our hyung. In addition to the traditional forms of our system there are also additional forms developed later, by TSD practitioners and added to the system. The seven Chil Sung forms and six Yuk Roe forms are the two best known. In some TSD schools these have replaced the more traditional forms.
Kee-Cho Hyungs (1-3) – were created by Grandmaster Hwang Kee in AD 1947 in Seoul Korea. These forms have 22 moves in each, are represented by a human child, are symmetrical in every respect, and represent the most basic of our learning skills. They are intended to assist the student in learning stances, and basic hand techniques. No kicks are utilized in them. Each follow the basic "I" pattern completely and prepare the students for the more advanced and complicated patterns to follow.
Pyang Ahn Hyungs (1-5) – were originally one hyung called Jae Nam (meaning "southern border") but was broken down and adapted into five forms (which vary in length from 22-31 moves) by the Okinawan Master, Mr. Ido (Itosu Yasutsune) ca. AD 1870. The Pyang Ahns are more complicated than the Kee Chos since the student is advancing and they represent the bulk of the material she/he will be learning during their gup training. The term Pyang Ahn is best translated as peaceful confidence since the Chinese characters represent each of these two elements. The first character has a range of meaning that included "well- balanced, calm, or peaceful." The second character has a range that includes "safe, comfortable, or confident." A student is said to acquire this peaceful confidence through the perfecting of these forms. The six meanings metaphorically describe a turtle who, although in the midst of chaotic surroundings, can exhibit them without fear. The turtle therefore is the animal representation of this form.
Bassai or Ba Sa Hee Hyung – Though the creator is unknown, we do know it was created in the Shaolin Temple (Korean: So Lim Sa) in the Henan (Ha Nam) region of southern China ca. 1550 AD. It was originally known as Pal Che or "collection of the best" which, because of its dynamic nature and flamboyant techniques, many argue that it truly is a collection of the "best moves." It was so named because it was thought to be a collection of the most famous and most effective movements of Shaolin boxing. It exhibits a higher level of difficulty utilizing more turns and a wider variety of techniques than previous hyungs. It is also the longest form the student has yet learned having 52 movements. Some styles teach two Bassai forms, Bassai So and Bassai Dae, meaning the lesser and greater Bassai forms respectively. Hwang Kee, in SBD TSD says that these are two halves of one form. Because of the level of difficulty both technically and requiring greater stamina Bassai is taught only to the more advanced gups. When you watch Bassai you will notice that the movements are fast and active (yang) like a snake striking. The imagery of the snake is clear from the opening move of Bassai So.
Nai Han Chi Hyungs (1-3) – Originally one form, Nai Han Chi was created in Hebei region of Northern China in the Nothern Song Dynasty (AD 960-1127) ca. AD 1100 by Jang Song Kye, founder of the Kang Yu/Wu Ryu School of martial arts and was eventually broken into three forms each with 27, 30 and 40 moves respectively. It was originally known as Neh Bo Jin, or "inward step advance" because all the movements in the form are done with an inward step across the body and an advance to one side or the other making the directional orientation completely linear. Limited in its mobility (Yin/Um), the primary characteristic of the Nai Han Chis is their power. The challenge of the Nai Han Chi hyungs is generating force from one’s center while keeping the movement of the body to a minimum. It is easy to generate force with large movements and momentum, but the Nai Han Chi hyungs begin to develop the ability to generate power without the need for momentum. One noticeable attribute of the group is the blocking combinations, which include three out of the four direction (left-front-right) and sometimes executed simultaneously. It is supposed that they are intended to simulate combat while on horseback and it is for this reason that blocks and attacks are limited to the front and the side; the only stance used throughout all three is the Horseback stance; no turning is utilized; and that there is no kicking. It is appropriate then that the horse is its animal representation of the Nai Han Chis.
Sip Soo Hyung – Literally translated, "ten hands" was also known as Jit Dae or Jin Thwe. It comes from the northern region of China called Hebei, but no one knows who created it or when specifically. Its outstanding characteristics include the unusual hand techniques, the emphasis on deep breathing, and its overall power. It is short in length, having only 27 moves, but difficult to master do to the unique characteristic hand movements, which include staff defense and several bear claws. The animal that represents this form is the bear.
Chin Do or Jin Do – (進退)Although its creator is unknown, we do know that Chin Do was created in the late 1700’s AD in the Henan province in the Shaolin school of martial arts and was known as Jin Dwe. Jin Dwe literally means advance - retreat, and when you look at the progression of the form that is exactly what happens. It is quick in its movements and one legged crane stances are exhibited several times throughout the form. This is why its animal representation is the crane.
Ro Hai (or Lo Hai) – This form is the counterpart to Chin Do. Like Chin Do, Ro Hai originated in the Henan province in southern China and belongs to the Shaolin school of martial arts; its creator and date are unknown. Some styles don’t give it an animal representation, but those who do assign it the crane because of the many crane stances exhibited. Speculation suggests that Ro Hai was developed as a breaking form and used in the downward punch movement to break a number of roofing tiles to demonstrate not only power, but distance control, technique, consistency in movement.
Kong Sang Koon – As with Chin Do and Ro Hai, Kong Sang Koon was developed in the Henan province of southern China. It, like Chin Do, was created in the late 1700’s AD, but unlike the other two, the creator of Kong Sang Koon is known. In fact, the name of the form is the name of the creator. Kong Sang Koon was a Buddhist missionary who developed the form which now bears his name. It is the longest form in the system so far with 67 moves. It has several interesting movements, uses a variety of kicks and other techniques, and portrays multiple attacks from all directions. It derives its animal from a distinctive opening movement that looks like the broad, expanded wings of an eagle.
Sei Shan (or Sha Sun) – Meaning “thirteen” alludes to the 13 principles of the Tae Kuk Kwon. Jang Sam Bong, who created the Tae Kuk Kwon system, and in all likelihood created this form during the Northern Song Dynasty (AD 960-1127) in the Ha Kuk region of northern China. Like Sip Soo this form contains several slow breathing movements meant to develop inner strength, concentration, body control, and a fluidity of movement. The animal representation is the praying mantis.
Wang Shu – (or Wan Shu) was the name of the author who lived from 1621 – 1689. There are two ways to write this in Chinese. The first (腕秀) means "excellent wrist," and the second (汪楫) simply translates as "Wangs’ Form." Wang Shu was a diplomate sent from China during the Qing Dyanasy (1644-1941) to Tomari Village in Okanawa in 1683. Abassador Wang Studied the Shaolin style Fujian White Crane and taught martial arts while he was in Okanawa. His students preserved his teachings in the various Wang Shu forms still seen today. The two most popular today are Matsumora-Wansh? and Itosu-Wansh?. Wang Shu is light, active, and quick with several small hops emulating a small bird.
Ji On – "Ji" refers to the development of technique through mental training. "On" refers to physical conditioning of the body. There is a combination of hard and soft movements in this form that reflect the duel focus of the form. Ji On exhibits a high level of balance between opposite principles and so reflects the Um/Yang philosophy. The mountain goat must exhibit balance between strength and grace as it negotiates the rocky precipices and so is the natural choice of animal to represent this form.
O-Ship Sa Bo – With 77 moves, this is the longest form in the traditional system. This form is properly done at a high rate of speed but with the moves precisely executed. This requires great endurance by the practitioner. The combination of speed, power, precision, and endurance make the tiger a suitable symbol for this form.
Hwa Sun – Meaning the pure flower was developed by GM Hwang Kee interpreting moves from the well known ancient martial arts text, "Moo Yei Dobo Tong Ji." It was taken from the Kwon Bop (or method of using the fist) section of the book. It has about 98 moves in it.
Yuk Ro – Yuk Ro, meaning "Six-Fold Path" indicates the six areas of development designed to produce a warrior.
Chil Sung – Chil Sung Hyung are intended to develop the martial artist as a person. They are designed to teach the practitioner how to balance external and internal energy (Chun Gul). This balance is the guiding principle to personal development.