From Academic Kids

Template:Koreanname Tae Kwon Do, Taekwondo or Taekwon-Do is the Korean national sport and most commonly practiced form of mudo. It is also one of the world's most commonly practiced sports. In the Korean language, Tae (태, hanja 跆) means "to kick or destroy with the foot", kwon (권, hanja 拳) means "punch or smash with the hand or fist", and Do (도, hanja 道) means "way or art". Hence, Taekwondo is taken to mean "foot, hand art." A less literal translation is often given as "The art of punching and kicking."

Tae Kwon Do is popular throughout the world, and the Kukkiwon-World Taekwondo Federation's form of Tae Kwon Do is currently an Olympic sport. Tae Kwon Do has received criticism for not teaching enough street-effective techniques including a subset of tournament rules which are very limited (WTF Taekwondo does not allow any punch to the head), and Tae Kwon Do especially can be critisized if you compare it to more "real" techniques such as Muay Thay fighting, Sambo or Brasilian Jiu Jitsu. However, because of great doctrinal and technical differences between tae kwon do styles, such criticism can only be leveled at and to individual schools. This criticism is rooted in Tae Kwon Do's big emphasis on high kicks, which those who cannot kick proficiently consider to be impractical when used against moving and defensive opponents. Alternatively, others consider tae kwon do's emphasis on high kicks with a small, mobile stance to be an advantage in martial arts combat. There definitely is an emphasis on leg usage in Tae Kwon do (no matter if its ITF or WTF Taekwondo), including jump kicks but even more often spinning kicks and combinations of any kind. The typical Tae Kwon Do stance is light footed. Tae Kwon Do is used in unarmed combat training in some armies, such as those of France, the Republic of Korea and Democratic People's Republic of Korea, with ITF being much more popular in North korea, and WTF much more popular in South Korea (and actually world wide if compared to ITF spread).



In the early 1900s, during Japanese occupation of Korea, many Koreans were exposed to Japanese versions of Chinese martial arts, which lead to learning and practicing karate. Some of these Koreans included Lee-Won Kuk , Choi Hong-Hi, Chun Sang-Sup, Yoon Byung-In, and others. As the Japanese moved deeper into the continent karate was mixing with Korean martial arts and Chinese martial arts, similarly Korea also came to learn the Japanese versions. Various schools developed, including Chung Do Kwan headed by Lee, Yun Moo Kwan headed by Chun, Chang Moo Kwan headed by Yoon, and the military Oh Do Kwan headed by Choi. Another school, the Moo Duk Kwan, was headed by Hwang Ki, who learned in Manchuria.

In 1955, these arts, at that time called "Tang-Soo-Do" or "Kong-Soo-Do" were combined into a new art and renamed Taekwondo. Eventually, Taekwondo incorporated more native Korean martial art styles in to the art, especially kicking techniques, replacing the old karate forms, adding the old difficult kicks from taekyon in a modified noncircular style, and changing the rules.

Although some Taekwondo books state that Taekwondo has been practiced since ancient times, this is due to the fact that some Korean writers use the word "Taekwondo" to refer to Korean martial arts as a whole.

Taekkyon, an old Korean art that is often quoted as a strong influence (or origin) for Taekwondo looks quite different, its movements sharing a strong similarity with Chinese martial arts, and also including a strong dance element.

Choi Hong-Hi headed the International Taekwondo Federation (ITF), but when he visited North Korea to spread Taekwondo as well as moving the headquarters to Canada, South Korea created a new, competing organization, the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF), originally headed by Kim Un-Yong. Today, the WTF is more commonly seen and accepted, also being the style used in the Olympics. The ITF style of Taekwondo is practised in more countries, however.

In 2000, Taekwondo was added as an official event in the Olympics; it had already been added to the World games in 1981, and the Pan-American games in 1986.

Missing image
One Korean kid displays
his cat-like agility


The International Taekwon-Do Federation currently use a system of 10 or more gups and 9 (although some consider there to be 10) degrees (dans). The gups start at 10 and go down to 1, from which Degrees are then achieved, and go 1 through 9. (Ex. Someone who just promoted from 2nd gup to 1st gup is now eligible to promote for 1st degree.) The degrees 1-3 are associated with an Assistant Instructor, degrees 4-6 are associated with an Instructor, 7-8 with a Master, and 9th degree a Grand Master. Degree grades are usually denoted by roman numerals e.g. VII, VIII, IX representing 7, 8, 9.

Even though different Tae Kwon Do styles, associations, or schools may make adjustments or additions, traditionally there are ten color belt levels ("gup," "kup," or "keub.") and ten black belt levels, called "Dan" (or "Poom" when the recipient is under 16 years old, under WTF regulations. Once a Poom-holder turns 16, he/she is considered the equivalent Dan rank). Tenth Dan had historically been reserved as a posthumous award, but in recent years has seen presentation to a few living recipients. The original colors are white, yellow, green, blue and red. Between solid colors a crossbar / stripe of the next full color is added to the belt indicating the awarded gup level. Some groups use a solid color alternative instead of stripes (black, camo, orange, etc.) For example, a common belt scheme assigns the following keubs: white (13), yellow (12), purple (11), orange (10), green (9), senior green (8), blue (7), senior blue (6), brown (5), senior brown (4) red (3), senior red (2), red-black/Bo dan (1). The wide variety of belt levels is an American phenomenon rooted in an effort by schools to provide the appearance of rapid advancement to appease children. Under such a system, the earlier belts can sometimes be earned in as few as eight weeks. Gup belt records are kept by the school of origin and Dan/Poom ranks are recorded at the style headquarters registry.


Although there are many different federations and associations, Tae Kwon Do can be broadly divided into two schools: International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF, founded 1966), and Kukkiwon-World Taekwondo Federation (Kukkiwon-WTF, founded 1973). Kukkiwon-WTF was created in Korea when General Choi Hong Hi left Korea for Canada, moving the headquarters of ITF in 1972. The WTF is recognized as the international governing body for the sport of taekwondo by the International Olympic Committee. Adherents of the ITF branch spell the martial art "Taekwon-do" and those of the WTF as "Taekwondo". "Tae Kwon Do" is often used as a generic spelling of the martial art in a general or historic sense to avoid these divisions.

Apart from its history, one difference between ITF Taekwon-Do and Kukkiwon-WTF Taekwondo is the patterns (the pre-set, formal sequences of movements students learn). ITF has 24 patterns (called tuls) which represent the 24 hours in a day, or the whole of a person's life, while Kukkiwon-WTF uses the Taegeuk forms (which originate from the Chinese book, I_Ching). The main difference between these two styles of pattern is that ITF patterns use a "stepping motion" (known as the "sine wave") -- drawing on Newtonian physics -- for hand techniques and some kicking techniques, which include moving the body in a sinusoidal motion in order to use bodyweight to increase the effectiveness of the techniques. Many people consider the Kukkiwon-WTF style to be more of a sport, focussing on competition sparring, while ITF is considered a true martial art which includes competition-style sparring. In practice, however, it is the instructor that will have the most influence on what and how a student practices. The ITF (International Taekwon-Do Federation) had considerable success in bringing its art to the world through the '60s and early '70s. They currently maintain millions of members in 120+ countries worldwide. Beginning in 1972-73, Kukkiwon and the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) became the first (1980) Tae Kwon Do organization recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Kukkiwon-WTF is the only Tae Kwon Do body recognized by the South Korean government and its rules have been adopted by the International Olympic Committee. Only students whose training is recognised by the Kukkiwon-WTF can take part in the Olympic games, highlighting the consideration of the Kukkiwon-WTF form as a sport.

In addition to the forms recognized for modern competition, there are also a large number of traditional forms, associated with a rich lore and history. These are becoming relatively rare in competition yet are being kept alive by some traditional masters and their students. Students trained in these traditional forms, which emphasise powerful kicks, punches, and blocks, pacing appropriate to the form, fierce concentration upon imaginary opponents, and accurate and stable stances, can do quite well when bringing these skills to their performances of the poomse style forms.

Since the death of Choi Hong Hi, the International Taekwon-Do Federation has splintered into three major groups and several smaller ones. Choi's son, Choi Jung Hwa, is head of one headquartered in Canada; a second is headquartered in Austria; the third has its headquarters in North Korea. All three groups claim to be the legitimate successor to Gen. Choi. Various court actions are now in process.

Missing image
Preparing to break a board


List of Taekwondo Techniques by Belt

Tae Kwon Do is famed for its employment of leg and jumping techniques, which many believe distinguishes it from martial arts such as Karate or certain, southern styles of Kung Fu. The rationale behind this is that the leg is the longest and strongest weapon a martial artist has, and kicks thus have the greatest potential to strike without retaliation.

Tae Kwon Do is popular with people of both sexes and of many ages. The five tenets of Tae Kwon Do (courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, indomitable spirit) show that, like all martial arts, Tae Kwon Do is a mental discipline as well as a physical one. An example of the union of mental and physical discipline is the breaking of boards, which requires both physical mastery of the technique and the concentration to focus one's strength.

Although each Tae Kwon Do club or school will be different, a Tae Kwon Do student can typically expect to take part in most or all of the following:

  • Learning the techniques and curriculum of Tae Kwon Do
  • An aerobic workout, including stretching
  • Self-defence techniques
  • Free-style sparring
  • Relaxation exercises
  • Breaking (using the techniques to break boards for martial arts demonstrations)
  • Regular gradings (tests to progress to the next grade/belt)
  • A focus on discipline, honor, protocol, and self-confidence.

Some Tae Kwon Do Instructors have also recently starting teaching the use of pressure points as well as defence against a variety of weapons.

2004 Summer Olympics in Athens

Main article: Taekwondo at the 2004 Summer Olympics

External links

cs:Taekwondo de:Taekwondo es:Taekwondo eo:Tekvondo fa:تکواندو fr:Taekwondo id:Taekwondo it:Taekwondo he:טאיקוונדו la:Thequondo nl:Taekwondo ja:テコンドー no:Taekwondo pl:Taekwondo pt:Taekwondo ro:Taekwondo ru:Тхэквондо sk:Taekwondo sl:Taekwon-do fi:Taekwondo sv:Taekwondo zh:跆拳道


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