TaekwondoBrief History and Background of Taekwondo

Taekwondo (the art/way of the breaking hand and foot) is a Korean martial art. Also written as Tae Kwon Do and TKD. Traces of Taekwondo can be found within Korea’s ancient martial arts going back thousands of years. Martial arts was very popular for both civilians and the military during Korea’s ‘Period of The Three Kingdoms’, the ‘Silla dynasty’, the ‘Koryo period’ and the ‘Chosun dynasty’, however during the ‘Li dynasty’ in the mid 19th century such martial arts became forbidden.

Enter the early 20th century and a martial arts form similar to ‘Taek Kyon’ started to be taught by General Choi Hong Hi and by 1955 the name Taekwondo was used and is now one of the most popular martial arts in the world. Many take it up as a sport while others as a traditional art.

Taekwondo was used as a demonstration sport in the 1988 and 1992 Olympics and became an Olympic sport in 2000 and has been a Commonwealth Games sport since 2010. See Olympic Taekwondo here.

TaekwondoThere are a number of organisations (closely related), such as the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) formed in 1973, which is recognised by the Olympics committee and governed by Kukkiwon (which is the official governing World Taekwondo Headquarters) and there’s also the Korea Taekwondo Association (KTA) formed in 1959 and International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) formed in 1966. Also to note are the World Traditional Taekwondo Union formed in 1990, American Taekwondo Association formed in 1969, several smaller organisations/schools known as Kwans and many other organisations for individual countries that come under the umbrella of most of the above.

TaekwondoTaekwondo Training

Practitioners of western Taekwondo are often called ‘Taekwondoka’

Taekwondo is popular not just as a form of self defence, but also for those looking for a sport/exercise outlet.

Training may differ slightly depending on whether the school is teaching traditional Taekwondo or sport Taekwondo. Rules for sparring will also differ between schools under the WTF or ITF. By the way these training sessions can also become vary noisy with hit shouting (Kihap).

The emphasis will be mostly towards kicking, although there are also blocks, punches and open-handed strikes and even various takedowns, sweeps, throws, holds/grabs, joint locks and falling practise. Taekwondo offers a large array of various techniques/moves that have been taken from numerous other martial arts.

Similar to other martial arts, there are set moves/forms/patterns and also lots of sparring. Also as a martial art, there are etiquette, respect and self confidence lessons.

Many schools will also include mental and physical training, which often has pupils breaking boards/bricks, striking pads/shields (target practise), doing cardio/conditioning/endurance training, strength training, lots of stretching (especially for the legs) and more. Some will also include meditation and mind and body control techniques.

Taekwondo Equipment/Gear Used

Some schools/clubs will require their organisations/associations approved equipment to be used.

Various Gi’s/uniforms (dobok)
Belts (dti) – different belts for junior, student and Senior ranks
Training shoes (some schools)
Shin pads
Forearms pads
Sparring mitts/gloves
Foot guard
Body guard/chest protectors
Ankle supports
Groin guard
Leg stretcher
Focus pads/mitts
Kick paddles
Strike shields
Breaker boards

Weapons used in Taekwondo

Weapons are not a part of Taekwondo, however some schools like the American Taekwondo Association do/may include some of the following:

Bo/Jo – staff
Nunchucks –  Also known as a Nunchaku.  Nunchucks are a traditional Okinawan weapon consisting of two sticks connected at one end with a short chain or cord/rope. The sticks themselves can be made from wood, various alloys/metals, various plastics and also a foam covered plastic tube for safe practise.
Kama (Ssahng Nat) – Short sickle – usually used in pairs
Various Knives/Swords/Sticks

Celebrity Taekwondo Practitioners

Michelle Gellar
Tanna Frederick
Michael Imperioli
Lorenzo Lamas
Dave Mustaine
Ryan Phillippe
Scott Adkins
Phillip Rhee

Movies featuring Taekwondo

Action Tae Kwon Do
When Taekwondo Strikes
Kung Fu of Tae Kwon Do
Best of the Best
Best of the Best 2
Best of the Best 3
Best of the Best 4
Volcano High
Spin Kick
The Foot Fist Way
Beyond The Ring
The Kick
Comparison and Honor: The power of Taekwondo