What is Taekwondo?
Taekwondo is a martial art originating in Korea. It combines combat and self-defense techniques with sport and exercise. In 1989, taekwondo was the world’s most popular martial art.
There are two main branches of taekwondo development, although they are not mutually exclusive.
“Traditional taekwondo” typically refers to the martial art as it was established in the 1950s and 1960s in the South Korean military, and in various civilian organisations, including schools and universities. In particular, the names and symbolism of the traditional patterns often refer to elements of Korean history, culture and religious philosophy. ‘Traditional Taekwon-Do’ usually refers to ITF Taekwon-Do as created by the founder of ITF Taekwon-Do General Choi Hong Hi on April 11, 1955.
“Sport taekwondo” has developed in the decades since the 1950s and may have a somewhat different focus, especially in terms of its emphasis on speed and competition (as in Olympic sparring).
Although there are doctrinal and technical differences between sparring in the two main styles and among the various organizations, the art in general emphasizes kicks thrown from a mobile stance, employing the leg’s greater reach and power (compared to the arm). Taekwondo training generally includes a system of blocks, kicks, punches, and open-handed strikes and may also include various take-downs or sweeps, throws, and joint locks.
In Korean, tae means “to strike or break with foot”; kwon means “to strike or break with fist”; and do means “way”, “method”, or “path”.
Thus, taekwondo may be loosely translated as “the way of the foot and the hand.” The name taekwondo is also written as taekwon-do, tae kwon-do or tae kwon do by various organizations.