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What is Taekwondo?

     Literally translated, Taekwondo breaks down to "tae" meaning to kick with the foot, "kwon" meaning to punch or strike with the hand, and "do" meaning art or way. Therefore, Taekwondo translates to "the art of kicking and punching." Its physical aspects come from the kicking and punching, while its spiritual aspects come from the art.

     Many times the word Karate is used in the name of a Taekwondo school. This seems strange since karate is a Japanese word and Taekwondo is Korean. This occurs purely as a business decision. More people are familiar with the word Karate, so when they see it they will know what a Taekwondo school is about. Also, the word karate has fewer letters than Taekwondo. When putting up a sign on a school building for advertisement, the smaller word karate means the letters on the sign may be larger and possibly lighted for less cost than for the word Taekwondo.

Objectives of Taekwondo

  • To develop an appreciation for Taekwondo as a sport and as an art.
  • To achieve physical fitness through positive participation.
  • To improve mental discipline and emotional equanimity.
  • To learn self-defense skills.
  • To develop a sense of responsibility for oneself and others.

Introduction to Taekwondo

Although Taekwondo is modern martial art, its origins and evolution may be traced back through 2,000 years of Korean history. For centuries, martial arts have been an integral part of Korean culture and heritage; improved and passed down from teacher to student. After the end of the Japanese occupation of Korea after the end of World War II, their was an insurgence of national pride that led Korean martial artists to renew their links to Korean's ancient martial arts. This led to the development of a new Korean martial art that, in 1955, was officially named Taekwondo. Today, Koreans practice Taekwondo during military training, as well as in grade school, as a way to build a strong sense of justice, fortitude, and humility using strict discipline, physical conditioning, and mental training. Taekwondo gradually spread to countries around the world where it is practiced as both a traditional self-defense system, and as a competitive sport. Taekwondo is a way for people of any age to learn self-defense and increase their physical fitness while training with others who have similar interests. Taekwondo not only develops the physical being; it also develops the moral being, which involves such things as character, integrity, and honor. These moral aspects develop unconsciously while students consciously train in the physical aspects of Taekwondo.

Taekwondo is a combat sport that uses only bare hands and feet, no weaponry, to fend off attackers. Due to its numerous unique kicks, each with many variations, many people call Taekwondo the "kicking martial art." This is not to say that Taekwondo does not use hand techniques; it uses the same basic hand techniques used in other martial arts, which makes it a well-rounded empty-handed martial art. Over the last few decades, sport Taekwondo organizations have worked together to develop Taekwondo into a modern international amateur and Olympic sport, while maintaining its proud tradition as a martial art spirit.

Taekwondo is a physical science. While training, individual movements of the body are perfected so they become one. Taekwondo techniques are always evaluated and improved on the basis of their scientific applications. Taekwondo is a type physical fitness; the training required to perfect each technique requires the muscular exercise of the whole body. Taekwondo is a discipline of both mind and body. Taekwondo techniques look easy but are take time to learn. It takes concentration and effort to attain perfection; the mind and body must work in concert for a technique to be effective. Taekwondo is a martial art. Taekwondo techniques may be used with deadly effectiveness and, with training, students learn to tailor the power of their techniques to fit the situation.

Taekwondo has become one of the most practiced martial arts in the world. Its popularity may be attributed to it being an official Pan-American sport, a demonstration sport in the 1988 and 1992 Olympics, and a full medal sport in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. However, its popularity is mainly due to its spectacular techniques and its being fun for all ages to learn and perform.
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