What is Taekwondo?

The American Dragon Martial Arts Academies in Clermont, Florida is happy to provide this Taekwondo site for its members and friends. The goal of this site is to introduce the many benefits of traditional Taekwondo training to the Clermont, Florida community. We invite families from the Clermont, Florida area to visit our school to try a free week of traditional Taekwondo training as our gift to you.

We have the only Taekwondo instructors in Clermont, Florida who are licensed and certified by the Korean Martial Arts Instructors Association world headquarters in Korea. We hope that you find the Taekwondo information below useful and educational. Feel free to visit our Taekwondo class in Clermont, Florida to meet our instructors in person. Visitors are always welcome.

You can find us at: 121 E. Division Street Suite E. Clermont, Florida 34711 or  Visit us online at www.americandragononline.com to get your FREE Week of Taekwondo Gift Certificate.

What is Taekwondo?
Also known as Taekwon-Do, Tae Kwon-Do, Tae Kwon Do
This Taekwondo information is provided by the US National Taekwondo Association www.usnta.net
Taekwondo, as it is practised by member of the US National Taekwondo Association is a Korean martial art and self development system that teaches an effective means of self defense.

In Korean, tae means “to strike or break with foot”; kwon means “to strike or break with fist”; and do means “way,” “method,” or “art.” Thus, “taekwondo” may be commonly translated as “the way of the foot and fist” or some Taekwondo students may say it is “the way of kicking and punching.”

Taekwondo is the world’s most popular martial art in terms of the number of practitioners.

Its popularity has resulted in the varied development of the martial art into several domains: as with many other arts, it combines combat techniques, self-defense, sport, exercise, meditation and philosophy. Taekwondo is also used by the South Korean military as part of its training. Sport Taekwondo Gyeorugi, a type of sparring, has been an Olympic event since 2000.

Formally, there are two main styles of taekwondo. One comes from the Kukkiwon, the source of the sparring system sihap gyeorugi which is now an event at the summer Olympic Games and which is governed by the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF). The other comes from the Korea Taekwondo Association (KTA)which is a collective body for the Kwans, or traditional Taekwondo styles in Korea. There is also a more recent form called GuenDae Taekwondo or the Korean Military Arts Federation (KMAF) www.militaryarts.kr style of Military Taekwondo and other variations of it such as the WTTF (World Traditional Taekwondo Federation).

Separate from the various taekwondo organizations, there have been two general branches of taekwondo development: traditional and sport. The term “traditional taekwondo” typically refers to the martial art as it was established in the 1950s and 1960s; in particular, the names and symbolism of the traditional patterns often refer to elements of Korean history. This is the type of Taekwondo typically practised by the Kwans in Korea and by the members of the US National Taekwondo Association in the USA.

Sport taekwondo or Kukki-Taekwondo has evolved in the decades since then and has a somewhat different focus, especially in terms of its emphasis on speed and competition (as in Olympic sparring), whereas traditional taekwondo tends to emphasize power and self-defense. The two are not mutually exclusive, and the distinctions between them are often blurred.

Although there are doctrinal and technical differences between 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). The greatest difference between various styles, or at least the most obvious, is generally accepted to be the differing styles and rules of sport and competition. 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. Some taekwondo instructors, like those member schools of the US National Taekwondo Association, also incorporate the use of pressure points, known as jiapsul, as well as grabbing self-defense techniques similar to other martial arts, such as Hapkido and Judo.

The history of taekwondo has been a matter of contention. Taekwondo organizations officially state that taekwondo was derived from earlier Korean martial arts. Others state that taekwondo is derived from native Korean martial arts with influences from neighboring countries or that it was partially affected by karate during the Japanese occupation.

The oldest Korean martial art was an amalgamation of unarmed combat styles developed by the three rival Korean kingdoms of Goguryeo, Silla and Baekje, where young men were trained in unarmed combat techniques to develop strength, speed, and survival skills. The most popular of these techniques was subak, with taekkyeon being the most popular of the segments of subak.

Those who demonstrated strong natural aptitude were selected as trainees in the new special warrior corps, called the Hwarang. It was believed that young men with a talent for the liberal arts may have the grace to become competent warriors. These warriors were instructed in academics as well as martial arts, learning philosophy, history, a code of ethics, and equestrian sports. Their military training included an extensive weapons program involving swordsmanship and archery, both on horseback and on foot, as well as lessons in military tactics and unarmed combat using subak. Although subak was a leg-oriented art in Goguryeo, Silla’s influence added hand techniques to the practice of subak.

During this time a few select Sillan warriors were given training in taekkyeon by the early masters from Koguryo. These warriors then became known as the Hwarang. The Hwarang set up a military academy for the sons of royalty in Silla called Hwarang-do, which means “the way of flowering manhood.” The Hwarang studied taekkyeon, history, Confucian philosophy, ethics, Buddhist morality, social skills and military tactics. The guiding principles of the Hwarang warriors were based on Won Gwang’s five codes of human conduct and included loyalty, filial duty, trustworthiness, valor and justice. Taekkyeon was spread throughout Korea because the Hwarang traveled all around the peninsula to learn about the other regions and people.
In spite of Korea’s rich history of ancient and traditional martial arts, Korean martial arts faded into obscurity during the Joseon Dynasty. Korean society became highly centralized under Korean Confucianism and martial arts were poorly regarded in a society whose ideals were epitomized by its scholar-kings. Formal practices of traditional martial arts such as subak and taekkyeon were reserved for sanctioned military uses. However folks practice of taekkyeon as a kicking game still persisted into the 19th century.

Modern development of Taekwondo
During the Japanese occupation of Korea, all facets of Korean identity including folk culture, language and history were banned in an attempt to erase Korean culture. Koreans were forced to take Japanese names and to worship at Shinto shrines; Korean-language newspapers and magazines were banned; and during the war, hundreds of thousands of Koreans were forced into service to support Japanese war efforts. Martial arts such as taekkyeon (or subak) were also prohibited during this time; however, taekkyeon survived through underground teaching and folk custom. During the occupation Koreans who were able to study in Japan were exposed to Japanese martial arts in some cases receiving black belts. Others were exposed to martial arts in China and Manchuria.

When the occupation ended in 1945, Korean martial arts schools (kwans) began to open in Korea under various influences. There are differing views on the origins of the arts taught in these schools. Some believe that they taught martial arts that were based primarily upon the traditional Korean martial arts taekkyon and subak, or upon a variety of martial arts such as taekkyon, kungfu and karate. Others believe that these schools taught arts that were almost entirely based upon karate that had a huge influence on the development of modern Taekwondo.

In 1952, at the height of the Korean War, there was a martial arts exhibition in which the kwans displayed their skills. In one demonstration, Nam Tae Hi smashed thirteen roof tiles with a forefist punch. Following the demonstration, South Korean President Syngman Rhee requested that this martial art training be introduced to the Korean army.

By the mid-1950s, nine kwans had emerged. Syngman Rhee ordered that the various schools unify under a single system. The name “taekwondo” was either submitted by Song Duk Son of Chung Do Kwan and was accepted on April 11, 1955. As it stands today, the head masters of the 9 kwans are recognized as the founders of taekwondo. The Korea Taekwondo Association (KTA) was formed in 1959/1961 to facilitate the unification. Shortly thereafter, taekwondo made its début worldwide. Standardization efforts in South Korea stalled, as the kwans continued to teach differing styles. Another request from the Korean government for unification resulted in the formation of the Korea TaeSooDo Association, which changed its name back to the Korea Taekwondo Association in 1965 following a change of leadership.

According to the World Taekwondo Federation, taekwondo is practiced in 123 countries, with over 30 million practitioners and 3 million individuals with black belts throughout the world. Kukki-Taekwondo is now one of only two Asian martial arts that are included in the Olympic Games; it became a demonstration event starting with the 1988 games in Seoul, and became an official medal event starting with the 2000 games in Sydney.

Important Features of Taekwondo Training

Stretching to increase flexibility is an important aspect of taekwondo training. Taekwondo is known for its emphasis on kicking techniques, which distinguishes it from martial arts such as karate or southern styles of kung fu. The rationale is that the leg is the longest and strongest weapon a martial artist has, and kicks thus have the greatest potential to execute powerful strikes without successful retaliation. Historically, the Koreans thought that the hands were too valuable to be used in combat.

Taekwondo as a martial art is popular with people of both genders and of many ages.

Physically, taekwondoas taught by the Kwans and the US National Taekwondo Association develops strength, speed, balance, flexibility, and stamina. An example of the union of mental and physical discipline is the breaking of boards, which requires both physical mastery of the Taekwondo technique and the concentration to focus one’s strength.

A taekwondo student typically wears a uniform (dobok), often white but sometimes black or other colors, with a belt (di) tied around the waist. The belt indicates the student’s rank.

The school or place where instruction is given is called the dojang.

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

• Learning the techniques and curriculum of taekwondo
• Both anaerobic and aerobic workout, including stretching
• Taekwondo Self-defense techniques (hosinsul)
• Taekwondo Patterns (also called forms, poomsae, teul, hyeong)
• Taekwondo Sparring (called gyeorugi), which may include step sparring, free-style sparring, arranged sparring, point sparring, and other types
• Taekwondo Relaxation and meditation exercises
• Taekwondo Throwing and/or falling techniques (deonjigi and deoreojigi)
• Taekwondo Breaking (gyeokpa 격파 or weerok), using techniques to break boards for testing, training and martial arts demonstrations. Demonstrations often also incorporate bricks, tiles, blocks of ice or other materials. Can be separated into three types:
o Power breaking – using straightforward techniques to break as many boards as possible
o Speed breaking – boards are held loosely by one edge, putting special focus on the speed required to perform the break
o Special techniques – breaking fewer boards but using jumping or flying techniques to attain greater heights, distances, or to clear obstacles
• Exams to progress to the next rank
• A focus on mental and ethical discipline, justice, etiquette, respect, and
self-confidence

Schools in the US National Taekwondo Association teach the use of the “sine wave” when performing patterns; this involves raising one’s center of gravity between techniques, then lowering it as the technique is performed, producing the up-and-down movement from which the term “sine wave” is derived. This is how Taekwondo movements are practised by the Korean Army.

Other schools teach that one’s center of gravity should remain generally constant throughout the performance of a pattern except where the pattern’s description states otherwise.

Taekwondo Organizations
Two of the most popular systems of taekwondo are named solely after their respective organizations, the International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF) and the World Taekwondo Federation WTF (Kukkiwon). The ITF was founded in 1966 by Major General Choi Hong Hi, the founder of Ohdokwan Taekwondo. After his death in 2002, a number of succession disputes splintered the ITF into three different groups, all claiming to be the original. These three organizations are private. Two are located in Austria, and one in Canada. The unofficial training headquarters of the International Taekwon-Do Federation is located at the Taekwondo Palace in Pyongyang, the capital city of communist North Korea and was founded in the mid-1990s.

The Korea Taekwondo Association Central Dojang was opened in South Korea in 1972. A few months later, the name was changed to the Kukkiwon. The following year, the World Taekwondo Federation was formed. The International Olympic Committee recognized the WTF and taekwondo sparring in 1980.

Although the terms “WTF” and “Kukkiwon” are often mistakenly used interchangeably, the Kukkiwon is a completely different organization which trains and certifies instructors and issues official dan and poom certificates worldwide. The Kukkiwon has its own unique physical building that contains the administrative offices of Kukkiwon (World Taekwondo Headquarters) in Seoul, South Korea and is the system of taekwondo called Kukki-Taekwondo. The WTF is a tournament committee and is not technically a style or a system.

There are many other private organizations, such as, for instance, the World Traditional Taekwondo Federation whose president is Grand Master Ho Jae Kim, former Dean of the Kukkiwon Academy. The WTTF is promoting the traditional styles of Taekwondo such as TangSooDo, MooDukKwan, ChangMuKwan and JungDoKwan. Events and competitions held by private organizations are mostly closed to other taekwondo students. However, the WTF-sanctioned events allow any person, regardless of school affiliation or martial arts style, to compete in WTF events as long as he or she is a member of the WTF Member National Association in his or her nation, which is open to anyone to join. The major technical differences among these many organizations revolve around the patterns, called hyeong, poomsae, or teul, sets of prescribed formal sequences of movements that demonstrate mastery of posture, positioning, and technique, sparring rules for competition, and Taekwondo philosophy.

In addition to these private organizations, the original schools (kwans) that formed the organization that would eventually become the Kukkiwon continue to exist as independent fraternal membership organizations that support the WTF and the Kukkiwon. The official curriculum of the kwans is that of the Kukkiwon. The kwans also function as a channel for the issuing of Kukkiwon dan and poom certification (black belt ranks) for their members. The kwans also issue their own traditional Taekwondo rank and recieving a kwan dan rank is considered a high honor because it is a martial art rank, not a sports rank.

Taekwondo Ranks, belts and promotion
Taekwondo ranks
are typically separated into “junior” and “senior” or “student” and “instructor” sections. The junior section typically consists of ten ranks indicated by the Korean word geup (also Romanized as gup or kup). The junior ranks are usually identified by belts of various colors, depending on the school, so these ranks are sometimes called “color belts”. Geup rank may be indicated by stripes on belts rather than by colored belts.

Students begin at tenth geup (often indicated by a white belt) and advance toward first geup (often indicated by a red belt with a black stripe).

The senior section is typically made up of nine ranks. These ranks are called dan, also referred to as “black belts” or “degrees” (as in “third dan” or “third-degree black belt”).

Taekwondo Black belts begin at first degree and advance to second, third, and so on. The degree is often indicated on the belt itself with stripes, Roman numerals, or other methods; but traditionally Taekwondo black belts are plain and unadorned regardless of rank.

To advance from one rank to the next, students typically complete promotion tests in which they demonstrate their proficiency in the various aspects of the art before a panel of judges or their teacher. Promotion tests vary from school to school, but may include such elements as the execution of patterns, which combine various techniques in specific sequences; the breaking of boards, to demonstrate the ability to use techniques with both power and control; sparring and self-defense, to demonstrate the practical application and control of techniques; and answering questions on terminology, concepts, history, and so on, to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the art of Taekwondo. For higher dan tests, students are sometimes required to take a written test or to submit a research paper in addition to taking the practical test. Some organizations, the Kido Hae for example, will often issue rank in any Korean martial art that you seek for a fee without any testing required. These ranks are not typically accepted or recognized by any other organization. Unfortunately, many people holding Kido Hae Rank open and operate martial arts schools. The general public is often unaware that these so-called “instructors, masters, and grand masters” have a very low level of knowledge.

Promotion from one geup to the next can proceed fairly rapidly in some schools, since schools often allow geup promotions every two, three, or four months. Students of geup rank learn the most basic techniques first, then move on to more advanced techniques as they approach first dan. Many of the older and more traditional Taekwondo schools will often take longer to earn rank than newer, more contemporary schools as they may not have standard testing intervals.

In contrast, promotion from one dan to the next can take years. The general rule is that a Taekwondo black belt may advance from one rank to the next only after the number of years equivalent to the current rank. For example, a newly-promoted third-degree black belt may not be allowed to promote to fourth-degree until three years have passed. Some organizations also have age requirements related to dan promotions, and may grant younger students poom 품 (junior black belt) ranks rather than dan ranks until they reach a certain age. Black belt ranks usually have titles associated with them, such as “master” and “instructor”. Taekwondo organizations have their own rules and standards when it comes to ranks and the titles that go with them.

Taekwondo Philosophy
Since taekwondo developed in several different kwans, there are several different expressions of taekwondo philosophy. For example, the tenets of the US National Taekwondo Association is said to be summed up by the last two phrases in the USNTA Student Oath: “I shall be a champion of freedom and justice,” “I shall build a better and peaceful world”. Alternatively, the Kukkiwon philosophy, the Han Philiosophy, is based on Eastern principles of samje (three elements), eum (yin; negative or darkness) and yang (positive or brightness) with samjae referring to cheon (sky or heaven), ji (the earth), and in (a man or a person). The origins of these concepts originate from the Chinese classic “Book of Changes” which is considered to be one of the main canons of East Asian Philosophy.

Taekwondo Competition
Taekwondo competition
typically involves sparring, breaking, patterns, and self-defense (hosinsul). However, in Olympic taekwondo competition, only sparring is contested; and in Olympic sparring WTF competition rules are used.

WTF Taekwondo
Under WTF (World Taekwondo Federation) and Olympic rules, sparring is a full-contact event and takes place between two competitors in an area measuring 10 meters square. Each match consists of three semi-continuous rounds of contact with rest between rounds. 14-17 and 18 and over black belt fighters fight in 2-minute rounds with a one minute break. Points are awarded for permitted, accurate, and powerful techniques to the legal scoring areas; light contact to a scoring area does not score any points. In most competitions, points are awarded by four corner judges using electronic scoring tallies. However, several A-Class tournaments are now trying out electronic scoring equipment contained within body protectors. This limits corner judges to scoring only attacks to the head. Recent controversy concerning judging decisions has prompted this to an extent, but this technology is still not universally preferred. Beginning in 2009 a kick or punch that makes contact with the opponent’s hogu (The body guard that functions as a scoring target) scores one point; if a kick to the hogu involved a technique which includes fully turning the body so that the back is to the opponent an additional point is awarded; a kick to the head scores three points. Valid attacks that knock an opponent down are awarded an extra point. Punches to the head are not allowed. If a competitor is knocked down by a scoring technique and the referee counts down, then an additional point is awarded to the opponent.

At the end of three rounds, the competitor with the most points wins the match. In the event of a tie at the end of three rounds, a fourth “sudden death” overtime round will be held to determine the winner after a one minute rest period.

Blows are full force and if one player is knocked out by a legal attack, the attacker is declared the winner as the WTF allows knockouts in sparring competition. But there are certain rules that they must follow. Some rules condemn name calling, punches to the head, grabbing, and more.

The US National Taekwondo Association

The USNTA sparring rules are similar, but differ from the WTF rules in several respects. Hand attacks to the head are allowed; kicks to the body gives two point and kicks to the head give three; the competition area is slightly smaller (9 meters square instead of 10 meters); and competitors do not wear the hogu used in Olympic-style sparring (although they are required to wear approved foot and hand protection equipment). A continuous point system is utilized in USNTA competition, where the fighters are allowed to continue after scoring a technique. Full force blows are not allowed and will result in deduction of points. Knock out is not allowed. At the end of 2 minutes (or specified time) the competitor with the most scoring techniques wins. The USNTA competition rules and regulations are available at the USNTA information website. www.usnta.net

USNTA competitions also feature performances of patterns, breaking and “special techniques”, a category where competitors perform prescribed board breaks at great heights.

AAU competitions are very similar, except that different styles of pads and gear are allowed. Any gear that has the Olympic symbol and not the WTF logo on it is approved.

• Olympic Games
• Asian Games
• South East Asian Games
• South Asian Games

Taekwondo Safety
Although taekwondo competitors have a substantial risk of injury, most injuries appear to be minor. The leg is the most common location for injuries, and bruising is the most common injury type. A 2008 meta-analysis reported that an average of about 8% of competitors are injured, per exposure to competition; age, gender, and level of play did not significantly affect the injury rate.

Taekwondo Fraternal Benefits

The US National Taekwondo Association members often socialize on the www.worldmartialartsnetwork.ning.com social network for martial artists sponsored by www.worldmartialartsmagazine.com where you can get a free subscription to their online magazine.

www.actionradio.net www.worldmartialartsmagazine.com www.usnta.net www.americandragononline.com www.worldmartialartsnetwork.ning.com

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